• Published 17th Feb 2018
  • 2,211 Views, 63 Comments

Compatī - Corejo

Sunset Shimmer lived a perfect life. Nightmare Moon destroyed it. When Luna seeks reconciliation years later, past demons resurface to threaten all that Sunset holds dear. Though she is willing, the question remains: is there a limit to forgiveness?

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VI - Meeting the Family

The rest of the spring semester flew by much the same as any other good thing in life. Sunset Shimmer bid farewell to her sophomore year at CSGU and welcomed the coming summer: three whole months of reviewing her notes, lounging in the sun, and hanging out with Coppertone.

Doppler picked up a summer co-op position in Vanhoover, and he wasn't going to be back until late August. Which was unfortunate, since Sunset had been looking forward to sharing with him all the heaps of fun summer had in store.

They went steady maybe a month after that first wonderful date? She wasn't sure how it worked. The whole dating thing was still a little foreign to her. And no, she had not yet “fucked his brains out” as Copper so delicately put it. She did, however, consent to nuzzles when nopony was looking.

But today was no day for nuzzles. Today was the first official day of summer, and as everypony knew, the first day of the Summer Sun Celebration: a week-long festival of carnival rides, cotton candy, and everything else Sunset loved about the summer months.

The only thing that could make it more special was spending it with Copper and her family. The way Copper described them, her little sisters sounded absolutely adorable!

Sunset rocked back and forth on her hooves, staring at the front door of Copper’s house. It was still dark outside, since Celestia hadn't yet raised the sun to begin the festivities, but the sky was already washed with the pinks and oranges of pre-dawn, the sun just as anxious as her to begin the fun.

Copper's house was a pretty, little thing, all well-trimmed flower pots and clean woodwork. They even had a white picket fence around the front lawn.

The door opened, and out poked a burly but smiling stallion that could only be Copper’s dad. He had a cropped mane like a military pony, greying on the sides, and an impressive but well-groomed beard. His icy blue eyes scanned her face much the way he probably scanned his research reports Copper always talked about.

His horn showed signs of overuse, how wood grain sometimes cracked when it dried out. Apparently that's what happened when you were the lead catalytic engineer in the castle’s research department.

“If you're not Sunset Shimmer,” he said, “I'll eat an arcanite crystal.” He let out a laugh deeper than a frat house booze trough that rumbled through Sunset's bones and stuck out his hoof. “String Theory. Call me String.”

Sunset smiled and took his hoof. Hopefully he was just kidding about the Arcanite crystal… Arcanite was a magic inhibitor known for its use as a “unicorn poison” in old pony times, nowadays used in experimental containment protocol.

“Hi,” she said. “It's nice to meet you.”

“Same.” He jerked his head over his shoulder and stepped back. “Come on in.”

Sunset followed him through the foyer. It was one of those grandma sort of houses, decorated to the gills in pictures, doilies, dark wood paneling, and fancy brass fixtures. Sunset smirked, wondering if their couch was covered in plastic.

There were portraits of Copper and her sisters hung on the wall, at various grade school milestones. Even some from Copper’s modelling days through high school.

“Copper, your friend’s here,” String shouted up the foyer staircase.

“Coming!” Copper called back, muffled. Probably in the bathroom putting on makeup.

String led Sunset to the living room, where thankfully the couch was not covered in plastic. That same cozy atmosphere of doilies and nice upholstery greeted her as warmly as a campfire on a cool summer night. It was a little dark, but that was to be expected with homes in Canterlot's Lingerlight District. Older houses had that effect.

Copper’s mom had an obsession with collecting ceramic elephants, it seemed. They cluttered every vertical surface as if on parade.

“Go ahead and make yourself comfortable,” String said. “I'm sure she'll be down in a few hours.” He smirked and headed for the kitchen, where a homely sort of chaos stared back at Sunset through a bar window. Homely, meaning much cleaner than her own kitchen back at the university.

Sunset took a seat on the couch and propped herself up on a blue crocheted pillow. It had a snowflake-like pattern to it, and although a bit of the stuffing was coming out the middle, it was darn comfy.

A grey unicorn filly probably around fourteen wandered into the room. She had a snowy mane that fell about her shoulders in waves, and her eyes had that cold steel to them like String’s. She wore a purple slouchy despite the warm weather scheduled, and had a good four piercings in her left ear.

She had a flute cutie mark, which meant she had to be Whistle Wind. An up-and-coming “bad girl,” as Copper had put it. “Did her proud,” even. Whistle sat down next to Sunset without so much as a hello, absorbed in a puzzle cube she twisted and snapped about in her magic.

Sunset half raised a hoof, switched them, then looked around. She took a breath to break the ice.

“Whistle,” String called from the kitchen. The fridge opened, and the sound of clinking glass drifted into the living room. “Say hello to our guest.”

Whistle blinked and set her puzzle cube down between her hooves. She looked at Sunset with wide eyes, and she flicked an ear, just now noticing her.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” Sunset said. “I'm Sunset—”

“Shimmer.” Whistle looked her up and down. “Copper’s friend.”

She went back to her puzzle cube. “She talks about you a lot.”

“Copper talks about everypony a lot.”

Whistle snorted. “Uh huh.”

Sunset raised an eyebrow at her. What was that supposed to mean?

“You like beer?” String said, smiling at Sunset from the kitchen door. He frowned at the bottles in his magic, then at her. “You old enough for beer?”

Sunset grimaced. “I-I’m seventeen, not eighteen… And even if I was, I don't drink. Thanks, though.”

“I'll take a beer,” Whistle said.

“Like hell you will,” String replied, earning a smirk from Whistle. That smirk must run in the family. He popped the cap on a bottle and took a sip.

“Hey!” came Copper's voice. She strode through the hallway door and plopped down on the couch, flank to flank with Sunset. She wore the prettiest little red hair clip to keep her bangs out of her eyes, and her mane in a French braid that draped over her shoulder. Her confident smile brought some much needed sunshine into the room. “How's it goin’?”

String frowned at Copper, then at the bottle he just opened. “Well, I'm not letting you go to waste…” he mumbled and took a deep swig.

“I'll take that other one,” Copper said to String before Sunset could reply, pulling the second bottle out of his aura.

He yanked it back. “No you won't. We were waiting on you.”

She stuck her tongue out at him. Back to Sunset: “So yeah, how's it goin’?”

Sunset smiled. “Pretty good. Just kind of been hyping myself up for this for awhile now, so I'm excited for it to finally be here.”

“Oh, we'll make sure we get our fun in, don't you worry.” She elbowed Sunset in the shoulder and winked.

Whistle snorted again.

A tan-colored unicorn filly who couldn't have been older than seven poked her head out from the hallway door. That had to be Lily Rose. Oh, she was just the cutest thing.

She wore her blonde mane flat on either side of her face, trimmed in neat, straight lines. She gasped when her eyes landed on Sunset, and she dashed over.

“You're pretty!” Lily said, looking up at her with the brightest green eyes Sunset had ever seen. Brighter than Copper’s even, and that was saying something.

Sunset laughed, blushing. “Well, hello to you, too. Are you Lily?”

“Uh huh.” Her eyes shone like she was staring at her most favorite thing in the world. She glanced at Copper and giggled before looking back at Sunset.

“Lily,” String said. “Leave her alone.”

“But I wanna talk to Sissy's friend.” She snapped back to Sunset. “Do you like bugs?”

Bugs? Um… That was a resounding no. They weren't bad, nor did she have a gut fainting reaction to them the way some ponies did (she glanced at Copper), but she once had a bad run-in with a giant star spider as a filly and hadn't been partial to creepy crawlies since.

“Of course!” Sunset said. “They're all sorts of fun.” She put on the best fake smile she could, which was actually pretty easy with all of Lily's contagious excitement.

Copper stared at Sunset with a barely restrained grin. She could smell a lie from a mile away, Sunset knew, but just seeing Lily smile like that was worth any consequence.

“What?” Sunset said. She ribbed Copper.

Copper ribbed her back. “You're such a shit, you know that?”

“Copper,” String said around the mouth of his beer bottle. “No swearing in front of your sisters.”

Whistle laughed without looking away from her puzzle cube. “Yeah, Copper, stop fuckin’ swearing.”

“Whistle!” String shouted.

Copper slapped Whistle’s puzzle cube out of her magic with a rolled-up magazine from the coffee table. “You're not allowed to swear either, you little cocksleeve.”


“What's a cocksleeve?” Lily asked.

String, put his face in his hoof and sighed.

Sunset laughed. Yep. This was definitely Copper’s family.

String gave Copper one last warning glance before sighing again. He levitated his empty beer bottle into the kitchen. “Well anyway, the gang’s all here. Mom's busy at the office, so it's just the five of us today.”

“Mom’s always busy at the office,” Whistle said. She got her puzzle cube to have one side all green, and she groaned.

Copper idly swatted at her puzzle cube with the magazine. “Yeah, ‘cause somepony couldn't make honors and get that scholarship she was supposed to.”

“Fuck off,” Whistle said, moving her cube away from the offending magazine. She swung at it with her hoof. “You're the one doing fuck-all with your makeup bullshit.”

“Will you two stop fighting for one second?” String said. “And if you swear one more time, I’m gonna ziptie your mouth shut for the day.”

“She started it!” Whistle pointed at Copper.

String stepped forward with the classic Dad Stare that Sunset had learned to shrink away from as a filly. He spoke quietly but intensely. “We have a guest.”

Coppertone blew a raspberry and waved him off. She threw a hoof over Sunset's shoulder and yanked her into a hug. “Please, dad, Sunset's family. If she can handle me, she can handle anything you guys throw at her.”

Sunset smiled, embarrassed. It was true though. Copper definitely was the instigator of the family.

“He's all bark and no bite,” Copper whispered. “If you couldn't tell.”

“Maybe,” Sunset whispered back. “But I'm not one for poking the bear.”

String grabbed his keys off a hook by the hallway door. “At any rate, we should get going. Come on. Don't want to miss out on a decent spot this year.”

“We're probly too late for that after how long Copper took,” Whistle said, setting her puzzle cube on the table as she headed for the door. She threw a smirk at Copper over her shoulder. “You'd think she was getting ready for a date or something.”

“Oh, shut up, you,” Copper said. She waggled the magazine at Whistle before tossing it back on the coffee table. She smiled at Sunset. “One big, happy family, right?”

“One big, happy family,” Sunset said.

They headed out the door, Copper on Sunset's left, Lily on her right.

“I found a beetle the size of my hoof yesterday,” Lily said. She stuck her hoof in Sunset's face as if trying to show just how big it was. “You should have seen it!”

Sunset scrunched her nose, but forced a smile. “That's… cool.”

“Hey, can I ride on your back?”

“Lily, leave Sunset alone,” String said.

“But daaaddy…”

“There it is!” Lily Rose said. She gleefully hopped up and down on Sunset's back, pointing at the large Summer Sun Celebration banner ahead.

Streamers and balloons tied together lamppost after lamppost, and the sound of laughter already reached across the final street separating them from Sunrise Field, the main greenspace for the festival.

Lily all but bounded off Sunset's back and took off. “Come on!” she called over her shoulder.

“Lily, slow down!” String called. He started after her.

“I got her,” Copper said, putting a hoof to his chest. She turned to Sunset, grinning. She whispered, “Come on, before he spoils the fun.”

She took off, and Sunset had no other choice. They passed beneath the welcome banner, and though there was no true boundary, it felt like they had crossed a threshold into a new world of laughter and the smell of freshly cut grass.

Lily was already past the cotton candy stand a dozen meters ahead, and Copper made little effort to actually catch up. Knowing her, she wanted the extra distance between them and String to “get lost” and enjoy the pre-festival on her own terms.

Not really Sunset's style, but there was time for hanging out with Copper’s family later. Besides, this meant more time specifically with Lily.

They caught up with her at a seashell booth, which had a glass display case showing off an array of necklaces and bracelets made of shells and bits of whittled driftwood. Lily leaned against it with her forehooves, face pressed against the glass.

Everything was technically closed until Celestia raised the sun to begin the festivities, but that didn't stop Lily from scoring a free seashell necklace from the mare at the stand. One smile, and she melted the hearts of everypony around her.

At this rate, she was going to be worse than Copper when she grew up.

They let her run adorably rampant about the main thoroughfare for a while. Lily made friends with no less than four foals, a dozen grown ups, and an old stallion that Sunset was pretty sure used to be the superintendent at her grade school.

Copper eventually decided that was enough limelight for one little filly, and they headed for the Dais of the Summer Sun.

“There you three are.” String pushed through the crowd, and Whistle towed in behind him, chewing what was probably bubblegum. “You need to stop running off on your own, Lily,” he added.

“Sorry, daddy.”

“How long til sunrise?” Whistle asked. She blew a bubble, and the snap! turned a number of heads around them.

“Where'd you get the bubblegum?” Copper asked. “Everything's closed til the sun comes up.”

“Up your butt and around the corner. When's sunrise? I want caramel corn.”

“Why, you gonna get that from up my butt, too?” Copper wiggled her flank at Whistle.

“Copper, stop acting like a foal,” String said. “Whistle, stop egging your sister on.”

Copper raised an eyebrow at him. “But I like acting like a foal. Life's more fun that way.”

String grumbled, looking away and shaking his head.

Sunset giggled. She had a feeling his greying mane wasn't from his years in the lab.

“Psst.” Lily tugged on Sunset's mane.

Sunset leaned down so Lily could whisper in her ear.

“So what is a cocksleeve?”

Sunset went red in the cheeks and stood up straight. “Uh…”

String sighed. “Damnit, Copper, if she says that word one more time, I'm going to hang you from the weather vane by your tail.”

“Hey, don't threaten me with a good time.”

He scowled at her. “I'm serious. You've been way out of line these last few weeks.”

“Tell that to Whistle! She's the one who won't stop getting on my nerves.”

Snap! went Whistle's bubblegum. She sidled up beside Copper and chewed it loudly in her ear.

“Getting on what now?” Whistle asked.

“I'm gonna stick that in your mane if you don't get it out of my face.”

“What's the matter?” Whistle said, smirking. “I thought you liked sticky stuff in your face.”

A dark yellow aura wrapped around Whistle from head to hoof, much to her surprise, and String dragged her aside. He looked ready to live up to that threat about the weather vane.

Coppertone stuck her tongue out at Whistle and turned back toward the dais.

“But seriously,” Lily whispered to Sunset. “What is a cocksleeve?”

Sunset grimaced. “Why don't you tell me about your favorite bugs instead?”

The smile on Lily's face said she was all for that idea, but shadows flickered overhead, and everypony looked up.

A column of pegasus Royal Guards circled like vultures, and one by one they landed according to some grand design Sunset could only guess at. They formed a line separating the velvet runway leading from the nearby castle courtyard.

The crowd began cheering before anypony could see Celestia, but the moment she appeared the cheer boiled into an excited roar.

And damn, was she a sight.

The waiting sun sat just below the horizon, illuminating her from head to hoof. Her mane sparkled in the pre-dawn, radiant around the edges as if the sun’s light came from within. She wore a smile brighter than the waiting sun.

Lily tugged at Sunset's mane again. “You're the Princess's special student, right? Can we go see her?”

Go see Celestia? Right now? “Um, I'm not so sure that's a good idea.”

Lily's face drooped like a puppy told to go lie down. Oh, that face. How could she say no to that face?

“Okay, fine. But after the ceremony.”

If Lily's face was impossible to say no to before, no word existed to describe it now. She practically vibrated with excitement.

Celestia stepped up to the dais. She swept her smile across the crowd, followed by her hoof.

The crowd went silent, save the murmurs of those too anxious. Lily grabbed ahold of Sunset's leg and shook it. She had to stop being so adorable, or Sunset might just fall to pieces.

“Welcome, everypony, to this year's Summer Sun Celebration.” Celestia's voice boomed over every inch of the field—every mare, stallion, and foal. “I am delighted to be here with you all. I see many familiar faces, and many new ones as well.

“It is my duty and honor to remind everypony on this wonderful celebration, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year, that we all share in the bounty of our nation. Let us all take a moment to look to one another beside us and thank them for all they have done in making Equestria the prosperous land that it is.” She paused so that everypony had the opportunity.

Lily shook Sunset's leg again. She wore the biggest smile and oh gosh was she too cute.

Copper, likewise, slugged Sunset in the shoulder. She wore her signature smile, the one that made Sunset feel warm inside.

“Now,” Celestia said. “Without further ado, let us welcome the sun and give thanks through song and celebration to the years behind us and the years ahead.”

And with that final announcement, she spread her wings and leapt into the air. As if waiting for it's cue, the sun lept into the sky behind her to envelop her in its blinding light and bathe the crowd in warmth.

The display was met with a thunderous stamping of hooves.

“Can we go now?” Lily said, hopping in place.

Well, the official ceremony had ended. Celestia was heading for the castle. Now probably was the best time. Just a quick ‘hi’ and then back to the fun.

“Yeah, let's go.”

She escorted Lily through the crowd, keeping one eye on her and the other on Celestia. Given Lily's track record, she half expected her to take off and give Celestia a hug.

The Guards spotted them coming well before she got close, and they already formed up to stop them.

Luckily, Stone Wall was escorting Celestia and intervened before they caused a scene. He let them through with a smile.

“Sunset,” came Celestia's voice. “It's wonderful to see you. Niece of yours?” She nodded at Lily.

Sunset smiled. “Actually, this is Coppertone's little sister, Lily Rose.”

Lily stopped moving the moment Sunset mentioned her. The way her eyes got all big and her jaw practically fell to the ground almost made Sunset laugh.

“Hello there, little one,” Celestia said, stooping down to meet Lily's gaze. “Are you enjoying your Summer Sun Celebration?”

Lily didn't say anything, she was so awestruck. It was like looking back in time to when Sunset first met Celestia.

“You're allowed to talk to her, Lily,” Sunset said. She nudged her forward.

Lily hardly seemed to notice. She still hadn't blinked since first laying eyes on Celestia. The light shimmered in her eyes as if she could see for the first time.

“Lily, what are you doing?” String pushed his way through the crowd, bowed to Celestia, and scooped up Lily in his magic, placing her on his back. “I am so sorry, your Highness. Sometimes I think her special talent is sneaking off when I'm not looking.”

Celestia laughed. “It's quite alright… String Theory, was it? You work in research, correct?”

String flustered. “I, uh… yes! Yes, I do, your Highness. Lead Catalytic Engineer, going on thirty years.”

“I remember when Blue Shift first hired you,” Celestia said. “You should have heard how proud he was to have another Manehattanite working with him.”

String blinked. His voice went soft. “Wow, Blue Shift... That's a name I haven't heard in… ten? Twelve years?”

“He was a dear friend of mine, and I'm glad to see you carry on his legacy. I know he would be proud of you.”

“Thank you, your Highness.”

Sunset stepped forward, eager to get her own few words in with Celestia. “That was a great speech you had back there, Princess.”

“Thank you, Sunset. I'm glad to see you here enjoying it with friends.”

Sunset shrugged. “They seem to know how to have fun. I'll keep them around, I guess.”

Celestia chuckled. “They seem to be rubbing off on you as well. How is your coltfriend Doppler doing?”

“Coltfriend?” Lily snapped out of her Celestia-induced trance and looked up at Sunset.

Sunset smiled back. She brushed Lily's mane and pulled her head into her chest. “Yeah.” To Celestia: “Pretty good, actually. He's in Vanhoover on a co-op, though, so he won't be back until August.”

“Three months is some time for a new couple to spend apart,” Celestia said. “I hope you won't let the distance get between you.”

Sunset shrugged. “Eh, we write to each other at least once a week, so it’s not the worst thing in the world. We'll be fine, even though it kind of sucks.”

Lilly tugged on Sunset's mane, a little harder than she needed to. “Well… well that's okay, because you can play with Sissy instead!”

As if on cue, there was an argument over by the guards. They were hassling Copper, who it seemed had come up to join the group.

“It's alright, Stone,” Sunset said. “She's with us.”

He did a double take between them. “Oh, this is your Copper friend? Well heck, just say so.”

One of the other guards rolled his eyes. “Oh, sure, let's just let ‘em all through. Why are we even here?”

An excited-looking mare stepped up from the crowd. The guard’s fierce scowl put her back in place.

Sunset gestured at Copper. “Princess, this is my best friend, Coppertone.”

Celestia gave her that trademark smile. “Ah, so you're the mare I've heard so much about. It's a pleasure to meet you.”

Copper didn't reply immediately. She had that momentary lapse in thought the way everypony did when they first met Celestia. Though, her ears fell back briefly, meaning she had passed that point and was now somewhere in the middle of figuring out what to say.

Was she nervous? Oh, she was so never going to hear the end of this.

“I hear you're quite the mischief maker,” Celestia said, not missing a beat.

It was fun watching her fill in the gaps of conversation other ponies left in her wake, now that Sunset knew where to look. It said a lot about just how used to it Celestia was.

Copper blinked, and it looked like the hamster in her head had gotten back on its wheel. She smiled that easy smile of hers. “I roll with the best of ’em, your Highness.”

“I'm sure you have many stories to tell.”

“Oh, I could fill an entire afternoon with all the hijinks we've gotten into.” She threw a hoof over Sunset's shoulder and yanked her in.

“Copper,” Sunset said.

“I would love to hear them someday,” Celestia said. “I do enjoy spending time with my subjects when I have the time.”

Wait, what?

“I'd be down for that,” Copper said.

Whoa, slow down a minute. Were they making lunch plans?

“Spontaneity is the mother of frivolity.” Celestia laughed and spread her wings. “Would tomorrow at noon work for you?”

“Am I even allowed to say no?”

Celestia chuckled. “Of course you are, my little pony. I would never force somepony to do something they were uncomfortable with.”

Sunset gawked at them. “Well what if I'm uncom—”

“Then yeah, definitely.”

Celestia “hmm’d.” “I look forward to seeing you then. Next time you see him,” she said to String. “Say hello to Spark Plug for me, would you?”

“O-of course!” String bowed.

Sunset watched Celestia leave in disbelief. “Did... you just make lunch plans with Celestia… to tell her embarrassing stories about me?”

Copper leaned against Sunset, faux-swooning. “It's a date with destiny.”

“I don't believe you.”

“What don't you believe?” She ribbed Sunset. “That I just scored a lunch date with the Princess, or that I just scored a lunch date with the Princess and get to tell her all sorts of embarrassing things about you?”

“Yes, that! All of it!”

“Don't you worry.” She waggled her eyebrows at Sunset. “I'll make sure to tell her how loud you scream when you're on Doppler's—”

Sunset zipped Copper’s mouth shut with magic. She grumbled turning back. “Why did I even agree to come here with you?”

Copper lit her horn and undid the Silencing Spell. “Because we were meant for each other and you still don't realize it.”

Sunset rolled her eyes. She didn't need to look to see that remarkably unflattering smirk pasted on her face.

Whistle strolled up through the crowd, an impatient frown on her face. “Can we go get caramel corn now?”

“I want another seashell necklace,” Lily said.

“Another one?” Copper hefted the centerpiece shell hanging around Lily's neck. “But this one's already pretty.”

“I wanna give it to Mommy, since she couldn't come today.”

Yeah, Sunset was going to fall to pieces if this kid kept being too cute. “I think we can manage that.”

“They're gonna run out of caramel corn like they did last year if you guys don't stop talking and start moving.”

“Yeah, yeah, we'll get you your stupid carmel corn,” Copper said. “Just can't get enough of that salty sweetness in your mouth, can you?”

“Copper,” String said. “One more thing like that out of you and you're going home. You hear me? You too, Whistle.”

“What's wrong with caramel corn?” Lily asked.

“Nothing,” Whistle said before String could turn a scowl to either her or Copper. “Dad just can't hang.

“I learn from the best, by the way,” she added, looking at Copper as if their conversation had never been interrupted. She tail flicked her on the flank to punctuate that sentiment.

“Hey, you're not allowed to do that,” Copper said. “That's mine and Sunset's thing. Isn't that right, Sunset?” She tail flicked Sunset on the flank.

Sunset yelped, to Whistle and Copper’s amusement. She rubbed her flank. “You two laugh it up. I'll get you back.”

Copper made that sarcastic 'o’ face that used to boil Sunset's blood when they first met. “Oh, listen to you. Still rubbing off on you, am I?”

“More than you think.” She flicked her tail at Copper. If it could really be called a flick. More like a sad wave, a respectful brush with the tip of her tail.

Copper snorted. “You will learn in due time, young grasshopper.”

“Oh, shut up.”

The rest of the festival went about how Sunset expected. Lily got a dozen seashell necklaces, Whistle didn't get her caramel corn, and Sunset and Copper practically collapsed through the front door after all that running around keeping up with Lily. String thankfully didn't have to live up to any of his threats, and Copper and Whistle didn't make her the butt of any more jokes.

Sunset never did get them back for the tail flick, though.

She and Copper lay on their backs, staring at the ceiling of Copper’s room. The fan spun in the silence as the final rays of sunlight filtered through the blinds.

“Copper?” Sunset said.

“Yeah, Sunny?”

“Why do we always end up lying next to each other at the end of the day like this?”

“Because I learn from the best.”

Sunset snorted. “I'm supposed to say you're the worst before you can say that.”

“Okay, well now I learn from the best.” She elbowed Sunset in the shoulder.

Sunset laughed. “You're such a dork, Copper.”

“I'm the dork?” She put a hoof to her heart in feigned insult. “You’re calling me the dork? You're the dork here, Sunny. Also, it's cause I know you totally wanna have a slumber party with Lily, but she'd never go to sleep if we did that.”

“You say that like we ever go to sleep when we have a sleepover.”

Copper blew a raspberry. “Sunset, please. The second I start stroking your mane, you're out like a sorority mare after a keg stand.”

“What's wrong with that?” Sunset played with the locks of her mane. “I like having my mane stroked. It's comforting.”

Copper’s smirk relaxed into a gentle smile. “Yeah? And I like—”

The door cracked open, and they hushed. In poked a pair of bright green eyes.

“Lily,” Copper whispered. “Go back to bed.”

Like any adorable little sister, Lily did the exact opposite of that. She scampered into Copper’s room, dragging a dinosaur blanket in her mouth. She hopped onto the bed and curled up between them.

“But I wanna have a sleepover with you guys too,” she said.

“Lily…” Copper huffed. “Alright, fine. But if Mom gets mad, it's your fault.”

“Hee!” Lily snuggled into Sunset's hooves and smiled up at her.

It was a good thing the day was over, because now Sunset was officially falling to pieces. She brushed Lily's mane out of her eyes and wrapped her in a hug.

Lily used the same coconut shampoo as Copper, Sunset noticed. Was there anything these two didn't share?

“Hey now,” Copper said. She rolled onto her belly and pointed an accusing hoof at Sunset and Lily. “No matter how much you might like her, she's mine.”

Sunset grinned. “Who are you talking to?”

“Both of you.” She elbowed Sunset.

Sunset elbowed her back, laughing. “You're the worst.”

“Ha! I learn from the best.”

There it was. Sunset giggled. Oh, Copper… don't ever change.

“Goodnight, you two,” Sunset said.

“You're passing out already?” Copper asked. “You're not allowed to fall asleep yet. Don't make me get a marker and draw dicks on your face.”

“You do that and I will legitimately kill you.”

“Love you too, Sunny.”

Sunset snorted. She nuzzled into Lily's mane and smiled as her unofficial teddy bear giggled and squirmed in her hooves. She closed her eyes and sighed.

Copper and her family really were the best thing in the world.

Sunset Shimmer sat in white emptiness.

There was a presence behind her. She turned around, but saw nothing.

The presence tickled her ear. Less like a mosquito and more like a lullaby, a quietly growing sound that drew her ear, then her head, then her eyes into the distant white.

As if creeping along the ground like a snake through tall grass, a voice came to her. Gentle, sweet, feminine.

“Hello, Sunset Shimmer. It is wonderful to finally meet you.”

Author's Note:

Onward and Upward!