~Smiiiiiiiile! Come on and smile! Come on and smile!~
Sunset Shimmer groaned as Pinkie Pie's ringtone blared out of her phone. The sun blazed through her window, but she was still bundled up in her bedsheets. She had a splitting headache, and didn't particularly feel like getting out of bed, or even reaching for her phone to answer it.
Fortunately, she didn't have to. "Answer call," she said. "Speakerphone."
Her phone chimed acknowledgement, ending the obnoxiously cheery ringtone. "Sunset Shimmer~~!" Pinkie's voice rang out from the speaker.
"Hey Pinkie," Sunset replied in the loudest strained groan she could.
"Wow, you don't sound so good," Pinkie said. "You okay?"
"I feel like dog doo," Sunset said. "My head's killing me and I feel cruddy all over."
"Aww," Pinkie said. "Well, you go ahead and rest, okay? I'll tell the others you're not feeling well. Are you staying home from school today?"
"I think so, yeah."
"Okay. I'll let Principal Celestia know you're sick. I'll check on you later!"
"Thanks. Goodbye." The phone beeped twice and fell silent. With a groan, Sunset rolled over, facing away from the window, and went back to sleep.
~Space Unicorn! Soaring through the stars!~
Sunset stirred from the depths of sleep, awakened by the obnoxious ringtone Rainbow Dash had programmed into her phone. She'd kept it as a reminder that she needed to constantly undermine Dash's ego, but now she just wanted to smash her phone into a million pieces.
Her head was still killing her.
With a frustrated groan, Sunset snarled, "Answer call. Speakerphone."
"Hey Baconator!" Rainbow called cheerfully. "You outta bed yet?"
Sunset rolled her eyes. "I'm sick, Rainbow," she said. "I think I have like, the flu or something."
"Wow that blows. Well, we're all comin' up to check on you in a few minutes, okay? Don't get us sick!"
The phone beeped twice, indicating the end of the call.
With a frustrated groan, Sunset threw off the covers and rolled out of bed...
...and went down in an ungainly sprawl of limbs and bedsheets.
With a startled yelp, she struggled her way out of the sheets tangled around her, then fought to right herself. As she rose to her feet, she realized something was terribly wrong.
Her pajamas didn't quite fit right. In fact, she felt trapped in them.
Her balance was off.
Her hands and feet felt...wrong. But not wrong, just...different.
Old instincts kicked in, and Sunset found herself on all fours. Only instead of feeling the sting of floor slapping against fleshy palms, she felt the solid strike of hoof on floor. She blinked and looked down.
Hooves. Hair. "What...?"
She made a mad dash for the bathroom, scrambling up onto the sink. Leaning forward, she realized she could just barely see the top of her head in the bathroom mirror.
She dropped back to the floor, unmindful of the chill of the tile on her bare rump. "I...I turned back into a pony...?"
Her doorbell rang.
Her eyes shrank to pinpricks.
"Sunset Shimmer!" Pinkie's voice called from outside as the doorbell rang a second time. "We're here to check up on you!"
Sunset scrambled to her hooves and bolted out into the front, leaning against the door. Coughing loudly, she called—in as raspy a voice as she could muster—"You can't come in! I—*koff, hakk*—have a fever and—*hakk, koff*—I don't wanna get you girls sick!"
"Good heavens, darling!" Rarity's muffled voice replied. "You do sound a little hoarse."
Sunset facehoofed. *She did not seriously just say that.*
"Well then jes' let me in, sugarcube!" Applejack called. "Ah don't never git sick! Ah'll tidy up an' cook ya some good hearty soup an'—"
"No, really, I'm fine! I just...need some rest..."
"Maybe we should just let her rest," Fluttershy said so softly it almost didn't carry through the door.
"And we will!" Pinkie said cheerfully. "Right after we make sure she's comfortable and has good food and—"
And then the worst possible thing happened.
Sunset stared in horror as what was supposed to be a locked door slowly opened.
"No," she whimpered.
"—fluffy pillows and clean laundry!" Pinkie finished as she pushed open the door.
"Uhh...Pinkie Pie? You shouldn't go around pickin' locks like that," Rainbow said. "I know Sunset's our friend and all, but...you kinda just broke the law there."
"Oh, don't be silly!" Pinkie giggled. "Now, where's our poor sick friend?"
Sunset had quickly thrown herself into the bedroom closet and slammed the door behind her. She hid behind all the hanging shirts and jackets and jeans there and pressed her back flat against the wall. Her little pony heart hammered against her ribs. "Can't let them see me like this," she muttered. "Can't let them find me..."
"Well that's odd," Rarity said from outside in the bedroom. "She wasn't in the foyer, she wasn't in the living room, and she isn't in here..."
"She's not in the bathroom either," Fluttershy said. "Goodness, where...where could she be?"
"We all heard her, right? I mean...she's here, right?" Rainbow said confusedly.
"Is she playing hide and seek?" Pinkie wondered. "Because that's a silly thing for a sick person to do."
"Somethin' ain't right here," Applejack said. "This ain't like Sunset at all."
"Maybe she...just doesn't want us to see her when she's sick," Fluttershy said. "It might be embarrassing for her."
"Eh, so she's sick, big deal," Rainbow said. "It happens. It's nothing to be embarrassed about."
"But where could she possibly be?" Rarity wondered. "I mean, we've looked everywhere...Pinkie Pie, do come out from under the bed."
"Didn't find Sunset Shimmer but I found some really weird magazines!"
"Oh my," Fluttershy gasped.
Sunset's face turned three shades paler.
"There's only one place we ain't looked yet," Applejack said.
The closet door's knob turned...
Sunset gathered her magic into her horn, ignoring the terrible headache, and teleported into the shower.
"Huh, that's funny," Applejack said from the bedroom. "Ah thought fer sure—"
"Found her!" Pinkie said, throwing aside the shower curtain. "Silly Shimmy, hiding in the shower, that's always the FIRST place the psycho...killer...looks?"
Sunset looked up at the bright, blinking blue eyes and confused face of her cheerful pink friend.
Pinkie blinked at her, a comical expression on her face.
"Uh...hi?" Sunset said.
"Pinkie Pie, you shouldn't barge in on people in the shower!" Fluttershy called from the door. "It's terribly rude!"
Pinkie slowly turned to face Fluttershy. Wordlessly, she pointed over her shoulder.
Fluttershy stared at the amber unicorn sitting in the tub, wearing Sunset Shimmer's hair, with Sunset Shimmer's teal eyes locked in an expression of fright and mortification.
Fluttershy's eyes widened.
A tiny squeak emanated from her dainty lips.
Then, without warning, that squeak turned into an overjoyed SQUEE and Sunset Shimmer found herself swept off her hooves and pulled into a painfully tight cuddle, with Fluttershy nuzzling her cheek. Big bright blue-green eyes stared at her from an absurdly excited face. "Oh my goodness, you're the most adorable thing ever!" Fluttershy squealed. "I had no idea Sunset Shimmer had such an adorable critter living with her!"
"Uhh...Fluttershy?" Pinkie said in an uncharacteristically soft tone. "I'm...pretty sure that is Sunset Shimmer."
Fluttershy blinked. "Huhwha?"
Sunset finally came to her senses enough to give Fluttershy a look that was equal parts annoyance and embarrassment. "Mind putting me down, Fluttershy?" she asked.
Fluttershy stared at her. Her mind visibly seized up.
Fluttershy fell sideways, still clutching Sunset Shimmer. Pinkie caught her and, with an apologetic glance at the unicorn, gently dragged Fluttershy out into the living room. Snorting, Sunset followed.
"Hey, what's goin' on in there?" Rainbow Dash called from the bedroom. The others were filing out into the hall behind her. "What's all the ruckus?"
"Girls? We...have a teeeeeeensy little problem," Pinkie said as she gently laid Fluttershy out on Sunset's sofa.
As the girls emerged into the living room, Sunset stared them down defiantly. "If any of you crack a joke, you'll find out what it feels like to get bucked in the face," she said.
The girls stared at her, eyes wide.
Then, Rainbow Dash snickered. "Pfft...BAHAHAHAHA!" She sank into a chair and slapped her knee, doubling over in laughter. "Oh. My. GOSH!"
"Whoa nelly," Applejack said.
Rarity blinked several times, then coughed daintily. "So, Sunset darling!" she said in a falsely cheerful tone. "You've decided to be a pony today! That's...quite bold!"
Sunset rolled her eyes.
Fluttershy groaned and sat up. "P-pony," she whispered. "Sunset Shimmer..." She gasped suddenly, and was on the ground beside Sunset with her arms wrapped around her so fast Sunset swore she teleported.
Rainbow fell off the chair laughing.
Sunset groaned and sat down, not bothering to try to escape Fluttershy's cuddle attack.
Applejack scratched her head. "So uhh...wanna fill us in here, sugarcube?" She blinked, then added, "Would you like a sugarcube? Think Ah got one here somewhere..."
Rainbow exploded into fresh peals of laughter.
"Save it for the tea, AJ," Sunset said. She sighed and extracted herself from Fluttershy's embrace, then trotted over to her kitchenette. The girls watched as cabinets opened seemingly of their own volition, a kettle flew over to the sink and was filled with water, then floated over to the stove, which turned on. Cups and saucers and spoons and napkins started flying all over the place.
Rainbow stopped laughing. "Whoa. That...that's awesome. How are you doing that?"
"I'm a unicorn," Sunset said. "Basic levitation is something every unicorn masters before they're out of elementary school." As she waited for the water to boil, Sunset rummaged around in her cupboards, pulling out assorted snacks. Her refrigerator opened, and milk, honey, butter, and jelly floated out onto the kitchen counter.
"That's...that's a terribly useful skill to have," Rarity said.
"So...how come you're a pony now?" Pinkie asked. "Oh! Did you catch some weird pony pox or something? Is it contagious? Are we all gonna turn into ponies?"
"I don't know what happened," Sunset said. "I just woke up like this. I didn't even know I'd changed back into a unicorn until Rainbow Dash called and woke me up. All I know is I woke up with a splitting headache and feeling cruddy all over this morning and I went back to sleep without even getting out of bed. Then..." She shrugged. "This."
"Well," Applejack said into the ensuing silence. "Ain't that a worm in yer apple."
"You look kinda...weird for a pony," Rainbow said suddenly. "I mean, you don't...look like the horses we have here. You're..." She made a vague gesture with her hand. "Really tiny. You look more like...umm...a big dog with hooves. And pony ears. And a pony face. Except your pony face looks kinda...human...ish?" She looked around. "Help me out here, girls?"
"I think she's adorable," Fluttershy said dreamily.
Sunset groaned. The kettle whistled, and she set about making the tea. A few minutes later, six teacups and saucers sat on the living room table, as well as a pitcher of milk, honey, and assorted snacks.
"So...are you stuck like this, or whut?" Applejack asked.
"I have no idea," Sunset said. "I'm honestly..." She sipped her tea. "I don't know why this happened. I don't even know how it happened." She grimaced. "But it's...it's not good. I can't exactly go to school like this." She snorted. "Heck, I can't even leave the house like this."
"Yyyeah, that...might draw some weird attention," Rainbow said. She perked up. "Hey! I know! Write to Twilight!"
Sunset facehoofed. "Why didn't I think of that from the beginning?"
"Because you were too busy freaking out about the five of us seeing you like this and hiding all over the apartment from us until I found you and then all this happened?" Pinkie said.
Sunset blinked. "Oh yeah," she said in a deadpan tone. "Thanks."
"Don't mention it!"
Fluttershy leaned into Sunset's field of vision, a hopeful smile on her face. "Can I...can I brush your mane?" she asked.
Sunset rolled her eyes. "Sure," she said.
"I'll get your brush," Rarity said, standing up and smoothing out her skirt. "And your journal, while I'm at it. And a pen of course. Err, where do you keep it?"
"Middle desk drawer in my bedroom," Sunset said. "Thanks."
"Of course, darling."
"So what's with the sun-shaped marks on your butt?" Rainbow wondered. "They look like that symbol you wear on your shirt all the time..."
"My Cutie Mark?" Sunset said. "That's...a little hard to explain."
Rainbow snickered. "Cutie Mark? Seriously?"
A throw pillow threw itself at her.
Rarity returned a moment later. "Your phone was vibrating, darling," she said. She laid a hairbrush, the journal, a pen, and Sunset's phone on the floor in front of her, then sat down and picked up her tea.
"Thanks, Rarity." Sunset sighed and looked at her phone. "A text message from Principal Celestia. Wonderful." She frowned at her hooves. "Uhh, can one of you...? I don't trust the voice text on that phone."
"I'll do it!" Pinkie picked up the phone. "Fire away!"
Sunset cleared her throat. "Something has come up and I might be out of school for a little while. It's related to where I come from. Please ask my teachers to give all my assignments to one of the girls, they'll get them to me and hand them in for me."
Pinkie finished typing the text and sent it. "Okie-dokie-lokie!"
"Now that that's out of the way..." Sunset sighed and picked up the pen in her magic as she opened the book.
Dear Princess Twilight,
For some reason, I've changed back into a unicorn. I need your help to figure out what happened and if there's some way to reverse it.
Worst case scenario, I may need to...
Sunset sighed, her entire body drooping.
I may need to return to Equestria permanently.
The girls collectively gasped.
Please write back QUICKLY. I don't exactly have a lot of time here before someone other than my friends finds out about this.
Sunset closed the book and laid down flat on the floor.
"Leave?" Fluttershy whispered. "You...you'd leave? Forever?"
Sunset looked up at her with sad eyes. "If Twilight can't figure this out? I may have to."