• Published 12th Jan 2019
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An Unexpected family - archr

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Chapter 1: Déjà vu

The students and staff of Canterlot High trickled home at the end of the day, Sunset waved goodbye to her newfound friends. It had been two weeks since the fall formal,She felt good—ashamed,but happy in a way she hadn’t since before her mother died.

Sunset Sighed,“I doubt there’s any room at the shelter tonight and it’s too cold to sleep in the park, I guess I’ll have to hole up in the school library tonight.”

Using a key she copied from the janitor she made her way into the library. The school was quiet now—no one was around but her. She pulled a mummy bag and a candle from behind the encyclopedias; She lit it,pulled out a book and began to read herself to sleep.

Principal Celestia was working late—she had a lot of paperwork to do for the ‘renovations’ to the school, she didn’t want to explain the fall formal incident the administration. She packed her things and made her way to her car. Passing the library she stopped as she saw the flicker of a candle coming from the window. She Decided To investigate, “Hello, is someone here?”
Sunset Quickly Snuffed the candle.

Celestia turned on the lights and started looking between the bookcases and came upon the bundled up student. “Sunset Shimmer, Is that you, what are you doing here? You should be home, the school is closed.”
Sunset looked down, but didn’t move, struck with a terrifying feeling of deja vu.

Celestia Crossed her arms,“Breaking into the school library is against the rules, not to mention illegal. Sunset I thought you changed, why are you here? Explain yourself!”

Sunset looked up, fear in her eyes. “The Shelter was full and—I didn’t want to sleep in the park again, I’m sorry I’ll leave please don’t expel me for this!”

The principal’s demeanor changed as the truth struck her, “Sunset are you—homeless?”

“Yes, I’m—not from here remember, I can’t go home.”

“Yes, you did tell me your origins after the incident I just never put things together. Get up, you’re coming with me.”

“No, please don’t report me to CPS I don’t want to go back to an orphanage, I—I’ll be 18 soon enough, and I’ll go back to Equestria when the portal opens up again I promise, just please let me sleep here.”

“Sunset I’m not reporting you to CPS, I know your situation is­––unique, but I’m not going to let you sleep here either, you’re coming home with me. I have a guest bedroom you can use and we can workout your situation later,No arguing with me on this okay?”

“Okay Doctor Sonos.” Sunset said, reluctantly gathering her things.
The two of them began walking to Celestia's sedan. “Now, what would you like for dinner? Luna’s waiting and she gets insufferable when she’s hungry, I was thinking Chinese food?”

“I—don’t care as long as it’s vegetarian.” Sunset replied getting into the passenger side as Celestia unlocked it with her key-fob.

“You’re a vegetarian? I would have never guessed that.”

“Yeah, I’m—you know,” she trailed off awkwardly.

“A horse.” Celestia said.

“A pony not a horse, there’s a big difference. We’re herbivores and I don’t feel comfortable with eating another animal, the portal changed my appearance but it didn’t change what I am on the inside.”

“That makes sense, still it’s strange considering how much you love leather.”

“Why is that?”

“You do know where leather comes from right?”

“I never really thought about it.”

“Good, I think you’d rather not know.” Celestia said starting the car.

Celestia made her way down main-street and headed towards her favorite Chinese restaurant––the only Chinese restaurant in town. “So, Sunset, back there you said you didn’t want to go back to an orphanage. Does that mean you don’t have a home in your world either, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“Yes, I’m an orphan, my mom died when I was seven and I never knew my dad. I bounced around between foster homes and orphanages for a few years up until the Princess took me under her wing. When she expelled me I made the decision not to go back—at any cost—even if it meant being on the streets.”

Celestia couldn’t help but tear up a little, Sunset’s past actions made more sense in context.“tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner,” She whispered to herself.

“What was that?”

“Oh, nothing.” Celestia regained her composure, she pulled into the parking lot of the Chinese restaurant. They both sat there in silence for a second before Celestia turned to Sunset, “How did you end up here? You told me about the portal at the base of the statue, but why did you go through it, was it an accident?”

Sunset took a deep breath “When—the guards were escorting me out of the castle we passed the room where the princess kept the mirror, when we passed it I just—There was so much anger, resentment and confusion built up in me, when I saw the door I ran for it and ended up here—alone. The guards didn’t follow me, the princess didn’t follow me.”

“What then?”

“At first I was happy I felt like I had beaten her—punished her even, but then reality dawned on me. I returned to the statue the next day and tried to go back, but it had closed. I didn’t know what to do so I started hanging around the school, I forged some documents and that was that.”

Celestia took Sunset’s hand to comfort her, “Thank you for sharing Sunset I know this must be hard after keeping everything a secret for so long. This princess, did—you see her as your mother?”

Sunset had never thought about her motivations but something about the principals words rang true in a way she couldn’t deny. “Yes—I think I wanted her to be—looking back, but she didn’t reciprocate––the princess liked to keep herself distant. I guess I tried to gain her love through achievement, I thought if I impressed her I could earn her love, but as time went on I think my desire to be wanted became something else.”

Celestia unbuckled the carseat and reached across the center console to give the distraught teen a hug, the best she could in the parking lot of a small town Chinese restaurant, “I’m sorry Sunset, but that’s now how love works.”
Sunset began to cry. The two of them stayed like that for several minutes in the dark car with light from a half lit Lucky China sign, finally Principal Celestia broke the silence, “What was her name?”

“What?”

“Who was this princess that led you to so much hardship.”

“I think it would be best if you didn’t know.” Sunset said.

“Sunset, tell me the truth or I will ruin leather for you.” Celestia said sternly

Sunset smiled slightly “Okay, I guess I need to tell all this to someone eventually, her name was Princess––Celestia.” she forced out. She closed her eyes and waited for the bombshell to land.

“You mean she was me?” Celestia asked.

“Not you, but a different version of you.” Sunset looked out the window into the vacant parking lot.

“Well this is awkward.” Celestia chuckled uneasily.

“I told you it would be better if you didn’t know.”

“You did, but I had to, especially if you’re going to be living with me for the foreseeable future. Why don’t you stay here while I get our dinner, Luna must be infuriated right now, do you know what you want?”

“I’ve never had Chinese food before. Is it like, food from China?”
Celestia gave a warm smile, “Yeah, something like that, I’ll just get you something, okay?”

“Okay just make sure it’s vegetarian.”

“Of course.”

Celestia got out of the car and gave the teen a moment of peace. She went inside the restaurant and looked at her phone.

“Where r u? I’m starving.” the latest message from her sister read.

“I’m at the restaurant right now. I should give you a heads up, Sunset Shimmer will be joining us tonight, I found her sleeping in the library.” Celestia texted back. She ordered her food and finished paying when her sister responded.

“Doesn't she have a place to stay.”

“No she’s been homeless, for the last 2 years, I just now found out.”

“Oh my.” Vice Principal Luna texted back.
Celestia made her way to the car, opened the rear door and carefully placed the plastic bag of food on the seat and fastened the seatbelt around it, “don’t want any spills,” she said looking towards Sunset with a reassuring smile. “I texted Luna, she knows you’re coming.”
Sunset wasn't crying, but was even less at ease than before. “What did she say?”

“Not much, I’m not good at reading her emotions through text.”

“Oh” Sunset said.

“Sunset I know this is awkward for you––for both of us, and I can’t promise I will be the family you’ve been seeking, but I can promise you a warm bed, food and sympathetic ear that’s willing to listen when you need to talk.”

“Okay.” Sunset said sheepishly
They were both quiet for a while. Sunset looked out the window focussing on the flares the street lamps made in the windshield as each one passed, “you know this is the first time I’ve ever ridden in a car.”

“Really now, this is a day of first for you then.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Sunset looked at the principal and gave half smile. “you’re not like her—the princess that is. You’re different, kinder, easier to talk to.”

“I’ll take that as a complement.” Celestia said keeping her eyes on the road.

“Thanks for doing all of this. It’s more than I deserve, and I’ll get a job to pay for the food. It will have to be under the table but—”

“Sunset no, I will not accept a dime, my sister and I are quite well off, you can pay me by focusing on your studies and working to make up for your past mistakes.”

“Okay.” Sunset had figured out arguing wasn’t worth it.

“How have you been feeding yourself these past few years anyway?”

“I had a few bits—equestrian money—just spare change really, but it’s made of gold. I found out my pocket change was worth a few thousand of your dollars. it was only about three ounces, but I was able to sell it at a pawn shop and I’ve been living off that for the past few years.

“How much do you have left?”

“Nothing, I spent my last dollars on a new sleeping bag for the winter. I’ve been stealing cheese pizza out the back of Little Caesar's dumpster for the past few weeks, they have to keep all their food fresh so there is always a few cold pizzas in there.”

“So you’ve been eating nothing but day old cheese pizza for the past few weeks.”

“Yeah.”

“Sunset, why didn't you ask for help?”

“Who could I have turned to?”

“You’re friends, a teacher, Me, Luna.”

“I told you I made my decision, I wasn’t going back to an orphanage, and if i’d gone to a school administrator that’s where I would have ended up, or worse. If I told the truth I could have been sent to mental institution, I’m completely undocumented, the country I come from doesn’t exist, homelessness was the only option, I was planning to go back when the portal opened again but that’s passed and I’ll probably be arrested if I go back. I didn’t have any friends up until two weeks ago, not here or in Equestria. I’ve burned every bridge I’ve ever made and I don’t want to push their generosity, I’m on thin ice and I don’t want to lose the only friends i’ve ever had.” They pulled into the driveway of the house. It was a large some would almost call it a mansion if it hadn’t been built in such a small town.

“Well when you put it like that I guess you have a point, but I’m not going to send you away to anywhere, you can stay with me as long as you need and if you want you can try to go back to your world when the time comes. I know I remind you of this princess of yours but I don’t care, if you need help from now on come to me, Okay?”

“Okay Dr. Sonos.” Sunset said reluctantly. Despite the drawbacks she did enjoy some parts of being homeless, the freedom was liberating after having her life controlled by social workers for so long, but there were also comforts she yearned for, and connections. Celestia got out of the car, retrieved the food from the back seat, and started for the front door, Sunset trailed behind awkwardly.

They entered the house and Vice principal luna made her way from the living room to meet them. She looked at the food then at Sunset. “Hello Sunset this is quite the treat.” she smiled and grabbed the bag from Celestia.

“Um, hello Vice principal Luna,” she said rubbing her shoulder. Sunset had never met Luna’s counterpart in Equestria, she was still banished when Sunset left, but she was more familiar with the mirror worlds Luna then she was with Principal Celestia. Luna was the head of discipline and they had had quite a few talks over Sunset’s infractions.

“Please call me Luna, kiddo. Celestia said you’ve been homeless over the past few years. Is that true.”

“Yes, I’m not from here I—.”

“Yes, I know you’re some kind or talking horse—Celestia told me—quite strange.”

“I’m a pony!” she burst out, “I’m sorry, I just—I’m not a horse.”

“Whatever you say pony-girl.” Luna said digging into her her chow mein.
Sunset groaned, Celestia and luna sat down around the living room coffee table. Celestia gestured for Sunset to join them.
“Here you go Sunset this is for you.” Celestia pulled out a white foam box.

“What is it?”

“Does it matter, just eat, you must be hungry.” Celestia said.
The three of them ate in silence for a while, Sunset shoveling food into her mouth, Celestia was right she was hungry.

“Wow this is really good, I’ve eaten nothing but oatmeal, apples and dumpster pizza for the last few years.”
“Dumpster pizza?” Luna asked.

“I’ll fill you in later sis.” Celestia said, “Once you’re finished I’ll show you to the guest room, it will be yours for the foreseeable future so feel free to arrange things how you like.

“Okay.” Sunset said. Once they finished their meals Celestia got up and gestured for Sunset to follow her.

“Here's your new home Sunset,” she turned on the lights and entered the room. “There is a bathroom down the hall and another downstairs. These sheets have been sitting here for a while so I would wash them when you get the chance. The drawers are empty so you can use them for your clothes.”

“Thanks, this is—amazing, it means a lot.”

“Just doing my job, she said.” as she walked out.

Sunset sank into the bed “her job” she thought to herself.

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