• Published 11th Oct 2015
  • 24,700 Views, 335 Comments

Finding Home - Cirrus Sky



Sunset Shimmer has to live somewhere right? But where and how did she get there?

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Chapter 4: Sickness

A raging noogie had turned the neat stripes of red and gold into a fire-like furze. “I give! Rainbow! Get off!” Sunset laughed and shoved at her friend. Pinkie Pie was poised to tickle too.

“So, are you going to tell us the rest of the story?” Rainbow let go and Rarity was swiftly arranging Sunset's hair, tsking at the rough-housing.

“Well yeah! This is the story I am telling.” Sunset grinned. “So, you remember that time I was off school ill?”

“Yes.” Fluttershy said, sad and with sudden realisation on her face. “Oh! You were all alone and sick and we didn't know where you were...” Her eyes started brimming with tears.

“Don't cry Fluttershy. Things turned out so well. Just brilliant.” Sunset hugged the girl. “I can tell you though, being sick was awful. I'd never gotten really ill before. I was never close enough to anyone to get sick.” Sunset left out about the poor condition she was in at the time. Bully Sunset had taken and demanded food from students, reformed Sunset had scraped by on what generosity she felt qualified for and the food she could purchase on her meagre budget.

It had not been a good time. In the night when her mind wandered without direction, Sunset still sometimes came across the delirium and fear. The scary what-could-have-been.

Focusing on the good Sunset figured the least alarming version of the story to tell. It would be no good to upset the girls when this whole reveal was supposed to stop them worrying.


Tuesday and a school day. Celestia and Luna had arrived at their usual time, ahead of the crowds of pupils and most of the other teachers. They both liked to share a hot drink and a chat before their working day.

“What are the plans for today then?” Luna leaned back in her seat, the casual pose would have surprised the student body and most of the staff, this was a side only Celestia and their friends saw.

“Chrys said she would let me know when she has finished the files.” Celestia said, scrolling through her personal emails on her phone. “Then I have to speak to Sunset.”

“And make your offer.” Luna said, watching her sister carefully. “Logically, a guardian and a social security number would be hard to refuse in her position. If her living space is as you say, coming to stay with us would be the better choice.”

“I know Lu, I just have to keep in mind to not let my hopes interfere. Scare her away, even.” Celestia sipped her tea. “I won't go right to the idea of adoption. Just a safe and warm place to stay.” She placed her teacup on a saucer. A conflicted expression darkened her eyes.

“I would think she would at least accept a room.” Luna drained her coffee. “She is a sensible girl.” Pausing, Luna looked at the clock, it read eight-thirty. “I had better get to my office.” She stood. “Have a good day 'Tia. I hope Chrysalis has the records ready soon.”

“Thanks Lulu, and have a good day too.” Celestia waved her sister off. She would have to wait for the records to exist before speaking to Sunset about that plan. She looked to the bag under her desk and the extra brown bag inside. “I can at least make sure she has a little extra something to eat.” She said, decided.

-*-

Sunset had jumped on the early bus, she had been worried about finding a dumpster to throw her trash in and gotten up way too early. Though, getting up early meant she found a big bag of returnable bottles, there had to be a few dollars worth inside. She'd had time to stash them away and fetch her guitar to take to school. The prospect of a little extra cash to stretch out her remaining money was cheering.

Even if her throat and eyes were feeling itchy and she had sneezed more than once this morning. “Just a cold, no biggie.” Sunset reassured herself. Her ride to school was otherwise uneventful. It was too early and the route didn't pass any of the places other students lived.

Walking in the school gates, Sunset saw there was a scattering of other students on the grounds. Mostly club or team members getting in for early practice or to book a room. Sunset smiled and waved to the few greetings she had, she wasn't unpopular, but Sunset still wasn't exactly friends with everyone.

Truthfully, a few of the students had every right to hate her. Her treatment of them in the past had been terrible. She had been vile. A few faces in the hall not smiling, the odd bump or trip as someone passed her, a muttered word... She deserved worse than that.

'Chin up Shimmer...' She thought to herself, after the rise at her triumph at the battle of the bands it looked like it was time for a fall. But she wasn't going to let it bring her down. She couldn't. Anon-o-miss had been a hurt but had been resolved. She wasn't going to break.

“Good morning Sunset.” Principal Celestia said, surprising the girl who was deep in thought.

“Oh! Sorry, I didn't see you there. Good morning.” Sunset realised her walk had brought her to the main building. The principal was stood by the door, seemingly looking at the milling students.

“Are you doing okay Sunset? I hope you remember my offer.” Celestia placed her hand on Sunset's shoulder. She could feel the chill of the air holding on to the fabric of the girl's jacket.

“It's only been about a week Principal Celestia. I've been fine, nothing has changed.” Sunset shrugged. The cold wasn't the best, but she had found a sweater in a thrift store that worked out for school. At that though, she sneezed.

“Oh my, I hope you aren't coming down with anything.” Celestia smiled and Sunset could only smile back, the affection was clear on the woman's face and for a moment Sunset recalled better times in Equestria. “By the way, I was wondering.” Celestia held out a bag, she'd not noticed Sunset's drifting into thought again. “We accidentally made a little more breakfast this morning...” She trailed off, unsure how to proceed without seeming patronising.

“Sounds good.” Sunset accepted the offered bag. She wasn't too proud to go hungry when food was offered out of real care and compassion. That the educator was stuck for words told Sunset she wasn't being pitying. “Uh, it is vegetarian right?” Sunset didn't want to be impolite but did have her dietary preferences.

“Of course.” Celestia smiled, then looked to her watch. “I had better get back to my office. Take care Sunset.”

“Thank you.” Sunset said, grateful for a breakfast. Most days she would end up with some creation of Pinkie's from the night before, or one of the slices of cold toast Rainbow didn't want (the athlete was often running late and would not get around to eating all the slices she grabbed when leaving her home). The bag contained some muffins, still fluffy and a little warm. Sunset grinned, today was looking good, even with the sniffles.

-*-

“Ugh... I think I've caught something.” Sunset lay her head on the lunch table, she'd not really felt like ordering food, her head was stuffy and her throat was sore.

“Are you sure there's nothing you feel like eating? Ah can probably convince Granny Smith to get you something from out back.” Applejack laid a hand on Sunset's back.

“Here.” Fluttershy said, her quite voice was sweet and caring. She placed a steaming mug on the table by Sunset.

“What's that?” Sunset could just about smell the contents, it wasn't tea or coffee.

“I have packet soups in my bag. Sometimes when it is really cold I like to have one. This one is carrot and coriander.” Fluttershy smiled her angelic smile. “Soup always helps me feel better when I have a cold.”

“Thank you Fluttershy.” Sunset managed a smile, it really was excellent to have friends. She sat up and picked up the mug, taking a deep whiff of the enticing scent before sipping. It was a tasty soup, even if it was just dry soup mix and water from a packet. “Mmmm, thanks 'Shy. This is just what I needed.”

“You're welcome.” Fluttershy carried on smiling and tucked in to her own lunch. After a while the girls started talking amongst themselves. The usual lunchtime chatter.

The conversation mostly went over Sunset's head, she was not feeling well at all and it was hard to concentrate. She finished off the soup without feeling queasy, but her head was still stuffy and it was making her eyes ache too. Someone said her name and Sunset looked up, “Hmm?”

“You going to be okay until the end of the school day?” Rainbow asked, narrowing her eyes, she had said it twice before her friend had noticed. “I'm sure Principal Celestia will let you call a ride home if you are too ill.”

“I'm good. Only an hour or two more to go. I might have to give band practice a miss though.” Sunset waved off the concern.

“If you're sure darling.” Rarity sounded unconvinced. “At least go to the nurses office would you?”

Sunset blinked, it would be sensible, but then Nurse Redheart would tell Principal Celestia and then she would get concerned and take Sunset out of school for the afternoon. But she knew full well where Sunset would go otherwise and wouldn't let that slide. “I'm fine girls. That soup helped a lot. Then I will get home.”

There was a chorus of unwilling agreement. Though Pinkie had some menthol and honey candy that she insisted Sunset have as they left the cafeteria for classes.

-*-

Sunset ducked out of school nearly immediately after the bell had rung. She'd only been feeling worse since lunch. Her last class was advanced calculus, a subject she didn't share with her friends, so she had hurried to the library for her phone and only stuck around to fill one water bottle. One would be enough for the night anyway.

Deciding her guitar would be safe on school property, she left the school grounds to catch a bus home. Fortunately she didn't pass anyone who would have cared she was unwell, it wasn't something she wanted to deal with right now.

She still had a muffin left to have for supper, Applejack had given her a bag of cinnamon-apple-chips that the family was hoping to sell in the 'Winter Wrapped-Up Fayre' at the park and Sunset knew her cooler box had to have at least a couple of carrots in. She'd have some food now without needing to call at a store. Meaning she could get right to bed.

Glad to get right home, Sunset found her bus stop. It wasn't long before one came by and she rode home.

-*-

When Sunset didn't attend school on Wednesday, Celestia was a little concerned. She thought about going to check on the girl, but after a hectic day of running the school and a meeting with the PTA, she didn't manage to fit it in.

Sunset's friends tried calling her phone when she wasn't in by lunch. “Hey...” Sunset croaked down the line. “I'm not feeling so good, I don't want to spread it around.” Her words were broken by a coughing fit. “See? Heh, I'm fine here at home. You guys better stay back, I don't want you getting sick.”

“If you're sure sugar cube.” Applejack said, she'd set her phone to speaker so everyone could hear.

“It's fine girls... Gimme a day, I'll be back in soon. Just got a little dizzy when I woke up so thought I'd stick in bed.” Sunset sounded quite ill, but the girls didn't want to press.

“Alright. But let any of us know if you need anything.” Fluttershy piped up. “When you are coming back, could you tell me, if that's okay? I was going to bring in some soup for you.”

“Thanks 'Shy. I'll keep that in mind.” They could hear Sunset was still cheerful, so the girls said their goodbyes, sent their love and rang off.

With her phone in her hand, Sunset thumbed down to Celestia's number. She looked at it, hovering over the name to dial but locked her phone instead.

Though it was probably unfair to the woman, Princess Celestia had not been the mare Sunset needed in her life. It coloured her perception of the principal.

A deep need for love that Sunset held had twisted into ambition once it had become clear that Celestia did not see her as anything more than a bright student. Sunset decided that achievement was the answer, high scores and good marks earning praise that could be a little like love. Her ambition to earn praise, that had started out as seeking a way to make the princess love her, changed. It darkened into an ambition that had turned into a soul-less quest for power. Power meant high marks, high scores, respect and praise. Power was what she had desired as her ambition swallowed everything besides.

Unbidden, her thoughts drove deep into the roiling hurt and deep sadness that had been uncapped when the relentless ambition was burned away. Everything she had shielded herself from, while unwittingly burying all the good in her, was shielded for a reason.

Sunset blinked back tears, being sick was very bad for her emotional state too. She had spent the day in bed but was still exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Sunset took a sparing sip of her water. One bottle hadn't been the best idea after all. But a day of resting would mean she was ready for school in the morning right? She'd be fine.

-*-

Thursday arrived, Sunset had texted her friends that she was still sick, the coughing and sore throat meant she had lost her voice. There were a number of replies wishing her a speedy recovery and sending their love. A little brightness in the gloom for the girl.

She again fretted over maybe calling Celestia for a little help. If nothing else, the teacher could get some more water and a few over-the-counter medicines for her, but once more she decided against it.

A voice, a growing voice, told her she didn't warrant the concern anyway. It would be an inconvenience for the woman, to have to go out of her way to help. Sunset didn't deserve it.

In her little room, in the cold, Sunset pulled her blankets closer and tried to sleep away the sickness. Coughing weakly into the bitter air.

-*-

On Friday not one of the girls had received a message or call from Sunset by lunch time. “All I get is a phone is switched off message when I call.” Pinkie said, worry haunting her eyes. Of the group, she knew the most about everyone, but still did not know where Sunset lived.

“I messaged her last night and didn't get a reply.” Fluttershy said. “I hope she's just forgotten to charge her phone.”

“I do that, or I run it out playing games.” Rainbow had a nervous grin, she was worried about Sunset too. Her attempt to quash the worry hadn't even convinced herself. “Does anyone know where Sunset lives?”

“No.” Rarity said, flicking through her diary. “I have addresses for so many students at this school, but nothing for our friend. I would say that right now it would be easier to visit Princess Twilight than Sunset Shimmer!” She gesture to the statue and the portal.

“We should go to Principal Celestia.” Applejack said. “We don't know where Sunset lives, we don't know if she has folk to look out for her.” The farm girl looked aggrieved. “All we do know is that she's sick.”

“I would say that is the best idea.” Rarity stood up from the steps, the others joined her.

It was a purposeful group who reached the door to the office suite. Applejack and Rainbow knocked the door. Ms Schreibtisch opened it. “Yes Girls?” She looked at the pair who had knocked and the three others behind. If this group was here, something must have happened.

“Is Principal Celestia here? We need to speak with her. It's kind of important.” Rainbow said as politely as possible. The school secretary was not unkind, but she was fierce when she needed to be and had little patience for anything she deemed 'time-wasting'.

“She is. Come in.” The door was held as all five girls went into the ante-room and the secretary was quick to enter the Principal's office. Within moments she was back, “You can go in, she was having lunch but you five have never come here without reason.” She held open the office door and shut it behind them.

Principal Celestia was sat at her desk, there was a bowl with a pair of chop-sticks sticking from it in front of her, but she did not look displeased to see them. “Hello girls, is everything alright? I see Sunset is not with you.” As she spoke, Celestia realised the absent notices that had passed by her desk. As there had been a lot of sickness absence this week, she had not paid much attention to those notes mentioning student names of those who did not play hookey regularly.

“That's the problem Ma'am, she was off sick on Wednesday, but answered our calls.” Applejack said.

“She texted us yesterday to say she was still not feeling so good, and she had lost her voice.” Fluttershy spoke barely above a whisper, holding tight to her phone.

“She didn't contact any of us today.” Rarity said, the others nodded at her words.

“And now we can't get a connection. No messages, no replies to our texts.” Rainbow was frustrated at being unable to help her friend. “We just get a phone switched off robot.”

“I don't know where Sunset lives.” Pinkie Pie's hair had deflated, as had the girl. “I don't have any other numbers. We're worried about Sunny.”

“Is there any contact or address we can have, just to check in? Did someone call from home to say she is still sick?” Fluttershy was louder now. Asking something she knew was probably against the rules.

Behind her eyes, masked by professional poise, Celestia was panicking. Sunset had been ill and out of school three days. That was three days of no food, three days of no power for her phone, three days of cold. Possibly three days without water. That was bad news for a healthy person. Sunset was ill, she'd told her friends that much. But Sunset had not been 100% in quite a while, if her mention of going hungry was a regular thing. Celestia held back the emotions that the bad thoughts gave rise to.

“I'm sorry girls, I can't share her private information, even for friends it is against the rules.” Celestia knew she was shielding them with the useful truth. “I'll also have to check if the student administration has had any calls to register her reason for absence.” That one was a hard lie. Celestia knew full well there would be no logged call, just like she knew that Sunset was right this moment sick and alone.

“Ah thought as much.” Applejack sighed. “Sorry for taking up your lunch.”

“I don't mind your visit.” Celestia wanted to hurry them from the office, but she didn't want the teenagers worried. “I'm sure Sunset would appreciate your concern girls. Once I know what is going on I'll try and let you know if rules allow.”

“Thank you.” The girls all said, still upset but glad that they had at least asked. The five trooped out of the office. Celestia caught a “Well that was a bust!” from Rainbow before the door was shut.

She inhaled, she exhaled, closing her eyes and steeling herself. Flicking a switch on her desk Celestia spoke aloud. “Luna, its an Emergency. It's Sunset.”


“Ow.” Sunset rubbed at her arm and glared at Rainbow, “What was that for?”

“For being so stupid, you dummy!” Rainbow growled. “You didn't think one of us would have you while you were sick?” Her words rose in volume. “No food, no medicine, no water? You coulda died!” Her voice cracked and the athlete stared at her friend.

Sunset was nonplussed. There were a few drops in the corners of Rainbow's eyes, tears. Rainbow 'Stone Cold' Dash didn't cry often. “I'm sorry.” She spoke softly, guilt creeping in. “I wasn't in a good place right then. I was really stupid.” Rainbow wasn't one for hugs, but Sunset reached out a hand to grip her elbow, at least in a gesture of comfort.

Her second surprise was a bear hug from Rainbow. “Dummy.” The girl half whispered, still on the verge of tears.

“Dork.” Sunset bumped her forehead to Rainbow's. “Don't worry. All of you, please.” She looked to her equally upset friends. “I was in a bad place, in more ways than one, but I'm out of it now. Mom helped me realise that I wasn't helping anyone by living like that. By acting like I did.”

“And a good thing too!” Rarity scolded. “Please darling, never ever do that sort of thing again!”

“I won't Rarity. Pinkie Promise.” Sunset mimed the actions.

“Now she's got to keep it!” Pinkie said.

“Right.” Sunset nodded. “Now, it is pretty bad to leave it off on that point. No one has come to my rescue and you've not heard the nice stuff. The things that will hopefully make hearing all the sad things before, just a little better.” Rainbow had stopped hugging now, she was sat down by Fluttershy, accepting a little soothing fuss from her life-long friend. Sunset shifted position. “So, someone knew where to find me at least.”

Author's Note:

Oops, forgot these last night!
Got a little carried away helping my little sister find Steampunk-ing clothes and forgot to note...
So sickness for Sunset. Time for Celestia to act.
Ms. Schreibtisch means Ms. Writing Desk. So take a guess at who she is in Equestria?
More chapters to go of course.

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