• Published 22nd Aug 2015
  • 3,625 Views, 136 Comments

Homesick - SkycatcherEQ



When Adagio struggles with a moment of longing for the oceans of Equestria, Sunset understands all too well. Ever resourceful, she devises a plan for finding them both some comfort.

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Leap of Faith

The rising sun peeked above the eastern foothills, casting a long, equine shadow across the school courtyard. Adagio gripped her arms and puffed another breath into the frosted cloud that hung about her. Taking a slow step forward, she touched three fingers to the smooth surface of the statue’s base and shivered as small waves rippled out toward its edges.

Sunset hugged Adagio from behind and rested her chin on her shoulder. “I know. I still get goosebumps every time I come near it.”

Adagio took another ragged breath in and out. She gripped tightly onto the shoulder strap of her bag. “So this is it…”

“Yeah.” Sunset shivered slightly as well and tightened her grip around Adagio. “If it’s active now, then Twi’s got her device on and they’re waiting. I’ll go first. But give me a minute to get clear and make sure everything else is ready.”

Adagio nodded and then rubbed her arms again as Sunset stepped away.

Aria walked up and pulled Adagio into a firm hug—one that was warmly reciprocated. But when the latter loosened to step back, Aria persisted in holding the embrace. Adagio tightened her arms for one final squeeze.

“Be careful,” Aria said softly.

“I will,” Adagio replied as they parted. She turned toward Sonata and held her arms open.

Sonata leapt at her with a few tears and a quivering voice. “You better have fun!” She released Adagio with a sniffle, and then in a softer tone added, “And write to us when you get there… yanno, after stuff settles down and everything. We’re gonna go to Rarity’s. Just let us know you’re safe.”

“We will.” Adagio nodded. She then turned to Sunset, pulling her in for a long, final kiss—as she knew it’d be at least a week until they could do so again in this form. After sharing an intimate look, she whispered, “I’ll see you there.”

Sunset hmm’d quietly and pecked another kiss. “You too. Seeya again in a minute.” She turned back toward the portal and then paused for a moment, running her hands through her hair. She then clenched her fists, took a deep breath and stepped through.

Adagio walked back over to Aria and Sonata. “Alright, girls.” She adjusted the strap over her shoulder, making an effort to keep the flitter of apprehension out of her voice. “So, yeah… This is it.”

“Crazy, huh?” Aria looked down and bumped the toe of her boot on the ground a few times.

Adagio breathed deeply and then shook her head with a laugh. “All those years, decades, centuries… We tried to get this by force. And now, heh… just a simple invitation.”

Sonata clasped her hands in front of her with lowered eyes. “So much really has changed, yeah.”

“I know.” Adagio wrapped her arms around both of them and pulled them in. “But this does feel good… where we are now. Thank you again for helping me see it.” She stepped back with a chuckle. “Funny how things work out. And I’ll see you again soon, okay? Can’t wait to share this with you, too.”

Following a round of parting smiles, Adagio returned to the statue. Again she placed her fingertips against the portal’s surface, this time pushing them through and marveling at the numbing sensation which spread across her hand. She took a steadying breath and stepped forward, diving her mind into a swirl of light and color.

***

She’d expected the sensation to be… well, she hadn’t quite known what to expect. But the stretching, warping, flashing persisted for quite some time before her mind—and the light—began to dim. Closing in. Crushing. Fading to black…

And then with a startle, physical sensation returned as she thumped onto a cold hard surface, feeling quite like a guest within the body she now inhabited.

The darkness slowly parted to reveal a kaleidoscope of rainbow-hued light and glass. Adagio’s focus came to rest on a familiar pair of bright teal eyes wreathed in a flame of hair—now parted up the middle by a spiraled horn.

Sunset’s eyes danced before her with a look of awe. Under the surface, however, lurked the apprehensive flicker of fear that Adagio had come to recognize all too well over the years.

She raised her head up off the floor and found herself gazing quite a bit downward over her long snout at Sunset. When she glanced around the room, her eyes met Celestia’s—nearly at her own height—and then came across Luna and Twilight standing to her side. An expression of marvel matching Sunset’s hung on each of their faces. Adagio placed both hooves on the ground in front of her and took a deep breath.

“H-how do you feel?” Sunset asked as she took a step closer.

Adagio smiled softly at Sunset and let out a choked-up laugh. And then another. Growing louder, the sounds that followed might have been mistaken for sobs. “I…” She closed her eyes and shook her head. Drawing in a deep breath, she let out a final cry.

At the warmth of Sunset’s nuzzle on her neck, she opened her eyes. “No words, I… Sunset.” She lowered her chin behind Sunset’s head. “This is me,” she laughed. “Myself again. I’m…” Stopping short, she let out a sad sigh and pulled back to look down at Sunset.

Her true form. And then this small pony standing before her. Her smile slowly faded. I’d never looked at them as anything but prey. She could see the trace of fear that still lingered behind the warmth and awe in Sunset’s eyes. Was she staring back at the face of a predator? It pained Adagio to think just how easily she could have—and would have—taken advantage of this situation, all those ages ago. In a softer tone, she repeated, “Yeah. This is me.” She averted her eyes. “So now that you see the monster I am…”

“No, don’t… Adagio. Look at me.” Sunset waited quietly until she obliged. “You’re beautiful. I mean, a little scary, yes, but… beautiful. Majestic, even.”

Majestic.

Adagio choked out a breath. That Sunset had arrived at that specific word led her to close her eyes again. A warm contentment poured into her as a few tears flowed out. Oh, my dear. You have no idea what it means to me to hear that.

Eyes still closed, Adagio felt a gentle nudge against her coiled tail. She looked down and, gauging her lover’s intent, lifted the end allowing Sunset to settle into the middle of the coil and snuggle against her chest.

Sunset then looked up toward Celestia, whom Adagio saw nod with a proud smile while drying her eyes with a wing tip. Beside her, Luna and Twilight sat smiling as well.

“You do seem well, Adagio,” Celestia stated as she nodded again with a close of her eyes. “I’m pleased. Is there anything further I can do to help?”

“I am alright, yes. Thank you.” She looked down at her hooves. “Though rather stuck here at the moment. And I don’t feel particularly graceful.”

“Well, everything’s prepared,” Twilight said, as she stepped forward. “That is, if you’re ready for the transformation spell.”

The sight of Twilight like this, and Sunset as well, was going to take some getting used to, for sure. Not to mention the thought of she herself walking on four hooves for the duration of the journey ahead.

“Actually, would you mind giving us some time, Twi?” Sunset looked from Twilight up toward Adagio. “I’d just like an hour or so to rest, and to talk with her like this. Jumping through that portal is just as exhausting as I remember it, and we have all week.” She gave Adagio a soft smile and then leaned back into her. “This just feels good right now.”

At those words, the warmth that had taken root in Adagio’s chest broke through and sprouted. For a moment, she just looked into Sunset's eyes, and then blinked away a few more tears. “So you’re really not… turned off? Not scared of this?”

Sunset looked down and spoke softly. “Like you said... This is you. I know who I fell in love with. And, yeah. I can see that it is still you.”

Adagio closed her eyes and gently rubbed the tip of her nose behind Sunset’s ear as she took a few calm breaths.

After a few moments of silence, Twilight said, “We’ll check back on you guys in a little bit, okay?”

Without opening her eyes, Adagio simply nodded. Following a few muffled whispers, the sound of hooves on crystal trailed out of the room and echoed down the hall.

“Thank you,” Adagio whispered to Sunset. She lifted her head and opened her eyes. Sunset did the same a moment after.

Sunset touched a gentle hoof against Adagio’s chest just below her neck. “I’d almost expected there to be something here… Like a scar, or a mark, or… something. With the way Twilight described the old pictures.”

Adagio was silent for a moment and then closed her eyes again. “There would have been, I’m sure, had the gem not shattered. If I’d come through wearing the necklace, then yes… that gem itself would have been set here.”

She placed one of her own hooves over Sunset’s. “But with how you freed us… it seems the portal returned me to the way I was, so long ago.” She let out a long breath. “I suppose now’s a good time to tell you more about that.”

Adagio felt a sharp intake of breath from Sunset. When she opened her eyes, it was to that familiar look of excited curiosity. She giggled slightly and ruffled Sunset’s ear with a hoof. But then after a moment, she looked away with another deep sigh.

“There were more than just the three of us, you know. All those thousands of years ago. Hippocampi, I mean… not sirens.” After a long pause, she added, “I wonder sometimes if any more are left. Though I imagine not.” She lowered her head with a frown.

“Like any society, there was quite the diversity of life. Talents, interests… ambitions. Some noble in their pursuits. Others… Well. ‘Just like any society.’” She looked to the side and let out a breath. “One of the most secretive of those… less than ethical groups had been obsessed with finding immortality. And somewhere along the way, I must have caught the eye of one of their higher-ups.” Adagio met eyes again with Sunset.

Sunset blinked a few times before looking away. “I think I know where this is going.”

“Those gems. Their proudest moment…” Adagio said with a mocking flair. “The pinnacle of their research. I was to be the first perfect specimen.” She closed her eyes and added quietly, “I had no say in the matter, of course.” Sunset leaned against her. “They did unspeakable things to me, Sunset. That one who found me, especially.” She took in a long breath and let it out raggedly.

“You don’t have to keep going…” Sunset wrapped her forelegs around Adagio as best she could. “Just come back to right now. I love you, and I want this to be happy.” In a whisper, she added, “Let’s just talk about something else.”

After a few moments, Adagio chuckled to herself. “Pinkie Pie.”

Sunset looked up at her and laughed. “What?”

With a grin, Adagio glanced around at the crystal chairs encircling the table, including the one bearing three familiar balloons. “I wonder if the one here is just like ours.”

“I’m sure we’ll find out, heh. Whether we want to or not.”

Adagio laughed again. She breathed in and hmm’d contentedly. “You were right, though. That jump was exhausting. Even if it only lasted a few seconds.”

Sunset curled up and snuggled against Adagio’s chest, murmuring, “Mmm-hmm.”

Adagio found herself in a place of tranquility as peaceful silence then settled in around them. The rising sun cast soft prismatic shafts of light through the crystalline walls, bathing the room in a rainbow-colored warmth. It wasn’t long before she felt a shift in Sunset’s breathing and looked down to find her asleep. She slowly coiled her head down near Sunset’s and took a long, deep breath of her own.

My beautiful little pony…

***

“So you have done this before, you said…” Adagio raised an eyebrow toward Twilight as Sunset sat down about ten feet away.

“Well… sort of?” Twilight grinned with a sheepish laugh. “I once turned my pony friends and myself into these little flying creatures not much bigger than my hoof.” She held one up to Adagio. “And it all went as planned. Though it took using one of them as a… ‘template’ of sorts. So I figure using Sunset here for the same spell should get you going on four hooves.”

Twilight turned back to the book on her desk and flipped a few pages with a glow. “The effects should last indefinitely, so there’s no need to worry about ‘suddenly fins’ while out on the road.” She looked back at Adagio. “Though if a need does come up, Sunset says she’s more than capable of breaking the spell.”

“Yeah,” Sunset said. “Breaking enchantments, seeing through illusions. That sort of stuff was kind of a talent of mine when I was younger. Twilight’s sent me details of how the spell works, so I’m sure I can handle it.”

Adagio nodded.

“Alright then.” Twilight cleared her throat. She looked first at Sunset and then Adagio. “Good?”

The two gave an affirmative.

Twilight’s horn took on a glow, which then expanded into a small, scintillating sphere. A narrow pink beam shot out, enveloping Adagio in a similar glow. As she raised off the ground, a second beam mirrored the same effect on Sunset.

Adagio closed her eyes at the ensuing flash, and then felt a sensation not unlike the portal from earlier. Amid the ringing in her ears, she felt the ground touch her front hooves, then wobbled slightly when her rear came to rest.

Opening her eyes, she lifted a hoof and pulled a familiar mass of orange hair to the front of her face. “How funny is this?” she said, laughing.

“Ohmygosh, ohmygosh,” Twilight squealed. “It actually gave you a horn!”

“What?” Adagio released her mane and brought the hoof up above her eyes, marveling at the feeling.

Twilight smiled broadly with a giggle before she turned around and tapped her chin with a hoof. She paced once in a circle. “Is it because I used a unicorn for the template stage?” She stepped up to Adagio and leaned in, almost face to face. “Or maybe because you had such a strong magical connection in the past? Ooooh!” She pressed her eyes closed and hopped once in place, before trotting off toward a bookshelf and then levitating a tome over to one of the room’s numerous desks.

Sunset laughed and nuzzled noses with Adagio. “I have a feeling she’s going to be a while… And you look beautiful, by the way.”

“Thank you.” Adagio chuckled as well. “Remarkably down to earth for a princess, though, isn’t she?”

“Yeah… Heh.” Sunset smiled back. The brightness in her eyes dimmed after a moment, though. Letting out a half-breath, her smile took on a forced rigidity. Her eyes drifted downward, and the smile fell away with a quiet sigh.

“Oh… Sunset, I’m…”

“It’s alright.” Sunset turned and slowly walked over to stand in front a mirror hanging on the wall. After staring at herself briefly, she took another breath and closed her eyes. “I still don’t think it’s fully hit me yet. Being back here again.” Following a few moments of silence, she shook her head and whispered, “The things I did…” She opened her eyes again and lowered them to the floor. “She really is everything I wasn’t.”

Adagio cleared her throat and stepped over to kiss Sunset on the cheek. “We’ve been over this before. More than once.”

“I know. I know…” Sunset sighed again. She gave Adagio a half smile and another laugh. Then in the tone of a child who’d just been admonished, she said, “That’s not who I am today.”

“Very good.”

After a moment, Sunset’s eyes brightened again. “Hmm… Can you feel it?” She tapped a gentle hoof on Adagio’s horn. “The magic around you?”

“I can feel the ley lines and the energy… I’m familiar with that much, at least.” She squinted her eyes in concentration before letting out the breath she was holding. “But I haven’t the first thought of how to channel it through this horn instead of my voice.”

“I wonder,” Sunset said. “We’ll keep trying. I’m sure there’ll be some time to practice on the road. If you can feel the energy, it means the connection is there.”

“Ooh. Be sure to let me know!” Twilight poofed in suddenly. When Sunset jumped with a startled yelp, Twilight’s eyes quickly widened, and she stepped back with a timid laugh, as if observing a personal-space bubble. “Oh, sorry… heh-heh.”

Sunset rubbed her ear with a hoof and then shook her head with a light chuckle. “Did you find anything?”

“Nothing that would confirm one theory over the other.” Twilight looked at Adagio with bright eyes. “So I’ll be excited to hear if you can produce some sort of magic. But for now, I had a room set up for you two, so you can finish getting ready to leave. Or if you want to stay the night and leave tomorrow, that’s fine too.”

“That sounds nice. Thank you.” Adagio collected her satchel off the table and flipped the strap over her head. Her eyes went wide all of a sudden. “Oh! I told Sonata I’d send her a journal message that we’re ok, and—”

“Already done.” Twilight beamed proudly. “Took care of it while you were resting.”

“Hmm. Well, then…” Adagio smiled at Twilight and walked up next to Sunset. “Lead the way.”

***

Sunset’s glow faded from the borrowed map as it unrolled onto the bedroom floor. Adagio laid down next to her and glanced toward its left edge. She frowned slightly at the unlabeled expanse of water. She hadn’t expected anything different. Yet still…

“So I’m thinking we’ll head west,” Sunset said, pointing a hoof. “Seems like a smoother trip, since we’ve only got a week. I know we can stay longer if we need to, but…”

Adagio closed her eyes and nodded. “The southwestern ocean is the one I was hoping to see. It’s… where home was.”

She felt Sunset's nose brush her cheek. The quiet moment was interrupted by a knock at the door, however, and she looked up. “Come in.”

A pink glow enveloped the door and drew it open just enough for Twilight’s head to poke in. “Sunset, hey. Sorry to come right back, but…” She lowered her eyes. “Celestia’s leaving soon. So, if you were hoping to, well…” She pushed the door open a bit further and rubbed a hoof on her front leg. “Well, now’s your chance.”

Sunset closed her eyes and exhaled through her nose. “Yeah… I need to go and do this.” She stood up and turned to Adagio. “You’ll be fine up here for just a bit?”

Adagio took an unsteady breath, but then nodded determinedly. “I know how important this is to you. Go.”

Sunset followed Twilight out. Adagio watched through the door as Sunset’s horn glowed and the two shared a laugh. A few softer words passed between them—she couldn’t hear what—and then Twilight leaned over a placed a wing around Sunset.

Adagio became aware that her jaw had clenched. She shook her head and forced herself to take a breath. Gah… Stop it. She looked up again to see them round the corner into the spiral staircase. And then silence.

Adagio sighed deeply and walked over to the window. She laid down on the floor, resting her head on the sill. Several stories below, a dirt pathway wound out of the castle and forked into a number of smaller trails. She closed her eyes for a few minutes and breathed in the fresh air.

Hearing the mutter of distant voices below, she turned her eyes downward to see the expected orange and white pair walking along the main path, a differing sunburst pattern on each of their flanks. Out of earshot, they strolled toward a garden that sprawled beyond the left edge of Adagio’s window. She watched as Sunset’s head moved from looking up one moment to hanging low the next. This—and placement of a white wing around Sunset’s shoulders—occurred a number of times before they made their way out of Adagio’s sight.

She hoped this would be good for Sunset. And, with as far as they both had come, how could it not? Adagio turned her eyes up to the white, billowing clouds that drifted slowly past. She then closed them again and took another deep breath. Despite the warmth of the sun on her face, the thought of the empty room behind her brought on an emotional shiver.

Strange form. Estranged land. She’d been here for only a few hours, and now? Alone again.

And if I was to remain here, back at sea, this would be my life there as well, wouldn’t it? She sighed deeply and rolled her head to one side. Even if Aria and Sonata were to join me. I don’t think I could go back to it just being the three of us again. Together, but… still so alone.

“You appear troubled, little one.”

‘Little?’ Adagio scowled. The hairs on her back bristled as she turned. Just who do you… Oh.

“Luna…”

Hmm. Should I address her as ‘Princess?’ Adagio turned back to stare out her window. After all, not even you and your sister together could withstand us the last time we met. But then, feeling ashamed at the thought, she turned back to her guest and lowered her eyes. “Hello.”

“I imagine you have a great many things weighing on your mind presently.” Luna walked over and sat down next to her. She looked out the window as well. “And not all of them encouraging, I see.”

Adagio returned her chin to the window sill and was silent for a minute.

“We’ve only just arrived, and now? I hate myself for feeling this way, but… I feel so cold right now. And alone. I used to feel this way so often, over all those years. But when I’m with her…” Still gazing down at the empty pathway, she slumped her shoulders as moisture tickled at the corners of her eyes. “I know this will pass. She’ll come back up here and we’ll be on our way. Things will be warm again. But… why can’t just being happy for her give me that same warmth?”

“Hmm. It is… as if you were a mirror speaking back to me, in many ways.” Luna brushed a wing tip along Adagio’s back. “I know very well this place in which you find yourself. It has long been one of my deepest struggles. And one which I fear I am not yet truly free of.” She sighed and folded her wings again. “My sister is the light. The sun which brings warmth and life. It nourishes our plants and trees, and evokes a great many pleasant emotions.”

Luna took a slow breath and lowered her head. “But the night, on the other hand, is often a cold and lonely place. Very few revel in it. It was this loneliness, and envy of my sister’s adoration, which led me to that place of true darkness. But I realize now that we are two parts of the same whole. And that this world is all the better for it.”

Adagio sat up and nodded, an unexpected measure of respect swelling within her.

Luna looked up at her. “And you have realized something very important, Adagio. She will return to you. Her time spent with others in no way diminishes her love for you. Have faith in her. Do not be afraid to trust her.” Her focus shifted, as if gazing inward. “It may surprise you just how much warmth she draws from you as well.”

Adagio smiled softly as a bit of the weight crumbled from her shoulders. Again, she nodded.

“Thank you… Princess.”

Luna nodded in reply with a close of her eyes. She then turned to look back out the window. “And look here. She returns even now.”

Adagio followed her gaze down to the path, and to Sunset and Celestia returning from their walk.

Luna stood and bowed her head with another brush of a wing on Adagio’s mane. “Be well.” She turned and walked out through the door.

***

Gah! “Damn it.”

Adagio dropped to the floor and puffed the hair out of her face. She surveyed the half-dozen scarves and hair ties littering the space around her.

At the creak of hinges, she looked up to see Sunset walk through the door, stop and glance around with a giggle. “What happened here?”

“I’ll never take fingers for granted again, that’s what.”

“Hehe.” Sunset stepped over and levitated one of the hair scarves with her horn, and then Adagio’s mane as well. The scarf floated over and wrapped, albeit a bit clumsily, around the mass of hair and tied itself into a bow. “Hmm. It’s not perfect. But I’m getting my dexterity back quicker than I’d thought.”

“Thanks,” Adagio whispered as she rubbed noses with Sunset. “So, how did?”

Sunset closed her eyes and nodded. “Yeah… It went well. Thank you again.”

“Hm?”

“For the letter.” Sunset turned around and sat down next to Adagio. “It… let me go into that expecting to find some peace. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d have been a wreck… If I’d even been here at all.” She lowered herself to lay down and smiled. “I really do feel better.”

“I’m glad.” Adagio nestled down next to her and closed her eyes as a relaxed silence settled in around them. She inhaled the warmth of Sunset resting next to her. After a minute or two, she looked up again.

“Hmm, so. Back to this?” She nodded toward the map on the floor.

“Oh!” Sunset perked up and gave a quick laugh. The map took on a green glow, rolled itself up and drifted to the corner. “Forget that thing. You gotta see this. I don’t know how we missed it earlier.” She stood up and walked toward the door, gesturing for Adagio to follow.

As they walked down the hall to the stairs, Sunset went on, “So I think I would like to stay around here today. What about you? And then we can get going at sunrise tomorrow?”

“I was thinking the same, yes. It’s getting a bit late to make any real progress today.”

“Twi said Fluttershy and Applejack are way out on AJ’s farm somewhere having some ‘critter negotiation’ problem, whatever that means. But she gave us a list of where the others are, and some things to see in town.”

Sunset levitated a rolled-up parchment from her bag and unfurled it.

Adagio chuckled. “You two and your checklists, I swear…” She gave Sunset a sideways grin and then looked forward again. “So what’s first?”

“Carousel Boutique.”

Adagio laughed heartily. “So even that’s here too… So funny, the similarities. And that they all live right here.” After a moment, she added, “Though this is going to be a bit weird, you know. Seeing them, but not… them.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” They turned the corner and began descending the spiral stairs. Sunset chuckled as her eyes drifted down the list. “And I see she saved Pinkie for last. I think that all but answers your question from earlier.”

Author's Note:

Siren gem lore loosely inspired by Daniel-Gleebits' Three Little Visitors. Borrowed a few rough ideas, but also changed a lot to suit my approach. Just touching the surface here, though. More to come.

Made a drawing for the scene right after the portal. =)
https://derpibooru.org/1011792

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