• Published 19th Jan 2015
  • 11,997 Views, 442 Comments

Firebird Dahlia - The Albinocorn



Sunset goes home to Equestria to reconcile with her family. But ten years is a large bridge to gap, especially between sisters.

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Rekindled

“Mom, I can’t breathe.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

Sunset and Spitfire’s complaints fell on deaf ears as Dawn continued to hug both of them in a strangling embrace. In fact, her hold on them tightened.

“I’m just so happy you two made up!” she cried.

“Yep, it’s great,” Sunset said. She tried to take a breath of air. “Would be a shame if we both died ten minutes later.”

Dawn released them, and they both dropped to the floor, gasping for breath. “You two are so dramatic,” Dawn said, watching them flounder about.

“No, Mom.” Spitfire got to her hooves and pounded her chest one more time. “You just hug like a bear.”

Crushed chest aside, Sunset couldn’t help but smile. A bear hug from their mom was the first thing she and Spitfire had shared since… Sunset couldn’t think of when.

After getting the air to flow properly through her lungs again, Sunset joined her mom and sister on the living room couch. She summoned three cups of tea from the kitchen and set them on the table. They all took quiet sips, savoring the taste, and each other’s company.

Dawn set her cup down, took a napkin and dabbed at her eyes. “Both my babies are home again!” She blew her nose like a clarinet.

Spitfire leaned to the side. “You’re not about to body check us again, are you?”

Her mother swatted a hoof at her.

Sunset snorted, sending tea up into her nose. She coughed and sputtered in between laughs while Dawn patted her on the back. The tea burning in her nostrils couldn’t dampen her spirits.

The absence of her father from this family affair, however…

How did she broach the subject? According to Dawn, they still sent letters to each other, but that spoke little of their actual relationship. And did Sunset have any right meddling with her parent’s love affair?

Well, since I broke it, yes!

She sipped her tea lightly, but it churned in her stomach. Perhaps it was just her, but the silence felt forced now. Sunset fought her churning tea and braced herself to pry her way into her parent’s personal business. Fortunately, Dawn beat her there and spoke first.

“So, how is your father?” she asked.

Sunset noted the lack of disdain or antipathy in her voice. There was one point in her favor. “He’s good,” she said, then realized how lame it sounded. “He was really happy to see me.”

“I’m sure he was. He cried for a week after you… disappeared. Of course, he would never show it. Proud as a buffalo, he is.” Sunset caught a flickering smile.

With that opening, Sunset decided to push her luck. “He said he misses you a lot.”

Spitfire leaned her head behind her mother’s shoulder and gave Sunset an inquisitive stare.

Dawn set her tea down and looked at an old stain on the table. “Really?” She cleared her throat. “Well, I suppose if I’m being honest… I miss him a little as well. It can get a little… quiet around here sometimes.” She looked at Sunset. “But no need to tell him that. He’ll get it into his head that I can’t take care of myself or something like that.”

“Don’t worry, Mom, my lips are sealed.” Sunset hid her smile by finishing her tea.

“So, what are you girls going to do now?”

Spitfire stood up and stretched her wings. “Well, the night is young. I was thinking Sun and I would go out for a little bit. Just catch up.”

Dawn clapped her hooves. “Yes, that sounds excellent! I’m sure you two have a lot to talk about. And when you get home, I’ll have a nice dinner ready.” She got up and went to the kitchen, searching for a cookbook.

Sunset looked from her to Spitfire. “Uhh, sure. Yeah, a night out sounds cool.” She got off the couch and followed Spitfire to the door.

“Be careful! And don’t stay out too late or your food will be cold!”

“Yes, Mom,” they said in unison. When they closed the door behind them, they both grinned.

Sunset followed Spitfire down the path and along the street. The suburbs were quiet, just the way Sunset liked them. “So, where are we going?”

“Out for a drink,” Spitfire said matter-of-factly. She stopped and looked back. “You can drink, right?”

“Well, technically I’m of age. So, yeah.” Truth be told, Sunset had never bothered to try any alcohol before. She never had the time. And drinking ages were different in the human world.

Spitfire saw the apprehension on her and smiled. “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get you wasted or anything. Just one or two to help get rid of any tension.”

Sunset rolled her eyes. “Something tells me this is a regular thing for you.”

“Don’t judge me.”

******

They entered downtown Canterlot, a bustle of late night ponies walking along well-lit avenues, the polished granite glowing underneath the gold lights of the city. As highbrow as the Canterlot nobility liked to make everyone believe, even they needed a simple place to escape to now and then.

But being the nobility, even the bars seemed high-class.

“So, what exactly changed your mind?” Sunset asked as they came up to ‘The Tipsy Princess.’ Sunset could hardly imagine Celestia getting tipsy ever.

“Hm? About what?” Spitfire asked.

“You know… staying mad at me forever.”

“Oh! Well... “ Spitfire started kicking a rock along the road. “I just gave it a lot of thought, you know? I started thinking of all the good times we had instead of the bad ones.” She kicked the rock a little too hard and watched it sail off the path. “And… I had a few friends talk some sense into me.”

Guess I owe Rainbow a thank you.

Spitfire pushed the door open and held it for Sunset. Inside was a wide space filled with multiple booths and small tables. The dim light made the dark wood appear almost black. It was like Sunset was walking on top of nothing. Against the back wall sat the bar.

The other patrons turned and stared as Spitfire and Sunset crossed the floor. Some of them waved to Spitfire, and she waved back with a wink or a grin.

The bartender, a thin green earth pony with a black mane and goatee, greeted Spitfire with a nod of his head. “Evening, Spits. The usual?”

“Nah, I’ll have a firecracker, Spirit. I’m kinda celebrating tonight.”

Sunset’s cheeks heated up.

Spirit looked between the two of them and gave Spitfire a supportive smile. “Well, I’m happy for you, Spits. Didn’t know you swung that way, though.”

The heat promptly died inside Sunset, replaced with a cold revulsion. Spitfire gagged and wildly shook her head. “No! Nothing like that! She’s my sister!”

Spirit tugged on the collar of his suit. “My apologies. Although, I wasn’t aware you had a sister.”

Spitfire sat down and patted the seat next to her. “Well, for a while… I didn't think I had one either.”

Sunset sat next to her, taking a deep breath to clear out her gag reflex. “We kinda just made up.”

Spirit smiled in earnest. “Well, that’s always good to hear. All right, how about first drinks are on me?”

“Ha, now you’re talking my language!” Spitfire said. “Give her a firecracker, too!”

With a grin and a nod, Spirit took two bottles down from the extensive selection behind him. He filled two glasses with the liquors and stirred them together, the combination turning the liquid a bright red. He then reached under the counter and pulled out two sparklers. A single swiped against the bottom of his hoof set them off, and he stuck them inside the drinks before sliding them to the sisters.

Sunset whistled in astoundment. For an earth pony, Spirit was quite nimble with his hooves. She lifted the glass in her magic and examined it for a moment, swishing it around and watching the juice slosh against the sides.

“Cheers,” Spitfire said, knocking her glass against Sunset’s before tipping it back.

Well, first time for everything. Sunset followed Spitfire’s example and tossed her drink back, regretting it immediately. The taste burned her mouth and throat, and tasted like sour grapes with the smallest undercurrent of fruit punch. She gagged and forced herself to swallow the mouthful, lest she spit it up on Spirit.

Once she got it down, Sunset took a great heave of air before dissolving into loud coughs while she slapped her hoof against the counter. Spitfire choked down her own drink before bursting into rancorous laughter.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, wiping her mouth. “Can’t handle it?”

Sunset made a small burp, getting a second helping of the caustic taste. “I don’t think me and alcohol mix well.”

Spitfire swiped Sunset’s glass. “Cool, more for me.” She drained it, then slammed it against the counter. “One more, Spirit. And get the kid over here some pomegranate juice.”

The barstool squeaked as Sunset readjusted herself, ignoring Spitfire’s jab. They embraced the murmur of the crowd around them while Spirit fixed their drinks. He slid Sunset hers, and she gave him a quiet “Thank you” before taking a sip, letting the juice sit in her mouth for a minute to rinse the firecracker out.

To her left, Spitfire was just taking small sips of her drink instead of chugging it like before. Her eyes were lidded in contemplation.

“So,” Sunset said slowly. “Uhh… listen—”

“It’s not going to work,” Spitfire said flatly.

“What?”

Spitfire tilted her head to Sunset. “You want to get Mom and Dad back together. It’s not going to work.”

“How did you…” Sunset shook her head. “How do you know it won’t?”

“Well, being there when they technically broke up gives me a good analysis of the situation for one thing.”

Sunset cringed and tapped her hooves together. “Right… yeah.”

Spitfire took a sip of her drink. “Listen, Sun, it’s… it’s just like high school, seeing your ex-boyfriend walk around. Maybe you wave hi to him, but it’s still awkward.”

Unfortunately, that was something Sunset could relate to. While Flash didn’t hate her guts anymore, they could hardly get through a conversation without one of them fidgeting before making an excuse they were needed somewhere else.

Still, neither of her parents had manipulated the other, then brainwashed them.

“Spitfire, I came here to fix my family. Mom and Dad still love each other, they have to.”

“Uugh.” Spitfire rolled her neck. “I didn’t take you for living in fairy tales. Sunset, you’re a good pony for trying, but love doesn’t always work like that, okay? I’m glad that you care so much, but maybe this is something you shouldn’t meddle in.” She saw the forlorn frown on Sunset and sighed. “I’m sorry, Sun. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, in fact, despite everything, they left on pretty friendly terms. But you’re not going to get anything by trying to push them back together.”

Sunset looked into her glass, watching the ice cubes slowly melt. Spitfire had a point, but this was something Sunset couldn’t let go of. Not without a fight. The guilt would eat her alive if she walked back through the mirror without trying something, anything. She set her mouth in a resolute line and raised her head.

“You’re going to give me some big speech about how you’re going to try anyway, aren’t you?” Spitfire said, a bored look on her face.

The wind left Sunset’s sails and she hunched over. “Well, I was.

Spitfire tossed back her drink. “Save it. This is probably going to end badly, but I’m in.”

Sunset’s ears perked up. “Really?”

“Maybe it’s the alcohol talking, but, yeah. Besides, if it does work, there’s no way I’m letting you take all the credit.” Spitfire grinned.

Sunset beamed at her. “Have I ever told you you’re the best sister ever?”

Spitfire snorted. “Not once.” She swiveled in her chair to fully face Sunset. “Seriously, what happened in whatever freaky land you went to that made you stop being such a prick?”

“A large dose of karma,” Sunset said, her stomach tightening. “I… did a lot of bad things, Spits. It finally caught up to me. Let’s leave it at that.”

The silence sat heavy between them before Spitfire made a slow whistle between her teeth. “Well, that’s ominous.” She hiccuped and reached a hoof to pat Sunset’s shoulder. “Hey, if it makes you feel any better, I haven’t been perfect either, as hard as it is to believe.”

Sunset rolled her eyes. “Yes, O golden child, what terrible thing did you do?”

“I tried to coerce Rainbow to fly for the Wonderbolts instead of her own team behind Soarin’s back.”

Having taken a sip of her drink, Sunset nearly spat it out, resulting in some of it going up her nose. She spluttered and stared at Spitfire. “Wow, I didn’t think you were capable of something like that.”

Spitfire put on a pained smile and shrugged. “Heat of competition, I guess. Wait ‘til you hear the whole story.”

For the next hour, Sunset and Spitfire sat at the bar, swapping stories of their lives during their disunion. While Sunset made sure to leave out her she-demon episode, she wowed Spitfire with tales of the human world and all their non-magical marvels. Sunset got to catch up on the pop culture and history she had missed, learning about a new book series called Daring Do, and the hit singers Sapphire Shores and Countess Coloratura.

Overall, Sunset just savored the warm feeling wrapped around her body from talking with Spitfire. She hadn’t seen her sister smile like this in years. Perhaps she was a little tipsy, but Sunset still saw it as a victory.

They paid for their drinks and headed home, Spitfire stumbling the first few steps.

“If Mom sees you drunk…” Sunset said in a tattle-tale voice.

“Please, it wouldn’t be the first time.” Spitfire walked in a straight line, using her wings to balance herself. “Besides, I’m fine. Unlike you, I can hold my liquor.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.”

They walked up the steps to their home, the smell of roasting vegetables greeting their noses. Inside, the air was still warm, marking the use of the oven. Dawn poked her head out from the kitchen, trying to look displeased despite her lips tugging upwards.

“I told you not to stay out too late. Your food’s getting cold.” Her muzzle twitched. “Spitfire, did you take your sister to the bar?” She asked in a warning tone.

“Yep,” Spitfire said proudly. She patted Sunset’s head with a wing. “Don’t worry, Mom, she’s a good little filly and doesn’t have a taste for anything.”

Sunset swatted the wing away. She made it a point to ask Applejack for an alcoholic cider when she got back to the human world.

Dawn sighed and walked back into the kitchen, muttering, “The first thing they do to make up is drink. Kids.”

Spitfire and Sunset snickered and followed, finding roasted squash and carrots, mashed potatoes, and buttered rolls sitting on the counter. Sunset licked her lips and quickly made herself a plate. The three mares sat together at the dining room table, with the fourth chair conspicuously empty. Sunset saw Dawn’s eyes linger on it every few minutes throughout the meal.

Sunset’s stomach squirmed in excitement. The spark was still there, at least on her mother’s end. She just had to hope her dad felt the same way, then find a way to turn that spark into fiery passion once more.

Dawn wiped her mouth on a napkin. “So, Sunset, what are you going to do now that you’re home?”

“Oh, uhh…” Sunset’s shoulder’s tensed. “Well… Celestia did offer to let me come back and be her student again, but—”

“Sweetie, that’s wonderful!

Sunset forced herself to smile. “Yeah.” The excited squirming in her stomach turned to churns of guilt and uncertainty. She would have loved to return to Celestia’s side, pick up where she left off.

But five human faces floated through her mind, smiling and waving at her. The human world was where she remembered to care and trust someone other than herself, where she first made friends. In the end, was she going to have to pick between her friends or her family?

Spitfire pushed her plate away and stretched. “Thanks for dinner, Mom, it tasted great.” She pointed a hoof upstairs. “Mind if we crash here tonight?”

Dawn gave her a plain look. “Why do my children ask if they can stay in their own rooms?”

Spitfire got up and started for the stairs. “You raised us to be courteous. You should be proud. Come on, Sun.”

Sunset flashed her mother her forced smile one more time before trotting after Spitfire. The clock in the hall read five till ten, but Sunset still felt wide awake.

Spitfire led them to her room and shut the door behind them, then faced Sunset with a shadow draped over her eyes. “You’re thinking about going back, aren’t you?” She asked accusingly.

Sunset’s ears stood up, then folded against her head. “How’d you know?”

“It’s written on your face.” Spitfire circled around her, eyes narrowed. “So was that your plan? Say sorry, then run off and do this all over again?”

“No! I…” Sunset pressed a hoof against her head. “Spitfire, I have obligations back in the other world. I… I have friends. Real, genuine friends that showed me how to be a better person. I can’t just leave them.”

Spitfire slowly nodded her head. “Yeah, I see what you’re sayin’. Would be pretty rude of you if you just up and left the people you cared about without saying goodbye.”

Sunset shrunk under her sister’s withering glare. “Okay, I deserved that. At least give me credit for not wanting to do it a second time.”

“I’m not giving you credit for anything,” Spitfire said, trying to keep her voice low. “I can’t believe you’re going to pick these ‘human’ things over your own family.”

“I’m not picking them over you!”

“Then what are you doing?”

I don’t know!” Sunset shouted. She took a shuddering breath. “I came here to make amends, okay? I didn’t… I didn’t plan for what would happen afterwards. I didn’t plan for what would happen if Celestia actually took me back or if…” She wiped a few tears away. “If you and I even made up.” Sunset turned her head away and began pacing the floor. “I’m a pony. I was born a pony, and my family and heritage is here. But the human world is where I learned to be a better person. It’s where my first real friends are. It’s so big and full of possibilities!” She stopped and slumped against Spitfire’s bed. “I just don’t know, okay?”

After a moment, Spitfire kneeled and put a hoof on Sunset’s shoulder. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have jumped down your throat like that. I can tell this is eating at you.”

Sunset leaned her head back. “I have to go back and at least finish school… but I don’t know if I’m ready to make a permanent choice.”

Spitfire joined her against the bed. “Well then, let’s just take this a step at a time. First, Mom and Dad. Then we can worry about your future.”

“Can’t we just stay in the present where it’s safe?” Sunset whined.

“Come on, dodo, you’re tougher than that.”

Sunset grinned. “Yeah, I have Dad to thank for that.” She scrunched her face and deepened her voice. “‘Suck it up, girl. It’s just a scratch.’”

Both of them giggled, and Spitfire followed up with her own impression. “‘Stop crying before I give you something to cry about.’” They leaned against each other and laughed, holding their sides. “He’s gotten pretty soft over the years.”

“Yeah, guess that runs in the family, too,” Sunset mused.

They fell silent, staring at the clouds painted on Spitfire’s walls. From downstairs, they could hear the radio playing old slow songs while Dawn hummed along.

“Well, genius,” Spitfire said, “what’s the plan?”

Sunset’s eyes drifted from the wall to the trophy case. She saw the dented trophy used so long ago as a weapon against her, and rubbed a hoof against the back of her head. It dawned on her that she and Spitfire were sitting in the same room they had fought and confessed their hate for one another. Sunset wasn’t sure if she should cry or laugh.

She shook her head and said, “I don’t know yet. I’m kinda making this up as I go along.” She took a deep breath. “Maybe… just tell me what… you know, went wrong?”

Spitfire bowed her head. “Well… after you left, they kinda blamed each other for how things turned out.”

Sunset flinched.

“Yeah. They said it was the other’s fault for not noticing just how bad our rivalry got. Mom always said Dad was pushing us too hard, and we thought we had to do super important things to get their love.”

Sunset shifted again. “Well… that might have been where my mind was. I thought I had to try extra hard to make up for… not being a pegasus.”

Spitfire looked away. “I thought I had to try harder to make up for not being a unicorn prodigy.”

“Spits, you’re a pegasus prodigy!”

“I worked hard, I wasn’t a born prodigy!”

“I had to work hard, too!”

“Stop!” Spitfire threw her hooves up. “Okay. We can see where some of the problem lies.”

Sunset leaned her head against the mattress. “It’s not Dad’s fault. He wanted us to be the best we could be. We just took it to the extreme. They love both of us. We turned it into a competition.”

Spitfire nodded. “Dad might have taken it to heart though. He kinda… shut down for a while. He was a lot less drill sergeant and a lot more…” Spitfire scrunched her nose. “Smothery.”

“Smothery?”

“He came to see me every three days. Took me out for ice cream. Wanted to know everything that was going on in my life. Stuff like that.” Spitfire ran a hoof down her face. “Then Mom started doing it too, and pretty soon, I didn’t have a life. I had to start lying about extra practice to get away from them. I’d rather sleep in the barracks then go home to my apartment and have one of them drop in on me.”

“I guess they didn’t want you to feel underloved. Or have a chance to magically disappear.”

“Some of column A, a lot of column B.” Spitfire rolled her neck. “I finally told them to knock it off—that they couldn’t use me as an excuse to hide from each other. I guess they sat down and talked after that. Mom apologized to Dad, but… afterwards, they just couldn’t agree on anything anymore. Dad finally said he needed some space for a little while and moved to Cloudsdale. That was five years ago.”

Sunset rested her hooves on her stomach and closed her eyes in thought. All of this stemmed from a rivalry born out of inferiority complexes. But if she and Spitfire could start making amends, her parents could too. They just needed something to rekindle their love.

“Do you remember how they met?” Sunset asked.

Spitfire rolled her eyes. “They met at the Hurricane Ball in Cloudsdale. Mom got stood up by her date and was about to leave when she bumped into Dad. The rest is history.” Her eyes widened. “Oh no.”

“What?”

“Nothing!” she said too quickly.

Sunset leaned into her. “What?”

Spitfire pressed a hoof into her forehead and groaned. “I’m going to regret this, I just know it. The Grand Galloping Gala is a week from tomorrow.”

“It is?” Sunset jumped to her hooves. “Wow, I haven’t been to the Gala since…” Her ears perked up and a smile stretched across her face. “Wait… I think I have an idea.”

“No,” Spitfire groaned.

“What if we got both of them to go to the Gala?” Sunset started pacing the floor.

“Please, no.”

“We get them together on the dance floor…”

“No, no, no.”

“And we play the first song they danced to at the Hurricane Ball! They’ll remember why they fell in love in the first place!”

Spitfire banged her head against the bed. “That plan is stupid.”

“You’re stupid!”

Spitfire stood up and stretched her wings. “Sunset, you and I both know that is the dumbest, most clichéd plan ever crafted, and we’ve come up with some pretty dumb ideas over the years.”

Sunset grinned, nostalgia washing over her. “Remember that time we tried to open a pet sitting business?”

Spitfire chuckled. “Yeah, that was a good one.” She shook her head and narrowed her eyes. “But seriously, this takes the cake. There is no way in Luna’s mane that you’re going to convince both of them to go to the Gala and have them magically fall in love with one song.”

Sunset frowned. “Well not with that attitude.”

“Uughh!” Spitfire facehoofed. “You’re hopeless. How do you plan on getting tickets anyway? It’s sold out by now.”

“Umm, hello? Princess Celestia’s personal protégé.”

“Ex-protégé.”

Former ex-protégé! The point is, I can get tickets.”

Spitfire raised a hoof. “All right, so you can get tickets. This plan is still based in fantasy. Do you really think having them dance will get them to start passionately making out?”

Sunset gagged. “I really hope not, for the sake of everypony there. Maybe they won’t declare their love for each other, but it’ll put them on the right path, right?”

Spitfire rose into the air and crossed her hooves, looking unimpressed.

“Come on, Spits, you said you would help me.”

“I am! I’m telling you, this plan won’t work. Or at least…” She rolled a hoof. “I don’t know, you need to be more creative. A song and dance won’t change anything.”

Sunset paced the floor again, grunting in half-hearted acknowledgement. Maybe Spitfire was right; maybe her plan needed a bit more pizazz, or passion. But what else could she do to make her parents realize they still had feelings for each other? Or at least move to the point where the events of the past didn’t cloud their view of each other anymore?

She stopped and cringed, berating herself for the idea that popped into her mind. Still, if it works… a little voice whispered.

“What is it?” Spitfire asked.

Sunset spoke slowly. “I might have an idea how to improve our plan.”

“All right, lay it on me.”

Sunset cringed again. “Maybe… we could… perform the Firebird Dahlia?” She looked at Spitfire through squinted eyes.

Spitfire just stared at her. “Okay, I was wrong. Now this is the worst plan you’ve ever come up with.”

“Spitfire—”

“You want us to perform the thing that drove us apart and nearly killed me?” she asked incredulously.

“Think about it like this,” Sunset said, straightening up. “Yes, it’s kinda the catalyst for why we’re all where we are now. But it was supposed to be beautiful. It was supposed to be your Sonic Rainboom. If we did it now—if we showed Mom and Dad that we can get past what happened and finally pull it off—show them that we can do anything together…” Sunset let out a dreamy sigh. “Maybe that’ll be enough to get them to come together too.”

Spitfire looked down at her, furrowing and unfurrowing her eyebrows like she was waging a loud argument inside her head. “Okay… ignoring how sappy that sounded, you might have a point.” She dropped her shoulders and gave Sunset a rare look of concern. “But, Sunset, I still remember what happened last time.”

“So do I.”

“Yeah, but you don’t have anything to lose if it goes wrong.”

Sunset shook her head. “I’d lose you. And I don’t want to do that again.”

Spitfire bit her lip and looked away. Then she flew down and wrapped her hooves around Sunset. “Thunderbolts, you’re such a sap.”

“I know.”

“This plan is stupid.”

“I know.”

Spitfire pulled away. “I can’t believe I’m going to agree to this. Fine, Sunset, let’s get Mom and Dad back together by doing the one trick we could never pull off, in front of thousands of ponies who could potentially see me crash and burn.”

Sunset frowned. “Well, anything sounds negative when you say it like that.”

Author's Note:

It won't take a year for me to update again, I promise!

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