• Published 2nd Nov 2017
  • 4,070 Views, 76 Comments

What Happens at Clipper's, Stays at Clipper's - SunnyDays



Various one-shots set in the universe of "Empty Skies"

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Three Suns and a Dawning Heart (Part 3)

“So…” Sunset trailed off as she sat alone in the main room with her mentor. Former mentor? Guardian? Sunset added ‘figure out where you and Celestia stand’ to her mental to-do list. “Cadence has Twilight’s brother to watch the Empire, why shoo her away from coming?” She asked Celestia.

Celestia was currently working on pulling on her regalia, so she didn’t look at Sunset as she responded, “Well, Cadence isn’t the right pony to go with you for a few reasons. She knows very little about the human world, to where I have at least gone on an expedition into it at least once.”

Sunset blinked, having never heard this before, “What were you doing there?” She asked Celestia.

Celestia let out a remorseful sigh, “Looking for you.”

Sunset’s heart nearly skipped a beat. “You… went looking for me?”

“Several times, actually. But I was absolutely clueless about where to start looking, where you might’ve gone, how far you might’ve traveled in that time.” She shook her head, “Eventually, I realized that all I could do would be wait and hope you’d come back. Then the portal closed.” She sighed, and even from the side, Sunset could see the hurt and hopelessness in her eyes.

Sunset shuddered to herself slightly as a not so distant memory came back to her.

Homesickness and regret had flooded her mind only a few days after coming into the human world. Her jacket did little to protect her from the cold autumn winds that battered her that night, and she sat at the foot of CHS’s statue. Her fists stung as she swung them at the hard concrete that had once held a portal back to Equestria.

She cried out in agony at every swing but continued to do so anyway. Her knuckles swelled, turning a dark purple, and leaving blood marks with every strike.

CELESTIA! CADY!” She wailed out into the night, shaking like a child throwing a tantrum. She wanted to go home. She wanted her mentor to yell at her for being an idiot. She wanted her sister’s assurance that she could recover from their fight. She wanted her posh life in Canterlot Castle back. “TAKE ME BACK! I’M SORRY!”

She didn’t want the gnawing pain in her stomach or the feeling of ice biting at her bare fingertips.

At some point, she collapsed at the foot of the statue, her hands sharply throbbing with every beat of her heart. She devolved into messy sobs, calling out for those she held dear and the life she had just given up.

That night, she learned that Celestia wouldn’t be there to pick up her mess anymore. That Cadence couldn’t be there to soothe her ills. That she had really and truly left Equestria behind.

And that she’d have to live with that choice.

She knew it was her own fault for doing something so reckless, and not studying the portal enough to know that it would close behind her. But over the years, in her revenge-fueled psyche, she somehow managed to convince herself that Celestia had closed the portal behind her. That she was banished from Equestria of her own choice, and her mentor had made it clear that she was no longer welcome.

Looking at Celestia now, however, Sunset could see that notion as a complete fabrication in her own mind.

“I’m so sorry…” Sunset hung her head, “I know I hurt you from this, Celestia.”

“I’m more relieved that you’re alright,” Celestia responded, wrapping a wing around her, “And despite the setbacks, you seem to be enjoying your life. Why else would you fight for it like you are?”

“...Is that why you changed your mind about closing the portal?”

Celestia nodded, “If you had wanted to leave it all behind, that portal would’ve been closed in a heartbeat, I assure you. But Cadence is more protective of you than I am, and I wanted to give you space to live your own life. You’re a grown mare.”

Sunset laughed quietly, “She just wants to have me all to herself, doesn’t she?”

“If you’d let her,” Celestia agreed with a chuckle, “I worry that it might make her decisions more biased about the way you live, though. She’s known nothing but palaces for her entire life, and I think that’s what she wants for you. Her heart’s in the right place,”

Sunset shook her head with a smile, “I think you give her too little credit when it comes to that. I know she’d let me do whatever makes me happy,”

“Well, perhaps you’re right. But that leaves me with my final point: Cadence will hog you up, and I want to actually spend some time with you,” Celestia giggled softly with a more playful tone, “She’s very selfish in that way,”

“I can’t say that I can deny that.” Sunset laughed, “And I guess it’s good that you sent her away then. Just this once.”

“Are you ready to go, then?” Celestia asked her, rising from her spot on her cushion, “Oh, and tell me more about your world as we go. I’d like to know as much about it as possible.

“Right.” Sunset nodded, rising as well, “I think I’ll start with telling you more about my friends.”

“The soccer team, yes.” Celestia smiled, “The WonderCOLTs, right? I have the strangest feeling that I might know who they are…”

“You… do?” Sunset tilted her head as the two of them approached the portal’s room, “Um, how?”

Celestia simply chuckled as the two of them stared into the mirror, “It seems that I have a few things about Equestria to catch you up on, Sunset…” With that, the Princess led the charge into the swirling vortex, Sunset right on her tail.

Sunset still wasn’t really used to the sensation of using the portal, especially since she stumbled out on her hands and knees. Looking around, it seemed like no one was within eyeshot of them. Unless students looked out of the upstairs windows at just the right moment, that was.

She was even more thankful for that fact when Celestia stumbled out of the portal. On her hands and knees as well, and looking like a fool. As Sunset expected, her mentor looked like Principal Celestia. But, there were a few key differences in what she was wearing.

She was in a light pink sweater that fit uniformly, and a pair of black dress pants. In the place of her regalia, a gold necklace with three purple gems hung around her neck and a black pair of heels were seen on her feet (not that she needed the extra height). The most noticeable feature of her was her hair. Instead of the several colors that Sunset was used to, Celestia’s hair was only a flat shade of pink. She looked just different enough for Sunset to tell the Princess and her counterpart apart.

Sunset helped her to her feet and supported her as she wobbled unsteadily in the heels.

“I’ll be alright, thanks,” Celestia assured, walking on her own after a moment. She wasn’t all that natural at it, but Sunset could tell that she had figured it out before. “Alright, so where is this Clipper’s?”

Sunset led the way, feeling an excitement well in her chest as they approached the strip mall that Sunset called home. She hadn’t felt this anywhere else, not even in Equestria, and she let out a contented sigh at just being in proximity to the shop.

The bell rang into the guitar shop, and Soarin perked up from his obviously bored state.

“Sunset!” He called out to her, beaming, before his eyes set on the woman behind her. “And a guest?”

Sunset wasn’t sure if he knew that this wasn’t Principal Celestia, but he didn’t jump to conclusions.

“Soarin, this is my mentor, Princess Celestia. Princess, this is my boss and my friend.”

“What an… interesting place.” Celestia said as she looked over the racks of guitars around the shop, as well as the black leather couches and the countertops.

As she did so, Soarin elbowed Sunset and nodded towards the back.

With a blink, Sunset got the message and followed him, calling to Celestia, “Uh, I’ll be right back!”

“That’s fine.” Celestia said as she continued to browse.

Now in the back, Soarin took a moment to look as scared as he felt, “I didn’t know you’d be bringing your Mom here! I could’ve cleaned up a bit more!”

Sunset’s eyes widened, “Sh-she’s not my Mom! She’s my… uh… mother figure… mentor...” Heat flashed across her cheeks.

“Sorry. I didn’t know you’d be bringing your Mother Figure here!”

Sunset only blushed harder, “There was no way for me to!” She argued, “She’s here because she and Cadence are worried about my safety if I stay here.”

“So you’re moving back to your dimension?!”

“Not if we can convince her that I’m fine living here,” Sunset said, motioning out to the Princess who was lounging on one of the couches as if trying them out.

“So then you told them about Anon-a-Miss, right?” Soarin asked her.

“I couldn’t stop myself,” Sunset admitted, “It was too complicated to work around and not make things look even worse.”

Soarin ran his hands through his hair in silence. “...So what do we do?” He asked.

“We show her around and hope it’s all good with her. She’s kinda closed off, so I have no idea what’ll be ‘all good’ in her book.” Sunset admitted, “She can be an enigma at times.”

Soarin frowned, “That’s not a good sign.”

“I know, but we need to work with it.”

Celestia’s voice was heard from the main room, “So… Do you sleep on these sofas?”

The two looked over, and the adult woman was splayed out on one of the couches, her feet hanging off of one of the ends. She looked like a giantess in comparison to the seat.

“This can’t be very comfortable.” Celestia continued as they looked over at her.

“No!” Sunset said quickly, “I actually have an apartment to myself in the back.” She motioned that way, leaving Soarin to ponder what she had said.

Celestia rose from the couch, following Sunset into her apartment.

To Sunset’s relief, she had cleaned the room before she left for the weekend. Not perfectly, as there were still dishes in the sink, but enough to where the bed was made and there were no clothes on the floor.

Celestia left Sunset’s side to explore the one-room living space. “It’s pretty clean, for a surprise visit,” She noticed. She looked over Sunset’s pink and purple daybed, littered with throw pillows (mostly gifted to her by Misty). Then, she looked over the old locker in Sunset’s room, “What’s this for?”

“That’s my, erm, a stand-in for a closet.” Sunset said.

“It’s not very big.” Celestia said.

“Well, erm, no.” Sunset scratched the back of her head, “But it works just fine.”

“You don’t have a lot of clothes, do you?” Celestia asked her.

“I have enough,” Sunset lied, the heat returning to her cheeks. Most of her wardrobe was either stolen, gifted to her, or had magically appeared when she came through the portal. She admittedly didn’t have much.

“Mmm.” Celestia’s hum didn’t sound very impressed. Sunset clenched her fists and bit her lip as she continued to follow her mentor around her room.

“This little kitchen’s pretty usable,” Celestia said, only really glancing over the space, “All in all, I suppose this room will do.” She nodded.

Sunset let out a quiet breath that she had been holding.

“There’s just one problem,” Celestia continued, “Does that stallion have the keys to this room?”

“Wha- Cele- I-I mean, yeah…” She rubbed the back of her head, “He’s my landlord, more or less, he has to have access to my room.”

“No, he really doesn’t.” Celestia frowned down almost pityingly at Sunset, “I don’t know if I trust that.”

“I don’t blame you, Princess,” Soarin’s voice made Sunset jump, and she spun around to see the muscular ex-Wondercolt lounging in the doorway, his arm resting on the doorframe. He smiled softly at them both, “You don’t know me as Sunset does. So, how would the two of you like to dine with myself and my sister tonight?”

Celestia smiled back at him, “I’d love to,” She nodded, looking over at Sunset.

If there was ever a time to be thankful to Soarin, Sunset thought this topped it all, “Sounds perfect. ...Thank you, Soarin.” She beamed brightly at him, holding back the urge to run over and throw her arms around him.

He simply nodded and backed out of the room, “I’ll start closing up shop early. 7 good for you?” He asked the two.

“Actually, 7 is perfect,” Celestia said, walking up to him and handing him a small purse, “Also, will this cover Sunset’s rent?”

Soarin blinked, taking the purse from her and opening it. His eyes widened as he saw the pure gold coins inside. “W-Wait!” He stuttered in shock, “No, no, don’t use these here!” He stumbled out of the room, coming back with the purse and handing it back to Celestia.

Raising an eyebrow, Sunset peeked over Celestia’s shoulder to find that Soarin had filled it with bills.

“People here will rob you if you carry around pure gold like that.” Soarin said with a concerned frown, “This should be about the same amount in our bills.”

“Oh!” Celestia plucked a crisp 100, looking it over excitedly, “This is what your currency looks like!”

“Hope that’s okay,” Soarin’s brow furrowed as he looked over at Sunset.

She smiled back at him reassuringly as Celestia continued to study the money. “Are you sure that you don’t want these?” She asked Soarin.

“The gold will be enough…” Soarin said quickly, “D-Don’t worry about it.”

“Excellent!” Celestia nodded in pleasure, “Our scholars will want to study this currency.”

Sunset couldn’t help but snicker at her enthusiasm over something so simple, and Soarin made his way out of the room.

“Alright Sunset.” Celestia announced, “Come on, we’re getting some new clothes for the dinner tonight.”

“W-We are?” Sunset stuttered as she was dragged along, “Are we talking, like, formal clothes?”

“Up to you.” Celestia replied, “Where would we go for clothing?”

Sunset pulled her hands away, looking at her phone, “I’ll call a cab to the mall.”

“A cab?” Celestia asked her.

“It’s a service,” She explained about cars, and how someone could be called to chauffeur you around.

“Ah, like a taxi in Manehattan.” She nodded, “That makes sense. But… these cars are motorized and not being pulled around by someone?”

“Nope, completely self-propelled.” Sunset said, leaning up against a mailbox casually. “So, um, Celestia.”

“Yes?” Celestia peered curiously around them before her eyes settled on Sunset.

“...Thank you.”

Celestia almost did a double-take, “For what, exactly?”

Sunset quietly hoped that her gut was right in what she was about to say, “For helping me set myself up here. And for not being angry at me for… for everything. I acted like such a child.”

“You were a child, then.” Celestia put a hand on her head, “But you’re not anymore, you seem to have yourself pretty taken care of, all things considered.”

“Well… You know me.”

“I do.” Celestia nodded, “Just as resourceful now as you were then. More so, even.”

Sunset blushed, going silent. The two watched as a sedan pulled up, and they got inside. The drive took about ten minutes, and the two didn’t talk much on the way there. It was odd enough having Celestia there, in the human world, being casual like this. It wasn’t that Sunset didn’t want to talk. Questions floated around in her mind, but she simply sat there.

“You’re tense.” Celestia noticed, Sunset glancing up to just look at her mentor.

She replied by just simply sighing, “Sorry, still on edge a little from the threat of being pulled away.”

Celestia chuckled airily, “Don’t let that get to you. We’ll get you set up, and there’ll be no doubt that you can stay. Even if Cadence comes to look herself.” She went to look out of the window again, watching as the city flew by them. She was clearly intrigued by the car and the differences in Manehattan between the two dimensions.

The sedan dropped them off in front of the mall, and Sunset let out a sigh. She'd been avoiding this particular mall for weeks now, even though she had long promised Fleetfoot a hangout here for the two of them. In the mess of the Anon-a-Miss incident, she hadn't been able to take the time. But now that it was behind her, she was reminded that many of the friends who had thrown her to the side had part-time jobs here. It didn't make her already frayed nerves any better.

Celestia pulled her into the building by the wrist and immediately looked around. It looked as malls normally did: crowded, and attempting not to just be a boxy warehouse by decorating itself with fountains and modern art.

"Our first matter of business is to find you a wardrobe to hold all of the clothing we buy," Celestia announced in a tone that told Sunset that she wasn't about to be swayed.

Sunset pointed to the nearest furnature store, relieved that she didn't have to worry about any of the girls being around. Following her mentor inside, Sunset noticed that Celestia was able to handle being a human fairly well. As they shopped, Celestia wasn't making nearly the fool of herself that Twilight had on her first trip to CHS.

It wasn't until they stopped a clerk to check out that Sunset realized how. Celestia had taken a step back, allowing Sunset to take control when it was needed. Not only that, but Celestia paid careful attention as she did small, mundane things, such as paying.

The clerk turned away, and Sunset let out a strained laugh, "You're making me nervous,"

"Oh? I am?" Celestia blinked, "I'm sorry. I'm learning a lot just by watching you."

The clerk turned back around, quirking an eyebrow at Sunset.

"She's foreign," Sunset excused quickly, her cheeks burning again as the clerk focused back on her order.

With the paperwork done and a delivery expected in exactly 3 - 5 business days, they headed back into the mall proper.

"Is every transaction going to go that way?" Sunset muttered, her face still oddly ember-like.

"No, no, I think I've got it, actually." Celestia walked ahead confidently, still doing oddly well in her heels. Sunset cursed her shorter legs and quickly scurried up to Celestia's side. She caught up just in time for Celestia to duck into a clothing store. Sunset swerved after, only to meet with a face full of jacket.

"Cadence is going to kill me for not letting her be here but doesn't this jacket just scream 'Sunset Shimmer'?"

Sunset backed away, noticing what Celestia meant. They were in the typical punk-rocker sort of shop, and the leather jacket she was holding out in front of her was admittedly kind of Sunset's style. It was black and had several stylized belts covering the front of it, decorated with golden buttons and simple spikes on the shoulder. It was admittedly closer to a biker jacket, but Sunset didn't particularly care.

"Yes..." She gasped, eyes wide.

Celestia handed the jacket to her, digging through the racks of clothes next to it, "Okay, and now we need a blouse to go with it."

"I'm surprised that you know what a blouse is." Sunset replied.

Celestia paused in her rummaging to look at Sunset, "Sweetheart, just because we don't normally wear clothes, doesn't mean we don't know what clothing is."

Sunset's pupils shrank, and she looked around to see if anyone had overheard that. "Celestia!" She exclaimed urgently.

Luckily, the music in the store had been too loud for anyone to really be paying them any attention. Sunset let out a sigh.

"Oh! Here's the perfect piece to go with your jacket, Sunset!" Celestia exclaimed suddenly, holding up a lacy, black and red corset.

"CELESTIA!" Sunset nearly shrieked, wanting to sink into the floor as everyone suddenly did notice them.

Their foray into punk had won Sunset a new jacket, and a few other additions to her wardrobe. As they walked, Sunset hugged the new, concealed corset to her chest. "Not a word of this to anyone else." She muttered, only her eyes poking out from over the bag.

Celestia smiled at her, "I think you should've gotten the spiked boots to match."

"Shut uupp..." Sunset groaned.

That only made Celestia titter to herself as she strolled into the next store, "Sunset, isn't this your school?"

Sunset pulled her face away from the bag completely to see what Celestia was looking at. On one of the walls in the store was merchandise for the local schools, the wall shared equally by Shadowbolt and Wondercolt merch.

"Yeah, actually, that is." Sunset said, going over to the wall and running her hand over a Wondercolts hoodie. It was pleasingly soft to the touch. "Oh yeah, I want this." After finding her size, she scooped one up in a heartbeat.

Celestia simply nodded, continuing to look through the related merchandise. Sunset paused suddenly, however, noticing something on one of the racks that she'd never seen before. She wandered over to it, plucking it off of the clearance rack. It was a varsity jacket, proudly boasting the blue and gold of the Wondercolts. But even more important to Sunset was the number on the back. 54. Soarin's number.

"This too." She told Celestia quickly, not caring that the jacket was a size bigger than she normally wore.

"Okay!" Celestia nodded, "I think we only need one more stop after this."

"Where?" Sunset asked as they paid for the merch.

Their last stop of the day happened to be one of the department stores in the mall.

"I'm going to grab myself a gown for tonight." Celestia told Sunset, "You're fine on your own for now, right?"

Sunset waved a hand, "If you're good, so am I." She looked at the various racks of jeans in front of her, already digging idly into it. She didn't even really notice when Celestia did leave, just enjoying herself as she dug through the clothes. She pulled out a pair that she particularly liked, taking a moment to appreciate them.

"Do you need any help?" A clerk asked her.

Sunset folded up the pants, "Actually, can you-" She paused, seeing who the clerk was.

"Sunset?" Rarity gasped, eyes wide, "L-Lovely to see you! Haha... So unexpectedly..." She cleared her throat.

"Yeeeaaah..." Sunset drew out awkwardly, scratching the back of her head, "You too."

"So, erm, are you looking for something... specific?"

"Just pants." It sounded dumb coming from her mouth, and it seemed to reflect in Rarity’s face as well.

"You never struck me as a pants kind of girl."

Sunset recoiled as if she were hit, "Excuse me?" She frowned.

"I-I don't mean that in a bad way, darling! I just... You've always been the skirt and leggings sort." Rarity said, pushing together her fingers, "And, well, I could give you a suggestion on where to look?"

Sunset's anger drained away, surprising even herself with the sudden calm. "Actually? That'd be helpful."

Rarity blinked, "Of course... Follow me." She motioned, bringing Sunset to a corner of the store that was sort of out of the way. There was a wide selection of leggings, in every possible color she'd need.

"Oh wow, thanks," Sunset said, busying herself with looking through the clothing.

"You're... You're welcome, darling." Rarity nodded and scurried off when it seemed clear that Sunset didn't want to talk further.

Her arms full of everything she'd need and more, Sunset went off to find Celestia.

She found her eventually in the gowns section, holding two gowns. One was teal, and the other, white.

"Those are both pretty," Sunset told her as she approached.

"Perfect, because I want you to try this one on." Celestia said, trading all of Sunset's stuff for the teal dress.

"O-Oh, um, really?" Sunset looked it over. It was a tight dress that extended out at the bottom.

"Yes! Go put it on!" Celestia exclaimed.

Doing as she was asked, Sunset walked into the stall and slipped on the shimmering blue gown. It fit her every curve just right, and she didn't even seem to mind the two slits to her sides, showing off some of the bare skin of her belly.

She strutted outside to pose for her mentor, even going as far as to strike a pose for her.

Celestia clapped as any good audience would, a grin plastered over her face. But there was something else, too...

"Are you... crying?" Sunset asked in hushed bewilderment.

"Shh, I can't help it!" Celestia replied, wiping the moisture from her eyes with her finger, "You're such a beautiful and intelligent young lady. It's just hard not to sometimes."

Sunset's throat tightened as well, and she bit her lip. She stared at her mentor for a few long moments, smiling at her genuinely for the first time in at least five years.

Celestia sniffled, "Now go grab a pair of heels and let's get out of here, okay?" She was having a hard time hiding the emotion.

Sunset hurried back into the dressing room stall, a few sniffles escaping from her as well, and the thought from earlier re-entering her mind again. This time, it brought more force with it.

It lingered and niggled at her even as she found the perfect heels to fit her new dress, and as she watched Celestia meticulously count out the hundreds of bills that she needed to pay for the mountain of clothes that Sunset had brought to the front counter. Even as Celestia closed the door to the cab that would bring them back to Clipper's to get ready for the dinner that night, it pushed at her mind, waiting to be pushed out.

"Celestia?"

"Hmm?" Celestia looked over at Sunset, the piles of bags and clothes stacked beside them.

"What are we now?"

Celestia thought about this for a moment, scanning Sunset over in thought, before deciding, "What do you want us to be, Sunset?"

Sunset rested her head on the seat, her eyes pointing up at the roof of the cab. "I know what I want us to be. I know what I want you to be for me."

"And what's that?"

Sunset hesitated as she formulated her answer in her mind. It was so simple, yet so hard to say. Even as Celestia stared her down, Sunset was worried that the word wouldn’t be heard as it escaped her lips.

“Mother.”

Celestia smiled warmly, curling her fingers around Sunset’s and giving them a tight squeeze of reassurance.

“We’re already there, Sunset.”