“Alright, think of something happy.” Twilight rested her hand on the table.
Sunset was seated opposite Twilight in the middle of the band room. With class having been cancelled in the morning, the two met up early, so that they may work on her powers before the students flooded into school and started making noise. Light had finally begun to peek through the windows, bathing the girls in a soft orange glow. Well, we can safely say it’s morning now. Sunset unstrapped the gloves from her hands and sat them to the side. Taking a deep breath, she repeated the word in her mind.
Happy. I want to see something that’s… happy. She grasped Twilight’s hand tightly, feeling the scene change right in front of her eyes.
Twilight was seated in the diner near CHS. She was staring at Rainbow and Applejack, who had begun shoving large mouthfuls of pancakes right into their waiting maws. Pinkie was cheering Rainbow on while Rarity shifted herself closer to Sunset, away from Applejack, as small bits of pancakes flew everywhere. Fluttershy had the unfortunate task of recording them as they did so, as ‘proof’. Twilight giggled, grabbing one of the pink napkins and pushing it to the fashionista.
“Here, Rarity. So you don’t have to look at them.” Rarity quickly grabbed the tissue and lifted it to the side of her face, staring instead at Sunset.
“I am so thankful you’re not like those uncouth ruffians.”
“I don’t know, Rarity. Twilight and I were just thinking of doing the same thing with our eggs,” Sunset teased.
“Yeah!” Twilight picked up on Sunset’s playful tone and continued, “oh, did you know that boiling is the healthiest method of preparing eggs? That’s because no harsh heat is used, and all the nutrients aren’t lost when they’re served!”
Sunset nodded her head. “She’s not lying.”
“So both of you ordered boiled eggs?” Rarity darted her eyes between Twilight and Sunset.
“Nope, scrambled. Honestly who orders boiled eggs for breakfast?” Sunset laughed, taking a glance at the two competing friends. Twilight started to chuckle as well, feeling a wave of joy overcome her. “See Twilight? Exams or not, you have to join us for some outings. Being cooped up in your room studying every day isn’t healthy.”
“I’m just not used to it, that’s all. Sorry, Sunset.” She stared into the cup of hot chocolate that sat in front of her, gazing at her own reflection. Sunset placed her hands at the top of the cup, causing Twilight to look up at her.
“No apology needed. I’m just glad you came.”
Sunset pulled her arm away from Twilight’s, cutting off the vision. She had a wide smile plastered on her face as she spoke, “that was... certainly happy alright.”
“What moment was it?” Twilight leaned forward until she was at the edge of her seat.
“Diner, not long after the Friendship Games ended. Rainbow and Applejack shoving the pancakes into their mouths?”
Twilight giggled, remembering that incident clear as day. “Right, I should’ve known that memory would be the one you’d see. In any case, we certainly are making progress.” Lifting a pencil, Twilight scribbled on the notepad beside her. “Alright, you choose an emotion next. Anywhere you wanna go.” She placed her hand once more in the middle of the table with her palm facing upwards.
“Hmm, alright.” Sunset had already decided where she wanted to be taken to, and readied her hand with a coy smirk. She’s going to regret saying anywhere.
“I... don’t like your smile.” But before Twilight could ask for more details, Sunset placed her hand with Twilight’s and froze in place.
“You really are lucky to be out to dinner with me.” Timber’s voice came in first, seconds before Sunset could see him leaning forward, sipping from a wine glass.
“Oh am I?” Twilight teased, sipping her drink as well.
“Uh huh. I don’t say yes to a lot of girls.” Timber sat his glass down and straightened his shirt, making sure his clothing was immaculate.
“Are you sure it isn’t because not of a lot of girls say yes to you?” Sunset could feel the tinge of pride in Twilight’s heart for coming up with such a remark. Timber rolled his eyes in response.
“You know for a girl who claims she’s nothing but dorky and nerdy, you’re pretty quick with your mind.” Timber leaned over, adjusting the daisy in Twilight’s hair.
I remember that. Rarity picked that for Twilight for her date, saying it completed her outfit. Twilight blushed, glancing down at the utensils on the table. Noticing that a knife was a little out of line, she adjusted it back until it was perfect. Sunset could see Twilight’s flowing white dress with the stunning gold trim that Rarity had sewn specifically for this day. All her friends gushed about how great she looked, and Sunset could not deny, she looked absolutely stunning.
“To us!” Timber lifted his glass in celebration. Twilight picked hers up, a warmth in her heart as she lightly tapped her glass with his.
Sunset lifted her hand slightly, a confused mix of emotions swirling within her. Twilight leaned forward once more, enthusiastically asking, “well? Where did you go?”
Sunset traced circles in the air with her finger, a cunning grin growing wider and wider. “Oh, your date with Timber, as you two were waiting for your food.”
“What!?” Twilight screamed, her face turning a hot shade of red. She stood up, lightly punching Sunset in the arm.
“Ow!” Sunset exclaimed through her laughter, rubbing the area where Twilight had hit her. “You said I could go anywhere!”
“Anywhere that isn’t my love life!” Twilight shouted back, pulling her black jacket tightly over her magenta tank-top. Once her hands were free, she darted it up to cover her face.
“You didn’t specify!” Sunset continued to giggle.
“Ugh, I’m specifying it now! No more peeking into my moments with Timber, alright!?”
“Alright, alright.” Sunset took a breath to regain her composure. “I’m sorry, Twilight. I couldn’t resist.”
Twilight sighed, a visible blush still hot on her cheeks. “It’s fine. If I had the same power, I’d probably do it to you too.” She picked up her pencil, staring at the notepad. “But was it where you wanted to be?”
“Yup. So we can count that as a success.” Sunset nodded, watching Twilight jot it down on the page.
“Great. Well, I find no reason to doubt it now. You have full control over where you want to go, provided you know the emotion the person was feeling at that moment.” Twilight paused for a beat before continuing. “You also seem to have a grasp on when you would like to exit from memory jumping, which is a significant advantage if the memory is too intense for you.”
Sunset nodded, brushing off specks of dust that had landed on her outfit. The very same teal dress and black jacket she had worn to the Friendship Games. She had found no reason to change this set of clothes, as it was one of her favorites to wear. It made her feel proud and comfortable in her own skin.
“Well, do you think you’re ready for the next step?” Twilight asked.
“Before we go on, can I try it one more time? You know, I just wanna be sure.”
“I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. If you don’t look at my lovelife.” Twilight placed her hand on the table. “Go right ahead.”
Sunset closed her eyes, drawing a breath. Fear. Then relief. Fear. Then… She shot her hand forward, grasping Twilight’s palm.
“Oi, freak!” A shrill voice pierced Sunset’s ears as she entered the vision. She knew it could only belong to one person, and she soon came into view.
“What do you want, Tangerine?” Sunset, strangely, felt little fear in Twilight’s tone. She could tell the confidence was not false.
“Oh? Little freak now wants to act tough.” Tangerine gave Twilight a harsh push, causing her to fall to the floor. Almost instantly, the confidence had vanished, allowing dread to fill her heart. Twilight stopped the books from falling with a wave of her shivering hand, levitating it into her arms, before standing back up. “What’s the matter? Scared?” Tangerine raised a fist in the air and Twilight instinctively turned away, the terror having frozen her limbs solid and threatening to send her to the brink of tears. “Hahaha, I knew it! Still the same old freak!”
“Twilight!” Sunset heard herself call out to her friend, and felt the intense relief Twilight had felt at that moment, when she spotted her best friend.
Sunset lifted her hand, cutting the vision off. She did not need a reminder of the events that happened after that. Yeah ‘I’m over it, she doesn’t affect me anymore’. I should’ve known you were just saying that for me.
“Sunset? You alright? You’re shaking! What did you see?”
“Sorry, Twilight. I saw… that moment from Camp Everfree. When we saw Gloriosa transform in front of us,” Sunset lied, avoiding direct eye contact.
“Why would you go back there?” Twilight placed a hand upon Sunset’s wrist, concerned.
“I just wanted to see how far I could memory travel,” Sunset quickly shook her head. “Anyway, y-you were saying something about the next step?”
“Huh? Oh yes, the next lesson. But we should only continue if you’re able. I don’t want to push-”
“Let’s do it.” Sunset stated without hesitation. She gathered her composure, halting the shivering as best she could.
“Well, I was thinking we should try actually controlling not seeing the vision. You know, so you don’t have to wear these all the time.” Twilight lifted the gloves before setting them back down.
“I don’t know Twilight.” Sunset lowered her head. “That doesn’t sound possible.”
“I know it is.” Twilight comforted her friend, placing her hand on the table. “If we don’t start sometime, then you’ll never be able to. And with no students here, there might not be a better time to try.”
Sunset held her hands to her chest, feeling her nerves start to overtake her.
“Trust me, Sunset. We’ll get through this together.” Twilight lifted her hand towards Sunset, smiling.
Sunset shut her eyes tight, repeating the words in her mind. I don’t want to see her past. I don’t want to see her past. Slowly, she extended her hand towards Twilight. I don’t want to use my powers. I don’t want to use my powers. Sunset lowered her hand, eventually feeling Twilight’s palm meet hers.
Sunset repeated the words in her mind, her eyes still closed shut. The memories threatened to burst into her mind, but she repeated the words louder and louder, until it was all she could hear. I won’t peer into Twilight’s past!
“Sunset, I think you’re doing it!” Twilight’s excited voice caused Sunset to peek. And sure enough, she could see her hand lightly grasping Twilight. I... did it? I did it! A smile had begun to grow on her face. However, one stray thought had found its way into Sunset’s thoughts. But what if I... fail? What if I see something Twilight doesn’t want me to see? What if… Images and voices consumed her thoughts. She could hear Flash calling her a freak, see Fluttershy’s terrified gaze once she had realized what Sunset had seen. She felt an intense emotion burst into her heart, filling her completely.
It was fear.
Sunset felt her mind being overtaken by a vision. She stood, floating in an orange ether. It looked like space, but there were no planets in sight. No other soul. She was well and truly alone. Just then, a booming voice echoed into her ears. “You can’t get rid of me! I’m part of you!” Sunset could feel Midnight Sparkle behind her as she grabbed her arms. She could feel her claws scratch against her skin. She tried to scream, but no sound came from her voice. It was then she realized: she wasn’t the one that was experiencing this scene.
It was Twilight. She was simply a bystander in this vision, unable to take any action.
She felt Midnight merge into her, and the same soul-crushing fear filled her heart like it did in the gym a few days ago. It threatened to consume her, and the edges of her vision started to grow black…
Sunset yanked her arm from Twilight’s, shooting up from her seat and kicking the chair across the room. Twilight pointed an arm at it, stopping it with her magic just before it crashed into the drumset. She stood up, staring at her friend in horror.
“What happened? Sunset?”
Sunset had rarely felt fear that potent before. The only two moments she recalled experiencing such terror was when she transformed into her demon form a year back. And the situation involving Fluttershy and Flash Sentry three days ago. She struggled to gather her thoughts and control her emotions, feeling tears stream from her eyes. “Midnight Sparkle... y-your nightmares.” Was all she managed to stammer out as she quivered uncontrollably.
Twilight’s eyes grew wide as the words reached her ears. “You saw her?” Sunset didn’t reply. Instead, she stood, trembling immensely. Twilight wrapped her arms around Sunset, hugging her tightly. “Sunset, that isn’t me. Midnight Sparkle doesn’t exist anymore, because you helped me defeat her, remember?”
Sunset nodded, sniffing. She gave her head one hard shake, attempting to force the memory out. “I forgot how scary she was.” Sunset stammered, giving Twilight a shattered smile.
Twilight held her at arm’s length, staring intently at the expression Sunset was wearing. She swiped Sunset’s gloves from the table and handed it to her. “We should take a break and continue setting up for the Fall Formal.”
Sunset pulled the gloves over her hands before holding the door for Twilight. Cold sweat was still dripping from her forehead as she watched Twilight gather her things before heading out.
“Sunset, I can’t apologize enough. It was my idea to try that and instead you saw—”
“It’s fine, Twilight.” Sunset followed the path towards the gym, though she kept her eyes peeled on the path they were heading on. “At least I’m making progress!”
“I’d say!” Twilight adjusted her glasses, staring intently at the notepad she held in her hand. “The progress you’ve made is exceptional! You were even able to control how you wanted to use your powers! It really is amazing!”
“Well, it’s sort of like using Unicorn magic back when I was in Equestria. And seeing as how this is Equestrian magic,” Sunset ran her thumb over the pendant. “I should be pretty good at it.”
“Right. Not only that, but you’ve been able to help all your friends!”
“Well,” Sunset smirked. “Not all of them just yet.”
“What do you… mean?” Twilight noticed that Sunset had turned left at a hallway intersection, instead of right. She looked at her friend who stared back at her with a smile. “Sunset?”
“Come on, this way.” Sunset continued strolling. Twilight stood, perplexed, but soon ran to catch up with her.
“This isn’t the way to the gym.” Twilight glanced over her back, spotting the gym door get smaller with each step.
“I never said I was going to the gym.” Sunset took a right at the next junction.
“Then where are we—” Twilight realized that Sunset had stopped in front of a door that had two words written on it. Moving close, she read the words out loud. “Principal's Office. Wait, Sunset, what are we doing at Principal Celestia’s office?”
“Look, Twilight, when I said I used my powers to see Gloriosa just now, I sorta lied.” Sunset frowned. “I’m not proud of it, but it was obvious you were getting hurt by Tangerine, so I peeked into what happened yesterday morning instead.”
“Sunset! B-but I trusted you!” Twilight screamed at the top of her lungs.
“Twilight, keeping quiet isn’t going to fix anything. I saw how she hurt you, and I can’t just stand by any longer. We are going to tell Principal Celestia about Tangerine.” Sunset stated, folding her arms as she leaned against the wall.
“What!? No we are not!” Twilight shook her head rapidly as she shouted.
“Alright then, I’ll tell Principal Celestia about Tangerine. I’m not letting one of my best friends keep silent as she gets pushed around and hurt!” Sunset placed her hand on the doorknob, but Twilight quickly placed a palm over hers.
“Sunset, I don’t want to cause any trouble. Please don’t do this,” Twilight begged, but saw the determination in Sunset’s eyes. She recognized this look before, and knew that nothing short of knocking the girl out was going to stop her from doing what she wanted.
“I’m sorry, Twilight. You’re free to hate me all you want later, but I know this is what I need to do to help you.” Sunset felt magic course through her veins as, in a flash of red and orange, her pony features had returned to her once more. She turned the knob and stepped in, spotting Princess Celestia at her desk.
“Sunset Shimmer? Twilight Sparkle?” Celestia stared at the two girls. “Can I help you?”
Sunset moved into the room as Twilight followed behind reluctantly, closing the door behind them. “Principal Celestia, Twilight’s being bullied!”
“What!?” Celestia stacked her paperwork and pushed it to the side. She stared at Twilight, who stood with her head hung low and her gaze to the floor.
“It’s Tangerine Citrus. Every morning she picks on Twilight just outside CHS!” Sunset bellowed out. “She waits for her and then pushes her to the ground! Just to get Twilight to use her powers so she can call her a freak!” She took a deep breath, hoping to calm herself.
“Twilight, is this true?” Celestia focused her gaze on Twilight. Twilight remained silent, refusing to nod or shake her head. “Twilight?”
“Twilight, please.” Sunset walked over, placing her hands on Twilight’s shoulders. “You have to tell Principal Celestia! She can help you! Don’t let Tangerine do this to you every single day.”
Twilight inhaled, nodding slowly.
“Tangerine Citrus, I remember that name. Flash just came in yesterday, telling me that she’s been spreading gossip around campus. Hurtful gossip.” Principal Celestia shook her head and sighed. “How do you know about this, Sunset?”
“This.” Sunset proudly held her necklace for Celestia to see. “I saw what Twilight was experiencing and… I can’t stand by and let this just go on.”
“Twilight, why didn’t you come to me earlier?” Celestia stood up from her seat and walked towards her. Twilight pulled her jacket over her top as tight as she could, squeezing the edges to try to get her emotions out.
“I... I didn’t want to cause any trouble,” Twilight muttered under her breath.
“Twilight, look at me.” Celestia spoke in a warm tone. Twilight turned her head up, staring at Celestia with tearful eyes. “You’re causing no trouble telling me at all. If you don’t, this could really hurt you in the end. And I don’t just mean in the physical sense.” Celestia pulled a few tissues from the box on her table, passing them to Twilight. “Sunset was right to bring you here. Tangerine isn’t going to hurt you anymore. You have my word. And you have nothing to be scared about. You’re a Wondercolt now, just like the rest of CHS.”
Twilight began to sob, using the tissues to dab away her tears that had started to flow from her eyes. She nodded several times, feeling herself get pulled into a hug. “Twilight, you’ll be okay, I promise too,” Sunset’s reassuring tone caused Twilight to cry even harder. Throughout the week, she had built a dam to try to block out the pain and sorrow that wanted to flow. And with Sunset’s help, it had finally broken, letting all her emotions flow through without stopping. With every sob, she felt the weight around her heart slowly disappear.
Sunset felt like she was going to cry too, but of joy instead of sadness. She had finally felt that she had helped Twilight like how Twilight had helped her throughout the week. For a moment, she thought she understood her place in the world. However, a sudden loud cackle brought along a slight glimpse of Midnight Sparkle in her eyes. The fear that had gripped her so harshly found its way back into her heart, paralyzing her completely. Sunset lightly raised her hands away from Twilight, feeling sweat starting to drip from her forehead.
“I’m the one in control of your powers! Don’t you ever forget that!” Midnight Sparkle’s threatening voice echoed in Sunset’s mind.
And in a small flash, Sunset felt her pony form fade away. She took a deep breath to gather her composure, noticing that Twilight was in too much distress to notice what had just happened. Principal Celestia glanced at Sunset for a short while, but quickly shrugged it off when Sunset returned her arms around Twilight.
“It’s okay, Twilight. It’ll all be okay.”
“Better?” Sunset asked forcing a smile to Twilight. She attempted to suppress the terrible memory of Midnight Sparkle, hoping to be able to chase away the consuming fear she brought. For the last thing she wanted was to cause Twilight any more worry.
“Mmhm.” Twilight turned to Principal Celestia. “I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.”
“It’s fine, Twilight. Just promise me you’ll tell me if anymore of this happens alright? No more hiding it away.”
Twilight nodded with confidence.
“Thanks for believing me, Principal Celestia,” Sunset said, slinging her arm over Twilight’s shoulder.
“You are no longer the troublemaking Sunset Shimmer I once knew. You have put in all the effort needed to change yourself, and for that I have no reason to doubt you.”
Sunset grinned sheepishly, blushing slightly as well. “Thank you.”
“No problem. Now I suppose you two are here to decorate for the Fall Formal?” Celestia asked, peeking out her window to see that the Sun had risen in the sky, bathing CHS in a warm, bright light.
“Yeah. We’re hoping to make it the best Fall Formal ever!” Sunset declared proudly.
“With you two helping out? I have no doubt.” Celestia retook her seat, smiling at the two students in front of her. “I’ll be there to help with the drinks when they arrive later.”
“Great! We’ll see you then!” Sunset chirped, pulling the door open and exiting into the hallway, her hand still around Twilight.
“Okay, now I’ve helped all my friends.” Sunset cheerfully spoke, drawing a giggle from Twilight. But her tone quickly softened as she continued, “Twilight, I’m sorry for peeking into your life without your permission.”
Twilight shook her head. “You don’t need to be sorry, Sunset. In fact, I’m sort of glad you did. I owe you a lot for trusting your instincts, and being such a good friend.” She stared at Sunset, a worried look crossing her face. “Just don’t make this a habit, okay? Other people might not be as willing to share their past as I am.”
Sunset nodded, withdrawing her arm from Twilight. “I know. I’ll only see what people want me to see, no more peeking without permission or lying about what I saw. Especially to you, Twilight.”
Twilight begun her stroll towards the gym. She turned around, staring at Sunset as she walked backwards. “Good. Now would you come along already? The Fall Formal isn’t going to set itself up.”
Sunset smirked. “Race ya.”
“Huh?” But before she knew it, Sunset had already sprinted past her. “Wait! Hey! You had a head start!” Twilight tightened the belt on her skirt before rushing forward. “Sunset! This isn’t fair!”
Much to their surprise, the gym was already abuzz with life when they arrived. Despite it being still fairly early in the morning, they had spotted their friends along with many other students. A flash of color and gust of wind shot past them, causing Twilight and Sunset’s jackets to flutter.
“Here, Applejack!” Rainbow cheerfully said, tossing forward several nails to her friend, who was seated at the top of a ladder.
“Thank ya kindly!” Applejack caught them in her palm. With a forceful punch, she drove the nail into the wall. “Fluttershy, another one’s in place!”
Fluttershy nodded from the other end of the room, whispering to a tiny blue jay that had perched itself on her finger. It gripped the string of a picture frame in its beak before flapping its wings, soaring up to the nail.
Sunset watched in amazement as the bird hung the frame with pinpoint accuracy before diving back down onto Fluttershy’s shoulder. “Wow, I’m amazed you’re all here so early.”
Sunset took a few steps forward, glancing at Fluttershy, who was feeding the jay a tiny seed. “Especially Rainbow Dash,” she joked, spotting Rainbow rolling her eyes.
“This is one of the biggest CHS events in the year! How could Canterlot High’s greatest Wondercolt not help out?” Rainbow proudly exclaimed.
“Uh huh.” Applejack rested her elbow against the wall and her palm on her cheek. “Sure, Rainbow. Thanks for helping us the day before yesterday. And the day before that. And-”
Rainbow stared daggers at Applejack, scowling harshly.
“Wait, where’s Rarity? And Pinkie?” Sunset glanced around the room, noticing both friends were nowhere to be seen.
“Ah! That’s what I forgot!” Rainbow snapped her fingers, disappearing in another flash of color.
“What did she mean by-” Before Sunset could finish her sentence, a loud ‘boom!’ echoed through the school. Sunset nearly leapt out of her skin as she screamed.
“Sounded like it came from the school kitchen!” Twilight’s words caused all her friends to open their eyes wide in realization.
“Pinkie Pie!” They all shouted in unison. Sunset and Twilight sprinted off together, racing into the cafeteria’s kitchen.
As Sunset entered, she noticed that the floor was covered entirely in flour. In fact, the more she saw of the kitchen, the more she noticed that the entire room had been dusted in it, turning it an almost snow white.
Rainbow was seated on the floor, powdered white from head to toe. Meanwhile, Pinkie stood in frozen shock, sprinkle shaker in hand.
“What even happened!?” Sunset shouted in disbelief, still trying to understand the scene in front of her.
“I don’t know. I was sprinkling a few cupcakes, then Rainbow came by, fell on the floor and shouted. I got surprised and the next thing I knew.” Pinkie tossed the shaker high into the air. “Kapoof!”
“Ahh!” The other girls screamed. Twilight quickly caught the bottle in midair with her magic, sending it into an open cupboard before slamming the door shut. They waited, but no explosion came.
Rainbow sighed. “I ran here to help, but Pinkie left a bag of flour at the door. I rushed in, tripped over it and fell.” She pushed herself off the floor and onto her feet. “When I screamed, Pinkie got startled and tossed sprinkles on her cupcakes and the flour bag. I think you two eggheads can figure out the rest.” Running in a tight circle, Rainbow absorbed all the flour in the kitchen into a tight vortex. “Bag!”
Twilight levitated an empty trash bag towards Rainbow. In one swift motion, she grabbed the black plastic from the air, poured the flour into it and tied the top. She stopped, tossing the filled bag to the side.
“Wowza! That looked fun! Let’s do that again!” Pinkie giggled.
“Pinkie, focus! We need these cakes done by today!” Rainbow tapped her foot impatiently.
“Oh right! Hehe!” Pinkie nodded. “Well Dashie, if you’re going to help me we should get these done in no time!” She tiptoed to the cupboard Twilight had shut, opening it and grabbing her sprinkle shaker. Rainbow quickly yanked it from her hand, a nervous look on her face.
“Why don’t you do the baking. I’ll help you get the ingredients and decorate.” Rainbow gave a worried chuckle.
“Oki doki loki!” Pinkie bounced to her cookbook, tracing a finger down the recipe. In the meantime, Sunset had poured a few drinks and placed them on several trays. Twilight levitated them in the air carefully, walking out of the door.
“We’ll leave you two to it.” Sunset carried a tray of her own and walked out of the kitchen. “Let’s go, before they decide to blow us up next,” she joked as they headed back to the gym.
Somehow, in the time they were gone, the number of students helping had doubled. Almost every single person in Sunset’s class was gathered in the hall, each doing the job that Sunset had assigned them yesterday. She and Twilight sat the trays of drinks they were carrying down on a nearby empty table.
Almost immediately, a boy from Sunset’s class ran up to her. “Small front banners done, Sunset! What’s the next thing I need to do?”
“Huh?” Sunset hadn't quite processed what he had said. “Oh! Umm, let’s see.” She grabbed her book from her bag, scanning the page. “Go help Applejack set up the sound system with the music group.” The boy gave a nod, rushing to the stage.
“And me?” The blonde, ditzy-eyed student from Sunset’s class asked.
“Oh! We could use your help with Fluttershy!” Sunset smiled, pointing to Fluttershy at the back of the hall. Birds had started perching on Fluttershy’s arms and head, forcing her to adopt a scarecrow-like position.
“Yay! Animals!” The girl bounced off towards Fluttershy.
“And me?” Twilight nudged Sunset with her elbow.
“Well, how about helping me?” Sunset asked, offering the book to Twilight. “Making sure everyone is alright is hard work. I could use…”
“An assistant?” Twilight giggled.
“I was thinking more of ‘a friend’.” Sunset beamed. Twilight laughed and nodded, taking off her jacket and hanging it on a nearby rack, along with several others. She grabbed Sunset’s planning book, while Sunset herself lifted up a nearby tray of drinks. Sunset walked to the right, while Twilight covered the left.
“Mind if I take one?” Flash grabbed a cup, smiling at Sunset.
“Well considering you already did…” Sunset smirked.
“Looks like the students aren’t gossiping about you anymore.” Flash’s words made Sunset realized that she had not heard any mean rumors about her since she had helped Flash. She wasn’t sure if she hadn’t notice due to her focus on helping her friends, or if the students had truly stopped their harsh remarks.
“Now that you mention it, I guess they aren’t.” Sunset was a little shocked that she had missed such a big detail. Usually she prided herself on noticing the smallest of things, and for such a huge thing to slip by the cracks told Sunset just how out-of-it she had been for the past few days.
“Told you I’d take care of it.” Flash gave a nonchalant shrug.
“Telling Principal Celestia was your ‘taking care of it’?”
“Well, there was that. And let’s just say Tangerine isn’t the only one with the ability to spread news.” Flash took a sip from his cup, winking at Sunset. “Plus, dating mean, evil you taught me how to be cunning too.”
Sunset merely rolled her eyes at Flash’s remark. She knew he meant no ill will behind the words and so, felt no need to let it get to her. “Well, I appreciate whatever you did.”
“You’re welcome, Sunset. Let’s just treat it as we’re even now, deal?”
“Deal,” Sunset agreed as she passed out several more drinks.
“And really, Sunset?” Flash raised an eyebrow. Sunset gazed back in utter confusion. She looked at her outfit, wondering if something had gone wrong.
“What?” Sunset asked once she had scanned her dress and jeans, spotting no problems. She looked up, only to find Flash gesturing to her gloves. “Oh…”
Flash grabbed the tray from her hands, setting it down nearby. “Come on Sunset. When I said that you should wear gloves, I was mad. I didn’t mean it.”
Sunset pulled her hands close to her. “Flash, I’m working on it. I still can’t control my powers yet.”
Flash sighed. “No one’s going to randomly grab your hands, Sunset. Have a little more confidence.” He tapped his foot impatiently. “Take them off at least while you’re giving out drinks. I don’t want you spilling anything because you can’t grip the cups properly.”
Sunset pondered on Flash’s words for a moment. Slowly, she unstrapped the gloves from her hands and pulled them off.
“See? And with you carrying the tray, there’s no way you’re ‘accidentally’ going to read someone.” Flash smiled, watching Sunset tuck the gloves into her pockets.
“Alright. Fine. But I’m putting them back on when I’m done for today.” Sunset picked up the tray of drinks, handing them out once more. It felt weird for her bare fingers to touch items in the world around her. The feeling of plastic, metal and glass seemed foreign to her.
“Fair enough.” Flash agreed, taking another drink. “Well, I better get back to work. I can’t wait to see the Fall Formal Queen at the Fall Formal tomorrow.” He gave his signature finger point to Sunset as he walked backwards.
“Uh huh. Well, I still don’t think I stand a chance!” Sunset shouted back, but Flash had already ran up the stage. She continued to walk around the gym, her eyes glowing bright upon seeing the rapid progress everyone was making.
The banners were almost all in place, even the one Flash and Sunset had worked on hung at the back of the stage for all to see. Streamers and flowers had been looped around the metal supports in the ceiling and the tables were all but sat in place.
“Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3!” Applejack spoke into the mic, her voice echoing through the room. She gave Vinyl a thumbs up and picked up her bass. “Sunset! Listen to this and tell me if it sound alright!” Applejack plucked a few strings, sending several low, booming notes through the speakers. Sunset heard the crystal clear melody and gave her thumbs up.
“That means that the sound system is done.” Twilight ticked the checkbox in the book.
“What’s left?” Sunset picked up the last cup on the tray before setting the platter down on a nearby table. She took a sip, walking towards Twilight.
“We’re making good progress, but there’s still quite a bit to be done.” Twilight pushed her glasses against her face. “We need balloons inflated, tablecloths on every table. We also need the stage lights working and Rarity to make the chandelier. Oh! And don’t forget about the food and drinks!”
“That’s a lot of things to do.” Sunset tapped her chin worriedly.
Applejack wiped the sweat from her head. “Hoo wee, and I thought we knocked most of them out already! Well, we still have some things to take care of, but like Dash would say. We’re—”
Rainbow rushed in, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Wondercolts!" Before darting away. The others stared at where Rainbow stood a moment ago, and wondered if they had just imagined her voice.
“Yeah,” Applejack continued. “That. So we’ll get this done by today, don’t you worry, Sunset!”
Sunset nodded at Applejack’s vote of confidence, which was echoed by the rest of the students in the hall. “Well, let’s keep it going!”
A few hours had passed since Sunset and Twilight had started their work. Lunch had come and gone and evening had already arrived. Twilight had continued to tick item after item off the list, marking away most of the decor and the drinks, which Applejack’s family had arrived with an hour ago. She had also used her magic to help Fluttershy hang several of the lights and decorations. Sunset, meanwhile, helped out where she could, be it with Applejack’s heavy labor or Flash’s repeated sound checks for his instruments. Meanwhile, Pinkie and Rainbow had made several trays of food and treats, storing them in the cafeteria freezers for tomorrow’s event.
As the sky turned a faint orange, Sunset approached the microphone on the stage. “Everyone? Can I have you attention?” Immediately, every student in the gym had stopped what they were doing and stared at the girl on the stage. “I just wanted to let you know that you’ve all done an amazing job. The only reason we got the Fall Formal up as quickly as we did was because we all worked together.” She stared at the beautiful decorations that hung from the walls and ceiling. The flowers that stood at every table and the banners that accented every corner of the room. “I do think this is the best Fall Formal we’ve ever seen! And there’s only one decoration left before this is complete!”
Sunset turned to Applejack, who held her phone to her ear. The country girl looked visibly annoyed as the call redirected to voicemail once more.
“Gosh darnit, Rarity! You were supposed to come by ages ago!” Applejack closed her phone and stomped off to the mic. “Sorry everyone. Looks like Rarity—”
The doors to the gym burst open. “Is right here!” Rarity sung, strutting into the room.
Applejack glared at the fashionista as she spoke in an agitated tone, “more like three hours late.”
“Applejack dear, Rarity never arrives late!” Rarity walked up the stage with swaying hips, tapping Applejack on the nose.
“Oh really? Cause I got a room full of students who’d like to disagree!” Applejack shouted, gesturing to the waiting crowd.
“Rarity, we’re only missing your piece for the Fall Formal. Would you mind?” Sunset quickly diverted the topic, knowing just how heated the two could get with their arguments.
“Oh absolutely! Watch and be amazed!” Rarity pulled her hands back before stretching them forward. Several crystals shot forward and flew to the middle of the ceiling. One by one they attached themselves to each other, until a large, sparkling chandelier hung from above. The others stared in awe and gave Rarity a round of applause, to which she bowed to.
“Awesome work, Rarity!” Rainbow complimented.
“Yeah! It looks positively super amazing!” Pinkie leapt up as high as she could. As she landed, her flour-covered shoes and hair created a white cloud, causing Rainbow to slam her palm into her own face.
“I’ll get the mop.” Rainbow spoke and zipped off, returning to help Pinkie clean up the mess she had made.
“It is beautiful.” Twilight remarked as she folded her arms and gazed upwards. Her eyes glimmered and glowed, watching the sunlight hit the sparkling fixture, reflecting all around the room and bathing the students in its warm orange glow.
Sunset spotted Twilight in front of her, all her attention fixated on the chandelier above. She took a few steps forward, placing a hand upon Twilight’s back and looking up as well. “It really is pretty.”
“Mmhm.” Twilight’s reply seemed almost hypnotic, making Sunset smile wide. She had seen the same expression when Twilight lit her lantern at Camp Everfree before sending it floating to the night sky.
As Sunset got her thoughts back under her control, she felt as if something was off. The hand she placed to comfort Twilight had touched skin. When she glanced at the palm she had placed on Twilight’s back, she noticed that she was not wearing her glove, and remembered that she had taken them off when Flash had asked her to. What’s more, she had forgotten that Twilight had hung her jacket up hours ago, leaving the area around her elbow bare due to her tank top.
I’m...not memory jumping? Sunset could not believe what she was witnessing. Even after the thought crossed her mind, it took her a few seconds to process each individual word. But how—
Suddenly, her vision started to fade. She saw a flash of purple and a voice boomed in her head, overwhelming her other senses. “You will never control me! I will always be here, waiting. Watching. And soon, they will all fear you!” With a tug, she pulled her arm back to her and her sight started to return to the present. Sunset recognized the voice she heard and the memories of what had happened in the music room this morning rushed back into her mind. Her heartbeat quickened and the mere thought of Midnight Sparkle stopped her ability to breath.
Sunset took a sharp breath of air, drawing Twilight’s attention as she did so. Twilight turned around and upon spotting Sunset’s terrified expression, quickly ran up to her friend. “Sunset, are you okay? You’re shaking!”
“Yeah… yeah.” Sunset replied, darting her head up to meet Twilight’s eyes. “I’m fine.”
“You sure?” Twilight asked. “You didn’t use your powers by accident did you?”
Sunset shook her head and gave her friend a reassuring smile. “I felt sorta faint, that’s all. Guess I’m just tired. I haven’t been getting much sleep lately with all this Fall Formal stuff.”
“Oh… well, we’re done here. So let’s get you home.” Twilight scooped up both of their bags from the floor and handed Sunset hers.
Sunset slung hers on her back. “It’s fine, Twilight. I can walk back on my own.”
“Well, you’re not going to.” Twilight grabbed her jacket and pulled it over her shoulders. As she led Sunset out of the gym, they waved goodbye to their friends, who waved back with large smiles on their faces. “See you girls tomorrow!”
“Remember, my house in the morning, darlings! We need to make sure your gowns are perfect!” Rarity said. Both Sunset and Twilight gave a thumbs up before passing through the doors.
As Sunset slid on her gloves, she heard Twilight speak, “hey, about those evening gloves you requested, you don’t have to use them tomorrow, you know?” Twilight beamed as she spoke.
Sunset ensured both leather garments were strapped tightly before she replied. “I’ll think about it, Twilight.” However, with Midnight Sparkle’s words ringing in her mind, she already knew the answer.
I’m sorry, Twilight. But I don’t have a choice.