• Published 21st Sep 2016
  • 14,479 Views, 68 Comments

The Nightmare I Need - Dubs Rewatcher

Twilight's sanity is at stake as she's haunted by dreams of Midnight Sparkle's resurrection. But Midnight's dark magic might be just what Twilight needs to win Sunset's love.

  • ...


Twilight coughed, sputtered, screamed, but nothing could be heard over the roar of wrenching steel and crashing concrete. Skyscrapers and stores and homes fell as one, tossing up enough dust to stain the sky black. It seemed as if she stood in the middle of the apocalypse. Hundreds of thousands of lives crushed in seconds—and all she could do was watch.

She needed to sprint into the wreckage. She needed to save someone, anyone, to make herself useful, to stop being so scared for once in her life.

But her legs trembled. And her stomach heaved. And she couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop wailing like a little girl. She fell to her knees, head in her hands, straining to breathe the dirty air.

You’re pathetic, she thought, even as the dust settled. Fiery ruins lay flat for miles in front of her. Pathetic.

“I’m glad you’ve finally figured it out,” Midnight Sparkle said, landing just a few steps in front of Twilight. She folded her wings and kneeled down to stroke a sharp fingernail along Twilight’s cheek. “I knew you weren’t a complete fool.”

Twilight tried to look into Midnight’s eyes, but hysteria chewed at the edges of her mind, turned her thoughts to mush, so she couldn't even lift her eyes. Chest burning, breaths ragged, Twilight gripped the dirt and asked, “Why—why did you do this?”

Midnight smiled and lifted Twilight’s chin. “Why not?”

“All those people,” Twilight said. “You murdered them!”

“Who cares?”

“Wha—” Twilight gritted her teeth. “I do!”

Midnight rolled her eyes. She lifted a hand into the air, and with a snap of her fingers, all of Canterlot had been brought back to life. Skyscrapers soared and people bustled around them, oblivious to the demon and Twilight, who glanced around with damp eyes.

Twilight gaped. She stood up on quivering legs and took a deep breath—but lost that breath when she saw all her friends, standing just a few yards away, waving. Rainbow, Rarity, even Spike... and Sunset, goddess above, Sunset, standing at the front of the pack, as beautiful as ever. Twilight adjusted her glasses, praying that this wasn’t just some mirage, some trick of the light. And when they didn’t disappear, she allowed herself a laugh and took a step forward.

Midnight snapped her fingers again and fire erupted from the ground, swallowing Twilight’s friends and erasing them from existence. The buildings fell once again.

Before Twilight could even recoil, Midnight leapt forward and grabbed her by the throat, digging her nails deep into Twilight's skin. “Don’t you get it?” Midnight asked as Twilight writhed and scratched at her neck. “You humans—you’re nothing compared to me! I could create a new universe with the flick of a finger and destroy it with a single blink! I could destroy you with even less! You’re worthless!”

Growling, Midnight tossed Twilight onto a chunk of rubble. She landed stomach-first and a spike of pain shot through her body. Her glasses flew off her face, and all the air left her body.

Especially you,” Midnight said. “You’re worth less than anyone. All these buildings falling so slowly, and you couldn’t save a single person? I thought you cared about them.”

Twilight tried to stand, but collapsed. “I do... I just... I couldn’t...”

Blue sparks weaved between Midnight’s fingers. She raised her arm, pointing right at Twilight’s head.

The last thing Twilight saw was a flame before everything went dark.

Twilight opened her eyes. As she blinked the sleep away, the first thing she noticed was a pair of amazing blue eyes staring right back at her.

Sunset Shimmer leaned forward and gave Twilight a quick peck on the lips. “Hey, cutie.”

Something exploded in Twilight’s cheeks. She recoiled, tumbling backwards and slamming into the couch cushions. “Sunset—!” Twilight yipped, body going rigid. “I mean, uhm, you just, I…”

“Awake yet?” Sunset asked, laughing.

Across the room, Rainbow scowled. “Hey! No making out during band practice. You guys wanna suck face, you can get your own band room.”

“Yeah, listen to Rainbow,” said Applejack, packing up her bass and rolling her eyes. “Everyone knows that she makes all the rules around here.”

Rainbow turned up her nose. “Exactly—wait, are you being sarcastic?”

“Oh, I dunno. What do you think?”

Twilight adjusted her crooked glasses and tried to catch her breath. As her brain kicked back into gear, she took a few mental notes: she was sitting in the CHS band room. She was at band practice—well, not her band. Her friends’ band. She was at band practice, sitting on a couch, and an absolutely beautiful girl kissed her and why hadn’t Twilight kissed her back and what was wrong with her?

And why do I keep having that nightmare?

“If you two want the couch,” said Fluttershy, who Twilight hadn’t even noticed was sitting next to her, “I can move. I don’t mind.”

“It’s fine,” Sunset said, plopping down on Twilight’s other side. She wrapped an arm around Twilight. “I mean, unless Twi really wants to go crazy.”

yes yes yes

“No,” Twilight said, looking down to hide her smile. “I’m alright.”

Sunset smirked, but shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

Twilight opened her mouth to respond again, but her mind had already conjured up hours of fantasies, turning all her words into mere babbles—evidently, her subconscious really liked the idea of Sunset recording lab data in a bikini. So she just shut her lips tight and focused on the argument taking place before her.

Rainbow Dash towered over Applejack, yelping, “I can’t believe you’re bailing on us. This is so uncool!”

“You’ll survive,” Applejack said. She unplugged her amp. “Granny Smith is busy and Big Mac’s got football practice, so I gotta take Apple Bloom to the dentist’s office. She got a cavity the size of Principal Celestia’s rear from all those candy apples Pinkie made last week, and I ain’t spending another dinner listening to her whine.”

Rainbow groaned and tugged on her hair. “Can’t it wait? Just give her some booze or something. That’s what my grandpa always used to do with my mom!”

“Doesn’t your mom also say she can talk to squirrels?”

“Yeah, so? It’s true! I’ve seen it!”

Fluttershy winced at every shout, hiding behind her hair. On Twilight’s other side, Sunset sighed and rested her head against Twilight’s. “So, sleepyhead, are we really that boring?” Sunset asked. “Or did you just pull another all-nighter?”

Picking her words more carefully than a hostage negotiator, Twilight said, "You're not boring. I’m just not a fan of this ‘pop punk’ music you all play. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, if you will.”

“Yeah,” Sunset said. “Not enough weird keyboards and screaming cats for you, huh?”

“The screaming cats were in one song. One! And they’re not weird, they’re avant-garde. You know, according to Scientific Orchestra Monthly—”

“Have I ever told you how much I love it when you geek out like this?”

Twilight's motormouth ran out of gas. She frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Y’know, when you get all excited and ranty about stuff you like.”

“Doesn’t everyone do that? You rant at me about motorcycles.”

“Well, sure.” Sunset leaned into Twilight. “But you rant better than anyone.”

Twilight blinked a few times. She had no idea whether to take that as a compliment or an insult. As Sunset laid a warm hand on hers, she decided on the former. Sunset’s skin buzzed with energy, like magic flowed through her veins.

“Goddess above,” Sunset said, rubbing Twilight’s palm. “Why are your hands so friggin’ cold?”

“Are they?” Twilight asked, letting Sunset hold her hands. “It is February, you know.”

“You should try drinking ginger root tea,” Fluttershy said. “It always warms me up.”

“Or just buy some gloves,” Sunset said. “I swear, you spent, like, half of winter break emailing me stats on hypothermia. You gotta start taking your own advice.”

“Or maybe I’ll just keep myself cold,” Twilight said, a smile creeping onto her face. “That way you’ll keep holding me.”

Sunset blinked a few times, then snorted. “Oh, you’re cheeky.”

“Did you like that?” Twilight blurted out, beaming. “It was clever, right?”

“You’re killing it, Twi.”

“Oh. Sorry.” Twilight slumped back into the sofa and let Sunset keep massaging her hands. Even with Sunset’s warmth, even with the sweet cinnamon scent of her skin wafting through Twilight’s nose, Twilight couldn’t escape the familiar thought in the back of her head: Good work, idiot. Why don’t you do something right for once? She sighed and tried to push the nagging voice away, to silence it like she had done every day since childhood.

“This sucks,” Rainbow said, sitting down on the armrest next to Sunset. “First Pinkie and Rarity cancel on us, now Applejack’s gotta leave early—worst practice ever.”

Applejack glared. “You could at least wait until I’m out of the room before talking about me like I’m not here.”

“You might as well be gone already.” Rainbow folded her arms. “Seriously. I was, like, two minutes away from getting that guitar solo down perfect!”

Fluttershy raised a finger. “This song doesn’t have a guitar solo.”

“No wonder you guys were tripping me up,” Rainbow said.

“Sunset? Rainbow?” Applejack called, her bass strapped around her torso and a bundle of cables in her arms. “Y’all mind helping me bring the amps and whatnot back to my truck? It’ll go a lot quicker if I get some help.”

Sunset rose to her feet without question. Rainbow mumbled a few curses before walking over.

On most days, Twilight would just be content to sit back and wait for Sunset to finish, so they could leave together. But today, slumped into that couch, she heard the thought return: Do something right.

“Hey,” Twilight said without thinking. “What about me?”

Sunset, Applejack, and Rainbow froze and looked at her. “What about you?” Rainbow asked.

Twilight flinched—but forced herself to mutter, “I mean, why is it you never ask me to help pack everything away? I can help.”

Applejack waved her off. “We’re fine, Twi. Really. We don’t got that much stuff to haul out, anyway.”

“Yeah,” Rainbow said with a snicker. “And besides, I think this stuff is a bit too heavy for those noodle arms of yours. No offense.”

“Lay off her,” Sunset said, slapping Rainbow’s shoulder. Her words were tinged with laughter, sending Twilight’s heart into a tailspin.

“What are you talking about?” Twilight asked, very much knowing what Rainbow was talking about. She held her arms close to her chest.

“I don’t mean any offense, Twi,” said Applejack, “but you and Fluttershy ain’t exactly the strongest girls in the world.” Fluttershy nodded.

Twilight just scoffed. “Please. I’m stronger than Fluttershy.

Silence wrapped around the room.

“Oh, goodness,” Twilight said, covering her mouth. She turned to Fluttershy, who stared with wide eyes. “I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean that.”

“No, no.” Fluttershy shook her head. “You’re probably right.”

“You wanna help?” Rainbow asked, smile gone. “Why don’t you carry out an amp or something? Shouldn’t be any problem for a bodybuilder like you.”

Twilight felt a breath catch in her throat, but still nodded. “Fine.” She walked over to the equipment on the other side of the room and found the amplifier Rainbow was gesturing to. She gulped; it was a massive black crate, at least three times the size of her torso. She had been ready to just roll it out—only to realize now that it had no wheels.

“You don’t have to do this,” Sunset said, touching Twilight’s arm. “Honestly. We’ve got it covered.”

Words of agreement flitted through Twilight’s mind. One glance down at her noodle arms silenced them.

Twilight grabbed the amp’s handle and pulled. To her credit, she managed to lift it off the ground for at least two seconds—only to drop it again with a gasp and a thud. Already her arms burned. She tried again, clenching her eyes and straining, but it just wouldn’t budge. Every muscle she had screamed for relief, but as long as she felt Sunset watching her…

“C’mon, Twi, stop,” Sunset said, pushing Twilight away. “You’re gonna sprain something.”

Chest heaving, Twilight stumbled backwards and leaned against a piano. With shaking hands she reached into her shirt pocket and snatched out her inhaler.

“Wow. When’s your next powerlifting competition?” Rainbow asked. Applejack smacked her in the back of the head. “Ow! Ugh, none of you guys can take a joke.”

“We’ll get all this stuff,” Sunset said, lifting the amp a few feet off the ground and walking it over to the door. “Don’t worry. Just wait here, okay? We can head over to my apartment after I’m done.”

Twilight rubbed her aching arm. “Yeah.”

The stronger girls headed out, leaving Twilight and Fluttershy alone.

Twilight peered over the top of her textbook. Hands filled with popcorn, she asked, “What year was the Canterlot Institute of Science and Medicine founded?”

Across from her, Sunset tipped back in her chair. “Eighteen eighty-three,” she said, flipping a page in her magazine.

“Correct!” Twilight picked out a single popcorn kernel and tossed it at Sunset. Sunset opened her mouth and chomped at it, but the kernel dinked against her nose and tumbled down, joining the dozens of other kernels that littered her shirt. Twilight rolled her eyes, but giggled when Sunset shot her a pouty glance.

“Next question,” said Twilight, picking up another kernel. “What year did the Institute burn down?

“Uh.” Sunset pursed her lips for a long while, then chirped, “Trick question! It hasn’t burned down.” She went back to her magazine and opened her mouth for the popcorn. When a few moments passed and it didn’t come, she looked up, only to find Twilight giving her a judging stare. “What? Was I wrong? C’mon, I swear I can catch it in my mouth this time.”

“Nuh-uh.” Twilight tossed Sunset’s popcorn back into the bowl. “No deal.”

“Ugh, you know I suck at history,” Sunset said. “Not everyone can be as smart as you, y’know.”

Twilight beamed at the compliment, but still shot back, “You’re plenty smart! You were that pony princess’ best student, right? You’ve got no excuse.”

“What if turning into a human scrambled my mind?” Sunset asked. Eyes bugging out, she threw her hands to her head. “My poor horse brain can’t handle all this studying!”

Twilight smirked and threw a popcorn kernel at Sunset’s face. It landed right in her mouth. Letting the textbook fall, Twilight said, “You know, as good as that magazine might be, I don’t think Miss Cheerilee will be putting many questions about motorcycles on the test.”

“This isn’t a motorcycle magazine,” Sunset said, scoffing. She flipped a page. “It’s a punk rock magazine.”

“Ah. Much more educational,” Twilight said. “In any case, I don’t think that Miss Cheerilee will oh my goodness that’s a naked lady.”

Sunset had held up her magazine for Twilight to look inside. Sure enough, splayed out over two pages, was a naked woman, her naughty bits obscured by a guitar. Tattoos covered her arms, and her bare body taunted Twilight with its curviness. Her seductive eyes turned Twilight into a stammering mess, her words melting into incomprehensible sounds. Twilight tried to look away, but found her eyes stuck to the page.

She’s just a model. Twilight’s cheeks burned. You’re supposed to stare at her. That’s why she’s so much hotter than you…

Was this what Sunset liked? A perfect rock star with strong arms, perfect skin, and breasts as big as Twilight’s head?

Sunset pointed to the instrument covering the model’s body. “Check out this guitar!”

A long breath escaped Twilight’s lips. Of course, you idiot. She’s looking at the guitar, not the girl. Twilight nodded. “It’s nice.”

Sunset sighed and shot the guitar a dreamy look. “Yeah... would cost me a horn and a wing, though.”

“An arm and a leg.”

“Yeah, that too.”

Twilight smiled and returned to the textbook. As she read, she stole quick glances around Sunset’s apartment. Dirty clothes covered the floor, and whenever Twilight moved she had to pay special attention not to slip on a pair of underwear. A well-worn guitar rested on Sunset’s bed. On her nightstand stood a neat pile of textbooks—never opened, of course. At least, except for when Twilight would come over and Sunset had to convince her that she had totally been studying all day.

But even without studying, Sunset had brains, brawn... as far as Twilight could tell, were they to be characters in a video game, Sunset would be entirely overpowered. Twilight was lucky to have her.

…But was Sunset lucky to have Twilight?

After all, they couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Twilight was small, nervous, weak. But Sunset commanded respect in everything she did; there wasn’t a single person at CHS who didn’t know her name. She held a confidence Twilight could only dream of having—well, having again. She had been that confident once, months ago. But it had only lasted for about five minutes.

“Twi?” Sunset said. “Are you okay?”

Twilight jumped. “Yes! Yes, I’m fine. Why do you ask?”

“You’ve been staring at me for about a minute now.”

“Oh.” Twilight wrung her hands. “It’s nothing, really.”

Sunset leaned forward and touched Twilight’s wrestling fingers. “You don’t have to be so nervous, y’know. I can help—I mean, if you need it.”

Damn your tics. Twilight tore her hands apart. She looked down at the table for a moment and tried to gather both her words and the confidence to spit them out. “Do you ever have dreams about our magical forms? The ones we became at the Friendship Games, that is.”

“You mean Midnight and Daydream?” Sunset asked. She grinned. “I still can’t believe Pinkie gave us those stupid names. It’s like we’re superheroes or something.” Her smile weakened a bit. “But, uh, no, I don’t. At least, not anymore. Why, have you?”

“Once or twice,” Twilight said, thinking back to the five times she had had the dream that week. “‘Not anymore?’”

“I mean that I don’t really like thinking about that stuff,” Sunset said. “Superpowered magic, defeating villains… any of it.”

“Why not?” Twilight asked in a high voice. “We were so amazing!”

“I guess it kinda scares me,” said Sunset. She shook her head. “Overloading on magic drove me insane once, and a bunch of people almost died. My friends almost died. Saving the world is cool, yeah, and just researching it is one thing, but I hate having that sort of power come out of me. I don’t deserve it, and I don’t want it.”

“Don’t deserve it? That’s ridiculous.” Twilight pursed her lips. “We experienced something no human has ever experienced in recorded history. For a few moments, we were the strongest creatures on Earth.”

“Yeah, and it almost killed us both,” Sunset muttered. “My stupid crown and your magic-stealing machine. I’m glad they’re both gone.”

Twilight shook her head. “We have magic, Sunset. How can you not find that amazing?”

“Because I don’t, okay?” Sunset said. “Can we just drop this? Seriously, I don’t like talking about it.”

Twilight had a hundred more comebacks, a thousand more questions—but threw them away. What are you doing? She couldn’t bear to look into Sunset’s wistful eyes. She’s right: that power drove you insane, too. Why would you defend something so awful?

Biting her tongue, Twilight tried to focus on the textbook. Sunset went back to her magazine, not saying a word. An awkward sort of quiet filled Twilight’s ears and weighed her down like sludge. She leaned further into her book and narrowed her eyes, but with the thoughts raging in her head, the words may as well have been in another language.

She closed the textbook. “I think maybe I should get going—”

“I’m sorry,” Sunset said with a sigh. “I didn’t mean to jump on you like that. I sorta take magic for granted, being from Equestria and all, but you must have so many questions. You’re probably more scared than me.”

Not particularly, Twilight thought, nodding.

“I don’t want us to leave angry. That sucks.” Sunset smiled. “Why don’t you spend the night here? We can order pizza or something, and I’m pretty sure I paid my cable bill this month. Pretty sure.”

“Spend the night…?” Twilight repeated, jaw going slack. Her gaze flicked over to the only bed in the apartment.

“Yep.” A glint in her eye, Sunset leaned forward and shot Twilight a lazy glance. “And all my pajamas are dirty, so we’re just gonna have to sleep naked.”

On cue, Twilight’s mind provided a helpful visual.

Mere moments before Twilight’s face burst into flame, Sunset laughed and shook her head. “Sorry, Twi. I just couldn’t resist.”

“I think you tried this same routine on me last week,” said Twilight, regaining control of her breathing.

“And I think it went over about as well,” Sunset said, winking. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine!” Twilight said, heart pounding. “It’s fine, really.” She paused for a moment, eyes falling back onto the guitar magazine. “But… why not? I mean, not that I want to do it if you don’t want to, because I know that it can be very personal and strange and—”

“We are talking about sex, right?” Sunset said, making Twilight go stiff. “I appreciate the offer, but... not tonight, I don’t think. I guess I just don’t feel comfortable enough in this body yet. I’m still working out the kinks, y’know? No pun intended.” She snort-laughed, but waved a hand. “I dunno. It’s stupid.”

Twilight could listen to that laugh of hers for days. “Let me call home, see what I can do.” Twilight pulled out her phone, stood up, and walked away. As she scrolled through her phonebook, however, she noticed Sunset flip through her magazine again, opening up to a page with women just as bare.

Hours later, with the scent of greasy pizza still hanging in the air, Twilight lay on Sunset’s bed, eyes closed, letting sleep invade her mind. Next to her, Sunset sat cross-legged, fingering the strings of her guitar. Soft chords tumbled through the air. Occasionally Sunset’s toes would brush up against Twilight’s side, sending a tickle creeping through her body and jolting her back awake.

Kissing was nice, sure. But sometimes all Twilight wanted was to be near Sunset—to hear the sound of her fingers against metal strings.

“Sunset,” said Twilight at the end of a riff, “how are you so perfect?”

Sunset snorted. “How are you so cheesy?”

“Because I just ate half a pizza.”

“Of course.” Sunset shook her head. “I’m not that amazing.”

“Yes, you are. Don’t deny it,” Twilight said. “You’re funny, smart, creative. You've got it all.”

“The day I ‘have it all’ is the day Tartarus freezes over.”

Twilight blinked.

“It’s not gonna happen,” Sunset clarified, chuckling. “I’m not perfect, Twi. Nowhere near it.”

“Prove it.”

Sunset stopped strumming and let her gaze drift high into the air. After a few silent seconds, she said, “I have a stupidly short temper. You know that: I already snapped at you once tonight.”

“Okay, sure, but that doesn’t count,” Twilight said. “I was pressing you on a sensitive topic, and I shouldn’t have.”

Sunset raised a brow. “Remember last week, when I totally blew up at Pinkie after she accidentally spilled applesauce on my jacket? I swear, I thought her hair was gonna stay straight forever. Or last month, when we went out for ice cream, and the lady said they were out of pistachio?”

Twilight giggled. “You wouldn’t stop grumbling for fifteen minutes.”

“Well, yeah, I mean what kind of stupid ice cream shop runs out of—” Sunset took a deep breath. “So there’s that. And I’m lazy.”

“You are not lazy.”

“I think most of my teachers would take my side on this one,” Sunset said.

“That’s just because they’re not challenging you!” Twilight said, sitting up. “You’re too smart for your own good. And ‘being too awesome’ isn’t a real flaw.”

“If you say so.” Sunset went back to strumming her guitar. “But if I’m awesome, then you’re friggin’ transcendent.

Twilight’s cheeks heated up. “Really?”

“Really,” Sunset said. She grinned. “In fact, you’re so amazing, that when you look at the dictionary entry for the word, it has a picture of your face.”

“And you call me cheesy.”

“I’m not very good at improv,” Sunset said, looking away. Her eyes lit up. “Hey, there’s another flaw! Take that.”

Twilight rolled her eyes and tried not to smile. Lying back down, she closed her eyes.

The minutes passed, and Twilight soon felt Sunset slide into bed next to her, warmth radiating from her golden skin. As the lights went off, Twilight smiled and reached for Sunset’s hand under the covers. She took a sharp breath at the tingle of Sunset’s fingers tracing the inside of her palm.

Sunset’s compliment blazed through Twilight’s mind—Transcendent! she kept repeating, letting the word melt into her thoughts, drizzling over her imagination like chocolate on strawberries. She gripped the pillows and resisted the urge to lick her lips; maybe tomorrow they could wake up early and go out for breakfast, or maybe stay in and order something, or—

She’s lying to you, a voice in the back of Twilight’s mind said. It sounded so similar to all the other fearful thoughts she suffered through every minute of every day, and yet, just the slighest bit fainter, fuzzier—Twilight couldn't explain it. She doesn’t think you’re ‘transcendent.’ She’s just saying that to make you feel better.

Twilight opened her eyes and stared into the darkness for a moment.

Yeah, she thought, clamping them shut again. Probably.