• Published 23rd Apr 2020
  • 819 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 Frightening Feeling

With a metallic whine and a steamy hiss, the train came to a halt at the station just outside the Crystal Empire. When Sunburst looked out the window toward the crystalline cityscape, he felt a rather bizarre sensation of déjà vu. It was strange to be arriving someplace that he had no memory of leaving. In the past, whenever he was away from the Empire, he had taken the train and left. To arrive again without doing so felt wrong somehow. It was like walking out the front door and finding that the door lead back into his own house.

The three ponies stood and prepared to disembark from the train. Before they left, however, Starlight pointed out a slight problem.

"So, I'm just realizing something..." she said. "What's our game plan? Are we supposed to be going somewhere to meet up with Starswirl?"

Twilight's eyes went wide. "Oh, shoot! I didn't tell Spike where Starswirl should meet us. I just said 'the Crystal Empire.' That could be anywhere."

"I'm sure Spike would've told him to meet us at the Palace," said Sunburst. "That would make sense. It's where the Heart is, after all."

"Probably," said Starlight. "Although, knowing Spike knowing Twilight, he might think the first place we'd want to go would be the library."

"Good point," said Sunburst. "And I guess waiting here at the station could be logical. Spike knew we were taking the train, and this is going to be where Starswirl arrives, too."

"Then we'll have to split up," said Twilight. "Starlight can wait here at the station for when Starswirl arrives. I can go to the Palace to explain what's happening to Shining and Cadence. And Sunburst can get started on researching at the library since he knows the most about the spell."

The trio nodded to each other, then left the train car. As usual, the air this close to the Empire was perfectly warm despite being so far north. The station had an inviting atmosphere, but the blues, pinks, and purples of the crystal platform weren't the only things there to meet them. Upon exiting the train, a familiar voice shouted out, and a familiar stallion waved a hoof to get their attention.

"Twily!"

"Shining!" Twilight rushed into her brother's embrace. "I'm so glad to see you." After a brief hug, she pulled back a bit and looked into his eyes. "Something terrible happened."

"I know," said Shining Armor. "Spike sent a letter to Cadence and I. Starswirl is already on his way; he should be on the next train. We're supposed to meet him at the library in a few hours."

"Called it!" Starlight declared. She and Sunburst had moved next to the pair.

Shining Armor glanced at the mare and raised an eyebrow. He looked back to Twilight and continued, "How are you doing with all this?"

Twilight's shoulders hunched and she looked down. "Honestly, I feel scared," she said. "I know I've faced worse before, but knowing that isn't helping me. I think I've grown used to having somepony I can turn to when I'm feeling like this. Now that pony is the one pony I can't go to for help, and I don't know what to do."

"I know exactly how you're feeling," said Shining. "My experience was obviously different, but when Queen Chrysalis traded places with Cadence, I also lost that.

"Cadence was the pony I could go to for anything, but Chrysalis was cold and distant. I think it was part of the reason my headaches became so bad: the stress never stopped. I didn't have somepony to support me. The mind altering spell she kept using on me meant I couldn't see it, but after the fact, it was obvious she was nothing like the mare I'd decided to marry.

"Still, I kept going back to her anyway. Some deeper part of me was missing Cadence."

The stallion stepped forward and gave his sister another hug. "I'm here for you, Twily. I know it isn't the same, but I promise I'll be with you every step of the way."

Twilight pressed into the hug. "Thanks BBBFF."

After holding his sister a moment longer, Shining Armor let go and looked over at Sunburst. "And how are you feeling?"

"Me?" Sunburst was taken aback. "Well... I know I want to get home, and I want Princess Twilight to have her fiancé back. I guess I feel like I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to put things right."

Shining chuckled. "You really are just like our Sunburst. When push comes to shove, you're always ready to get down to work! I like that about you."

"Hold on," said Twilight. She stepped away from her brother and towards Sunburst. "Sunny, if anypony here should be feeling scared or lost, it's you. Sure, I've lost the pony I care about most in the world, but you've lost your whole world."

The Princess was now right next to the stallion and was looking him dead in the eye. "You're analytical like me. There's nothing wrong with that, but how you're feeling matters. If you're nervous or angry or sad about what's happened, don't be afraid to feel that way."

"I'm not afraid of that," said Sunburst. "I just know I did the right thing. My circumstances are bad, but I couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't stepped in. Flurry would be experiencing this right now!"

Twilight nodded. "You're right, and we all appreciate that sacrifice. I'd be horrified if I knew my little niece was lost in another universe. You absolutely did the right thing." Twilight touched a hoof to Sunburst's cheek. "But that doesn't change what happened to you.

"Sunburst, how are you feeling right now?"

Sunburst looked away from Twilight. From the moment he saw Flurry Heart in danger, Sunburst had been going through the motions. He hadn't stopped to honestly think about how he felt in these circumstances. A part of him felt like he shouldn't. What good was it to dwell on this situation? Dwelling wouldn't solve anything. But maybe the Princess had a point.

He had lost everything. This Twilight, this train platform, even the particles of air he was breathing were all foreign to him. And sure, he trusted Twilight and Starswirl to make things right, but how long would that take? Days? Weeks? In the meantime, was time passing in his universe? It was certainly passing here. What if he missed important milestones, like Flurry's birthday? What if this Twilight missed her own wedding?

What if it took years? Sunburst would be like one of those ponies stranded on a deserted island, found years later, after being presumed dead. His friends could've moved on. His family could've sold all of his possessions. Everything he'd built over the past few years would be gone. How old might he be by that point? Would he even have time to restart his life?

Then again, if the other Sunburst and he had switched places, what if that Sunburst simply replaced him? Sure, the other Sunburst undoubtedly wanted to get home, too, but if that took too long, maybe he'd give up. Maybe the other Sunburst and everypony else would come to terms with this arrangement, so Sunburst would get back home, only to find everypony annoyed that he made the switch so late.

But then, there was the real kicker: what if he couldn't make it back home?

What if this was permanent and Twilight and Starswirl just couldn't fix it? Could Sunburst make a life here? Would Cadence and Shining accept him as a new crystaller for Flurry? Could he legally have the other Sunburst's house to live in? What would the other Sunburst's mother think of him? And what of this Twilight? Would she even be able to look at him anymore, knowing that, because of him, she'd lost somepony she cared so much about?

Each of these questions branched endlessly in Sunburst's mind. In that moment, it became clearer how he was really feeling.

"I feel overwhelmed, like I'm up against something so much bigger than myself that I have no hope of fighting it." Sunburst shook his head. "I feel totally powerless."

Twilight embraced him tightly. With his front hooves still on the platform, it felt less like a hug and more like someone was holding him. Sunburst's eyes shut and he leaned his head against Twilight's. Her mane caressed his cheek as one of her hooves began to caress his back. The warmth of her chest pressing against his seemed to loosen muscles he hadn't even realized were tensed.

He let himself get lost in that moment, and when he found himself again, he was surprised by the fact that he was crying. It had been so long. Of course, now certainly wasn't the best time for that. There were things to do. A problem to solve. He shook himself a bit and opened his eyes. He began to take a deep breath in.

Then Twilight said, "You don't have to cry if you don't want to."

His throat tightened. His in-breath caught with a snort. When his eyelids fell, tears dropped with them. His body began to shake. Out of his mouth came a series of six short sobs. Without Twilight holding him, he would surely have fallen over.

Oh, Celestia! Why is this happening? Sunburst felt the weight of his circumstances crashing in. It felt horrible. This was why he hadn't wanted to stop working. What good was it to dredge up this much pain? Did this Twilight just like making him suffer?

But as he cried, he realized that he had already been bearing that weight. Twilight was helping him to acknowledge that fact. He was in pain. Like blood running from a wound, his tears were not there to hurt him. They were a symptom of the underlying problem.

Twilight said nothing, but with everything in her being, she was declaring to Sunburst that he was not alone in this place. This was not something he had to face by himself. Twilight was here for him.

A little ways away on the platform, Starlight and Shining Armor were standing next to one another, watching Twilight cradling Sunburst as he broke down. Both of them wanted to do something—Starlight for her friend and Shining for his daughter's crystaller—but the situation didn't seem to call for either of them. They were stuck on the sidelines.

After a minute or so, Starlight said, "I had no idea Sunburst was feeling like this."

"Neither did I," said Shining Armor.

"But even on the train, he was staying so composed. He didn't seem unsure or anxious at all. What made Twilight press in like that?"

"When you spend a lot of time with somepony, you start to pick up on stuff," Shining said. "Sometimes even stuff that the other pony doesn't know for himself yet. Cadence can do the same thing with me."

Starlight looked on as Sunburst leaned into Twilight more, pushing his glasses askew as he buried his muzzle into her neck as tears gently streamed from his eyes.

"I see."

Author's Note:

Anyone else ever feel like Spock from Star Trek IV when you're just trying to get through the day, but someone suddenly asks you how you're feeling?

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