• Published 10th Dec 2017
  • 1,458 Views, 42 Comments

A Is For... - shallow15



Following the Fall Formal, Sunset Shimmer has a a week of sleepovers where she learns new things about her new friends.

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Applejack

“Sunset Shimmer!”

Sunset looked up and internally groaned. Pinkie Pie was waving at her from across the street. Fluttershy and Applejack were with her. All three were smiling and gesturing for her to come over to them.

Sunset plastered a smile on her face and waved back. Please, not them. Not now. I don't know if I can take it.

Her wish was not granted as Pinkie dashed across the street and grabbed her arm.

“I'm so glad to see you! Me and Fluttershy and Applejack were just heading out to get some breakfast. Fluttershy asked us to come help to do some trash cleanup over by the highway, but we had to be out really really early and all they had was some bagles and juice and we got hungry afterward and we were thinking about calling the other girls, but they're all busy this morning so it's totally awesome that we ran into you!”

“Um... yeah.” Sunset gave the pink girl a wary look. “Thanks for the offer, Pinkie, but I was just out for a walk. I've already had breakfast.”

Pinkie looked downcast for a moment, but quickly perked up again. “Well, that's okay. You can still come hang out with us while we eat!”

“I kinda have some stuff to do soon.”

“It won't take long!”

Sunset looked at the eager expression on Pinkie's face, thought of fifteen other excuses, and lost her nerve.

“Well, maybe just for a few minutes.”

“Great!”

The rest was a blur of color and motion as Sunset was dragged back across the street.


Soon, the four girls were sitting in a booth at a local diner. Applejack had ordered a breakfast burrito, while Fluttershy went with a veggie omlette. Pinkie's plate held a towering stack of pancakes slathered in butter, syrup, strawberries, and whipped cream. Sunset had coffee.

More accurately, Sunset was on her third cup of coffee. This had not gone unnoticed.

“Hittin' the caffeine a little hard this mornin', ain't ya, Sunset?” Applejack asked.

Sunset looked at her. “A little, I guess. Kinda tired this morning.”

“Is there anything wrong?” Fluttershy asked form her seat next to her.

“None of your – “ Sunset began, before stopping herself. “Sorry. Old habits. I haven't been sleeping well lately.”

“Have you tried tea?” Fluttershy asked. “That usually helps me when I can't sleep.”

“Getting to sleep is easy. It's staying asleep that's the problem.”

“I hate that,” said Applejack, gesturing with her fork. “Especially when your tuckered out when you go to bed, then boom, up at two in the mornin' wide awake and no idea why.”

Sunset smiled briefly. “I hate that too, but that's also not the problem.”

“Oh! Oh!” Pinkie waved her hand back and forth so fast it was a blur. “You're having majorly scary recurring nightmares about what an awful person you were and you keep seeing that demon version of yourself appearing and rending you limb from limb because your entire plan to conquer Equestria fell apart and now you have no idea who you are or what you're supposed to do with the rest of your life?”

Sunset stared as Pinkie finished speaking and downed a giant forkful of pancakes. The other two girls carried on eating. Sunset looked at all three girls and sighed.

I guess, if I'm gonna make friends, I should confide in them. This is gonna bite me in the ass, I know it.

“Yeah, actually, that's pretty close,” she admitted. The other three girls looked at her.

“Oh, Sunset,” Fluttershy gasped. Under the table, Sunset felt the pink haired girl grab her hand. “I'm so sorry.”

“How long's this been goin' on?” asked Applejack.

Sunset hesitated, but sighed again. “Pretty much every night since the Fall Formal.”

“No wonder you've been such a grumpy-grump at school!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Nightmares are no fun at all!”

“Yeah.” Sunset stuck a spoon in her coffee and swirled it around. “Too bad there isn't anything I can really do about them except hope they go away eventually.”

Pinkie blinked then sat up. “Yes, there is!”

The other three girls looked at her.

“You wanna elaborate on that, sugarcube?” Applejack asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Well, back before I moved in with Maud, my sister Marble had about a month of nightmares and we didn't know what to do about it. But one night, I decided to go into her room and stay with her and it seemed to help. I kept doing it and she was okay by the end of the week. Maybe it would work for you!”

“I dunno,” Sunset said. “I... I'm kinda private.”

“But you've stayed over at other people's houses or had them stay with you before, right?” Fluttershy asked.

Sunset didn't answer. She just looked down into her coffee. Pinkie's eyes widened and she let out a huge gasp.

“You've never had a sleep-over?! How have we not fixed this yet?!”

Sunset looked up. “Look, you don't have to go to any trouble on my account. I'm sure they'll stop on their own eventually.”

Fluttershy put a hand on Sunset's shoulder. “But you're our friend now. And friends help friends when they're having problems.”

Sunset looked at her, trying to find any trace of guile. Fluttershy's face was open and heart-breakingly sincere. She looked around at the other two. Pinkie was practically vibrating with excitement and nodded rapidly at her. Sunset turned her attention to Applejack.

The farm girl's face was inscrutable. She returned Sunset's gaze with a calm, steady one of her own. There was no judgment or anger, and that just seemed to make it worse. Sunset couldn't get a read on her. She couldn't remember the last time she was unable to figure out what someone was thinking.

“Okay,” she began. “How would this work? I mean, I can't expect all of you to spend every night this week at my place. We've got school.”

“Well, we don't send everyone to your place, silly!” Pinkie reached into her hair and pulled out a notepad and pen. She scribbled down her name, along with Applejack's, Fluttershy's, Rarity's, and Rainbow Dash's. “One of us spends the night with you tonight, then each of us take a different night this week. Some nights we come to your house, other nights you come to one of ours. And then on Friday, we hold a big sleepover with all of us and hopefully that helps get rid of the nightmares for good! Plus, you get a chance to get to know all of us and we get to know you better and the next thing you know, we're all super-close besties!”

Sunset cringed at the use of “super-close besties,” but considered. She wasn't overly thrilled about having anyone come over to her apartment, but she was equally unthrilled about having to go to any of the other girls' houses either. That meant parents, which most likely meant questions she didn't want to answer.

On the other hand, the nightmares had been getting steadily worse. Her heart pounded harder and harder every time she woke up. Having someone around just in case she wound up having a heart attack or something would be a lot better than being alone and unable to call for help.

Plus, it might actually work... maybe.

Sunset sighed again. “Okay, I guess we can give it a shot if all of you can spare the time.”

“Wheee!” Pinkie cheered. “I'll call Rainbow and Rarity later and set things up. I know both of them won't be available tonight. So I guess that just leaves the three of us to – oh, darn it! I can't come over tonight. Maud and I have karaoke at the University. Classic rock night.”

“I would, but my parents and me are going to one of Zephyr's stupid art installations.” Fluttershy slumped in her seat and folded her arms. “It's probably more soup cans tied to trees again.”

Fluttershy continued muttering to herself. The other three girls looked at her for a moment. Sunset looked back up and realized that there was only one girl left. The one girl she had hoped she'd have time to prepare for.

“Well, I reckon I can convince Granny to let me come over,” Applejack said. “Gotta do some chores, first, naturally, but I could be over to your place around six tonight. Would that be okay, Sunset?”

Sunset swallowed and looked at Applejack. Once again, the farm girl was unreadable. Sunset tried to put a grin on her face.

“Yeah, sure. That'll be great, Applejack. I'll text you my address.”

“Sounds good.” Applejack turned her attention back to her burrito. Pinkie got out her phone and started texting Rarity and Rainbow. Fluttershy looked over at Sunset and put a hand on her shoulder.

“It'll be all right. And it could be a lot of fun.”

“Yeah,” Sunset said. She stirred her coffee again. “Fun.”

Sweet Celestia, this is a really bad idea.


Sunset double checked her apartment for the sixth time then looked at the clock. Applejack was due to arrive any minute. She had spent the afternoon cleaning and trying to make the place look presentable. The dishes were done, all the surfaces were dusted, clean towels were in the bathroom, and she had even put clean sheets on the bed, even though Applejack would be crashing on the couch.

She sighed. Why did Applejack have to be the first one to sleep over? Out of all five of the girls, the farm girl was the only one Sunset was truly intimidated by. Fluttershy and Rarity were approachable, Pinkie Pie was disturbing, and she had figured out that Rainbow Dash was more bark than bite.

Applejack was a different story. Applejack was brutally honest, and had no problem telling anyone what she thought of them. It was why Sunset had taken extra care when ruining her friendship with Rainbow Dash to make sure her trail had been covered. Applejack had a long fuse, but Sunset had seen what could happen if it was allowed to burn down.

She's going to hate me. What am I saying? She still hates me. And she's going to tell me exactly what she thinks of me and this whole situation without the other girls around to hold her back.

She flopped down on the couch and put her head in her hands.

“This is such a bad idea.”

There was a knock at the door. Sunset looked up and sighed before going to answer it.

Applejack stood there, a bag slung over one shoulder, sleeping bag under one arm. She smiled as Sunset appeared in the doorway.

“Howdy, Sunset.”

“Er, hi, Applejack. Come on in.”

Sunset stood aside, allowing her new friend to enter. Applejack put her bags down by the door. She looked around the apartment, and pushed her hat back. Sunset swallowed as she saw one of Applejack's eyebrows raise, a sure sign she was thinking something.

“Gotta say, Sunset, yer place is real nice.”

Sunset blinked and let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. “Um.. thanks.”

Applejack took a few steps forward and looked around approvingly. “I mean it. Looks right cozy. I love the loft. Ya sleep up there?”

“Yeah,” Sunset answered. She stepped next to the farm girl and began gesturing. “That was part of what attracted me to the place. That and the windows.”

Applejack looked up at the large picture windows that dominated the east wall. She whistled. “Bet ya got a fantastic view.”

Sunset smiled and put a hand on Applejack's shoulder. Applejack looked at her, then down at her hand. Sunset blinked and took her hand back. “Sorry. You wanna see the view?”

“Sure.”

Sunset nodded and led Applejack up the stairs to the loft. They walked around the bed and faced the windows. While the windows faced east, the shadows of the setting sun flooded across the hills and peaks of the valley the city occupied. The day was clear, and the sky was slowly turning from the bright blue of day to the muted purple of twilight.

“I like to come up here and watch the sky change sometimes,” Sunset said quietly. She grabbed her left elbow. “It makes me feel better.”

Applejack nodded. She looked over at Sunset. “Listen, I know this is awkward for you. Hell, it's awkward for me too. So how's about we just both say what's on our minds and get it outta the way?”

Sunset swallowed again. “I... guess we could do that?”

She turned and sat down on the end of the bed. She looked up at Applejack, who looked at her with concern. The farm girl folded her arms.

“You think I'm gonna hurt you,” she said quietly.

Sunset looked at the floor. “Yes. And I wouldn't blame you if you did. I know you don't like me, and I know you're only doing this because Princess Twilight asked you to.”

Applejack sighed. “Sunset, I wouldn't even be here if I thought it was a waste of time. And I sure as hell ain't gonna do anything to hurt you.”

She sat down next to Sunset. “I ain't gonna lie to you and say I think we're gonna be friends right away. But I've seen how you've been since the Formal.”

“Miserable and pathetic?”

Applejack smirked. “Well, yeah.”

Sunset looked up, and blinked. “What?”

“Told ya I ain't gonna lie to you. And yeah, you've been lookin' mighty low. But, since you can even muster up the gumption to be sarcastic shows me you're still fightin' in there. Now we just gotta turn that fight toward somethin' other than rippin' people apart.”

Sunset frowned. “You really suck at pep talks, you know that?”

Applejack shrugged. “Maybe, or maybe yer just too bull headed and self-absorbed to see when people are legitimately tryin' to help you.”

“Hey!”

“Speakin' the truth. You've been a horrible, hateful, egotistical bitch, Sunset Shimmer. An' frankly, if we were in this situation before the dance, I'd probably beat your ass six ways from Sunday. But now, well, ain't no justice in kicking a wounded dog.”

Sunset stood up, her face a mask of rage. “How dare you, you backwoods, shit kicking twit?! Do you know who you're talking to?!”

Applejack got her her feet and stared Sunset down. Her expression was calm. “I'm talkin' to a spoiled brat who wanted everything without earnin' it. Who didn't care who she hurt as long as her goals and her needs were met in the end. Who has basically had her entire life amount to less than nothin'.”

“I was the personal student of the most powerful pony in Equestria! I was on the path to my destiny and if she had just given me what I wanted, I would be by her side instead of that pathetic, nerdy purple twerp!”

“Oh, so it's the princess's fault, huh?” Applejack folded her arms again. “Everything that's happened to you is because of her?”

“Damn right it is! I wasn't even gone five minutes before she replaced me! Before I was forgotten and left alone again! She never even TRIED to look for me! Sixty moons I was gone before I went back for the crown! She could have come through herself and found me if she wanted! But she didn't! She threw me out of her school, out of her castle, and out of her life! And now, here I am, stuck with five girls who I know are only trying to be friends with me because her new favorite kicked my ass and asked them to teach me about friendship! She doesn't care about me! She never did!”

Sunset stood there, fists and teeth clenched, breathing heavily. Applejack stared at her, eyes wide. She held up one finger.

“Yer not talkin' about Princess Twilight, are you?”

Sunset blinked. Her expression changed to one of embarrassment and horror as she realized what she had said. She slumped back onto the bed and put her face in her hands.

“Oh god, Applejack, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it! I swear!”

Applejack sat back down on the bed and put a hand on Sunset's back. “Yeah, you did.”

Sunset looked up. Her eyes were red. “What?”

“I know ya meant what ya said, and that's okay. I meant what I said too. But, I also mean it when I say I know yer tryin'. You ain't there yet, but you still got that fight, and you just apologized. The old Sunset Shimmer would never do that.

“And yer right about me at least. I wasn't too thrilled about this idea of Pinkie's either. And yeah, maybe I did only try bein' your friend because Twilight asked us. But y'know, over the last couple weeks, I saw somethin' I didn't expect. I saw your potential.”

“Potential?” Sunset frowned. “Potential for what?”

“To be great.” Applejack smiled. “To be someone better than she was. Someone who can get her life back on track... with a little help from her friends.”

“Are we friends?” Sunset asked.

“Well, we won't know unless we make a start. And there's no time like the present. I saw a game console down there.” She jerked a thumb toward the stairs. “And I wouldn't mind a chance to play against someone other than Rainbow Dash for a change. Ya got any fighting games?"

Sunset wiped her eyes and sniffled. “You like Bonegals?”

Applejack's smile grew into a wide grin. “Who doesn't? Come on! Lemme show ya what I can do with Harvester!”

“Harvester?” Sunset got up and gave Applejack a look. “Harvester's just a button mash character for those with no skill. Nekromentia is for real players!”

“If'n ya mean players who think power's a good substitute for speed, then yer right. Only people who play with Nekromentia are those who only like OP characters.”

“Oh, that's it.” Sunset pointed down the stairs. “Get your redneck ass down there. We're settling this once and for all.”

Applejack grinned and got up. “Yer on.”

The two girls waked to the stairs. Sunset started down, but Applejack grabbed her arm.

“Hey, I know ya didn't mean nothin' by it, but lay off the redneck jokes, okay? 'Tain't funny to me, and I've heard 'em all.”

“Oh.” Sunset felt her cheeks heat up as she blushed. “Sorry.”

“It's okay. You can let me be player one to make up for it.”

Sunset blinked, then gave the farm girl an evil grin. “Only if you beat me to the couch!”

The two girls dashed down the stairs.


With the ice broken, the evening passed pleasantly for both of them. Several multiplayer video games were tried out, followed by pizza and movies. Now, Sunset was lounging on the couch, waiting for Applejack to come out of the bathroom while she changed into her pajamas. Sunset had changed into her own pair already.

She heard the bathroom door open and called over her shoulder. “So, we have time for one more movie before we need to crash to go to school tomorrow. What sounds good? Chick flick or horror movie?”

“Actually, I was hopin' we could chat a bit before turnin' in.” Applejack flopped onto the couch and Sunset burst out laughing. “What?”

“I'm sorry, I'm sorry!” Sunset gasped, trying to get herself under control. “But... are you wearing a onesie?”

Applejack looked down at the one piece blue flannel pajama she was wearing. “What? It's comfy!”

“Oh, I'm sure it is! AH!” Sunset let out a shriek of surprise as Applejack's pillow hit her in the face. “Okay, okay! I'll lay off! I'll lay off!”

“I thought so.” Applejack leaned back against the arm rest and grinned. Sunset returned it.

“So, what do you wanna talk about?”

“Tell me about Equestria?”

Sunset blinked. She looked at the floor and grabbed her left elbow again. “I don't know if I'm ready to talk about my past right now.”

“Ain't askin' you to.” Applejack prodded Sunset with her foot. “I just wanna know what Equestria's like. Sounds like an interestin' place if everyone's a pony.”

“Well, not everyone's a pony. There's griffins, dragons, yaks, all sorts of other creatures.”

“Dragons? Honest fire-breathin' dragons? It ain't just Spike?” Applejack leaned forward, hugging her pillow to her chest, eyes wide.

“Yeah, but honestly, most of the ones I've met are jerks. Spike's kind of an exception to the rule.”

“Huh. Tell me more. What kind of holidays y'all got over there?”

“Well, the big ones are Nightmare Night and Hearth's Warming. In fact, Hearth's Warming is connected to how Equestria was founded...”


A couple of hours later, Sunset leaned back and sighed. “Wow. I remembered more about Equestria than I thought.”

“Sounds like a mighty nice place. Wish we could visit.”

Sunset sighed. “Well, that won't happen for at least another couple of years now that the portal's closed again.” She shook her head. “But enough about where I'm from. I wanna know about you. Seeing any cute guys?”

Applejack blushed and brought her knees up in front of her. “Not really,” she said quietly.

Sunset frowned and then smiled as she reached a conclusion. “Oh, okay! I get it. Cute girls, then?”

Applejack frowned. “Somebody's been listening to too much locker room talk.”

“Look, it's no big deal to me. Equestria's ratio of mares to stallions is almost four to one. Same sex relationships are commonplace where I'm from. I honestly don't know why humans make such a fuss about it.”

“I ain't gonna speculate on that. But I ain't attracted to girls.”

“Oh, okay. Sorry. I just assumed since you didn't really seem to go for guys – “

“It's fine. Honestly, I don't really go for... anyone.”

Sunset blinked. “Really? I mean, I gotta say, ever since coming here, I've found myself attracted to a few people, and I was born a unicorn.”

Applejack shrugged. “I dunno. I mean, I know girls my age should start bein' interested in somebody, but I've never really felt it for anybody.”

“No one? Not even a 'hey, they're kinda hot?'”

Applejack shook her head. “Nope. I mean, don't get me wrong. I know when somebody's attractive or lookin' nice. I'm pretty sure if the right somebody came along, I think I could fall in love with 'em. But as far as, y'know, sex is concerned, I don't really feel what yer supposed to feel in that regard.”

The farm girl sighed, took off her hat, and ran a hand through her hair. “I dunno why I told ya all this. Even the other girls don't know about it. I just kinda drop out of the conversation when this kinda stuff comes up. Got real embarassin' when Rainbow Dash decided to make us confess what kinda porn we liked.”

Sunset stared at Applejack in shock. “When did this happen?”

“The night after the Fall Formal. We decided to have a sleepover to get reacquainted after Twilight left. The usual stupid sleepover stuff. Truth or Dare started it, but after Pinkie frankly told us way too much about what she likes – seriously, don't ever ask – everybody else started sharin'. I had to fake goin' to the bathroom and pray Pinkie or somebody managed to change the topic by the time I got back.”

“So why not tell them?” Sunset asked. “I don't think they'd think you were weird or anything.”

“Mostly cause I just don't feel ready to answer a lot of questions about it yet.” Applejack put her hat back on and fixed Sunset with a serious expression. “I'd appreciate it if you kept this to yourself for now. I'm still tryin' to figure this whole thing out for myself.”

“You trust me with this? After everything I've done?”

Applejack shrugged. “Way I see it, you can't really be friends with someone if you ain't willin' to trust 'em. I figure this is a good way for us to start. If you want, I won't say anythin' about what you told me durin' your little... um... outburst earlier.”

Sunset smiled. “Thank you, Applejack. I appreciate this.”

Applejack nodded in reply and picked up her phone. “Oh wow. We've been talkin' up a storm and we still have school in the mornin'.”

Sunset picked up her own phone and blinked when she saw the clock. “You're right. We need to get to bed. Are you okay with sleeping here on the couch?”

“Yep.” Both girls got up from the couch. Applejack rolled out her sleeping bag and opened it, climbing inside as Sunset began climbing the stairs to the loft.

“If you need anything in the night, help yourself,” Sunset said. Applejack's hand appeared above the back of the couch and waved. Sunset saw more motion and smiled as she realized Applejack was pulling her hat down over her eyes.

“Thanks a bunch,” said the farm girl.

“Good night, Applejack.”

“Night, sugarcube.”

Sunset climbed up to the loft and flipped the switches at the top of the stairs, putting the apartment into darkness. The Christmas lights she had strung along the safety rail surrounding the loft cast soft white light onto the ceiling. Sunset got into bed and rolled onto her side. As she closed her eyes, she realized something.

Applejack had called her “sugarcube.” She had never done that before. The only other people Sunset knew Applejack had used that nickname for were... her friends.

Sunset smiled to herself and snuggled down under the blanket. Despite the rocky start, this had turned out to be a pretty good night after all.


“No! Stop!”

Applejack rolled over in her sleeping bag, her hat falling off her head onto the floor. She grabbed her pillow and wrapped it around her head.

“Please, stop!”

Applejack's eyes opened. She sat up on the couch and looked up toward the loft. She heard whimpering coming from Sunset's sleeping area.

“Sunset?” she called. “You all right?”

No answer came. Just more whimpers. Applejack unzipped her sleeping bag and got up. She climbed the stairs to the loft. By the glow of the Christmas lights, she could see Sunset sprawled out on the bed, the covers twisted around her body. Her head moved violently from side to side.

“I don't want this! Stop,” she cried out. It wasn't a loud scream, but a quiet pathetic whisper. She began tossing on the bed, entangling herself further. “Let go! I didn't fail! I didn't! No!”

Applejack frowned and sat down on the bed. She reached out a hand and touched Sunset's shoulder. Instantly, Sunset sat bolt upright in bed and let out an ear-splitting scream. Applejack grabbed her and pulled her into a hug.

“It's okay, Sunset. It's okay. I'm here.” She reached up and began stroking Sunset's hair. Sunset blinked, realized where she was, and threw her arms around Applejack. She trembled in the strong arms of the farm girl.

“I'm sorry,” Sunset sobbed, burying her face in Applejack's shoulder. “I'm so sorry. I try to fight it and I can't. I'm sorry.”

“Shhhh,” Applejack soothed. “You don't have anything to be sorry about. It's why I'm here. Just breathe. It's over.”

Sunset's breathing slowed and her grip loosened. She leaned back and wiped her eyes. “I'm sorry, Applejack.”

“It's okay, sugarcube. Here.” Applejack got up and helped Sunset disentangle herself from the covers. After getting Sunset to lay back down, she covered her with the sheet and blankets. “There. All set. You gonna be okay?”

Sunset nodded. “Thanks.”

Applejack smiled. “'Tweren't nothin'. I'll see ya in the mornin'.”

She turned to head back down to the living area when Sunset's voice stopped her.

“Applejack? I know this is kinda silly but... would you stay with me for the rest of the night?”

Applejack looked back at her. Sunset's eyes were huge and worried. She huddled under the blankets which made her look small and vulnerable. She saw Applejack hesitate and nodded.

“Right. Sorry. Never mind.” Sunset rolled over and laid her head on the pillow. She closed her eyes, then opened them again as she felt a weight on the bed and the blankets being pulled up.

“Slide over, will you? I'm fallin' off the edge here.”

Sunset smiled and slid across the bed, making room for her friend. She heard Applejack sigh as she laid her head on the pillow. “Mmm... these are good pillows. Tell me where ya got 'em in the mornin' will ya? I need to convince Granny to get a couple.”

“Sure thing,” Sunset murmured. She felt sleep begin to overtake her. She rolled onto her side, facing away from Applejack and snuggled down into the covers. As she drifted off, she felt Applejack move, and her smile returned as she felt the other girl's arm drape over her.

“I'm right here if you need me,” Applejack whispered. Sunset reached up and took Applejack's wrist, feeling safe for the first time in a long while.

The nightmares stayed away for the rest of the night.

Author's Note:

Asexual.

Headcanon notes

Pinkie lives with Maud in Canterlot City with the rest of the Pie family living in a small farming community elsewhere. Maud is an associate professor of Geology at Canterlot University and also works at the museum (as seen in "School of Rock").

"Sixty Moons:" I've thought a lot about this and the only way I can make the timeline of events implied by the Equestria Girls movies and shorts is that Sunset went through the portal initially, then it closed, stranding her in the human world. When the portal opened again, she went back to Equestria only to discover that Twilight had succeeded her as Celestia's personal student as well as finding the Elements of Harmony. Sunset managed to remain undetected during the three days the portal was open, stealing as much research material as she could before going through again. She returned to the human world, where she began planning her attack on Equestria. The portal closed after this initial return. Sunset returned the next time the portal opened to steal Twilight's crown and setting in motion the events of the first movie.

So basically, yeah, my headcanon is that Sunset's been gone a lot longer than thirty moons.

Again, all my headcanon in these stories exist only until and unless refuted or contradicted by anything shown in the main animated series.

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