• Published 5th May 2018
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Seven Days in Sunny June, Book V: The New Frontier - Shinzakura

The conclusion of the Seven Days in Sunny June saga! The world has changed, and those within it must cope with the aftermath of what has happened.

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August 23, PM: Dancing in Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop)

“Are you ready? Here we go!
Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow
Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow”

A group of girls practiced perfectly syncopated moves in a service hallway at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Out of sight of the rest, the girls went through their paces, and it was a testament to their training in their disciplines that even thirty minutes later they had managed to work out a near-perfect coordination between them.

“Countdown, it’s getting to the flight time
Night stars are shining in my eyes
Ma says I’m going to be the first one
To dance the be-bop in the skies…”


The girls all stopped and looked at a college-aged guy with shaggy silver and black hair in a ponytail, wearing glasses over red eyes. “You missed your cue, Pinkie,” Camera Angle told her. “You need to be a second faster.”

“The rear wheel on my right foot is sticking, making it hard to launch off,” Pinkie said. “It’s going to have to be worked on.”

Camera nodded. “I’ll have wardrobe work on that.” He turned to Rose, who was standing by him. “Can you get Quick Change to get the next set?”

“On it,” she said, running off.

Standing aside, back in their normal clothing for the moment, Sunset and the rest watched as the group that Pinkie had dubbed “Operation Dance Magic” went through their paces.

“It’s coming along pretty fast,” Midnight said. “Honestly, I was worried.”

“Naaah, why worry? We’re all here and when I’m here, everything’s gonna run like clockwork,” Rainbow said proudly.

“Says the girl who ruined four sets of pantyhose,” Fluttershy said, teasing her old friend.

“Hey, I’m not the formal type, okay? Besides, Soarin’ doesn’t complain about me being in or out of pantyhose.”

“TMI, Rainbow,” Octavia told her.

“Uh, wait – that didn’t come out right, did it?”

“Please tell me you at least had protection,” Twilight said to her.

Rainbow muttered something under her breath.

“What are you doing?” they heard a shout from across the room.

“Wonder what’s going on?” Midnight asked.

“Probably should check it out,” Sunset insisted, and the two went over to look. They found Lyra angrily glaring at some other girl, anger seething in Lyra’s citrine eyes.

“You should have more respect for the instruments!” she snarled.

“Like, I don’t know what your problem is,” the other girl said in a Valley Girl accent. “It’s just a fucking prop, okay? Don’t freak out or anything.”

Freak out? It’s a lyre! Do you even know what that is?” Lyra hissed.

“It’s like a harp, right? And look, I’m just an actress, okay? I’m supposed to just pretend how to play the damn thing – I don’t actually have to know how to play!” The girl then saw Sunset and Midnight approaching. “Hey, will someone get this freakstick lesbonoid out of here? She’s, like, totally making me uncomfortable.”

“Well, one, the ‘freakstick lesbonoid’ is actually a lesbian, so I would appreciate you not being insulting,” Sunset told the girl. “Secondly, she’s a friend of mine, so I would really appreciate you not being insulting.” She looked at Lyra. “What’s up?”

“This bimbette here is abusing a lyre.” Lyra ripped it out of the girl’s hands.

“So, who cares what it is? And I was using it normally, okay? Plucking the strings and all that.”

Lyra groaned. “This is a yoke lute lyre.”


“It has a weaker bridge than a Scottish or Saxon lyre, so it’s not meant to be plucked!” Lyra snarled at the girl, then pulled out her keys. On the end of them was a tuning key, which she inserted into the bottom of the lyre in order to tighten the strings. “You’re supposed to play it like this.” She then fiddled with the tuning bulges for a few seconds before playing a short tune on it.

“Strings are beat, but it’s salvageable,” Lyra muttered. “Still doesn’t give you the justification to treat it like an air guitar.”

“You know how to play a lyre?” Midnight asked.

Lyra nodded. “I can play just about any stringed instrument, though I mainly work with a guitar, why?”

Midnight then looked at the other girl. “And you were hired to play the harpist?”

“Well, yeah, because I’m totally hot and all that. Showreel even said so.”

“Yeah, well, unfortunately for you, he’s totally no longer the director, so as of now, you’re an extra.” She looked at Lyra. “Would you mind playing at the beginning of the video? You can play whatever; it’ll be overdubbed with the opening bars of the song, but I’d rather a professional musician handle an instrument with care.”

“Yeah, sure, no problem,” Lyra said with a smile.

“You can’t do that! I’m going to go talk to the director!” the other girl protested.

“Given that I just fired Showreel an hour ago and the new guy works for me, he’s going to side with me,” Midnight told her. “If you’re getting paid for this gig, I highly suggest you shut up at this point and just look pretty for the camera, or else I’m going to fire you, got that?” The girl looked angrily at Midnight but said nothing further, instead choosing to stomp off.

“Don’t worry,” Midnight told Lyra. “I’ll find out how much she was paid and make sure you’re paid the same for it.”

“Uh, I wasn’t doing this for pay,” Lyra told her, “but thanks!”

As Sunset and Midnight walked back towards where the others were practicing, the former said, “Thanks for that, Midge. You didn’t have to do that.”

“Yes I did,” the pop star told her. “Your friend is clearly a true professional, given that she cared about the instrument even though it’s just a prop. Trust me, I’ve seen plenty of so called ‘musicians’ who didn’t really care. And if I can give them a hand’s up, then that’s what I’ll do. Besides, I owe you for saving my bacon, Sunny. Least I can do is pay it forward.”

“Well, I really appreciate that.”

“Hi,” Twilight said quietly, pausing before Raspberry’s grave. The brief flurries of snow had stopped, but the area was now dusted with white, giving everything a ghostly cast. Perhaps it was appropriate.

“I…I feel guilty,” Twilight told the gravestone. “It was partially my plan that got you killed, Razz, and it’s my fault. I…. We’ve lost countless lives, we lost you, and now, if I don’t find a way to prove that Sunset’s home dimension is still there, we might lose Celestia as well – and I don’t want to think about what will happen then.”

Twilight sighed. “But it doesn’t mean you’re forgotten. Your parents…they’re hurting right now, but they’re taking it day by day. Your whole adopted family came for both the funeral and the dedication to your statue. They were proud to be related to you, Razz. I know your natural family doesn’t know you and you don’t know them, but your adoptive family loved you like no other.” She sat down by the grave.

“Did you know they want to name Lonesome Dove after you? When the townsfolk found out what happened to you, Shady Tourmaline petitioned to have the town renamed ‘Raspberry’s Haven’ in your honor. I told them to think about it for a bit and think about what you would want. I know you weren’t fond of things like that, but it seems right. When the petition comes back, I’m going to allow it. You deserve the honor. You deserved so much more than you got in life.”

Tears filled the alicorn’s eyes. “I blew it and I’m still here. I didn’t fight hard enough to protect the innocent and too many died, Razz, most of all you. Our friends are all here, but you’re not. Your parents don’t blame me for what happened, but I blame myself. I don’t feel like I can do anything right anymore.” Tears filled her eyes. “Maybe if Sunset is still alive out there, maybe…maybe everything I’m doing won’t have been in vain. Maybe then I can feel like I’m worthy of my crown and title. Maybe then I can forgive myself for letting you die.”

“You didn’t fail her, Princess.” Twilight turned to see both Ascot and Cashmere standing there, looking at the princess with sorrowful eyes. “We never blamed you for what happened.”

“But why not? It was my order that—”

“It was a monster that invaded our homes and threatened to kill all of ponykind,” Ascot told her. “My daughter did her duty to protect ponies, as did you. Yes, we hurt that she’s gone, but she did everything she could to save all of us.”

“As a parent, that means more to me than the statue you all put up of her,” Cashmere added. “We weren’t in her life for all of it, but what little we were, we were her parents and she was our foal. And that was more than enough for all of us – and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Ascot walked over and offered a hoof up to Twilight. “So young as a princess and too young to have to endure the pain that is life. We didn’t want that for our daughter and we wouldn’t want it for you, either.” Ascot looked at Raspberry’s grave. “And she wouldn’t have wanted that for you at all, Princess.”

“Be proud. You and your friends saved us. I am proud of that, as is all of ponykind. And I know so is our daughter.”

Twilight bawled, begging for forgiveness while Ascot and Cashmere embraced her, telling her it was okay.

Standing a distance away, Luna watched with a melancholy heart. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, ladies,” she told the other Bearers. “Even though the crisis has kept me busy, I am not so engaged that I would let Twilight suffer so. This has been hard on all of us and it will not get easier anytime soon, I’m afraid.”

“Are things that bad, Luna?” Applejack asked her.

“Celestia is in a deep depression, and the sun weeps with her. The weather patterns of the Everfree are starting to appear everywhere and it is overwhelming weather teams across the nation. There was a naturally-occurring tornado for the first time in centuries just outside of Oatmaha two days ago.”

Rainbow looked at her with surprise. “What? That’s—”

“Impossible?” the night alicorn cut in. “No, it’s not. It happened and dozens of homes were destroyed, farmland ruined but thankfully nopony was injured. But it’s only a matter of time until something happens.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” Rarity asked.

“Keep her company. Let her know that she is loved. Twilight, as you well know, has a propensity for pushing herself to her limits. In order to save the world, she may have to push herself even farther. She may be the only chance to find my niece.”

“Your niece? Sunset Shimmer?”

“Yes. Because I fear that at this point, whether she wishes it or not, Sunset is key to saving her mother and our world.”

Raspberry Beryl stood in a beautiful dress, with makeup and mascara, a hat and “dressed to the nines”, as Rarity – the local Rarity – had said. Truth be told, she kind of liked the outfit. She understood that it was human formalwear, and when she found out that it was clothing from nearly a century ago, she was surprised. Attire like this was something similar to what the Rarity she usually associated with would have designed.

Furthermore, while everyone else was getting ready, she had a chance to walk around and look at some of the human artwork on display. It was ironic. Given her entry into this world, she’d come in a museum, a pinnacle of human culture, and had not seen what it had held because of the urgency of the situation. Now that she was trapped here with the possibility of never going back home again, she now had all the time to see what human culture entailed, and she found that it was beautiful, far more than she had expected.

At the moment, she was gazing at a finely detailed drawing called Retrato de Posada en Su Taller, by an artist called Gráfica Popular. She could almost feel the tension of the man in the portrait, and it spoke to her jumbled feelings at the moment.

“I just read up on the picture,” Sunset told her. “Posada was a shopkeep in Mexico City, where Popular was an artist. The man…well, both men, actually, were dreamers, always with their eyes on the horizon. It was why Popular decided to do a drawing of the man, so that his view would forever stretch beyond the confines of the horizon he knew.”

“This is what you meant by human beauty, isn’t it?” Raspberry asked Sunset, never taking her eyes off the picture.

“Part of it. There’s others. You’ve been to Disneyland, and even though that’s a pop culture example, it shows that my adopted species isn’t all about war. There’s more, Razz. So much more. And if you are stuck here – and again, I’m going to do my best to make sure that you’re not – you have a lifetime to find out about that.”

“I really don’t want to,” Raspberry said. “But…if I don’t have a choice…you’ll be here?”

“We’ll be here.” Twilight approached and stopped behind her sister. “You won’t be alone, Razz. As you can guess, my family is big on…well, family, and you’re a part of that now. We will back you, no matter what your plans are.”

“Thanks. I guess if I have to stay here, I’ll have someone to care about me.”

“You will, Razz. You will.”

“What’s up, sis?” Sunset then asked Twilight.

“Came to get you both. They’re going to be starting the test runs first before the actual filming, so we need to get back.”

Sunset nodded. “Okay. You ready, Razz?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there shortly.” Raspberry watched as her friends walked off, then moved across the empty room towards another line drawing, one that was by an artist named Ojo Enfocado, who was a student of Gráfica Popular. In it, she could see a picture of a winged girl screaming in pain and sorrow. But that wasn’t what caught her attention.

It was that the girl, presented as naked in the image, had a strange marking on her side: what looked to be a star and a thunderbolt.

What looked like a cutie mark.

Enraptured by her discovery, Raspberry looked at the plaque next to the image:

The Tragedy of the Pegasus (La Tragedia de la Pegasa)
Ojo Enfocado (Mexico, Mexico City, 1931 – 1976)
Mexico, 1962
Prints; linocuts
Linoleum cut
35 x 22 ½ in. (88.9 x 57.15 cm)
Gift of Dr. Oceanfront & Mrs. Oaktree (M.88.61)

CURATOR NOTES: This cut, one of Enfocado’s few subjects that did not deal with Mexican politics, is based on a story that his grandmother told him during his childhood. His grandmother, Vuelo Estrella (? – ca. 1936), had told him many tales as he had grown up, but the one he recalled most was her claim that she was not originally human, and that she had been born a pegasus from another world, and that she had been somehow transported to ours. That, unable to find her way back home or even to turn back into her native form, she had been nursed back to health by his grandfather and they fell in love. With Sra. Estrella unable to return to her home, she married Enfocado’s grandfather and started a family with him.

This artwork depicts a scene from her story, in particular the part where she crashed to earth and became human. Note the strange tattoo on her side, something she claimed was called a linda marca (roughly, “beautiful marking”) that was native to her kind, a sort of branding natural to pegasi. In his memoirs, Enfocado said that although he never believed it to be a true story, his grandmother did, and that was enough for him.

Tears streaming down Raspberry’s face, she whispered, “You’re just like me. You were never able to get home again. You’re just like me.”

No longer able to look at the artwork and what it might have ordained, Raspberry ran from the room, crying. Thankfully, the first person she ran into was Sonata, who was taking a break just before they started the routine. She was wearing silvery short shorts, a tube top, excessive makeup and her hair was down long and over her shoulder. “Razz? You okay?” When the former unicorn explained, Sonata hugged her. “It’s okay. I know how you feel. That even though you have people who love you and you can turn to, in the end you still feel completely alone.”

Raspberry looked at her with surprise. “How?”

Sonata sadly chuckled. “Easy: I’m not as pretty as Dagi, nor as easygoing as Ari. I don’t have Twily’s intelligence or Tavi’s sophistication. I’m certainly not like Sunny in any way, and all my friends outclass me in some way or another. If it wasn’t for my engineering skills, I would be behind in everything. And sometimes it makes me feel like I’m by myself and that I hold the others back.”

“But I don’t—”

“You do; it’s obvious. Maybe you are top of your game as a unicorn, but you’re way behind the curveball in human form. And your only example is Sunny, who has been here for half a decade and has completely gone native. You’re afraid you’re never going to fit in and that it’s going to hurt you forever. I know you don’t even want to be here, but you’re afraid that you’ll be stuck like that pegasus woman.”

“I’m afraid, Soni. I’m always afraid now. Back home, I knew my purpose and my friends. I knew what I had to do and what I was going to do in life. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but at the end of the day, I knew who I was and what I did. I was nobility, an archmagus, and part of the Court of Friendship. Here? I don’t know what I am.”

“I know what you are,” Sonata told her. “You’re my friend. You’re brave, you’re strong, you’re magical, and even if you’re not as ideal as you used to be, so what? You can just build over.”

“Easy for you to say. I’ve been on the run for all my life.”

“In a time that doesn’t exist anymore, I was trained to kill since childhood. I could have died unmourned, unloved and even unrecognized by my government. They didn’t care about us, they only cared about SIREN. And even now in this new life, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses for me, either. I’m not telling you to buck up like Rainbow would, or to get in touch with your feelings like Flutters would. I’m saying that even though you feel alone…you’re not. You have me. You have all of us. And even if you never make it back home…don’t think you won’t have one here.”

“You promise?”

Sonata hugged her again. “Should be obvious by now, right?” The two stayed like that for a while before Sonata said, “We gotta get back to the production. Can you fix up our makeup?”

“Sure thing,” Raspberry said, calling on her magic – the magic she now had as a human, and was now becoming part of her.

Will it someday banish my curse? she wondered.

“So that’s the last of my things,” Celestia said as she wiped her brow, carrying the box out of what used to be her office. “You should have a plaque ordered as soon as you can, Principal Luna.”

Luna looked at her sister oddly. “Sis, you’re still the principal here.”

“Only in name during this transition year,” Celestia assured her. “I’ll still be here, but I’ll be taking on more superintendent duties while we do this transition. Have you given a thought as to who will be your vice principal?”

Luna chuckled. “Actually, Abby was the first to come to mind—”

“Are you out of your Goddamn mind?” Both women turned to see Abacus Cinch walking towards them, carrying one of the last boxes out of Celestia’s old office. “If I wanted to slowly lose my mind I’d go work in the civilian sector!” The three women laughed heartily at that.

“Thanks for giving us a hand, Abby,” Celestia told her friend. “I know you’ve been busy.”

“Well, we haven’t seen each other in a while and I figured now would be a good time,” Cinch said. “Besides, Bulk and I are headed out on a date tonight and I just told him I’d meet him here.”

“I didn’t know you and Bulk were dating,” Celestia noted.

Cinch nodded. “We met at a sporting conference. I manage the junior high girls’ basketball team at my school and so I went off. We bumped into each other, literally, and I ended up with coffee all over a stark white shirt – and I hadn’t been wearing a bra that day,” she said with a blush. “Fortunately, he was a gentleman and offered me the hoodie he’d brought with him. Push came to shove, we had dinner to make up for it, and have I mentioned he’s great in bed?” She gave them a wink as she took a drink from her water bottle.

“Didn’t need to know that,” both Celestia and Luna said at the same time.

“Seriously, though, as honored as I am, Lu, I love my job too much to leave,” Cinch told her. “Anyone else you’ve given a thought to?”

“Well, there’s Extra Credit over at Greengrass Junior High.”

“Wouldn’t recommend it. She’s going through a very nasty divorce right now, and she’s a bit off-kilter,” Celestia advised. “From what I know, she’s doing a great job where she is, but taking on a whole new load might just fry some circuitry there. What about Report Card?”

“Card?” Cinch laughed. “Wouldn’t do it. I know for a fact that he’s a functional alcoholic, and the only reason he hasn’t been fired yet is because he’s great at inspiring kids. But I would not put him in a position of seniority at all. What about Red Ink?”

“She lives up to her name,” Celestia told her. “There’s a reason why she’s been at Sunnytown High since the first day she started teaching. She’s almost as bad as the students.”

“What about Chalk Stick? Isn’t she local?”

“No, she moved last year to take a principal job out in Cloudsdale,” Celestia said. “Hate to say it, sis, but you might just have to actually look at the boards.”

“Yeah, I was afraid of that,” Luna said. “I was hoping to keep it with someone I knew already, but if I have to go to the boards, then I have to go to the boards.”

Cinch smiled. “Hey, could be worse: you could end up with Humble Bumble, my former vice principal,” Cinch told them. When they looked at her for an explanation, she grinned. “The first year I was teaching over at Crystal Prep, the principal was a guy named Distant Horizon, and Humble Bumble was his vice. And vice was definitely a word I’d use with him; the man was single, but on the make for any lady that was single or at least willing. He would hit on some of the parents hard, and he was the kind of idiot that wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

“Oh, what happened to him?”

“Got the girl of the moment pregnant, then tried to act like he was in high school – the old ‘not my kid, you can’t prove shit’ kind of bullshit. Unfortunately for him, the woman he got pregnant was the sister of our school’s biggest donor, who then threatened to pull funding unless they canned him. He was out on his ass the week after, and since no one else had the expertise, Horizon asked me to take over math faculty chair so that Weighty Problem, who was the department chair at the time, could fill the vice principal slot. It got me where I am today.”

“And what happened to that Humble Bumble guy?”

“Last I heard, he’s teaching out on an Indian reservation in New Mexico. Couldn’t keep his pants on and earned himself a reputation that got him sent to the middle of nowhere. But that’s hardly my fault.”

Camera Angle looked at everyone present. “Are we ready? Time to get this show going!” he called to the crowd. “Soon as we get this done, the sooner we get this done!”

“You sound as though you’re ready for this, bro,” Rose told him.

Camera grinned. “Are you kidding? This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am not letting this one slide by! Places, everyone!” The various actors moved to their places on the set, ignoring the bright spot lights and the various other bits that marked this as a production.

A woman with a slate called out for scene one, take one, and slapped the arm down, the rap of the board sounding out and echoing through the cavernous room as the actors began their movements on the microcosmic stage. For Sunset’s part, she was pretending to be a socialite, doling out nothing more than banter and light talk with the exaggerated motions of an age nearly a century ago.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Shimmer doing it and Sunset had to admit, she was a natural at it. Did her twin have acting abilities that Sunset herself did not? That would be pretty cool, all things considered. Or was this just a normal part of the life that she led? Sunset had herself lived that life for many years, but the time spent away from Canterlot had made her rusty, all things considered. Besides, now in hindsight, she realized it was a lifestyle that had been toxic to her nature and had turned her into the person that she hated now.

Still, for a time, it was good to pretend. Perhaps it would even be a way for her to learn how to navigate this lifestyle as herself – as she was now – rather than to have to sink back into the sort of pony she’d been back then.

“Dollar for your thoughts, dear?” Rarity asked her.

“Just thinking about the bad old times, and how much they ruined my life,” Sunset whispered back.

“Surely you’re fortunate now, though? No need to think about the past.”

“True, no argument about that. But sometimes I just wonder how my life would’ve been if…nevermind.” As she listened, in the distance she could hear the order for the dancers to come out. Sunset had not seen how they had looked yet, and she wondered exactly how that would play out.

“My word!” A man, clearly too much into his role said, looking with feigned shock. Clearly a method actor hamming it up a tad, as they were told they weren’t supposed to “notice” the dancers until the stage direction had come. Sure enough, a second later the call came out and the rest of them could look with gazes of surprise and wonder at the futuristic creatures that had come into their midst.

Sunset fixed firm her jaw in surprise at what she was seeing before her. The creatures before her were visions of retrofuturistic sexiness and scintillating beauty, recollections from the golden age of laser and neon. Several girls, standing there in big hair and tight silvery short-shorts and tube tops, all followed their leader, Midnight Moondust, as she was in a golden variation of same. She began singing (or at least lip syncing) and taunting those dressed in the garments of the past, as the girls all briefly did a dance number while in perfect movement.

Sunset was, admittedly impressed; for the short couple of hours the girls had practiced, not only did they nail the number down, but they did it in perfect synchronization, which was a testament to their individual skills. All of them were perfect visions of feminine wiles, and the brief smoldering bedroom eyes that Bon-Bon had flashed Lyra, Sunset knew those two would be doing any actual sleeping tomorrow while on the plane instead of tonight.

And then Pinkie came out, dressed similar, but also wearing streamers of neon colors that trailed behind her like blurs of laserlight, electronic beams that flickered as to where she had been but not where she would go. She approached one of the “guards” and took his hat, laughing gaily and tossed it onto one of the green replica statues (which would be digitally given the marble coloring in post-production) before moving on, bumping her butt (and her 80s-style Walkman) into the side of a second guard, knocking him over. She then soared off, an invite to give chase.

Sunset had seen Pinkie’s dancing skills before. She knew what her friend was capable of, from the mundane of cheerleading to the (objectively) seductive. Pinkie was possessed of both brains and skill and was far more than what people gave her credit for. And today she showed yet another facet of herself that none had seen before: consummate dancer, moving with a skill and practiced ease that no one had known she could do. For a girl born well more than a decade after the dance styles that she was performing, she gyrated, shimmied and swayed as if she’d been there during the halcyon days of living in oblivion.

It was hypnotic, and for the second time that night, Sunset found herself musing that had she been of the inclination, Pinkie would be a perfect match for her. Certainly the younger girl was interested, even if Sunset herself wasn’t, and that kind of thinking could be dangerous. Still, Sunset let herself think about it, if for no other reason than the fact that Pinkie had presented herself, moving past her own fears, worries and trauma to admit how she felt about the alicorn.

It made Sunset wonder if there had ever been any pony/human pairings. There were her suspicions about Octavia’s ancestor, and if true, then that meant that both herself and Raspberry weren’t the only ones of Equestrian blood on this world. But that had been so long ago, if the raven-haired girl truly had a pony as an ancestor, the bloodline would be all but diluted now, with Octavia maybe having only one or two chromosomes left within her DNA, being more related to the average person on the street than any particular pony.

“Dancing in Heaven
I never thought I’d ever get my feet this far
(Orbital Be-bop)

Dancing in Heaven
I never thought I’d ever get my feet this far
(Orbital Be-bop)

(Kick it out)
Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow
Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow”

As for Pinkie, she was a girl in a one-way corridor, stealing through the world like an urban toreador with wheels on her feet. She switched and shimmed, dancing around and with the fake statues, moving effortlessly around her fellow dancers and the guards, moving in perfect motion with the music being pumped in through the headphones – an MP3 player built from the guts of an old 80s Sony Walkman.

No fears at night, she let herself sail through the crowd, with the headphones on so tight and the music playing loud.

Part of her wanted to slide over to Sunset and apply her womanly wiles, as Pinkie knew she had the room’s attention on her, and likely in more than one way. She could see desire in several young men’s gazes on her, and at least one other girl. But she didn’t care about that. Right now, she performed for an audience of one, and that audience was not whoever would ultimately watch this video.

Pinkie was a girl in love with an alien goddess-queen, one that had chosen to walk the earth as she did. Pinkie had fallen for her and didn’t ever want to let that feeling go. This wasn’t some bygone crush as she’d had with Atlas before he’d destroyed her, or some chemically-induced realization of herself, as she’d found when she realized she loved Cicely as well. Those two revelations had ruined her and brought her to a suicidal low, brought to its worst and ugly rearing when her hatred for Sunset had ended in an all-encompassing desire to end herself.

But she hadn’t. And that hatred had turned to an offer of friendship and eventually morphed into a pure, true love for the flame-haired girl, for the girl that wasn’t a girl but a woman in a girl’s body and not even that but a mare – an alien female cast down to the world and into the life of a girl Pinkie’s own age, so that she would renew herself and in doing so save Pinkie from her worst enemy…ultimately, Pinkie herself.

Pinkie didn’t love Sunset because she didn’t have a choice; Pinkie loved Sunset because Sunset had been the choice. Sunset’s own changes had given Pinkie the will to live and move on when there was no reason to do so, and had illuminated her own life. For that reason alone, Pinkie would virtually enslave herself to Sunset’s life. But Sunset wouldn’t have that enslavement and it only made Pinkie love the neophyte goddess that much more.

So Pinkie danced a procession of one, a carnal worship towards a goddess she would forever love though never truly worship. Sunset didn’t want worshippers anyway, and Pinkie wouldn’t give that to her.

Pinkie hoped she would give Sunset so much more if she had the chance.

Behind the counter at Sugarcube Corner, a magenta tail twitched. An ear flopped, a heart syncopated and a warm feeling spread throughout Pinkie Pie like she’d never felt before. She collapsed to the ground, dazed, but with a smile on her face, and she didn’t know why.

“Pinkie, dear, are you okay?” Mrs. Cake said.

“I…I just had the strangest feeling, Mrs. Cake, and I’m not sure why. I’ve never had my Pinkie Sense act like this before.”

“Like what?”

Pinkie giggled. “Somepony is so in love with somepony else that even Princess Cadance couldn’t have done better. Funny thing is, I’m not sure who it is.”

Mrs. Cake just looked at the younger mare with a gaze of utter confusion while Pinkie started rummaging through the cake tins.

“What are you looking for, Pinkie?”

“The wedding cake tins!” Pinkie chirped. “I mean, whoever this pony is, clearly they love their special somepony so much that I’ll bet they’ll be in tomorrow to ask us to make the wedding cake! Doesn’t hurt to be prepared, right?”

Mrs. Cake shook her head in amusement. As always, Pinkie danced to her own beat, and no mortal pony – and maybe not even the alicorns – knew what she was up to.

But somehow Mrs. Cake didn’t doubt that their baking apprentice was even remotely wrong. Besides, even in dark times like this, there still had to be light. And right now, a young baker and party planner looking towards the future was as bright as it could be, hopefully.

No sooner than five minutes later, a young stallion walked in. Mrs. Cake walked over to him and said, “You’re just in time, sir. Our baker has already started on your order.”

“My order?”

The older mare nodded. “Yes. Aren’t you a charming young stallion swept away by the feelings of a tenderhearted young mare?”


Mrs. Cake smiled in satisfaction. “Then we will have the wedding cake done to perfection, sir. Never you fear.”

Standing there with a look of confusion, Lt. Divine Right didn’t know how to respond. He’d been warned that Ponyville, even with everything that was going on, had an ongoing reputation of weirdness…and he had just discovered that oddness, front and center.

Guess I should probably look for a different place to have dinner tomorrow, he mused.

“Okay, and that’s a wrap!” Camera said a few hours later. “I’m actually surprised, too,” he admitted with some astonishment.

“Yeah, no kidding,” the cameraman commented. “Usually these things, even the one-day productions, take forever. Never been on a production that was ahead of schedule before!”

“Well, I knew we were going to be done in time,” Pinkie said proudly. “I have a date to go on tonight!”

Camera looked at Pinkie. “Usually the production doesn’t care much about your personal schedules.”

From where she stood, Rainbow whispered to Rarity, “The production clearly hasn’t realized that Pinkie doesn’t give two shits about what they want if it interferes with her date with Sunny!”

Rarity giggled. “Crude, but oh so very true.”

Meanwhile, Midnight walked over to where Sunset was. “Things went absolutely perfect today and I can’t thank you enough,” she told Sunset. “Dreamscape and her mother will have a moment to treasure always and I couldn’t have done it without you and your friends. I mean that.”

Sunset waved it off. “Seriously, Midge, I was just trying to do what was right. You needed help and you’re a friend, so of course I was going to do what I could.”

“You went above and beyond what I expected you could, Sunny!”

“Seriously, Midge, don’t mention it,” Sunset said, starting to feel a bit self-conscious about her friend’s compliments.

“Well, I’ll make it up to you, somehow, I swear. Anyway, we’re done, so go ahead and change back into your normal clothing, and don’t forget to give me your address – your physical address, that is.”


“So you can get paid, of course!”

“Pay? But I didn’t—”

“No, you didn’t,” Big said as he approached with a relieved smile on his face. “But you did more today to save this production than anyone expected. Honestly, once Showreel bounced out I was going to freak that all the cash and resources we’ve invested in this would go out the window. But you saved us from that, and that deserves to be rewarded. Besides, with us having some extra cost savings due to a faster wrap-up, the money should go to a good cause, right? In any case, since you’re a minor, we’re going to have to mail a document to your parents so they can sign as well. But don’t worry, you’re going to get paid. I don’t back down from promises like that.”

Sunset blushed; she hadn’t expected this at all. “But I didn’t—”

“Just take it, Sunny.” Sunset turned to see Pinkie approach her, a creature of exotic beauty that filled her vision. Lightly covered in a sheen of perspiration from her actions, it somehow made Pinkie look even more attractive and lovely. Pinkie then went over and boldly put her arms around Sunset’s neck. “So, how’d I do?”

Sunset blushed all the more. “Uh, Pinkie….”

Pinkie sighed as she got well within Sunset’s personal space. “Yes?”

Sunset demurely moved away from Pinkie, though not as fast as she would’ve preferred. “Production’s over. You can change back into your normal clothing now.”

“What, don’t like what you see?” the cotton-candy-haired girl asked coquettishly. When Sunset was actually lost for words, Pinkie grinned sultrily. “I could get out of these just for you.”

Sunset was now as nearly as red as her hair. “Pinkie. Go change. Please.” The cheerleader laughed and skated off toward the costume trailers.

Standing a slight distance away, Octavia asked Twilight, “Are we sure Sunny’s straight?” When Twilight glared at her cousin, Octavia just laughed and said, “You know I’m kidding. Yes, I know Pinkie’s coming on a little lotta strong there.”

“Maybe you should tell her to knock it off,” Twilight told Sonata.

“Nope, Twily, not going to do that,” Sonata told her. “Look, I don’t know why you’re irritated by the possibility of them being together. If they are, fine; if they aren’t, also fine. I want both of them to be happy, and so should you.”

“That’s really profound, sis,” Aria pointed out.

Sonata shrugged with an easy smile. “I have my moments.”

It was then that Raspberry approached Sunset. “Sunny, do you have a few seconds?”

“Sure, Razz, why?”

A few minutes later, Sunset looked at the same drawing that had so profoundly affected her friend earlier. “I’ll look into this first chance I get, Razz. I promise. I’m sure you don’t want me to, but….”

She sighed. “If I’m going to be stuck here on Earth for the rest of my life? I have to know. I need to know that there’s going to be a tomorrow and not just because you say so. No offense intended at all, but she didn’t have you, and if she really was what she said she was, then she had a very sad life and I can’t even imagine being cut off from everything like you were or she was. I just can’t.”

“You’re not, Razz, believe me, you’re not. You have people who—”

“I know. You’ve said that a million times, and I know that. But until I know here—” she pointed at her heart, “—instead of just here—” she then pointed to her head, “—I’m going to have to keep trying to adjust. And that’s not your fault, or mine or anyone’s. It’s just…well, you know how my personal life was before I met everyone in Ponyville, so it’s a feeling that’s never really gone away. Believe me, I had the same problems when I was in Ponyville for quite some time, so it’s nothing you did.”

“Razz….” Sunset held her hand out, though she fought to keep the look of hurt off her face. She wanted to help her friend, but Raspberry was in much the same way as she herself had been when she first arrived on Earth: alone, despite being surrounded. It was nothing Sunset could do except to be there for her; time would have to see to the rest of the unicorn’s wounds.

A second later, Sunset felt soft hands wrap around her eyes and a voice coo, “I’m all yours again!” She turned to see Pinkie, having changed back into her normal clothing, but having still kept her 80s makeup on, giving her a distinct blend of both the new and the old.

“I guess I should go change as well, shouldn’t I?” Sunset said, deftly moving away from Pinkie this time.

“No, don’t ever change – I love you just the way you are!” Pinkie chirped and Sunset blushed once again.

“Pinkie, stop, okay? You’re making me blush.”

“Then I’m doing my job right!” she said with a saucy wink.

“Well, I’ll be right back,” Sunset said. “Going to change and then we can look around the museum a bit before we join everyone for dinner – apparently Midge had dinner catered for everyone since they thought it was going to be a very long shooting period. There is some other art I want to look at, so don’t go anywhere.”

“I’ll be right here, waiting with bated breath!” Pinkie assured her. As Sunset walked off, Pinkie jumped up and down in a small bit of triumph. “Yes!”

As Sunset walked back to wardrobe area, she ran into Midnight one last time. “They’re tearing down stuff right now and setting up dinner in a couple of hours,” she explained, “so if you’ll want to look at the exhibits, now’s the time. A lot of the extras are going to do that as well before catering comes in, but I wanted to give you the head’s up because I feel a bit bad about ruining your date with you and your girlfriend.”

Sunset said, “Um…Pinkie’s not my—”

“You two make a cute couple, you know that? I don’t say that often, but in this case I think you really do.”

“I don’t think you understand, Midge. It’s not like that.”

Midnight waved it off. “She doth protest too much, methinks. It’s not like it was in the old days, Sunny. I mean, I’m not inclined that way personally, but I know Rose is, and she’s a pretty good friend, so it’s not like I’m offended or anything—”

Sunset sighed. “Why does everyone think Pinkie and I are dating?”

“Because…you’re…on a date?” Midnight pointed out.

“Nevermind,” the alicorn-as-human sighed. She then explained everything going on with Pinkie and the insistence that she take Sunset on a date and that Sunset had reluctantly agreed. That the date so far had been interrupted and while Sunset didn’t mind in particular, she was concerned for Pinkie’s sake. And that Pinkie was trying her utmost, given her feelings for Sunset, but that Sunset was trying not to encourage her while trying to let her down gently.

After the clarification was done, Midnight looked at the flame-haired girl with a look of surprise. “So you’re doing this for her, even though you’re not?” she asked. When Sunset nodded, the singer looked at her with surprise. “I’m…at a loss for words. I don’t think I would have the courage to do what you’re doing, especially with someone who was part of my close circle of friends. I’m genuinely impressed.”

“I just don’t want to hurt Pinkie’s feelings,” Sunset said. “She’s been hurt enough in the past and I don’t want to add to that.”

“Then you should be careful how you let her down,” Midnight cautioned. “Take it from a girl that gets propositioned by both boys and girls on a regular basis. Sometimes you have to be firm, but other times you can just be kind. It’s all in how they see you and how you want to be seen. And since Pinkie is a friend of yours, you should know how to react.”

“Ultimately, I want to see her happy. I just don’t want to see her happy in that kind of way, if that makes sense.”

“Well, only one way to find out and you’re doing that, right?” Midnight winked. “You’ll be fine, Sunny. I know you will. Now go have some fun. As my sister says, you’re only a teenager once in your life.”

Sunset couldn’t help but smirk. “Oh, I know at least one person who can prove you wrong on that.”

Given free rein of the museum, Sunset and Pinkie wandered its halls, the two partaking in sights with a severely reduced crowd. Though quite a few of the actors also joined in the viewings, the majority of them were the typical jaded Hollywood types and instead spent their time either networking with one another, schmoozing and engaging in small talk or trying to talk themselves up before the larger-than-life celebrities present, namely Midnight and the Chocolate Twins. Surprisingly, quite a few of them had also noticed Fluttershy and were now including her in that group; it was a testament to how much she’d grown in the year that she didn’t find herself hiding but instead chatted calmly with others with a minimum of handwringing.

Neither Sunset nor Pinkie noticed this, however, as they were engrossed wandering the halls, chatting about artwork and art styles and the differences between Earth’s and Equus’ various artists.

“Personally, I think Levitated Art’s style was better in his pointillist period,” Pinkie pointed out. “He was well ahead of the curve when it came to cubism, though and I don’t think enough people give him credit.”

“Strangely enough, Levitated Art had a counterpart in Equestria, a pegasus that was known for skypainting – moving clouds here and there so it would affect the sun’s rays whenever it set. He had a serious influence in skypainters, but nowadays he’s all but forgotten, except for a few personal copies of renditions that were done for the palace itself. His apprentice, Sky Lily, was even a bigger name than he was.”

“The Sky Lily here wasn’t an artist herself, but a known patron of the arts, and, if I recall correctly, a lover of several of them. She’s known for being a muse in several works, most famously Nude on a London Evening by Brushed Feathers. Of course, there were also rumors of Brushed Feathers being gay during a time when it was really frowned on, which is why he might have consorted with Sky Lily….”

“Ah. Well, the Brushed Feathers from my world wasn’t a stallionlover; quite the opposite – he had so many affairs, it was believed that he practically drove his first wife, Rosegarden, to her Final Flight.”

The name Rosegarden set off a pulse in Pinkie’s mind, but she pushed that aside for the moment. “Final Flight? What’s that?” she asked.

“It was ritualized form of suicide that used to be popular amongst pegasus nobility and dates back to Pegasolopis. Basically you would fly as hard and fast as you could, away from public lands, and eventually exhaustion or oxygen deprivation would put you unconscious. You’d fall from the sky and nopony would ever find your body.”

“That’s macabre.”

“That was the point – without a body to bury, it brought shame on the family, and in this case, Feathers. Of course, he didn’t care. It’s funny, though, because nowadays the tragedy of Rosegarden is better known than any of Feather’s particular works. And as for the practice, my mother banned it a few decades before I was born. She knew Rosegarden and from what I understand, she took the mare’s death pretty hard.”

“And what happened to Brushed Feathers?”

“He went into seclusion for about six months before he started working on his next piece of art, a sculpture. It was rumored that his ‘time of reflection’ was just more debauchery that he was smart enough to keep under the radar, but nopony really knows.” Her stomach then growled. “Well, speaking of debauchery, I guess we should go find where the food is, right?”

Pinkie shook her head. “Nuh-uh!” she chirped.

“And why not?”

“Because I got us reservations at Crayons!” she said with a smile. “Midge asked if I wanted anything and I said I wanted to make tonight special and I asked if there was a place where we could go that would be special. She called in some favors and we have reservations in an hour. So we should probably get going.”

“Do you know where this place is?”

Pinkie winked as she brought up her phone. “Maps for the win!”

An hour later, they were at Crayons. An elegant restaurant in the Westwood district, it was known for its unusual-yet-striking décor as well as the top-notch food. But to Pinkie, that wasn’t why she was here.

She instead couldn’t take her eyes off the vision of loveliness in front of her. It made it hard for her to drive, to be honest. And as they arrived at the restaurant, she felt as though she could finally start walking on clouds, given that she was at long last alone with her dearest love. Things went by in a daze as they sat down, and by the time she had menu in hand, she felt she was going to burst from absolute delight.

“Pinkie? Are you okay?” Sunset looked at her from across the table and Pinkie couldn’t get her mind off those luscious eyes, the sweet lips that just called to her like ripened cherries and…


The younger teen sighed and gave Sunset a dreamy look. “Oh, nothing, nothing at all. Unless this day ends, in which case then something will be wrong and that thing is that this day will end.” She gave Sunset another loving look. “So have you decided what you want yet? I have.”

Sunset looked at the menu. “I’m leaning towards the fettucine carbonara. You?”

Pinkie continued to gaze at Sunset with the hazy eyes. “Oh, I definitely know what I want.”

“And that is?”

That seemed to get through to her. “Oh, you mean the food.” Pinkie had the good graces to blush. “I….”

The waiter came up and asked, “May I take your orders?”

Sunset gave hers, opting for the fetuccini carbonara, a side salad and a sparkling lime water.

Pinkie didn’t even open the menu, instead handing it over to the waitress. “Cheeseburger,” she said flatly.

“Anything else with—”

“Surprise me,” she said with surprising curtness, then turned back to Sunny with wistful eyes. The waitress, finally getting the clue, giggled slightly and then left the two lovebirds be, pausing only to whisper to Sunset, “Oh, she’s got it bad. You might want to pay attention.”

Sunset said nothing and instead turned her attention back to the girl before her. “So, anything else you want to ask, Pinkie?”

“No, I think I’ve got a lifetime’s worth to go through, and hopefully I’ll have the lifetime to ask it,” Pinkie replied with a slight blush. “I mean, we’re always going to be together, all of us, right?”

“I don’t know.” Sunset looked at one of the pictures on the wall, an exquisitely-rendered image of a beach done in vintage Crayola. “Rarity’s applied to the New School, which is a fashion college in New York. My sister’s looking at Harvard, and Tavi’s applied to Juliard. AJ’s applied locally, and I’m not sure what Flutters’ plans are. I don’t know what yours are, either.”

“I don’t know,” Pinkie admitted. “My parents can’t really afford to send me to college, nor can my aunt and uncle. And while I can easily get a scholarship, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life once I’m out of high school. What about you?”

Sunset sighed. “Dunno. Ms. Celestia says my grades have improved enough that I could get into something more than just community college, if I wanted to. But I really never thought that far. I suppose I’ll need to take political science so I can understand this world better and how I’ll fit in, but then again, I don’t doubt my mother – my biological one, that is – will want me to take a year or two at Royal Canterlot University, if only to see how the political studies of my old world will tie in with my new one.”

Pinkie caught the undertones of that. “So you’ll be going back?”

“I’ll probably commute back and forth. After all, the portal should be able to allow me to do that. I’m the Alicorn of Earth, after all. I really can’t afford to leave my position on a regular basis, and I think even my mother knows that. Besides, this is my home now, even if I’d never become an alicorn. I’m more human now than pony, I guess, though you never really forget where you come from.” Sunset thought about it. “Isn’t there anything you want to do?”

“I thought I did, once. I thought about being a professional party planner, but Auntie Cup thinks it would be a waste of my talents, she says. Uncle Carrot says that with all the reading and art I’m interested in, I should go into museum sciences or the like, maybe history. Besides, it probably makes more sense for a person like me to do that anyway.”

“What do you mean? Your counterpart is a baker and a party planner, Pinkie. I don’t see why you can’t do the same.”

“She…probably doesn’t have the same trust issues I do. From what Razz tells me, she’s a bit flighty and vapid. I wish I could be that lucky, but that was stolen from me by people I thought I loved.” She leaned against the table, looking at Sunset as a friend for the moment before looked at her eye to eye. “Do you…ever wish you could get your innocence back? I mean…not virginity. I mean…innocence, that child-like wonder of the world before you realize that everything is smoke and mirrors, and that everything you’ll learn from that point is just bullshit and Oujia boards?”

“I’m not sure I ever really had it,” Sunset said honestly. “I was an orphan when my mother took me under her wing. And I was a runaway here when Mom did the same. Those aren’t the actions of a normal filly.” They were quiet for a second while Sunset got her soup and Pinkie asked for a refill on her Coke, then continued. “I mean, look at me. I did all this shit because I wanted my mother to love me. I made a mess of my own life and it’s a wonder that I’m still standing. But if I had that choice to take it all away? I wouldn’t. Because if I did, I might not have all my family or friends, or those that I love.”

Pinkie bit her lip, unsure what to say about that.

“So no, Pinkie, as much as it would be nice to be innocent again, it’s not a realistic thing. I can’t just look at things like the average Equestrian does anymore, and it wouldn’t behoove me to do so. And I don’t think you could operate that same way, could you?”

Pinkie chose not to answer that. And as the food arrived, she realized she really didn’t have an answer for it to begin with.

“He is currently indisposed, madame,” the aged stallion said to her, “and doesn’t want to be disturbed.”

“Oh, please, Broome,” Octavia Melody said to the older pony. “This is me we are talking about.”

“That makes it all the more so, Miss Octavia,” Broome said with a wry smile. “I fear he has taken ill.”

“Then let me attend to this,” she told him. “Please.” The pleading in the mare’s purple eyes was one of sincerity, a look that the old stallion knew for quite some time and knew it to be not an actual look of pleading, but instead a weapon – a weapon to be deployed by this young mare whenever she had something in mind.

“I believe,” he said suddenly, “I am in need of a cup of tea. Yes, a cup for myself would do quite nicely. That way I couldn’t possibly be blocking the door and telling others that the master is not to be disturbed.”

She craned her neck and gave the old stallion a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, Broome.”

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about, Miss Octavia,” he said with a gleam in his eye. “I am merely taking care of my own refreshment. Perhaps afterwards I shall be by to bring you a kettle as well?”

“That would be lovely,” she said with a smile. “I know I will need one shortly.” She watched as he walked down the hall, then she went in the opposite direction, headed towards her destination.

She found it a few minutes later. The room smelled like sour wine, like nothing had been changed in days. Spent bottles were everywhere, and the room was a mess. And somewhere within the pile of ruined clothing, cheap wine and other bric-a-brac, she found her quarry. Nestled between two mares, snoring as if a demented Sleeping Beauty, was said quarry.

Octavia wasted no time. She walked over to the minibar and found two glasses which had yet to be destroyed or even used. Walking behind the bar, she filled them up with water, and then getting on her hindlegs – a good thing her career allowed her to be able to walk short distances bipedally – she splashed water on the two mares, making them both yipe with surprise.

“Ladies, I’m not even going to ask,” she said in an even tone. “I’m just going to tell you to get out.”

The first one, a rather tall unicorn mare that seemed reminiscent of a curly-haired Fleur Dis Lee, narrowed her eyes. “Who the buck are you?”

“The mare kicking you out,” Octavia said, polishing a hoof against her chest. “I’d tell you more, but I suspect you weren’t brought here for your intelligence.”

The other mare looked at her as well. “Well, he was with me last night! You weren’t here! I guess that makes me more important than you, huh?”

“If you wish to believe that, fine,” Octavia said. “I’m still kicking you both out. Now I’m going to assume you did this for the fame, because prostitution is still illegal in Canterlot province, as well as the capital.” Both of them looked at her with surprise, then anger. “You know where the door is. Outside, there are taxis waiting to take you wherever. Have them put it on my tab – they’ll know who I am.”

“Funny, I don’t know who you are,” the “Fleur” of the pair said. “And I don’t take orders from some high horse, got that?”

“Well, lucky for you I’m not some high horse,” Octavia replied. “What I am, however, is a mare who is losing her patience. You really don’t want me to lose my patience, because if I do, it’s not going to go well for you at all. So, we can do this the nice way, or we can do this the not so nice way. And after everything I’ve been through in the past few months, you really want it to go the nice way for me.”

The two read the forceful look in her eyes and then both clambered out of bed heading towards the door, with the shorter one pausing only to grab a risqué, revealing set of socks from the ground before following after the first.

Octavia rolled her eyes. She had other things to do. She looked at the bed’s sole remaining occupant and sighed.

Why are you torturing yourself like this? She wouldn’t want this. She didn’t want this. And yet somehow she wasn’t even remotely surprised this happened.

Leaving the occupant to sleep, she walked over to the curtains to let in some light in the hopes that it would partially sterilize the room. Opening up the window would do the same for the smell, she hoped.

A second later, the slumbering menace awoke. “What was that?” came a slurred, drunken voice from within the remaining lump of sheets and pillows.

“I came to wake you up,” Octavia said simply.

“Sorry, going back to bed.”

“You can’t. You promised.”

“I can break my promise. That is my prerogative.”

“No it’s not. Not to me,” she said firmly.

There was a sigh, then a muffled grunt which may have been a profanity spoken under breath. “Fine. You’re right. Let me get up and get dressed.”

She smiled. “You know I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t care,” she said sweetly as Broome showed up with the tea.

The cityscape of Los Angeles spread out like a symphony of stars. Leaning over the edge of the railing at the world-famous observatory seated atop Mount Hollywood in the city’s Los Feliz Park, Pinkie looked on with a look of glee and beauty at the sky below. The parking lot was relatively empty, and though the observatory itself was closed, many people were there, enjoying the beauty of the warm Los Angeles night.

“It’s beautiful,” Pinkie said softly. “You know, sometimes I wish we moved down here.”

“You do?” Sunset asked her.

Pinkie nodded. “Back in the early days, Uncle Carrot had an offer to come work with a patisserie down here in LA. We almost sold the Sugarcube to come live here, but at the last moment he decided it was better to keep going our way. And, of course, in either timeline it worked out okay for us. But there’s still a part of me that wishes I’d been an Angeleno. I wonder if I’d be the same person I am now?”

“The great friend I know?”

Pinkie blushed at that. “I know I wouldn’t be. I’d be a vastly different soul. I wouldn’t have met the love of my life, for starters.” She reached over and took Sunset’s hand in her own. “I wouldn’t have suffered, but I suppose I had to in order to become part of what I am now.”

“I don’t want you to suffer, Pinkie,” Sunset said. “Do you want me to—”

“No,” Pinkie said firmly. “I know what you’re thinking, but no, I don’t want you to. They aren’t a part of my life any longer, and even just sending out the wolves after them gives them more credence than they deserved. They ruined me, but I am stronger for it.”

Sunset hugged her friend. “You are, Pinkie. You’re one of the strongest people I know and I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You can’t mean that,” Pinkie told her. “I’m probably just a pain in your side.”

“No. You’re someone who means the world to me, Pinkie. I mean that.” Sunset had the girl turn around and blue gazed into cyan. “I mean that more than you can even imagine.” Two sets of feminine pools gazed into one another, drawn by the moment.

Lips touched, furtively, then came together briefly, once. Twice. Continuously.

And for a moment in time, Pinkie felt that everything was right in the world, and that truly she was in the City of Angels.

“YOU DID WHAT?” Twilight screamed at her sister later. Behind her, in various states of either disbelief or facepalming, were their cousins.

Sunset blushed. “Look, I…kinda got carried away by the moment,” she admitted. “I don’t like Pinkie in that way.”

“You made out with someone you aren’t attracted to,” Adagio pointed out. “Even I don’t make those kinds of mistakes, Sunny.”

“I kissed a girl and I liked it,” Sonata sang under her breath, and hearing her, both Aria and Octavia snickered.

Twilight wheeled on them, glaring. “You’re not helping,” she seethed before turning back to her sister. “Sis, I love you but how could you be that fucking stupid?” Twilight asked archly.

“Look, it was just heat of the moment, okay? I didn’t mean anything by it, okay? I’ll apologize to Pinkie in the morning, but I’m not taking the car back.”

“The car?” When Sunset explained, Twilight fought the urge to scream. “You gave her a car?”

“Well, yes, I genned up a Prius. We already have cars at home, and her aunt and uncle can’t really afford to get her one, even with their business, and—”

Octavia sighed. “Sunny, you said you’re actually thirty as a pony, right?”

“Yes, why?”

“How’d the hell did you manage to fail your teenage years – twice?”

“Not funny.”

“I thought it was.”

Twilight sighed. “Look, sis, if you’re bi or a lesbian, it’s not like we’re bothered by that—”

“I’m not! Look, I just got caught up in the heat of the moment. As much as it pains me to admit it, replace Pinkie with Brad-sshole and the same thing would have happened. As you so pointed out, I’m a teenager again which means hormone city, right? For that matter, any of you could have been in my situation and done the same thing. After all, may I remind you we all sleep together often?”

The other five girls looked at each other uncomfortably before Aria sighed. “Yeah, okay, point taken. But even if it was just a really stupid thing, Sunny, I hope you’re prepared for what’s to come: after this, you have a girlfriend. Whether you consider her one or not, you have a girlfriend.”

Sunset sighed. “Don’t remind me,” she grumbled.

In her bed, Pinkie slept with a body pillow, cozy as could be. The fact that Raspberry didn’t know where the teen had come up with it was freaky enough, but the fact that it had a photorealistic picture of Sunset in a negligee with a “come hither” pose really weirded the unicorn out.

Pinkie held the body pillow closer, cooing Sunset’s name in her sleep and giggling girlishly.

“I swear I am never going to understand this world,” Raspberry muttered as she turned around to try to get some sleep before tomorrow’s flight back to Canterlot.

Author's Note:

Los Feliz Park is Griffith Park in real life.

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