Sunset Shimmer waited outside the crumbled form of the Canterlot Statue, kicking a small pebble to the side. She looked up at the shining sun above before glancing at her watch and shoving her hands in her pockets.
Her eyes shifted when the base of the statue rippled and a purple blur came stumbling out with a bundle in her arms. “Stars and moonbeams!” Twilight gasped, coming up for air. “I’m so sorry, Sunset! I literally had to fight off a Kraken to get here!” A small and plump human baby in a fluffed pink dress and curly hair sat in Twilight’s arms. She looked around at her new surroundings with wide eyes before lifting her both her hands and waving them around.
Despite the adorable sight, Sunset couldn’t help but feel worried. “Are you sure you don’t need my help? It sounds pretty serious.”
Twilight blinked at her before giving a nonchalant shrug. “Oh, well, it’s not that bad. A bunch of dark lords decided that they didn’t like Fluttershy’s methods when she suggested we have a pet play date with them to ‘connect’. Instead, they sent their pets to come play with us. Those ‘pets’ just so happen to be from tartarus.”
The baby girl touched Twilight’s face and squinched her aunt’s cheeks together, before giggling. Twilight gently pried her face away from her grippy fingers before continuing.
“I tried to reason with them, but they didn’t want to hear my friendship advice. Hmmph.” She released a bit of air out of the corner of her mouth, blowing her frazzled bangs from her eyes. “Another day in Ponyville, I guess. At least the town’s evacuated. Here…” She gave the baby to Sunset, along with a backpack filled with her belongings. “This is my niece, Princess Flurry Heart!”
Sunset looked down at the little Princess and smiled warmly. “Aww. Hi there, Flurry. My name is Sunset.” Flurry Heart seemed more interested in Sunset’s yellow-striped hair and started playing with it with her new fingers.
“Be careful of her teeth. She just grew her first three, and they’re...sharp. An alicorn thing, I suppose. She loves to bite things.”
Twilight’s eyes grew uncertain, her face twisted with guilt. “I hate leaving her here. I feel so irresponsible. I’d take her to Shining and Cadence but they’re halfway across the country--”
“Twilight, it’s going to be fine. Right now, you need to take care of Ponyville. Your niece is safe with me. Trust me.”
The young aunt slowed herself down before offering a small smile. “Oh...oh, you’re right. I really can’t thank you enough--”
Suddenly, Rainbow Dash’s head poked out of the portal, causing Sunset’s brain to slowly malfunction upon seeing her friend's face. “Um, hello! So sorry to interrupt, but we kinda have a Grogar that just bit off the top of Town Ha--” Her mouth hung open mid sentence as her eyes darted around. “Whoa...Twi, is this where humans live? Sweet!”
“Rainbow, get back through there!” Twilight scowled. “I’m coming!” She turned back to Sunset. “Okay, uh, her bottle of milk is in there, and about a dozen diapers...oh, and I also put her favorite applesauce in the container. And her biting block. Don’t forget her biting block. Also…”
Her expression turned stern as she held up a finger. “No TV, do not let her have any candy past noon, don’t let her bite anything other than her block...she must have at least three naps a day...oh, and be sure to talk to her as much as possible. She’s like a sponge, and engaging in conversations at a young age can stimulate--”
“Twilight!” a high pitched voice called out.
“Pinkie!” Twilight shouted in aggravation as the party pony--er, human’s head popped out.
“Twilight! Cerberus just chewed through our sewage pipe!”
“I know! I just came through here to tell you that the rest of us nose goed out of cleaning it up. Oooo, hey! Nice view you humans have here!”
Rainbow Dash quickly attempted to nose go, but ended up poking her eye with her new finger. “OW!”
Twilight groaned and reached out to push them back. “Back to Equestria, both of you!”
“Come on, I’ll be right there!” Sunset and Flurry Heart watched as Twilight shoved Rainbow and Pinkie’s faces back through the portal.
They're not so different from my friends after all, Sunset thought with a small grin.
“I need to go,” Twilight said over her shoulder. “Just remember that she’s very impressionable, so please be so very careful about what she sees and hears? I really don’t want another applebucking incident!”
“You have my word,” Sunset assured. “We’ll be fine, Twilight. See you when you get back!”
“Okay...alright…” She rushed forward and kissed the baby on the cheek. “Be good for aunt Sunset, okay? I love you! So so very much! I’ll be right back! You won’t even know I’m gone!”
“Maaaaybe I should give her one more spoonful of applesauce?”
“Right! Going now! I’ll be going now.” She waved with an anxious smile before disappearing inside the portal.
After a few seconds of silence, Flurry blinked twice before her face twisted into one of anguish. She reached out her little chubby arms out towards where her auntie once stood, and her bottom lip began to tremble.. “Uh oh,” Sunset winced.
Loud wails carried on the winds and through the trees. Sunset dropped Flurry’s bag and quickly bounced the forlorn toddler in her arms. “Shhh, shhh, Flurry, it’s okay! She’ll be back!” She felt more and more uneasy as Flurry cried louder, squirming in the teenager’s arms. Sunset’s eyes darted around campus.
A small straggle of students who were hanging out on school grounds were giving her looks varying from shock to concern. “Hey,” she chuckled, continuing to bounce the bawling baby. Some students slowly inched away.
Great. The last thing she needed was people thinking she was kidnapping a child, just when she gained everyone's trust.
Then Sunset gasped. “Look, Flurry, look! Hands!” She held up Flurry’s left hand and wiggled it. She stared at her chubby little hand before putting it inside her mouth and chewing on it with her three sharp teeth.
“Whew. That was close.” She bent down and picked up Flurry’s bag, putting it over her shoulder so she could carry the baby with both arms.
“Now let’s get you home, yeah?”
Sunset carefully placed Flurry Heart onto her leather couch, still chewing on her hand. “I’ve never actually taken care of a baby before. Much less a human baby. There’s a first time for everything, I guess.”
She set Flurry’s bag to the wooden floor and crouched down. She went through the large number of supplies, her hands digging through the clutter. “Toys, fruit, diapers, milk bottles, blankets...dictionary?”
She lifted a heavy brown book and flipped through it with her thumb. “6400 pages?” She rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help but smile. “Thought as much. Looks like you’ll have a bigger vocabulary than me by the time you’re two, huh, little girl?”
Flurry looked up with bright eyes and seemed to smile with her hand still in her mouth.
Sunset pulled out a milk bottle and glanced at her watch. “Guess now’s a good time to warm your milk.” She turned and walked over to the dining room/kitchen. “Okay, let’s see if I can do this right…”
She pondered for a bit when her eyes fell on her microwave. “That should do the trick!” She popped the bottle in the microwave and glanced at the buttons. “Hmmm...can’t be too hot. Let’s do thirty seconds. I’ll just have to stop it before it gets to twenty.”
She turned with a satisfied smirk on her face, until she was greeted by an empty couch. Sunset immediately deflated the moment she realized she wasn’t imagining things. “Flurry!? Flurry Heart?” She flipped over the couch pillows and parted the curtains by the window. “Princess? Come on, stop hiding! Olly olly oxen free!”
A small giggle answered her from a distance. Sunset’s head snapped up and went down the hall to the open door of her bedroom. “FLURRY!” Sunset cried. The small toddler was hanging off the side of Sunset’s desk with only her teeth. Flurry giggled again, her body swinging back and forth.
“Nonononono!” She marched forward and picked her up, much to the Princess's annoyance. “Oh, little girl, you scared me! You’re never supposed to bite something that’s not your block!”
Sunset returned the fussing child to the couch and gave her the chewing block. “Now please stay right there. I’ll get you your milk.” With Flurry occupied, she sprinted back to the microwave, only to find that the time had reached the full thirty seconds. “Shoot,” she muttered, taking out the bottle. Her mouth twisted into a curious frown. “Well...it can’t be that hot, can it?” She turned over her left hand and squirted the milk on her wrist.
Sunset immediately dropped the bottle of milk and clutched her wrist, a white puddle forming at her feet. “AAARGH!” she screamed, her back hunching over. “SON OF A--”
A pan clattered loudly on the floor.
The wooden block dropped from Flurry’s mouth.
“Horse apples,” Sunset grumbled, snatching a dishtowel from the sink and flicking her burned wrist.
Flurry wiggled her feet and stuck out her tongue. “Sunva bish!”
Sunset stopped, standing stiff. Slowly, she turned her head towards the small child, her eyes wide as saucers. “...What?”
Flurry smiled at her, bouncing her arms on the couch. Sunset darted over and fell to her knees at the foot of the couch, lightly gripping Flurry’s shoulders. “F-Flurry!? What did you just say!?”
“Sunva bish!” Flurry stated proudly.
Sunset’s breath hitched in her throat and she shook her head wildly. “Nononono! You can’t say that, Flurry! That’s a bad word, understand? Sunny didn’t mean to say that!”
“Sunva bish!” Flurry insisted.
Sunset covered her hands with her mouth. What...what did I just do? Twilight was right! She IS like a sponge! How is she ever going to trust me again if Flurry repeats it back to her!?
“Uhh…” Sunset collected herself and rubbed her palms together. Okay. Calm down. You can fix this. Try to fix this. “Hey Flurry! Can you say ‘Itch’?” She started scratching at her back and her sides with exaggeration. “Hoo, boy. Sun’s got an itch! Can we say that instead? Sun’s got an itch!”
Flurry shook her head. “Suuuuuuunva bishhhh!”
“Uhh, okay, um...none of a glitch!”
“T-Ton of stitch? Fun to be rich? ON A DITCH!?”
Sunset grabbed two fistfulls of her heair and reared back. “UUUUGH!”
Suddenly, she could hear the front door to her apartment open and close, followed by a “Hey-O!”
Sunset released her hair and turned around from her spot on the floor. “Dash! When are you ever gonna knock before entering?”
“When you finally lock your door,” Rainbow replied, strutting over. “Wait till I tell you about the Countess Coloratura concert last night!” She slung her backpack onto a nearby bean bag chair. “I went last night with A.J. and Pinks. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be into it. But the music, Sunset!”
She ran both hands through her bushy hair and bounced on the balls of her feet as she squealed. “So good! And the best part was that Applejack actually knew her since they were kids! A-And we even got backstage passes! And we got free CDs! And free merchandise!”
She bounced even higher, almost hitting her head on the ceiling. “That concert was the s--”
Rainbow stopped bouncing in mid air. Her eyes shifted over to Sunset. “What?”
Sunset nudged her head towards Flurry, who stared at her with wide eyes. Rainbow’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh!” Her feet returned to the floor and she rubbed the back of her neck. “Uh, heh...sorry about that. Guess I was so excited, I didn’t even notice her. Who’s she, your cousin or something?”
“Twilight’s niece,” Sunset sighed. “Princess Twilight, I mean. Some monsters are attacking Ponyville and she kinda got pulled away. She sent me a quick message through the book, and asked me to look after Flurry while she’s gone.”
Rainbow locked eyes with Flurry Heart and gave a small smile before stepping back. “Ohh, Flurry! Yeah, I heard about her. That’s cool. But what’s up with you? You look totally down.”
Sunset opened her mouth, but Flurry said it for her. “BISH!”
Rainbow’s head almost went all the way around as she gaped at the child. “What did you just call me!?”
“It’s not her fault, Dash!” Sunset said hurriedly, standing up. “I...accidentally let it slip when I burned myself with baby milk. I took my eyes off the microwave timer when I was looking for her and…”
Rainbow shifted on her foot and crossed her arms. “Okay. Two things. One, you’re never supposed to heat a bottle inside a microwave! You put it in warm water.”
“And two...that...wouldn’t be her first word, would it?”
Sunset swallowed hard. “Uh...I...well…” She covered her face with her hands. “Oh no...What am I gonna do? What if she repeats that word to Princess Cadence? Do you know how insulting that would feel!?”
“Hmm. I dunno. I think it'd be more insulting if she said it to Shining Armor,” Rainbow smirked.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry! I’m just kidding, okay? Just give her another word to use or something!”
“I tried that!” Sunset groaned. “Just...watch.” She turned to Flurry. “Flurry, can you maybe say ‘Twitch’ for me?”
Flurry smiled with her mouth open wide as she waved her arms as if she were trying to take off flying. “Sonva bish, Sonva bish, Sooooonva bish!” she sang.
“Whoah!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed. “Sun, you really Fire trucked up!”
“RAINBOW!” Sunset hissed.
“What? I didn't curse!"
A faint vibrating sound from down the hall suddenly broke their conversation. “The book!” Sunset cried. “It’s Twilight! Are...are the monsters defeated already!?” She chewed on her fingernails for a moment. “S-stay with her, Dash. I’ll try and stall or time!”
“Excuse me!?” Rainbow squeaked. “I-I don’t want to be alone with her!”
“Why not? You're great with kids!”
“Kids! Not toddlers! They’re...too unpredictable!”
“Oh, for goodness sake,” Sunset huffed before turning on her heel. “Just watch her for a few seconds, I’ll be back!”
Rainbow stared after Sunset's retreating back. “Sunvah bish!" Flurry heart told her.
“She’s having her nap, you should come back later,” Sunset muttered as she grabbed the book. “No, no. That won’t work. I’m…” She flipped through the pages with shaky hands. “Stuck...in...traffic...and I can’t make it...to the portal?” Taking a deep breath, she willed herself to read the pages.
Dear Sunset Shimmer,
Well, I have good news and bad news. the good news is that the monster problem was resolved quicker than expected and the Ponyville citizens have returned to help pick up the pieces. The bad news...remember those dark lords I mentioned? Well, after we sent their ‘pets’ back to tartarus, they were actually happy about it. Thrilled, even.
Turns out the whole monster thing was to wear us out. It was part of their plan all along. They seemed to have a strange ability to turn us into alternate versions of ourselves so that they could steal the souls of our inner magic. I don’t remember much, but Spike explained that we had turned against the town. That was, until Starlight Glimmer was able to change a third of us back. Somehow. Applejack Pinkie Pie and Rarity are still having their...issues. Anywho, after I healed with Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, we set out to find the dark lords before they steal away Generosity, Honesty and Laughter forever.
Long story short, we’re camped out for the night and three of us are tied down at the moment. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to get to you as quick as I thought. I hope you don’t mind watching Flurry for a couple more hours. I just know you two will get along.
Also, will you please make sure she listens to the Dictionary for her naptime? At this rate, her first words could be a contraction! Or an antonym! Ooh, or even an alliteration!
And hey...thank you so much for looking after my niece. You have no idea how comforting it is to know that she’s safe with someone as responsible and trustworthy as you. Goodnight from here in Equestria.
Sincerely, Twilight Sparkle
Sunset sighed as she quickly jotted down a reply. “At least that gives me some time, but at this rate, she could be back within half an hour or so. Maybe even less.” She closed the book before going down the hall.
Her friend in question was sitting on the couch with her leg propped up. She smirked as she threw out a stick. Flurry Heart quickly crawled over to to the right and caught the stick between her teeth. Giggling, she brought it back to Rainbow Dash. “Dash!?”
“Oh, hey, Sunset!” Rainbow said before throwing the stick again.
Sunset threw up her hands. “She’s not a dog!”
“Eh, dog, pony, same thing. How’d it go with Twilight? Is she on the way?”
“No,” she mumbled, moving over to the kitchen to finally clean up that milk puddle. “She’s held up at the moment, so she won’t be back for a while. Or not. I have no idea anymore.”
Rainbow got up from the couch and scooped up the royal offspring. “I gotta say, I think I’m starting to kind of like her,” she admitted, lightly scratching at the back of Flurry’s curly hair. “At first, I wasn’t too sure about the idea because I usually don't know how to handle babies. They’re always so fragile and emotional. They eat, they sleep, and they cry. You can’t do anything with them! But McFlurry? She’s durable!”
Sunset huffed. “While I’m glad you like her, Rainbow, that still doesn’t solve my problem!”
“Sonva bish!” Flurry agreed.
“I got an idea,” Rainbow said. “When I thought back to my childhood, I realized that I was kinda like McFlurry here. I was pretty stubborn and I never liked anyone telling me what to do. Whenever someone told me not to do something, I’d do the opposite. I was like...three maybe. With McFlurry, you should just give her a new word, like I said before.”
“But I already gave her a new word! I gave her tons of words!”
“Nonono. You’re thinking too much, Sunset. You need to think outside the box. Here.” She handed the child over to Sunset and sidestepped to one of the kitchen drawers. “Watch and learn.”
After making sure Flurry was watching, Rainbow opened the drawer and reached her hand inside before shuffling around. “Nothing here,” she observed. Then she slammed the drawer closed.
“Aaaah!” Rainbow shouted dramatically. “HOBBLEDEHOY!”
Sunset lifted an eyebrow while Flurry put a thumb in her mouth. “Okay, what does that do?”
Rainbow waved her supposedly injured hand and smiled. “Just watch.”
She smiled at the toddler. “Flurry! Whaddaya say to that?”
There was a long pause before Flurry took her thumb out of her mouth. “Hobble-dee-hoi.”
“No, Flurry,” Rainbow said, frowning. “We’re not supposed to say that word.”
“Hobble-dee-hoi,” Flurry repeated.
“YES!” Rainbow cheered.
Sunset's mouth fell open. ‘H-How? How did you do it?”
“Reverse psychology, my friend,” Rainbow sighed with a grin. “My parents did it all the time. And don’t worry. Most babies her age tend to do these things. She’ll grow out of it soon. I think.”
Sunset smiled as she rose up from the floor. “I don’t know how to thank you. You really saved my babysitting image.”
Flurry Heart yawned and rested her head against Sunset’s shoulder, her eyes closed. “I almost forgot,” Sunset whispered. “She was supposed to have her nap by now. I better put her to bed.”
Rainbow nodded. “You need to feed her when she wakes up, too. How bout I stay and teach you how to warm milk the right way?”
Sunset's cheeks warmed. “Absolutely.” She paused. “Hey, are you sure that word is okay to use around Twilight?”
Rainbow shrugged. “If it’s okay to use around you, Twilight shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Ha ha haaaa.”
Sunset and Rainbow Dash waited beside the portal with Flurry stood in between them, holding their hands. “Hobble-dee-hoi,” she said casually.
“Oh, Flurry,” Sunset chuckled.
Right on cue, Twilight jumped through the portal with a few bruises on her arms and legs and her hair unkempt. Flurry squealed upon seeing her aunt in the flesh.
“Ha….ha….I’m…*Gulp* BACK!” Twilight proclaimed, weakly holding a fist in the air.
“Twilight!” Sunset exclaimed. “Are you okay?”
“I’m...fit as...a Flugelhorn,” Twilight panted. Her smile was weak but couldn’t be more genuine. “Everything’s alright now...Flurry!”
Sunset and Rainbow let go of Flurry’s hands and let her toddle excitedly into Twilight’s arms. “Oooh, how are you, little munchkin?” she cooed, lifting her up and kissing her on the forehead. “Aren’t you a beautiful sight? I’ve missed you so much…”
Flurry smiled and squished Twilight’s cheeks together. “Hobble-dee-hoi!”
Twilight frowned slightly. “Hobbledehoy?” she repeated, arching an eyebrow.
Sunset fiddled around nervously while Rainbow stood with a large, cheese-eating grin on her face.
“Hobble-dee-hoi?” Flurry asked, gazing into Twilight’s eyes.
Sunset swallowed hard.
“That’s great, Flurry!” Twilight exclaimed, rubbing her cheek against hers. “Your first word! Ohh, I’m so proud of you! Wait until Shining and Cadence hears you! I guess all those nights of reading you the dictionary really paid off!’
She turned to her friends, beaming with pride. “I can’t thank you guys enough! You two are just wonderful! I hope she wasn’t too much trouble!”
“She’s a peach,” Rainbow replied while Sunset handed Twilight Flurry’s belongings.
“She’s a good kid, Twilight," Sunset said. "I can’t wait to meet this world’s Flurry Heart. Though I’ve grown...quite attached to this one already. Oh, I’ll miss you, little girl.”
Flurry leaned forward and gently bit Sunset’s hand. Then she did the same to Rainbow.
“Aww, how sweet. That means she likes you,” Twilight said. “Well, I’d better get going. Shining Armor and Cadence will be by the castle tomorrow to pick her up. Thank you again! See you girls later!”
After saying their goodbyes, Sunset and Rainbow watched as Twilight disappeared behind the portal, but not before seeing Flurry Heart waving at them over her shoulder.
Sunset sighed heavily and slumped to the ground. Rainbow Dash grinned and patted her on the shoulder. “Ya done good, Sunset. Luckily for us, none of this had any dire consequences whatsoever!”
Two days later...
“Flurry,” Shining Armor warned as Cadence walked by behind him. “For the last time! You need to eat your zucchini!” He prodded the spoonful of yucky green stuff at her lips with his magic.
Flurry turned her nose up with a “Harumph!”
“Flurry Heart,” Shining said sternly. “If you don’t eat your zucchini, you won’t get any dessert!”
Flurry’s eyes took on a new fire as she faced her father and pounded both hooves on the table.