Fractured Sunlight

by Oroboro

23: Plans

Dear Diary,

Sunset’s birthday is tomorrow!

This is it. My plan is foolproof, and by the time the sun sets tomorrow, Sunset and I will be girlfriend and girlfriend. ☺

I’m so excited I can barely sleep!

:heart: :heart: :heart:

-Twilight Sparkle

“Ow, watch it!” Twilight said as the brush snagged in her hair for what must have been the fifth time.

Cadance rolled her eyes and continued brushing without changing her tempo. “Don’t be such a baby. If you took better care of your hair this wouldn’t be nearly as difficult.”

Twilight grumbled and crossed her arms over her chest. Her eyes tracked over to the corner, where the prom dress Rarity had made for her was hung. She didn’t really have an eye for ‘fashion,’ but it really was beautiful. Maybe a bit shiny for her tastes.

"My little sister is all grown up," Cadance said, following Twilight's gaze. "Are you excited for prom?"

"It's just a dance, it's no big deal," Twilight mumbled. "Besides, tonight's just a regular party; prom isn't till tomorrow. There's no sense in getting all worked up beforehand."

She said that, and it made sense from a logical perspective, but that didn't stop her heart from skipping a beat just from thinking about it. When it came to being a teenager, prom was… well, it was sacred. It was an end to old stories, a start to new ones. It was death—it was rebirth.

Still. That was tomorrow. Tonight was just a party.

“A regular party, hm? I have it on good word that you girls are bringing stuff a little harder to this particular party.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “I think Pinkie mentioned getting some alcohol, but how did you know? Does it really matter? I wasn’t planning on drinking any.”

Cadance giggled. “Really? Why not? It’s a party, you might as well live a little, right?”

“Are you serious? You do know I’m underage, right? That it’s illegal for me to drink?”

“What are you, your brother?” Cadance ran the brush through her hair one more time, then stood up and circled in front of Twilight. She leaned down, adjusted Twilight’s bangs, then nodded in satisfaction. “Now’s your chance to be young and reckless! I trust you and the other girls to not take things overboard, or to get dangerous about it.”

Twilight stood up and stretched. “I just spent last weekend in an alternate dimension full of magical talking candy colored horses. Do you have any idea how hard it is to do anything with hooves? How much more reckless do you want me to be?”

Cadance smiled, then pulled Twilight into a sudden hug. “I just want you to be happy, Twilight, and I think you’ve bagged a real keeper with Sunset. Even with everything that’s happened, she’s a genuinely good person, and you two work well together. So shut up, go to the party, get a little drunk, and have fun with your girlfriend.”

Twilight couldn’t help but blush, and when Cadance pulled away, she reached up to play with the necklace Luna had given her. It seemed to have done its job. She wasn’t having the nightmares anymore, though her dreams had certainly gotten a bit more esoteric. All in all, a lack of bad dreams greatly improved her mood, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to let loose after all. “Alright, fine.”

“That’s what I thought,” Cadance said with a grin. She grabbed her car keys off of the hook and said, “Come on, I’ll get you to Sugarcube Corner. Call me if you need a ride home.”

Dear Sunset Shimmer,

Thanks again for visiting! It was really nice to see you again. And I'm glad I finally got to meet the other Twilight. Few ponies rarely get a chance to stare into a mirror and discuss theoretical magic constructs with themselves. Tell her I said hi.

And as weird as it might be, I really am happy for the two of you. Finding love can be a challenge for any of us.

I do have an additional motive for this letter beyond just thank yous and friendly platitudes. I've been monitoring the state of the portal recently, and I noticed that every time we use it, the integrity degrades, and it becomes just a little bit more unstable.

To the best of my calculations, it should still be safe to use for maybe a dozen or so more trips before it starts to become anything serious. Some time ago, Princess Celestia was involved in an incident that also involved mirror portals and alternate universes, and it nearly ended in catastrophe. As such, I will be closing the portal again for the time being, and suggest that it shouldn't be used unless it's an emergency. In the meantime, I'll do as much research as I can on dimensional boundaries and portal mechanics to figure out a way to modify it or build something new that doesn’t run into these issues.

It’s not an ideal solution, but given enough time I’m sure I can figure out something that is much more permanent and stable. Of course, I know you’ve been thinking about this a lot… and if you do make a decision, I’ll still open the portal for you. Just know that it’ll probably be a choice you’ll have to live with for a while.

I hope you have fun at your party and your dance thing.

With all of my heart, your good friend,
Princess Twilight Sparkle

Sunset let out a long sigh as she finished reading the message from Princess Twilight, then closed the book. She slumped forward on her desk, burying her head in her arms. This was going to make everything so much more… complicated.

Her brief vacation to Equestria had only rekindled the yearning for home in her heart. Since regaining her human body, she had felt sluggish and clumsy, and the loss of her magic was like losing an entire spectrum of color. The world was just a duller place without it.

And to add on to that, her actual experiences there… meeting with Lily White and Sandy Art had given her the hope that maybe she really did belong back in Equestria. That she could find a place for herself there after all. Even when she thought she was at her worst, the other ponies in her life she had ignored at best and tormented at worst were willing to forgive her.

Just like her friends here.

Sunset looked up at the framed photo at the end of the desk. It was a group picture they had all taken on the beach trip, all of them together, laughing, making silly faces for the camera, with Twilight snuggled against her side. It had felt a little embarrassing to her at the time. Hell, she had still been reeling over the whole intimate relations thing. But either way, they looked like any other teenage couple.

Natural. Like they belonged together.

Her phone buzzed loudly, prompting her to notice a text message from Pinkie Pie.

This party is going to be off the chain-hook! You girls all need to hurry up and get your butts down here!”

Sunset let out another sigh as she stared at the text. Her phone buzzed again, this one from Twilight.

“Hey, will be leaving shortly. You want a ride? We can swing by and pick you up.”

Right, her bike was still trashed. Just another grim reminder of the way things had been going for her lately. At least she had finally gotten a check in the mail for what they’d been able to salvage and scrap from the wreckage.

It wasn’t a lot, but it helped. She should have bought some precious gemstones in Equestria to sell here in the human world, just like she had when she first came through the portal, but Princess Twilight had given her a lecture a while back on not messing with local economies.

“It’s fine,” Sunset texted back. “I’ll just walk.”

Sunset pushed through the doors to Sugarcube Corner, a wave of flashing lights and music crashing over her. Rainbow Dash caught her eye, nodded, handed her a beer, and they fist bumped. She cracked it open, scanned the room, and found the sexiest thing in it.

She made her way through the the mists—she could only assume that Pinkie Pie had found and set up a fog machine. It added to the ambiance. She decided to play along and put a little swagger into her steps.

It occurred to her that this whole sequence probably looked just like a commercial for an expensive watch or something.

Well, in for a bit, right?

"Hey beautiful," Sunset said, her voice husky as she grabbed Twilight's ass from behind, "you look like you could use some company."

Twilight let out a shriek, nearly dropping her drink as she leapt into the air. She spun, eyes blazing. "Just who do you think you—"

Twilight's anger vanished as soon as she saw Sunset's half cocky, half apologetic grin. Her scowl morphed into a wide smile, and her eyes sparkled, just a little unfocused.

"Enjoying the party, Twi?"

"Sunset!" Twilight squealed with delight. She set her drink down on the counter, then leaped into Sunset's arms, wrapping her legs around the taller girl and kissing her deeply.

Sunset's eyes widened under the sudden assault, the unexpected weight causing her to stagger backwards. She tried to pull away from the kiss to voice some protests, or at least re-adjust her position, but Twilight was relentless. Soon enough Sunset toppled backwards, the hardwood floor plus Twilight's weight knocking the wind out of her. Her beer slipped from her hand and rolled across the floor, spilling its contents.

"Woman down!" Pinkie Pie announced to a chorus of giggles.

"Mmm," Twilight mumbled, unfazed by the change in position. She kissed Sunset again, then lowered her head to snuggle in the crook of Sunset’s neck. “It took you forever to get here. What took you so long?”

“Uh…” Sunset blinked, then shook her head, taking deep breaths. “It was like a thirty minute walk, Twilight. I doubt you’ve even been waiting for ten minutes.”

“But it felt like foreeever,” Twilight drawled, then kissed Sunset on the neck, nibbling slightly.

Rainbow Dash leaned over the two of them and gave a toothy grin. “Do you two need to get a room? Because we totally don’t mind. Pinkie’s got a spare room upstairs she crashes in sometimes, that should be fine.”

“Hey!” Pinkie Pie cried out, stamping her foot.

Sunset scowled, glaring at the onlookers as Twilight continued to give her context-inappropriate attentions. “Just how much has she had to drink already?”

Applejack laughed, then grabbed the drink Twilight had left on the counter. “Girl ain’t even finished her first cocktail, and there’s barely any alcohol in it besides.”

“Hmph. And they say I get a little overdramatic sometimes,” Rarity said with a smirk.

Twilight blushed, then sat up, still straddling Sunset. She wrung her hands together, glancing at everyone before mumbling, “Sorry, Sunset. Was that, uh, too much?”

Sunset chuckled, shaking her head. She then grabbed Twilight by the hips, found the right leverage underneath her, grabbed onto a nearby table and pulled herself up, picking Twilight up with her. Twilight yelped in surprise, throwing her arms and legs around Sunset.

“It’s fine,” Sunset said, leaning down to give Twilight a quick peck on the forehead. She was ready for it and balanced properly this time. She carried Twilight over a few feet and then sat her down on a nearby bar stool. “Just warn me next time so I don’t spill my beer.”

“I’ll grab you another one,” Rainbow Dash said, walking over to the cooler.

Pinkie Pie held up a pair of rags. “I’ll clean up the spill, don’t worry about it. You two have fun!”

Twilight wrapped her arm around Sunset’s, leaning into her, then took a sip of her drink. “You’re a great girlfriend, you know that?”

Sunset couldn’t help but smile a bit at that, and found Twilight’s hand, squeezing it. “You’re pretty great too, you know.”

“Come on,” Twilight said. She took her drink, then drained the last bit still in the glass. “It’s a party,” she said, wiping her lips. “Let’s go have some fun.”

Sunset stood on the balcony to Sugarcube Corner, looking down at the street below.

The party was winding down at this point, and Sunset’s head had fuzzed over with a nice buzz. The cool nighttime breeze felt good on her skin, and it was a good place to think, all things considered.

She heard footsteps behind her, a stumble and a muffled curse, then Twilight’s voice, saying, “Hey. There you are.”

Sunset didn’t turn her head as Twilight stepped next to her. Her girfriend had drunk enough of the fruity cocktails that now she was actual-drunk instead of pretend-drunk. “Hey.”

“Hmm. Do you come here to brood often?”

Sunset turned to Twilight and raised an eyebrow. “Not particularly, but that’s mostly because I don’t come here enough for it to be ‘often.’ It is a pretty good place to brood, though.”

Twilight giggled. “What’re you thinking about, then?”

Sunset let out a long sigh. “Lots of things. Home. School. The future. You. Say, when I took you to Equestria, did you actually like it there? I mean, honestly?”

“Like it? I loved it!” Twilight smiled, placing her hand over Sunset’s. “I mean, I thought I was pretty clearly enthusiastic at the time. It’s a new alien world, full of wonders and magic and all sorts of things to learn about and explore! I’d go back in a heartbeat—with my actual equipment this time. I mean, I’ve learned so much already, and I’ve been scrambling to include everything I can remember into my research, but to be actually able to dissect and categorize the various pieces of your world… ooh, do you think I could dissect a pony?”

“What?!” Sunset stared at Twilight, her mouth hanging open.

Twilight blinked, then rolled her eyes. “I mean a dead one. Like, a medical cadaver, someone who’s donated their body to science for med students to practice on, that kind of thing. I don’t have a lot of direct experience with stuff larger than frogs, but it can’t be that much harder. Oh, but I don’t think I’d be able to do it with hooves. Do you think the mirror would transform something that’s already dead?”

Sunset kept staring, dumbfounded, bile rising in the back of her throat. She thought back to her freshman year of highschool, before she was Alpha Queen Bitch, when they had tried to get her to dissect a frog in science class. She had flipped out and screamed at everyone, calling them monsters until the teacher let her leave.

“Do you even have the same organs as our horses? And your bone and joint structure is so unique. Ugh, why didn’t I borrow a book on pony anatomy from Princess Twilight? I was too rushed, just couldn’t think of everything I wanted.”

“No, Twilight,” Sunset said, clenching her fist. “You can’t dissect a pony.”

Twilight blinked. “Why? It’d be the ultimate learning experience! I bet Princess Twilight has the connections necessary to get a medical cadaver, and—”

“Because it’s sick, Twilight!” Sunset snapped, taking a step forward. “You’re not talking about a science project here, this is my home! My race. My… my friends. Me.

“Your race...?” Twilight frowned. “That has nothing to do with it, this is about the pursuit of science! Nobody even gets hurt, so why does it matter? Humans do this kind of thing all the time!”

“It has everything to do with it! It’s not about science at all. I don’t care if you use medical cadavers, I don’t care that ponies in med school do the same. I care because we’re not just something for you to study!”

Both of them glared at each other, eyes blazing.

Twilight relented first. Her lips curled downward and she lowered her eyes, reaching a hand up to twirl it through her hair. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “I didn’t realize that you… I just want to learn, Sunset. To understand. That’s who I am.”

Sunset grimaced and turned away. “I know that. But sometimes you just go…” No, it wasn’t really even about that, was it? “Twilight, what are we doing?”

“What are we doing? We’re two tiny specks on the side of a giant ball of rock hurtling through space at about a hundred thousand kilometers per hour. Or would you prefer I be more specific?”

Sunset let out a small snort of laughter, then shook her head. “I mean, what are we doing? Where are we going?”

Twilight frowned. “We’re going to prom tomorrow. According to expert opinions, we’re probably going to be Prom Queens, and afterwards we’ll make sweet, sweet love.”

Sunset’s cheeks lit up, but she kept going. “Well, looking forward to that, but what are we doing afterwards?”


Sunset turned and gave her a stern look, and Twilight shrugged.

“Then next week we have graduation. You girls do, anyway.”

“And after that?”

“Summer vacation? I plan on staying here for it.”

“And after that?”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “After that we go to college, duh. I’m headed to Hayvard, and you girls are going to CU. I’ll probably still live with my brother. There’s a good commuter train that makes it up to North Canterlot anyway. Is there a point to all this?”

Sunset took a deep breath. “I’m not going to CU.”

“Huh? I thought that’s where everyone else was heading. What school did you get into?”

Sunset bit her lip, and crossed her arms over her chest. “None. I didn’t apply to any colleges at all.”

Twilight's mouth dropped open and she stared at her. “But, you… why the heck not? Or, well, no. You can still get in. It’s not too late, though it’s certainly a little more difficult now. As smart as you are, with your grades—”

“My grades are terrible, Twilight,” Sunset said, turning away.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Twilight said. She stepped forward, and put a hand on Sunset’s back. “Second to me, you’re the smartest person I know!”

Sunset gripped the balcony railing. “Because I didn’t care. Because I still don’t care. I’m smart, sure, but I don’t have the same lust for learning you do. When I was a filly, I wanted to learn because I thought it would bring me some sort of power over the world around me. When I came to this world, all I cared about was getting back home. I paid attention in the subjects I thought would help me achieve that goal. I completely ignored everything else. Who cares if you humans killed each other a bunch in wars centuries ago? I didn’t… either way, it turns out even being a genius can’t save you if you skip most of the tests and don’t do any of the coursework. I’ve been trying to make it up, a bit, but one semester’s worth of trying doesn’t negate the four years of not.”

“Okay…” Twilight stepped back and fidgeted back and forth, twiddling her fingers together. “I guess that complicates things. Still, there’s other ways to get into college. There are some good programs out there, and entrance exams I’m sure you could ace. My dad knows a lot of professors and alumni too, so if we could get you to a place where you make a good impression I bet we could get you in on scholarship.”

“Twilight,” Sunset said, turning around and taking her hand. “I don’t think I want to go to college here. There’s not a lot of benefit I’d get from a human education.”

Twilight pursed her lips. “Well, employment opportunities are a lot more limited with just a high school diploma, but if there’s something you really want to do in a certain field, go for it, I guess. I mean, once I’m a full blown scientist I’ll need plenty of research assistants too, so I could get you that job even without any formal education. I know how smart you are.” She smiled. “Two lady lesbian scientists on a team together. I like the sound of that.”

“Twilight,” Sunset said again. She looked Twilight in the eyes, then shook her head.

Twilight’s mirth faded, and she trembled. “What... what do you want to do?”

Sunset took a deep breath, then closed her eyes. “I want to go back home. Back to Equestria. It’s where I belong.”

Twilight stiffened, and she worked her mouth soundlessly, her eyes wide and beginning to water. “I… you’re… leaving?”

“No, not like that,” Sunset said quickly. She stepped forward, clasping both her hands around Twilight’s, and raised them up, meeting her gaze. “I want to go back to Equestria. And I want you to come with me.”

“W-what? You can’t be serious…”

Sunset grimaced. Not the first reaction she was hoping for. “I’m dead serious, Twilight. Equestria is where I belong. Visiting Canterlot made me see that. Who I am. My cutie mark. My magic. My destiny. I’ll never fulfill any of that here in this world. But I love you, and I want to stay with you. So come with me.”

Twilight shook her head, taking a step backwards. “No, no, that’s insane! Sunset, I mean, I loved visiting Equestria, but actually living there? I’d go mad within a week! No fingers, nothing but those useless hooves…”

“That’s not really a problem,” Sunset said, taking a step forward. “I’m sure your lack of magic in unicorn form isn’t innate, it’s just something that needs to be practiced, like a long unused muscle. There are extra-magical aids that can assist with basic levitation, too. Plus, hooves aren’t that bad. Earth ponies and pegasi manage just fine.”

“Yeah, but…” Twilight closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. “I mean, I suppose if you think that can be solved, that’s one thing, but still. It’s one thing to dream about packing up and leaving everything behind to go gallivanting with aliens, but to actually do it? I have a life here, Sunset. Friends. Family. A future. I love them all, Sunset. And you’re really okay with leaving our friends behind, too?”

Sunset bit her lip, and looked away. She knew all this. She knew what she was asking.

Twilight rubbed at her chin. “I guess… I mean, it’s not like the portal is particularly far. If you stayed in Ponyville, it wouldn’t be so bad. We could just use the portal and visit each other on a regular basis. Have Twilight rig us up another pair of those magical diaries so we can talk when we’re apart.”

And here was where Princess Twilight’s bad news ruined everything. “We can’t. The portal is getting increasingly unstable the more it’s used. Frequent use could cause a catastrophic multidimensional incident. Princess Twilight is going to work on developing a new and more stable method of travel, but at my lowest estimate I’d say at least a year.”

“So…” Twilight stared. “You’re saying that not only are you asking me to abandon everyone and everything I care about to come to Equestria, but to do so using a faulty portal mechanism that won’t even allow me to go home and visit for an indeterminate period of time?”

“Well when you put it like that,” Sunset mumbled. “Maybe it would help if you thought of it like taking a year off before college to go backpacking overseas?”

Twilight crossed her arms over her chest. “I graduated early, remember? What do you think this whole independent study thing has been about? Frankly, I’m dying to get back into the classroom again.”

“You could do that in Equestria too,” Sunset countered. “We have labs, and universities. They’ll be able to teach you all sorts of things you’d never learn here.”

Twilight opened her mouth to respond, then closed it a few times.“Ugh,” Twilight finally said, stomping a foot. “Why can’t you just be happy here? Everyone loves you. My family loves you. I love you. Can’t this world be enough for you?”

Sunset gritted her teeth. “It’s not, Twilight. It all just feels empty. Yeah, you and the girls are great, but... I just don’t know if that’s the life I want.”

“But that’s the life I want!” Twilight yelled, stepping forward and grabbing the front of Sunset’s shirt. “I want to go to school, get even smarter than I am now, win a bunch of awards, change the world! I want to do it with you! I love you, I want us to get married, to have a bunch of kids together, to get a nice big house with a pool and some dogs!”

Sunset felt her fists clench. “You can still have all of that, in Equestria! It’s just a different setting, that’s all.”

Twilight growled and stepped forward, pushing Sunset against the balcony. “It’s not the same! I know what I want. I can picture it all in my head as clear as day!”

Sunset’s chest burned, and at once those old instincts flashed to life. Her mouth started moving and words came out before she could even think to stop herself.

“Is it me, you’re picturing,” Sunset said, with a growl of her own. “Or is it the life you dreamed of with Sunset as a kid?”

Twilight’s eyes went wide, and she went slack-jawed for several moments before her expression hardened again. “I’m not thinking about her! I’m thinking about you! It’s you I love, Sunset! You’re my Sunset! Mine! I won’t let you go!”

“If this is the way you would have treated her, then maybe it’s a good thing the other Sunset is gone.”

The world froze. Sunset heard several gasps, the shattering of glass.

Twilight clasped her hands over her mouth and backed away, her eyes wide and full of tears.

Sunset swallowed. “Sweet Celestia, Twilight, I didn’t mean that, I’m—”

Twilight turned and ran into the house, making a beeline for the stairs.

Sunset tried to chase after her, but found an audience of five waiting in the doorway.

Applejack whistled, snapped her fingers twice, and pointed to the stairs.

Rarity nodded, grabbed Fluttershy by the arm, and the two followed after Twilight.

“Dude,” Rainbow Dash said. “That was just…”

How could she be so stupid? Sunset’s tears ran down her face, and rather than face her shame, she stepped back onto the balcony and jumped over the railing.

“Sunset!” all three of them cried out. They sprinted to the edge of the balcony.

Sunset hung as low as she could from the balcony, then dropped into the bushes below. She stood up, brushed herself off, then looked up at the others. “Go see Twilight,” she choked out. “There’s something I have to go do.”

With that, Sunset turned and jogged towards Canterlot High.