• Published 23rd Jun 2019
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Sunset's Isekai - Wanderer D



Somewhere, out there, there's a bar with a familiar ying-yang sun on the door.

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A Tale of Two Sunsets (Featherfall - Post Fic)

Sunset's Isekai
By Wanderer D
Chapter 3

"Aw hell, I don't think I can keep it in, babe!"

Sunset Shimmer grimaced as her fiance pushed her wheelchair with increasing speed. "Keep calm, Gil, I'm sure there's somewhere here where we can stop."

"I'm so stupid, we still had two stops to go, but I had to take the scenic route!"

Despite the urgency of the situation, Sunset couldn't help but smile and reach out to touch Gilda's hand. "Hey, you wanted to show me this area of town."

"I still should've known I'd need to go soon. I'm not five!" Gilda retorted, although Sunset could hear the smile. "Hold that thought, there's a bar right there… let's go in. You can order a drink while I take care of business, a'right?"

Sunset didn't even have time to look at the sign next to the door before she was pushed through and they entered the bar. The small hall before the bar proper was dimly lit, but they could both see the establishment was well-taken care of, and seemed a little more classy than it had a right to be for the area of Canterlot City they had been trudging through.

Still, Gilda had to go, so she pushed Sunset into the bar and, without looking up, hurried down the bar and followed the signs for the restroom, before leaving Sunset alone.

"Welcome to Sunset's Isekai!" a familiar voice said, sending a chill down her spine. Sunset rolled her wheelchair around so she was facing the bar, where a familiar figure was facing away from her, apparently replacing an expensive-looking bottle on the top shelf, right next to a neon sign of a cocktail glass with her cutie mark on the side that read "Sunset's Isekai".

The Sunset Shimmer across the bar twirled in place, grinning until she saw her. A mix of feelings ran through that face. Excitement. Surprise. Dawning understanding.

"How is this possible?" Sunset asked her counterpart.

The Sunset behind the bar blinked and shrugged. "Interdimensional Bar. I don't know what the actual chances are to have you—and was that Gilda?—be my first guests."

"Right."

There was an awkward moment of silence. "Um, would you like anything to drink?"

"Gin and tonic," Sunset replied, relaxing back into her chair and taking a second glance around. Even though the bar looked a bit worn, it was now clear it had opened really recently. The empty picture frames on the wall were a clear indication that Sunset—the other Sunset—intended to eventually fill the walls with memories that had yet to come.

So far there were only two pictures on it, and neither brought good memories to Sunset. One was of Sunset and a slightly older-looking Rarity, both standing outside the bar. Different enough not to bother her, but the other one was a group picture of Sunset and the others, including human Twilight, outside the school. A picture of what could have been.

"So how did it happen?" her counterpart asked, setting the Gin and Tonic on the counter and pushing it within reach of Sunset's hands.

Sunset tore her eyes from the pictures, momentarily debating how to bring it up. She gave her mirror image a wry smile and shrugged.

"A few steel girders would break anyone's back, savvy?" Sunset replied, and the pair of them shared an eerily identical smirk. "Not everyone gets lucky in life, and when we do it's always in different ways, one man's misfortune, right?"

"Fair enough," she replied, going back to polishing a glass. "Didn't you try to heal it though? You do have magic, right?"

"I do," Sunset confirmed, and after pensive moment admitted, "and I could have."

A pair of dark eyebrows shot up.

"And?"

Sunset shrugged again. "What do you think happened?"

The Sunset Shimmer who stood behind the bar set the tumbler glass down that she had been polishing and stared hard at the one who was seated on the other side. Her eyes traveled over the cold metal bars that made up the wheelchair's frame, the soft padding, the blankets that covered her double's legs, and the care-worn look in her bright, sky blue eyes.

She noted, most of all, how relaxed that version of her looked.

There was an ease to the young woman, a lightness, like she lacked some fundamental weight from around her shoulders.

From behind the bar, Sunset Shimmer let out a slow, even breath.

"What would it have cost us?"

Shifting slightly in her wheelchair, Sunset smiled wanly as she looked up at her double and nodded.

"Far too much," she replied.

"It was the only answer I could figure," the bartender replied, relaxing a little and picking up a new glass to begin polishing it. "The only thing that ever stopped us from doing anything was deciding not to do it."

"We're stubborn like that," Sunset agreed.

"Better question then," her double asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Shoot," Sunset said.

"What the hell is wrong with how you talk?"

Sunset blinked, then started laughing, and the bartender joined in a breath later. For a few moments, they just laughed, one redhead leaning hard on her bar while the other gripped her armrests and cackled.

"Guess you mean, 'savvy'?" Sunset asked, and her double nodded. "Gilda uses the stupid word like a comma or a period half the time, and I spent months with basically no one but her to talk to."

"Aha."

As if summoned by her comment, they both heard the restroom door open, and Gilda walked out into the bar proper. "That's some nice restrooms back there, babe, I have no… idea… how" she stopped and gaped. "How?"

Bartender Sunset smirked. "Hey, babe, what are you having today?"

"Oh, stop it." Sunset shook her head. Even though it was technically her, it was still weird someone else calling Gilda that. "She usually drinks cheap whiskey and coke."

Her counterpart raised her hands in a placating motion, her smile widening. "Oh, so that's how it is?"

Sunset took Gilda's hand when the latter had joined her across from her mirror image. "This is how it is."

Bartender Sunset sighed, her smile growing warm as she proceeded to fish up a bottle of whiskey. "I'm very happy for both of you. It also gives me hope!"

Sunset blinked. "Oh, so you and Rarity aren't…" she motioned with her hand at the pictures, which Gilda noticed and scowled at.

Bartender Sunset's face grew a mock glare. "Oh no. Rarity has much to answer for… specifically legal questions regarding this place. But no. I'm single." She motioned for them to sit at the bar. "But judging from your reactions, it seems that she's not much loved where you come from."

Gilda held up her hands silently, her brow furrowed with concern and something like strain.

“Okay just… just back up, yeah?” Gilda said as she closed her eyes, “can we just talk about how there’s two’a you? Like, just for a second?”

Bartender Sunset crossed her arms, smirking. "Sorry, this is relatively new to me so I don't have a good way to explain it other than "multiverse shenanigans", or possibly "magic.""

Sunset reclaimed her grip on Gilda’s hand.

“Now you know how I felt when you were in the hospital,” she said with a wry grin, “you having fantasies too?”

Gilda flushed scarlet, even showing past her dark complexion, and peals of laughter sounded from behind the bar.

“Wait, wait, what?” Sunset leaned her elbows on her bar and fixed Gilda with a curious look. “What happened?”

Gilda looked sheepish for a few seconds before taking the glove from her hand and revealing the prosthetic, and for the second time that hour Sunset’s eyebrows shot upward.

“Woah,” she reached out tentatively, only continuing when she got a nod from Gilda, and set her hand on the cold Equestrian cloudsteel of the arm. “That’s incredible…”

“Yeah, that’s a word for it,” Gilda said with a grimace, “losin’ my arm messed me up pretty bad actually, had to get a kick in the ass from another me, savvy?”

Bartender Sunset nodded. "I'm sorry you went through that," she said, "but it seems you came out a lot stronger." She leaned back. "Sorry, I know that sounds a bit pretentious coming from me. But you two look like you've conquered everything thrown your way, although I'm still surprised you don't seem to…" she trailed off. "Oh…" she blinked as realization slowly dawned on her. "Oh… don't tell me it was them?"

Sunset felt Gilda's hand tightening around her own, but smiled. "Gil, babe, help me sit up on one of the stools? I think a story is in order."

"So, redemption, huh?" Bartender Sunset took a deep breath, putting some distance between the couple and herself. "Some people think that that's really unattainable, you know? That no matter how hard you try, how many times people might say they forgive you for something, you know deep inside they haven't… and probably won't." She sighed.

“Mhm,” Sunset agreed with a nod and a quiet smile, “I know.”

The bartender frowned at that reply, and her hands went down to one of the stacks for glasses, picking one up and running a clean rag along the rim. Both Gilda and Sunset could see it was spotless but, then again, that wasn’t really the point.

“You know?” She asked finally, and there was a touch of anger in her voice.

Sunset nodded again, though.

“Yeah, I mean… that’s sort of the point isn’t it?” Sunset said, leaning forward on the bar and meeting her double’s gaze fearlessly.

“Bein’ redeemed ain’t somethin’ you can just lean into until ya put enough hours in, savvy?” Gilda added, having taken a place at the bar and taking a tentative sip of her drink before giving a low hum of approval. “I mean, c’mon, that ain’t how shit like forgiveness or redemption or any’a that emotional crap works, y’know?”

The Sunset behind the bar paused in her reflective cleaning, staring pensively down at her reflection in the crystalline glass of the tumbler she was holding.

“It’s not about where you’re trying to get to,” Sunset said quietly, reaching into her coat and pulling out the gemstone clasp of her Element, the gleaming ruby-and-topaz divided sun emblem. “It’s just about trying… it’s about pushing forward knowing there might not be anything at the other end of the tunnel because being a good person isn’t about being rewarded.”

Bartender Sunset's shoulders sagged. "You're right, of course. And I'm sure I'll meet other Sunsets who will feel the same. I went through the whole Anon-A-Miss thing as well, and even though we remain friends, the Memory Stone drove home how much the gang hated me before being blasted by magic. I'll always wonder whether they're really forgiven me… but Redemption isn't an easy thing… especially for those that seek it."

She put the clean glasses away and slowly ran her fingertips on the surface of the bar. "You know, I thought that opening this bar was an impulse decision. Just before you girls came in, I was having second thoughts about this whole thing. It's scary. And it's a big commitment of time and effort. It's a risk… and I'm sure I'll have awful days as much as I'll have good ones. But meeting you both has made me realize that nothing really worth it comes easy."

She smirked at their looks. "Oh, I know it's a well known saying, but internalizing it is different. With all you went through, I guess it makes my own issues seem petty in comparison, at least to myself. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, is it? It means that I can take that and turn it into something positive. There are many lessons I've still to learn, and maybe this bar with its weird inter-dimensional powers is the first step to achieving that."

Sunset's smile softened. "I'm glad you're starting to see what I meant."

Her mirror image shrugged. "Celestia raised no fool. Besides, you and Gilda are so adorable together that I might try and hook up with the next one that comes in, if she's single, or her partner is willing to share."

“No guarantee,” Sunset replied with a wry grin. “We’ve never been very good at sharing, have we?”

“Mm… guess not,” her double said with an equivalent smirk.

After a moment, the Bartender frowned and looked around her, taking a deep breath before looking back at Gilda and Sunset.

“Do you think we have to suffer to be redeemed?” she asked in a voice that was almost painfully small.

Sunset looked thoughtful as she let Gilda help her down into her wheelchair, pulling the covers over her legs as she did, and after a few moments looked up at met her double’s eyes.

“I think you might have to suffer to be kind,” she said quietly. “If you haven’t really hurt, really felt the kind of pain that leaves people broken I think that… it’s hard to real feel it, but maybe that’s just me, or us,” the pair of them scoffed at the irony of that, then Sunset continued. “But there’s a difference between trying to do better, to be better, and just martyring yourself on your cause.”

A few moments passed and Sunset nodded, her grip tightening on the covers that were draped across her numb legs.

“Yeah,” she said quietly, “I think that’s the real trap… when you’re breaking yourself to try to find redemption, you’re just doing it to make yourself feel better, you know?” Sunset glanced up and met her mirror’s eyes behind the bar. “That’s just being selfish, I think, but I do think we have to be kind to be redeemed… make of that what you will.”

Her bar-tending double, nodded pensively. "You've given me a lot to think about… but you know, I think in the end, it's worth it to be kind and forgive ourselves as well… and from there find redemption." Her eyes sparkled. "Anyway, consider this on the house. You are my very first customers ever, after all, and I think you gave me more than the drink is worth… only thing is, I'd like to take a picture of you two… for the wall. And the memories."

Sunset and Gilda glanced at each other and nodded.

"Perfect!" Sunset took a camera from under the bar and went around while they set themselves for the picture. "Say cheese!"

Gilda closed the door behind them and again they were standing on the streets of Canterlot City.

"Gil," Sunset said, calling her attention.

"Yeah, babe?"

"Look."

Gilda followed the direction Sunset's finger was pointing at, and discovered the entrance to Sunset's Isekai was gone. "Damn. Y'think we'll ever see her again?"

"Well, she did give us her card," Sunset said, showing Gilda the transparent business card with the cocktail and sun cutie-mark/logo.

"Heh, well, at least we know it's out there," Gilda said, leaning down to kiss Sunset on the cheek. "Anyway, we should hurry if we don't want to worry Adagio and the others."

She started pushing Sunset's wheelchair again in silence, until Sunset spoke up. "How does it feel to know that there's another me out there?"

Gilda shrugged. "Gives me a headache, but I don't care. There's one Sunshine in my life that I care about anyway, and she's with me right now, savvy?"

And Sunset's smile was answer enough for her to know that her Sunshine did know.

Author's Note:

Featherfall by I-A-M
No direct link to M stories. Thanks I-A-M for the amazing story and allowing me to both play with your characters a bit, and writing with you!

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