• Published 23rd Apr 2020
  • 816 Views, 44 Comments

Seeing the Light - SilverStar7



After a magical accident, Sunburst is in a parallel universe where he is betrothed to Twilight.

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A Difficult Date

Thankfully, Sunburst didn't vomit. He thought for sure he was going to several times, but as the train moved beyond the fields of Ponyville and towards the mountains holding up Canterlot, his stomach settled. He was able to look out the windows and take in the sunshine and clouds and sky. It was beautiful, all things considered. At least this world he found himself in didn't seem to be out to harm him. Teleportation sickness aside...

Seeing him sitting up again, Twilight asked, "You feeling better now, Sunny? Er—Sunburst?" She took her hoof away from his withers.

"Yeah, I'm fine now," he said. "I can tell you that I've never experienced that before. But since I've never managed to use a teleportation spell, I don't know whether that's because of my physiology here or if that would happen to me in the other universe too."

"You never mastered the technique here either," said Twilight. "I always have to take you with me when I teleport, although I obviously don't do it unless it's necessary."

"Then it still seems like all of the differences so far have to do with your relationship," said Sunburst.

"Hmm..." Twilight scratched at her chin with a hoof. "You said the spell used the magic from the Crystal Heart. Since it draws power from the light and love inside of ponies, I suppose it's possible that it sent you here specifically because of our relationship."

Starlight nodded. "Then I guess that's our starting point for finding out how this universe is different from Sunburst's."

"We should probably start at the beginning," said Sunburst. He turned to Twilight. "How did you two end up together?"

Twilight smiled. "Well, it really started with a visit you made to Ponyville when we went antiquing together. We had so much fun going through old relics and books and maps. I'm not even joking when I say that I'm usually the only one in that store. To meet somepony else who shares that with me was amazing. And then to find out that you also spoke Olde Ponish on top of that! I mean, it should've been obvious to me right then and there that we had a special bond between us.

"But that was just the beginning. After that, we became pen pals using some of the old antiques to exchange letters back and forth. You were still living in the Crystal Empire. We wrote to each other about magic and Flurry Heart and Equestrian history and..." Noticing Sunburst's look of total bafflement, Twilight stopped her story. "By the look on your face, I'm guessing that none of that sounds familiar to you."

Sunburst shook his head. "Exactly the opposite. I'm so confused because that's exactly what happened in my universe. So far, nothing you told me is any different from what I remember."

Now it was Twilight's turn for befuddlement. "What? That was how you brought us together! After several weeks of letters, you asked me to come to the Crystal Empire's Northern Lights Festival with you. Of course, I thought you meant as some sort of dignitary, but after a couple hours—" Twilight facehoofed. "Sweet Celestia, that's what's different isn't it? In your universe, I never took the hint! You spent the whole night with me at the Festival, holding out chairs and complimenting me, and I never put two and two together because I was such a naïve, socially inept pony."

"No, that's not what happened," said Sunburst. "I never invited you to that Festival."

"Really?" said Starlight.

Sunburst and Twilight immediately looked over at the other mare. Starlight looked back at Twilight and said, "Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. I just think it's sort of weird. I mean, why would Sunburst send you all of those letters if he wasn't planning on doing something about it?"

"Well, who's to say he didn't?" said Twilight. She looked back at Sunburst. "Did you try to do something else to win me over in your universe?"

At that question, Sunburst noted that Starlight leaned forward and Twilight's gaze was fixed tightly on his face. This was why he tried to never get involved in relationship talk with mares. The stallion suddenly felt like he was being interrogated. "Uh..."

Before Sunburst completed his thought however, he was struck with the strange feeling that he shouldn't just blurt out his answer. However, that couldn't be right. Time was of the essence, and lying certainly wouldn't help him get back home. So what if talking about his love life was a bit uncomfortable?

He quickly brushed the thought aside and continued, "I didn't do anything, actually. I was happy to just keep it at letters. The thought of us being more than friends honestly never even occurred to me."

Starlight put a hoof to her muzzle in shock. And Twilight's expression melted. Her mouth hung open and her eyes lost all of their glimmer. Her shoulders sank. It was as if Sunburst's words had physically hurt her. Sunburst's subconscious was now kicking him in the gut for not listening to his instincts. However, he still didn't understand what he'd done wrong.

"What?"

"I see," said Twilight, looking away from the stallion. "So you've never found me attractive."

Oh, that's how I bucked up... I'm just like her Sunburst in almost every way, so she thinks because I didn't fall for her, then he probably doesn't think she's good looking.

"No no, that's not what I meant!" Sunburst said. Give her an excuse. Any excuse. "I just felt so lucky that I got to talk magic with the pony who fixed Starswirl's unfinished masterpiece and discovered the Elements of Harmony. I'd never considered that you'd be interested in a magic school drop-out like me."

Twilight continued to stare at the floor in front of her. "It's okay, Sunburst. I know most ponies think I look plain. Let's be honest, I'm no Rarity. You don't need to pretend."

"I'm not pretending," he said. "You're a Princess for pony's sake! Who doesn't think you're beautiful?" Twilight finally looked back at him. Now give her something specific. "For instance, I really like your... mane! It's so nicely styled no matter what happens. I've always got these stray hairs poking out at weird angles like a disheveled vagabond."

At that, Twilight actually laughed. "And I find it quite endearing." She reached up a hoof and gently tousled Sunburst's bangs. "You know, the first compliment you gave me that night was about my mane. I wore my crown because I assumed I was there in an official capacity. When I first saw you, I asked if it needed adjusting because I hadn't found a mirror yet. Then you said, 'Even if all you had was that mane on your head, nopony would doubt for a second that you are a Princess of Equestria.'"

I really said that? Thankfully, Sunburst was savvy enough not to say that part out loud. Instead, he pushed her to share more. "What else happened that night?"

Sunburst expected Twilight to smile again. To his surprise the mare's cheeks turned red and she said, "Hoo boy, I usually don't like going into details about that night. I just tell ponies that it was our first date."

"What went wrong? Was it something I did?"

"Not at all!" Twilight shook her head. "You were a perfect gentlecolt and the Festival went off without a single problem. At the time, the evening was fantastic. It was only in retrospect that I started to feel embarrassed by how I acted." Twilight bit her lip and bobbed her head a bit from side-to-side as she thought about what she wanted to say. "Let's just put it this way: I'm glad you, personally, didn't have to go through it.

"After we entered the Festival grounds, I asked you where Cadence and Shining were at. You took me up to the Palace and I got to talking with them. At that point, it was like you weren't even there. You tried to come into the conversation a few times, but then Flurry started to cry and I actually asked you if you could go take care of her. Of course, being the kind-hearted stallion that you are, you started to leave. Cadence immediately said, 'No, I've got it' and told you to stay. Then, after I talked to Shining a bit more, he said he was going to help Cadence and told us to go enjoy the Festival and that he would catch up with us later. That should've been my first clue."

Twilight sighed. "You had talked to Shining beforehoof to make sure he was okay with you asking me out. He'd talked to Cadence, who was thrilled with the idea of me finally having a coltfriend, and the two were trying to get us back to our date."

"Don't be so hard on yourself," said Sunburst. "I'm guessing my letter just didn't make it clear."

Suddenly, Starlight burst out laughing. Sunburst looked at her and she said, "I'm sorry, but it's just too funny. That's exactly what our Sunburst said to Twilight to make her feel better after the fact. I looked at the letter with her when she got back and trust me, you made it Crystal Pony clear. You started the letter off with some stuff about how nice it was to get to know Twilight over the past two months, and how great you thought she was, and then you wrote something along the lines of 'I was wondering if you would like to accompany me to the Northern Lights Festival.' The only thing you didn't do was put 'PS: Just so we're clear: I, Sunburst, am asking you, Twilight Sparkle, to go on a date. PPS: Yes, I mean a date date' in bright red ink at the bottom."

"Alright then," said Sunburst. "Well, maybe I could've at least bought her flowers or something to bring it home."

To that, Starlight actually fell out of her seat and Twilight facehoofed. "Horseapples, you really do think just like my Sunny," said Twilight. She took a deep breath and continued, "So, we go back outside and there's this flower stand selling crystal roses. I pointed it out because we had talked a bit about agriculture in the frozen north in our letters. You immediately walked over to the vendor and bought a couple of them. Then, you came back and said, 'For you, Miss Sparkle' and I proceeded to take one—just one—of the two flowers."

Starlight's laughing redoubled at this. Sunburst couldn't hide the look of total bewilderment on his face.

"Yes, yes, I know it's ridiculous," Twilight said. "At the time, I thought you bought two flowers so that we could each have one as a souvenir. But it only got worse from there."

"It got worse?" Sunburst found it challenging to envision how things could get worse than that. He could hardly fathom how hard this must have been on his other self.

From the floor of the train car, Starlight held up a hoof, "Oh, oh! Tell him about the restaurant next!"

Shaking her head, Twilight first asked, "I'm guessing your universe also has La Gemme en Cristal, right?"

Sunburst blinked. "Uh, yeah. It's the nicest place in the Empire. Are you saying I took you there for a first date?"

"With reservations and everything," Twilight said. "After a short wait, we go to sit down and, as I approach my chair, I see it light up with your magic and slide out. So, like any reasonable mare, I say 'Oh, sorry. I didn't realize you wanted that one.' Then I turn around and sit down on the other side of the table."

"You thought I pulled out the chair... because I wanted to take it?" Sunburst certainly wasn't one to talk, but even he could hardly imagine how Twilight could be so utterly clueless.

"Look, I didn't get out much back then, okay? Until we started dating, I pretty much never went to fancy restaurants. Half the time, by myself, I'd just go down to The Hay Burger. Remember: I thought I was there in an official capacity. The idea that this was a date didn't occur to me. But you kept trying to get things back on track...

"The waiter comes over and you ask, 'What sort of wine would you recommend for two ponies on a date?' Now, in my defense, my first thought was that I might unknowingly be on a date, but for some reason—and, Celestia help me, I don't know why!—it occurred to me that it might be a trick you use to get the best wine. You know, a fancy restaurant might reserve the best wine for ponies on dates to build its reputation. Therefore, if you imply to the waiter that you're on a date, you get better wine."

"I guess that sort of makes sense..." said Sunburst, scratching at his goatee.

"Sunburst, you're being too nice," said Starlight, standing back up. "When she said that to our Sunburst, he literally bashed his head on the table. I understand that you want to be understanding, but come on. At a certain point, Twilight was just being blind."

Twilight came back with, "Well thankfully, I wasn't blind the whole night." She looked at Sunburst. "After dinner, we went to the Aurora Launch. When we got there, Cadence and Shining were already standing on the balcony of the Palace holding Flurry and ready to announce the auroras. At that point, I started to freak out a bit. I thought I missed my cue or something. But then it occurred to me that nopony had told me anything about what I was supposed to do. Shining knows I'm not a fan of impromptu speeches. If I was supposed to say something, he would've told me about it.

"When the auroras began to fan out from the peak of the castle, all the pieces started to fall together. I realized that you hadn't invited me there to be some kind of celebrity guest. I was there to be your guest... And you were an excellent host."


The tendrils of light now dominated the evening sky in every direction. Ponies all around gave ohs and ahs in response to the spectacle. The auroras were beautiful in ways both obvious and subtle. The colors were bold. The shifts in position were elegant. Their majesty totally eclipsed the moon and stars.

Twilight tore her eyes away and looked over at Sunburst. The stallion was only half watching the sky. His ears were down. He was both deep in thought and at a loss for words. Twilight moved closer to him and the act drew his eyes to her.

"Sunburst, this was supposed to be a date, wasn't it?"

Relief washed over Sunburst's face and he shouted, "Yes! I mean..." The stallion re-composed himself. "Yeah, that was the idea."

"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! I thought you invited me here to take part in the Festival as a dignitary."

"I see," Sunburst said. "Well, I guess my letter could've been a bit clearer. It's no big deal."

"But it is a big deal," said Twilight. "You obviously put a lot of effort into tonight, and you didn't get to enjoy any of it."

"Did you have a good time?" Sunburst asked.

"I... Yes, I did, but I should've—"

Sunburst cut Twilight off by putting a hoof on her shoulder. "If you had a good time, then I'm happy."

Twilight shook her head. "But Sunburst, I screwed up. Going on a date is supposed to be exciting and fun. I ruined it."

"If one of your friends made a mistake like that, would you hold it against her?"

"No, I suppose not," she said. "But there has to be something I can do. This is like a friendship problem. I have to fix this." Twilight looked around. Beyond the ponies gaping up at the sky, she could see the vendors each quietly packing away their wares. "Oh, great! The Festival is wrapping up. We don't have enough time to do anything else."

"Well, there were two more things I was considering," said Sunburst. From inside his cloak, he pulled out a small parchment.

"You made a date checklist?"

"It might seem a little silly, but I like using lists. It makes it easy to keep your thoughts organized. It also made the whole thing seem a lot less intimidating when I could see it all written out."

Always intrigued by organization, Twilight peaked at the list's contents. At first, she didn't understand what it said, but then it became clearer. "It's in Olde Ponish," she said.

Sunburst nodded. "That way, if anypony else found it, they probably wouldn't know what it said."

Turning on the Olde Ponish part of her brain, Twilight worked her way through their evening. From picking her up at the train to being right here in time for the auroras, it was all there. That made her smile again, to realize that, even if she might have frustrated him, at least Sunburst got to do everything he'd planned so far. The next item, number six, was to go on a walk to a gazebo a few streets over.

"Well, we can certainly go for..." Twilight stopped. She had noticed the last thing on the list.

It was a simple word, but it seemed to fill the page once she saw it:

ᛕᛟᚢᛋᛋᛖ

A kiss.

All of Twilight froze. Her hooves were rooted to the ground. Her mind came to a halt. Her mouth was locked slightly open.

Sunburst looked at her, confused. Then he looked back at the sheet in front of himself and realized what had happened. He quickly pocketed it again.

"That last one was totally optional! I just put it there in case... Well, in case the night seemed to go really well and you seemed to like me. We can just go for a walk."

Twilight thought back on their evening again. Her mind wanted to focus on the mishaps she had generated, but through the forest of faux pas she saw something more important: At every step along the way, Sunburst had been totally genuine. She'd had a few suitors since her ascension and half had been pompous and unbearably vain. The other half was dreadfully boring, just wanting to talk about banal nothings like how much they enjoyed craft ciders and buckball. And afterwards, she'd caught wind that a few had used the one date she'd given them to brag to everypony they met that they went out with a Princess. The stallion standing in front of her now seemed different.

"Sunburst," said Twilight. "You met me when I got here. You bought me a rose. You took me to a nice restaurant." She looked skyward. "And this whole event is very romantic. The northern lights are truly gorgeous this year. Any mare would love a first date like this." She turned back to Sunburst. "Why did you ask me out?"

At first, Sunburst was taken aback at the question, but he quickly formulated his thoughts. "Because we seemed to have a lot in common, and I really enjoyed getting to know you through our letters. But just as important, I asked you out because I wanted to show you a good time."

Sunburst moved closer to Twilight. She could see the greens and blues of the auroras glinting in his glasses. "Twilight, you work so hard. In every one of your letters, you talked about something that you were doing for your friends or for Ponyville or for Equestria. I wanted to give you a night where you could be as happy as you make all the ponies around you."

Yeah, this one's different. Twilight smiled. "Could I see that checklist again?"

After a moment's hesitation, Sunburst pulled the list back out and watched as it was taken up by the magenta of Twilight's magic. She looked it over, then said, "You know, whenever something I put on a checklist has conditions, I always add them as subpoints. That way, I know when the conditions have been met." Her horn glowed with a flash. "There." She glided the list back to Sunburst, who took it in a hoof and read what she added:

✓ The night goes really well
✓ She seems to like me

Upon seeing the checkmarks beside each point, Sunburst's cheeks flared red. He lifted his eyes from the page and found that Twilight was now even closer to him. He swallowed the spit that had begun building up in his mouth. He felt his neck moving his head forward. In that moment, he wasn't sure if it was happening voluntarily or if some sort of force was compelling him forward.

Very quietly, he said, "You know, you didn't write it in Olde Ponish. Now anypony can probably guess what the list is about."

Whispering back, Twilight said, "They're about to see this. I think the secret's out."

Like gravity, as they grew closer, they accelerated until the moment of contact. And then the light show overhead no longer seemed like the most spectacular thing going on at the moment. Their lips met closed, then began to open slightly. Twilight felt Sunburst's lower lip fall between hers and carefully clamped down on it. The pair breathed in simultaneously and each felt the breeze generated by the other's nostrils. Both brought a hoof behind the other's head and gently encouraged each other to let the moment last.

When it ended, the two ponies rested their heads on each other's necks and continued their embrace. The lights up above continued to dance, yet neither saw them, as their eyes were still closed.

"I always love completing a checklist," Twilight said, rubbing a hoof back and forth from the middle of his back up to his withers.

Sunburst laughed. "Well, technically, to finish the list, we also need to go for our walk."

Twilight laughed, too. "You're right." She pulled back and the two looked into each other's eyes again. Then, Twilight's smile grew bigger. "And also technically, the checklist was ordered. So really, we can't check off that last one until the one before is complete."

Sunburst's head tilted slightly in confusion. "Okay, but if we do it that way, then in order to complete the list, after we get to the gazebo..." The red in Sunburst's cheeks began to spread to the rest of his face.

"Yep," said Twilight, taking the stallions hoof in hers and guiding him down the street. "Sometimes a pony has to make sacrifices for the sake of organization."

Author's Note:

Sorry this chapter took me so long. For reasons that I think should be obvious, I just had to get this one right. I won't promise that the next ones will come out any faster, but at least I'm not going to feel as strong of a need to slave over every single word choice and structure decision like I did here. I hope you feel the final product was worth the additional effort.

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