• Published 25th Aug 2019
  • 3,502 Views, 122 Comments

Post-Graduate - C_F_G

Twilight Sparkle seeks the companionship of her old friends, finally willing herself to once again step through the mirror portal.

  • ...

4 Crying

Sunset blinked slowly, eventually painting Twilight with a half-lidded, dead-eyed stare.

“Princess Twilight?” the name drifted, a disbelieving whisper barely breaking through her cracked lips.

Twilight shuffled nervously, suddenly uncomfortably warm in the comparatively sweltering room. She inspected the room, trying to ignore the lifeless eyes of her friend, trying to suppress the urge to grimace as she took in the once fiery woman’s bleak surroundings.

Dark drapes of ratty fabric clung from bent nails driven through the wooden trim of the windowed walls. Empty liquor bottles covered the floor, several layers deep at the worst points. What remained of the moth-ridden carpet was damp and sticky with the remnants of the drinks worming their way into the rug. The filthy tatters of old clothes lay clumped around the room, cast aside by their owner as they finally tore apart.

A rancid odor singed Twilight’s nostrils; small goey mounds of takeout festered among the vessels. A few tattered books lay in an sad pile against the wall, their topics as esoteric as they were unrelated. A fine layer of dust coated each cover, obscuring every title.

Twilight turned at the distinct sound tinkling of glass. A pale bare leg stretched out from beneath the blankets, slowly sweeping aside a pile of bottles from the stained and torn mattress.

Sunset pulled her leg back within its cocoon. “Have a seat, Twi.”

Twilight obliged, trying to tastefully conceal her displeasure as the soft skin on the back of her legs brushed against the vile fabric. “So, uh… how’ve you been, Sunset?”

Sunset deadpanned around her room, sultrily responding “It’s gone great.”

She sighed and closed her eyes, worming her leather-clad arms out from her shell and burying her face between her dirty hands.

“I’m sorry, Twilight. I don’t… I don’t know why I said that. It’s just… it’s been a while since I’ve talked to anyone.”

Sunset sat, pensive. Twilight sighed, leaned forward, and pulled the girl into a tight hug. Only when they broke away did the Princess notice something most interesting.

Sunset hadn’t changed.

Sure, she was thin and pale. She looked sickly, her hair was a mess, and her eyes were sunken and shadowed. But she hadn’t changed. To Twilight’s eye, the girl looked the same as she had last seen her- when she was seventeen.

“I was, um, talking to Applejack, and… you ah… you haven’t changed much.”

Sunset sat a bit straighter, a faint spark of life filling her eye. “You-you talked to AJ? How is she? How is everyone?”

“Good. She’s married. And, ah, old. But you... “

Sunset looked at Twilight, letting out a small chuckle. “I’m still a kid.”


“Sunset, what-”

“What happened? It’s hard to say, exactly. I don’t really know. After I helped defeat the human Twilight, I just… felt this swell of magic. Which is, you know, fine. We all felt some whenever we ‘ponied up’. But when the glowing stopped and my clothes went back to normal, the feeling stayed.”

“But the portal-”

“Even after I asked you to close the portal, Twilight. I know our geodes had enough residual energy to continue forming mana for a little while, but even after I smashed mine the feeling stuck around. But everyone else? They could just… be normal.”

Sunset stared at nothing.

“That’s when I stopped returning their calls. I didn’t want to lose them, Twilight. I wanted us all to stay friends. But I was so scared of hurting them- it just didn’t feel right, that I should have my powers while everyone else lost theirs. If I went, you know, back to the old me, they wouldn’t be able to protect themselves. Or anyone else. And they had lives, Twilight. They were going places, doing the things they were meant to do. You know what I saw, last time I went out?”

Twilight waited.

“I caught a glimpse of a fashion magazine- Rarity was on the cover. And you know what I saw in the newspaper, two bins over? Rainbow Dash, a big shiny medal around her neck, posing for a photo in a cockpit out on some island. But you know what really did it, Twi?”

Sunset was speaking animatedly, her voice slowly raising, emotions she had buried long ago finally breaching her shell and spilling out.

“I saw myself. Walking around near my old apartment. She was going to this college downtown. She was laughing, walking with a group of girls, grasping the arm of some boy.”

She sniffled, gesturing around the dark room with her head as her eyes glistened. “That’s why I’m here, Twilight. It’s the same reason you left. I don’t belong here. Someone else already has my place- I have no right to take that from them. They have a life, they have a future. If I take that, if I ruin it, if I pretend to be her, I’m just… just the same as I used to be.”

Twilight leaned over, wrangling to clasp Sunset’s hand. The Princess pulled it towards her and wrapped her other hand around, surrounding the digits in a friendly warmth.

“Sunset, why didn’t you write? You know I would have responded. Just because the portal was closed doesn't mean that messages-”

“I tried, Twilight! But I just didn’t know what to say. I mean, what would I have asked you to do. I started writing so many times- clicked open my pen, you know, set the tip against the paper of the notebook. But I could never get the right words out, and eventually I just stopped trying. What was the point?”

As Sunset nodded to the doorway- and the maze of wards- Twilight had pushed through, the Princess noticed a faint shape slumped against the wall beside the doorway- the journal, clearly thrown aside at some velocity, now splayed open and long since abandoned.

Sunset’s jacket had ridden up on her arms, settling near the elbow. As Twilight turned back to look at her friend, the princess noticed a small web of scars crossing the soft flesh. Her grip tightened and she shot up glaring intensely at the yellow girl.

Sunset pulled her hand free, quickly pulling her sleeves down to cover the offending marks. She sighed again, hanging her head, suddenly ashamed. “I’m sorry, Twilight. After everything you did for me… When I couldn’t write to you, that’s when this started. I don’t do it anymore, I swear.”

Twilight exhaled, still concerned, and sank back to her rear. She considered that explanation totally inadequate.

A slight whistle escaped from Sunset’s nose as she hung her head. “I feel- er, felt- pointless, you know? I didn’t want to hurt my friends, didn’t belong in this world. I am not aging, so I couldn’t stick around people unless I want to become state property. I just… I hit this low, you know? Maybe you don’t.”

“Sunset, don’t take this the wrong way, but… why did you stop?”

Sunset forced herself to meet the Princess’ eye. “I couldn’t do it, Twilight.”

“But your arms…”

“No, not that. I literally can’t do it. I couldn’t die. Can’t- whatever. I did this-” A slight shrug of her right arm “‘and they just kept bleeding until they clotted. I jumped ten stories, Twilight. Walked away from that one with only a broken nose and even that fixed itself by the next morning. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Twilight.” She nudged another bottle from the bed. “I’ve consumed nothing but whiskey for almost three months, and I just feel tired. All the time. Not even drunk anymore. Just tired.”

Twilight’s mind was spinning. She was glad that her friend was live, but this… none of it should be possible. Latent magic, mana utilization without a geode, alcohol resistance, developmental freezing, immunity to magicless damage…

Twilight sat bolt upright as the gears clicked into place. With a speed that would impress even a young Pinkie, she wrenched Sunset forward and pulled her own sleeve up, forcing the amber girl’s fingers against her exposed wrist.


“Sunset, quick. Show me.”

Sunset held her head sideways, confused. “Show you…”

“Your memory! Of you defeating me! Er- this world’s me! The Friendship Games!”

Sunset thought about protesting, but nearly instantly relented. She may have some cursed inability to die, but that didn’t mean that things don’t hurt, and Twilight was quite literally crushing her wrist.

Sunset closed her eyes, took in a deep breath, and let magic she had held for decades radiate into the other girl’s wrist. A bright white light wrapped around Twilight’s arm, spiralling up towards her chest, before leaping out and plunging into her forehead. Sunset went limp and Twilight’s eyelids burst open, a blinding white light pouring from the spheres as the scene danced to life within her head.

Unleash the magic, free the magic… NOW!

Twilight Sparkle opened her necklace, and a purple light erupted and began to expand. The crowd fell silent and a torrid wind began to whip, forcing the students down into the sod. The girl was pulled from the earth, hovering dozens of feet above the ground, the bright violet globe expanding to consume her hands, her face a picture of panic as she tried desperately to drop the clamshell device.

Two dimensional rips in three dimensional spaces erupted as the world began to crumble, the stolen magic from the mirror tearing holes in the fabric of the Warp. Far below, the streets of Ponyville stood, a stallion frozen in fear looking up at the hole in his evening clouds. To see it, Sunset had to stretch her neck skywards. Gravity- as the portals did not align with each other- broke and the world began to pull itself apart.

Princess Twilight knew all of this already. She wasn’t watching the carnage, the other-her’s transformation. She focused solely on Sunset, what the girl had seen, had felt. Sunset’s magic activated and the girl transformed. Her mind churned as she locked on to the smallest details in Sunset’s field of view. A great horn of magical light protruded from her skull, her hand outstretched, reaching for Twilight…

As her fingers splayed, Princess Twilight shuddered. There it was. She stared as Sunset’s fingers spread out, as she tried to reason with Midnight Sparkle, to get her to stop. The shadow on the back of the girl’s hand… Some light source cast bright, beyond the field of Sunset’s view, a brilliant sheet of ethereal energy.

The memory ended.

Twilight blinked rapidly, her vision clearing and purging of the magic. Sunset shifted, her body surging back to life as her mind began to spin.

She got her wits about her, extricated herself from the tangle of blankets, and pulled herself from the floor. She stared at Twilight. The Princess sat on her feet, her knees splayed wide. Her back arched inwards, chest thrust towards the ceiling. Her hair brushed against the floor, head bobbing to the side.

“Twilight?” No response. “Twilight, what’s wrong?”

Sunset’s heart raced for the first time in years. Her breathing grew frantic as she scrambled towards her friend. She seized the Princess’ shoulders and began to shake, practically sobbing. She knew she was dangerous. She knew she shouldn’t use her powers. She knew she would just ruin everything, that she was poison, that the only way for her to take care of those that she loved was to stay far away.

“Nonononononononono! No!” Twilight’s pupils rolled around, her gaze unfocused.

“how did-”

Sunset stopped her shaking, pulled in her sobs. She leaned forward, listening intently.

“Shouldn’t be possible. Not with such limited Equestrian... No… Even with Equestrian magic, without the Elements…”

Sunset sank back. As Twilight snapped out of her stupor and rejoined reality, Sunset scooted back to give her room to breath.

Twilight struggled to shake off her daze, eventually pulling together enough to turn towards Sunset. “Sunset… I think you ascended…”