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



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

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Finding Time (The Time We Have Left — Fic - Complete)

Author's Note:

This chapter is a crossover with the truly depressing story: The Time We Have Left (T) by the one and only, Scampy!

***Content Warning***

As with Best Left Forgotten, The Time We Have Left is a fantastic story, but it deals with very real things and very real traumas that our guest today will talk about with Sunset. This was handled as carefully as possible, and kept within the T rating. 

If these kinds of topics are something you want to avoid, Sunset's Isekai will continue next week with a brand new chapter and guest.

Warning tags: Suicide attempt

Thank you,
-WD

Sunset's Isekai
Finding Time (The Time We Have Left — Complete)
By Wanderer D & Scampy

Sunset frowned when she realized the door to Wallflower’s apartment was still unlocked, and again when she realized that it bothered her at all. Of course it was still unlocked. Who was going to come lock it besides her? She shut the door behind her, sighing. It was a good thing anyway—entering through the door was much easier than throwing a rock through the window and climbing through.

As she moved across the tiny room—stepping past a large stone and a pile of broken glass—Sunset saw a line of potted plants against the wall, all of them shrivelled and brown. Her hand gently brushed over the long-dead leaves, pulling away as they cracked apart at her touch. She frowned, and her vision flickered for the briefest of moments.

What kind of plants had these been? Flowering most likely, but if so, what kind? Wallflower must have decided to grow them for a reason.

Long, straight stems, shrivelled to the point of snapping at a touch. It was a challenge to grow orchids indoors, but somehow she’d made it work. The pots on either side were a tangle of thin vines and dried-out petals, curled into a fragile bell shape. Morning glories…?

A sharp breath, and Sunset recoiled. She didn’t know and she didn’t care. Maybe if she had cared enough to ask Wallflower about them earlier, she would still be around to give an answer.

The plants were dead. It didn’t matter.

One more thing she couldn’t save anymore.

She turned away, her regrets drawing her eyes to two articles of clothing that lay on the floor beside the door to the bathroom. Both had their sleeves tied into knots, and both were crusted with a dark red hue.

Sunset’s breath caught in her throat as she looked over the ruined remains of her jacket. No amount of washing would get these stains out—as if that mattered now, anyway. At least it had been lost to a good cause, even if it hadn’t been enough.

Good cause… Sunset shook her head. Yeah, sure. How could it be a good cause if it hadn’t even worked? It would be better to just leave her jacket with… With…

Wallflower’s sweater lay beside it, sleeves tied in a similar fashion. Was Sunset supposed to keep it? Throw it away? Leave it here too? She forced herself to look at it, shivering as she knelt down to pick it up.

As soon as Sunset touched the dried redness stained into the sleeves, her eyes sparked again, and her expression soured. Why did it matter what she did with this stupid thing? It was too late to save it. No one besides her would even care that it was ruined anyway. Sure, she could tell her friends about how long sleeves could never hide them from herself, how woolen sweaters and leather jackets didn’t make the best tourniquets, how it just kept coming more and more, always more no matter how tightly she tied it was never enough—

Sunset dropped the sweater to the floor. She couldn’t think about this right now. Or ever, for that matter. Wallflower would want her to forget anyway.

A trembling breath left her as she stepped over the pile of red-stained clothing. At last, she crossed into the bathroom, and with an inaudible sigh, Sunset lowered herself to the dusty floor. She leaned against the cabinet beneath the sink, numb to the pain of its handle pressing into her back. Unable to avert her gaze any longer, she turned to look at the bathtub she found Wallflower in just twenty hours earlier.

Sunset had never seen so much blood in all her life.

The sharp scarlet hue from yesterday had faded slightly to a dull maroon—or at least it seemed to have done so, anyway. The whole world held a little less color since she’d left the hospital, so maybe it was just that. All the same, the sight of Wallflower’s blood staining the cheap plastic tub tied Sunset’s heart in knots all over again.

She forced herself to inch closer, peering into the crimson abyss. The color had evenly spread through the water after so long. If Sunset didn’t know any better, she would have thought the whole bath was full of blood, without even a single drop of water.

At the bottom, glinting in the soft amber light of the incandescent above, a piece of metal rested beside the drain. For a moment, Sunset was motionless, staring at the tiny little blade that ended Wallflower’s life.

She took a deep breath, adrenaline seizing her heart, and plunged her hand into the bloodied bathtub.

The second her fingers made contact with the razor, the stone hanging from her neck flickered dimly. As Sunset’s arm retracted, dripping wet and barely tinted red, a dull calmness settled over her entire being—almost as if she could just close her eyes and drift away from everything.

She was still for a moment, a shiver working its way up her spine. When did her hand start shaking? The blade was so small, so cold, still wet, still dripping red rivulets, pulsing slowly, a horribly effective anesthetic to all the nothing, all the something, all the everything weighing her down, threatening to crush the air from her lungs

“Hkkkt—!” A sharp breath, and Sunset tore her eyes away. She had to leave, and she had to leave now. She had to get up and walk out and away from all these memories and feelings that weren’t hers to share in.

If she didn’t remember them, though, no one ever would. It would be as if Wallflower never existed at all.

Again, Sunset’s gaze fell to the blade, still cradled in her hand. She would never—could never—do that… Why couldn’t she stop thinking about it? Why didn’t it seem like a big deal…?

She had to get away. It would be so easy to just drop the razor, so easy to walk out of the room, the apartment, all the way home and never look back. It would be so, so easy. So easy… So easy to…

No, she wouldn’t. She couldn't. She deserved better.

Sunset looked back to the bathtub. Wallflower deserved better too. Look what happened to her.

Still clutching the razor between her fingers, Sunset grabbed at the counter-top with her other hand, scrambling to raise herself off the floor. She couldn’t stay here, not tonight. Maybe another day, another night, another time when she could draw a line around her own feelings and everything else, but not now. She moved out of the bathroom, across the tiny room and pulled the front door open.

Sunset Shimmer looked up from the magazine she was reading when she heard her own voice shouting from the entrance.

"What the heck!?"

"Huh. One of me. It's been a while," she muttered. "Come on in!"

There was a pause, then careful footsteps approaching, and with them… dread, despair, hopelessness. Sunset winced. This version of herself was emanating very strong empathic energy… and not the good kind. It was stifling, and she was glad that everyone else was out. It was not the kind of thing she would want Lena or Danni exposed to. If it caught you unprepared… it could spell trouble.

Her other self had finally made it into the bar and was looking around in a mixture of awe and confusion that only grew when she saw herself.

"Welcome to Sunset's Isekai," Sunset said automatically, her defenses pushing away the emotional energy now that she was aware of it. "It's a multi-dimensional bar which explains why there's two of us. I'd explain more, but you're sending out some serious vibes, Sunset. Take a hold of your emotions: your geode is firing them all over the place."

The other Sunset was younger. Well, of course she was—she wasn't a few hundred years old—but still younger-looking than she was. This was probably a Sunset that was still in school, much too young to be sending that kind of psychic energy. Was it another Anon-a-miss situation? Those could get pretty intense. "Hey, come on, turn it off and take a seat. I'll whip you up a milkshake."

"Oh, um… yeah." The younger Sunset carefully made her way to sit down and took hold of her geode, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath as the energy slowly receded away.

Sunset decided to keep her defenses up regardless. If anything this visit just showed that she needed to work on the spells a bit more to keep that kind of thing in check. Her younger self was lucky that she had come here when that happened than walking down the street, where any non-magical or ill-prepared person could be really affected by such strong emotional, magical bursts.

"So what flavor would you like?" she asked, smiling gently. "I was always partial to chocolate myself, but I have the oddest things now. I can even make it electric."

Her younger self blinked, still glancing around the room like she wasn’t sure it was real. “Uhm… Chocolate is fine.”

Sunset shrugged. "Alright, one chocolate milkshake coming up." She hesitated as she started pulling out the chocolate chips to melt into syrup. "Unless you want something else. It just seemed like a milkshake moment."

“I-I’m sorry,” the younger Sunset said, “but this is already confusing me. You’re me. How are you me? What do we even call each other?” She held her head in her hands, already seeming overwhelmed. “I must be going crazy…”

"I know this can be a bit confusing, trust me," Sunset said. She pulled out sugar and a little pan, scooping some in and pouring a bit of water before turning on the heat. "So, the long and short is that this is a bar that exists outside time and space. And just like the mirror, I can go into other worlds and universes. So I am a Sunset Shimmer from another universe, here to talk to you and help if I can."

“Going crazy, got it.”

"Right. So I won't show you the pictures." Sunset stirred the melting sugar and turned off the heat, adding pieces of chocolate. "Why don't you call me Isekai to make it easier? Also, this is not your imagination. I'm actually here, and I'm actually making syrup from scratch. Didn't Celestia ever teach you about the multiverse? Never watched a Marvel movie?"

“Nnngh… Look, Isekai,” Sunset groaned. “I really don’t have the energy to deal with my own sass, okay?” Her previously blank expression sank into a frown. “If you want to trade barbs, go hug a cactus or something.”

Isekai shrugged. "I'm not trying to get under your skin, but there's really no need for that kind of response. A lot of people who come in here are confused the first time, so I try to reference stuff they might be familiar with."

“Y-yeah, okay,” Sunset sighed. Her hands left the counter, falling to her sides. “I’m sorry, just… It’s been a really bad day.”

"And that is what this place is for," Sunset said, grabbing a tall glass and dribbling the chocolate syrup inside as she turned it, creating a spiral from the bottom to the top. When she was done, she put it inside the fridge and extracted the rest of the ingredients, preparing her blender. "I'm here to listen and talk. The bar will be empty for us, so there's no risk of anyone walking in. And well, you were projecting so much that I could tell you were in a bad spot. Do… you want to talk about it?"

“Projecting, huh?” Sunset said, plainly ignoring the question. Her hands fiddled with something beneath the bar—her geode, Isekai assumed. “That’s… new.”

"Yeah, our geodes are actually really versatile. If you're not careful, someone on the street might start picking up on your emotional state, or worse, a random memory or vision." Isekai had whipped the ice cream and milk by now, and poured it into the chilled glass, adding an additional scoop of chocolate ice cream, then following that with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and a straw.

She placed it in front of Sunset. "Here you go. One chocolate milkshake."

“O-oh.” Sunset’s eyes snapped up, and she frantically stuffed something in her pocket. As her focus settled on the drink in front of her, her eyes widened a little bit. “Wow, that looks really fancy,” she said. Delicately taking the glass in her hands, she brought the straw to her lips, and a moment later her eyes lit up. Rather than offer any spoken praise, Sunset practically inhaled the drink, as if she hadn’t had anything to eat in days.

"I'll uh, make another one. I don't usually have food, but I could order some curry for you if you want?"

“Mmmph…” Sunset finished slurping down half the milkshake. “No thank you,” she said. “I don’t want to impose any more than I already am.”

"Fair enough, but let me get you some cookies at least, I should have some around here. Those go well with milkshakes."

“No, thank you,” Sunset repeated. “I’m not hungry anyway.”

"Alright." Rather than make herself a cocktail—even if she was tempted given this Sunset's resistance—Isekai decided to make herself some tea. After some thought, she pulled out a metallic box from the Flying Puppy Bakery and stacked several cookies on them, putting it next to her cup. "How's the milkshake?"

“Oh, uhh, very good,” Sunset said, eyeing the stack of cookies. “Uhm… If it’s not too much trouble, could I have one of those…?”

Isekai resisted the urge to smirk, pushing the plate to the center of the bar right between them. "Of course, you're my guest."

Sunset wasted no time honing in on the cookies closest to her, hungrily devouring each one in a matter of seconds.

So much for not being hungry.

"You know, I really was going to order some food for myself before you walked in. It really wouldn't be any imposition to share some of it."

“Mhmmph…” Sunset nodded, speaking through a mouthful of strawberry-frosted cookie. “I’m fine with these, thanks.”

Isekai made the order anyway with her tablet. 'It's not like I won't eat it if she doesn't want any. That stuff is legendary in two worlds.' "Here," she said, handling Sunset a napkin. "You could use that."

“Oh, thanks,” Sunset said, taking the napkin and wiping her face clean. As she pulled the red-stained cloth away, her eyes fell to it and immediately shrank to the size of pinpricks. She dropped it to the counter, and her hand fell below the bar again.

Isekai raised an eyebrow at that, then gently reached over and folded the napkin, hiding the red smear on it, before replacing it with a new one. "Here." Clearly whatever had happened to her young counterpart had left her sensitive… An idea of what could have happened started forming in her head, but she pushed it away. Sunset hadn't said anything and guessing would only make things worse if she guessed wrong. "You look exhausted, Sunset, when was the last time you had to yourself?"

Sunset shifted on her bar stool, her hands fiddling with something beneath the bar again. “Uhm… I-I guess that kind of depends,” she said. “I was with a friend earlier, but she… She was sleeping...”

Isekai bit her lip, catching on to the subtext of Sunset's words. That, alongside the reaction to the red smear, the exhaustion, the snappy replies earlier and how guarded she was, painted a very sad picture. "I see," she said softly. "Were the girls also there?"

“N-no, just me,” Sunset said, her eyes falling to her lap. “It wouldn’t have been right to force them to get involved.”

'Oh boy. She's been alone ever since this happened...' Isekai nodded, hiding a frown. "Can you tell me what happened?"

Sunset didn’t reply, still staring at whatever she was holding. A moment later, she winced, closed her eyes, and shook her head. Without a word, she sighed and held out her hand to her older counterpart.

Isekai shook her head. "I don't use my geode. I put it away to keep myself from accidentally reading customers. Some of them would not take it lightly. Others… would drive even me insane. Would it be okay to talk about it?"

Sunset just stared at her expectantly. “You’re serious?” She barely held back a scoff. “You’re serious. You could just touch my wrist and know exactly what you want to know, but instead you’re gonna drag it out of me bit by—ugh…” She groaned, pulling her hand back below the bar. “Fine, whatever,” she said. “You want me to tell you what happened?”

"Sometimes talking helps more to deal with things," Isekai said. "Take your time and tell me. I'm in no rush, and I will listen."

Sunset glanced up at Isekai, then back to her lap. “It’s not like it’ll take long to explain,” she said bitterly. “You know Wallflower Blush?”

Isekai's eyes flickered to the corner table where Wallflower would sit whenever she visited before she could even think about it. She glanced back to Sunset before nodding and sighing. "Yeah. I know her."

“Yeah, well…” Sunset’s expression was somewhere between grief-stricken and livid. “She died a few hours ago,” she said.

"I'm so sorry," Isekai said, feeling a knot in her throat as her eyes strayed over to the forget-me-not growing on the wall. "It wasn't—was it…"

“She killed herself,” Sunset interrupted her, her whole body shivering a bit. “Exsanguination.”

Isekai shook her head. "Oh, Wallflower..." She took a deep breath, her thoughts going back to the other Wallflower she had met. The one that had her own table. Would she have ended up the same? From her own admission she had been in a very bad place before the local Sunset found her, and—she hoped—her own visit to the bar had helped her regain more of her inner strength and will to live. The thought of that sweet girl just taking her life away... "Did you find her?" she asked in a whisper.

Sunset nodded, sighing. “Not soon enough,” she said. “By the time the ambulance got her to a hospital… It was too late to do anything…” She grit her teeth, her gaze returning to her lap, and she winced again.

"That's horrible, Sunset, I'm sorry that happened…" She licked her lips. "So you stayed the whole time with her."

Sunset didn’t answer, instead reaching for her milkshake. As she took hold of the glass, Isekai noticed something—a couple of still-bleeding small cuts on Sunset’s fingers.

"Hey," Isekai spoke up. "Your hand is bleeding, did you cut yourself with something before coming in? Here, let me take a look?"

“What? No, I would never—!” Sunset recoiled, nearly spilling her drink. She looked over her hand then hid it beneath the bar once more. “It’s fine,” she said, her voice low. “Nothing serious.”

"It looked like it might sting though," Isekai said. "Don't worry, I won't cover you in band-aids."

“I said I’m fine.” Sunset frowned.

"Look," Isekai said, "you've hurt your fingers, and you're bleeding. Let me take care of that now, before it gets worse. I know you're not in the best place, but being physically hurt won't help you."

Sunset just glared at her for a moment, then let out a long sigh. “Fine, do what you want,” she said, holding her hand out.

Isekai gently held it up so she could see. She had feared Sunset had cut her hands by accident with glass, but the small cuts were all straight, even the ones that were barely a scratch. No jagged cuts, or areas where the cut went much deeper, indicating a pointy object. They looked more like paper cuts, or maybe a straight razor. Glancing up at Sunset she almost spoke up, but refrained. One thing at a time.

She put her other hand, hovering above Sunset's, and whispered a spell, watching as gentle light flowed from her hand into hers, and the cuts slowly faded away. "Healing has never been my specialty but small things like that… I can deal with those."

Sunset could only watch, eyes wide, as the wounds on her hand closed on their own. “Y-you… You healed me,” she spoke in an almost-whisper. “With magic…? How did—what…”

"Different universes, different rules," Isekai said. "I was taught by a few people from other worlds. What you saw there is most of what I can do with healing magic… it's not as general as Equestrian magic. A lot of places out there specialize in specific types a—"

Gah!” Sunset shot up from her bar stool, suddenly shouting. “Damn it, damn it! None of this is—!” She stopped short and whirled on Isekai. “Of course you have magic! Of course you do! I-if I could h-h-have just waved my hand a-and fixed her…” Sunset’s voice fell into broken, shivering stammers. “I-I could have saved her…

"Sunset, you can't blame yourself for not being able to use magic. I have no doubt in my mind you would have used every bit of it if that was the case, but it's not something you had control over."

“Goddess above, would you shut up?!” Sunset screamed. “You’re so calm about this, aren’t you? So above it! Don’t tell me what I can and can’t blame myself for—you weren’t there!” She pointed at Isekai, and something metal glinted in her hand. “Y-you didn’t see h-her…!”

Isekai narrowed her eyes. "What is that in your hand?"

At that, Sunset stiffened up, immediately shoving her hand in her pocket. “None of your damn business, that’s what it is.”

"Take it out of your pocket and sit down." She sighed and crossed her arms. "I'm not your enemy here, Sunset. I am telling you only that that was not something you had control over. And you know it."

Sunset glared at her for a moment, breathing heavily. “Fine,” she said, her voice dripping with venom. Her hand dipped into her pocket, and when it retreated, Isekai finally saw what Sunset had been hiding—a tiny, two-sided razor blade.

"That's what she used, isn't it." It wasn't even a question. Still, she heard her voice crack a little. This Sunset had witnessed the suicide attempt and then been right there when Wallflower had passed away. A guilty part of her felt slightly grateful that she didn't carry her geode with her anymore. That was a memory that would break anyone's heart.

Sunset twitched as if a shiver had run up her spine. “Y-yeah. It was,” she said. “It was still in the bathtub when I went back, s-so…”

"That is… Sunset, holding on to that is probably not good for you. Especially so soon."

“You don’t get to tell me what is and isn’t good for me,” Sunset snapped. She turned the blade over in her hand, her eyes locked on its edges, then flicking down. “I-I told you. I’m fine.”

"Then give it to me," Isekai said, extending her hand.

“W-wha… No!” Sunset shouted, taking a step back. “I-it was Wallflower’s! Having it j-just helps me, okay? I’m not going t-to… To…” She trailed off, her whole body shaking as her gaze moved from the razor to Isekai and back again.

"Give it to me, Sunset. Let it go."

Nnnngh…!” Sunset shut her eyes, shaking her head. “Shut up, j-just shut up! Wallflower’s dead, and I couldn’t stop it!” Sunset was screaming as her whole body trembled. “This is the only thing I have to remember her by, and I’m not gonna let you take it away from me!”

Before Isekai could respond, something sparked in Sunset’s hand.

“W-what?” Sunset held the razor up, blinking in shock as more sparks rose up from its edges. “...Isekai?” Her voice was shallow, scared. “What is this…?”

Isekai's eyes were wide. It took barely a second for her to realize what it was. “The bar…” It was the bar's spell to protect her and her guests from harm… even from themselves... even if they hadn't been aware that they might do something. Desperation grew in her guest's eyes as the razor flaked away in her hands.

The blade in Sunset’s hand was disappearing now, hundreds of sparks flittering away to nothing from its edges. “N-no! I told you no!” Sunset shouted, clutching the remaining half-blade as it too dissolved between her fingers.

Then, with a final flurry of sparks, it was gone. Sunset’s hand was empty, as if nothing had ever been there at all.

"The bar has a spell," Isekai said gently. "It activates if a guest is going to hurt themselves with some sort of weapon or object. I'm sorry that it happened like that, but what were you thinking of doing?"

“I-I… You…” Sunset was barely audible, staring at the space where the razor had been. When she at last looked up, her gaze was hard as steel. “That was magic,” she said. “That was your magic.”

"It was my spell," Isekai said, resting her hands on the bar. "A spell that is constantly active and doesn't activate until certain requirements are met." She was not letting Sunset get away from what had actually caused that to activate that easily. "And one of those requirements is that my guests were about to hurt themselves. Sunset. What were you going to do?"

Sunset’s whole body tensed up. “Y-you mean… You think—No! No, I would never…” She shook her head, the faintest whimper creeping into her voice. “I’d n-never do that… I-I just get thoughts sometimes, b-but I would never do that to myself!”

Before Isekai could respond, Sunset kept shouting. “And don’t try to turn this around on me! I told you no, but you just magicked it away anyway! You think y-you know what’s best for me?” Sunset stomped up to the bar, her voice cracking. “What the hell do you know?! You weren’t even there!”

"Calm down," Isekai said, her voice steady. "I already told you. It's not what I thought you were going to do, but what the spell sensed you were about to do. Even if it was the spell that did it, I can't just sit here and let you hurt yourself!"

“Whatever I do to myself is not up to you!”

"Do you really want to hurt yourself?" Isekai demanded. "Is that really what you want? Is that what Wallflower would want?"

At that, Sunset froze over entirely. After a few more silent seconds, fury overcame her features, and she stumbled towards the bar. “You think you know what she wanted?” Her voice was trembling, cold, fragile. “You think you understand?” Tears filled her eyes as her legs wobbled, and she fell to the floor, her whole body shuddering with every breath. “D-do you…?”

Isekai quickly made her way around the bar, kneeling next to the collapsed Sunset. "Hey… come on, look at me. Of course I'm trying to understand, Sunset."

Sunset took slow, shaky breaths. She reached into her pocket, her hand closing around whatever object was inside. Coughing out a single sob, she turned to Isekai, locking eyes with her. For a moment, neither of them spoke.

Then, a brilliant golden glow lit up the room as Sunset’s geode flared to life. She lunged forward, grabbing Isekai by the wrist, and both their eyes shone white as—

Sunset checked her phone again as she walked up the crumbled stone path to the apartment building. She’d sent seven texts today already—not even counting the dozen more she’d sent earlier throughout the week—but there was still no response from Wallflower.

That was fine. She was fine, Sunset was sure of it.

And if she wasn’t, well, that’s why Sunset was here in the first place.

Which one was Wallflower’s apartment again? Sunset had walked her home only once, after they’d gone to get coffee on the last day of school. Some buried intuition had told Sunset that Wallflower couldn’t be left on her own that day, and that same sense had guided her here now.

It was on the top floor, wasn’t it? Yeah, 428, that was it.

Sunset checked her phone one more time before making her way up the stairs. Still nothing. That was okay. Soon she’d be talking with Wallflower face-to-face anyway.

425, 426, 427… There.

Sunset took a deep breath, and then another. Wallflower might not be happy to see her at first, but that little voice in Sunset’s head knew this was necessary. She could handle some vitriol if it meant ensuring Wallflower was okay.

She rang the doorbell, and waited.

Seconds passed. Then a half a minute. Sunset rang the bell a few more times, to no avail. She knocked on the door, and when there was still no answer, she knocked again even harder.

Another knock, practically punching the door so hard that her hand hurt. Wallflower had to be in there, right? Where the heck else would she be? Something tingled in Sunset’s chest, and she moved to peer through the window.

Far in the back corner of the unlit apartment, a door was cracked open. It had to be the bathroom. In there, the lights were on.

Oh. Well now she was just embarrassed. Wallflower was probably in the shower and couldn’t hear her.

Probably.

She was fine. Sunset would just wait for her.

After pacing back and forth a couple times, Sunset peered through the window again. The bathroom door was cracked open enough that she could make out what seemed like the mirror.

If the shower was on, wouldn’t the mirror be covered in steam?

No, she was being ridiculous. Maybe Wallflower took cold showers. Maybe she was taking a bath. Maybe the light just happened to be on and Wallflower was asleep in the bedroom.

Sunset knocked on the door again. When there was no reply, she checked her phone again.

Nothing. No answer of any kind.

In a split second, Sunset’s composure evaporated. She opened the phone app and, hand trembling, dialed three numbers and hit ‘call.’ She resumed her pacing, back and forth and back and forth in front of the window, peeking through as she did, desperate to see any kind of movement. She was probably overreacting and Wallflower was probably fine, and Sunset would have to give a lot of apologies for wasting everyone’s time.

Better safe than sorry. The phone rang once, then twice.

Someone picked up. Sunset spoke as clearly as she could, fighting the shakiness in her voice. She was a concerned friend, she needed a wellness check to 428 Saddlebridge, she just needed to know her friend was safe. It would be fine. Wallflower would be fine.

The voice on the other end told her someone would be there in five to ten minutes. That wasn’t very long, was it? That was good. In the meantime, Sunset should stay there in case Wallflower opened the door. It would be fine.

She hung up the phone and stopped pacing, looking through the window again. Still, she saw no movement—just the crack of light from behind the bathroom door.

That little voice in the back of her head whispered something in her ear—five to ten minutes could be the difference between life and death.

Sunset’s unease swelled into a full-blown panic.

What the hell was she doing, standing around out here? She came to make sure Wallflower was safe, and that’s exactly what she was going to do. She couldn’t afford to wait any longer than she already had.

One more check of her phone. Still nothing from Wallflower.

Down the stairs, all four flights, across the parking lot to the crumbled stone path. Sunset worked on autopilot, grabbing the largest rock she could carry and rushing back up the stairs again. Reasonably athletic as she was, her muscles still burned at the effort. It didn’t matter. She’d wasted too much time already. She should’ve done this after Wallflower didn’t answer the first ring of the doorbell.

She reached the top floor again, stumbling to a halt by the door to 428. With a deep breath, Sunset steadied herself in front of the window. This would probably be a bad idea in retrospect.

Sunset lurched herself around and flung the rock as hard as she could, shattering the window to pieces.

Without a second thought, she climbed through the broken mess, wincing as some remaining shards scratched through her jacket and jeans. It didn’t matter. She was inside, and whenever the police or ambulance or whoever got here, they wouldn’t have to worry about the locked door either.

She could worry about the window later. Sunset crossed the tiny, messy living space and opened the bathroom door.

Wallflower—

Sunset screamed.

Wallflower lay motionless in the bathtub, her lips just barely above the scarlet-stained water. The metallic smell of blood filled the air so much that Sunset almost gagged. As she entered the room, partially stunned, her eyes fell to Wallflower’s face.

She looked so peaceful. If not for the blood spilling from Wallflower’s slashed forearms, Sunset would have thought she was just sleeping.

A second passed, and Sunset’s daze evaporated. Red-clouded water splashed from the bath as she pulled Wallflower out, pleading, screaming. She laid Wallflower on the floor, adrenaline surging through her veins as blood continued to stream from the unconscious girl’s torn forearms. It puddled on the floor, left trails down Wallflower’s arms, stained Sunset’s hands and sleeves as she frantically tried to apply pressure to the wounds.

It wouldn’t be enough. The other arm was cut too, even deeper—she had to find a way to stop the bleeding.

Wallflower was so pale, so cold. Was it already too late?

No… No, she could do this. She was Sunset Shimmer. She didn’t let bad things happen to her friends.

She just had to keep Wallflower steady until the ambulance arrived. Sunset reached over Wallflower, grabbing a familiar thick woolen sweater discarded on the floor. Hands and limbs shaking, Sunset threaded the sleeves beneath one of Wallflower’s arms, tying them into as tight of a knot as she could manage, whispering unheard encouragements as she did.

A whimpering gasp left her lips as she took off her own jacket, cursing her trembling limbs as she fought to escape the sleeves. Just one more tourniquet. Stay focused. She could do this.

She repeated the process, pulling the knot as tight as possible. Her hands left the jacket, and she braved a look back at Wallflower’s arms.

The bleeding had slowed, but not nearly enough. The pool of blood beneath Wallflower continued to spread, staining the knee of Sunset’s jeans. Her panicked gaze spun around the room, stopping when she saw an open pill bottle on the bathroom counter. Sunset swiped it and read the label.

Aspirin. Blood thinners. No wonder the tourniquets weren’t enough.

This couldn’t be happening. This couldn’t be happening. She cried Wallflower’s name over and over, holding the girl as close as she could, as if doing so would impart some of her own liveliness to Wallflower’s motionless form. She started screaming again, screaming for Wallflower to wake up, to please wake up, please…!

Wallflower’s only reply was to limply sink further into Sunset’s arms.

Blood everywhere. No way to help. Useless tears and screams.

She heard voices behind her—

Sunset stumbled back, and it took her a moment to shake the vision and realize that Isekai had pushed her away with her foot. The bartender was on her side, eyes wide and breathing hard, still obviously disoriented.

Before she could react, Sunset had already scrambled to her side, gripping her geode tight in one hand as she reached for her counterpart and grasped her arm again, forcing the connection.

In… … … and out.

In… … …and out.

Sunset watched the slow, unsteady rise and fall of Wallflower’s chest, just as she had been for hours. How long had she been here? How long had Wallflower been—been sleeping?

Holding down a yawn, Sunset shifted in her tiny plastic hospital chair, pulling Wallflower a little closer. Her body yearned to stand, to move, to stretch her legs for just a few seconds… She couldn’t, though. She promised Wallflower she would stay with her. What if when she got up to stretch, that was when Wallflower…?

Stretching wasn’t important right now.

Adrenaline roused Sunset’s senses. She watched Wallflower carefully, intently, desperately.

In… … …and out.

In… … …and out.

Sunset’s eyes strained. She’d long since run out of tears. It was all she could do to just hold Wallflower close, to try not to think about how cold she was.

This… All of this didn’t feel real, like she was caught in a nightmare that refused to end. Eighteen hours of being too late, and all she could do now was wait for the last embers of life to fade from her friend’s body.

In… … …and out.

She felt a familiar wetness on her cheeks. Maybe she wasn’t out of tears after all. If only she had some tissues or something—but that would require leaving Wallflower’s side. Calling for help would take a doctor or nurse away from a patient, someone who mattered, someone worth helping. Wallflower was beyond help, and Sunset didn’t deserve it.

In… … …and out.

How had Wallflower put it? Every time something went wrong, that voice in the back of her head offered its “solution.”

For the first time in months—maybe years—Sunset thought she heard the voice again.

Stupid, selfish Sunset. If she’d been a better friend—or at least just checked on Wallflower a few days, or even a few hours earlier… But she hadn’t. She waited until her friend was in crisis, and even then she didn’t bother to show up until it was too late to save her.

Wallflower didn’t deserve this… but maybe Sunset did.

Her eyes drifted around the barren hospital room, finally settling on the girl resting against her. She watched her chest, unblinking.

Wallflower wasn’t moving.

Sunset's hand closed on empty air. She shook her head, clearing away the disorienting feeling of returning from a vision to reality and quickly stood up, studying the area to see where Isekai had gone. But the bar was empty.

She licked her suddenly dry lips and exhaled, her breath visible as if the temperature had dropped drastically. Was it her or were the previously warm colors of the bar somehow… dimmer? No… it was really happening. The bar, the pictures, the bottles on the shelf… everything was somehow losing color until it was a monotone of black and white.

Sunset heard a sound like rocks crumbling and she turned around, catching on the corner of her eye little pieces of brick and mortar crumbling down from the wall. Suddenly, with the thunderous crack of hardwood splintering, the bar shook, almost making her lose her balance, and under her the floor split, as if someone had ripped apart a piece of paper.

She gasped and tried to step out of the way, but the floor was already caving into the darkness, and before she could regain her footing, her boot slipped and she fell heavily onto her side as the gaping wound on the floor collapsed everything into the void, casting her screaming into darkness.

Isekai sat several feet away from where Sunset had grabbed her. She was curled into herself, her knees tight against her chest, her chin resting against her knees, and her hair falling around her like a curtain.

She could still hear Wallflower's breathing. The raspy, wheezing undertone to it as her body drew air and released it agonizingly slow. The surety that the last breath had come. That it was about to come.

The lack of strength in her hand. The small gasps that were more of a parting of the lips and air escaping than anything out of awareness. The feeling of being lonely, unable to do anything and knowing that there was nothing to be done.

Being afraid to turn away.

She hugged her legs closer to herself. It wasn't the first time she'd seen death. It wasn't even the first time she'd been close to someone about to pass away. It came with the long, long, life. But Sunset—that Sunset… she hadn't only been dreading this, but she had been mentally unprepared, impulsive… opening herself up to Wallflower while in that state with the Geode… that damned Geode.

Her chest felt tight, as if someone was squeezing it.

She was so angry with Sunset Shimmer. For forcing this on her… for doing that to herself. It was hard to separate things right now. What had she done back home when—had her own Wallflower ever considered this? But the hospital—

She closed her eyes tightly, forcing each painful thread of invasive memories to unwrap from her consciousness, even if the heartache would take much longer to cope with. But the guilt that wasn't her own. The pain she would accept… to see a friend, a loved one like that—no, she was not going to forget that. And she wasn't going to ignore it.

She looked up at the empty space where Sunset had once been. "I should let you be there longer," she whispered, furious. Despite her anger, she forced herself up.

A moment later, Sunset had materialized in the bar, on her hands and knees, pale and shaking. She was gasping, her fingers scratching the floor as if afraid that it would fade away. She looked up, eyes wide and gargled a strangled scream, jumping to her feet and backing against a table as Isekai stomped forward and slapped her so hard her hand stung. "How dare you!" The worse thing was she could feel tears form up, which made her even angrier. "I should crush your damn geode right now! How could you do that to me?! I was trying to help you, and you betrayed my trust and forced your mind into mine!"

“I-I…” Sunset’s breathing was sharp and shallow. She tightly shut her eyes, her trembling voice twisting into a cry. “I didn’t… Please d-don’t, again, n-not again…!”

"Get out." Isekai pointed at the door at the end of the bar, which opened by itself into a familiar living room. She looked away. She did not need a reminder of what happened. "You're not welcome here."

Sunset looked at the door, then back to Isekai. Without a word, she stumbled past her and towards the exit, a trail of broken whimpers in her wake. If any were an apology, Isekai chose to ignore them.

The door closed behind Sunset, and Isekai stood alone once more. "No. Not alone." In the corner, Bernard busily spun a web in his cage. The pictures on the walls displayed the plethora of friends she had made since she had opened the bar. Right now, she could open the bar for business and a crowd of multidimensional patrons would flow in, keeping her busy and distracted. She'd be able to talk to Belldandy about what had happened. She'd be able to call Freya home if she wanted and cuddle up and cry.

She was not alone.

She wasn't Sunset.

The stray thought made her ball her hands into fists, and she glanced at the door. 'She chose this. She did something unforgivable. She deserves to be kicked out.' She took a deep breath. But did she deserve to be alone?

She stubbornly walked around the counter and picked up the dirty glasses, taking them over to the sink. "She's a danger to anyone that comes close to her. She should be alone for a while," she muttered. She could almost feel the door looming behind her.

'But should she be alone? Really? In that state?'

She kept washing the glasses, rinsing away the remaining milkshake and lathering it up to clean it. Sunset hadn't even been able to drink the whole thing. She slowed down as she continued scrubbing the already clean glass. She could still feel Sunset's despair from the vision, and again the guilt that came with it. That girl would take the blame for it even if it wasn't her fault. There was nothing she could have done. She had called in a wellness check, had texted and called Wallflower… sometimes there was nothing you could do. Nothing you could reasonably force yourself to do.

This wasn't one of those times.

She took a deep breath, letting it out slowly before turning and walking around the bar. She made her way to the entrance and with a grimace stepped into a place she really would rather not see.

The bedroom was a mess. Not because Wallflower had been dirty, but she had clearly stopped caring. Things were left on the floor as if they had just been dropped there. The trash had built around the trash bin as initial attempts to contain it in the area had been replaced with half-attempts to simply throw things in that general direction.

Clothes and towels and socks lay around discarded and forgotten. A small pile next to a door was maybe an abandoned attempt to clean up at some point. Some pots with dead plants lined a wall, forgotten and uncared for. Wallflower probably thought she deserved the same fate.

How could Sunset… how could anyone without some sort of training even deal with this? This was beyond a friend simply being there for you. Wallflower had needed professional attention. She thought back to Wallflower struggling to breathe in bed while Sunset held onto her, and she once more felt her eyes water as she looked around the room, imagining a lonely girl idling time away on her mattress, staring at the mess around her. Alone and just wondering what was the point of it all.

It was a place without smiles or energy, where friends had never stepped in, or been welcomed. Wallflower had isolated herself and cut contact. She had reduced the chances of people reaching her… something she was very proficient at, regardless of the universe. But this time it had come at a price and had dragged Sunset along with her.

Wallflower wouldn't have wanted that. It was oddly selfish of Sunset, in a way, to assume this was about her. Isekai snorted. That was something she, and every other Sunset were very proficient at: shifting the blame, the onus and responsibility onto themselves.

And this time, it was going to destroy Sunset.

The thought of her counterpart was enough to chase away the specter of Wallflower's misery. Gulping down, Isekai studied the room and saw the door to the bathroom was ajar, and the light on. She slowly made her way there and pushed the door open.

The room seemed smaller than it had in the memory she’d witnessed. Sunset was curled up on the floor, her back to the wall beneath the shower rod. If she heard Isekai come in, she made no indication of it. Her gaze was locked on the other side of the tiny room, past the sink, past the counter, past the shower curtain…

She closed her eyes for a brief moment, the image fresh in her mind both from Sunset's memories and seeing it now. A pool of blood, for all intents and purposes. She turned her gaze over to her counterpart, focusing on her instead of the bath. "Sunset?"

“I-I thought…” Sunset couldn’t get through a word without her voice cracking. “...I thought I was gonna die…”

Isekai frowned and leaned her back against the door frame. A part of her wanted to reassure Sunset that things were okay, but she was still angry with the younger woman, even if the whole place was chipping away at that anger very effectively. "You didn't."

“Maybe I should have…” Sunset spoke barely above a whisper. “I-I deserve it…”

"You should stop that," Isekai said, trying to dull the edge to her voice. "You don't deserve to die. I imagine you wouldn't have done what you did if you were in a better place at the time. It was horrible. But no, you don't deserve to die for that or any other reason."

“Neither did Wallflower,” Sunset said softly, “but she died anyway… Because I wasn’t here…”

Isekai shook her head, crossing her arms. "You were trying to reach her. You came to check on her. You called the police, took her to the hospital, stayed with her. You did what you could, but no one can just be there all the time…" A thought from an old conversation came back to her. "When… when someone is in a situation like Wallflower was, they would just wait until you were gone. You were not ready for this, Sunset. You did the best you could, and no one can blame you for what happened, so don't take on that weight."

Sunset just shook her head. “When I was falling, I-I… I was s-so scared…” A sharp inhale cut her off. “Until I wasn’t… I was so sure I was about to die, and i-it just… It didn’t scare me anymore…” She looked up at Isekai, her face stained with tears. As Sunset uncurled herself, Isekai saw something in her hand—a little orange box, the same size as…

She took a deep breath and walked a bit closer, kneeling in front of Sunset. "Come on, give me those." She extended her hand.

Sunset stared at her, squinting through her own tears. She turned the box of razors over in her trembling hand as if studying it, making sure it was really there. Then, with a deep breath, she handed it to Isekai.

“Thank you,” Isekai said, doing her best to smile. "Let's go to the other room to talk."

She helped Sunset up, and walked her out of the bathroom, closing the door behind them. The younger woman was almost dragging herself, as exhaustion and the emotional roller-coaster she'd been in for the last twenty four hours were finally taking their toll. With nowhere to sit down, she helped her over to the mattress and sat her down, sitting right next to her and helping her keep steady.

Sunset sat hunched over, staring blankly at the floor. “I-I’m still scared,” she said softly. “Scared th-that I wasn’t scared… This little voice in the back of my head keeps telling me what I have to do, and I-I can’t make it stop…!”

Isekai was silent for a minute, simply holding Sunset as the younger woman trembled. "Sunset… I don't think you should be alone right now."

The only reply she got was a half-hearted nod from Sunset.

"Do you think you can stay safe once I'm gone?"

A withering sigh left Sunset’s lips. “...No,” she whispered.

“You need help, Sunset,” Isekai said. “Help I can’t give you—help from professionals, people who know how to treat these kinds of things.”

Silent seconds passed. Isekai realized she was holding her breath.

Finally, Sunset responded “...I know,” she said, curling into herself.

Isekai released the breath she had been holding and nodded, squeezing Sunset's shoulder reassuringly. "I'll make sure to get you help. I'm not going anywhere until I know you're safe."

Sunset just stared at her, eyes wide. A moment later, she nodded and whispered something Isekai couldn’t make out. Sighing, Sunset closed her eyes and leaned back, falling onto the mattress beneath them.

It didn't take long for Sunset's breathing to steady. Isekai took a long, deep breath, letting it out slowly as her face sank into her hands. It was hard when she had guests she couldn't help at all on her own. It was hard to admit. Hard to deal with. Hard to think about. But she had built the bar to be a place where people could find peace and help… even if it wasn't from her.

Isekai gently shifted the younger woman's body on the mattress to make sure she was in a more comfortable position, then pulled out Sunset's phone from her purse. She had a few phone calls to make.

Sunset sat against the wall in the left wing of the psychiatric ward, idly wobbling back and forth on a chair. Her eyes were locked on the minute-hand of the clock above the nurses station, impatiently counting the seconds until visitation began.

Two more ticks of the clock, and there it was. Four in the afternoon. Sunset turned to watch the large wooden double-doors that led into the ward. Not a minute later, the doors swung open and in walked the first friendly face Sunset had seen in two days.

Twilight Sparkle walked as quickly as she was allowed over to where Sunset was sitting. A pained smile was on her face. Sunset recognized it as the same smile she’d given Wallflower right before she closed her eyes, never to open them again.

She shook her head, pushing the thought away. Not the time for that.

“Sunset, it’s so good to see you!” Twilight sat beside Sunset and immediately pulled her into a hug. “Are you okay? I mean obviously you’re not okay okay, but you’re safe, right? You have people helping you?” Twilight blinked. “You’re eating what they give you, right? I’m sure it’s not the best food but you really need—”

“I’m fine, Twilight,” Sunset said, forcing herself to laugh.

“You’re in a hospital.”

“Y-yeah, I know,” Sunset said, shifting in her seat. “I just wanted to be sure I would stay safe, is all. I’m fine though, really.”

“Sunset…” Twilight spoke softly. “I-I’m sorry if I’m being overbearing. I just don’t want you to end up—”

“End up like Wallflower,” Sunset interrupted, her voice laced with bitterness.

Twilight lowered her head. “Y-yeah…”

For a moment, neither of them spoke. Sunset leaned back a bit in her chair, squinting at the overhead fluorescents.

“So, what have you been doing in here?” Twilight asked.

“Mostly I just stay in my room,” Sunset said. “There’s been a few group things, and they were… something. I guess I’m a relatively ‘low-risk’ patient, because I came here to stop myself from doing something, not because I’d already tried.”

“That’s… That’s good, right?” Twilight’s voice was measured, as if she were afraid her words could break Sunset apart at any moment. The tepidness Sunset had forced upon her friend only deepened the frown on her face.

She knew this would happen. They’d all be treating her like a fragile child.

“Sunset?” Twilight spoke again.

“O-oh, uhm, yeah,” Sunset replied. “Yeah, it’s a good thing. I might get discharged a few days sooner than I thought.”

“You’re getting the help you need though, right?” Again, Twilight’s tone was so… so overly concerned.

“Yeah,” Sunset said. “I saw a therapist for the first time earlier today.”

Twilight nodded. “And how’d that go?”

Sunset thought back to her time in that tiny room, to the dull interview that quickly turned into tears, screams, sobbing on the table and a comforting voice reassuring her for the first time in ages.

“...It went fine,” Sunset said. “Uneventful.”

“Well, uhm, good start, right?” Twilight obviously feigned a smile.

Sunset couldn’t stand it anymore. “Twilight, please stop that,” she said.

Twilight looked genuinely confused. “Stop what?”

“Just… The way you’re talking to me, looking at me,” Sunset said. “You’re treating me like I’m—”

“In a hospital?” Twilight interrupted her. The caution and steadiness of her voice wavered as she spoke. “A psychiatric hospital, because you were going to hurt yourself or worse otherwise?”

Sunset didn’t know how to reply, instead falling completely silent.

“Sunset, you know I love you. All the girls love you,” Twilight said. “And, this is scary for us too. We had no idea you were having these problems. I just… I’m worried, y’know? I don’t know what’s wrong, or how bad it is. My friend is in so much pain and I can’t help her, and I’m even more scared of doing or saying something that makes things even worse…”

Stupid, selfish Sunset.

“Sorry…”

“No, please don’t apologize,” Twilight said. “You just don’t want things to change between us, and that’s okay.”

“I feel like there’s a ‘but’ coming,” Sunset said.

And,” Twilight said, “it’s a two-way street. Just… It’s going to take some time for us—for me to adjust to this, you know?”

“Y-yeah,” Sunset sighed. “Okay.”

Both girls were quiet for a while.

Twilight broke the silence. “If you’d asked me to stay with you while you were with her, I would have,” she said.

“I didn’t want to force you to go through that,” Sunset said, turning away. “Seeing her… Being with her that whole time, until she died… You shouldn’t have to suffer through that kind of pain on my behalf.”

Twilight leaned over, catching Sunset’s gaze. “I’d rather we suffer together than you suffer alone,” she said.

“I-I don’t know…” Sunset sighed. “I just can’t stop thinking about it…”

“Thinking about what?”

“When Wallflower, uhm…” Sunset took a deep breath. “...When she passed. I was there for so long. I guess I thought I’d be ready, but…”

“Sunset, it’s okay,” Twilight said. “I don’t think there is a way to prepare for something like that.”

Sunset shook her head. “Yeah, and I mean, I think I know that. It’s just… It wasn’t what I expected, and that’s what’s been eating at me.”

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked.

“I-I dunno, I guess I thought… I thought it’d be more,” Sunset said. “Strange as it sounds to say it out loud, I was expecting like… Like some big flash of light, or a surge of magic or something, something to let me know th-that she was…” She paused, a shiver tingling its way up her spine. “Some sign that her soul was leaving her body or something, that i-it was truly over… But that’s not what happened.”

“Sunset…”

“Time was passing, just as it’d been for hours, a-and then she j-just…” Sunset’s face sank into her hands. “She just s-stopped breathing. One moment she was there, and then…” A slow, withered breath passed her lips. “...And then she wasn’t.”

Twilight’s eyes were brimming with tears as she put an arm around Sunset. “I-I can’t even imagine…”

Sunset stared at the floor. “It looked so… so easy… J-just like falling asleep…”

Twilight held her a little tighter. “Please don’t talk like that,” she said, her voice shaky.

Sunset leaned into her friend’s embrace. “I keep trying to remind myself that it wasn’t my fault,” she said, “that I did everything I could have. A-and logically, yeah, I did do my best, but…” She trailed off with a whimper.

“You can’t think yourself out of it,” Twilight finished for her.

“Y-yeah,” Sunset said. “No matter how many times I go over it in my head, no matter how many times I’m told it’s not my fault, no matter how much I believe that…” Another sigh, longer this time. “It still feels like it’s my fault. It’s like part of my head wants me to blame myself, because if Wallflower died because of me, at least then I’d have a good reason to feel as awful as I do…”

“I think it’s good that you can be that mindful of yourself though,” Twilight said. “Not everyone is capable of that level of introspection.”

“That’s what the therapist said too.” Sunset looked around the sterile environment of the psychiatric ward. “I still can’t believe I’m in here…”

“You need to be, Sunset,” Twilight said. “It’s to keep you safe.”

Sunset couldn’t bring herself to meet her friend’s gaze. “I know,” she said softly.

“I-I know this isn’t easy,” Twilight said. “Honestly, it’s scary for me, even from the outside looking in, but…” She gave Sunset a gentle smile. “I’m really proud of you. For accepting that you need help.”

“Thanks.” Sunset did her best to smile back.

“You’re going to be okay,” Twilight said, “even if you’re not right now. And in the meantime, well…” She pulled Sunset into a full embrace. “It’s okay to not be okay, too.”

“Yeah…” Sunset’s fake smile felt a little more genuine. “It’s okay…”

As soon as she was back in her bar, she took the box of razors out of her pocket, contemplating it for a moment before tossing it into the air and watching it dissolve into little light particles that faded before they even touched the floor.

Taking a deep breath, she walked into the empty bar and glanced around. "That Sunset…" She shook her head. She had done all she could for her counterpart, now she needed to take care of herself.

She frowned. The betrayal she felt at Sunset forcing those memories on her still lingered, but she had to remind herself that, as unforgivable as that was, Sunset Shimmer… that Sunset Shimmer was not in a mental place where she could have understood the damage that she was doing. It didn't make it better… just… bearable.

She did not envy that Sunset one bit. She had taken into herself the whole blame for things she had no control over. Wallflower, as tragic as her decision was, had made that choice and it had been something that no one in her very small circle of friends could have been prepared for. Sunset had just failed to realize what Isekai herself had… that it wasn't a job for her. That this was the type of damage that Sunset was unprepared to handle on her own, and would take time, love, care and professional help to survive.

That was not something Isekai could do or provide for her. In the end, she had made the right choice, and she could only hope Sunset would pull through. Thankfully, Sunset was not Wallflower. She had not built such a hard distance with others. She had friends, mentors, and plenty of people that actively loved and cared for her. She would not be isolated. She would not be alone.

Which left her with this moment. There was a sense of anxiety in her that she needed to address, and it was easy to think of who she could talk to to deal with it. Although it was probably best not to just drop into her home unannounced.

She drew a runic symbol in the air in front of her. The outer circle rotated counterclockwise and a picture appeared on it, followed by the sound of a call being made. The phone rang a couple of times before someone answered. "Hello?" came the cautious question.

"Wallflower?" Isekai said. "It's Sunset from the bar… hey… um, sorry to call out of the blue, but do you think you'd like to stop by for a hot chocolate? I'd just like to, y'know, hang out for a bit."

"Um. Sure. I'll just use my card, is that okay?"

"Yeah, whenever you're ready. And… thanks."

The circle dissipated as soon as Wallflower cut the connection, and Sunset walked into her bar to prepare some hot chocolate.

She felt the warmth returning to the bar, the echoes of all her guests laughing and sharing stories. While bringing out ingredients, she paused briefly to fill a single shot of liquor, which she raised to Wallflower's memory.

The multiverse had as many losses and sad stories as it had adventures and laughter. But in the end, Sunset "Isekai" Shimmer knew she'd be okay too.

End Chapter

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