• Published 4th Aug 2015
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Sunset's Little Twilight - PoisonClaw



An accident with the Mirror Portal ends up with Twilight stuck as a small pony in the Equestra Girls' world. Her friends can't get over how cute she is.

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Calm Before The Storm

“Ugh…” Twilight groaned as she rubbed the back of her head, wincing as she touched a small bump left from when she’d smashed against the inside of the carrier.

The last thing she remembered was ducking her head inside Rarity’s bag as the pair ran to meet up with the others, right before the bag had been almost violently shaken, causing Twilight to bounce around inside. While the cushioned interior had helped to soften the impact significantly, Twilight had still been left addled and any attempt to right herself had been hampered by the bag constantly being tossed around like a hoofball.

As the world righted itself long enough for Twilight to focus, she became aware of several unfamiliar voices around her. Perking up her ears, she focused in on their conversation.

“—it your bellyaching! Your fault for letting her get the drop on you! Way she was throwing money around, she just has to be loaded.”

That was all Twilight needed to hear to know she was in trouble, her wings trembling in fear. I’ve been foalnapped! Her fear, however, quickly turned to anger as that realization led to another. What did they do to Rarity?! If they’ve hurt her, I’ll—

Feeling the bag shake again, Twilight instinctively channelled magic into her horn, readying a stun spell as the top of the bag was popped open, giving her a good look at one of the thieves as he stared in disbelief at the pony in front of him. Despite her situation, Twilight couldn’t help but briefly wonder if his Equestrian counterpart was a minotaur given the sizable ring hanging from his nose.

“What the f—”

BANG!

“Ah!”

“What the—!?”

“My eyes!” the driver shouted, jerking the wheel left and right in a panic.

As the vehicle swerved out of control, the carrier toppled out of the punk’s lap, sending Twilight flopping over onto the back seat. Quickly grabbing the seat belt in her teeth, Twilight braced as the car came to a crashing halt seconds later, the sound of crunching metal making her ears ring.

For a moment, all Twilight could hear was the blood loudly pumping in her ears before other sounds began to slowly filter in. Sounds like grunts of pain from the three disoriented hoodlums, the hiss of the totalled engine and the sounds of commotion from outside the car slowly drawing closer.

I’ve got to get out of here! Pulling herself up using the side of the car door, Twilight’s ears perked up as her hoof clicked against a button, glancing up in time to see the window slide open. Seeing her way out, she spread her wings and leapt through the window, gliding down and taking off into a run the moment her hooves hit the ground.

The padded gloves of her costume muffled the sound of her hoofsteps as Twilight bolted from the scene of the accident, her mind set on putting as much distance between herself and the quickly growing crowd of people. Puddles left over from yesterday’s rainfall did nothing to deter her as she trampled through them, drenching the leggings of her disguise.

Coming up to the mouth of the alleyway, Twilight dove behind a dumpster to avoid being spotted by a passing group, pressing herself up against the alley wall to try to hide in the shadow of the dumpster. Taking deep, panting breaths, Twilight slumped against the wall and slid down onto her haunches, finally allowing herself a moment to process everything.

“Okay, breathe, Twilight. Now’s not the time to panic.” Taking another deep breath, she cautiously poked her head out from behind the dumpster to glance out at the streets. Her ears drooped when she found herself unable to locate any recognizable landmarks.

Despite her frequent trips to this world, she had always been in the company of one or more of her friends while walking around town, so there was much of the city she had yet to explore.

“Great, just great,” With a heavy sigh, Twilight slumped back against the wall. “I’m lost in an unfamiliar part of the city, with no way to contact my friends or any idea on how to get back. So much for a relaxing weekend away…” Giving a quick shake of her head, Twilight’s mind kicked into high gear as she tried to focus. “Sitting here isn’t getting me back any faster. What I need is a plan.”

Glancing around, her eyes lit up as she caught sight of a nearby drainage pipe hanging off the side of one of the buildings. “Aha! A better view should help me get my bearings.”

Twilight wasted no time in pumping her wings and leaping into the air. However, in her haste, she had forgotten to factor in one crucial detail: the altitude.

While height was never really a factor in Equestria thanks to the ambient magic in the air allowing pegasi, griffons and alicorns to reach great heights, it was a different matter entirely beyond the mirror, hampered even more by Twilight’s diminutive state.

Which was why, despite flapping her wings as hard as she could, Twilight barely made it a third of the way up the pipe before the strain became too much and she dropped like a rock.

“Wahh!” Thinking fast, Twilight managed to tilt herself towards the pipe as she fell, grabbing onto the pipe for dear life as she slid down it, eventually coming to a stop barely a foot off the ground.

“This might be harder than I thought…”

***

“What do we do? What do we do? WHAT. DO. WE. DO!?” Pinkie Pie looked about ready to tear her hair out as she ran back and forth. “Twilight could be lost, or scared, or being tied down to a table and experimented on by sinister men in white coats with horrible accents wielding lots of sharp and pointy things and—”

“Pinkie!” Rainbow grabbed Pinkie by the shoulders, somehow managing to hold onto her despite the fact she was literally vibrating in place. “Breathe!”

Taking a deep breath like she was told to, Pinkie seemed to calm down slightly. “Thanks, Dashie.” With a sigh, Pinkie flopped down onto the floor, staring up at the ceiling with a frown across her face.

After what had happened at the mall, the group had taken the still distraught Rarity straight home. Sitting in the middle of the living room couch, Rarity had built up a small mountain of used tissues on her right while Fluttershy comforted her on her left. Everyone else stood nearby, trying to work out a course of action for getting Twilight back, a heavy cloud of worry hovering over the room.

Sunset had not once stopped pacing since they’d arrived. Her footsteps threatened to wear a groove into the floor as she racked her brain for even the smallest glimmer of a plan.

“—Track her using her magic, maybe? But I don’t even know where to start in building a device capable of detecting Equestrian magic…” Sunset muttered to herself, biting her nails in worry as she discard one idea after another. “Hang up missing posters, perhaps? No, that’s a stupid idea, what would they even say? ‘Missing: One alicorn princess, if found please call— AGH!”

Growling with rage, Sunset whipped around and punched the closest wall, making everyone jump from the loud thud. “This is hopeless!” Sunset cried, grinding her teeth in frustration as she pressed her forehead against the wall. “We don’t even know where to start looking, let alone how we’re going to get her back. She could have already been taken outside the city for all we know!”

“Easy there, Sunset,” Applejack said, leaning against the wall on the other side of the room with her arms crossed. “Takin’ it out on the walls ain’t gonna solve nothin’, so best if y’all just calm down and—”

“Calm down!?“ Sunset spun around to glare at Applejack, the temperature in the room rising several degrees. “In case you’ve forgotten, Twilight’s been nabbed by a bunch of dime-store thugs and taken to hell knows where! How can anyone be calm at a time like this!?”

“Cuz punchin’ holes in the walls ain’t gettin’ us any closer to findin’ her either,” Applejack replied, meeting Sunset’s glare with her own. “Yer not the only one worried for her here, but I know that runnin’ off like a flock of chickens with their heads cut off ain’t the way to do this. What we be needin’ is a plan.”

“What do you think I’ve been doing?” Sunset shot back, her anger still burning bright behind her eyes. “This shouldn’t even be happening! We promised we’d keep her safe until the portal to Equestria was fixed, remember? Twilight trusted us… and we failed!” Lashing out at the wall again, Sunset suppressed a wince as her knuckles slammed into the wall.

“Sunset, please…” Rarity said, glancing up from wiping the tears from her eyes. “I don’t think my parents would appreciate you damaging their home—”

“And you!” Sunset spun back around, now glaring at Rarity. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you two go off alone!”

Rarity flinched back like she’d been slapped, staring up at Sunset with fresh tears in her eyes.. “Wh…what?”

“Hey, leave her alone!” Applejack shouted. “She’s just as worried as any—”

“Why should I?” Sunset yelled back, her glare only intensifying towards Rarity. “It’s her fault Twilight’s missing in the first place!” With quick strides, Sunset walked over to the couch and grabbed Rarity by the front of her shirt, lifting her off the couch so the two were now face to face. “You were supposed to keep her safe, yet you let them get away! How could you let this happen?”

A choked sob escaped Rarity’s throat as she hung limp in Sunset’s grip. “I… I…”

“Answer me!” Sunset screamed, her hands trembling as her hold on Rarity’s shirt tightened.

“That’s enough!” Sprinting across the room, Applejack grabbed Sunset by the wrist. “She’s been through enough without ya yellin’ at her. Back off, now.”

Sunset cast one last baleful glare at Rarity before dropping her back onto the couch. Yanking her arm out of Applejack’s grip, she scowled as she turned around and marched out of the room and loudly ran upstairs.

Everyone watched Sunset as she ran off, save for Rarity, who instead buried her head in her hands and continued sobbing.

“Damn it…” Bending down, Applejack put her hand on Rarity’s shoulder. “Don’t let her get to ya, Rares. She’s just worried ‘bout Twi, I’m sure she didn’t mean—”

“No… she… she’s right.” Raising her head, Rarity stared at Applejack with puffy eyes and fresh tear stains running down her face. “This… is all my fault. I… I was supposed to keep her safe, but I—”

“So what?”

Rarity looked at Applejack like she was crazy, her mouth hanging open in disbelief.

“So what if this is all yer fault?” Applejack continued, reaching over and popping Rarity’s jaw shut before standing back up. “Say you really are to blame for what happened to Twilight, what difference does it make? It don’t go changin’ the fact that we still gotta get her back. Ya want to blame anyone, then how ‘bout waitin’ til after we find her so y’all can apologize in person?” A smile slowly spread across Applejack’s face as she tipped her Stetson. “What ya say? Sound good?”

Against it all, the smallest glimmer of a smile peeked at the edges of Rarity’s lips. “You… You’re absolutely right. Oh, just how foolish can I be?” Reaching up, she wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand. “Here I am feeling sorry for myself, when Twilight needs us more than ever. Certainly there’ll be a time for tears, but only after we bring her home again.”

“Thatta girl!” Applejack replied, her smile widening as she gave Rarity a quick thumbs-up. “That’s the Rarity I know!”

“Indeed,” Rarity said with a nod. “Thank you, Applejack. I can always trust in you to know just what to say in times like this. You never fail to give me the ‘kick’ I so need to get going again.”

“Any time, Rares. Speakin’ of givin’ somebody a good kick…” Her smile was swiftly replaced by a frown as she turned to peer in the direction of the stairs. “We’re all worried somethin’ fierce, but that was just uncalled for! Time I gave Sunset a piece of my mind!”

“Applejack, wait!” Fluttershy cried out, leaping to her feet.

“Don’t go tryin’ to stop me, ‘Shy,” Applejack replied, taking a step towards the stairs. She paused when she felt something against her shoulder, glancing behind her to see Fluttershy holding her back with one hand, an unusually determined expression across her face. “Fluttershy?”

“Let me talk to her.”

Applejack could only blink in disbelief. “Ya… ya sure bout that, Fluttershy?”

“Positive,” Fluttershy replied with a smile, nodding her head as she removed her hand from Applejack’s shoulder.

“…Alright, if yer sure.” Reluctantly, Applejack stepped aside to let Fluttershy pass. “Don’t be hesitatin’ to holler if ya need us to back ya up.”

“That won’t be necessary. I’ll be fine, I promise.” With that, Fluttershy walked out of the room and towards the stairs.

“You really think it’s a good idea to leave Fluttershy alone with Sunset of all people?” Rainbow Dash asked, eying Fluttershy as she ascended the steps. “I mean, if she blew up at Rarity like that, just imagine what she’ll do to Fluttershy!”

“I don’t like it any more’n y’all, Dash,” Applejack admitted, sighing as she plucked her Stetson from her head. “But ‘Shy looked like she weren’t gonna take no for answer. I just hope she knows what she’s doing…”

It wasn’t hard for Fluttershy to track down Sunset, quickly spotting the door to Rarity’s Inspiration Room hanging wide open. Poking her head in, Fluttershy glanced around the room, spying a few dress forms lying sideways on the floor, obviously having been knocked down in anger.

Within second, Fluttershy spotted the familiar red and yellow streaks of Sunset’s hair at the back of the room, Sunset herself sitting down with her back to the wall. She seemingly had yet to notice Fluttershy’s presence, too focused on what looked to be a small piece of paper in her hand.

Tiptoeing into the room, Fluttershy carefully stepped over the prone dress forms as she walked towards her. Without saying a word, Fluttershy sat down next to Sunset, pressing her back against the wall as well as she pulled her legs up to her chest.

The two sat in total silence for several moments, the steady ticking from the clock on the wall filling the room.

“Well?” Sunset finally asked without even looking over at Fluttershy, her voice sounding strained and almost defeated. “Aren’t you going to ask?”

“Ask what?” Fluttershy replied, tilting her head slightly as she glanced over at Sunset.

“If I’m alright or not. That’s how this usually goes, right?”

Fluttershy smiled, though it was a sad smile. “I could… but I think we both know the answer to that question, don’t we?”

Sunset didn’t answer back, only sighing as she returned to staring at the picture in front of her. Curious, Fluttershy leaned over to see what she was looking at.

It was one of the drawings Rarity had made, the one showing the pony Sunset. Several creases were worn into the paper, indicating that it had been folded and unfolded multiple times over the last few days. Sunset seemed almost mesmerized by the drawing, yet Fluttershy couldn’t help but notice the deep longing in Sunset’s eyes as she gazed at her other self.

“Do you miss it?” Fluttershy asked. “Being a pony, I mean.”

“… Sometimes,” Sunset eventually replied, the smallest of chuckles slipping out. “Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but magic’s a lot more useful than hands some days, let me tell you. Especially when you need to get something from the top shelf.”

Fluttershy chuckled as well, thought it didn’t last long before the pair fell back into silence. Nearly a minute passed before either of them said another word.

“She invited me back, you know.”

“Hmm?” Fluttershy glanced over at Sunset as she suddenly spoke. “Who did?”

“Twilight. She said I could go back to Equestria any time I wanted, all I had to do was ask.”

“That sounds nice,“ Fluttershy said, though her smile slipped slightly as a thought occurred to her. “To visit… or to stay?”

“To visit,” Sunset clarified, carefully grabbing the corner of the paper between the tips of her fingers and beginning to fold it back. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to go back for good after so long…”

Fluttershy seemed to hesitate for a moment, eventually reaching over and putting her hand on Sunset’s shoulder. “Whatever you decide to do, we’ll support you. That’s what friends do, after all.”

“Right…” Her shoulders sagged as she finished folding the drawing back up, her eyes following the small square of paper as she twirled it between her fingers.

Pulling her hand back, Fluttershy wrapped a strand of her hair around her finger, a nervous habit she did sometimes when she didn’t know what to say. “Sunset…”

“You don’t need to say it…” Sunset cut her off, sighing as she ran a hand through her hair. “I know I shouldn’t have snapped at Rarity like that. She’s just as worried as any of one us, if not more considering what happened, but I… I…”

With a groan, Sunset tilted her head back against the wall and stared up at the ceiling. “I got so angry, both at Rarity and at myself for not being there when Twilight needed me the most. Ever since she got here, I promised I’d look after her, and yet I couldn’t even do that. Some friend I am…”

“Sunset…” Fluttershy reached over and gripped Sunset’s hand in her own, making her glance up at her. Sunset blinked in surprise at the sudden determination behind Fluttershy’s eyes. “What happened isn’t your fault. Besides, I think you’re forgetting something.”

“I… I am?”

Fluttershy nodded. “Twilight may be smaller now, but that hasn’t change the fact that she’s smart. She’ll figure out a way to get back to us in no time. The best thing we can do now is do our part to make that a little bit easier for her, right?”

“You’re… absolutely right, actually,” Sunset admitted, almost smacking herself for forgetting something so obvious. “Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s already come up with several plans by now!” Chuckling, Sunset tucked the folded drawing back into the pocket of her jacket before putting her hands on her knees and standing back up. “Thanks for knocking some sense into me, Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy smiled as she stood up as well. “No problem.”

“Gotta say though…” Sunset remarked, crossing her arms over her chest, “I’m surprised that you were the one who followed me up here. I half expected Applejack or Rainbow Dash to come bursting in at any moment and give me an earful.”

“Oh, I managed to convince Applejack to let me try instead. I figured this was one of those times where showing a little bit of kindness would work better than replying to anger with anger.”

“Spoken like a true lover of all things big and small.”

Fluttershy chuckled, turning her head to hide the blush on her face. “I… I wouldn’t go that far…” she said, fiddling with a lock of her hair.

DING!

Both girls turned at the sound of the front doorbell. “Who could that be?” Sunset asked as she made her way towards the door, Fluttershy following right behind her.

***

“Almost… Just a bit more…”

Twilight grunted as she carefully shimmied up the drainpipe, using her wings to push her closer and closer towards the edge of the roof. Despite the slow progress, Twilight could finally see her goal within her sights.

“Ok, 1… 2… 3!” On three, Twilight flapped her wings and leapt from the pipe to the roof’s edge, slamming into the side of the building with a grunt as her hooves scrambled for purchase. For a second, Twilight feared she might slip and plummet back down to the ground, desperately grabbing onto the roof tiles with her hooves. Tapping into her magical reserves, she sent a spike down into her hooves, grunting as she heaved herself up and over onto the roof, collapsing onto her belly.

“Note; definitely look into studying earth pony magic when this is all over…” With panting breaths, Twilight carefully picked herself back up, wiggling her hooves to get as much traction as she could. “So far so good…” Taking an experimental step, she was delighted when her hoof pressed against the roof tile without slipping, taking a few more careful steps just to confirm.

“Right, that’s step one down.” Twilight made sure to check “Get onto roof” off her mental checklist, moving her mental quill onto the next item on the list. “Now for step two, ‘Look for a proper vantage point.’”

Glancing around, Twilight quickly spotted a smoke stack jutting out from the top of one of the nearby buildings, more than high enough to provide her with the ideal view. Only problem was that there were two other buildings between it and the one she’d climbed up onto. In any other situation, she could have just teleported herself across no problem. Now, however, there was no telling if she could even pull off a teleport in her current state, let alone arrive where she intended to.

With teleporting out of the question, that meant resorting to Plan B. Twilight tugged the padded gloves off her front legs with her mouth and used her magic to remove the back pair. Tucking them safely under her costume, Twilight quickly compared the length of the roof with the distance between the two buildings, coming up with an ideal calculation. Lowering her head, she kicked against the roof with her front hoof, eyes focused straight ahead.

Here goes! With a kick of her back legs, Twilight was off like a rocket, her hooves thumping against the tiled roof as she built up speed. Just when she was mere feet from the edge, she extended her wings and kicked off, propelling herself up into the air.

The sensation of weightlessness passed over her as she soared up and over, gliding straight across the gap. In seconds, Twilight touched down onto the first roof, instinctively folding her wings against her sides as she dashed across the second rooftop. With the speed she’d built up from the first roof, Twilight easily cleared the second one, sailing over onto the third roof.

Last one! Reaching the roof’s edge in seconds, Twilight jumped and sailed through the air, landing onto the final roof. Her hooves sparked against the roof tiles as she skidded to a stop, using her wings to break her momentum.

“Woo-hoo!” Twilight cheered, giggling as she clapped her hooves together. “I so wish Rainbow Dash could have seen that. Even she would have been impressed!”

Sparing a moment to catch her breath, Twilight trotted over to the chimney, having a much easier time climbing up it than she'd had with the drainpipe. Setting down atop it, Twilight peered out across the city, looking to all the world like an adorable weathervane.

She hummed in thought as she tried to spot any kind of recognizable landmark amongst the forest of buildings. Wait… is that… Peering closer, Twilight squinted as she focused in on something way off on the horizon.

Even from this distance, there was no mistaking the glass dome adorning the roof of Canterlot High glinting in the sunlight. It’s the school! I’m sure I’ll be able to meet back up with the girls there.

Her course set, Twilight hovered back onto the roof, a smile spreading across her face. “It won’t be easy, but I’m sure I can make it there in no time. Oh, everyone must be so worried—”

A thunderous boom made Twilight shriek in fright. Looking up at the sky, she was alarmed to see a wall of storm clouds gathering over the city. A droplet of water splattered against her nose, making her face scrunch up from the sensation.

“You’ve got to be kidding me…”

***

DING!

“I’ll get it!” Skidding down the hall, Pinkie Pie came to a screeching halt inches from the front door. With a harsh yank, she threw the door open with a beaming smile plastered on her face. “Hello, how— oh…”

Pinkie’s face fell as she looked up at the two uniformed officers standing on Rarity’s doorstep, their cruiser barely visible from where it was parked in the driveway. “Uhhh… how can I help you, officers?”

“Evening, Miss,” the officer on the left greeted, smiling reassuringly at her. “This is the residence of Rarity, correct? Would she be home right now, by any chance?

“Uh, Rarity? You might want to come in here…” Pinkie yelled over her shoulder, chancing glances back at the two officers.

“Who is it, Pinkie?” Rarity replied as she walked down the hall, her eyes widening as she caught sight of the officers standing into a door. Breaking out into a run, she shoved past Pinkie and onto the front porch. “Officers! Please tell me you were able to find my precious Sparkle!”

The smile slipped from the officer’s face on seeing her folded-together hands and the stars in her eyes. “I wish that were case, but I’m afraid not, ma’am. We just came to return this,” he said as he presented the stolen carrier.

“Oh… my bag…” Rarity solemnly replied, her shoulders sagging as she took the bag from him and clutched it tightly against her chest.

The officer sighed at her dour reaction. “I know it’s not what you were hoping to hear, but we were able to recover everything else fortunately. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate your pet at the scene. I’m sorry.”

“If it’s any consolation,” The second officer abruptly interjected, “I’d say your cat didn’t take too kindly to being kidnapped like that.”

“Oh?” Rarity perked up slightly, a small spark of hope in her eyes. “How do you mean?”

“When we apprehended those three, “The officer continued, a slight smirk at the edge of his lips, “They were pretty beat up. Based on the statements we were able to get out of them, when they opened the bag expecting cash, they weren’t prepared for a furious feline to leap out and attack them. I’d wager she gave them quite the scare before running off somewhere.”

Rarity couldn’t help but chuckle. “That sounds like her alright. Thank you for getting this back to me, I appreciate it.”

“No problem,” the first officer replied. “You have a nice day now.” With that, the pair walked back to their cruiser and pulled out of the driveway as Rarity stepped back inside.

She was met by her friends, all of them having listened in on the conversation. “Did you hear that!?” Pinkie exclaimed, bouncing up and down with excitement. “That means Twilight managed to get away from those three meanies! She’s probably on her way here right now!”

“I don’t buy it…” Rainbow remarked skeptically. “How do we know they were telling the truth? For all we know, they could have taken Twilight and carted her off somewhere!”

“This isn’t a science fiction movie, Rainbow,” Sunset said over the upstairs railing, looking down at her with a deadpan expression.

“But still—!”

“Settle down, Rainbow,” Applejack interjected, putting her hands on her hips as she glanced at Rainbow Dash. “They weren’t fibbin’ us. From what I heard, they were tellin’ the truth.”

“How do you know?” Rainbow Dash countered.

“Call it a gut feelin’ is all. ‘Sides, name one time I was wrong for trustin’ my gut.”

Dash opened her mouth to respond, only to close it again shortly after when she couldn’t think of anything to say. “… Fine,” Rainbow grumbled, pouting as Applejack smirked in victory. “So Twilight’s somewhere in the city. We still gotta bust our butts and find her before anything else happens.”

“Indeed,” Rarity said, setting the carrier down by the door before making her way back towards the living room. “Now that we know she’s safe, we can better come up with a plan to—”

Before Rarity could finish that thought, the front door was thrown open and a small bundle of pink and purple curls came barrelling towards her. “Rarity!”

Rarity just barely managed to turn to face the sudden arrival before they wrapped their arms around her waist in a fierce hug, making her stumble back a step before swiftly regaining her footing. “Sw-Sweetie Belle! What are—”

“We’re home!” came a voice from the doorway, causing everyone to glance over in time to see Rarity’s dad, Magnum, step inside.

Cookie Crumbles, his wife, was right behind him. “And we brought souvenirs!” she declared, holding up the bags in each of her hands for everyone to see.

“Mother! Father!” Rarity exclaimed, still taken aback by the sudden arrival of her family. “I… I was not expecting you to be back until later tonight.”

“Well, lucky for us we managed to avoid most of the traffic on our way back,” her father replied, removing his sunglasses and tucking them into his shirt pocket. “Good thing too, since I swear we hit every single blasted red light getting up there!”

“We would have called to let you know, but we wanted to surprise you and— Rarity!” Dropping her bags at her feet, Cookie Crumbles rushed over to her daughter, grabbing Rarity’s face in her hands. “Your face! What happened?”

“It’s nothing, Mother,” Rarity replied, pushing her overbearing mother’s hands away.

“Nothing?! You look positively dreadful! Who did this to you? Tell me!” Scowling, Cookie glanced up at Sunset, the sheer intensity of her glare causing Sunset to flinch back in fear, a bead of sweat dripping down her face.

“Mother!” Rarity admonished, folding her arms across her chest and glaring back at her. “Honestly, I would appreciate if you didn’t accost my friends like that!” Gently detaching herself from Sweetie Belle’s grip, she stepped over in an effort to impose herself between her mother and Sunset. “If you must know, we finished watching my favourite movie not too long ago.” Dabbing at her eyes with her hand, she added, “No matter how many times I see it, it still never fails to bring me to tears…”

“Oh…” Cookie Crumbles replied, sheepishly turning away from her daughter’s judging eyes. “Forgive me, that was rude of me.” Clearing her throat, she cast her gaze across the gathered group of girls. “Regardless, I’m afraid it’s about time your friends went home soon.”

“Why?” Rarity asked, glancing up at the clock on the wall. “It’s only a quarter to six.”

“Be that as it may, but you’re forgetting that not only is it a school night, but it's nearly time for dinner,” Cookie reminded her. “Your father and I are too exhausted to cook something, so we’ll be ordering out tonight. Plus, we drove through a storm on our way back, so I thought your friends might want to head home before it passes over this way.”

“Oh, I suppose that does make sense,” Rarity reluctantly admitted, glancing over her shoulder briefly at the others. “Would it be alright if we finished what we were doing upstairs first? It won’t take long, I promise.”

Cookie seemed to consider this for a moment, before nodding her head in approval. “Alright, but don’t take too long.” Glancing over at Sweetie Belle, she said, “Sweetie Belle, go get cleaned up while your father and I unload our things from the car, ok?”

“Ok, mom!” Sweetie Belle replied before running upstairs.

With a sigh, Rarity made for the stairs as well. “Follow me, girls. We don’t have much time.”

Moments later, the group had gathered in Rarity’s Inspiration Room, the door shut to provide them with a small amount of privacy. If the atmosphere had been shrouded in misery before, now it was positively suffocating.

“Damn it, this sucks!” Rainbow swore, leaning up against one of the walls. “With everything that’s happened, I completely forgot we still have school tomorrow. I was all set to get out there and find Twilight, but Coach’ll have my hide if I don’t show up for morning practice.” She growled in frustration, kicking her heel against the wall.

“Wish I could say otherwise, but even for somethin’ like this, skippin’ school wouldn’t be settin’ a good example for Apple Bloom,” Applejack added, sighing as well.

Everyone else voiced their reasons for why they would be unable to skip school, even for something as important as finding Twilight. Everyone except Sunset, who had started pacing again, tapping her chin in thought as she did so. “You guys might not be able to skip school,” she suddenly said, gaining the others’ attention, “… but I can.”

“Sunset, you can’t be serious!” Rarity objected, frowning.

“Why not?” Sunset argued, turning to face her with a sly grin on her face. “This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve skipped school, after all. It’ll just be the first time I’ve done so for an actual good reason. Trust me, they won’t even notice I’m gone.”

Rarity didn’t seem so convinced, clutching her hand to her chest. “Darling… are you sure?”

“We don’t have a choice. All of you have prior commitments and people who’ll ask questions if you were suddenly absent, but me?” Pointing to herself, Sunset glanced out the window. “I don’t, so I can be out there searching while you’re all in school.”

The room went silent as everyone else considered Sunset’s words, glancing at one another in hope that one of them could provide an alternative solution.

“It don’t sit right with me,” Applejack finally said, “But I reckon yer right in that we don’t much have a choice here. Don’t know how I’ll be able to focus knowin’ that Twilight’s out there somewhere, but I’ll feel better if y’all are gonna be out there looking for her.”

“What Applejack said,” Rainbow chimed in.

“You’ll let us know the moment you find her, right?” Fluttershy asked with pleading eyes directed towards Sunset.

Sunset traced an X over her chest. “Cross my heart.”

“Rarity!” Cookie’s voice echoed from downstairs. “Are you almost done up there with your friends?”

Sticking her head briefly out the door, Rarity hollered back, “Almost!” Glancing amongst her friends, Rarity let out a resigned sigh. “I guess that’s it then. Once school’s done, we’ll all meet up with Sunset and go from there, agreed?”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

“Then I suppose this is goodbye for the time being.” Stepping aside, Rarity propped open the door to let everyone pass.

As Rainbow and the others filed out of the room, Sunset hung back. When it was just Rarity and her left, she spoke up. “Uh, Rarity?”

“Hmm?” Rarity turned to face her, brow raised in surprise. “What is it, Sunset?’

“I… well… it’s just…” Rubbing the back of her neck, Sunset avoided Rarity’s eye as she struggled to form the right words. “I… I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier. I know you did everything you could to protect Twilight, so there’s no excuse for how I acted. I hope you can forgive me for how much of a jerk—”

“Sunset.” Rarity cut in, walking over and gently turning Sunset’s head until their eyes met. “You don’t have to apologize. Everyone’s under so much stress because of what’s happened that I don’t blame you for acting how you did. If anything, I should apologize for spending so much time wallowing in self-pity while the rest of you were actually being productive.”

“… Are you sure?”

“Positive. Now, I think you should get going as well. You’ve got a busy day ahead of yourself, after all.”

“Right,” Sunset said, making her way towards the door. Pausing for a moment, she looked back at Rarity. “See you tomorrow then.”

“See you then as well.” Rarity smiled and waved as Sunset stepped out, closing the door behind her.

Still clutching the doorknob, Sunset clenched her other hand tightly, her nails threatening to dig into the skin of her palm. Just hold on a little bit longer, Twilight. I’ll get you back home, I promise.

***

Another booming crash of thunder followed in the wake of the storm before being quickly drowned out by the heavy pitter-patter of raindrops against the street. People raced up and down the sidewalk in a desperate attempt to outrun the rain, using whatever they had available on hand as cover as they searched for potential shelter.

Twilight watched all this from the mouth of the alleyway, huddled inside a discarded cardboard box that was doing a surprisingly effective job of shielding her from the rain. Even given her reduced size, she had still managed to safely travel roughly a block and a half before the storm had become too much and forced her to seek shelter. She still had a ways to go though if she wanted to reach her destination before too long.

Shivering, Twilight wrapped her wings around herself for warmth, now more thankful than ever for the costume Rarity had made her in helping to keep her warm. She winced as her stomach cried out for food, but unless she intended to feast on rotten apple cores and moldy bread, then her stomach was going to just have to wait a little while longer.

Sighing, Twilight rested her head against the floor of her shelter, idly watching the steady cascade of rain before her. Just hold on a little bit longer, girls. I’ll find my way back to you, I promise.