• Published 22nd Mar 2020
  • 1,149 Views, 98 Comments

Empty Sky - Krickis

Sunset has been happily dating Twilight and Fluttershy for a year now, but when they start talking about the next step in their relationship, it brings up old demons that Sunset has never quite moved on from.

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3 – Support

Chapter Three


The sun had set hours ago, and there was still no sign of Sunset. Twilight had tried to convince Fluttershy to go to bed, said she’d keep waiting up for Sunset, but Fluttershy had refused. How could she sleep now? Her marefriend was somewhere hurting, and it was all Fluttershy’s fault.

“Twily?” Fluttershy said tentatively. She didn’t like the question she was about to ask, wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer.

“Yeah?” Twilight somehow managed a smile for her wife.

“What if Sunset doesn’t come back?”

“Don’t be silly, of course she’ll come back.” Twilight nuzzled Fluttershy. “Sunset loves us, and she knows we love her.”

Fluttershy took a deep breath. “I know you’re right, but…” She shook her head. “I just keep thinking… she tried to leave when I confronted her about drinking before.”

“That was before we were dating,” Twilight pointed out. “Sunset wouldn’t do that now.”

Fluttershy sighed, hoping that Twilight was right. It was true they had built a life together, but truth be told, Sunset had a history of running away from things.

When it came down to it, Fluttershy just couldn’t be sure what Sunset might do because she had no idea where the problem stemmed from. Why was this such a sensitive topic?

Oh, what did it matter? Fluttershy shouldn’t have assumed it would be okay to bring up such a huge step so early in their relationship. Sure, she and Twilight were married now, but Sunset had only been with them for a year. Of course this was too soon to spring something like this on her. She was just so selfish, only thinking about what she wanted and not caring enough about her marefriend.

No matter what Twilight said, Fluttershy wouldn’t be happy until Sunset was home safely. They were sitting safely on a couch in their sitting room with at least each other for comfort, but Sunset was somewhere all alone.

Fluttershy got up, not for the first time. Both she and Twilight had done their fair share of pacing around the room while waiting for Sunset to show up. Twilight didn’t even question it until Fluttershy turned towards her and said, “I want to go out and look for her.”

She had expected Twilight to protest, to say that Sunset would come back and they just needed to be patient. Instead, she just nodded. “I think that might be a good idea. But I’ll go, you should stay here in case she comes home while I’m out.”

Fluttershy shook her head. The last thing she wanted was to be left alone right now. “I don’t think Sunset is coming home tonight, Twily. She’d be home by now if she was.”

Twilight frowned. “She can’t stay out all night.”

“She could. And if she feels like she can’t come home, she would.”

Twilight kept her eyes on Fluttershy without saying anything for a moment, and she looked torn. Fluttershy knew her wife well enough to know what she was thinking. Fluttershy’s words made sense, but Twilight didn’t want to believe them.

She took a step towards Twilight and nudged her. “So we just have to find her and remind her she can always come home, no matter what.”

Slowly, Twilight nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll go ask my parents if they can wait down here.”

Fluttershy nodded and Twilight left the room. Sunset wouldn’t appreciate running into Twilight’s parents if she was already apprehensive about coming home, but they needed someone to wait for her, and it was better than asking Spike to do it.

While Twilight was getting her parents, Fluttershy focused on trying to figure out where Sunset might have gone. She was friends with all their friends, but she didn’t let her guard down with anyone quite like she did with the Applejack from the human world.

Fluttershy briefly considered she might have gone to Everton; she had teleported away, after all, so she might have just teleported upstairs to use the portal. But Twilight had used it since then, and she would have noticed if Sunset had used the portal because the book would have still been in it.

And if not Applejack, then she probably wouldn’t have gone to anyone. Their Equestrian friends weren’t likely, not when she was having trouble with Twilight and Fluttershy. Not to mention it would raise some suspicions if Sunset showed up to one of their friend’s houses on the same day Twilight came back from Canterlot.

So if she wasn’t with one of her friends, where would she be? Fluttershy thought she might have a guess, but she hoped she was wrong.

They’d know soon enough. Twilight returned with her parents, who thankfully were usually up late into the night anyway. Before they could head out, Twilight Velvet gave Fluttershy a hug. “It’ll all work out, dear.”

Fluttershy managed a small smile and a nod. “Yeah.”

“We’ll hold down the fort,” Night Light said. “See you girls later.”

They thanked Twilight’s parents and left, passing through the entry hall into the warm summer night.

“Should we split up?” Twilight said. “We’d cover more ground, but…”

Fluttershy shook her head. “I don’t want to be alone…”

Twilight nodded her understanding. “I don’t really either… So where to? We can probably rule out Rainbow’s house since Sunset can’t fly.”

“I… have another idea…” Fluttershy said. “I think I know where she might have gone, but I…”

“But you hope you’re wrong,” Twilight said sadly. “I had the same thought.”

A small part of Fluttershy hoped Twilight would lead them somewhere other than where she had thought of, but of course, she didn’t. They walked through Ponyville, each of them keeping their eyes open for their wayward marefriend, but neither of them expecting to find her.

They didn’t talk along the way. Fluttershy considered asking passersby if they’d seen Sunset, but they could wait for that until after they looked around a little bit. It could cause a scandal if ponies found out that the royal marefriend was missing, and that wouldn’t help any of them – least of all Sunset.

They paused as they reached their destination. There was some hesitation on Fluttershy’s part because she had never set hoof in a bar before, but that was a minor concern when compared to the worry that they might actually find Sunset in there.

“How many bars are in Ponyville?” Fluttershy asked. This was, as far as she knew, the closest bar to the castle as well as one of the most popular in Ponyville. She never had any reason to care about it, but Rainbow liked it.

“I don’t know,” Twilight admitted. “But Pinkie took me to this one before, and… Sunset came with us.”

Fluttershy turned to Twilight. “Sunset did?”

Twilight shifted her weight. “Before we were dating, of course. After she came back from Canterlot, she asked if I knew any good bars in the area. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, so I just asked around and Pinkie said she knew a good place.”

Fluttershy nodded slowly. Of course, they didn’t know Sunset was an alcoholic back then. But… it was a good thing, in a way. It meant that this was the bar Sunset was probably familiar with.

Twilight was the first to move. She pushed open the door and stepped inside, then held it open for Fluttershy. She stepped in with her head bowed, but once she was inside, she looked around.

It wasn’t anything like Fluttershy expected. She realized now that she had never gotten past her childhood thought that bars were dark places where tough ponies sat around looking mean at one another. But it was properly lit, and mostly there were just normal ponies sitting around talking. There was even a pony playing guitar on a small stage to provide entertainment for everypony else.

But far more importantly, there was no sign of Sunset. Fluttershy couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or not. On the one hoof, maybe that meant Sunset hadn’t gone somewhere to drink her problems away. On the other, they still had no idea where she might be…

Twilight walked up to the counter, so Fluttershy followed. She got the attention of the bartender, who smiled when she saw who was in her bar. “Princess Twilight, and Princess Fluttershy too. It’s an honor to have you both here!”

“Thank you, but we aren’t patrons tonight,” Twilight said. “We’re looking for our marefriend, Sunset Shimmer. She’s a tall unicorn, amber coat with a red and yellow mane?”

“Oh yeah, I know her,” the mare said, causing Fluttershy’s heart to drop. If there was any hope she meant by reputation, it was shattered as she continued. “She’s been here a few times the past couple days. Had to cut her off tonight, she’d had a few too many.”

“Did she say where she went?” Twilight asked.

“Nope. Didn’t put up any argument or anything, just got kinda quiet, paid her bill, and walked off. That was maybe an hour or two ago.”

Twilight sighed. “Okay, thank you.”

The mare gave Twilight a concerned look. “I hope everything’s okay?”

Years of practice since she became a princess had made Twilight pretty good at smiling under pressure. “Nothing to worry about, we were just expecting her home by now. She probably just got caught up with a friend somewhere.”

“Alright. Well, hey, don’t be a stranger, Princess! I’ve got a drink for you on the house if you ever decide to stop in again.”

Twilight nodded. “I appreciate that. But for now, we should be going. Thank you for your time.”

Fluttershy once again fell in step beside Twilight as she led them out of the building. They stopped once they were outside, and Fluttershy leaned against her wife for support.

“Any other ideas?” Twilight asked as she put a wing around Fluttershy.

“I don’t know… Maybe she went to one of our friend’s houses after all?”

“Maybe…” Twilight looked up at the moon and sighed. “I guess the best thing to do would be to just go and ask them. Hopefully we aren’t waking them up…”

One by one, they went around Ponyville asking their friends if they’d seen Sunset. They even went to Rainbow’s, even though her house was by far the least likely for Sunset to be at.

None of them had seen her, just as they’d expected. They offered to help look for her – even Applejack, who had been asleep in preparation for an early day on the farm tomorrow – but Fluttershy and Twilight said there wasn’t a need. Part of Fluttershy did want to organize a search party, but she knew that was just silly. Sunset hadn’t been gone too long, and she could take care of herself.

“Well then, I’ll stop by the castle tomorrow to make sure all is well,” Rarity said as they assured her they didn’t need extra help in searching tonight.

“That sounds nice,” Twilight said. “Thank you, Rarity. And again, sorry for bothering you.”

“It’s no bother at all, darling,” Rarity insisted. “I was just doing some late-night brainstorming, anyway.”

With their last hope dashed to bits, they said good night to Rarity and left the Boutique so she could get back to work.

“Now what?” Twilight asked. “Maybe we should just go back to the castle? She might’ve gone home while we were out.”

“Yeah, hopefully.” Fluttershy took a look around. “Uhm, maybe we could do a flyby of Ponyville before then? Just a quick once over.”

Normally Fluttershy preferred to walk to get around, but this was far from a normal situation. Twilight nodded her agreement, and they took to the air.

They both looked around as best they could. It was hard to tell at night, but at least there was reason to hope that Sunset’s colors would stick out. They flew side by side, Twilight scanning the ground on the left and Fluttershy searching the right.

It was slow going since neither of them wanted to risk missing her. They paid particular attention to the lake, fields, the town square, anywhere outside that Sunset might have decided to go to hang out.

“What do we do if she’s not at the castle?” Fluttershy asked as they exhausted most of their options and were left with nothing to show for it.

“I don’t know…” Twilight admitted. “Maybe she rented a hotel room for the night? I don’t know how many bits she left with.”

They’d never find her if she was at a hotel, but that gave Fluttershy another idea. “What about my cottage?”

“Oh! Good idea, Shy.”

They shifted course and flew towards Fluttershy’s cottage. The cottage had mostly been transformed into a place for Fluttershy to take breaks while she was taking care of the animals in the surrounding area, but it was still somewhere that Sunset might go if she needed a place to sleep without going home or disturbing her friends.

Flying to Fluttershy’s cottage was much faster than walking would’ve been. They’d already looked over the rest of Ponyville, so they didn’t have any reason to take it slow. They zipped through the summer air as effortlessly as fish through water, quickly coming to Ponyville’s edge.

They began their descent near the cottage, but Twilight hung back. Fluttershy noticed a moment later and stopped as well, looking up at her wife. “Is everything okay?”

“Look over there,” Twilight said, pointing off into the distance. “Is that her?”

Fluttershy squinted and stared into the distance. Twilight’s eyes had to be better than hers, because Fluttershy didn’t see anything. There were some colors, sure, but they looked like flowers to Fluttershy.

Then she noticed a patch of red and yellow. She couldn’t see nearly well enough to know if it was Sunset, but it was certainly worth getting a better look.

Without answering Twilight, Fluttershy started flying over towards the colors. Twilight followed closely behind her, and as they approached, Fluttershy realized where they were headed exactly.

Is this really somewhere Sunset would go? The closer they got, the more Fluttershy realized it might actually be Sunset they were looking at, but the location was certainly unexpected.

It was the field of flowers near where Twilight had first told Fluttershy that she loved her. It was a very important spot to the two of them, and Sunset knew that. Was that why she chose to come here?

And then all at once, Fluttershy realized it was Sunset. She put in an extra burst of speed and landed nearby her. She was lying on her back and looking up at the stars, and she didn’t react to Fluttershy’s landing even if she must have heard it.

Twilight touched down a moment after Fluttershy did and stood beside her. “Sunset?”

For a brief moment, Sunset didn’t answer and Fluttershy found herself panicking, wondering what was wrong. Then Sunset finally sighed and answered without turning to look at them. “How’d you find me?”

“We looked everywhere,” Twilight said. “Eventually Fluttershy thought you might be in her cottage.”

Sunset let out a mirthless laugh. “Did you know Discord is living in there now?”

“He has been around a lot…” Fluttershy admitted, then shook her head. That wasn’t really important right now. “Sunset, we’re worried. You ran off without telling us where you were going or when you’d be back…”

Sunset forced herself into a sitting position. “Of course you’re worried about me… Everyone’s always worried about Sunset Shimmer, wondering when she’s going to fuck things up again.”

“It’s not like that!” Twilight said. “It’s just, you know… we love you. And… we know you’ve been drinking again…”

Sunset winced and turned away for a moment, then turned back with a scowl on her face. “Yeah, okay. I’ve been drinking. So what? I’m not a kid, I can take care of myself!”

“No one’s saying you can’t!” Twilight said. “But… you know you have a problem with alcohol. You agreed to stop drinking, you –”

“Stop it!” Sunset put her hoof to her forehead. “Just… Jesus, just leave me alone! You have no idea what’s going on with me right now, and if you did…”

Fluttershy took a step forward. “What if we did, Sunset? What do you think would happen if you just talked to us about whatever’s on your mind?”

Sunset glared at her for a moment, then turned away. “Just forget it. It doesn’t matter. This is all a mistake, I’m clearly not someone who should be meddling with your relationship.”

“You’re part of our relationship, Sunset!” Twilight sounded like she might cry, and Fluttershy couldn’t blame her. She’d never known Sunset to direct this much anger at her marefriends, and it hurt to hear.

“We love you,” Fluttershy said, stepping closer once again. She surprised herself by keeping her tone so level. She was never good at dealing with ponies being angry with her, after all. Maybe it was because she knew that the pony Sunset was really angry with was herself.

She needed Fluttershy right now. She needed somepony who loved her, and there that was all that mattered.

“Yeah, well, love isn’t enough to fix things sometimes.” Sunset looked up at the stars again, but instead of looking wistful, she looked angry. “It sure as hell isn’t this time…”

A moment later, Sunset’s anger gave way to confusion as Fluttershy threw her forelegs around Sunset. “You don’t mean that,” Fluttershy said. “You don’t. You love us, and you don’t want to lose us any more than we want to lose you. You’re just scared of something bigger than you.”

“Let go of me, Fluttershy,” Sunset said, a note of panic creeping into her voice.

Fluttershy shook her head and held her tighter. “Never. You can try whatever you want to get away, but I’m not letting go of you.”

“Why?” Sunset’s voice sounded thick. Fluttershy was breaking through the wall she was trying to put up to protect whatever pain she couldn’t bear to let go of. “Why don’t you just leave me alone!”

“Because we love you,” Twilight said, joining Fluttershy by holding Sunset’s other side. “Because we know that you don’t want to be this angry.”

“We’re always going to be here for you,” Fluttershy said. “I know it’s hard, I know you messed up, but it’s never too late to start again.”

“But… but I…”

“Shh.” Twilight stroked Sunset’s mane as she finally started crying. “We’re here, and we’re not letting you go again.”

“I was too weak!” Sunset bowed her head and a sob fell out. “I knew better, but I couldn’t keep away from it, and I…”

“It’s okay,” Fluttershy said. “You’re stronger than you know. Strong enough to start over.”

“No, I’m not!” Sunset looked at Fluttershy with tears in her eyes. “I couldn’t keep away from drinking. I’m nothing but a useless drunk, same as I’ve always been, and I don’t deserve to be with you.” She turned towards Twilight. “Either of you.”

“You’re amazing, Sunset,” Twilight said. “You inspire me every day, because I know how hard it can be for you. And even if you slipped this time, it doesn’t mean you have to give up, because we’re not giving up on you.”

Sunset broke down and started crying, leaning into Twilight as she did. Twilight held her up while Fluttershy cuddled against her. “I… I really fucked up…”

“Don’t worry about that,” Fluttershy said as she nuzzled against Sunset. “We just want you to get better, and we’re going to help you do it.”

Sunset tried to wipe her eyes, but she was still crying. “I don’t deserve you two…”

“You do,” Fluttershy said. “You deserve so much more than you know, Sunset. I used to feel like I didn’t deserve any good things in my life, but then you and Twily helped me see that I do deserve to be happy. Both of you did, and we’re going to do the same for you, no matter how long it takes.”

Sunset forced herself up and wiped her eyes. “I love you two… I’m so sorry…”

“It’s okay,” Twilight said. “Just… talk to us. No matter what’s going on, you can always talk to us about it.”

“But… maybe tomorrow,” Fluttershy suggested. “For now, we should get you home and into bed.”

Sunset nodded meekly, and Twilight supported her as they started to walk. Fluttershy took Sunset’s other side, and the three of them walked back into town.

“What made you come all the way out here?” Twilight asked as they walked.

Sunset huffed. “It’s dumb…”

“I’m sure it’s not,” Twilight said.

“Well, at first I did plan on going to Fluttershy’s cottage, but then Discord was there and I was worried he’d tell you two, so I left. Then, well… that’s where we went on our first date.”

Sunset was blushing, but it made Fluttershy smile. She had always thought of it as a place that was special to her and Twilight, and never stopped to think of how they’d made it special for Sunset too. “See, our lives are all tangled up now. There’s no separating us anymore.”

Fluttershy was worried about passing through Ponyville, but there weren’t many ponies out, so no one paid them any mind. They passed through the sleepy town without incident, even if they walked through it slowly.

It didn’t matter. Fluttershy would walk all night if that’s what it took. They had their marefriend, and things were going to work out now. Everything would fall into place, just as long as they had each other to lean on. As long as she could feel Sunset’s warmth beside her, everything would be okay.

They passed by the bar they’d visited earlier, and Sunset bowed her head low. Fluttershy pressed a little tighter to her, and Twilight spread a wing over her back, as if they were protecting her from it. In some way, perhaps they were.

After they’d passed the bar, Sunset seemed to do a little better. They were almost home by that point anyway, and she had her marefriends to keep her safe.

She stopped in front of the castle and looked up at it. “People like me don’t deserve to live in castles…”

Fluttershy nudged her as Twilight used her magic to pull open the door. “You deserve to live with us. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a giant castle or a tiny shack, we stick together.”

Sunset smiled a little. “I’d live in a hole in the ground if it meant I got to be with you two.”

Twilight led them in, then left them for a moment to tell her parents they were home. She came out with them rubbing their eyes, and Fluttershy felt bad for leaving them in the sitting room for so long.

“Glad you’re okay, dear,” Twilight Velvet said, giving Sunset a hug.

Sunset looked perplexed. She was never really sure around Twilight’s parents. She hugged her back, but didn’t look her in the eyes when they pulled apart. For once, Sunset seemed to be rendered speechless.

The five ponies all made their way upstairs, Velvet and Night Light in the lead, Twilight following after, and Fluttershy and Sunset trailing behind. Fluttershy suspected she’d appreciate the distance between themselves and Twilight’s parents.

They said their good nights at the top of the stairs, then Velvet and Night Light left for their own room. Twilight and Fluttershy brought Sunset to the bedroom, but Twilight stopped before going in.

“Don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but…” She smiled sheepishly. “Maybe we should get you cleaned up before bed?”

Sunset blushed deeply, but she only nodded. It was true she didn’t exactly smell good. Fluttershy was pretty sure she hadn’t bathed since Twilight left, and now there was a scent of alcohol clinging to her as well.

They brought her into the bathroom next to the bedroom, and Sunset stripped out of her clothes while Fluttershy got the water going. Once it was nice and warm, she gestured for Sunset to get in.

“Do you want to be left alone, or would you like some company?” Twilight asked.

Sunset frowned a little. “I… I’ll be fine on my own.”

Fluttershy giggled and climbed into the still filling tub with her marefriend. “Maybe you’ll be fine, but I’m not ready to let go of you yet.”

Sunset blushed, and Twilight scooted her over to get in as well. “That makes two of us.”

The bathtub was fairly large, big enough for two ponies to use it at once comfortably. Still, three ponies was pushing it, but none of them complained. Fluttershy would almost have been content just to splash around in the water without actually bathing.

Almost, but Sunset did definitely need a bath. Although Sunset could of course bathe herself, both of the others played a part in cleaning her. Because there wasn’t enough room to submerge herself, Twilight had to help scoop water up in her magic to pour on Sunset to get her mane wet. Meanwhile, Fluttershy helped scrub her coat down to get those hard to reach places.

Although she seemed a little embarrassed at first, soon Sunset started enjoying herself. Since she was the only one who needed the bath, the others focused on pampering her. By the time they were done, the sour smell of alcohol and sweat was replaced with the aroma of lime and coconut.

Once they were out, dried off, and wrapped in fuzzy bathrobes, they finally made their way into the bedroom. The difference in Sunset was clear as day. Not only did she smell and look better, but she seemed happier too, more like her usual self.

She took her usual spot on the edge of the bed, and Fluttershy surprised her by pushing her into the middle. “Poor Twily, she’s been worried sick about you and you were just going to deny her snuggles?”

Sunset laughed a little and grinned sheepishly. “She usually gets by snuggling you just fine.”

“Not tonight,” Fluttershy said, and no one argued. She climbed into bed beside Sunset, and Twilight took the other side. Both of them snuggled in close to their marefriend.

Sunset took a deep breath. “You two are so good to me… I don’t deserve you.”

“Shush,” Fluttershy said. “No more of that.”

“Yeah, you’ll just have to accept you’re stuck with us,” Twilight added.

Sunset smiled a little. “I… should explain myself.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “Tomorrow. You’ve had a rough day, it can wait.”

Sunset sat upright, causing Fluttershy to frown. “No, it can’t. Because… because I don’t know if I’ll tell you tomorrow. You need to know about Sk–” She squeezed her eyes shut tight, and Fluttershy thought she might start crying again.

“About Sky Shimmer?” Twilight said as she sat up as well.

“How do you know about that?” Sunset asked.

“I don’t,” Twilight assured her. “I only know the name. I… talked to Applejack. I told her you were acting strange, and that it started when we brought up having foals. She asked me if the name ‘Sky Shimmer’ meant anything to me, but she didn’t tell me more than that.”

Sunset took a deep breath. “Sky was… She’s my daughter.”

“Your daughter?” Twilight’s eyes went wide at the realization. Although Fluttershy was just as taken aback as Twilight was, she wrapped her forelegs around Sunset and held her close.

“Mine and Fluttershy’s,” Sunset said. “The other Fluttershy’s, obviously…”

“You never mentioned you have a daughter,” Twilight said.

Sunset shook her head. “I don’t. She… she died. Well, actually, she was never born. There was a car accident, and… and Sky didn’t make it.”

“But I don’t understand,” Twilight said. “You were pregnant?”

“Not me, Fluttershy was.”

“But then who was the father?”

“Twilight,” Fluttershy said, her tone direct. “You know who the father was.”

“I do? I… Oh. Oh, no…”

“She was our daughter,” Sunset said, her tone making it clear that nothing beyond that mattered. “She was ours, our little Sky Shimmer. We were going to raise her, it was always supposed to be the three of us against the world.”

“You poor thing,” Fluttershy leaned her head against Sunset’s shoulder.

“I can’t imagine what that must have been like,” Twilight said, wrapping her hoof around Sunset’s.

“I loved her.” Sunset blinked, and a tear fell. “No, I still do. It’s so stupid, she was never even born, but… She meant everything to me.”

“Why didn’t you say something?” Fluttershy asked. “It’s no wonder you reacted the way you did when I brought up foals. I never would have suggested that if I knew.”

“Because… it’s not my place.” Sunset looked down at the bed. “Of course you want to have kids, you’re married, and you’d be great moms! You should have kids! And I’m… I’m just your marefriend, so… so I don’t want to tell you what to do with your marriage.”

“How about our relationship,” Twilight said sternly. “You know, the one that includes you? Sunset, I love you, but that’s just stupid! We never wanted you to blindly go along with it, that’s why we asked what you thought, and –”

“Twily,” Fluttershy said, causing her wife to bow her head.

“Sorry… I guess I’m just… a little upset that I didn’t see it was bothering you.”

“Me too,” Fluttershy said. “I do want foals, but not if it’s going to make you unhappy. Because you matter to me so much. I don’t need to be a mother, but I need you in my life. I love you, Sunset.”

“I love you too.” Sunset leaned her head against Fluttershy. “And I think… Well, I don’t know, but maybe someday… Maybe I will be ready to have kids.”

“And that’s something we can talk about when that time comes,” Twilight said. “But not before that. We aren’t going to push you into anything.”

Sunset shimmied back into bed, lying on her back so both of her marefriends could snuggle up with her. “I think I want to get my shit together before I think about kids. I thought I was sober, but then when things got a little too hard…”

Twilight reached her hoof across Sunset’s chest. “I think that’s a good idea. And I know you can do it.”

“Me too.” Fluttershy reached her hoof to Twilight’s, so they were holding hooves over their marefriend. “And we’ll be there with you the whole way.”

“Although…” Twilight frowned and lifted her head a bit to look at Sunset better. “I hate to say it, but we might be in over our heads. We tried doing it ourselves once, and well…”

“And it failed,” Sunset said simply. “You’re right. I just… I don’t know what to do…”

“That’s easy,” Fluttershy said as she nuzzled her head against Sunset. “You ask for help.”

“Well, here we are…” Sunset looked up at the building uncertainly.

Fluttershy brushed against her. “Remember, no matter what happens in there, we love you and we’re proud of you. It’ll be okay.”

“Fluttershy’s right,” Twilight said from her place on Sunset’s other side. “And everyone here knows what you’re going through.”

Sunset shrunk back a little bit. “Can’t I just… try really hard to be better?”

“You could,” Twilight said. “We’re not forcing you.”

Sunset frowned. “You’re supposed to say, ‘No, this is the only way to get better.’ Then I’ll groan about it but do it anyway.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “Sorry, Sunset. I don’t think it’s that easy.”

“No. No, of course it’s not.” Sunset took a deep breath. “I got this. Right?”

“Of course you do,” Twilight said. “Are you sure you don’t want us to go in with you?”

“No.” Sunset shook her head and looked up at the building, which was currently in use by an alcoholics support group. “I know I have you two supporting me, but… I think I need to know I can also do this on my own.”

Twilight nodded. “You can.”

“And even if it’s too hard on your own, that’s okay too,” Fluttershy said. “Love you, Sunset.”

“Love you, Fluttershy. And you too, Twi.”

Twilight smiled and kissed Sunset on her cheek. “Love you too, Sunset.”

With one more deep breath, Sunset took a step forward. She only looked back once, and when she did, she saw both her marefriends smiling and waving her off. Then she turned back ahead and walked into the building.

Author's Note:

This may only have been a short story, but it’s an important one to me. Substance abuse problems run in my family, and have cost the lives of two of my immediate family members as well as contributed to the loss of a third. The road to sobriety is never one moment of strength wherein someone gives up on addiction, it’s a constant battle, and I wanted to show that better than I did in Finding Home.

In addition, I’ve come to realize my stories put too much emphasis on getting support from those immediately around you, which isn’t always enough. For anyone struggling with substance abuse problems, I would recommend finding a support group in your area. On a related note, while it does work for some, Alcoholics Anonymous is a flawed system and I would recommend looking into alternatives if possible.

I have a Discord server if anyone wants to come hang out :ajsmug:

And as usual, I have some end credits music for this story. More than most of my end credits songs, I really feel that this song captures the message I wanted to get across with Empty Sky.