A ray of sunlight shone onto Fluttershy's face gently pulling her from her sleep. With her eyes opened and focused, the sleeping face of Sunset Shimmer greeted her from an inch away. Their legs were intertwined, their bodies pressed up against each other, and Sunset rested her arms around Fluttershy's waist. Flustered and reeling she wracked her brain for details of last night. There was a snowstorm, she decided to sleep over, then...
“Good morning Fluttershy, sleep well?” Sunset grinned.
“Um y-yes?” Fluttershy stammered, her face glowing red.
“You okay? You seem tense.”
“Um, it's just that um, why am I in your bed?”
“You don't remember?”
“N-no, I don't. Oh my… we didn't… y'know?”
Sunset looked puzzled for a moment until she realized what Fluttershy was trying to say. Her face turned a shade redder than Fluttershy’s and in a flustered tone she began explaining. “W-what? No, no, the heater's broken and it was sub-zero last night. You'd literally freeze to death if you slept on the couch so we huddled together for warmth.” Sunset sat up accidentally knocking the thick covers off exposing them both to the stinging icy bite of the unheated air.
“Eep!” Fluttershy shrieked, a small cloud of condensation puffed from her mouth. Fluttershy reflexively clutched the blankets back over herself.
“You're my friend, you’re super cute, and I love you to bits, but not in that way. I mean... unless y—”
“C-c-cute?! L-love?! B-b-bits?! Eep!” She hid under the covers.
Sunset watched in amusement as the embarrassed mass twitched under the covers before something dawned on her. She glanced at the clock to confirm her suspicions and turned to the flustered blob to speak.
“Hey, it's almost time for school. Today’s the last day of exams right?” The shuddering mass rose up from the bed and rolled away taking the sheets with it. Sunset let out a screechy complaint about the sudden rush of cold immediately followed by a succinct apology from the mass as it shed its cocoon and returned it to the nest. Fluttershy scurried into the bathroom and shut the door. Sounds of rushed rustling, a rusty squeak, and some splashing noises emanated through the cheap hollow core door culminating in the door flying open with Fluttershy barreling out looking moderately presentable. She hastily returned her neatly folded set of borrowed pajamas to Sunset and thanked her for letting her use them and the extra toothbrush. The rushed girl said her goodbyes and made off to the front door. Two yellow boots were yanked onto a pair of woolly sock insulated feet and a spring green jacket was hurriedly wrapped around a petite frame.
“Good luck with your exams Fluttershy.” Sunset stood in the living room wrapped in a blanket and holding a mug of tea while waving goodbye.
“Thanks Sunset. Oh and thank you for having me over, I'm so glad that we can be friends again.”
Sunset beamed. “You have no idea how happy it makes me to be your friend.”
Fluttershy smiled. “Bye Sunset, I love you.” She grabbed her bag and caught a glimpse of Sunset’s flush red face spraying tea on the floor before she embarked off into the cold white snow. Fluttershy hadn’t realized why Sunset reacted the way she did until the door closed. One moment passed. Two moments. And…
“EEEeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Fluttershy squealed, her hands clutching her crimson cheeks. How could something like that slip out so casually? She sprinted the half mile to school completely uninterrupted. Under normal circumstances her frail body would give out thirty seconds into the sprint, but right now she was much too embarrassed to remember how unathletic she was. The brick facade of Canterlot High appeared as she rounded the corner. Fluttershy slowed her frantic running down to a brisk walking pace as she finally ran out of steam and she collapsed against a stony structure. She stopped for a moment to regain her composure while clouds of condensation billowed from her mouth with every exhale. When rested, she looked up and found herself standing before the Wondercolts statue. A gaggle of familiar voices sounded from the other side of the statue. Fluttershy hadn't forgotten the promise she made to Sunset yesterday and prepared herself for the difficult conversation that needed to be had. She stepped around the statue and saw four of her friends standing in a circle chatting idly.
“Oh hey Fluttershy crazy storm last night huh?” Rainbow greeted.
“Hey everyone, um there's something we need to talk about.” Fluttershy stood up straight with a determined look on her face.
“What is it Shy?” Applejack asked.
She took a deep breath. Be assertive. “I don’t think Sunset is Anon-a-miss, I believe she is completely innocent. I visited her yesterday and apologized, we even had a sleep over. Anyways I was hoping that all of you could apologize to her too, but I know you must have questions first.”
Fluttershy's revelation left the group stunned. Applejack was first to comment.
“Um what now? Seriously? I thought we settled this already. We have undeniable proof that she'd done it, photos and videos from her phone were posted under Anon-a-miss' account. There's no way it ain't her.”
Fluttershy felt a pang of disappointment at Applejack's reaction. “But don’t you remember how much she cried after we confronted her about it? How about what she said to us in the mall yesterday? Why can't you see that her pain is real? If she really was Anon-a-miss she wouldn't be so heartbroken by what we did to her.”
Rainbow Dash crossed her arms. “Psh, it's just acting and you totally fell for it. You should quit talking to her or else that traitor bitch is gonna steal more of your secrets if she didn't already.”
Fluttershy reeled and stamped her foot down. “Rainbow Dash! How dare you talk about Sunset that way! You're lucky Twilight isn't here!”
“If Twilight was here she would totally be agreeing with me. Come on Flutters, lets just drop this okay? I don't want any bad vibes before the exams,” Rainbow said.
“I'm sorry dearie, but I think Rainbow is right for once. We should just forget anything ever happened and continue about our business. What do you say?” Rarity added.
While Fluttershy expected these responses, hearing them out loud was more disheartening than anticipated. “I can't believe this. Twilight trusted us to be there for Sunset, but we aren't. Even IF she was still evil we should be trying to help her. Pinkie! You haven't said anything, please tell me at least you agree?”
Her pink cotton candy hair drooped over her face as she responded to Fluttershy in an uncharacteristically sorrowful tone. “I don't know Fluttershy. I just don't know.”
Hope boiled into anger. “Well FINE! If you won't be her friends then I WILL! Don’t talk to me unless you realize how big of a mistake you are making.” Fluttershy curtly turned away and stamped off to the school building.
“Should we go after her?” Rainbow asked.
“I reckon we should let her be for now, but to be honest I don't think she's gonna quit until she learns first hand why we shouldn't trust Anon-a-miss. Lets all hope it ain't too embarrassing for her.”
“I wish Twilight was here.” Rainbow said. “She’d know what to say.” The bell rang.
* * *
Fluttershy felt relieved that school was officially out for the holidays, but questioned whether this break would be any fun without her friends. She hadn't spoken to any of them since morning and likely won't speak to any in the near future, at least not until they apologize to Sunset. Fluttershy let out a prolonged sigh and started down the sidewalk in the general direction of her house. She felt the packed snow crunch beneath her boots as she strolled down the frozen walkway. Pulling her phone out she formed a text message to Sunset as she walked, but she stopped halfway through upon hearing a rustling sound ahead caught her attention. It was Flash carrying several plastic bags filled with groceries.
Fluttershy put her phone away and meekly waved at him. “Um, hi. Flash.”
“Uh... Hey. Sorry, have we met?”
His eyes narrowed and his brows furled. “Wait a second, you're one of those girls giving Sunset the cold shoulder. I remember you from the mall a couple days ago.”
She didn't expect the interaction to go like this. Her knees began shaking. “I-I apologized to her yesterday. She s-said she's giving me a second chance. T-then we had a slept over with her.” She mixed up her words.
“Huh?! You did what with her?” His face bore a confused expression.
“Um, s-she let me stay the night in her bed.”
“What? Really? Wow. Uh, I'm... glad? I think...” He glanced away.
“Oh, um Flash? I wanted to thank you for protecting Sunset from Gilda. Sunset told me what happened. I-I think that was very brave of you.”
“Haha, its no big deal. I’ll punch out anyone if it means keeping Sunset safe. Anyways, I gotta finish this errand for Gran Gran. See ya, and uh congratulations.” He passed Fluttershy and hurried back to his grandmother.
Fluttershy waved as he left and wondered what he meant by congratulations. She retrieved her phone from her sweatpants pocket and resumed typing her message to Sunset.
Hi Sunset. The exams are over now so we can hang out whenever you want.
Without missing a beat Sunset responded.
How about right now?
Oh I'd love to, I'll be right over.
* * *
Fluttershy stood outside Sunset’s apartment for the second time today. She walked up the cement stairs while holding the wrought iron guard rails until she made it to Sunset’s door. She knocked once and the door flung open.
“Fluttershy!” Sunset lunged out greeting her with a big hug. “How were the exams?”
Fluttershy reciprocated the hug. “I-I think I did fine on them. Thanks for asking.” The girls released each other.
“Alright, so on a more serious note, there’s something I need to check today,” Sunset said, she turned around and made a beckoning gesture, someone walked up to the doorway.
“Oh hey Shutterfly,” Flash said.
“Her name is Fluttershy, you jerk.” Sunset ebbed him in the ribs with her elbow.
“Ow, sorry Fluttershy.” Flash rubbed his side.
“Anyways, I’ll explain on the way there. Flash, you’re driving us to CHS.” Sunset shut and locked her apartment door. The three climbed down the stairs and got into Flash’s red sports car.
“So um, Sunset. What’s this all about?” Fluttershy asked. Flash turned the ignition and pulled out of the parking spot.
“This is about Twilight. The last message I received from her was over three days ago, but I’ve been writing her everyday since then trying to keep her updated on the situation, but she hasn’t responded yet. In her last message she mentioned there was something wrong with the portal, so I’m afraid that the portal might be busted. I need to check for myself just to be sure.” Sunset watched the scenery whiz by from the passenger window.
“Wait, so is that why Twilight hasn’t been able to help? The portal doesn’t work?” Flash said.
“I hope not.” Sunset looked out the window at the Wondercolts statue spotting a flash of light and a hooded figure running off.
“Whoa! What the heck was that? Stop the car Flash.” Flash pulled into a space next to the curb and parked.
Sunset leapt out of the convertible and ran after the figure. “Hey! Wait!” she shouted, but the figure was nowhere to be seen.
“Um, Sunset?” Fluttershy gestured at the statue looking worried. Sunset walked up to the face of the statue and pressed her hand against it. Cold solid marble.
“This is just what I was afraid of.” Sunset scowled.
Flash rested his hand on her shoulder comfortingly. “Is there some way we can fix it?”
“Without any magic? Impossible. Even with magic I don’t know if I could do anything, but what really worries me is that person I saw. Why would anyone do something like this? Do you know what this means? We might not see Twilight ever again.” Sunset rested her forehead against the statue.
Sunset lifted her head back up. “Come on guys, lets—” Sunset heard a trio of familiar voices.
“And she was all like ‘No Applebloom, big sis is tryna drink ta forget an if ya tell granny I’m drinkin her moonshine I’ll hogtie ya to the windmill.’ I just wanted to play a board game with her, but she’s gotta be all mopey,” Applebloom said.
“It’s the same with Rarity! She did that thing again where she cries and binge eats ice cream at the same time. I actually feel pretty bad about it.” Sweetie Belle stared at her feet. Scootaloo slurped her chocolate milkshake.
“Hey girls.” With a smug expression Sunset stood on the sidewalk blocking their path. Flash and Fluttershy watched from a distance.
“S-Sunset? W-what are you doing here?” Applebloom said.
“Just, y’know enjoying the holidays. It, sure is great getting to spend time with the people you love. Hey, are you girls feeling alright? You’re looking a bit pale, like you’ve seen a ghost or something.”
“N-no we’re fine,” Scootaloo said trembling.
“You’re a terrible liar, kid. I can see you shaking.”
Scootaloo rendered speechless, dropped her milkshake on the ground.
“Wh-what are you gonna do to us?” Sweetie Belle shrieked.
“Nothing. Just saying hi. Enjoy the rest of your break with your sisters, girls. Happy holidays.” Sunset gave them a toothy smile.