• Published 14th Sep 2015
  • 19,498 Views, 2,758 Comments

Fractured Sunlight - Oroboro



As kids, Twilight and Sunset were best friends, but a tragic accident cut their friendship short. Years later, Twilight investigates the incidents at Canterlot High and comes face to face with what appears to be a literal ghost from her past.

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10: Stars

Dear Diary,

Spring break was awesome!

Well, kinda. Me, my mom, my dad, and my brother all went up to visit my cousin, Golden Wish, at her beach house. It’s so nice and beautiful up there, and the house is super cool and amazing. I just wish Sunset could have come with us.

Golden Wish was like, super rich before, but she just got married to an older lady who is also super rich. I’ve heard some kids at school talking about how it’s weird when two boys or two girls fall in love and get married, but I think it’s cool. Now I have two awesome cousins, and they’re both super nice to me, too!

We swam a lot at the beach, went hiking in the woods, and played board games inside when it rained. Golden Wish showed me this really cool grotto, and it had a waterfall, too!

It’s probably one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken.

I still wish Sunset had been there, though.

-Twilight


Twilight stood outside the small suburban home, double checking her phone to make sure she had the right address.

This was where Sunset lived, and where she would be staying the night. For a pony-turned-human living under the radar for four years, it looked way too normal. The well-maintained garden and the kitschy lawn ornaments didn’t fit Sunset at all.

She made her way up to the door and rang the bell. As she waited she found herself rocking back and forth on her heels.

After about a minute with no sign of activity inside, Twilight rang the doorbell again. Just as she reached for her phone to give Sunset a call, the door finally opened.

Sunset stood in the doorway, a towel wrapped around her chest and another around her hair. “Hey Twilight! Sorry, I just got out of the shower.”

Eye contact. Making eye contact was the appropriate way to react in this situation. Twilight swallowed, her cheeks burning as she stuttered. “H-hey. It’s, um. Yeah.”

“Come on inside, make yourself comfortable. I’ll go get some clothes on, be right back.”

Nodding, Twilight stepped inside and closed the door behind her. The interior of the house smelled stale and, in general, was filled with all sorts of things she would normally associate with the elderly: hideous furniture, way too much lace, creepy looking trinkets, and old photographs.

When Sunset finally came back out, dressed in her usual jeans and t-shirt, hair still wrapped in a towel, Twilight couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. “No offense, but your place isn’t quite what I expected."

Sunset grimaced and let out a long sigh. “There’s a reason for that, it’s… come on, let’s head to my room. I’ll tell you there.”

Twilight followed Sunset upstairs and down the hall. When they made it to her room, Twilight sat down on the bed.

Sunset sat down in front of a large desk with a mirror, unwrapped her hair, and pulled out a hair dryer. “So yeah. This house once belonged to Miss Petunia Daze.”

Twilight pulled her legs up to sit cross-legged, then rested her chin on her palm, waiting for Sunset to continue.

“She’s…” Sunset mumbled, biting her lip. “She was very senile and thought I was her grandson. I knew her pony counterpart when I was a filly, but here, it was just kind of a fluke; when I first arrived in this world, I didn’t have any place to stay, and she just let me into her house. At the time… I didn’t really have any qualms about taking advantage of her confusion.”

“And now?”

Sunset shook her head. “She passed away about three months ago. The only ones who attended her funeral were me and the girls. She didn’t leave a will, but… I think the bank sort of forgot about this place. Nobody’s ever come to claim it, so I’ve just kept staying here.”

Twilight idly drummed her fingers on the bed sheets. “Bureaucracy can be a mess sometimes… but do you really think no one will notice sooner or later? Someone has to be paying property taxes or something. What are you going to do if you get evicted? I bet the girls would be happy to put you up.”

Sunset snorted with a brief chuckle. “Yeah, I know. Maybe I’m too proud to ask. If you were in my position, what would you do?”

“I’d get an apartment and find a job, I guess.” Twilight said. “But… you don’t have any sort of documentation at all, do you?”

“I’ve got a fake ID,” Sunset said, pulling out her wallet and flipping it open. “But other than that, no. I’m an illegal alien in several senses of the word.”

Twilight grinned at that, but it quickly faded. “This isn’t a very tenable situation, you know. What are you planning to do after graduation?”

Sunset’s face fell, and she let out a long sigh. “That’s a good question…”

Before Twilight could say anything else, Sunset spun her chair around, forcing her face back into a smile. “Well, you have the explanation now, but you’re here for a reason, right?”

“When is everyone else getting here, anyway?”

“You haven’t heard?” Sunset asked, blinking. “It’s just us. Everyone else cancelled, citing sudden obligations.”

Twilight narrowed her eyes. “Rainbow Dash told me she had a sports thing going on today, but everyone? Are you serious?”

Sunset nodded. “I’m afraid so. If you don’t want to bother, that’s cool, but I figured we could still have fun.”

“Are you sure we’re not being set up here?”

“Probably. I can easily picture Pinkie Pie seeing some sort of joke in this.” Sunset stood up, stretching. “I’m going to run to the store real quick and pick up some snacks and soda. It shouldn’t take me too long, but consider anything in my room yours if you want to use it for whatever. Bathroom is down the hall to the left.”

“I could just come with you,” Twilight said, raising an eyebrow.

Sunset grabbed her jacket off the wall, grinning. “Oh? I didn’t realize you were so eager to take a ride on my bike again. Well, if you really want…”

Twilight swallowed. “Err, if you think you can handle it on your own, then I suppose I’ll leave you to it.”

“Figured. Anything in particular you want me to pick up?”

She thought back to her sleepovers with the Sunset of yore. “The worst kind of processed junk food imaginable, I guess. I normally avoid the stuff, but that’s what these parties are for, right?”

“Damn straight. Anyway, I’ll be back soon. You’ve got my number if you need anything.”

And with that, Sunset left, closing the door behind her and leaving Twilight alone in her room.

Twilight flopped backwards onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling.

A small part in the back of her mind was still screaming about how utterly insane this whole situation was, but she barely even acknowledged it anymore. Just like when she was a little kid, she was going to have a sleepover with Sunset Shimmer. The others’ absence made her feel a little nervous, but she could handle it easily enough.

Sitting back up, she took her time to fully take stock of Sunset’s room. It was small and a bit sterile in appearance. The only photographs were recent ones of her with their friends. Still, the antique wooden furniture made it seem a bit homely despite its lack of personality.

Wandering her way over to one of the desks, Twilight noticed a large book lying open, filled with handwritten letters. She caught sight of her own name out of the corner of her eye, and her heart skipped a beat.

Was this Sunset’s personal diary? If it was, why would she just leave it out in the open where anyone could read it, especially when she knew company was coming over? Prying would be a gross violation of personal privacy—but Sunset had also said that Twilight was free to use anything in the room…

Twilight stole another peek at the currently open page, and made out the full header.

“Dear Princess Twilight Sparkle,”

Oh, right. Sunset had briefly mentioned a journal with the ability to connect dimensions. Fascinating.

She turned to the next blank page, grabbed one of the pens lying on the desk, and began tapping it against her teeth. If something like this really worked, then the first step was to verify it, right?

Hello? This is a test. - Twilight Sparkle”

There was no flash of energy or anything to clearly signify magic or that it worked at all. Which, assuming that ‘magic’ even followed the same laws of physics, would be a rather silly thing for it to do anyway.

Why was she sitting here alone in someone else's house, anyway? She supposed she could get out her laptop and kill some time, but it felt somehow rude.

Her attention was pulled back to the diary when words began to flow onto the page, as if they were being written by an invisible pen.

“Hello, Twilight Sparkle! My name is also Twilight Sparkle. Sunset has told me a lot about you. We’ve never met, but something tells me we’ve got a lot in common. I hope we can be friends!”

Again with the spontaneous declarations of friendship. Maybe Equestrian Magic really was some kind of literal virus that infected the brain.

Still, once again she was unable to deny what was happening before her very eyes. There were a few possible explanations that sprung to her mind; it might be possible to replicate a trick like this with very sophisticated technology, for instance. Perhaps the ink was actually a swarming cloud of nanobots programmed to respond to her queries by someone watching her via hidden camera.

Somehow, magic was the more believable solution.

Still, regardless of how it worked, she now had a direct line to talk with an alternate universe version of herself. How many people got to experience something like that in their lifetimes? Although she was starting to draw a bit of a blank on what questions to actually ask.

How does someone like me end up becoming ruler of an entire country?” she finally decided on.

It took about a minute before Princess Twilight’s response arrived. “Short answer? I proved myself as both a prodigy of magic and a prodigy of friendship, and I was granted the position and title by Princess Celestia.”

Twilight started to figure out something to say, but another message came through before she could finish it. “How are you doing? Are you having fun spending time with the others?”

She raised her pen, but hesitated as a thought occurred to her. Carefully, she removed a blank page from the book, then began to write. Would the magic still work if it was separated from the book?

They’re alright, I guess. Good people, as far as I can tell. It’s all a bit strange, and I’m really not used to this kind of attention, but I suppose it’s not bad or anything. I don’t know. I’m given to understand that you had difficulty accepting these kinds of friendships when you first met the pony counterparts of these five as well.”

She had certainly enjoyed her week so far; there was no point in denying it anymore. Humans were naturally social creatures. Twilight was on a level where she could operate perfectly fine by her lonesome, or so she believed, but ‘perfectly fine’ wasn’t the same as ‘the best she could be’, or even necessarily ‘happy.’

Losing Sunset had hurt her deeply, at an age where her psyche wasn’t really equipped to handle it. So as a defense mechanism she retreated inwards, focusing on her studies, on the pursuit of knowledge, and the intellectual rigor of the scientific method. It was basic psychology, and a perfectly natural response.

Did she still need that defense? It still hurt, but it had long since faded to a dull ache, and breakdowns had become a fairly rare occurrence. That is, until she had come to town and come face to face with Sunset again. Her reaction to that was, she’d like to think, a perfectly reasonable response, as well. Yet now here she was, spending the night with another Sunset, talking to another Twilight. She was so far out of her comfort zone that she might as well be in another dimension.

“I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore,” Twilight muttered to herself, watching as the page began to fill with words once more. Looks like her experiment had worked. New friends. New Sunset. She wasn’t just a replacement, she was something more… right?

I’ll admit it was a bit of a struggle in the beginning," Princess Twilight wrote. "Our backgrounds are a bit different, the two of us, so it’s not a fully comparable situation, but the six of us here in Equestria ended up being thrust into a dangerous situation with nopony but each other to rely on. We made it through, and that sparked our friendship. But to get beyond that, to where we are today, took careful nurturing and more than a few life lessons. We’ve all grown up since those days, but you’re still young, and you have a ways to go yet.”

Twilight frowned. “Still young? What’s that supposed to mean? Aren’t we the same age?”

As she waited for the next reply, she got up and began to search Sunset’s room. Since the paper worked without being in direct contact with the book, there was something else worth trying, if she could find it.

Buried underneath a stack of books she found a cheap color printer. Perfect.

I have yet fully explore the functions of it, but I believe there is a slight time dilation effect between my world and yours. Not only that, but I’m fairly certain that not only are our measurements for time different, but societal standards for appropriate ages differ as well. When I came out of the portal I took the form of a sixteen year old human girl. But as a pony, my current place in life is—or was—closer to what you would consider from a twenty-two year old. I believe you’d use the term “grad student.” Likewise, Sunset is older than I am, but in your world, she came out as a fourteen year old and aged naturally there up to eighteen. I should really get more specific numbers on this.”

Twilight’s mouth fell open as she started booting up her laptop. If Sunset had stayed a pony in Equestria, she’d be in her mid twenties? Another unbelievable thing about an unbelievable person. What was one more log on the fire?

She hooked her laptop up to the printer, then used her phone as a wireless hotspot in order to find the photo she needed. Then she placed the sheet of diary paper in the printer, cranked the print quality and resolution to the absolute maximum, and let it run.

As the mostly black blob printed slowly, Twilight felt a little guilty for wasting so much of Sunset’s ink, but not a lot. She had a feeling Princess Twilight would appreciate this particular image.

When it was done, there was a brief pause before writing appeared on a new page in the diary. “Um, what is this?”

That,” Twilight wrote, “is the deepest photograph of space we’ve ever taken using our most powerful telescope. The light from those stars took approximately thirteen billion years to reach Earth. You’re looking at a snapshot back in time close to the birth of our universe. I used a sheet of the diary’s paper to print it out at the highest resolution I could, though with a cheap printer like this it’s not as clear as it could be.

Amazing,” came her reply a few seconds later. Twilight imagined what she would look like receiving information like that for the first time, and couldn’t help but feel proud of herself.

This is truly a fascinating phenomenon, and I’d love to know more about it, but please do not experiment with the diary so carelessly. This book is the linchpin that keeps the portals between our worlds open, and it's not the most stable of things. If something were to happen to compromise it, it could shut down the portal for good, leaving Sunset stranded and myself unable to visit, should the need arise, for at least thirty moons. I also can’t discount the (small) possibility of something considerably more catastrophic happening as well.”

Twilight pursed her lips and picked up her pen to say something about the pursuit of knowledge first, but just then the door opened, and Sunset returned.

“I’m back!” she said, holding several grocery bags and a box of soda. Glancing over at Twilight, she frowned. “What’s got you pouting?”

For a brief moment, Twilight felt like a kid with her hand caught in the cookie jar, but she quickly composed herself. It wasn’t like she was actually doing anything wrong. “I’m having a conversation with the other Twilight.”

Sunset blinked several times, then chuckled as she set down her load. “Guess I left it out in the open, and I did say you could use anything.” Stepping close to lean over Twilight’s shoulder and peer down at the diary, she added, “Talking about anything interesting?”

Twilight began to pen a quick apology about the experiment, and to let Twilight know that Sunset had returned and the conversation was likely over. “Apparently your magic diary doubles as a fax machine.”

“A what?” Sunset scanned over the page until she had read the full exchange, then nodded. “Oh. Yeah, that’s neat. Twilight’s probably right though.”

“Yeah yeah.” Twilight stood up from the desk, stretching. “Well, we have the snacks. Now what?”

Sunset sat down in the seat Twilight had vacated and pushed herself into a spin. “Well, it’s a sleepover; we do sleepover stuff. Is there anything in particular you want to do? I don’t have a TV, so when the girls are over here we tend to make it board game night or something.”

Twilight sat back down on the bed. “I’m not super into boardgames. At least, not unless they’re the tabletop variety.”

“Tabletop? What, you mean like the ones where you pretend you’re a wizard or whatever?”

“Says the actual magic talking unicorn,” Twilight said, rolling her eyes. “Ogres and Oubliettes can be a ton of fun, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”

Sunset shrugged. “I guess I don’t really know much about it, only that it was an easy way to pick on the unpopular kids back when I… well, you know. If you say it’s fun, I’d be willing to give it a shot, as long as you go easy on a newbie.”

Twilight shook her head. “I don’t have the stuff with me. Plus, my brother is the best DM I know and it’s better when done with a larger group.”

“Alright, so rain check on that, but the question still stands then,” Sunset said. She pulled her legs up and crossed them on the chair, then leaned back so only half the chair’s legs were touching the floor, balancing with one arm on the desk. “What do?”

“Watching a movie is still an option,” Twilight said, slowly reaching behind her and grabbing one of Sunset’s pillows, trying to pull it to her stealthily. “I could pull one up on my laptop. The screen is small so it’s not ideal, but it’s still an option.”

Sunset windmilled her arms to keep her balance. “Alright. Let’s go with that, then. I haven’t seen many movies, honestly, so I’ll let you choose something to watch. What’s your favorite movie?”

“Star Wars,” Twilight said immediately.

“Never seen it,” Sunset replied, leaning her chair forward. “Although like before, the people who were obsessed with it were an easy target for bullying.”

Twilight felt a slight twinge at her heart, and she made a mental note to apologize to Fluttershy again later. Even if she didn’t want to believe it, this Sunset had once been a terrible person. It was equally clear, however, that the Sunset in front of her now had done her best to change for the better.

“Think fast!” Twilight yelled, whipping her pillow at Sunset just as the girl unbalanced herself again by leaning too far forward.

Sunset’s natural reaction was to throw her arms up to block the pillow, which led to her chair toppling over, and her falling forward with a grunt.

“That was low, Twilight!” Sunset said from her place on the floor, the giggles in her voice betraying any sense of true outrage. She took a deep breath, then stood up, pillow in hand, a wicked glint in her eye, and an ear splitting grin. “But I guess the movie might have to wait a little bit.”

Twilight held up a second pillow, matching her grin.

“Bring it.”


Twilight sat on Sunset’s bed, loading the movie up on her laptop.

Sunset opened the door, large bowl of popcorn in one hand and two drinks in the other. She had changed into her pajamas while she was out making the food, and Twilight had done the same while she was gone.

“Alright, we ready?” Sunset asked, setting the bowl on the bed and climbing on herself. She handed Twilight her drink. “You know, I don’t really know much about them, but these movies come up a lot in this world. I certainly hope I won’t be disappointed from too much hype.”

“Hmph. It’s the original trilogy, so there shouldn’t be any danger of that.” Twilight hit play, then angled the laptop so she could watch comfortably while leaning back against the wall. “Do you even have movies in Equestria?”

Sunset scooted over till she was next to Twilight and made herself comfortable, leaning in close to the point where they were almost touching.

Twilight’s heart skipped a beat at the sudden closeness. All she had to do was focus on the movie, and nothing else.

“Nah,” Sunset said as the opening began to scroll down. “I mean, we have the absolute basics, early projector tech, but that’s it. Nothing like this. Unless technology has changed in the four years I’ve been gone...”

“Then you’re in for a treat,” Twilight said, grinning. Glancing over at Sunset, she elbowed her lightly in the ribs. “And pay attention, this stuff’s important.”

It had only taken her close to a decade to get Sunset to watch Star Wars with her. She had better make the most of it.


Sunset yawned, stretching back as the end credits rolled.

Twilight bit her lip as she carefully watched Sunset. There was an odd, fluttery sensation in the pit of her stomach. “So, um… what did you think?”

Sunset glanced over at her, then smiled. “It’s important to you that I liked these movies, isn’t it?”

“Well…” Twilight felt her cheeks heat up slightly, and she turned away. “Maybe, I guess.”

“Well, don’t worry then,” Sunset said. “I liked them. They were a lot of fun, and the story was pretty good. I don’t know if I’d call it the greatest series ever, and there was a ton of stuff I didn’t really understand, but it was still good.”

Twilight let out a breath she hadn’t quite realized she was holding. It was a rather silly thing to be getting worked up about. “I guess, from an objective standpoint, even the original trilogy has its flaws, but it means something to me. Before I met… the other Sunset, I didn’t really have any friends, so I sort of latched onto my brother. Everything he did seemed cool to me, so I wanted to like it too.”

Sunset leaned back into the pillows, stretching her hands out in front of her and cracking her knuckles.

“I guess, looking back, my brother was as much of an awkward dork as a teenager as I am now. Though somehow he ended marrying the hottest girl in the school.”

“It sounds like they both care about you a lot,” Sunset said, smiling. She turned to face Twilight, resting her chin on her hand, an oddly quizzical look her eyes.

“What?” Twilight asked, shrinking back slightly from the emerald eyes that seemed to bore into her.

Sunset reached over and lightly tweaked Twilight’s nose. “You know, you’re not as awkward, or dorky, or cold as you seem to think you are. You’re a lot of fun to be around, and you’ve already got a better handle on this friendship thing than I did when I first started." She giggled. "And that smile really suits you.”

Twilight’s heart hammered in her chest, and she felt her cheeks heat up to levels that made last week’s fever seem arctic by comparison. “I… I’m not… That’s only because it’s you.”

Me?” Sunset asked.

“Yes, you!” Twilight practically shouted, leaning forward and staring Sunset in the eyes. “You’re you, right? I’ve got all this crazy baggage forming a huge bias in my perceptions, but I can overcome that. I have to. You’re not the Sunset from my past. I never met the you that was a bad person and hurt others, but the Sunset that’s in front of me right now… I like her. She’s a good person.”

Sunset found it was her turn to blush, and she reached up to twirl some hair around her finger. “I… thanks. I’ve mostly come to terms with my past, but I’m still glad to hear you say that. I like the Twilight that’s in front of me, too. Although don’t get me wrong, the other one is also pretty great.”

The blood rushing through her head threatened to drown out all sensation. “I…” Twilight mumbled, her throat suddenly dry. She licked her lips and swallowed. There was more to be said here, an unspoken truth on her part. But…

Twilight looked up, trembling as she once again locked eyes with the girl next to her.

Sunset leaned forward slightly. “Twilight? Are you alright, you—”

Twilight leaned in and pressed her lips against Sunset’s, unable to find the words to express what she wanted to say.

Author's Note:

Welp.

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