• Published 23rd Sep 2018
  • 2,581 Views, 774 Comments

Playing House - Krickis



When Sunset learns about problems in Fluttershy's home life, she invites her friend to live with her instead. For Fluttershy, it’s a shelter from the storm she lives in fear of. For Sunset, it’s the hope to be part of a family for the first time.

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4 – Where the Line Blurs

Chapter Four

Where the Line Blurs

Arriving at Sweet Apple Acres was a relief. The day was only half over, but it had been going on for far too long. While work had been largely unremarkable, it had only given Sunset more time in her head, which was a confused and conflicted place.

Of course, the stiff muscles didn’t help either. Sleeping on her couch usually had that effect, and sleeping upright on it with another person resting atop her only exacerbated that.

It had been an interesting way to start to her day, to say the least.

None of that was improved by a ride through the snow on her motorcycle. The temperature had dropped over the night, and her muscles protested as she dismounted her bike in front of the farmhouse. She had come to help Applejack around the farm and repay her for lunch the day before, but she wasn’t sure how useful she’d wind up being.

Nevertheless, she marched up to the door and knocked. She heard footsteps from inside, and it opened to reveal Apple Bloom. “Hey, Sunset. Come in.”

Sunset gratefully obeyed. The warmth of the farmhouse was a welcome relief after the frigid bike ride. “Hey, Bloom. AJ around?”

“She’s out in the field. Granny made spiced cider if you want to warm up before heading out, though.”

Well, it would be rude to turn down her hospitality, after all. “That sounds good.”

They walked into the kitchen where the smell of apples and cinnamon filled the air. Apple Bloom took a coffee mug off the drying rack, filled it with cider from the stove top, and handed it to Sunset.

Sunset took a small sip, letting the warmth fill her with a quiet glee. “This is just what I needed.”

“That’s Granny’s cider for ya! Always hits the spot.”

They sat down at the kitchen table while Sunset drank and thawed out. Her body was still sore, but it was slowly starting to feel a little better. “So how’re things at CHS?”

“A lot more boring now that you all left,” Apple Bloom said. “It’s just a regular old school now.”

Sunset smirked. “Yeah, what’s school without being in mortal danger once in a while?”

“Exactly! See, I knew you’d understand.”

“Of course. Why do you think I ran headfirst into so much crap when I was at CHS? Had to get that thrill somehow.”

Apple Bloom leaned back in her chair. “Shame ya settled into the boring adult life after graduating.”

“Hey, don’t sass me. I was an adult before you were born.”

“That don’t even make sense!”

Sunset just shrugged. Technically, she had been a teenager when Apple Bloom was born, but it was close enough. “Sorry I’m too old and boring to keep things interesting for you now. Farm life can’t be that bad, though.”

“Pff. Most exciting thing that’s happened around here is that we got a new horse.”

“You know, most girls only dream of getting their own pony.”

“Yeah, well, BoJack ain’t mine anyway, he’s a workhorse.” Apple Bloom grinned and leaned in closer. “But I think he’s single, if ya want me to introduce ya to him.”

Sunset held up her arms in an x. “Woah bad idea. You ever see a horse’s dick? They’re huge!”

Apple Bloom was laughing too hard to reply, so Sunset just grinned and kept going. “Why do you think I prefer to stick to mares? I may be down for a good time, but I know where my limits are.”

“Oh yeah?” Apple Bloom asked as she tried to regain her composure. “Got a lot of experience with mares then?”

“Tons,” Sunset said, although, strictly speaking, that wasn’t true. “Wasn’t a single mare back home that didn’t want to shack up with the great Sunset Shimmer.”

“What about mares here then?”

“What, do I seem racist to you? Mares of every world deserve to know to sensual delight that is my love.”

“Well in that case, how about we go out to the barn and find you a mare of your own?”

“You know, I would, but I really do have to go help AJ.” Sunset sighed as if disappointed. “Another time, maybe.”

“Yeah yeah, alright.” Apple Bloom stood up and walked back over to the stove. She filled a thermos with cider and handed it to Sunset. “Bring that to AJ, will ya?”

“Sure thing.” Sunset drained the remainder of her own mug. Really, It was too hot to drink quickly, but she was wary of letting the joke get much further; it would be foolish to think that any Apple would let go of a joke that had so much potential.

Apple Bloom saw Sunset to the door and pointed her in the direction of Applejack. Sunset braced herself for the cold but was still taken aback as she walked into it. There was nothing to do about it though, so she resigned herself to her task and made her way to her friend.

As she often did, Sunset questioned her stubbornness. There was no doubt that Applejack would’ve paid for her lunch without Sunset needing to make up for it. Yet, here she was, shivering after only being back in the cold for minutes.

Sunset was not built for cold. The only thing good about cold weather was the ways to chase it away. Hot drinks, warm houses, fireplaces, cozy blankets. These were things Sunset was made for, not cutting branches off dormant apple trees in the middle of January.

Not that it mattered. Whether Applejack would hold her to it or not, Sunset would fulfil her agreement to help her. She felt guilty enough about all of her friend’s recent hospitality; she should at least make up for it where she could.

Applejack’s back was to Sunset as she approached. She was in one of the trees with a pair of loppers, about to make a cut. Sunset stood back and waited, not wanting to pull her attention away from her task.

There was a crunching sound as the loppers tore through the branch, and then a crack as it fell from the tree. As it hit the ground, Applejack turned to face Sunset. “Hey, glad ya made it.”

Even through the winter chill, Applejack’s smile made Sunset feel just a little bit warmer. Sunset just shrugged it off. “Yeah, well, I know you’d never manage on your own. How’d you know I was here?”

“What, ya thought you were bein’ quiet? Heard your bike when ya got here, then I heard you walkin’ up after.” Applejack climbed along the branches as she talked, moving towards the next one she needed to cut. “A good ten, fifteen minutes in between those two things, I might add.”

“Well, I was getting you something.” Sunset held up the thermos. “But if you don’t want it…”

“Now don’t be foolish, I didn’t say anything about not wanting anything.” Applejack paused as she selected another branch. A moment later, that too was tumbling to the ground. “I was just making an observation is all.”

Apparently satisfied with the tree, Applejack climbed back towards the ladder leaning against it. Once she was sure there wouldn’t be any more falling branches, Sunset walked over to wait for her at the bottom. As Applejack stepped off the ladder, Sunset handed her the thermos.

“Thanks. I don’t know how much longer I plan on bein’ out in this cold.” Applejack took the lid off the thermos and drank from it. She smiled from the warmth then handed it back to Sunset, but it was clearly a weary smile. “I been out here for a while already, and I’m feeling it.”

Sunset took a sip from the thermos and replaced the cap, not daring point out that she herself was already feeling it after a few minutes. “Can’t say I blame you. So let me know what I can do now that I’m here, and we can hurry up and get it done.”

Applejack instructed Sunset to haul the branches she had cut down to the front yard. Meanwhile, Applejack took the thermos with her and moved the ladder to another tree. It didn’t give them a chance to talk, but there wasn’t really any other way to divide the labor. There wasn’t any sense in both of them getting in each other’s way by trying to cut branches from the same tree, and Sunset would never know which branches should be cut if she was trying to do a tree by herself.

So Sunset made the trip back and forth, dragging branches to the curbside for pick up. Once she finished clearing the ones from that tree, she moved on to the same one Applejack was working on. Whenever Applejack would cut a branch, Sunset would grab it before she could cut the next, then bring it to the pile with the others.

It wasn’t so bad, except for the cold, and there was no doubting it helped make the task easier for Applejack. Of course, Apple Bloom was probably the one who really benefited; there was no doubt that it would have fallen to her to lend a hand if Sunset hadn’t shown up.

But even if it wasn’t too bad, Sunset was more than happy to agree when Applejack suggested they call it a day. All in all they had been at it for less than an hour, and Sunset did feel a little guilty for not helping more. But not too bad; her fingers were going numb from the cold and the exertion, and she had been exhausted from work before she had even begun.

Well, not just from work.

“Guess you’re probably ready to head inside?” Sunset asked.

“More than ready. Not quite time for dinner yet, wanna head down to the cellar for a bit?”

“Sounds good to me.” Sunset followed Applejack to the backyard, where there was a trapdoor leading down into the Apple’s cellar. It was mostly just a basic storage cellar, but there was another appeal to it.

It was colder than the rest of the house, since heat didn’t travel down the stairs well. Still, it was a noticeable improvement over being outside. In one corner, there were a few old chairs and a small fridge, which was where they went. Applejack opened the fridge and pulled out two cans of beer, handing one to Sunset.

Sunset opened her beer and took a seat. Applejack mimicked her, leaning back in her chair, clearly exhausted. It was a regular part of spending time at Sweet Apple Acres, where house rules took precedence over the legal drinking age. Don’t get outright drunk, put in a fair share of work, and keep it in the cellar. While Apple Bloom was still be too young to invite her friends to the cellar, Applejack had graduated from high school to working full time on the farm, meaning she and her friends were adults in Granny Smith’s eyes.

Applejack sighed, signifying that she had some thoughts to get out into the open before Sunset had a chance to do the same. “I don’t know if we can take another year like last one.”

Sunset knew what Applejack was talking about without needing to ask. After her parents died, Sweet Apple Acres fell on hard times. It got bad enough that Granny Smith took up a second job in the cafeteria at Canterlot High School, and for a while, it looked like there wasn’t much of a future for Sweet Apple Acres.

“Hey, it’ll be alright. Things are moving upwards, you know that.”

Applejack shook her head. “All we’re doing is buying time, and it ain’t bein’ sold to us at a fair price. We can’t keep just doin’ farmer’s markets and local stores.”

“You haven’t given yourself enough time yet. You’ve been doing an amazing job at getting more business.” In truth, Applejack was doing more than anyone could expect of her. While Granny Smith had somehow managed to keep the farm going practically single-handedly while her grandchildren were still growing, her old-fashioned business practices didn’t make money like they used to.

Without Applejack, Sweet Apple Acres had no hope. The young woman was quickly proving to be the bridge between her family’s traditions and more modern sensibilities that the farm desperately needed. She was already taking on an active role in running the business side of the farm while in high school, and since graduating, she had become the main driving force behind it.

“I have an idea, but I know the others aren’t gonna like it. Mom and Dad left us with one hell of a farm, no one can deny that. We’ve had more people trying to buy it out from us than I can name.”

Sunset frowned. “You’re not thinking of accepting, are you?”

“Course not,” Applejack answered quickly. “It’s just that we got this farm and it’s bigger than our business needs. It’s the most basic part of business, supply and demand. We got the supply, but we don’t got the demand.”

“So how do you increase demand?”

“We need to expand. Can’t just wait for people to come to us, we gotta go to where the people are. It’s like we’ve got two choices, but no one wants to decide between ‘em. We dig our feet in and hold off the end as long as we can, or we push back. And that ain’t hardly a real choice at all, far as I’m concerned.”

“Yeah. So where’s the problem?”

Applejack sighed again and looked at the ground. “Well, the rest of my family. Especially Granny. See, we’re all working as hard as we can, so if we expand…”

“You need more people.” Sunset saw the problem immediately. Sweet Apple Acres had been family owned and operated for generations, and the only outside help they’d had in all that time was the occasional family friend lending a hand.

“I don’t even want to begin having that conversation… But Apple Bloom’s grades are already dropping ‘cause she doesn’t get enough time to focus on school as is, Granny’s not gettin’ any younger, and me and Big Mac are doing everythin’ we can.”

“Think Big Mac will at least be on your side?”

“Might be. Lord knows he must want some help carryin’ the weight too. But who knows, family traditions are real important to him.”

“Yeah, and they’re important to you too,” Sunset reminded her. “He knows that. Everyone knows that. I’m sure they’ll know that you would never suggest this if you didn’t think it was the only way.”

Applejack gave a small laugh. “It’s almost like ya forgot we’re talking ‘bout the Apples here. Ain’t a one of us gonna think things out logically like that, least at first. We’re too stubborn.”

Sunset grinned. “Which is why you’ll just have to be stubborn enough to get through to them.”

Applejack laughed a little and took a drink of her beer. She paused a moment before turning to Sunset with a sheepish smile. “Don’t reckon ya ever thought ‘bout becoming a farmer?”

“What, me?” Sunset looked around as if expecting to see someone else Applejack might be talking to. “Even aside from the whole waking up at the crack of dawn to work my ass off thing, you’ve seen me try and help out around the farm. I’m not exactly handy with this sort of thing.”

“Heh. Well, it was worth a shot.” Applejack took a long draft of her beer.

“You know I’m always happy to help if you need me, but as a regular job? You could find someone better suited.”

“Fair enough.”

Sunset wasn’t sure how to go from Applejack’s problems to her own, but Applejack wound up answering that for her when she asked, “So how’s everything going with Fluttershy?”

“It’s been… I’m not really sure.”

Applejack punched Sunset’s arm. “Aww, miss living on your own already?”

Sunset shook her head and ignored how hard Applejack’s playful punches were. “No, nothing like that. It’s actually been pretty cool having someone around.”

“Money problems then?”

“No. The budget’s gonna be tighter, but someone just won’t seem to let us starve. I think we’ll be alright with money.”

“So what’s up then?”

Even though it was something she had decided to talk about, Sunset hesitated before getting into it. If this had happened with someone else, Sunset never would consider bringing it up. But it happened with Fluttershy, one of Sunset’s closest friends, and the last thing she wanted to do was anything that would hurt her.

“Well… when I woke up this morning, we were cuddled together on the couch.”

Applejack seemed to be studying Sunset’s expression. It was unclear what she found there. “That, uh, that’s an interestin’ way to wake up. Especially if ya don’t remember gettin’ all cuddled up the night before.”

“I fell asleep while we were watching a movie. She could’ve just woken me up, or taken the bed while I wasn’t using it.” Sunset stretched out her back. “Shit, after sleeping on that couch for one night, I feel bad for having her sleep on it all week. She should’ve just taken the bed.”

“Can’t really see Fluttershy takin’ your bed while you slept. Dunno why she didn’t just wake ya up, though.”

“Right. Unless she didn’t want to.”

“I see what you’re gettin’ at, but let’s not jump to conclusions. Did ya try asking her about it?”

“No, she was still asleep when I went to work.” Pretending to sleep was more likely. Sunset highly doubted that Fluttershy slept through Sunset removing herself from her grip, let alone continued to sleep while Sunset got ready.

“Maybe she just didn’t think anythin’ of it. You know some people are just okay with things like that.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think that’s it. In all the sleepovers we’ve had, has Fluttershy ever done anything like that?”

Applejack thought for a moment. “Well, maybe shared a big enough bed when there wasn’t anywhere else to sleep a couple of times, but I see what ya mean. That ain’t really the same thing, but then again, she’s also never done anything that looked like she was into you.”

That much was true. Sunset had been racking her brain all day to try and find some hint that Fluttershy might’ve made about how she felt. She’d only come up with one. “Yeah, not until she decided to come out. Doesn’t that timing feel a little convenient?”

“You’ve got a point there.” Applejack finished her beer and stood up to get another. “And it’s not like it’s hard to see where this might be coming from. She was in a bad situation and you took her in.”

Applejack offered another beer to Sunset, but she shook her head. “No thanks, I’ve still got to drive home.” She sighed and set aside her empty can. “What am I supposed to do with this?”

Applejack opened her beer and took a drink before answering. “Well, what do ya want to do?”

“What do you mean? Fluttershy’s only ever been a friend to me.”

“Yeah, but is that all you want her to be?”

Sunset shook her head. “It doesn’t even matter. Like you said, maybe the only reason she’s interested is because I gave her a place to live. I can’t start a relationship based on that, it wouldn’t be right.”

“I never said that was the only reason. But I reckon that’s something you two could talk about at least. And anyway, it only matters if you want to start a relationship with her.”

Sunset didn’t answer. How could she? It wasn’t that easy.

“What if that happened with Pinkie?” Applejack asked, throwing Sunset off. “If ya woke up with Pinkie cuddled up with you, would ya want to try and make a relationship out of it?”

Sunset chuckled. “If I woke up with Pinkie cuddling me, I would probably just think it’s Pinkie being Pinkie.”

“Rainbow then.”

“She doesn’t even like girls.”

“Come on, Sunset, humor me.”

Sunset thought for a moment. “No. If I woke up cuddling Rainbow, it would just be awkward and I’d probably just want to drop it. Same with Pinkie. I wouldn’t want to push for more with either of them.”

Applejack nodded. “Rarity?”

“Same.”

“Me?”

Sunset grinned. “Oh, we’d talk, but it’d be about how I’m never drinking again, not us dating.”

“Right. So then why was Fluttershy an ‘I don’t know’ when everyone else is a ‘no’?”

The grin fell from Sunset’s face. She forced a deep breath before answering. “Because… Fluttershy’s different.”

“So… do ya want to be with her?”

“That’s… complicated.” It had been over a year since the Fall Formal, and Sunset had never told anyone about what she had experienced that night. But there was no separating what had happened then with what was happening now, and if she was going to tell anyone, it would definitely be Applejack.

“On the night of the Fall Formal, when the Elements hit me, I saw some things.” Sunset closed her eyes. The specific details had faded with time to the point where sometimes Sunset was able to disregard them, but the big picture was always there. “I saw what could have happened if I had fixed things in Equestria. I never even went through the portal, never even knew about it. Then I saw what could have happened if I fixed things with you back in middle school…”

“Guess that must’ve been why you decided to change after all.”

Sunset shook her head. “I don’t know. Maybe. It was definitely part of it, but there were so many things going on back then.”

“Yeah. So what’s that have to do with Fluttershy?”

“On that second path, I didn’t just become friends with you. It started that way, but then I also became friends with all the others much sooner. Fluttershy and I… we were dating. And we were really happy together.”

“So you think you two could be happy together now.”

“Maybe.” Sunset got up and got another beer after all. “I don’t even know if what I saw was real. Obviously it didn’t happen, but you know, would it have? Sometimes I feel like I just made the whole thing up, other times…”

Applejack adjusted her hat. “You know I don’t understand any of that magic stuff, but we have seen some pretty crazy stuff. I could see something like that happening.”

Sunset took a drink and grinned. “Let’s just say that when Fluttershy told us she’s gay, I wasn’t surprised at all. I already knew. Saw it firsthand on that night.”

“Makes sense.”

They drank quietly for a moment. Sunset hoped Applejack would offer more of her thoughts on the situation, but it seemed she would need to be prompted. “So… what do you think? Should I really just trust that things will work because of what I saw that night?”

Applejack sighed and looked away from Sunset. “You know I’m about as good with romance as I am with magic. And I got no idea what to make of all that ‘could have been’ stuff. But… I think it could work just because you two get along so well, you know? Maybe the vision or whatever was the real deal, maybe it wasn’t, but it don’t really matter. You and Fluttershy have been friends for a while now, ya like spending time together, and I know both of you will be there for each other when ya need it. If it’s somethin’ ya might want, isn’t that enough already?”

It sounded so simple when Applejack said it, but then again, everything always did. “Yeah, maybe.”

Applejack chuckled nervously. “But well, like I said I don’t really know ‘bout this stuff. Maybe it’d be better to ask someone else? Bet Twilight could help if ya wrote to her about it.”

Hey, Twilight, what do you think of me dating the alternate dimension version of your girlfriend? Sunset didn’t see that working out too well, but she didn’t really want to bring up the fact that Twilight had jealousy issues with Applejack. “That’s fair. Anyway, it’s not like I’ll need to figure anything out tonight.”

“Yeah, exactly!” Once it was clear Sunset was done asking her advice on romance, Applejack perked up considerably. “Take your time and sort things out. I know you two will make the right call.”

Sunset smirked. “You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d almost think it sounds like you have faith in me.”

Applejack shrugged. “Maybe, or I could just have faith in Fluttershy. Though if you’re right and she does want to date you, then I might be a little worried about her decision making.”

“You know, it’s okay to say you’re jealous. I get all the girls and guys, and you’ve just got apple trees.”

“Yeah yeah. You know, I have had my share of suitors in the past. The second I get time away from work, I could find somebody no problem.”

“AJ, the only time you’re gonna get away from work is the day you die. You gotta live a little!”

Applejack finished her beer and smiled at Sunset. “Reckon I’m livin’ just fine, thanks.”

Sunset finished hers as well, then followed Applejack out of the cellar. Entering the warmth of the rest of the house was a welcome relief, even if it was bound to be a short one.

“Feel like stayin’ for dinner?” Applejack asked at the top of the stairs.

“I should head home, Fluttershy’s probably waiting.”

Applejack gave her a knowing smirk, so Sunset shoved her. “I mean she probably planned dinner for both of us!”

“Of course. Best not keep your lady waiting!”

“Why do I tell you anything?”

“ ‘Cause you’d be lost without me.”

Even if that was true, there was no sense in telling Applejack that. So Sunset said her goodbyes, braced herself, and went back out into the cold.

The freezing winds on the motorcycle ride only made things worse. If Sunset had thought about it, she might have been glad for the distraction, but Sunset didn’t think about anything other than how much she hated winter.

No matter how awkward the imminent conversation with Fluttershy was going to be, arriving home was a welcome relief. Sunset locked up her bike and made her way inside as quickly as she could. Her house wasn’t kept as warm as Sweet Apple Acres, but at least she could take comfort in knowing she didn’t have anywhere else to be for the rest of the day.

It didn’t take long to figure out what Fluttershy was up to. Once Sunset had the door closed, she could hear Fluttershy singing in the living room. She grinned, wondering if Fluttershy had even heard the door. She walked through the kitchen and stopped at the entrance to the living room.

It was apparent that Fluttershy hadn’t heard Sunset arrive. She had headphones in and was singing an upbeat song while dancing around. Sunset couldn’t help but smile as she watched.

“Look close and you will see, there’s so much more to – aaah!”

“Hi, Fluttershy.” Sunset waved to a mortified Fluttershy. “I like your song.”

Fluttershy squeaked out something incomprehensible.

“Sorry for startling you, I wasn’t trying to.”

Fluttershy looked at the floor and nodded. She had seemed so carefree while dancing, but now she was slouching while holding her arms close to her body.

Sunset turned away as well, feeling guilty for sneaking up on her. It had been nice seeing the reserved girl loosen up, but ignoring it was probably the best way to avoid making her feel more embarrassed. “I think I’m going to take a hot shower to warm up.”

“Okay,” Fluttershy said quietly. “Uhm, should I start making dinner?”

Sunset forced a smile at the offer. Sometimes Sunset got the impression Fluttershy saw herself as a sort of live-in maid, needing to constantly cook and clean to earn her keep. “If you want to, but it’s no big deal if you don’t feel like it. I have leftovers from yesterday I could just heat up.”

With Fluttershy’s murmurs of agreement, Sunset grabbed some pajamas and brought them into the bathroom. She turned on the water and got undressed while waiting for it to heat up.

A hot shower felt like a good idea for a few reasons. It was certainly true that it would get her feeling warm faster, although that was probably the least important reason. It would also give Fluttershy some time to calm down from her embarrassment, which was also only a minor perk. Slightly higher on the list was that it would give Sunset a chance to relax after spending the day working, and the heat would help soothe her stiff muscles.

But when it came down to it, there was mainly one thing Sunset wanted out of the shower. It would give her the chance to figure out what to say to Fluttershy once she was out.

Sunset tested the water and deemed it warm enough to get in. Relief was instant, and she found herself struck with the age-old thought that she never wanted to leave.

She let the water wash over her as she debated what to do. Like she’d said to Applejack, Sunset didn’t need to know the full scope of what she’d do right away, but there would be a conversation nonetheless. How could there not be? They had slept together, even if only in the most literal sense, and Fluttershy would want to talk about that.

Unless, of course, she didn’t. Sunset frowned at the thought, but there was an undeniable logic to it. Fluttershy would find the conversation just as awkward as Sunset did, right? So what if she didn’t want to talk about it?

Well, if neither Sunset nor Fluttershy wanted to talk about it, then wasn’t that good enough? It wasn’t like Sunset really cared that it had happened, aside from the confusion the whole thing caused. If Fluttershy wanted to bring it up, then of course they’d talk about it. But if not? Then they could just put the whole thing behind them.

Although she wasn’t sure it was the best course of action, coming to that conclusion did offer a sense of relief. Sunset finished up in the shower, got dressed, and left the bathroom fully expecting to put all the awkwardness behind them.

By the time she was out, the sun had started to set. Weirdly short days were another downside to winter, even if Sunset had always enjoyed staying up into the night. She walked into the kitchen to find Fluttershy eating dinner.

“Feel better?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yeah. That was just what I needed.” Since Fluttershy had taken Sunset up on the idea of eating leftovers, Sunset pulled her own out of the fridge. She scooped the carbonara into a paper bowl and placed it in the microwave to heat. “Today has just been kicking my ass.”

“Bad day at work?”

Sunset shrugged. “Isn’t it always? Then helping Applejack in the snow didn’t do me any favors.”

“It was nice of you to help, though. I’m sure she really appreciated it.”

“Yeah, well, it’s the least I could do, right? On top of buying me lunch, she gave us so much food yesterday.”

“I’m sure she would’ve understood if you said you couldn’t make it.”

“Probably, but still.” The microwave beeped, so Sunset pulled out her food and took a seat next to Fluttershy. “How was school?”

“It was good. I only had biology today, which is my favorite.”

Sunset smirked. “Naturally.”

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Fluttershy told Sunset what she was learning in class as they ate, and neither of them brought up anything awkward. It was just like always, and Sunset was beginning to wonder what she had been so worried about.

It was all going perfectly, until Fluttershy spoke up during a lull in the conversation. “Uhm, Sunset?”

Sunset did not like her tone, but she didn’t let that show. “Yeah?”

“Uhm… did you ever… worry when you, uh, when you came out?”

Oh, gay stuff. That was easier, so long as it remained just the general topic. “Sure, a little. You all were the first friends I ever had, and it goes without saying the best. How could I not be a little worried?”

“I was so happy when you did.” Happy? Why was she happy? Could it be… “I wanted to tell you, uhm, about me. But I was too scared.”

This was veering back into potentially awkward territory, but there was nothing Sunset could do. “Well, the important thing is that you came out now, right?” Wait, shit, what if she thought that meant Sunset planned on pursuing something with her now? “It’s a good feeling to not have to hide things anymore. And whenever you meet someone you want to be with, you’ll be able to go after her without worrying about us now.”

“I, uhm, I’ve been thinking about… that…”

“Oh?” Sunset forced down her concern. If this conversation was heading towards Fluttershy confessing some sort of feelings for her, then delaying it wasn’t going to make things any easier. “Somebody catch your eye already?”

“No. Not someone specific or anything. I was just thinking that, uhm, maybe it would be nice to… to be with someone.”

Okay. They were still just on the general subject. That was good. “Relationships can be pretty great, just don’t buy into the perfect movie romance thing too hard.”

“Yeah, I know.” Finished with her meal, Fluttershy stood up and threw away her paper bowl. But rather than go into the living room, she simply returned to her seat.

Although she didn’t say anything else, there still seemed to be something on Fluttershy’s mind. She kept glancing at Sunset then looking away, and Sunset wasn’t sure what to make of it. Was she waiting for something more from Sunset? Some advice or something on how to find a girlfriend?

“Something else on your mind, Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy’s eyes darted to the table. “Oh, no. Well, uhm…”

Sunset reached her hand across the table to place it on Fluttershy’s. “It’s okay. Whatever it is, you can talk to me about it.”

“I-it’s, uhm…” Fluttershy shook her head. “It’s nothing.”

“I’m not going to force it out of you, but it doesn’t sound like nothing.”

“W-well… I was wondering…” Fluttershy took a deep breath, tried to look into Sunset’s eyes, then gave up and turned away again. “Uhm, I was… would it be okay if… if I tried, uhm, drinking?”

Sunset managed to not laugh out loud, but couldn’t help the grin. “Geez, you live with me for a week and I’m already driving you to drink?”

“No!” Fluttershy finally managed to look at Sunset, although it was with shock and concern. “I-I didn’t mean anything like that! I was, uhm, never mind.”

“Relax, I’m joking. And sure you can, but do you mind if I ask where this is coming from?”

“It’s, uhm…” Fluttershy’s mouth worked between a frown and a grimace.

“Does it have something to do with the whole girlfriend thing?”

“Uhm, maybe a little…”

Sunset took a bite of her food while she thought. She made sure to keep her body language and tone as casual as possible to try and keep Fluttershy feeling comfortable despite the conversation. “Dating someone doesn’t always mean drinking you know.”

“I know, but that’s only part of it…”

While Sunset wasn’t exactly sure how people met potential partners other than parties and bars, she didn’t want Fluttershy to think she had to drink to date someone. “I guess I just want to know that this is something you want to do, not something you feel like you should do. You’re only nineteen.”

“You’re only eighteen,” Fluttershy mumbled. “And, well, everyone else already does…”

“I’m not saying you’re not old enough, just…” Sunset smiled and shook her head. “I guess I don’t really know what I’m saying. It’s just strange, I kinda thought you’d never drink.”

“I did too, but…” Fluttershy closed her eyes and rested her head on her hand. “I was always… scared. And… I don’t want to be, not anymore.”

“Oh.” For some reason, Sunset hadn’t even considered that this could be another way for Fluttershy to step out of her dad’s shadow. “Yeah, okay. I’m glad you came to me with this then. I’m probably the most experienced with alcohol out of our friends, since I had that whole hellraiser childhood thing.”

Sunset stood up and opened the fridge. “Beer or wine, if you want to try something tonight. I’ll make it an easy choice and tell you that you’ll hate beer the first time you try it. Not that you’ll necessarily like wine right away either, but you know. Lesser of the two evils.”

“Oh, uhm, I guess I could try wine.”

Sunset pulled out a bottle of pinot grigio then got two wine glasses out of the cabinet. She rarely bothered with them, not particularly caring about the whole ‘proper drinking experience’ thing, but she figured they might as well do it right. Deciding it would be best to start slow, she poured a little more into her own glass than Fluttershy’s. She set both glasses and the bottle on the table.

“Let’s start with one glass, then you can see how you feel. Drink it slowly, and don’t expect grape juice.” Sunset took a drink first, while Fluttershy simply stared at her own glass.

There was a long enough hesitation for Sunset to think she changed her mind, but before she could remind Fluttershy that she didn’t have to drink, she took a sip. To Sunset’s surprise, her face remained perfectly composed despite the bitterness.

“What do you think?” Sunset asked as Fluttershy went back to looking at her drink.

“I… kind of like it.” Fluttershy frowned.

“Hey, that’s great. Most people don’t at first.”

Even if she liked the wine, Fluttershy still didn’t exactly seem to be enjoying herself. She did take another drink, though.

“You know you’re free to help yourself to anything in the house, but just a heads up, it’s really easy to overdo it on booze before you know your limits.”

“Oh, I don’t think I’ll be drinking too much.”

“Yeah, it’s a little much at first.”

“It’s not that. I do like the taste.”

If she liked the wine, then it was clear that the issue had to stem from her history. Sunset wasn’t sure how much to push, but she decided to take a chance. “So… what are you thinking?”

Fluttershy looked into Sunset’s eyes, but she barely seemed to be seeing her. “I… I don’t know.”

“Well… that’s okay. You’re trying something new, and that’s not something to feel bad about.”

Fluttershy didn’t answer right away. When she did, she was back to looking at her glass. “I guess… when I was younger, I always wanted to blame the alcohol. I wanted to believe my dad… that Stormy Skies was a good person, and that it was just the alcohol that made him do bad things. And… I’ve known that wasn’t true for a long time, but I… I don’t think I ever fully stopped believing it.”

“You don’t have to finish, you know.”

Instead of answering, Fluttershy took another drink. It was too large, and she wound up coughing.

“Careful,” Sunset reminded her.

Fluttershy nodded and took a smaller sip. She set her glass down. “I know alcohol didn’t make him a monster. He was one all along.”

Unsure of what to say, Sunset took another drink.

“I’m sorry.”

Sunset furrowed her brow. “You don’t need to apologize. And you’re right. If he had been a good person doing bad things because of alcohol, he would’ve stopped drinking. He was who he allowed himself to be.”

Fluttershy’s hand moved across the table towards Sunset’s, then she seemed to change her mind and pulled it back. “Thank you for listening to me. And for everything else.”

Sunset smiled and reached for Fluttershy’s hand. She had only meant to place her hand on top of her friend’s, but Fluttershy mimicked her and reached for Sunset’s as well, cupping their hands together. Sunset forgot what she was going to say at the gesture, but she kept her hold on Fluttershy’s hand.

“You’ve been so good to me, I don’t deserve someone like you.”

“Sure you do,” Sunset said without even thinking. “You deserve only the best, Shy.”

“You’re sweet. But all I do is make things harder for you.” Fluttershy blushed a little. “I even kept you from your bed last night.”

Sunset couldn’t help but snicker a little at that. “I fall asleep on the couch like all the time. You didn’t keep me from anything. I’m just surprised you didn’t seize the chance to take the bed.”

Fluttershy fidgeted and used the last of her wine as a distraction from having to answer.

Sunset finished hers as well and smiled. “Come to think of it, why don’t we just share the bed for now. At least until we get you one. Promise it’ll be a lot more comfortable than the couch.”

“What?” Fluttershy looked surprised, and her blush grew more intense. “Wouldn’t that be, uhm… strange?”

Taking turns with who got to sleep in the bed didn’t seem that strange to Sunset. “It’s just an idea. If you’d rather not then we can just keep things the way they are.”

Fluttershy looked down at the table, but her grip on Sunset’s hand tightened. “I think… that would be nice, actually.”

Sunset grinned. “Yeah, I figured you would. I know the couch isn’t the most comfortable.”

Fluttershy looked up and smiled through her blush. “Thanks again, Sunny.”

The nickname made Sunset blush a little too. She had said Fluttershy could use it, but she hadn’t really expected her to. Too late to change her mind now, it would just be something to get used to. “No problem. On another note, how are you feeling? Not dizzy or lightheaded or anything like that, right?”

Fluttershy shook her head and smiled. “I feel good. Happy.”

“Good. Probably best to leave it at that for the night. Better to end on a good note than risk overdoing it.” Even if it was only one glass, Fluttershy hadn’t stopped blushing.

“Okay.” Before Sunset could put away the bottle, Fluttershy stood up and did it herself.

Sunset stood up as well and stretched. It was still relatively early, but the sun had gone down and it had been an exhausting day. “Think I’ll head to bed. Enjoy the rest of your night.”

“Oh, okay. Good night, Sunny.”

“Night, Shy.”

Sunset walked to the bedroom and wasted no time in collapsing on the bed. For all her worrying, it had been a pretty good day. She’d helped repay Applejack a little for her hospitality, helped Fluttershy work on her issues with alcohol, and they had even talked about the previous night a little.

Although she was ready to pass out, Sunset retrieved her phone from the bedside table first. She checked her notifications and debated sending Applejack an update on how things went with Fluttershy, then decided against it. There wasn’t much to talk about, they were still just friends, same as always.

She killed a few minutes on her phone, then set it back on the table and plugged a charger into it. As good as the day had wound up being in the end, it still felt nice to put it behind her. She got up to turn off her bedroom light, but stopped when there was a soft knock on the door.

“Yeah?” Sunset called through it.

Unsurprisingly, Fluttershy was on the other side. She had also changed into pajamas. What was a little surprising was that she had her blanket and pillow. “Uhm, I think I’ll get to bed early too.”

“Oh, sure.” Sunset had been hoping for a restful sleep in bed, but she realized Fluttershy had been dealing with the couch much longer. “You can take the bed tonight, I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“What?” Fluttershy gave her a perplexed look.

Sunset was confused by her confusion, but she got out of bed all the same. “Er, did you need something else?”

Fluttershy continued looking confused for a moment, then turned her eyes towards the ground. “I, uhm… I thought we were sharing the bed…”

“Well, yeah. So you can have it tonight and then – oh!” Sunset facepalmed. “I just realized why you thought sharing the bed would be weird. I didn’t mean, you know, at the same time.”

“Oh.” Fluttershy blushed and held her pillow tight. “O-of course. That’d be… weird…”

Sunset just laughed at the misunderstanding. “Yeah, you don’t want to deal with me snoring anyway.” She walked past Fluttershy into the living room. “Right, well, good night.”

“Uhm, good night…”

Sunset got as far as the couch when she realized she hadn’t taken a pillow or blanket. She turned back around and went into the bedroom again. “Sorry, forgot something.”

Fluttershy was sitting on the bed. She nodded, but didn’t speak. Sunset grabbed her things and went to leave, but was stopped by Fluttershy’s voice when she reached the door. “Stay?”

“Huh?” Sunset turned around to see Fluttershy was again facing away from her.

“We could…” Fluttershy shook her head. “I feel… safer with you.”

“Safer? From what? Nothing’s gonna get you here, Shy.”

“I-I know. But I…” Fluttershy swallowed and looked up at Sunset. She didn’t speak, and almost looked like she might cry.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Sunset walked back to the bed and sat down beside Fluttershy. “You know I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”

“I know. That’s why…” Fluttershy took a shaky breath and leaned her head against Sunset’s shoulder. “I think… if you stayed with me tonight, I wouldn’t…”

Whatever it was that Fluttershy wouldn’t do was lost as her words cut off. Sunset wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but she knew she couldn’t leave Fluttershy so upset. “Well… sure, if that’s what you want.”

“Thank you. And I’m sorry.”

Fluttershy moved to the inside of the bed, and Sunset scratched her head in confusion. Maybe it was because of the wine, but Sunset couldn’t figure out how this situation came about. It occurred to her a moment later that it was, in fact, probably because of the wine.

“Don’t be. Get comfy, I’ll get the light.” Sunset stood back up and turned off the light, then returned to the bed. She lay down next to Fluttershy, making sure to give her plenty of space.

It didn’t matter so much, because Fluttershy rolled onto her side towards Sunset, closing most of the distance between them. Sunset decided there was no point in even trying to think about anything that was happening until the morning, so she just covered herself with a blanket and got comfortable.

After a moment, Fluttershy’s hand found hers, and their fingers laced together. “Is, uhm, is this okay?”

In the dark, Sunset couldn’t see Fluttershy’s expression, but she could hear the worry in her voice plain as day. “Yeah, this is fine. Good night, Shy.”

“Good night, Sunny.”

Suddenly feeling more awake, Sunset found herself failing in her decision to not question what was happening, although she didn’t make any headway in figuring it out. There was the obvious conclusion, that Fluttershy was coming onto her, but Sunset didn’t want to assume that.

It was hard not to feel like that was becoming increasingly likely as Fluttershy scooted even closer while Sunset lay awake. Was she asleep, or had that been intentional? Sunset couldn’t be sure.

Eventually, only two things remained in Sunset’s mind as she finally drifted into sleep. One was Applejack’s question, about if she wanted to be in a relationship with Fluttershy. That was even harder to answer than it had been when Applejack had asked it, but she couldn’t deny there was something enjoyable about being so close to her.

The other thing on her mind was a memory of a high school dance and a kiss shared among sunflowers. Perhaps it was just a fragmented memory of a dream, but it had never quite left her thoughts. It had been another life that was vastly different than the one Sunset had actually lived, but she had been happy.

With that in mind, Sunset found herself closing the rest of the distance between them. She let go of Fluttershy’s hand to instead place her arm around her body. Fluttershy made a small noise of contentment, then did the same. Almost on instinct, Sunset kissed the top of Fluttershy’s head, then finally drifted to sleep.

Author's Note:

Reminder that despite the small reference to the So Much More to Me short, only the first three movies (and shorts connected to them) are canon to this story. I just really like that song lol

Also as a disclaimer, I don’t mean to encourage underage drinking in this fic. I include things that I find realistic, whether they’re good or bad, and all characters are at least eighteen (above the age of legal drinking in many countries).

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