• Published 12th Apr 2015
  • 7,839 Views, 355 Comments

In the Absence of Sunset Shimmer - MyHobby

A murder in the mirror world brings Sunset Shimmer back to Equestria, with her world's Twilight Sparkle in tow. While they track the killer, they struggle to reconcile the differences between them and their mirror counterparts.

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Lies by Omission

Sunset Shimmer pinched the ring on her left hand, turning it around on her finger. She smiled as she watched Luna play a silly game with Sunny. The woman and the boy would build sprawling cities with blocks and knock them down in a heartbeat.

“I don’t know which one of them is enjoying it more,” Celestia said.

“Sunny is. He doesn’t usually get somebody who’ll do everything he says without question.” Sunset twirled a lock of hair with a pinkie. “He’s got her wrapped around his finger.”

A ringing from the kitchen grabbed their ears. “That’s the ziti,” Sunset said. “Sit tight, I’ll have it out pronto.”

Celestia nestled into her chair and sipped a glass of diet soda. “If you insist.”

Rain slapped against the windows of Sunset’s small suburban home. She hummed to herself, pulling the meal out of the oven with mitts decorated with her cutie mark. She narrowed her eyes at the vibrant image. The oven mitts had been one of the many housewarming gifts she’d received from Equestria’s Princess of Friendship a few years back. The present was well-meaning enough, at least.

She cast away thoughts of the other world and stuffed the mitts in the drawer. She transferred the ziti to a tray to carry it to the dining room. “Dinner’s ready! Luna, could you grab Sunny’s bib on the way?”

“Sure.” Luna lifted the smiling boy into her arms. “You’re getting big, you know that?”

“Bigger!” Sunny said.

Four chairs sat around the table, one of which was moved aside for Sunny’s highchair. Sunset usually kept it in the kitchen so she could feed the both of them on the run, but tonight was special. She set the plates into place, arranged the forks just so, and then set out the garlic bread. She looked closely at the table for whatever she’d forgotten. A snap of her fingers brought it to mind: The parmesan cheese!

“Hold still and let Auntie Luna—hold on!” Luna struggled against Sunny’s fidgeting. She barely managed to pull the bib over his head. “There! Now we’ll give mommy less trouble with the laundry. Doesn’t that sound nice?”

Sunny pointed at the purple dinosaur on his bib. “Sp’geddy shield.”

Celestia lowered herself slowly into a seat. “Oh? Is that what mommy calls it?”

“It was daddy’s idea, actually.” Sunset Shimmer hopped back into the room with the missing cheese in hand. “Now do I have everything?”

Celestia rubbed her chin in a wry attempt to appear contemplative. “I suppose napkins are optional?”

Sunset Shimmer slapped her forehead and excused herself. She trekked to the ottoman in her living room where various linins had been stashed for just such an occasion. “Paper napkins wouldn’t hold up to ziti of this magnitude.”

She hurried back with an armful of fabric. She tossed the napkins onto the table, where they landed just-so beside the placemats.

Luna crossed her arms. “Sister, I thought you kicked that nasty little passive-aggressive habit.”

Celestia matched her pose. “It’s my attempt to counter your aggressive-aggressive habit. It comes from years of experience herding students.”

Sunset tried to smile. It ended up looking a little like she’d swallowed a lemon seed. “In my experience, they won’t listen to a thing I say unless I’m aggressive-aggressive-aggressive.”

“You’ve only been doing it for one school year, Sunset,” Luna said. “You’ll learn the ins and outs of student politics soon enough. I think at its core, it’s about finding a reason for them to care about the subject.”

Celestia tapped her cheek. “Is that before or after putting the fear of God in them?”

Luna leaned on her elbow, a smirk crawling across her face. “Well, as vice principal in charge of discipline, I do have certain advantages to call upon in my hour of substituting.”

“A death glare that could stop a bull elephant,” Sunset snickered.

That comes with age.” Luna pointed across the table. “Just look at my sister, for example.”

Celestia’s eyes widened before shrinking down to slits. “Luna.”

“A prime example of what I’m talking about. I’m the boogeyman lurking in the shadows, yes, but she is the person with her finger on the light switch.” Luna squinted one eye and cradled her chin with a hand. “She has just the right demeanor for a school principal, one of a crotchety old maid slapping her ruler against her palm.”

“Luna,” Celestia said.

Sunset’s face scrunched up in an effort to suppress any potentially-embarrassing outbursts. Sunny’s eyes bounced from Luna to Celestia as they spoke in turn.

“But that’s just the result of a lifetime of preparations. If it’s not her arthritis, it’s her graying hair.”


“If it’s not her graying hair, it’s her students.”


“And if it’s not her students,” Luna finished with a smirk, “it’s her sister.”

Celestia sat back, closed her eyes, and clasped her fingers. “It seems somebody is waking up with honey and birdseed in their hair tomorrow morning. Won’t Philomena be pleased?”

The three women let out sputtering giggles. Luna spread her napkin over her lap. “Well, enough tomfoolery. I heard something about ziti begging to be eaten.”

“Zeedee!” Sunny thumped his highchair’s tray with a robust fist.

Sunset picked up her spatula. “Alright, alright. Hold your horses.”

The door rattled. Not from the rain, but from the force of a fist.

Sunset Shimmer leaned over in her seat. She could see the front door through the small hallway into the living room. “Huh? Wasn’t expecting…”

She glanced at Celestia as she stood. “Keep an eye on Sunny, please. I’m gonna see who it is.”

Luna scooped a heap of pasta onto her sister’s plate. “Do you know who it might be?”

“This late, in this weather, it’s either really important or really bad.” Sunset cracked her knuckles. “I guess I’m ready for both.”

The person knocked again just before Sunset reached the door. She peered through a small peep hole at eye-level, catching a glimpse of a familiar pair of rectangular glasses. She pulled the door open with eyebrows lowered. “Twilight Sparkle? I thought you were at the Apples’.”

“Something’s come up.” Twilight stepped into the entryway, water dripping from her long coat and wide-brimmed hat. A blush flared up on her cheeks when she caught a glimpse of the women in the dining room. “Sorry. Didn’t know you were having dinner.”

Sunset gritted her teeth, but covered it up with a smile. “Could have called ahead.”

“I tried. You weren’t answering.”

Sunset reached for the pockets at her hips and came up empty. “Gee. Must have left my phone in my other mom jeans. What’s wrong, Twilight? What’s so important that you had to show up in the middle of a rainstorm?”

“Yeah…” Twilight looked away, focusing on some point in the living room carpet. “There’s this case I’m a part of… We just got a lead that’ll only pan out if you help out.”

Sunset choked. She staggered back into the wall. “Th—this is the murder you were talking about, isn’t it?”


Sunset’s voice came out a hoarse whisper, “Isn’t it?

Twilight Sparkle stuffed her hands in her coat pockets. “Yes it is.”

“I am not getting involved in a murder in any way, shape, or form.” Sunset Shimmer’s hair danced as she shook her head. “I have a son, Twilight! I have students!”

“I know!” Twilight gnawed on her bottom lip. “Sunset, I wouldn’t come to you with this if I didn’t think it was the best way.”

Sunset poked Twilight in the chest. “Nothing you can say will convince—”

“Aria Blaze is the victim and Sonata Dusk is a witness.”

Twilight Sparkle raised an eyebrow and pouted. She looked Sunset up and down as the woman struggled for something to say.

“You didn’t even let me finish my ultimatum,” Sunset muttered, lowering her hands to her sides.

Twilight looked as though she had a smug grin for a moment, but it quickly morphed into a calm smile. “I came to you because Sonata won’t talk to anybody but you. You could be the key to closing the case and getting another killer off the streets.”

Sunset hugged her body tight. “Or it could be the key to getting my family and friends into a big mess.”

“Hey, you won’t be alone.” Twilight touched Sunset’s arm. “I’ll be beside you the whole time. It’ll be fine. We’re just going to head to the station and have a talk with Miss Dusk.”

Sunset stepped in one of Twilight’s puddles, accidentally soaking her sock. She rubbed the foot against her opposite leg. “The Dazzlings weren’t a joke. They were really dangerous people, Twilight.”

Twilight Sparkle nodded. “And who were the ones who stopped them? Who’s the expert on all things cockamamie?”

Sunset clutched her wedding band with the fingers of her right hand. She tried to siphon some calm from the smooth surface. “Yeah. You’re right. It’s just—”

“If everything goes well,” Twilight said, “we’ll be done by the end of the night. I swear, I’m not gonna let anything bad happen.”

Sunset gave Twilight a flat stare. “You can’t promise that.”

“Maybe, but the police station is the safest place to be when speaking with a degenerate about degenerates.” Twilight let her head dip down to look her in the eye. “Please, Sunset? I really need your help on this one.” She gave her a plastic smile. “I’ll owe you one?”

Sunset’s face burned. She sucked in a sharp breath through her teeth. “Crap it.

Twilight Sparkle blinked. “Uh. I’m sorry?”

“You do need me.” Sunset slapped her forehead, somehow managing to hit the same spot she’d hit earlier. “No, you need her, but— Just hold on. I have to come.”

Sunset ran the full length of her house, leaving Twilight standing in silence. She charged into her bedroom and stopped in front of a bookshelf bending from the weight of uncountable books. Her finger ran along the spines until she found one in particular. One with her cutie mark stamped on the cover. She clutched her diary to her chest.

Crap it.”

Her coat twisted and bunched up over her shoulders as she teetered into the dining room. “Celestia, Luna, I’m so sorry—”

“What’s wrong, Sunset?” Luna looked over her shoulder. “Who’s that at the door?”

“A friend who… Gosh, how do I explain?” Sunset scratched her head. “No, I gotta sum up. Something really bad happened with the Dazzlings, and I gotta make sure it doesn’t turn into some sort of world-domination scheme. I’ll have the princess help out.”

Celestia reached out her hand to touch the young boy in the highchair. “You need us to stay with Sunny?”

“Would you please?” Sunset Shimmer rubbed a tear from her eyes. “I’m sorry. I just really—”

“We understand.” Luna stood up and wrapped her in a hug. “It’s been our bacon you’ve pulled out of the fire, too, remember?”

Celestia hugged her from the other side. “We’ll be here when you get back. Stay safe.”

Sunset tried to moisten her dry lips. “Yeah. I will.”

She separated from their hug and walked up to Sunny’s highchair. She bent down to pluck him from his perch. Sunset held her son close. “You be good and do what Auntie Celestia and Auntie Luna tell you.”

He looked at her with a level brow, his eyes searching her face. He took her cheeks in his chubby hands and planted a kiss on her nose.

Sunset touched her forehead to his. “I love you, too, Sunny.”

She set him back in the seat, where he was tempted with the aroma of red sauce and five different kinds of cheese. She walked slowly as she zipped up her leather jacket, hiding the book against her stomach to protect it from the rain. “Ready to go?”

Twilight Sparkle eased the door open. “Heck yes.”


Twilight Sparkle drove a few miles per hour slower than the speed limit. The new roads were slick with rain and the old roads were dark in the moonless night. Her headlights burned through the droplets, but only far enough to see a couple car-lengths ahead. Her windshield wipers were losing a war of attrition with the torrent, blocking out what little view remained.

She heard Sunset drumming her fingers against the cover of her book. It mirrored the rapid tattoo of water outside. “Please stop. I’m trying to concentrate.”

Sunset Shimmer’s fingers halted. “Sorry.”

Twilight flipped on a turn signal that cut through the murk. “You don’t have to be nervous, you know. We’ve got this.”

“Nervousness isn’t something you can flip like a switch.” Sunset leaned her seat back a couple notches. “You of all people know that.”

Twilight pressed the brake, giving them ample time to stop at the light. “Just trying to reassure you.”

Sunset balanced her book on her lap. She twiddled her thumbs over the image of her cutie mark. “Thanks.”

Twilight’s car came to a stop in the police station’s parking lot. She unbuckled her seatbelt and put her hand on the door handle. “What finally made you decide to come?”

Sunset flipped the book end over end. “Because you were right. I’m the expert on weirdo stuff around here. I need to find out if it’s serious or not.”

Twilight hit the unlock button. The car’s two doors clicked. “Preliminary results indicate that it’s serious as a heart attack.”

Twilight opened her umbrella and walked to Sunset’s side of the car. They huddled under the fabric, side by side, and made their way through the inch-deep water flooding the lot. Twilight grumbled to herself. “Stupid storm drains got plugged again.”

“Thanks, Mayor Mare,” Sunset muttered back. That got a chuckle out of both of them.

Twilight shook her coat off the instant they were inside the station. She hung it up on a rack as Sunset Shimmer stood off to the side, waiting for her friend to lead the way. Sunset gave her a double-take. “You’re wearing a gun?”

Twilight lowered an eyebrow and glanced over her shoulder. “Yeah. Kinda a nice thing to have in my line of work.”

Sunset Shimmer shifted her weight to her heels. “Forensic technician?”

“Well, yeah, but…” Twilight rubbed her nose underneath her glasses. “Look, if you’d seen half the crazy stuff I have, you’d be paranoid, too.”

Sunset Shimmer looked into the Canterlot City Police Department. Cubicles and desks dotted the floor, with people in and out of uniform either milling around or rushing from end to end. “I don’t doubt it.”

She unzipped her coat and hung it beside the others. Twilight gave her a sparing glance. “Really, Sunset? Mom jeans?”

Sunset snorted. “Just drop it.”

“I’ve seen lounge pants more flattering.”

“Drop it!”

Twilight picked her way through the office, going around officers, over abandoned chairs left in the aisles, and through a few packed cubicles. She led them to a small office framed with wide windows. Two figures sat inside: Care Carrot and a small figure hunched over in a chair.

Twilight knocked as she entered. “Sooo… This is her, huh?”

Sonata Dusk sat backwards in her seat, her chin lying on the top of the backrest. She picked at a bare spot on the chair’s cushion and stared into space. Her cheeks sparkled from recently-dried tears. The hood of her sweater had been pulled back, allowing a long mess of a hairdo to trail down her back. Her foot twitched irregularly, nervously.

Care eyed Sunset. She flicked on a recorder and set it next to Sonata. “You managed to bring her over, huh?”

“Yeah.” Twilight Sparkle moseyed over to another chair and motioned for Sunset to sit down. “Turns out she’s up to it.”

Twilight remained standing behind Sunset Shimmer while she sat down. She rested a warm hand on her shoulder, doing her best to let her presence be felt.

Sunset opened her book and picked up a pen from a nearby countertop. “Sonata?”

Sonata Dusk continued to stare silently into space.

Twilight sighed. Of course it wouldn’t be that easy. Nothing was ever easy where this magic stuff was concerned. The scratch of pen on paper itched at her ears. She looked down to see Sunset scrawling a quick message into her book.

Princess, this is Sunset Shimmer. I need your help. Somebody has murdered Aria Blaze, and I don’t know why. I’m going to speak with Sonata Dusk, and if I find anything Equestrian in nature I’ll need you to research it.

Message me when you get this text. If you’re there, I’ll give you the information in real time. If not, you can read it all in one go. Talk to you soon.

Twilight Sparkle read over the message again. Her mouth dipped open a little. “Princess?”

“Shh!” Sunset nudged her in the stomach. She held the pen loose between her fingers. “Sonata Dusk? It’s Sunset Shimmer. From Equestria.”

“I know.” Sonata brushed the salt from her cheeks. “Thanks. For coming, I mean.”

Sunset tapped her pen against the page. “Y—N—Okay.”

“You’re wondering why I wanted to speak with you, aren’t you?” Sonata’s breath filled her chest to the brim and deflated in a huff. She gave her head a little shake before meeting Sunset’s eyes. “Because you’re the only one who’d understand.”

Care scribbled away at her notepad while Sunset made notes in her book. Twilight Sparkle listened with rapt attention to every word that came from Sonata’s mouth. She resisted the rising urge to add input of her own. Surely that would only derail Sonata’s train of thoughts. Or worse, get her to clamp up altogether. Instead, she settled for lightly kneading Sunset’s shoulders, just to give herself something to do.

Sunset tilted her head to reach Sonata’s level. “Understand what?”

Sonata’s voice wavered. “Wh—why Adagio killed Aria.”

She rubbed her cheeks again. Newborn tears trailed down to her chin, where they dropped onto her sweater sleeves. “We… we went our separate ways after… after the incident at the high school. For a while. We’d spend a few days with each other sometimes, but…” She pulled her hands inside her sleeves. “Well, we never were the best of friends, I guess. Didn’t really like Aria. Didn’t hate her, either. And Adagio was always so bossy.”

She pinched the bridge of her nose. “After you destroyed our sigils, we didn’t have much reason to stay close.”

Twilight Sparkle nibbled the tip of her hair. Sunset destroyed the sigils? What sigils? When? How? Twilight sent a glance Care’s way to find the officer just as lost as she was. Still, the cop continued to jot down shorthand.

“It was kinda confusing when I got a message saying to meet up at Aria’s place.” Sonata teased a thread loose from the chair. “She’d been a little successful, weird enough. Learned how to sing for real. Got a job doing commercials for something called Easybake. Had a nice apartment on the west side of town.” She looked over at the officer. “But I guess you guys already knew that. Didn’t yah?”

Sunset Shimmer jumped when something flashed and whirred in her lap. She hunched over her book and cleared her throat. “Sorry. Phone’s on vibrate. Sorry.”

Twilight smirked. “Sunset Shimmer, Master Sleuth,” she whispered.

Sunset stared at her book for a long moment. She lifted her head with a touch of fire in her eyes. “Sonata, do you know why Aria invited you to her apartment?”

“She didn’t,” Sonata sighed. “Adagio did.”

Sunset’s pen moved as she spoke. “And… why did she?”

Sonata bit down on the inside of her cheek. Her already reddened eyes took on a darker tinge. She sniffed loud and hard. “Aria discovered another portal to Equestria.”

Sunset’s pen fell from her limp fingers. She bent over to snatch it off the ground. “Ah. Huh. Um. Wow.”

“Yeah, wow.” Sonata’s back straightened as she sat up. “She stumbled on it a while ago, too. Years and years ago. She’d drop off the face of the planet one day and we wouldn’t see her for a few years. Just ‘poof!’ Gone! Nothing but nothing.”

She flung a hand towards the offices. “Then ‘poof!’ She’s back. Not so much as a ‘how yah been?’ We thought she’d been, I dunno, traveling the world like we did in the old days. Rustling up a little magic. No. She’d been in Equestria the whole time!

Sonata shut her eyes against hot tears. “She… she found a new route and never told us! We could have gone back any freaking time and she never told us!”

“Sonata!” Sunset Shimmer pressed a hand against the woman’s shoulder. “Please! You have to calm down. Okay?”

Sonata rested her hands on the chair’s backrest. She took several deep breaths, groaning with the effort. “I dunno how Adagio knew she’d found a portal. I really don’t. She just did. And… and…”

Sonata’s control over her voice failed with a squeak. “Adagio was mad when she found out Aria had kept it a secret. She tracked her down and made me come, too. We both talked to her in the apartment. Adagio d-demanded Aria tell her where the connection was. But…”

Sonata fought off powerful sobs. “I-I-I tried to s-stop her, I swear.”

Sunset’s phone whirred again. She glanced at her book, scratched a line, and brushed a bang away from her face. “Sonata, what happened? You can tell me.”

“Aria didn’t wanna tell her. I don’t know why, but she didn’t. Adagio hurt her so bad and I couldn’t stop it.” Sonata clenched her fists until they shook. “Aria couldn’t help it. She had to tell Adagio where the other portal was. But then—”

She ran her fingers through her hair, her entire body shaking. “Adagio, why? Why did you push her like that? You got what you wanted! Why?

Sunset Shimmer leapt to her feet. She seized Sonata in a sudden embrace, stroking her back. “Shh. Shh, it’s okay now. It’ll be alright.”

“All my friends are gone.” Sonata grasped Sunset’s sleeves and pulled her closer. “They’re all gone and I’m alone.”

Twilight Sparkle let loose a gasp and stumbled back. She rubbed her forehead as she watched the two women embrace. Care Carrot walked up behind her and spoke into her ear. “Is this a good turn or a bad turn?”

“No clue.” Twilight wrung her hands. “We aren’t supposed to hug the witness, are we?”

“No, but it’s pretty weird for a civilian do the interrogation in the first place.” Care Carrot cocked an eyebrow. “But then, we don’t usually work with whatever this thing is that you guys call ‘magic.’ What do you make of all the ‘portals’ and ‘Equestria’ talk?”

“Portals are however these guys travel from place to place. I’ve got some data on them at home.” Twilight Sparkle moved towards Sunset as the hug ended. “Dunno what Equestria is.”

“All this talk of portals is sounding suspiciously like quantum physics.” Care shook her head. “I didn’t pay any attention to quantum physics.”

“In another universe, you did.” Twilight leaned on Sunset’s chair. “How you doing?”

“Fine.” Sunset read over a few paragraphs in her book. She nodded, scribbled “one moment,” and looked at the recovering Sonata. “Do you know where Aria’s portal was?”

Sonata shook her head, her eyes glued to the floor.

Sunset wrote down the answer. “Thank you, Sonata. I really… appreciate you coming forward with th—”

“She can’t get away with what she did,” Sonata said. “You understand, don’t you?”

Sunset brought her head back, bumping against Twilight’s chest. “I’m… not sure I do.”

“Adagio. She’s in Equestria by now. You have to stop her.” Sonata’s mouth twitched back and forth between a frown and a scowl. She shut her eyes tight to hold her voice in check. “Sirens don’t hurt their own. Never ever never.”

Sunset shut her book and tucked it in the crook of her arm. “I promise, we’re doing everything we can to make sure she doesn’t hurt anybody else.”

Sonata Dusk cleared her throat. “Good.”

Twilight Sparkle got a good look at the Dazzlings’ face. Beneath the worn expression, the tear tracks, and the tired eyes, the woman just looked old. Twilight knew she was about the same age as Sonata—they’d both been high schoolers at around the same time—but the woman looked a good ten years her senior. Probably a case of living a hard life, Twilight decided. A bad year could age you way more than a good decade.

“Is there anything else you can tell us about last night?” Care asked. “Where she might have gone afterwards? What she was wearing, who she’d be traveling with, anything?”

“N-none of that really matters, considering.” Sonata rose to her feet, her knees shaking. “But she’d be alone.”

Sunset Shimmer also stood. She rocked back and forth, her face brooding, before giving Sonata a nod and heading for the door. “Thanks again—”

Sonata’s hand shot out to grab Sunset’s forearm. The fiery-haired woman let out a yelp as the fingers clasped tight, jerking her back and halting her retreat. Twilight moved the chair aside to reach Sonata, but came up short when she smiled pleasantly.

“Thanks for understanding,” Sonata said. She released Sunset and backed away, her hands behind her back.

Sunset rubbed her arm. She gave Sonata a shallow grin and escaped through the door. Twilight Sparkle followed close behind, giving Care a nod goodbye. The officer tilted her head in response, incredulity in her eyes.

“We can’t talk about this here.” Sunset rolled up her sleeve to reveal red marks ringing her skin. “Geeze, she grips like a metalworker.”

“What do you mean we can’t talk about it here? I brought you here because you’re the expert.” Twilight Sparkle gave her friend’s arm a quick once-over. “You’re gonna bruise.”

“Nuts.” Sunset’s fingers tightened around her book. “I mean that even if these guys could help, Adagio’s a little outside your jurisdiction right now.”

Twilight ran a hand over her face, nudging her glasses out of whack. “This is why departments work together, Sunset. You ever heard of the long arm of the law? It crosses the state line.”

“How about interdimensional boundaries?” Sunset asked.

Twilight narrowed her eyes. She touched Sunset’s shoulder to lead her away from the heavily-populated central office hub. “If they hear me talking about alternate universes, they’ll think I’m the crazy one and not you. Are you telling me these girls came from the other world? I thought it was just… ‘me’ who crossed over.”

“You assumed it was just you.” Sunset Shimmer pressed her lips tight, sending flickering gazes Twilight’s way as they walked. “But there’ve been a few others.”

Twilight Sparkle’s eyes lit up. “Are you talking about Pinkie Pie? Because that would explain so much—”

“No.” Sunset rolled her eyes. “As far as I can tell, Pinkie’s a native.”

“Oh.” Twilight Sparkle leaned against a doorframe and crossed her arms over her chest. “Alrighty then. There’s Mirror-Me, the Dazzlings, anybody else?”

Sunset Shimmer licked her lips, holding the book as if to shield herself with it. “Um. Hi.”

Twilight’s face paled. Her small smile melted like an ice cube in the oven. Her mouth opened wide enough to swallow an entire hamburger. “You what?

She was about to add to that when she noticed the entire office looking their way. She sent them a death-glare over her glasses until they’d all returned to their work. “We should take this somewhere private.”

They retreated to an empty office. Twilight Sparkle sealed the door behind them with click that sounded loud in their ears. She stayed at the doorway, her hands on the handle, while Sunset slumped against the desk.

Sunset set her book down beside her. She tapped her fingers against the cover. “So, you gonna say anything—?”

Son of a—!”

“Twilight!” Sunset snapped.

“—gun,” Twilight said quietly. She sucked in a breath through her teeth and let it out in a huff. “You’re telling me that after all these years, you kept that a secret from me?

“It’s a secret I keep from almost everybody, okay?” Sunset said breathlessly. “Only a very, very small number of people—”

“Including your entire horse-lady cavalry?” Twilight held up five fingers. She remained standing in the same place, her face towards the office windows. “Maybe your husband? How about those two ladies eating supper with you? Heck, let’s throw in the entire Apple Family. Have I steered wrong yet?”

“Apple Bloom and Big Mac never found out,” Sunset whispered.

Twilight snorted. She removed her glasses and stared into a muddled world. “Why?”

Sunset. “Why, what?”

“Why’d you keep it a secret from me?” Twilight clenched her fists at her sides. “Even after all the searching I’ve done, the researching into the magic at the school, the questions I’ve asked, you didn’t think to maybe tell me that you’re from an alternate universe? Why?”

“I told you, I want to keep it a secret from everyone.” Sunset slid her book across the desk. “The fewer people who know, the less chance it has of getting out and—”

“You thought I would blab?” Twilight said.

Sunset shook her head. “No, that’s not what I—”

“You thought I would blab. You didn’t trust me to keep quiet? To know when something’s really important to my friend?”

“I didn’t mean it like that, Twilight.” Sunset Shimmer hunched over, laying her arms on top of her knees. “I’ve done… a lot of bad things in my life. Most of them have to do with the other world. I wanted a fresh start, and I thought I could get that by ignoring Equestria.”

Twilight Sparkle arched her brows. “How bad are we talking?”

“Grand theft, destruction of school property, attempted mind control of the student body…” Sunset twisted away. “Destroying several friendships…”

Twilight’s shoulders slumped. She took a seat beside Sunset, leaving the book between them. “So… pretty bad.”

“Oh yeah.” Sunset turned her eyes to Twilight. Her fiery hairdo framed her strained expression. “It’s not that I wanted to keep it from you. It just hurts. I don’t want my past to… to define me, you know? I wanna be in the here and now. I want that to be all that matters.”

Twilight shrugged one shoulder. “It’s not like you owed me an explanation or anything.”

“It really is none of your business.” Sunset gave her a half-grin. Her eyes jumped towards Care’s office. “Until today, at least.”

Twilight blinked. She slid her glasses over her face and blinked again for good measure. “Does this mean I’m getting the life story of Sunset Shimmer?”

“You’re gonna need it, I think.” Sunset patted her book. “Because I’m not going to track down Adagio Dazzle all on my own.”

The picture on the cover vibrated and flashed. Twilight Sparkle’s mouth hung open as she watched magic dust fly through the air. “That… That wasn’t your phone, was it?”

“Nope. Like I said, I left it in my other mom jeans.” Sunset flipped through the book to the first blank sheet. Words scrawled their way onto the page in flowing script. “Might be dangerous going through the portal.”

Twilight stood, goosebumps popping up along her arms. “I’m going with you?”

“Unless you think Officer Carrot would be a better fit.”

“No! No, no, no. Of course not.” Twilight bit down hard on her lip, suppressing a grin. “I’d be happy to come. Ecstatic, really.”

She felt a shiver of excitement run up and down her back. She let a smile jump across her face as she twiddled her fingers together. She was about to squeal when Sunset’s smile fell. “What’s the matter?”

Sunset Shimmer traced her finger across the text, making sure she didn’t miss anything. She rubbed her cheek and sighed. “Our side of the portal is a statue on Canterlot High’s grounds. Equestria’s side of the portal is a special mirror.”

Twilight smirked. “Magic mirrors. I shoulda guessed.”

“Yeah, yeah, funny.” Sunset Shimmer closed the book, wrapping her fingers around the edge of the spine. “The problem is that somebody went and stole the mirror.”

Author's Note:

Insert your own "the plot thickens... again!" line here.