• Published 4th Dec 2014
  • 4,981 Views, 875 Comments

Seven Days in Sunny June, Book III - Shinzakura

In the past year, Sunset Shimmer's life has changed radically and now she finds herself with a family and friends - a life she treasures. But big changes are on the horizon....

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June 3: Every Day I Write the Book

“I don’t want to go,” a young girl declared. She was sitting dejectedly at the breakfast table, repeatedly toying with her omelet. She had short two-tone cyan-and-celeste hair, with a floral barrette she wore to the side. Currently dressed in a french-navy-style t-shirt and a jean skirt, she looked like she was on the verge of pouting, but thought better of it.

Across the table from her, a young man just a few years older than her sighed. He had blue tousled hair and round-rim eyeglasses and was currently wear a lavender-soap-colored shirt and stone-hued slacks. Bluish-hued stubble littered his top lip, the look of a teen on the cusp of adulthood debating if he should grow facial hair or not. In any case, he looked at her and said, “Coco…you have to go. We may never see Nana again. Trust me: if you don’t go, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”

“But hospitals scare me, Fancy!” Coco Pommel said in a soft voice. While she adored Fancy Pants, her older brother sometimes acted too much like an adult for his own good. Now was one of those times, she felt. “I’ve….” She fell silent for a second, then finished her words: “I just…I just don’t like them.”

Fancy reached over and mussed his little sister’s hair. Coco tended to be afraid to grow up; she was a shrinking violet of a personality, and while normally he was fine with that, he was going away to college in a couple of months and he wasn’t going to be there for her on a regular basis anymore. Sooner or later, she couldn’t hide behind him. “Coco, just…this is important. It’s important to our parents, and more so for Nana. You should go see her.”

Coco thought about it for a second, then looked in her brother’s strong eyes. She wished she had his courage. “Okay, I’ll go…but on one condition.”

“What’s that?”

She pointed at his lip. “Shave. Dad might look good with a beard, but I think you look better clean-shaven.”

His face contorted in a semi-scowl. “But I like not shaving. It makes me look…distinguished, don’t you think?”

“Fleur says she doesn’t like it,” Coco confided. “She told me it feels scratchy when you two kiss.”

Fancy rolled his eyes. “And since when have you been discussing my love life with my girlfriend?”

She gave a warm smile. “I’m just saying, big brother – you do want to make her happy, right? And me?”

The youth chuckled. “Okay, since you insist. Besides, I was just curious – don’t really ever think I’ll grow one out, since I’d probably look horrible with a mustache.”

“And make sure form CDSS-304 is completely filled out, accompanied by CDSS-228, which is the Certificate of Health; and CDSS-1146, which is the background investigations document,” the clerk said to Ballad.

“Well, this should be all they’ll need to get started,” Ballad replied. “Thank you for your time, Ms. Brief.”

The young woman looked up from her desk, on which a nameplate sat, reading AMICUS BRIEF, LEGAL SERVICES CLERK. “Oh, no, it’s no problem at all!” the woman replied with a smile. “In fact, had I known it was for Cadance’s future in-laws, I would have gotten the paperwork prepared sooner. Wish I could get married in Italy…but I guess I’d need a boyfriend first. Anyway, have a nice day and have Cadance call me when she gets back, okay?”

“Will do!” Octavia grinned as she and her mother departed the building. As they walked towards the car, the teen musician held the stack of documents in her hands as though it was one of the most precious treasures known to man. “Do we have a briefcase for these?” Octavia asked Ballad. “Preferably one with a lock?”

“Sweetie, you’re treating them like classified government documents,” Ballad replied, trying to stifle a giggle.

“Mom, these are important to me!”

“I daresay they’re more important to your aunt and uncle.”

“Point.” As Octavia got into the car, she voiced, “I wonder how much my life is going to change in the next few. You’ll be gone at the end of the month, I’ll be living with Uncle Night and Aunt Velvet, and now this….” The last part hadn’t been expected; originally the plan had been for Evening and Ballad to depart the week prior to Octavia’s first week of school, but then the orchestra they were joining had just received a request for a Command Performance for the Sultan of Brunei. As that was an extremely prestigious opportunity, Evening and Ballad chose to join their group as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime event.

Ballad reached over and took her daughter’s face in her own hand. “Tavi, life is all about change. Look at Sunny – when she first came into our lives, she was lonely and guarded, with only had her friends to rely on, and if what Velvet’s friend says is true, she didn’t even really trust them. And now look at her: She has a family, a life, people who love and support her and that all came about because of change.”

“Sorry. It’s just…well, I’ve never really thought of myself as a kid growing up, but with you and Dad leaving and me staying here, it feels like I’m losing a part of my childhood.”

“Tavi, dear, considering that we won’t see you again until Shining’s wedding next year, how do you think your father and I feel?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Smiling, Ballad reached over to kiss her daughter on the forehead. “Besides, you aren’t rid of your father and I just yet, and as Sunny is still at school, you and I have time to maybe get a quick treat at Sugarcube Corner before your cousin needs a lift.”

It was in the middle of one of Sunset’s classes that her phone went off. She didn’t recognize the number, but she didn’t need to – only one person would call her at this time of day. “Ms. Cheerilee? I really need to take this call,” Sunset stated.

“Sunset, this is the middle of cla—”

“It’s my sister – she’s calling from Italy, and I’m really worried about her.” The look on Sunset’s eyes was determined; if worst came to, she’d just walk out of the class and take the call regardless and pray that an explanation to Ms. Luna would smooth things over. She hoped that wouldn’t happen, as she didn’t want to put her mother’s friend on the spot. Besides, she liked Ms. Cheerilee – she was one of the first teachers to acknowledge Sunset’s change, which made her feel good inside.

“I see.” Cheerilee looked at the clock, then sighed. “Okay, but see me after the school day so we can go over what you missed. We have a lot of ground to cover, and very little time to cover it in.”

Sunset nodded, grabbed her purse and her books, then rushed out the door. She made it as far as the door before she answered. “Twily?”

“No, Sunny, it’s just me.” Shining’s voice sounded over the line, though it was scratchy and had a slight reverb to it. “Sorry if the call’s not the greatest; the connection is absolutely horrible. Took me three times to get you.”

“How’s things going?” While she was disappointed that it wasn’t Twilight, she was glad that it was a member of her family, namely her older brother. She knew that technically she was the oldest, but no one in her family knew the truth about her, and besides, it felt good having an “older” sibling to look out for her.

“Busy as hell. I’m probably going to have to take a crash course in Italian just so I can say my vows and the like; fortunately, Armonia says that since I know some Spanish, it shouldn’t be all that hard, since all Romance languages are the same anyway.” Sunset immediately made a mental note to look up “romance language”; she got the feeling that Shining was using romance differently than what it usually meant. “Other than that, the place is beautiful and I think Cady and I are going to enjoy running around Europe for our honeymoon.”

“Sure, rub it in, why don’t you?” Sunset teased, though in truth she was too happy to really hear from him – or anyone, really; she could have even dealt with Spike’s brattiness on the phone.

“Hey, you’ll get there someday, Sunny. Anyway, the other reason I called is to let you know about Twily.”

At the sound of Twilight’s name, Sunset suddenly froze up, her breath suspended in mid-exhalation. “Is…is she okay?” Sunset asked in a concerned voice. She knew logically, in her mind, that between Raspberry and Princess Twilight firing counterspells into both the Sombra and Platinum mirrors, as well as her application of spells on her end, the combined result should’v …no, would get to Twilight soon. But even still, she worried. Twilight was her younger sister and Sunset had done everything she could to protect her – she knew her heart would break if something caused the cure to go wrong.

“She’s fine,” Shining told her, “but everyone’s afraid she’s going to miss the trip, because she’s been spending most of it so far sleeping. But otherwise, she looks like she’s fine. I know you’ve been worried about her; Mom and Dad admit that maybe in retrospect they could’ve been a little more vigilant about the whole thing, but…long story short, she’s doing well. She should be back to normal by the time we’re ready to fly hom…Sunny, is something wrong?”

Sunset wiped a tear from her eyes. “Just…it’s a little foggy over here. Smoke in the eyes. You know, that sort of stuff.”

“Riiiiiiiight.” For a few more minutes, the two talked about various things. They both laughed at Spike’s reaction to the fact that Italian cooking meant more than just pizza and pasta, or that Night’s attempts to speak Italian were horrid, given that most of his exposure had come from a Rosetta Stone course. And then there was the subtle rivalry between Armonia and Velvet for control of the wedding, with Cadance occasionally reminding the two women that it was her wedding.

“Wow, sounds like I’m missing all the fun,” Sunset replied.

“Oh, don’t worry; you’ll be here next year for the actual panic mode. Anyway, I need to get going; Armonia is talking to the florist and I really need to be there before she, Cady and Mom blow things out of proportion. Again. But I just wanted you to know that we’re all thinking of you, little sister.”

Sunset was barely able to say goodbye as a sudden realization ran through her head: he’d never called her that before. Not that she thought he didn’t care; quite the contrary, as the fact that it had been him to call showed exactly how much he’d been thinking about her, and he’d been the one that started her connection to the family in the first place. But it had always been a term he’d reserved for Twilight, or, on rare occasions, Octavia. Never her, until now.

Not until I started actually meaning that to him, she thought with a smile.

“You look happy,” Luna said as she approached. “Happy enough to tell me why you’re out of class?” Sunset quickly explained and a second later the educator nodded. “I suspected as much; I just wanted to make sure. So I presume the excess sleeping is a side effect of the counterspells?”

“That, or weeks of near-insomnia are finally crashing down on her. Either way, both she and my parents – who were affected by a subsidiary string of the spell – should be fine soon.” A thought then came to Sunset, and she added, “Or…as well as they can without Cady turning into a bridezilla.”

“Cadance would never do that,” Luna replied, a soft smile on her lips. “She’s too sincere and honest.” Sunset, who’d briefly read about Princess Cadance’s disastrous wedding, opted to keep quiet lest she spoil the moment.

“Thanks for coming with me, Octavia, dear,” Rarity commented. “It just seems…odd…that everyone is busy, and besides, I did promise to repay you for the help that you gave me the other day.”

“Oh, believe me, I think I’ve earned this one,” Octavia grinned, looking at the menu. “Besides, with the way your sister and her friends suddenly hijacked me into being their ‘mentor’ so they could watch all those kids while at the museum….” She shrugged. “Y’know, I wasn’t in the scouts long, but I don’t recall anything about needing a mentor for everything.”

Rarity blushed slightly. “Well, as you are aware, Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo can be…quite, ahem, fervent…in their pursuit of every single girl scout badge possible. From what I understand, it’s driven Mrs. Firefly, the troop’s den mother, completely up the wall at times. That’s why all of us have tried to – well, I wouldn’t say ‘contain’; maybe ‘handle’ is the better word – the girls at some point or other. I suspect because of Sunset’s change in living arrangements and both yours and Twilight’s inclusion into the group, they probably thought you were fair game, as it were.”

“Well…I don’t mind, particularly, but would someone please give me a warning, next time? I can only imagine if they’d grabbed Twily instead of me or Sunny or one of you gals. You know how my cousin can be.”

“Speaking of which,” Rarity idly asked while she chose to focus on her own menu, “how’s that coming along?”

“Cady called me about half an hour ago. Sounds like Twily’s recovering, and that she’s been mostly sleeping. I don’t know the full details, but apparently whatever it was, Sunny was just a little too worried about it.” Octavia’s lips tightened slightly, almost involuntarily as if it were subconscious action, and had it been anyone else, they would have misunderstood the gesture. Rarity, however, tended to be an expert at watching such motions.

Rarity looked up from her menu, her eyes merely turning up towards Octavia instead of her head pulling away from its position. “Octavia, dear – I want you to be honest.”

“But I—”

Rarity looked at her. “Do you really think so little of me?”

Octavia adjusted uncomfortably in her seat. “Well, you are Sunny’s friend.”

“I’m yours as well – we are a group, or did you forget that?”

“No,” Octavia sighed. “It’s just….” She sighed. “You’ll think I’m being petty.”

“Darling, we’re teenagers. This the time in our lives when we excel at being petty – it’s in our DNA,” Rarity said with a hint of a smile. “Now, will you tell me exactly why you’re still jealous of Sunset, or do I have to guess further?”

In response, Octavia turned away from her; conveniently, the waiter chose that exact moment to show up. Both girls placed their orders and once the waiter departed, the pair sat for an uncomfortable number of minutes. Finally, Octavia stopped counting the holes in the lacy tablecloth and looked at Rarity. “Is it that obvious?”

“Not to most people, no,” Rarity replied, “and I would certainly never tell another soul – and it’s certainly not noticeable to Sunset. But if you don’t talk to someone about it, sooner or later it will become so, and I would think you’d rather resolve this than to let it fester.”

Surprisingly, Octavia laughed bitterly at that. “I’m just a jealous bitch, let’s face it. For years, I was Twily’s best friend and sister figure. I was her life – and I liked that. Sure, I’m relatively more open than she is, but that’s just it – relatively. For all our life it was just me and her.” The musician paused to take a drink from her water, and then continued. “And it’s all been obliterated in the course of a year. Don’t get me wrong, having you and the other girls in my life is great, and I absolutely love Sunny – legal or not, she’s family and I consider her my cousin and an older sister figure.” But then Octavia looked out the window at the garden outside and said in a muted tone, “And that’s just where the problem starts.”

Before Rarity could ask, Octavia turned to look back at her, continuing. “It was just this past October when Sunny came into our lives. She didn’t trust anyone and, though Twily never admitted it, I think she was afraid of Sunny at first. But then something happened that I’ve never seen Twily do: She went out of her way to reach out to Sunny. There have been others that tried to reach out to Twily, but she never cared, just hid behind me or found some reason to just not care. But with Sunny…. Twily idolizes her, and now that she’s almost fully a member of my family – and only ‘almost’ because she’s fostered – well, I love Sunny dearly, but Twily…Twily thinks the world of her.” And in a softer voice, “And she used to think that way about me.”

At that moment, Rarity wished that she’d invited Fluttershy; while Rarity could handle a morose conversationalist, Fluttershy had her mother’s bedside manner and a knack for empathy. But the chiffon-haired girl had issues of her own at the moment and was working through them. I hope. “I don’t see why you think that way. I know Twilight adores you – you two have been together your whole lives, just as you said.” As she knew Octavia was about to say something, she raised her hand to forestall the comment while the waiter brought back their food.

The next few minutes were in silence as the pair ate before Octavia, looking a little more at ease, started again. “When we were younger, attending school at Wintergreen Private Elementary, there was a girl named Sapphire Stars that constantly picked on Twily and I had to finally step in to stop it. For years, I’ve done that – years! And now, when she was attacked? It wasn’t me that saved her, it was Sunny! And when Twily was going through her nightmares – when she almost killed herself! – who was the one that saved her? It wasn’t me. It was Sunny. And here I am, left out in the dark, alone and by myself.”

Rarity took a sip of her coffee. “I must say, Octavia…this isn’t a side of you that I expected to see. Granted, we never like showing our kith and kin our…‘rough edges’, as they were, but I never expected this from you.”

“What, that I’m jealous? That I feel supplanted in my life by the girl who just came into it a handful of months ago? That someone that I should actually care about as much as my other cousins I feel utterly jealous of? For someone who saved me from…from whatever that bitch Vinyl was going to do to me? I know I shouldn’t be feeling like this about Sunny, I know that.” Octavia shook her head sadly and said, “It’s irrational, makes no sense, I know – but I can’t help how I feel.”

“Have you talked to her about this?”

“I tried once, back in March when we went down to LA. I thought I’d gotten through it, I really did. But then when she called me to ask for help with Twily…I turned her down. No…I was a bitch, an outright bitch to her. And I…I know it’s an ugly side of myself and I know she doesn’t deserve it. And most of the time I can deal with it. But…it’s like there’s a darkness within me that I can’t let go of, like it’s slowly eating me alive.”

Rarity rolled her eyes. “Octavia, dear, believe me when I say you could do without the melodrama. And believe me, I know melodrama.”

Within the darkness of her room, Fluttershy lay on the bed, having not moved since she took a shower and returned to her bedroom to change. She didn’t have to worry about taking care of Angel today; her mother had been working to the bone so much as of late that her boss insisted she take the day off. Angel had taken advantage of that, most likely: it gave him the chance to go back into those violent games of his and play with relative impunity.

Which was perfectly fine for the chiffon-haired teen. She didn’t want to be bothered right now, grateful that she hadn’t scheduled anything with her friends, nor did she have to work today at the animal shelter. Instead, she just lay on the bed, staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars that had been on her ceiling since she was eight. The stars, she remembered, were a gift, so that she would know she was always watched, always loved.

She knew that was a lie. Not the fact that she was loved, nor the fact that she was cared for – her mother worked with infinite energy and care, doing more as a single parent than any person had a right to be. She was a doctor and a single mother – either of those were incredibly hard duties, but paired together was a recipe for disaster. And yet Fluttershy knew without a doubt that her mother had done everything within her power to make sure she and Angel were growing up right, whatever that meant.

But…. She turned her head slightly, looking at the unopened package on her desk. Why does this have to be so hard? She turned back to the ceiling, remembering how things used to be – and how they weren’t anymore. Back when she knew her father loved her, before he left like a coward.

The silence of the room was too much for her. Reaching over to her nightstand, she grabbed her phone and her headphones; the latter had been Sunset’s Christmas gift to her, something to make up for a pair of much cheaper headphones the flame-haired girl had broken back when they were at odds. The fact that Sunset had apologized for that back in October was more than enough for Fluttershy, but the headphones – expensive ones at that – were something that Fluttershy had treasured just as much as she valued her friendship with Sunset.

Plus, Fluttershy didn’t have the heart to tell her friend that Beats headphones were overpriced crap and that for real sound, she had a pair of Grado GS1000Es that were worth every penny of their four-figure cost. But it was the meaning of the gift in the end that was important; money, she’d learned both the good and the bad way, meant nothing in the end.

Slipping on her headphones, she brought up iTunes and punched in her favorite song, “Gobbledigook” by Sigur Rós. The band was a favorite of her father’s, and somehow along the years, despite everything, had become one of hers as well. She both loved and hated that. It reminded her of the man that read her and Angel bedtime stories and made homemade macaroni and cheese (because nobody ever did that nowadays)…and not the man who walked out on them because of his own pusillanimity.

I am everything you ever made me, Daddy, she thought to herself, and I hate you for it.

Two girls threw fists at each other at a speed that was nothing less than impressive. The blonde, wearing a white dobok, blocked her opponent’s punch and then bent down and spun at the same time, going for a leg sweep. The girl with fuchsia and cobalt curls, wearing a blue vo-phuc, hopped out of the way and the moment she lit back on the ground charged in for a punch. Her fist was quick, but she hadn’t expected her opponent to get back up and coincidentally use the same move. The two fists connected at a high speed like a pair of bullet trains in a head-on collision.

Both women screamed at once.

“Ooooooowww!” Bon-Bon said, shaking her reddened hand, knowing it was going to bruise. “You really can hit! I thought you TKD types only could kick.”

“Naah, mah sa-bu-nim teaches us a whole passel o’ moves,” Applejack replied, wincing at the pain in her hand. “B’sides, Ah have no idea whut yer style is. Ain’t never seen nuthin’ like it.” A split second later, Applejack looked at her bruised appendage and muttered under her breath, “Ah hope it ain’t broken.”

“It’s Vovinam, a Vietnamese marital art. Long story, but I learned it from my grandfather. Although,” she said, looking at her hand as it started to turn purple, “maybe I think we should call it a day. Good sparring, though! Painful, but good.”

“Yeah, Ah’ll say,” Applejack winced. “Now if’n y’d just point me to th’ hospital, maybe they c’n put mah hand back t’gether.”

Watching the pair from a distance, Trixie whistled in appreciation. “That had to hurt. Think we should go check it out?”

From her chair by where Sunset and Trixie were, Lyra stood up. “Let me go do that. Be right back.” The look on the celeste-haired girl’s face radiated both awe from the blows the two combatants threw and worry about her girlfriend. Before anyone could say anything further, Lyra went over to make sure the other two were okay.

“Maybe we should….” Sunset replied, looking at Applejack, who was shaking her head. “Or maybe not. Lyra can handle it, I’m sure. Should we get back to what we’re doing?”

“Sure, though I’m still having a hard time with the wrist flick,” Trixie replied. In response, she moved her hand at a fast pace, but the small wad of paper in her hand didn’t unfold the way she wanted it to. “Maybe I’m doing it wrong?”

“Or maybe you just need to practice,” Sunset replied. “I didn’t learn it overnight; you shouldn’t expect to do so either. A good trick isn’t learned overnight – it takes hours of work.” As if to underscore her point, Sunset snapped her finger, and a second later, a massive butterfly kite appeared practically out of nowhere. Sunset was particularly proud of the motion, as it hadn’t been done through her magic, but through the actual technique she mentioned. Of course, she’d learned how to do something that took decades of practice in roughly an hour due to her magic, but she wasn’t about to admit that much to her friend and fellow “magician”.

Trixie’s response was a wide-eyed stare. “I still don’t know how the heck you do that,” she admitted. “I swear, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were using real magic and not just stagecraft or whatever New Age bullshit my mother comes up with.”

“No, it’s just a lot of practice,” Sunset told Trixie with an honest smile. As Applejack, Bon-Bon and Lyra approached, Sunset said in a teasing tone, “After all, if AJ and Bonnie can learn to beat each other up just using one hand, you can use both to work wonders.”

“Y’know, Sunny, Ah’d hurt ya right now if’n mah hand wasn’t hurtin’ like hell.”

“Lucky me then,” Sunset replied with a grin. “But tell you what: just to make up for it, coffee’s on me.”

“Eyup, an’ jest fer that, Ah’m buyin’ th’ largest one they got, too,” Applejack replied with an equally large grin.

“Well, I’d love to join you guys, but I think I’m going to take a shower first,” Bon-Bon replied.

“Need some help?” Lyra told her girlfriend with a leer.

“C’mon, you perv,” Trixie said, grabbing her friend’s arm and dragging her. “We’ll grab seats for everyone at the coffee shop. You guys catch up, okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll help clean up,” Sunset replied. “You guys go on, and I’ll wait here for the others before we head over.”

“Perfect. Now let me get Romeo out of here,” Trixie groaned, dragging Lyra out despite the girl’s protestations that she was just kidding and she’d seen Bon-Bon naked plenty of times before, all of which made Trixie blush and just start pulling harder.

As Applejack and Sunset were left alone in the room, Sunset was adamant. “AJ, give me your hand.”

With some effort, Applejack lifted her hand, which was swelling and purple. “Ah think Ah broke somethin’.”

Taking it in her own hands, Sunset looked at it. “You did: One of your metacarpals is cracked and two of your proximals are on the verge of simple fractures.”

“Say whut?” Applejack grunted as she tried to bite off a scream while Sunset gingerly felt around her hand.

“Twitter version? Multiple fractures.”

“An’ how d’ ya….” She stopped as Sunset gave her a look. “Right – magic.”

“No, actually, it’s an educated guess based on a book I read about three months ago. I do read, you know.” She looked at the hand again. “Fortunately, I should be able to take care of this, but it’s going to be sore for a few days – I can’t take away everything or else it’ll be suspicious.” Looking around briefly to make sure no one was watching them, Sunset’s hands started to glow, and with that, the swelling and discoloration in Applejack’s hand started to go away. “You know, this reminds me of a time when I was about sixteen.”

“Aintcha…? Oh, y’mean in pony years, Ah’m guessin’,” Applejack replied.

“Yeah. I decided to go hiking around Mt. Canterlot on my own to look for certain plants I needed for an alchemical spell. I stepped where I shouldn’t have – wasn’t paying attention obviously – and landed hard, breaking my right hindhoof. Maybe I could’ve survived with just a bruise if I’d been an earth pony, but we unicorns are physically the weakest of the three tribes.”

“Not even gonna ask what an ‘earth pony’ is, much less about tribes,” Applejack groaned, her hand feeling as though it was on fire. She figured it was due to the magic spell, but oh hell did it hurt!

“I was out there for hours until Celestia came for me – she’d cancelled a few diplomatic meetings and sent the guards out looking for me, but it was she that found me. I was a mess, crying, frightened, and heavily injured. It took me weeks to heal – she could have healed me instantly, but I’d damaged one of my ley nerves and that required time to heal. I never went back to that spot ever again. Maybe the next time I visit Equestria, I might…but I’m not counting on it.” After a second more, she said, “There – should be serviceable, even if it’s sore as hell.”

“Thanks,” Applejack replied. Sure enough, while she could flex the hand, it felt as though she’d been punching a practice dummy for hours. “But whut ‘bout Bonnie?” In response, Sunset snapped her fingers, and a flicker of cyan light flashed briefly. “That easy?”

“Not entirely. I had to check your hand to guess at the amount of damage. Since I can’t just wander into the shower and check hers, I’m just going to send a blanket analgesic spell. She’ll be fine for now, but the palliative portion of the spell will wear off in an hour, so she’ll have to go to the hospital. I wish I could do more, but…well, you know.”

“Yeah, that Ah do. Well, let me go take a shower and Ah c’n drop some hints fer her t’ get it checked out. Be back soon,” Applejack replied, walking towards the women’s locker room.

No sooner did Applejack walk away than Sunset’s phone went off. Noticing who it was, she answered immediately. “Oh, heya, Flutters, what’s up?”

“Um…hi, Sunny. I was wonder if Twily would like a welcome back party. I was thinking about, maybe barbecuing in my backyard, um, if that’s okay with you, an—”

“Flutters, let me stop you right there and tell you how very much she’ll appreciate it,” Sunset replied. “I know she’ll be coming back from her trip and probably would like to spend time with all of us and just tell us about the trip.” Assuming she remembers any of it at this rate. “Besides, if nothing else, I’m glad that you’re thinking about her. So thanks.”

“It’s no problem. Would Monday afternoon be okay?”

“That’d be fine. I’ll get a hold of the others and we can start planning, okay?”


“Thanks again for everything, Flutters,” Sunset said as she hung up. As she did, she looked out the window, where the sun was heading towards the afternoon sky. She was going to have to work this evening – the café was getting new equipment, so they had to move stuff around – and that meant another day marching towards reunion with her family. The idea brought a smile to her face.

If you asked me back when I was a unicorn on a daily basis that I’d have a family, I’d have told them that all I needed was Celestia. But now I know I was wrong…and that’s been the greatest joy of my life. She turned as her friends came out of the locker room, with Bon-Bon’s hand not as bad as it had been earlier, but clearly signaling that she’d have to spend the afternoon at the hospital. Sunset genuinely winced at that; with her power as it was now as well as the extra spells from the additional grimoires she’d brought from Equestria, she could have easily healed both Applejack and Bon-Bon’s injuries, but for the moment….she had to be merely human.

“And you’re not joking about this?” Celestia asked Luna while the two sat down for lunch together.

“I wish I was,” the younger educator told her sister. “But I’m not: Sunset’s magic is far more powerful than before. To venture with an analogy, the level is as different between the artificial lake in Three Heroes Park and the Pacific Ocean.” As Celestia’s jaw dropped in shock as a result of that, Luna nodded in understanding. “And now you know how I felt when I got suddenly teleported to Horseshoe Bay.”

The pastel-haired woman leaned back in her chair. “Still, this is…somewhat concerning. And you spoke to her about this?”

“She swore she was going to use the power sparingly; she’d only been granted it because her mentor back on her homeworld feared for her magicless life here.” A small smile came over the younger sister’s face. “You’d think that we were barely eking out a life as nomadic hunter-gatherers, from the way Sunset made her mentor’s reaction sound.”

“Given that we don’t know how advanced they might or might not be, our society might be exactly that, in their eyes,” Celestia pointed out. “It goes without saying that we know absolutely nothing about their civilization and how magic plays into it. For all we know, Sunset needs it to live just as she needs food or water and she may have been ‘starving’, quote unquote.”

“Somehow, I doubt that,” Luna replied. “In any case, I think she identifies with us more nowadays than with her own species. She told me that she was also tasked with being the ambassador for her kind once they decide to introduce themselves to humanity, but she sounded as though she was reluctant to take on said duty.”

“Do you think it has to do with her past, or with Vel and her family?”

“Vel, of course. They’ve given her a family and Sunset’s reciprocated, and whatever it was that her mentor didn’t give her, Vel, Night and their family have.” Luna took a bite of her pita and a sudden thought came to her: “It just occurred to me that Sunset’s never mentioned her mentor’s name.”

“Perhaps it’s a taboo in their culture,” Celestia commented, setting down her double cheeseburger. She knew Luna hated that the older sister could eat whatever she wanted and never seemed to gain weight, but it was just luck on Celestia’s part. “Or maybe you’re just missing the obvious: that her name might be unpronounceable to humans – Sunset’s race is extradimensional, after all.”

“Funny, I don’t recall having a difficult time pronouncing either Sunset’s name or that of Twilight Sparkle’s,” Luna replied.

“That’s because the alien princess took on the form of Twilight when she came here,” Celestia reminded her. “Plus, if you’ll recall, Sunset’s using the identity of a person who vanished long ago – we have no idea if ‘Sunset Shimmer’ is her real name or if said real name can even be pronounced by humans.”

The darker-haired sister rolled her eyes. “Okay, that’s it, sis – no more Syfy for you.”

Celestia pouted. “Oh, but I haven’t seen Sharknado yet!” At that, both sisters laughed. After a few seconds of laughter, though, the pastel-haired educator continued. “Seriously, though, if Sunset’s happy and wants to remain with humanity, I’m not going to force the issue. As far as I’m concerned, she belongs with Vel and her family.”

As both ladies finished their meals, Luna asked the waiter for a dessert menu. While he went to fetch it, she asked, “But given the near-miss between Princess Twilight and the Twilight we know, what will happen if the real Sunset Shimmer ever shows up?”

“I don’t know, Lulu,” Celestia replied. “I’ll do everything I can to help Vel and her family, and that includes Sunset, but…I don’t know if I can answer that.”

“Well, as far as I’m concerned, I’ll do any and everything it takes. I wouldn’t want Vel, Night or their family to be heartbroken by losing Sunset.” Taking the dessert menu, she scanned the list up and down, but found nothing of interest. “Here, your turn – think I’ll just have a coffee.”

Celestia shrugged while looking longingly at the dessert menu; considering that she had a date with Sable coming up this weekend – and that she was also joining Sombra and his wife for dinner in a couple of days – she reluctantly pushed away the list. “Think I’ll pass as well,” Celestia replied. “Gotta watch my weight sooner or later.”

Luna blinked. “Okay, who the hell are you and what did you do with Tia?”

Celestia gave her sister a bemused smile. “Stranger things can happen,” was her reply.

“Coco, get back here!” Fancy shouted at his sister as she ran from the hospital room. He would have chased after her at that point, but he felt an old, tired hand upon his. He turned to see his bed-ridden grandmother, Wintry Mix, look at him with clear, understanding eyes.

“Let her go, dear,” Wintry spoke in a voice that seemed both frail and iron-strong at the same time. “She’s young and sensitive, a fragile soul. She has the same tender heart both your grandfather and uncle had. You, however, inherited my strengths, Fancy, just as your father did.” With some effort, she turned to look out the window. “Sometimes it is hard for the oak to understand the willow – after all, the oak braves the wind while all the willow does is just bend.”

A look of understanding came over the youth’s face as he finished his grandmother’s wise words: “But in truth, the oak just bulls through the wind, while the willow smartly uses it to its advantage.”

A smile lit in Wintry’s eyes. “Exactly. She will come around in due time. But right now she needs your strength – your father is handling…well, he’s had a lot on his plate lately, and with your mother taking over my duties at the company, they don’t have much time for Coco. But you are her older brother, Fancy, and older siblings exist so that the younger ones have someone to look up to, knowing they will have help.”

He nodded. “I understand.”

Coco made it as far as the waiting room before her head began swimming. She’d never liked hospitals; that would never change – it was almost like a mantra she repeated to others and as far as she was concerned for her own self, it was mantra, coded and stratified. And why should she change? Every time she came to a hospital, it almost always ended in death: both her grandfather and uncle had never returned alive from the hospital during their time here, and when her mother did a stint here, she’d never regained the use of her legs. So to Coco, hospitals were far less about life and far more about the end of it.

Coco plopped into the first available seat, pulling out her phone and headphones, trying to shut it all out, but as usual she couldn’t. Wiping tears from her eyes, she wondered how she could move beyond this. It was selfish, stingy of her, she knew that. It was embarrassing and humiliating – she wasn’t a little girl anymore. But she couldn’t help how she felt; it was just the way things were for her.

She leaned back in the chair, staring at the ceiling. It was hard, being the only daughter in a family of sons – and with cousins around who were also male. She had one female cousin who she had met a long time ago, but hadn’t seen her in ages. It was a miracle, her mother said, that she didn’t turn out to be a tomboy, but maybe that had something to do with her education more tha—

Her cellphone rang, a mellifluous chime that caught Coco off-guard. Reaching into her purse, she answered it. “Hello?”

“Coco!” The chirpy voice came over the line, and the girl smiled; only one person could make her grin like that. Her best friend.

“Heya, Crackle!” Coco said, feeling much better now. Of all the people Coco had known in her young life, Crackle had been the best. Both had attended the Hassenfeld School since they were kids, and were almost always inseparable. And it didn’t matter to Coco that Crackle was from what people called “the wrong side of town” – she couldn’t be blamed for not having the fortunes in life that other people had. Besides, Crackle said that as long as she had a roof over her head, people that loved her, and a carefree heart, that was all she wanted out of life. Besides, Crackle was smarter than people tended to think she was – for a girl whose red eyes seemed to make people think that she was an empty-headed girl, they didn’t know how wicked smart she was, either.

“Heard your grandma’s in the hospital,” Crackle said over the line. Coco imagined her friend, just lying on her bed, her violet hair tied into those Sailor Moon-style cone “odango” buns and wearing daisy dukes and that well-worn green sweatshirt with the plastic rhinestones. “Sorry to hear about that.”

“It’s okay,” Coco replied. “It was gonna happen sooner or later.”

“Yeah, I guess – I’ve never met my grandparents, as they still live in China, and my other ones, well….” Coco winced at that. In addition to all the other issues in her life, Crackle was born… “out of wedlock”, as the saying went. Crackle lived with her mother in Riverbend, a suburb of Canterlot just north of the city; Crackle’s mother Boilermaker owned a restaurant in Riverbend, and both Crackle and Boilermaker lived in a small house not too far from it. Crackle’s father was Bench Warrant, the District Judge for Canterlot on the Eastern California US Federal Court Circuit; through Warrant, Crackle had an older half-sister, Suri Polomare, who lived in San Palomino with her parents. “But that’s not why I called. Remember that we’re supposed to start school at Zacherle in a couple of months, right?”

“Yeah?” Coco asked cautiously, wondering what Crackle was up to. If there was one thing her friend tended to do, it was to come up with some sort of plan that usually blew up in her face; more than once, Coco had to cover for Crackle. Even still, Crackle never did anything that would hurt Coco at all.

“Well, you know that our school has that Big Sister thing going on, right? Well, since Suri can’t do it for me – apparently there’s a ‘no siblings’ rule – I asked her if she’d take you under her wing. She wants to meet you to get to know you better; plus, she figured that if you two got a head start on things, it would be easier for you to transition. We made reservations at La Fantaisie tomorrow at 12:30. Can you make it?”

“I guess; I’ll have to ask either Fancy or the chauffeur if they can take me, but yeah, I think it’s doable.”

“Great! See you then!”

As Coco put her phone back in her purse, she grinned. At last, things were looking up! And if Suri was anything like Crackle, she was probably the nicest girl in the world.

Right now, Sunset thought to herself, I feel like the biggest idiot in the world. At the moment, she was looking over an itinerary of her family’s trip, wishing not that she was with them, but that they would come home to her, especially Twilight. But right now, she mentally amended as she saw that so-close-yet-so-far date of Sunday for their return, I’d rather feel like an idiot than anything else.

She then turned to look at a picture of she, Octavia and Twilight – the three of them were at some formal reception that the whole family was attending – except for Spike, and how he got out of it she never learned – but it was a special occasion. The three of them had been wearing matched dresses and had the attention of a lot of guys, this had been the week just before the whole “Club” incident, so back then there had been nothing to be suspicious about. But it was something her foster mother had said, a slight slip of the tongue that had made Sunset’s entire night: When introducing the family to everyone, Velvet had referred to Sunset as her “older daughter”. Not as the foster child, not as someone the family had taken in as a charity case.

As a part of their family.

A loving smile came onto Sunset’s face. She had a family. It didn’t matter if she wasn’t officially adopted. She would have a family for the rest of her life, she knew it. She had parents, brothers, a sister – people who she loved and loved her back. And that was why she felt like an idiot: Because she knew she was still lying to them, and would always lie to the people that she loved most. Both her friends, as well as her mother’s friends – Celestia and Luna – knew who she was, and that didn’t bother them. But her family didn’t, and that bothered her.

Gently, she reached out and touched Twilight in the image. Twily, if you found out I was a big liar, would I still be your sister? Sunset wondered, tears coming to her eyes.

Trudging up the stairs, Octavia felt wiped, but in a good way. She’d spent an hour practicing her contrabass, and then another hour playing the piano – being a good musician meant keeping up on several instruments; though her main one was the contrabass, she could also play the piano, harpsichord, sitar – hey, it was something fun to learn! – and, though she hated to admit it, the bass guitar. But now, all she wanted to do was to take a shower, then maybe drag Sunset into watching a movie with her on….

She paused at the guest room where Sunset was. The flame-haired girl was obviously crying and looked like she wanted to be left alone. Octavia knew that was bad; she couldn’t leave Sunset alone because that wasn’t how families worked, as far as she was raised. But as Octavia approached Sunset to ask, she noticed what had emotionally disturbed her pseudo-cousin: Sunset had been looking over a picture of her family, including Twilight.

Indignant anger welled up within Octavia, and she wasn’t sure why. She hadn’t expected it, and she didn’t want it – but there it was, all the same. She felt guilty about that, but….

Twily’s my cousin, something said in the back of her mind. Why the hell should that newcomer take what is mine? The voice felt foreign and odd; there was no way that Octavia would ever refer to Sunset as “that newcomer”. She loved Sunset just as much as she did the other members of her family.

Except you don’t, the voice said back. Face it, that brat’s just out to muscle you out of your spot with Twily…and you’ll be all alone.

Wondering where those thoughts came from, Octavia silently left the room and decided to watch TV alone. For some reason, her mind was playing tricks on her, and she had no idea how that came about. I really hope I’m not having flashbacks like Twily did. Heading for the living room, she hoped that Sunset would finish up her homework and come join her – Octavia had a bad feeling that the least thing she wanted to do right now was to be left alone.

Author's Note:

Next: Twily returns! And will anyone find out what's behind Flutters' hatred of her father?

Tune in next week!


Don't - because there won't be a next week for 7DSJ Book III! You'll have to wait until January 7th!


Because of this year's Christmas story: Seven Days in Sunny June: Feather, starting December 17 and ending New Year's Day! Trust me, it's worth it - for starters, you'll be getting two chapters a week! Plus, it's a part of the Berylverse's 7DSJ scenario that you'd never thought you'd see!

Even moreso, it's a Christmas dedication to a certain someone recovering in a hospital during the holidays.

And a hint?


So stay tuned for 7DSJ: Feather, premiering December 16!