• Published 12th Dec 2014
  • 8,136 Views, 311 Comments

One More Dance - LightningSword

A troubled boy on the roof proves that Sunset Shimmer still has to account for her mistakes

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#8 - A Sparkle of Hope

One More Dance

#8 – A Sparkle of Hope

The sun began to lower in the sky; naturally, the colder seasons called for an early dusk. The air began to dip in temperature, and all five girls began to feel the change. Fluttershy shivered, Rarity rubbed her hands together, and Pinkie's knees began to shake.

“Oh, how could I be so thoughtless!” Rarity exclaimed. “I love this outfit, but this is not the kind of weather for a short skirt!”

“Oh, quit complaining!” snapped Dash, who had herself stuffed her hands under her armpits. “Sure, we should all be home by now, but this is serious!”

“And besides,” Fluttershy added, “just think of how cold Dac is up there, all alone . . . without a jacket, or a sweater, or anything . . . poor guy . . . .”

“Oh, I know, I know!” Rarity relented, “I keep forgetting the stakes here. It's not every day when one of your peers becomes so . . . so . . . .”

“Overtly suicidal?” Pinkie Pie finished, prompting surprised glances from all her friends. “What?” she asked anxiously. “I know it's not nice to think about, but . . . but if we can't help him . . . oh, I just don't know . . . .”

“Just hang in there, sugarcube,” Applejack comforted her, “things'll turn out all right. I promise.” She then looked back up at Dac, and saw that his posture had become dangerously loose. “That means you too, partner!” she called up to him. “Stay strong for us, y'hear? We'll all get through this together! Don't you leave on us, now! Don't . . . leave on us . . .” she trailed off, her voice weakening. At this point, she started feeling that even her resolve was beginning to soften. If they couldn't help Dac before, there was no telling if he could be helped at all. The longer this went on, the less likely it seemed that Dactylic Pentameter would come out of this alive.

Sunset Shimmer scanned the halls for someone who could help, but saw no one but a few students going home late after detention or late study sessions. The hall monitor who'd found Dac on the roof earlier had taken way too long in locating Principal Celestia, and whether or not she had been found, she was unsure whether the principal would be any help at this point. It wasn't just because of the slowly-darkening situation—there was already more than enough dread surrounding that—but Sunset also considered what Miss Celestia would say when she explained everything. Sunset hadn't exactly been a model student; in fact, this very situation all started because of her. But this was a time of desperation. Principal Celestia wouldn't refuse her simply because she was the cause of it all. And even if she did allow it to cloud her judgment, Sunset was willing to do whatever she needed to do to make sure Miss Celestia's judgment remained clear.

Having searched two whole floors, Sunset's legs finally caved from under her, and a combination of exhaustion and despair brought her to her knees. “Oh, it's hopeless!” Sunset yelled in the middle of an empty hallway. “I'll never find her in time! Why am I even trying?! This wouldn't be happening if it weren't for me! I wish I could take it all back! I wish I could make it so it never happened! I wish it were me on that roof instead of him!” She finally broke down into tears as she sat on the floor, hugging her knees, “It should be me . . . Why couldn't it be me . . . . ?”

“Sunset, is there something wrong?”

Sunset heard the voice, and looked up from her tears to see someone standing before her. Principal Celestia looked down at Sunset, concern shining in her eyes.

“Principal Celestia!” Sunset gasped and stood back up. “Thank goodness it's you! We need your help! There's a boy on the roof! He's depressed and in a lot of pain! He's gonna jump if we don't help him!””

“I’m well aware of the situation,” she replied calmly. “In fact, Vice Principal Luna and I have been taking steps to escort departing students off campus and away from the front lawn, to avoid a scene. That’s mainly the reason why we’ve been slow to arrive.”

“W-what? Principal, what do you mean?”

“I mean, a crowd of teenagers with cell phones means easy access to the media,” the principal replied placidly, “and an overwhelming response from it. Dactylic Pentameter is already unstable, and at this point, crowds, news cameras and police cars will only exacerbate matters.”

“So . . .” Sunset replied, trying to fight off her sudden amazement, “. . . you trusted us to be able to handle it?”

“Well, those girls have saved the whole school before,” Celestia answered. “I trust they’re all still out there?”

Sunset nodded. “Yes, they’re all are outside right now, trying to snap him out of it. We've been at it since earlier this afternoon. We think we have a way to help him, but I need to get into his locker to do it—”

“Hold it, Sunset,” Miss Celestia interrupted sternly. “You're asking me to let you break into another student's locker?” She suddenly didn't seem very willing to help. “You wouldn't happen to have any other reasons for doing something like this, would you?”

“What? No! Principal Celestia, you have to believe me! We think we know what to do to stop him, but we need something very important in his locker! It's the truth!”

“Sunset, you do realize the position you're in, don't you?” the principal replied, her severity unwavering. “You aren't very well known for honesty or compassion, and have been known to manipulate people for your own ends. I know you've shown interest in changing your ways, but trust takes a long time to build up. And frankly, what you're asking of me sounds very untrustworthy.”

Sunset's heart plummeted; she was afraid this might happen. “I understand,” Sunset admitted, “In fact, I expected you to say something like that. I know what I did was wrong, and I wish I had the chance to go back and do things differently. And I understand that you don't trust me.” She looked up at Principal Celestia desperately, her eyes watering again. “But please . . .” she begged, her voice breaking, “. . . please don't let Dac pay for it. He's suffered enough. Please . . . let me help him . . . .”

There was a brief pause, in which Sunset's head sank low, looking back down at the floor. Her tears dropped freely from her eyes and sprinkled the tile. She was almost sure Celestia wouldn't listen, that it was all for nothing. She tried to will herself into believing otherwise, but it was no use. She did, after all, deserve doubt and mistrust.

Finally, Celestia answered, “Are you sure you can help him?”

Sunset looked back up at her principal and nodded. “Yes. If I can show him he has a reason to live, I know he'll at least listen to me. And that reason is his poetry. He writes . . . beautiful poetry.” She thought back once again to the poem she'd read aloud to embarrass him. She'd lied that day; she thought that those simple four lines were lovely, and she needed to let the author know.

Celestia crossed her arms, closed her eyes briefly, and sighed. Seeming to consider the options, she relented, “I'll get you access to Dac's locker. Any attempt to take more than what you need will result in severe punishment. I'll stand by and alert the authorities in case things go wrong.” She stepped closer and put a hand on her shoulder. “I'm trusting you, Sunset. Do what you have to do to save his life.”

Sunset's tears were now shed in joy, and she nodded. “Thank you, Principal Celestia,” she replied joyfully. “I'll do whatever it takes to help him. Believe me.”

The conflict was growing.

Dac struggled inside his own mind, questioning whether this really was the right decision. He'd been ready for it since the day of the Fall Formal, and now, because of the heinous thoughts he’d had of the girls who were trying to save him, he was surer now than ever that he had to die.

But they want me to live, he continued to toss it around inside his head. They’re not budging. They really want to see me live through the night. After what I’ve been putting them all through, I deserve it, but they really want to help me . . . maybe even Sunset, too . . . how can I . . . how can I do this . . . how could I want to to this . . . . ?

And despite all of this, it wasn't quite enough to pull Dac away from the edge of the building.

What really made all the difference was the kindness of a girl he didn't even know. A girl that the entire school could not have known for more than two days.

Twilight Sparkle finally found Dactylic Pentameter sometime before the end of school. She had spotted him from down the hall and went to greet him, hoping he would stick around long enough to take his notebook back. Unfortunately, he'd left before she could reach him, and Twilight had to follow him (as subtly as possible, so as not to upset him) until he'd disappeared into the men's room. It may have been a human world, but the same basic social etiquette still applied—girls had one room, boys had another. At this point, there was nothing to do but wait.

Twilight walked past the room to find a spot to wait at until Dactylic came out, but stopped in front of the door when she heard something. She could swear she'd heard it coming from inside the bathroom, and leaned in closer to hear better. Pressing her ear to the door, she'd finally heard what it was.

It was Dactylic. He was crying again. And talking.

“What did I do wrong?” Twilight thought she could hear him sob. “What did I do wrong? Why don't any of them like me? What's wrong with me?!”

Hearing this saddened Twilight, but it also confused her. She figured he might be still upset about Sunset, but she wasn't sure who “any of them” were. Who else was Dactylic upset with, and why?

“Five times!” he spoke through his tears again, and Twilight listened. “Five times!! Who else but me gets rejected five times?! I knew this was a stupid idea! I knew they were too good for me!”

Twilight felt her curiosity drop considerably. She hadn't been in the human world for very long, but she still recognized teen angst when she heard it. “I see,” she muttered to herself, as quietly as she could, “he’s just having dating problems. Strange to hear a colt—I mean, a boy cry about it, but still, I guess there’s nothing to worry about here. A little teenage drama isn't the end of the world.” She checked her watch and saw how late she was. “Oh, no! I have to get moving! We all have to prepare for the Fall Formal—”

“Sunset was right!” Dactylic wailed, cutting Twilight off and piquing her interest again. “She was right! No one could ever love me! I really am worthless! It really would be better if I'd never existed! I really should just go away . . . forever . . . .”

Twilight gasped in spite of her need to stay inconspicuous. Was Dactylic thinking about what she thought he was thinking about? Was he really that depressed? Was he really contemplating suicide?

Twilight felt a rustle in her backpack, heard it unzip, and heard the whispering voice of her dragon assistant-turned-pet dog, Spike, “Come on, Twilight! Don't we have somewhere to be right now?”

“I know, Spike, but something just came up,” Twilight responded, “and it looks pretty serious!”

“Twilight, you know we don't have time for any more distractions! We have to get ready for that dance tonight!”

“But I can't just leave him like this! He's been bullied by Sunset, too, and from the sounds of it, it's been even worse than that! He might need serious help!”

“But we're running out of time! We can help our version of him when we get back home!”

“Spike, it's not that simple, I—” Twilight stopped, suddenly remembering who Dactylic Pentameter was in their own dimension. “We can, Spike,” she answered him, “but I think I know how we can help both of them out and still have time to get ready. Dig around in there and grab Dactylic's notebook and a pen, would you please?”

Spike sighed and rolled his eyes, but he did as he was told; in a few seconds, he came back up with both items in his mouth, and Twilight took them from him. “I know this was an invasion of privacy,” she mumbled as she worked (the notion kept her from unfolding a wrinkly piece of paper that had been stuffed into the back cover), “but there's no time to do anything else . . . oh, I just hope I’ve had enough practice writing with these . . . ‘hands’.”

As quickly and neatly as she could manage, Twilight scribbled a note onto the last blank page of the notebook, closed it, and handed the pen back to Spike just as the door to the restroom opened. Dactylic Pentameter stood there in the doorway, looking confused and captivated the moment he saw Twilight.

“Oh, um . . . hi,” she greeted him.

Dactylic simply stared back, his face reddening as he looked her over from head to foot. All he could manage was a mirrored greeting, “. . . Hi.”

Twilight continued, pushing away the awkwardness, “Oh, um, I saw you leave this behind, and I thought you might want it back.” She handed the notebook out to him with a smile.

Dactylic looked at it, and his eyes widened. “I was wondering where that went!” he gasped. “I thought Sunset had stolen it again. That's really nice of you.” He reached out and took it back, and his blush deepened as she kept speaking, “Thank you . . . I . . . don't think I've seen you around—”

“Oh, no! I'm late!” Twilight suddenly realized. “Look, I gotta go! Uh, take good care of that, and be sure to look through it as soon as possible!” And with that, she began speed-walking back down the hall.

“Wait!” Dactylic called out to her as she left. “Will I see you again? Like, maybe at the Fall Formal tonight?”

Twilight turned and slowly walked backwards and she answered, “Oh, I'm sorry! I'm not staying! At least, I sure hope I'm not . . . l-look, I'm sorry, but I have to go! See ya! And try to cheer up, okay?”

And with that, she was gone. There was a lot to get done tonight, and she'd done all she could to help Dactylic. She only hoped it would be enough.

“It was just another failure . . . .”

Dac wasn't even interested in reading his notebook, like the pretty new girl had said. He'd stuffed it back into his locker before leaving school that day, and hadn't touched it since. He was no longer interested in it at all. He was too hung up on the string of painful failures that made him get up on that roof.

“And that made six . . . I talked to the pretty girl whose name I didn't even know, and it all ended in failure. A failure before I'd even tried . . . .”