• Published 14th Nov 2016
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Looking Glass - Krickis

When Sunset sees herself as an alicorn in a magical mirror, she goes looking for answers, eventually going through the mirror into another world. Some things are better left alone though, as she finds herself trapped in the other world as a child.

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3 – Hide-and-Seek

Chapter Three


Sunset hated everything. She hated that stupid mirror for ever showing her as an alicorn. She hated Celestia for pushing her away instead of just answering her questions. She hated the cops for driving her around so much that she couldn’t find her way back to the portal. She hated the kids for thinking she’d ever want to be their friend.

Most of all, she hated herself for letting things go the way they did.

She tried to fix it. The first night, once she had her saddle bag back – empty of most of its contents, but she couldn’t wait around anymore – she snuck off. It wasn’t hard; the room had a window she could climb out of. So, carrying her saddle bag awkwardly, she snuck off into the night.

That didn’t work too well. She got hopelessly lost, and the dark city streets were unfamiliar. Even she knew it was a miracle when she was picked up by a police officer and brought back to New Horizons. After that, no one would tell her where she was found. They all seemed to think she’d sneak off again, which was, of course, the plan. Days passed her by, and Sunset realized she was stuck in this world for thirty moons. It had only been a week, but that was much too long – the portal had closed without her.

Which was why she found herself sitting across from Crystal Clear, her psychologist. He had bright cerulean skin, and white hair that went down to around his ears. He always dressed in high-quality suits, which immediately brought to mind her parents’ snobbish friends, but he surprised her with his caring nature and charming smile. He didn’t talk down to her like she was a child, unlike most adults. Sunset hated him.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said in that obnoxiously casual tone. “I think it’s alright to waste a little time, once in a while.”

Sunset sat with her arms folded. “Maybe for a good book or something like that, but friends? No way.”

“I hear you haven’t been reading the books Ms. Rose has been leaving for you.”

“I don’t want to read children’s books.”

This was normally where people would insist that she was a child. Crystal Clear just smiled and asked plainly, “So what books would you like to read?”

Sunset thought for a minute. “Technology books.” Although she had only spent a week living with humans – the proper word, as she finally had learned – Sunset knew enough to know that she probably had used the wrong term. “You know, about electricity, and televisions, and phones and stuff.”

Crystal Clear seemed amused by her answer. “Okay, I’ll bring you some books like that for our next session.” He grabbed a satchel that was lying near his feet and set it on the table. “I hadn’t quite expected that answer, to be honest,” he said as he rummaged through the bag. “But I did suspect the reason why you didn’t want to read the books Ms. Rose was giving you, so I brought you something else.”

He handed her a book, which did seem to be a step in the right direction. It was at least a few hundred pages, and didn’t have an illustration on every one. Sunset still eyed the cartoonish cover doubtfully. “This is still a kid’s book.”

Crystal Clear smiled patiently. “It’s a juvenile novel. It’s intended for kids twice your age.”

No one knew exactly how old Sunset’s physical age was, of course. Although she was seventeen, her physical age had definitely regressed significantly, and the general assumption was that she was somewhere around five years old. Which meant the book she was holding was intended for ten-year-olds, and thus of no interest to Sunset. “Don’t you have any adult books?”

“Not with me, no.” Crystal Clear set his satchel back on the ground and folded his hands on the desk. “Humor me, Sunset. If you read that book and can show to me that you understood it, I’ll bring you something more advanced.”

And the textbooks,” Sunset stated. Although she was in no position to make demands, she often still did.

“Yes, I’ll bring you both. But –” he leaned across the desk “– I want you to also try getting along with the other kids.”

Sunset set the book back on the table. “Not worth it.”

Crystal Clear sighed. Sunset knew even his patience would wear thin at her refusal to get along with the others, and she was half looking forward to wearing him down. It seemed to be the only thing she could still enjoy. “I understand that you’re frustrated. But there’s no need to lash out at the other kids.”

Sunset frowned, knowing exactly what he was talking about. “That wasn’t my fault.”

“Well, would you like to tell me your side of the story, then?”

He was always doing that. Always trying to get her to talk more about her experiences. Normally, she wouldn’t. There wasn’t a point since she didn’t actually want his sympathy or anything. But there was a reason now. Sunset looked at the book. She had absolutely no interest in reading it, but it was a gateway to the best thing this world could offer her.

She took a deep breath. “Fine,” she relented, “I’ll tell you what happened.”

It was the third day since Sunset had wound up at New Horizons Home for Children. She spent most of her time in her room, or wandering around the places she was permitted to be on her own. All in all, she was exceptionally bored.

Unfortunately, she must have looked it, too. Or maybe they just took pity on her because of her situation, which was even worse. Regardless of why they did, two girls had decided to be Sunset’s friends. At first, they weren’t too bad. They would ask her to play with them, and she would tell them ‘no’, and that was that. But each day they seemed to grow more insistent.

“Sunset, come play dolls with us!” Dew Drop said.

“I don’t like dolls,” Sunset answered.

“Come on, don’t like anything fun?” Sugar Breeze protested.

Sunset glanced up from her book. “Nope. Nothing. So why don’t you two just go play on your own?”

Sugar Breeze tilted her head to the side. “Uh, that’s a dictionary. Dolls are much more fun than dictionaries.”

It was a fair point; Sunset would have a hard time justifying a dictionary as fun. And in truth, she wasn’t actually having any real fun with it. But it just so happened that this dictionary contained tons of words she would be expected to know in this world, and she was determined to learn them. She had made the mistake of saying ‘persons’ out loud, and had been laughed at for it. Sunset hated being laughed at, and wouldn’t allow it to happen again.

Person, noun: A human being regarded as an individual. Plural: people; persons.

This world was bucking stupid.

“Okay, let’s play something else then,” Dew Drop suggested. “What about… hide-and-seek?”

“Not interested.”

“Sunset! Please?”

Sunset sighed and looked back at the girls. She was going to just refuse again, but then she got an idea. There was no telling why they were so hung up on being friends with her, but they were. So she would solve two problems at once. “Okay, fine. You two go and hide, and I’ll come and find you.”

“Okay!” Dew Drop said excitedly.

Sugar Breeze wasn’t convinced, though. “You promise? You’ll really play?” she asked skeptically.

“I promise,” Sunset said with a practiced smile. “How high should I count?”

“A hundred!” Dew Drop said.

“Okay, I’ll count to one hundred.”

It seemed they were both convinced she would stick to her word, so they ran off. Sunset just returned to her book. It was perfect; she’d gotten rid of them, and they would hopefully learn that she wasn’t someone they would actually want to play with anyway.

Sunset flipped to the definition of television. She’d learned what a television was by watching the one in the lounge room, but hoped she could learn a bit more from the dictionary. It was unlikely, but she didn’t have anything else to do. Technology was the one thing Sunset loved about Earth. It was like human magic.

Long enough passed that Sunset found herself idly flipping through the dictionary, just looking at the illustrations. She had honestly forgotten about the game of hide-and-seek by the time Sugar Breeze came back.

“You’re still here!?” she asked incredulously.

Sunset facepalmed. “Oh, right, the game. Sorry about that. What happened was that I was counting, and then I realized that I don’t care.”

Sugar Breeze placed her hands on her hips and did the best menacing look a six-year-old could accomplish. “You promised.”

“You’re right, I did.” Sunset shrugged. “But I’m also a bitch, so you know, there’s that.”

Sugar Breeze’s arms went limp as her jaw fell open. She stared for a second while Sunset wondered if she was intentionally exaggerating her expression, before puffing out her cheeks and pointing accusingly at Sunset. “You swore!”

Of course, why hadn’t she thought of that before? It was such a simple way to keep such oh-so-good little girls away from her. “Yes, yes I did. Because I am a bitch, and I’ll use whatever language I bucking want.”

It seemed Sugar Breeze finally got the message because she quickly ran away. Sunset just smiled at her success.

After doing something that was legitimately fun, Sunset couldn’t bring herself to read any more of the dictionary. She decided to take a walk out to the garden, content in the knowledge that if she ran into any other kids she’d know exactly how to get rid of them.

Perhaps unfortunately, she didn’t run into any kids. None that seemed concerned with her, in any case; most of the kids understood that she was uninterested in them and kept to themselves. And no matter how much fun it had been to watch Sugar Breeze’s reactions, Sunset wasn’t going to go starting problems. She definitely had her limits on what she was willing to put up with, but she was by no means a bully.

Aside from her room and the library, the garden was easily Sunset’s favorite place. Since there wasn’t anything to do in her room and the library’s selection of books left her wanting, deciding where to wander was an easy choice. She strolled leisurely through the flowers, wishing there was a better way to use her time.

Sunset stopped as she heard the flowers rustling. She turned to face the direction of the sound, and saw a poorly hidden child. “Dew Drop?”

With a giggle, Dew Drop emerged from her hiding spot. “You found me!”

Sunset almost wondered why Dew Drop was happy about that, but then she realized she didn’t care. “I can’t believe you really stayed hidden for that long.”

Dew Drop ran up to Sunset, stopping entirely too close to her. “I knew you’d really play. Sugar Breeze said you wouldn’t but you promised, so you did!”

Why did kids have to be so damn cheerful? Sunset hooked her hands in her pockets and turned away. “That’s great and all, but I forgot about the stupid game. I just came out here because I wanted to.”

“Oh.” Dew Drop looked down, genuinely hurt by the statement. It only lasted a moment though, and when she looked up it was with an energetic expression once again. “Well, then we can play something else!”

Sunset arched an eyebrow as she stared at Dew Drop. She was such a bubbly idiot, Sunset almost felt bad for Sugar Breeze. At least she seemed like she might grow up to be someone who wasn’t obnoxious. “I don’t want to play any games.”

“Uhm… maybe later?”

“Don’t hold your breath.”

Dew Drop’s head hung low, and Sunset was almost foolish enough to take her silence as an indication that she’d leave her alone. Almost, but she knew better.

“Sunset… why don’t you ever want to play with us?”

Where should she start? Sunset grinned, ready to list the reasons, but then she got a good look at Dew Drop. She looked almost scared, as if the answer might somehow physically harm her.

Dew Drop and Sugar Breeze were obnoxious. Sunset desperately wanted them to leave her alone. But they were also children, and Sunset didn’t want to terrorize the poor idiots. ‘So much for not being a bully…’

Sighing deeply, Sunset pressed her hand against the bridge of her nose. “Look, Dew Drop… I don’t like the things you like. We don’t have a lot in common. I’m not trying to be mean here, but I really don’t want to be your friend.”

It was a perfectly reasonable explanation. Sunset had buried away all her malice, and laid the facts out bare. She had used as calm of a tone as she was capable of, and had controlled her body language enough to not give the wrong idea. None of which mattered at all because Dew Drop was already sniffling as she took shaky breaths.

“Y-you hate me…”

Sunset furrowed her brow and shook her head. “That’s… not what I said. At all.”

The actual tears were starting. “What did I do wrong? I just wanted us to be friends!”

“Wha… what!?” Sunset’s voice started rising. “Did you even listen to me?”

“I’m… I’m sorry, I-I didn’t m-mean to…”

“Are you really that stupid? I said I don’t –”

The rest of Sunset’s sentence was cut off as Dew Drop began wailing loudly. Sunset took a few steps back, completely at a loss for what to do.

“Hey, uh, it’s… okay! I didn’t mean it!” It didn’t help. “Look, I’ll play the stupid game. I mean! It’s not stupid, it’s fun, and…” Dew Drop cried louder. She was just standing there, arms at her side, blubbering about something that wasn’t even Sunset’s fault! “Hey! Stop! Dew Drop, it’s… just… Sweet Celestia, just shut the buck up!”

“Sunset Shimmer!”

Sunset turned wildly to find Rose Petal hobbling over to them, Sugar Breeze right behind her. Finally, someone who could stop… Why was she glaring at Sunset?

Rose Petal stopped before she reached Sunset, kneeling down to hug Dew Drop. “There there, little one. Everything’s okay now.”

‘Because she arrived just in time to see the troubled girl cursing at the sweet little innocent child,’ Sunset noted. It was not the best way that situation could have gone. She just shoved her hands in her pockets and frowned. At least there was one good thing from this: Judging by the glare she was getting from Sugar Breeze, it was unlikely either of them would want to try and be friends with her anymore.

“So I wasn’t really trying to yell at her,” Sunset reiterated.

“I see.” Crystal Clear had listened patiently through Sunset’s story. She supposed that was just part of his job. “I can see how that could have happened, and I believe that you didn’t mean to hurt Dew Drop’s feelings.”


“But you did break a promise to play with them, and you should have been nicer to Sugar Breeze.”

“But I told them ‘no’!” Sunset threw her arms out as she spoke, scarcely believing he wasn’t taking her side completely. “I told them ‘no’ every single time they asked, I told them I don’t want to play with them. Why is it okay for them to keep pestering me when I don’t want to play with them?”

Crystal Clear sighed and glanced down at his desk. When he looked up he wasn’t frowning, exactly, but he seemed far from pleased. “Sunset… what do you know about Dew Drop?”

“Not much, but I don’t need a ph.D. in psychology to guess she might be bipolar.”

“Dew Drop was abused before coming to New Horizons. Her parents apparently never wanted a child, and never hid that fact from her. She was in and out of child services for her whole life, until her parents completely lost custody of her a few months ago. No one else stepped in to take care of her, so she wound up at New Horizons Home for Children. She is only four years old and is still learning about complex emotions. She only seems to understand that people will be her friend, or they will hate her. And in her history, people who hate her have not been kind to her.”

Sunset quietly fumed in her chair.

“Do you understand why I’m telling you this?”

“To make me feel like shit for making her cry?”

“To make you realize you are not the only one with problems. There are twenty-six other kids at New Horizons, and none of them chose to be here. Most of them wound up there because of some tragedy or other. In the best case scenario, some of the kids have lived there for their whole lives, given up for adoption as babies.”

Sunset rose to her feet and slammed her hand against his desk. “How was I supposed to know any of that!? And what the buck do you want me to do about it!? I didn’t have anything to do with all that!”

Crystal Clear was unfazed by her outburst. “I want you to try being a little more compassionate. You’re are a smart girl, Sunset. Even if you didn’t know the specifics, you could have easily figured out that Dew Drop might have a reason for trying so hard to be friends with everyone, and you certainly could have realized that it was best to proceed with caution.”

“Fine!” Since he wasn’t going to show emotions, Sunset would show enough for both of them. “I’m a self-centered bitch! I know that, okay? And trust me, you do not want me to be friends with someone that bucked up. I made her cry when I decided to try explaining things nicely. So… what? What do you want me to do, exactly? Force a fake friendship with someone I don’t even like? Do you really see me sitting around playing dolls and having bucking tea parties? I’ve said like half a dozen swear words in last five minutes and I’m honestly not even trying to! I’m not kid friendly.”

As always, he remained frustratingly passive. “I want you to apologize to her and Sugar Breeze. I especially want you to make sure Dew Drop understands that you don’t hate her. She will learn that not everyone is going to be her friend, and that’s okay. So no, I don’t think you need to be her friend, but I still want you to try and be nicer to her.”

Sunset huffed. “You think she’ll actually leave me alone after that?”

Finally, a little emotion shone through Crystal Clear’s face, as he smiled sheepishly. “I highly doubt it. But this can be good for both of you. You need to learn to be more patient, and she needs to learn to give people space.”

Realizing it was the best she was going to get, Sunset sank back into her seat. “Fine, whatever. I’ll apologize.”

“Without swearing,” Crystal Clear added.

Sunset rolled her eyes. “Without swearing.”

“Good.” He nodded and smiled, which meant either something very good or very bad was coming. Unfortunately, Sunset’s luck hadn’t tended towards ‘very good’ too much over the past week. “You’ll have to be more careful about what you say from now on. I’ve been talking with Mrs. Dusk and Ms. Rose, and we’ve reached a decision.”

That definitely wasn’t good. Violet Dusk was her social worker, so of course they’d have plenty of reason to talk. But the fact that while they were talking they apparently reached some sort of decision about her? Nothing good could come of that.

“And what’s the verdict?” she asked.

“We’ve decided it would be best for you to start school.”

Sunset winced at the words. She’d known it was inevitable, and only had one real hope. “Is homeschooling an option? I could honestly teach myself.”

“Sorry to say it’s not. You’ll take a placement test, but the truth of the matter is that we think you need more exposure to kids your own age.”

Sunset took a deep breath. She had one final out that she wasn’t sure was a great idea, but decided it was worth a shot. “Proportionate dwarfism.”

Immediately catching her meaning, Crystal Clear smiled. “We’ve considered it. But nothing from your medical examination suggested you are anything other than a healthy child, approximately five years old.”

She wasn’t ready to give up that easily. “It would explain a few things. Come on, I had to know the term from somewhere.”

“I’ve heard you’ve been reading the dictionary.”

“Come on, you even talk to me like I’m an adult.”

Crystal Clear shrugged. “A child prodigy, perhaps. There are a few peculiarities that wouldn’t make sense if you were an adult. You are quite possibly genius levels of intelligence in certain subjects, while at the same time you lack a lot of knowledge about the world around you.”

Clutching onto hope, Sunset pushed forward. “I could be some sort of genius shut in, doing nothing but reading books to pass the time.”

“Sunset,” he said gently, in a tone that made it clear he was putting the matter to rest, “your hormone levels are exactly where they should be for a young girl. Furthermore, it is my expert opinion that the same can be said for your emotional maturity.”

Sunset frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, I –”

“And I don’t mean the hormone thing,” Sunset added with a smirk. “I’ve read the dictionary.”

That got a chuckle out of him, but the somewhat adult themed joke didn’t seem to convince him of her age. “If I had only ever seen you when you are at your most calm and collected, I might be more apt to believe it was a possibility. But, as it happens, I’ve witnessed some of your emotional outbursts first hand and heard about others. I’ve heard you have a tendency to cry at night.”

Sunset blushed deeply and felt her anger rising. She tried to keep it in check, but could tell some of it seeped into her voice. “Yeah, well, I do have bucking amnesia, in case you forgot. So I’m sorry if my emotions are a little all over the place.”

He smiled reassuringly. “Sunset, I’ve helped adults and children with their problems. I know the different ways that they each handle their emotions. I’m not saying there’s a problem with your emotions at all; by all accounts, you have a perfectly healthy five-year-old brain.”

Sunset’s anger was gone in an instant as she realized the significance of his statement. “And a five-year-old’s id,” she murmured to herself.

“What was that?”

“The id, it’s the – wait, you know what the id is.”

“Yes, of course, but I don’t understand what you’re getting at.”

Sunset sighed. The id – the part of the psyche that handled reactions and impulses. She had wondered why she was prone to rapid mood swings and severe panic. She pretty much lost control over herself when extreme situations came up and would often act exactly like a child. Her mind had retained all the experiences and knowledge she had gained from her seventeen years of being a unicorn, but just like the rest of her, her brain was that of a child’s. She had been telling herself all week that she was still seventeen, but it seemed that in some very significant ways, she was not.


“Fine,” Sunset said as she allowed herself to sink as far into her chair as she could, “I really am just a screwed up kid.”

Author's Note:

Many thanks to Vena1 for helping keep the mental health aspect of this story (relatively) realistic.