• Published 3rd Oct 2015
  • 6,222 Views, 941 Comments

Finding Home - Krickis

Sunset Shimmer returns to Equestria only to find that returning home is different than finding one.

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9 – Acts of Kindness

Chapter Nine

Acts of Kindness

By the time Fluttershy fell asleep, the sun was already up. Still, when Rainbow shook her awake, it wasn’t because she was tired that she wished she could just keep sleeping the day away. She groggily sat up and rubbed her eyes. It had been so late when she arrived, and she hated the thought of waking Rainbow, so she’d just let herself inside unannounced. She knew Rainbow wouldn’t mind, but she also knew that Rainbow would want to know why Fluttershy was asleep on her living room couch.

“Hey, Shy? It’s cool if you want to go back to sleep, but it’s already like three in the afternoon, so I figured you might want to get up.”

Fluttershy shot upright. “Afternoon? Oh, I left the poor little animals waiting for their breakfasts! I have to get going.”

As soon as she stood up, Rainbow held her back with a hoof on her shoulder. “No, you don’t. I took care of them.”

Fluttershy looked at her in surprise. Even though adopting Tank had made her a little more caring, Rainbow still wasn’t really fond of looking after animals other than him. “You… you did?” Realizing that Rainbow might be upset at how surprised she was she added, “But didn’t you have work today?”

“Eh, I stopped by and told them I couldn’t make it.” Rainbow shrugged and sat down next to Fluttershy.

“Why? You’re not sick are you?”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “No, I’m fine. But when I saw you, I figured you weren’t feeling up to taking care of anything today.”

Fluttershy frowned. She hadn’t meant to make Rainbow miss work or take on any extra responsibilities. She thought she’d just sleep a few hours, Rainbow would wake her up before leaving for work, then she’d go back to her cottage. “You didn’t have to do that…”

“I know,” Rainbow said, shrugging. “Anyway, you staying up now? ‘Cause you can use my bed if you want to go back to sleep.”

“I think it’s probably time to get up. I don’t want to be up all night again tonight.” Even as she said it she sunk back into the couch.

“Alright. You want some tea or something?” Rainbow asked. She normally drank coffee, but always kept tea around for whenever Fluttershy visited.

“Oh, sure. I’ll go get it started.”

Again, Rainbow stopped her from getting up. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll do it.”

Fluttershy actually wouldn’t have minded having something to keep herself busy, but Rainbow was already walking to the kitchen, and she simply didn’t have the energy to convince her not to. She remained on the couch for a few minutes before dragging herself up and walking into the kitchen.

She sat and waited while Rainbow busied herself, making both tea and coffee. She poured Fluttershy’s tea into a coffee mug and brought it to her before returning to the stove. Fluttershy blew on the steaming beverage while Rainbow finished making the coffee, eventually sitting down at the table.

“So, you want to tell me what’s going on?” Rainbow asked. Fluttershy was surprised she’d lasted this long.

Fluttershy sighed. She knew when she decided to go to Rainbow’s house that she’d have to answer that question sooner or later. At the time, the idea of talking about it seemed like a good one. She was angry and wanted somepony else to be angry with her. But now that she had a chance to sleep on it, she wasn’t so sure she really wanted to go into details. “Uhm… We had a fight…”

“Kinda figured that much,” Rainbow said. “Come on, you gotta get it off your chest. What happened?”

Fluttershy bit her lip. Why was she still worried about Rainbow being angry with Twilight? Shouldn’t she be angry? Still, she couldn’t help but want to protect Twilight, no matter how upset she was. She took a sip of her tea and politely ignored the fact that Rainbow had made it a little too strong. “It’s… promise me you won’t do anything brash?”

“You know, that’s not exactly the most reassuring thing you could say,” Rainbow said, taking a sip of her coffee. “Fine, I won’t do anything brash. Now what happened?”

“Well…” Fluttershy took a deep breath and stared into her tea. “I saw Twilight kiss Sunset.” Saying it out loud almost brought her back to the point of tears, but she held it in. She’d cried more than enough the night before.

Rainbow frowned and set aside her coffee. “Are you sure? I mean, I don’t know about Sunset, but that doesn’t sound like something Twilight would do.”

Fluttershy held her face in her hooves and gave a small nod. “I know, but I saw her.”

“So then what? Did you talk to her about it?”

“Yes,” Fluttershy said. “She said it’s never happened before.”

She felt Rainbow’s hoof on her shoulder. “So… I, uh, I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but…”

Fluttershy was pretty sure she knew what Rainbow was trying to say; it had been on her mind all night. “What are the odds that I happen to see them the first time they kiss?”

“Well… yeah,” Rainbow said. She moved closer, so Fluttershy leaned into her shoulder and started crying. Rainbow didn’t say anything, she just held her and patted her back. Fluttershy knew Rainbow wasn’t comfortable in situations like this, and appreciated her trying her best.

“How do I know… What if they did more than kiss?” Fluttershy asked through her sobs. “They’re both… they’re at the castle now…”

“I don’t think Twilight would do anything like that,” Rainbow said.

“I… I didn’t think she’d kiss somepony else…”

“Tell you what, I’ll go talk to her,” Rainbow said. Fluttershy wiped her eyes and looked up to see Rainbow grinning. “I’ll get to the bottom of things, don’t worry about it.”

“Please don’t…” Fluttershy was afraid of what Rainbow ‘talking’ to Twilight would entail. Rainbow looked confused. “Uhm… I just… I think I just need a few days to figure out how I feel, then we can figure out what to do next.”

Rainbow didn’t look happy with that response. “If you say so. You should drink your tea, anyway. And we should probably get you some food too.”

Fluttershy obliged and took another sip from her tea. “Thanks, Dashie, but I’m not hungry.”

“Fine, but I am.” Rainbow stood up and turned the stove back on. She began going through cabinets, pulling out a pot which she filled with water and set to boil. While waiting, she pulled out pasta and some premade sauce.

“Uhm, that’s probably too much for one pony,” Fluttershy said suspiciously, as Rainbow poured the pasta into the water.

Rainbow shrugged. “I’m really hungry.”

Fluttershy doubted that, but just finished her tea while Rainbow moved about the kitchen.

“Okay, so maybe you were right,” Rainbow said as she filled a bowl. “I think I made too much, you sure you don’t want any?”

Fluttershy smiled, knowing this was her plan all along. “Okay, maybe just a little.” Rainbow filled a second bowl – a little too full in Fluttershy’s opinion – and set it in front of her. She knew Rainbow was only looking out for her, and actually felt a little better as she ate.

‘Coming here was a good idea. Twilight was right.’

The thought made her lose her appetite again, tying her stomach in knots. She forced herself to keep eating though, Rainbow had been nice enough to cook for her, and she knew Rainbow hated cooking.

But before too long, she found herself moving her food around, unable to keep eating even though she felt guilty. “Why would she do that? I’d never do anything like that to her.”

Rainbow looked up from her food, the sudden question taking her by surprise. She had sauce on her muzzle, which she tried to lick off, but failed. “I don’t know, Shy. I… I’m not good with this kind of thing.” She leaned back in her chair. “I’m sure Twilight loves you, but maybe…”

Rainbow trailed off while Fluttershy pushed her bowl away. “Maybe…?”

“Well, what do I know about serious relationships and stuff?” Rainbow shrugged and grinned sheepishly. “You know I’ve never even been with anypony for more than a couple of months.”

“Rainbow…” Fluttershy didn’t really have the energy to push her for answers.

“Fine.” Rainbow sighed. “Maybe she just… wanted something else.”

“Sunset and Twilight do have so much more in common,” Fluttershy said.

“I… look, I really don’t know anything about this stuff, Shy, don’t take that too seriously. Maybe we could go talk to Rarity, she’s a lot better at this than me.”

Fluttershy laid her head down on the table. “I was thinking the same thing though. Why else would she do that? It’s not that complicated. She wouldn’t kiss her if she didn’t… didn’t love her…”

At a loss for words Rainbow looked around the room. She eventually wiped her muzzle with a foreleg, finally getting the sauce off it. “I do know one thing though. She never should have done that to you. If she changed her mind about your relationship she should have told you, not gone behind your back doing who knows what. She –”

Rainbow stopped suddenly as Fluttershy began sniffling again. “Right, I’m shutting up now.”

“It… it’s okay…” Fluttershy said, quickly wiping her eyes even though she was sure more tears would come soon. “I just… I don’t want to lose her. No matter what happened, no matter what, I love her. I’ll always love her, but I don’t know what to do.”

Just as Fluttershy had expected, she was already crying again. Unsure of what to do, Rainbow looked around uncertainly. Eventually, she pulled Fluttershy into a hug. “Okay, so this is what we know. Twilight bucked up, but you still want things to work out. Did it look like she wanted to work things out?”

“I… yes. She said she’d do anything to make it up to me.”

“Alright, so you both want things to work out,” Rainbow said. “So how about this: When you’re ready, we’ll go talk to Twilight. We can tell Sunset to hit the road and figure out what you want to do from there.”

She had barely even thought about what to do with Sunset. She had been so focused on trying to understand Twilight that she forgot there was another issue. “But they work together, I don’t think Sunset moving out would really help that much…”

Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “Seriously? I’m pretty sure Sunset just got fired. She can move to Canterlot. Or better yet, we can throw her back on the other side of that mirror, but she’s lost any right to be hanging around Twilight.”

Seriously thinking about it for the first time, Fluttershy found that the idea of not being friends with Sunset anymore still made her sad for some reason. Sure, she was angry with Sunset, but she didn’t want to lose any friends. Still, Rainbow was right. She was going to have to rebuild her trust in Twilight, and having Sunset around was going to make that impossible.

Since it seemed neither of them was going to eat any more, Rainbow took their dishes and put away leftovers, leaving the dirty dishes in the sink.

Not wanting to talk about what happened anymore, Fluttershy asked if the rest of the weather team would mind Rainbow taking the day off, and used that as a way to get Rainbow talking about work in general. It was easy enough to get her off topic; Rainbow was probably just as happy to move on to something easier to talk about.

They eventually relocated to the living room again, and Fluttershy got Rainbow talking about the Wonderbolts Reserve, which was sure to keep her busy for hours. She suspected more than a few of the stories were exaggerated, but she listened happily. Sometimes it was almost enough to distract her from her thoughts.

The sun had been down for a while by the time Fluttershy left Rainbow’s house. Rainbow suggested she just stay another night, which Fluttershy was almost tempted to do. In the end, she suspected she’d have another restless night ahead of her and decided to spend it tossing and turning in her own bed. The only problem she was having was deciding which bed that was.

There was no getting around it, she missed Twilight. She was still furious, and she told herself to go to her cottage, but her wings carried her to the castle instead. She had some vague idea of entering unexpected and seeing if Twilight and Sunset were together, but no matter what had really been going on, she knew that wouldn’t be the case. It had been less than a day since Fluttershy had seen them, they would be too nervous to do anything so soon.

She pushed the door open and stepped inside. Nopony seemed to be on the ground floor. She normally would head upstairs to check the library, but this time she made her way to the basement. She stopped and listened once she reached the door, but she couldn’t hear anything. She did her best to keep breathing steady as she pushed it open, but her chest tightened and her legs threatened to give out.

Step by step, she slowly made her way into the basement. The light was off, so she was sure nopony would be there, but she turned it on just in case. As she suspected, it was empty.

She turned the light back off and turned back. Along the way, she heard a sound in the kitchen and went to investigate. Poking her head in, she saw Spike preparing a meal for himself.

“Hello, Spike,” Fluttershy said, walking into the kitchen.

“Hey, Fluttershy. Where you been all day?” He wiped his claws on his apron before climbing up the counter to reach a high shelf.

“I, uhm. I stopped by Rainbow’s to visit.” Fluttershy didn’t want to involve Spike in their problem, certainly not before they even knew for sure what was going on.

“I was surprised when nopony was around,” Spike said, chuckling. “Not that I mind having the whole castle to myself or anything.”

“Nopony’s here?”

Spike looked at her quizzically. “What, Twilight didn’t tell you she was going somewhere? You don’t think she’s in trouble, do you?”

“Oh, no, I knew she might be out,” Fluttershy lied. She didn’t want Spike to worry about her, but she wasn’t sure how to explain that Twilight wasn’t in any danger. Trouble, on the other hoof? Well, she might definitely be in trouble, but that depended on Spike’s answer to her next question. “I didn’t think Sunset would be gone though. Did she go with Twilight?”

Satisfied that Twilight was okay, Spike resumed his cooking. “I dunno, but I don’t think so. Sunset was already gone when I woke up, but Twilight didn’t leave until the afternoon.”

She supposed that was a good sign, but it didn’t exactly rule out that they might be together somewhere. Suddenly, she decided she didn’t even want to wait around to find out the answer to that. “Okay,” she said. “I’m sure they’ll be back soon. I’m going to my cottage tonight though, so I’ll see you later.”

Spike stopped what he was doing and turned around. “You are? Did you and Twilight have a fight?”

Fluttershy should have known that Spike would catch on. While she didn’t want to bring him into it, she supposed he would find out soon enough, so there was no point in sheltering him completely. “Well… yes, we did. But it’ll be okay, we just need a little time to ourselves right now.”

Spike looked down and twirled his claws around. “Okay. But, uhm… Everything will be okay, Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy smiled and walked over to him. He was getting so tall these days, she barely had to bend down at all to kiss his forehead. “Yes, it will. I’ll probably see you tomorrow.”

As she said goodnight to the little dragon, his sad expression almost made her stay. But then the thought of seeing Twilight come home with Sunset popped back into her head, which proved too much for her to stay.

She left the castle and slowly made her way to her cottage, barely paying attention to her surroundings. Where would they have gone? Was she worried over nothing? Maybe it really was just one kiss. With so much to think about during the day, she was constantly finding new things she hadn’t thought of.

If they really did share just the one kiss, then what? She couldn’t even figure out how she’d feel about that, not when every attempt to think about it brought her back to wondering what else they might be doing together. While she was slowly walking home with her head hung low, the two of them were who knows where doing who knows what.

That wasn’t fair, and Fluttershy knew it. Even after everything, she trusted Twilight more than that. But the thoughts just wouldn’t stop coming, whether she believed them or not, and it was hard to remind herself of Twilight’s trustworthiness when her thoughts flashed back to the way Twilight had lied to her.

She avoided the main market section of town, taking side roads the whole way. All she wanted was to get home without anypony stopping to talk to her. It was too much to ask for.

“Oh, Fluttershy, could you come here a second?” Fluttershy looked up to see a grey pegasus waving to her.

“Hello, Derpy,” Fluttershy said, hoping her smile looked authentic.

She walked up to Derpy, who looked worried. “It’s your friend, the one that’s been staying with you and Twilight. She’s, uhm…”

“Sunset?” Despite everything, Fluttershy couldn’t help being concerned for her. “Is she okay?”

“Oh, she’s fine,” Derpy said. “Well, mostly. She, uhm, just had a little too much to drink. When the bartender told her she’d had enough and that she should go back to the castle, she got upset and walked off.”

And just as suddenly as it had come, Fluttershy's concern was gone. “I’m sure Sunset will be okay. She’s probably already on her way back.”

Derpy shook her head. “The doctor and I went after her to make sure she got home okay, but she was walking away from the castle. When we tried to help her she, uhm, she started yelling a lot, so we let her go.” She bowed her head. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy, we shouldn’t have left her.”

Fluttershy frowned. If Sunset wanted to get drunk that was her own business, and at least now she knew Twilight wasn’t with her. But there was no reason to yell at ponies who were just trying to help. “It’s okay, Derpy. Sunset’s been… Well, there’s a lot going on right now. Which way did she go?”

“She walked off that way,” Derpy said, pointing. “I don’t think she got very far.”

“Thank you, and I’m sorry she was so rude to you,” Fluttershy said.

“Aw, it’s okay. I’m sure she didn’t mean it. Do you want me to help you find her?”

Fluttershy smiled and shook her head. “No thank you, I’m sure I’ll be alright.” Fluttershy didn’t plan on looking for Sunset long, and certainly didn’t want any other ponies to waste their time looking for her. “You should get home now, it’s late.”

“Alright. Good luck.” Derpy waved and flew off.

Fluttershy sighed. She could just keep going and not even bother with Sunset. She was the one who got drunk. She was rude to Derpy and Time Turner. She’d broken Fluttershy’s trust. There was no reason to bother going after her at all. But the thought of Sunset collapsed on the side of the road was still not a happy one, so Fluttershy flew into the air to get a good view of the area.

‘Why do I have to represent the Element of Kindness? If I was Laughter I could just laugh at her getting what she deserves, or Honesty, then I could tell her just how rotten she is. But no, I have to be Kindness and go help her…’ She knew Pinkie and Applejack wouldn’t do either of those things. In fact, she was pretty sure none of her friends would actually leave her, even Rainbow. The thought made her feel guilty for ever considering it in the first place.

Once she realized she’d never get to sleep until she at least tried to help Sunset, she put forth more effort into her search. It wound up being over pretty quick. The bright colors of Sunset’s mane, coupled with the fact that she was the only pony around in a full dress, made her stick out pretty easily.

Fluttershy hadn’t seriously thought she’d be on the side of the road, but sure enough there she was, lying on her back. With one last glance in the direction of her cottage, Fluttershy flew to the ground. She landed down the road a bit, wanting a moment to collect herself before addressing Sunset.

Sunset was either passed out or simply hadn’t noticed her. Fluttershy walked up and saw that if she was coherent, she was staring at the stars. “What are you doing?” Her voice held none of its usual warmth.

Sunset was awake after all, since she flinched at Fluttershy’s tone. “Stargazing.”

Fluttershy waited for more, but Sunset remained quiet. “I almost didn’t come after you, you know.”

“Good. Ya shouldn’t have.” Sunset’s speech was slurred and she didn’t seem to be in control of the volume of her voice. Just hearing her made Fluttershy angry.

“Why are you out here? Why aren’t you at home?”

Sunset laughed mirthlessly. “I don’t have a home, Shy. I think… I think I never really did. Ever.”

“What are you talking about?” Fluttershy asked. “The castle.”

“I thought I had a home f’r awhile. I thought… Ya know, we were s’posed to have a home. Jus’ the three of us.” Sunset’s voice got much quieter, so Fluttershy could barely hear. “Then the two of us.”

“The castle, Sunset. Why aren’t you at the castle?”

“Hmm? Oh, that’s Twilight’s home.” Sunset’s voice reached excessive volumes again. “And, well ya know, Twilight’s there.”

Fluttershy didn’t know if Twilight would be there or not, but didn’t see why it mattered. “Get up, Sunset. We’re going back to the castle.”

She walked over to Sunset who pushed herself up. She tried to stand on her back legs to predictable results, winding up back on the ground.

“Sunset, please, just stand up. On four legs, not two.” Fluttershy might begrudgingly help Sunset back to the castle, but even she had her limits.

“Being a horse ‘s weird.” Sunset finally managed to stand up, and Fluttershy didn’t bother to correct her wording.

“Come on, let’s get you back.” Fluttershy was thankful Sunset seemed to be fine with just following her. She wasn’t sure if she could carry Sunset, and also wasn’t sure if she would.

“Where are we going?” Sunset asked.

Fluttershy’s eye twitched. “The castle. We’re going back to the castle.”

Sunset stopped and looked at her wide-eyed. “No. I can’t go back to the castle.”

“Sunset, please,” Fluttershy said, “after everything that’s going on, I don’t need this.”

“Shy,” Sunset said. “I… I’m so sorry, Shy.”

“That’s great, Sunset, you can help make up for it by coming with me now.”

Sunset actually took a step backwards, which caused her to stumble and almost wind up back on the ground. “Just go. Leave me alone, Shy, just leave me here.”

The idea was tempting. Really, she wasn’t even sure why she was bothering. Wasn’t it enough that she tried? “Please don’t make me drag you there.”

Sunset kept looking serious for only a moment before she couldn’t hold it anymore and started laughing. Fluttershy wasn’t really amused. “Sorry, it’s just… Shy, I really don’ think you’re gonna overpower me.”

Fluttershy glared at her, but didn’t bother to dispute it. Even if Sunset was too inebriated to use her magic properly, she was still much bigger. “Fine. Then come with me to my house.” She’d said it before she’d even really thought it through. So much for spending time sorting through her feelings, since the only thing she’d be feeling with Sunset downstairs was frustration.

“Oh. Okay. Wait, will Twilight be there?”

“No,” Fluttershy said. She waited for any more questions, but no more came, so Fluttershy led the way to her cottage.

They walked in silence at first, which suited Fluttershy fine. Which meant it was only a matter of time before Sunset spoke. “I think… I think I really fucked up this time Shy…”

“Really,” Fluttershy said flatly. “Why ever would you think that?”

Sunset seemed to not notice Fluttershy’s sarcasm. “I did something bad. Like, really bad.”

It dawned on her that Sunset might not realize Fluttershy had seen them. She had suspected Twilight would have talked to her about it, but Sunset really didn’t seem too worried to be around her, so maybe not. That also meant they didn’t have a chance to get a story straight. Suddenly running into Sunset seemed like a much better thing. “Oh? I’m sure it couldn’t have been that bad.”

“But it was!” Sunset exclaimed, far louder than was called for.

“Well, what was it?” Fluttershy asked.

“I… I can’t tell you.”

“Why not?”

“ ‘Cause… you’ll be mad at me…” Sunset sounded so pathetic Fluttershy could have felt sorry for her if she wasn’t so angry with her.

Fluttershy decided to wait until the got to the cottage to press for more, realizing that she really didn’t want Sunset to drunkenly yell that she kissed Twilight while they were still in town. She’d just have to hope she could get Sunset back on topic when the time came. “How about we go to my house, I’ll make us some tea, and then we can talk about it. I’m sure you’ll see there’s nothing to worry about.”

“You’re so nice. Why are you always so nice, Shy?” Sunset laughed and caught up with Fluttershy, who resisted the urge to push her away. “I mean, you’re not really Shy though.”

“What are you talking about?” Fluttershy asked, although she doubted she’d get any real answer.

Sunset chuckled. “Well, I mean, you’re kinda shy. But you’re not Shy. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense, does it?”

“Not really.” Fluttershy tried to keep her tone happy. She wasn’t very good at manipulating ponies into telling her things, but she was sure she’d have a better chance at getting Sunset to open up if she remained friendly.

“It’s like this… So, you’re Twilight’s Shy, right? But you’re not my Shy, you know?” Sunset began giggling. “My Shy, that rhymed. Hey! My Shy rhymed!”

‘Oh sweet Celestia, what did I do to deserve this?’ Fluttershy was tempted to suggest they play the silence game. Usually she reserved that for little fillies, but considering Sunset was still listing words that rhymed with ‘Shy,’ she certainly was making a foal of herself.

“You know, I’d never want to do anything to hurt you,” Sunset said suddenly.

Maybe it wouldn’t be too hard to get her back on topic after all. But they still weren’t at the cottage, and there was no telling what Sunset would say next. “Uhm, okay Sunset, but if we could just go a little further…”

Sunset stopped walking entirely. “I mean it, Sh– Fluttershy. I wouldn’t, no matter what. And, uhm, neither would Twilight. You know that, right?”

Fluttershy gave the best smile she could manage. “Of course, Sunset. Come on, we’re almost there.”

Sunset waited a moment, making Fluttershy worry that she was would need to convince her to move all over again. But she did start walking eventually, and thankfully did so in silence. As awkward as the silence was, Fluttershy still enjoyed it, and found the rest of the walk felt much faster.

“There we go,” Fluttershy said as they finally walked into the house. “How about you take a seat on the couch and I’ll make us some tea.”

“Huh. I never seen your house before.” Sunset looked around the cottage and smiled. “It’s like… a real house.”

“Uhm… thanks?” Fluttershy wasn’t entirely sure how she was meant to take that.

“The castle’s like… it’s nice, but this is like… It’s so you,” Sunset said. She took a seat on the couch and admired the room. “I like it. I like things that are you.”

“Right, well, how about I make us that tea?” Without waiting for a response, Fluttershy walked into the kitchen. She sighed and took a moment to just stand in silence.

Looking around her kitchen, she realized something – it didn’t feel like home anymore. There were so many memories in these rooms, but everything was different now. She spent so little time here these days that they’d even relocated all the animals to new homes. Some of them were back at the castle, and she couldn’t help but wish she was there with them.

Slowly, she walked over to the stove and turned it on. She filled a kettle with water and set it on the stove, happy she wasn’t planning to make food. For a while they kept the house fully stocked for whenever they wanted to spend the night, but that grew less and less regular. Eventually keeping both houses prepared made less and less sense. She didn’t mind that they had gravitated towards staying in the castle; Twilight’s work was important and her little cottage simply couldn’t house all the equipment she needed. And Twilight would probably deny it if Fluttershy brought it up, but it was also important to her title. Princesses didn’t rule from cottages.

The water boiled and she added the tea. With nothing to do while she let the tea steep, she took a seat and wondered what Twilight was doing. Had she been unfair in thinking Twilight and Sunset would have been together? From the sound of things, they hadn’t had any contact since Fluttershy had seen them the night before. Returning to what was once her haven made one thing clear; she’d forgive Twilight. Her cottage didn’t feel like home, but the castle wasn’t her home either. Twilight was. So long as Twilight wanted to make things work, that would be enough for her.

The kettle whistled, shaking Fluttershy from her thoughts. Even with the sound she moved slowly, taking the kettle off the stove and pouring two cups. She wondered again what she was going to do about Sunset if she was forgiving Twilight. Having no ideas on that front, she decided it could wait. First she’d serve tea, then she’d figure out if she was ending a friendship.

She set the tray on the table, sitting across from Sunset. “Now, be careful. It’s very hot.”

Sunset shrugged. “I like hot things.” She took a sip and grinned. “Like you.”

Fluttershy cocked her head to the side. “What?”

“Sorry, that was… was a dumb joke. I used to say that to my ex all the time.” Sunset took another sip while Fluttershy just blew on hers.

“Okay. Well, anyway, what did you want to tell me?” Fluttershy smiled encouragingly.

“There’s lots of things I wanna tell you,” Sunset said. “Like, uhm… Never mind, I can’t tell you that.” She blushed and stifled her laughter by drinking some more tea.

“Sure you can,” Fluttershy encouraged. “You can tell me anything.”

“Well… okay, but you gotta promise.”

Fluttershy waited for her to tell her what she needed to promise, but Sunset just stared at her, waiting for her to promise some ambiguous thing. “Uhm… promise what?”

“That you won’t be mad,” Sunset said. “Or that, uhm, Twilight won’t be mad.”

“Okay, I promise I won’t be mad, and I don’t think that Twilight will either.” Fluttershy wondered if she should feel bad for making a promise she had no idea if she could keep. “Now, what could be so bad that you can’t tell your friend?”

“Well, I… uh…” Sunset set her cup down and adjusted her necklace. Fluttershy leaned forward, hoping this confession would finally get them somewhere. “I think you’re really beautiful as a pony.”

Fluttershy blinked a few times, expecting more. Sunset was blushing furiously while avoiding Fluttershy’s eyes. “Oh, okay. That’s nice, Sunset. But, uhm, was there maybe something else on your mind?”

“You’re not mad?”

Seeing Sunset’s ridiculously worried expression actually made Fluttershy smile. “No, I’m not mad. I’m flattered you think so.”

“I think Twilight would be mad,” Sunset said. She looked around as if afraid somepony might be listening in before leaning across the table. “I don’t think Twi likes Amber.”

Between Sunset’s general goofiness and lack of ability to whisper properly, Fluttershy could probably have enjoyed this conversation under different circumstances. “Well, she’s working on it. But I don’t think her problem is that Amber thinks I’m pretty.”

Sunset blushed more and didn’t answer. Fluttershy wondered if it was just the alcohol making her blush or if there was something she wasn’t saying. ‘Of course there’s something she isn’t saying, we haven’t talked about what happened yet.’

“Sunset, what was it you mentioned earlier? You think you did something bad?”

This time she was definitely blushing. “I… Uhm…”

“It’s okay, Sunset. You can tell me whatever it is.” Fluttershy was beginning to second guess this. She had to remind herself she was angry with Sunset. Seeing her so obviously regretful was beginning to ease Fluttershy’s fire.

“I…” Sunset stood up suddenly. “I’ll be right back.”

Fluttershy watched in confusion as Sunset calmly walked to the door. She opened it, stepped outside, and closed it behind her. Fluttershy was left puzzled – until she heard Sunset retching. She ran after her immediately, not even thinking about what was doing, just letting her instincts to care for a friend in need kick in.

“There there,” Fluttershy said as she held Sunset’s mane out of the way. “You’ll be okay, just let it out.” When Sunset was finally done Fluttershy led her back to the door. “Wait here, I’ll get you a glass of water.”

Sunset nodded and Fluttershy walked back into the kitchen, filled a cup with water, and brought it back to Sunset. She took a sip, swished it around her mouth, and spit it out before drinking the rest of the glass.

Once she was done, they walked back inside and Sunset lay down on the couch. Fluttershy took a deep breath and found she simply couldn’t do it. Sunset was lying with her head on her hooves, looking completely miserable. She would have to wait and try to talk about it when Sunset was sober.

“What do you say we call it a night?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea,” Sunset said. Fluttershy couldn’t tell if Sunset was beginning to feel a little more coherent or if vomiting just caused a sudden change in her mood, but she seemed much more somber now.

“Uhm… will you be okay down here?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.” Sunset stretched out on the couch.

Fluttershy didn’t waste time going up to her bed. It had certainly been a draining evening.

She crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling, not even bothering to try and process any of her feelings. In a way, she was glad she’d run into Sunset. Trying to force a conversation with the drunken mare left her exhausted, and she might actually be able to sleep.

Still, she couldn’t fight the nagging feeling she was being a bad host, even if she wasn’t sure she wanted to be friendly with Sunset yet. Grumbling about being too nice she got up and went to a closet, pulling out extra pillows and a blanket and carrying them downstairs. She heard Sunset’s snoring before she was even at the bottom.

When she reached the couch she couldn’t help but laugh. Sunset was sprawled all over it, lying on her stomach with her left foreleg over the armrest and her right hindleg dangling off the side.

Fluttershy set the pillows near her head where she could easily grab them if she woke up. She draped the blanket over the sleeping mare and smiled. “Good night, Sunset. Sleep well.”

Sunset stirred a little at the sound. “Night, Shy,” she mumbled. “I love you.”

“What?” Fluttershy asked, but Sunset had fallen back asleep. Slowly she made her way into the bedroom and climbed back into bed. She wasn’t tired anymore, but she buried her face in a pillow anyway. Tomorrow was going to be interesting.

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