• Published 29th Aug 2018
  • 1,829 Views, 52 Comments

Each Small Step - Krickis

If nothing good ever lasts, then is there even a point in trying?

  • ...

3 – Things in Need of Repair

Chapter Three

Things in Need of Repair

Of Sunset Shimmer’s many redeeming qualities, one of them was most certainly that she was not Aria Blaze. As such, before showing up to her girlfriend’s house the day after a tense argument, she called ahead to let Aria know she wanted to go over so they could talk.

This was, objectively, for the best. Aria had time to prepare for Sunset’s arrival. She had showered and dressed, and even cleaned the apartment. Well, cleaned it a little anyway. Perhaps she hadn’t really cleaned it enough… It was still a mess, and Sunset was sure to notice that. Why the hell hadn’t she cleaned it better? She’d known all day Sunset was coming, why did she have to be so damn lazy all the –

Aria stopped and took a deep breath. Blaming herself wasn’t helping, and there was still time to do something about it. She went into the kitchen and pulled a trash bag out from the seldom used cabinet beneath her sink. She then walked through the apartment and shoved things into the bag, almost at random.

Before the bag was even filled, there was a knock on the door. “Just a minute!” Aria called, shoving a few more things into the bag before tying it off. It was full enough to go out, she reasoned.

When she opened the door, Sunset was on the other side with a pizza box and two litre of soda dangling in a bag on her wrist. “Special delivery!”

“You didn’t have to do that, I got some groceries yesterday.”

Sunset shrugged as she walked into the apartment. “Yeah, but I figured we could skip worrying about cooking tonight.”

“Well, you won’t hear me complaining.” Aria was about to set the trash bag by the door to be taken out later, but she thought better of it. “Just give me one second to throw this out.”

“No problem.”

Aria walked out of the apartment and down the stairs with the trash. Great, that’s just the image she wanted to greet her girlfriend with. One of these things is garbage and the other is a bag of crap; can you spot the difference?

It was only a short walk to the dumpster, but the whole thing was spent worrying about what Sunset was noticing back in the apartment. By the time she reached it and threw out the bag, she was practically running back to the stairs.

No amount of worry would stop her from walking back inside with a confident strut, though. At least, not until she saw Sunset swapping the futon from a bed to a couch. She’d known Sunset was coming, why hadn’t she done that herself? Now Sunset was going to think she’d spent the whole day in bed, which, to be fair, was something she did a lot… But it wasn’t something she’d done that day!

Sunset was oblivious to her concerns. “Can you get us some plates and cups?”

Despite everything, Aria managed a grin. “Yeah, coming right up.”

At least paper plates and plastic cups were typical for pizza dinner, so she didn’t feel bad when that was what she grabbed. Not that it would’ve mattered if they were eating something else. Aria knew better than to expect herself to do dishes.

Aria handed Sunset a plate and a cup as she sat down, and in return, Sunset placed a slice of pizza onto Aria’s plate, then filled their cups. “The apartment looks really good.”

It did? It was a lot cleaner than it was, but there was still so much to do.“Yeah, well, it’s not a big deal or anything.” Aria took a drink to hide her smile.

Sunset didn’t try to hide hers, however. Even more than her words, her smile made Aria feel that maybe she did something right for once.

“How’d everything go at the studio?” Sunset asked just before taking a bite of pizza.

“It was okay.” Aria frowned at her own slice rather than taking a bite of it. She’d been worried about telling Sunset the next part. “The pay’s decent, but it’s only a few hours a night. I won’t be making as much as my last job.”

“At least it’s something, right? It’ll help out a lot while we figure something else out.”

Sunset sounded optimistic, so Aria smiled. “Yeah. And since Adagio works in the mornings, I won’t wind up seeing her much.”

“Nice. I’m sure things will go well.”

Aria finally took her first bite of pizza. It was topped with seafood, her favorite. That reminded her of their talk the other night. “Guess we never got to go to the beach this weekend.”

“No, but oh well. Another time.”

“Maybe we can go next weekend?”

Sunset smirked. “Since when are you the one to make plans?”

Aria’s impulse was to shoot back a snippy reply, but she pushed it down. “I like the beach, but I haven’t been in ages.”

“Sure, we can go next weekend.”

It was nice to have plans. On top of the fact that Aria really did enjoy the beach, it was comforting to have something planned in the future with Sunset. After the last couple days, she hadn’t been entirely sure where they were headed. Even if it was only a week out, it was good to know Sunset still planned to be there for that week.

They talked about what Sunset had been up to the past couple days as they ate. When Sunset had said she wanted to come by to talk, Aria hadn’t expected it to be about anything so mundane.

Of course, it would be foolish to assume that was all Sunset wanted to talk about. They had both eaten a couple slices of pizza and set the rest aside for later by the time they got to a more weighty topic, but it came all the same.

“I’ve been thinking,” Sunset said.

Aria wasn’t sure she liked Sunset’s tone. “Oh yeah?”

Sunset fidgeted in place awkwardly. “I care about you a lot, and I know how hard things are for you. I wish I could make it easier, but I’m not sure how.”

“You do though,” Aria answered far too quickly. She was terrified of where Sunset might be going, and she desperately wanted to keep the conversation from getting there. “I know I’m not good at, you know, saying it. And I know I can be a real bitch to you, but… You help a lot.”

Sunset’s hand found hers. “I’m glad I can help, but I don’t think I can really do enough for you. Which is why I think you should go to therapy.”

Oh. That wasn’t where Aria had thought this was going. “I… you know I can’t afford that.”

“I know, but I’ve been looking into it. I found somewhere that’ll work with your income, and I’ll help cover anything they don’t.”

“I can’t ask you to do that. Besides, I know I’m kind of a mess, but I really don’t think I need to see some shrink or whatever.”

“Aria, you’ve… got some things going on that neither of us know what to do with. It’s just a matter of going to talk to someone who understands that kind of stuff and can help you understand it. And you don’t have to ask, I’m offering.”

Aria didn’t answer. She wanted to answer, wanted to say something, either yes or no. But no words came out, and Sunset didn’t try to force them.

Instead, Sunset stretched out on the couch and rested her head in Aria’s lap. She lay quietly as Aria stroked her hair, and the idea slowly sunk in.

“Okay. I’ll do it.”

Without getting up, Sunset reached her arms around Aria. “You know, you won’t be doing it alone. I want to be with you, for every step of the way.”

Aria was glad Sunset couldn’t see her. The last thing she needed was for her girlfriend to see her fighting back tears. “Yeah, I guess I could let you hang with me some more.”

Sunset chuckled, and Aria knew she could leave it at that. She knew it, but it didn’t feel right. “I… I love you, Sunset.”

Sunset rolled onto her back to look up at Aria. When she smiled, Aria found it even harder to hold the tears back. “I love you too.”



“Please don’t give up on me.”

Sunset reached her hand up to caress Aria’s cheek. “Never.”

There were a lot of hardships still to come. Aria knew that. But even if she walked the road towards getting better slowly, she didn’t walk it alone. As long as she had Sunset by her side, Aria knew that each small step would always carry her forward.

Besides, as it turned out, having Sunset around to comfort her while she cried wasn’t so bad after all.

Author's Note:

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this story :twilightsmile: It was an important story for me, as someone who's struggled with depression their whole life in a way very similar to Aria here.

In honor of this story being featured by the Royal Canterlot Library, I wrote a retrospective on it where I talk about writing it and how my own experiences with depression relate to this story.

I've also got my own Discord server now :pinkiehappy: Feel free to drop in and chat!

Comments ( 42 )

I love the way this story hurts.
It's very good... As usual, you stab me with drama while I beg for more... Amazing work ^^

Gotta love it when all your readers are masochists :pinkiecrazy:

I'm extremely glad to hear that, it's exactly what I was going for :scootangel: Really wanted to capture the bad effects of depression seen from the outside in the first chapter before delving into what it's like in Aria's head.

Well, this was something new.

Coming from a position of also putting Aria in a depressive state, you really did a good job. The apathy, denials, and random bursts of anger really felt authentic.

This was a very emotional piece and despite the context of a certain point, I found it a wonderful read.

However, I must now declare you my rival. Good luck in the contest!

Thank you :scootangel: I strive for realism in all my stories, especially when handling weighty topics like this one.

However, I must now declare you my rival. Good luck in the contest!

I welcome your rivalry! :yay:

Why do they have Lego blocks for noses?

Artist's usual style, I kinda dig it

This hurt to read because that wasn’t Aria I saw that was me. If it wasn’t for my own Sunset that filet knife would have hit the ground bloody. Thank you for writing this and good luck in the contest.

Probably goes without saying, but that scene was also highly relatable to me; it's quite literally out of my own life. I'm glad to hear you've found a reason to keep going :ajsmug:

Same here otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation and no one would have the opportunity to read your great works :raritywink: But seriously this was a great story and as painful as the memories it drudge up by reading it it was also a reminder that things do get better even if the road to recovery is a difficult one.

This was an amazing read. I can relate to Aria so much and the fact that I'm sitting here trying to hold back tears proves how well written this perspective is on her character and the hardship of having depression.

Thank you :scootangel: Although I'd of course rather no one has to go through this, it's cool for me as someone with a lifelong struggle with depression to see people relating to my story.

I wish you the best on tackling the hardships it brings you :ajsmug:

Now go get playing house posted!

Also I liked the story

I can say for certain, you definitely nailed the depiction of depression causing ones life to come crumbling down around them. Combine that with Aria's natural grumpy attitude and it certainly was a recipe for disaster!

It also really shows that Sonata and Adagio still care, but just don't know what to do with Aria while still moving ahead in their own lives. And all too often in the real world the kind of conflict you see Aria and Sunset dealing with does just lead to a full on break up, since the other party doesn't understand what's going on (after all, it's like Aria thought, how do you just open up and say 'Hey so I nearly made a life-changing mistake?'). I'm definitely glad Sunset was able to see that Aria needed help and was willing to stick with her through it all. It says a lot about their relationship that despite this brief moment that we see, she's willing to be there for her.

Chances are Aria needs a bit more than therapy if things have gotten this bad, she might even want to consider medication, but there is only so-much you can cover within the contest's word limitation, and for what you got here, I really enjoyed it! I like how we both share the idea that Aria has a habit of running from her problems, something I do with her a lot in my own works heh.

Overall I definitely appreciated this fic a lot, and is an example of why there needs to be more SunAria stuff in the fandom! So much potential!

Trust me, no one wants Playing House to be released more than I do. Patience, homie.

Thank you for reading, and for such a long and detailed comment :pinkiehappy: The dynamics in this story – between Sunaria, as well as the Dazzlings – were a lot of fun to work with. I'm glad that they all came across well. Obviously Sunset's the big one, but I spent the most time worrying about Aria's interactions with the other sirens, so it's relieving to hear people respond well to them.

As someone who has struggled a lot with the same things as Aria, I definitely agree it can be detrimental to relationships. It's hard to see past the problems on the surface to understand in the first place, and not everyone has the patience needed to go through with it from there. I also agree that had this been longer, the therapy detail would've been a lot more fleshed out. I'd've still started with therapy before bringing in medication (in a large part because that's my experiences with professional mental health), but it would've probably taken a lot more for Sunset to get her to agree to it :twilightsheepish: Still, word limits are what they are, and I wanted to have something that was more realistic than "if the couple's love is strong enough, all their problems are solved!"

And I couldn't agree more that this fandom needs more Sunaria. I have plans to write some more in the (distant) future, and I've seen this pretty cool Sunaria blog around ( :raritywink: ); maybe that'll inspire some others to see the potential of the ship.

I am being patient. If I wasnt I'd be pining you why aren't you posting it lol

Augh, Krickis you hit me right in the feels again! I can identify with Aria's difficulties with motivation in this so much. Good work once more. I think I would have liked to see it in a longer narrative, but granted the word limit of the contest it did turn out great for the length. I do have a preference for longer stories I suppose, so that's probably more personal preference.

I am well versed in targetting the feels :raritywink: I also think this could've been better as a longer story, and I think I'm better at writing longer stories. Slow development is something I think I've gotten pretty good at, and it's hard to make use of that in these shorter fics. But oh well, I'm quite happy with this story for what it is, and maybe the unfulfilled potential means I can sucker entice people into reading a sequel someday :ajsmug:

Happy to see some more SunAria on the site, it’s a welcome change of pace from SunLight and SunDagio.

I liked a fair bit of this. Aria’s mental state felt at times very undeniably real, in a way that made it easy to empathize/relate to her. The time the story spent in her head was well-used, and I really liked how the other two were worked into it (Adagio’s ”I just got you a job” moment was delightfully her, and I love the image of Sonata getting into magic with Trixie).

Where I think it stumbled slightly was with stuff like this:

Sunset was the only one who ever made Aria feel happy anymore.

Which just didn’t quite feel convincing to me the way a lot of the rest did. A part of that, I think, is it not really being shown much--the time in the beginning where Aria’s with Sunset, she’s still gloomy and angry for a good chunk of it, especially so when tensions start to rise. So while I think I can kinda see how Aria might find herself being happier with Sunset than she is with anyone else, it ended up feeling a bit hollow when the first time she and Sunset are together ends with them blowing up at each other.

So, as a story about Aria being depressed, I think you did this really well. As a story about Aria being in love with Sunset, I’m not quite as sure.

Definitely a decent read, though. Thanks for writing, and I hope the judges like it :twilightsmile:

Glad to hear you liked the majority of this story. As for the part you didn't like so much, that's something I was afraid would cause a problem. Setting the first chapter right before a major fight did make it hard to establish the relationship. On a related note, I do readily admit I'm better at longer fics where I can take my time showing all these things.

As for Aria loving Sunset and Sunset making her happy, it's more a failure in my ability to show it than something her behavior contradicts. A lot of Aria's behavior is based on mine, including her moodiness and tendency to get into fights with her lover. It's been years since I've been as bad as Aria is in this fic, but I still have days like that now. From my experience dealing with that, it's not an indication that she doesn't love or isn't happy with Sunset, it's just that her moods can change rapidly and tend to be negative more than positive. From the outside it's easy to think she's insincere but it's more complicated than that.

Not that I'm saying it wasn't a fault of the story; regardless of the reality of situations like this, if I didn't show it well enough that's still on me.

Great work! This got pretty heavy at times, particularly the beginning of the 2nd chapter. Hit kinda close to home. I featured this on episode 236 of my podcast, Pony 411.

Oh snap! That's incredibly cool, thank you so much for featuring my story :yay:

I'm also glad to hear you liked the story, even if it did hit close to home.

Yeah, I did. The ending was really sweet.

Awesome, I'm glad to hear it :twilightsmile:

Hmm... It just... ends? That's okay I guess.

And that's a start in the right direction. It's a good story. Seconding what other people said, about how the people around her care and just don't know how to help. Like especially with Sunset, she just obviously had no idea what was going on with Aria. Which was fair, since Aria wasn't telling her.

Depression is awful. Good to see her taking a first step in the right direction.

Yeah, this story was meant to be a beginning of change, not follow through on it. Being the wordy bun that I am, I could never have crammed a whole story of recovery into 15k words (the limit for the contest), so I decided to end it at Aria just starting to take the first small steps.

And I’m very flattered that you feel my story should win (from your other comment), I think my chances mostly depend on how many of the reviewers relate to this story. I’ll be happy if it places anywhere, honestly.

Thank you :scootangel: I have a lot of experience not sharing how I’m feeling well enough, and it can really be detrimental in these situations.

Nothing worse than feeling that you can fix things but not being able to make yourself.

Couldn’t have said it better.

Well hell if this isn't the realest depiction of depression I've seen in a while. I can't speak for the suicide part, but the overall feeling of uselessness/pointlessness are frighteningly accurate. I do feel, though, like you're missing a scene somewhere between the second and third chapter. I'm sure it's a product of the contest word limit, but it still feels like we jumped over a definite hole in the story.

Regardless, I'm glad I got to read this one. Definitely a favorite of the bunch so far.

Not gonna lie, I kinda felt that way about the jump from chapters two to three as well. By the time I finished this fic it was too close to the deadline to make any big changes. Could've plausibly used the extended deadline to work on it, but by then I had started working on my main story again and wanted to be done with this one. None of which is to say it's not a problem in the story, however :facehoof:

The suicide part of basically the story adaption of an actual event from my own life (several times, actually...) so in my completely unbiased opinion it's as accurate as anything else here :twilightsheepish: In one way I'm happy to have written something people relate to, in another I wish so many people didn't relate to this. But in any event, I'm glad you enjoyed the story :twilightsmile:

Author Interviewer

Beautiful, as many painful things are.

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it (if enjoyed is the correct word to use here; suppose that depends on your level of emotional masochism) :scootangel: Beautiful and painful is probably the best way to describe what I go for in my writing :raritywink:

Well, they do say write what you know :pinkiecrazy:

More seriously, I don't necessarily think that there's only one way to experience contemplating suicide and think it's plausible you've read some that have gotten it "right", just not right according to your experiences. That said, I absolutely know what you mean about the bulk of stories that try to do suicidal thoughts. While I think there's more than one right way, that by no means is to say there's no wrong way to write about suicidal thoughts. A lot of people wanna write it because it's edgy, and that usually ends up poorly...

Doubling back from my little tangent here, deciding to write about depression this heavily was a little daunting, and including the suicidal scene even more so since it's very much out of my own experiences. It's great to see it go over well with readers :twilightsmile:

Author Interviewer

Yeah, I tend to see the edgy, childish version. Characters going "I'm sad, Imma kms" and trying to cut their own heads off or something. <.< Not experienced it myself, and I do hope this wasn't too personal an experience of your own. D: It's good you're here.

Yeah... I can't even say I'm innocent of overly edgy storytelling, I'm just fortunate enough to have done most of that before I started publishing stories here, so I can safely bury all that without anyone seeing it haha

The suicidal bit was more than any other in this story taken directly from my own experiences, as in it was just literally my thoughts and actions with the knife and all that. I haven't been suicidal in many years though, so at least there's that. Plus while my path to getting there was different than Aria's, the decision to go into therapy and work on my depression was also based on me. Depression and suicidal ideations (different from actually contemplating suicide) are still a struggle, but things get better step by step :ajsmug:

RCL interview brought me here. The moment I liked the most was Aria telling Sunset she loved her precisely because as you wrote, it was the extra mile for her at the time. She didn't have to, but chose to. That's a Big Deal. Agreeing to therapy yes of course, but her admission was an impactful baby step because it's personal. And your Sunset's cool enough to see it took major effort from Aria, if not understanding just how much. I liked the different support styles, Adagio somewhat standoffish and cutting but genuine, Sonata burned too many times guarded yet still hopeful, Sunset trying to patch the leaky dam with duct tape or anything she can get her hands on. Those personalities are definitely out there right now trying to get through to someone.

This comment made me so happy that I spent over a day trying to think of a worthwhile reply and, well... I got nothing :twilightblush: I’m glad that you liked the story though, and happy to see you mention the supporting cast. For having relatively small roles, I’m really happy with Adagio and Sonata in this fic :scootangel:

I think the tears mean you did a great job of hitting way too close to home.

I hope you were still able to enjoy the story, even if Aria’s situation hits close to home. Even more, I hope you’re able to get through your own hardships one step at a time :twilightsmile:

I very much was and thanks for the encouragement.

I kept gearing the song You found love in a hopeless place. Why?

I’m not familiar with the song, I’m afraid :twilightblush:

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