• Published 6th Dec 2020
  • 4,857 Views, 189 Comments

Back to Normal, No - Revanius



Desperate not to be alone Sunset does something she never wanted to do, lie

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Chapter 5

Apple Bloom rocked dejectedly on an old tire swing at the farm staring down at her phone, 12 missed calls, and 20 texts from Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. It had only been two days since she last talked to them but they had been concerned by her silence at the Christmas party and kept on calling. Apple Bloom, though, was in no mood to talk to her friends about how guilty she had felt. It seemed with each day the guilt of lying to her sister and letting Sunset take the fall grew and it was eating her up inside.

She had seen the confrontation between Sunset and Lightning Dust in the hallway on the last day, having been hiding behind the corner on the other side of the hall, and had been terrified by what Lightning Dust would have done had Rainbow Dash not shown up. She had not told her friends about it as it would have only hardened Scootaloo's decision to keep quiet and Sweetie Belle seemed to be agreeing with Scootaloo more and more on keeping the secret. She felt even more guilty when she found out Sunset had a month's detention waiting for her when school started up again. It was not right Sunset was getting punished in their place and Apple Bloom knew it.

So here she sat on an old tire swing her family had not used since Apple Bloom was in elementary school knowing what they did was wrong but not being able to confess without going against her closest friends in the world. Another text came in her phone from Scootaloo and the young farmer resisted the urge to chuck the phone across the snow-covered field. She sighed leaning back in the swing.

"Maybe Ah should just tell Applejack an' leave the others out." She said to herself.

"Tell Applejack what?"

"AHHH!" The middle schooler shouted in surprise jumping out of the swing to her feet, landing right in front of a very confused Sunset Shimmer. "Sunset! What are you doin' here?"

Sunset was dressed in heavier winter clothes compared it her usual rocker look and a heavy winter cap covering her hair. Sunset shrugged and looked in the direction of the farm. "Applejack asked me at the party if I could come over and help around the farm today. She didn't say anything but I'm pretty sure this is for me to make up for Anon-A-Miss so I said yes. Not like I had any plans anyways."

"Oh," Apple Bloom did not know how she could feel even guiltier but Sunset's words did the trick. Another punishment for an innocent girl for something she did out of stupid jealousy.

"But what was it you wanted to tell Applejack?"

Apple Bloom cursed herself for saying that out loud, now Sunset was curious. As much as she wanted to admit to the high schooler the truth she couldn't not when it could get her friends in trouble. "Oh, it was nothin' really."

"Didn't seem like nothing from the way you were sitting."

"Really it was nothin'," Apple Bloom said avoiding Sunset's gaze. "Don't cha need to help mah sister?" She flinched internally at the harshness in her words.

"Yeah I guess I do," Sunset said looking down. "Sorry for bothering you."

Apple Bloom looked up as Sunset headed for the fields. "Sunset."

Sunset froze. "Ah hope they don't give ya too much trouble. Ah, think ya been through enough." She called to the older teen who kept her back to her.

"Thanks, Apple Bloom," Sunset said without turning, continuing her march to the fields.

A ring went from Apple Bloom's phone, another text from Scootaloo. Clenching her fist she turned the phone off running into the fields blinking tears out of her eyes. "Ah'm really sorry Sunset, Ah hope one day Ah'll be brave enough to tell ya the truth, and ya can forgive me when Ah do."

***

Sunset found Applejack in the fields with a pair of shears and a saw, she waved Sunset over when she saw her. "Glad ya could make it."

"You asked so I'm here."

"Still Ah appreciate the help." The farmer said smiling as she picked up the shears, passing one to Sunset. "We'll be prunin' the Apple trees so they can get fresh growth come spring. Normly Big Mac helps but he's doin' a cider delivery so Ah need help around here."

"Okay, so after we cut them down where do we take the branches?"

"Fer now we just cut them down, Ah'd need Big Mac's help with all the heavy branches and ya don't look like the weight lifting type."

"Hey I'm stronger than I look," Sunset said puffing out her chest.

"Ah bet ya are Sugarcube, Ah still remember how easily ya swung dat hammer at the Formal. But Ah'd still rather have Big Mac help with it, he's better at 'voiding the Santa traps."

"Santa traps?"

"Yeah, family tradition 'round here. Me and Apple Bloom set a bunch of traps at the beginin' of the month fer Santa and on Christmas, we go and see if any caught him. The only thing we've caught so far was Big Mac sleepwalking but it's still fun. We normally take them down around New Years'." Applejack explained grabbing a ladder that had been laying against a tree.

"I'll watch my step," Sunset said looking at the ground hoping to spot the traps.

"Heh, be sure ya do." Applejack snapped a low hanging branch off the tree. "Ya can start with that tree over there," She said pointing to a tree with several branches hanging close to the ground, forced down by snow. "Shouldn't be any traps over there."

Sunset went about pruning the tree of its long branches, gathering them in a pile under the tree before moving on to the next one. As she worked she kept expecting Applejack to bring something up about Anon-A-Miss or give a friendship lesson about hard honest work. But it never came, Applejack worked in relative silence, whistling a tune but saying nothing.

"Hey Applejack," Sunset said, "there was something I was wondering if you could tell me. About Anon-A-Miss."

"And what do we have to talk about dat?" Applejack asked with a raised eye.

"Well, Lightning Dust eh talked to me about something that... I posted," Sunset chocked slightly on the I, "And well there was so much that I can't remember what it is that she's so mad about."

Applejack chuckled at her friend. "Kinda surprised you would forget that one, it's probably the only thing good dat came out of Anon-A-Miss."

"Really?"

"Yeah, it was really a whole bunch of photos 'bout Lightning Dust practicing with Scootaloo."

"That doesn't sound too bad," Sunset said wondering how something that sounded so harmless ended up on a gossip page.

"Well the kicker' is that she was bein' more than a bit rough' with her, then she nearly hit the poor girl in the face with a soccer ball with her strongest kick. Jugin' from how many photos you sent of that it looked like she did it multiple times. Cordin' to Rainbow, Lightning got suspended fer endangerin a middle schooler, Rainbow said that the girl's likely out next semester."

"Well that explains a lot," Sunset said bitterly snapping a few branches.

"Why, she makin threats at ya?"

"No! Not at all, just curious about why she was so angry." Sunset said moving to the next tree, she didn't see the suspicious look Applejack gave her.

"Alrigh' if ya say so then Ah won't bother askin'." Applejack went back to her own tree.

Sunset busied herself pruning the apple tree while she thought on the new information. At least it explained why Lightning Dust was so angry, though she felt that the athlete's threats were a little overboard. She also needed to be careful with what she said to Applejack or the other girls, she did not want them to get in any trouble trying to stop Lightning Dust. Sunset was confident it would eventually die down, she just needed to wait out everyone's anger, it wasn't the first time.

She finished pruning the next tree and looked around for the next one in line. She saw one with some low hanging branches and a slightly thicker patch of snow around the tree's base. Sunset starting clipping the branches while thinking of what to say to the farmer. She started moving around the tree when she felt something odd at her feet, the snow seemed to cave in when she stepped on it. Thinking the snow was packed deeper than she thought Sunset ignored the odd sensation, her mind focused on completing the task. She took another step and felt a snap at her feet.

"What?" She said then the ground gave way beneath her and she fell into darkness with a startled shout.

***

Applejack considered herself pretty good at sniffing outliers, but she could admit she was not perfect. She had believed the texts Sunset had sent to break up her friends the first time without even suspecting a thing. She had also believed Sunset had completely reformed the first time, and she still believed Sunset had made an honest effort to prove herself. Then Anon-A-Miss happened and suddenly the school was so filled with lies and half-truths that Applejack just couldn't tell who was telling the truth anymore.

It was her hope that now that Sunset had confessed and the page was gone everything would return to normal, they could get Sunset completely reformed, the school would stop fighting, and Applejack would be able to tell the lies from the truths again. She had hoped to get some answers to why Sunset had created Anon-A-Miss while working on the trees but she was stumped on how to approach the topic.

But now she was curious as to why Sunset would bring up the photos posted about Lightning Dust. She knew the soccer player was plum furious about being suspended from the team and she felt a lie when Sunset claimed it was nothing. But what was stranger was that Sunset seemed to genuinely not know why Lightning would be so angry despite being the one who posted the images herself, especially when it was one of the last she did. It made no sense, she did not feel any dishonestly when she said she didn't know and had no reason to lie.

Deciding to bring it up later she focused on her work, she would ask Sunset for answers later. She was on her fifth tree while Sunset was getting started on her fourth, the two were within earshot. Applejack considered asking Sunset some questions about her personal life, maybe find some reason as to why she would turn on them like that.

She heard a confessed 'What' come from Sunset followed by a shout of surprise. Applejack whipped around to see Sunset was gone and there was a hole in the ground where there had been a patch of snow a few seconds ago. "Ah, sorry Sunset." Applejack said approaching the hole. "Ah forgot we put a trap there." She chuckled lightly as she leaned over the rim looking for Sunset.

"Need any he-" She was cut off by a terrified scream coming from the hole. "Sunset?"

***

Darkness, cramp, engulfing darkness surrounded Sunset when she opened her eyes. She didn't know how she ended up in darkness, she remembered snow, she remembered falling, and then darkness covered her. She needed to get out, she needed to escape the darkness. She let out a scream of terror as she clawed desperately at the dark prison walls, searching for a handhold, something came loose from the wall and she redoubled her efforts, trying to tear the prison apart, she needed to get out.

A tightening sensation overtook her and her mind flashed to her past. The pressure and darkness she had felt when the rainbow hit her, the pain, regret, and crushing loneliness she felt at that time came rushing back forcing her to claw even harder, desperate to escape the loneliness. A new flash came to accompany the old one, the abandonment she felt when her friends accused her of being Anon-A-Miss, the fear that she would be forever alone, the certainty that she would never be trusted.

"Please, please, let me out." She whimpered as she clawed at the darkness. She thought she could hear someone calling but could not make out the words, she just continued to claw.

She felt pressure on her hand and she was tugged out of the darkness and onto while snow. Blinking tears from her eyes she looked up to see Applejack looked down at her with concern. "Applejack?" She pushed off the ground into the taller girl, wrapping her arms tightly around her. "Please, don't leave me."

***

Applejack was no stranger to Sunset's mood swings, she had seen them for years. For the longest time sudden bursts of anger followed by sudden calmness had been a common sight in Sunset and one of the things that had made her so difficult to read. Since the formal Applejack had seen different bursts of emotion from the redhead and sadness was one she was becoming increasingly familiar with. She had even seen a burst of fear once when they were first trapped in the stage basement during the Battle of the Bands when she had frantically pounded on the door until she calmed down.

But what she saw now was something very different than the normal mood swings and made the panic she saw in the basement next to nothing. It was not even a deep trap, barely three feet with snow covering the bottom as a cushion, it should have been easy for Sunset to pull herself out. Instead, when she looked in she saw Sunset laying on the ground, covered in snow from the fall, clawing a sizable dent on the wall while breathing heavily.

"Sunset, Sunset, what in tarnation are ya doin'?" She asked confused by the girl's strange actions.

Applejack heard a whimpered "Please, please, let me out."

"Sunset, ya got to get ahold of yerself!" She shouted trying to snap her out of whatever was wrong with her. When that did not get any change she reached down and grabbed the girl's hand. She pulled out the smaller teen with little effort and had Sunset out of the trap in seconds.

"Applejack?" Sunset asked looking up at Applejack. Before the farmer could answer Sunset flung herself into Applejack. "Please, don't leave me." She begged.

The force of Sunset's body grabbing onto her caused Applejack to sit down, still a little confused by Sunset's actions she returned the hug. "Don't worry 'bout dat Sugarcube." She muttered. "Ah got ya."

They remained on the ground for several minutes while Sunset breathed deeply, trying to calm herself down, Applejack said nothing, just rubbing Sunset on the back waiting for her friend to calm down. Once she seemed to have control of herself Sunset shifted herself off Applejack and back to her feet.

"Sorry about that, lost my cool for a second." She said brushing the snow off her. "Should we get back to work?"

"Sure ya don't want to talk 'bout what happened?" Applejack getting to her feet. "Dat was some reaction to a three-foot hole."

"Its nothing really, I just don't like confined spaces."

Applejack narrowed her eyes. "Dat was a whole lot more than dislike right there. And it was not dat confined."

"It's nothing, honest. It was nothing, let's just get back to work." She tried to move past Applejack to get the shears that had been dropped in the fall but Applejack gripped her shoulder stopping her.

"Nah, we're done now."

"But there are still plenty of trees."

"And there's plenty of time to do them before spring. Right now we're done, get inside, we'll have cocoa." She gently pushed Sunset towards the farmhouse. The redhead looked like she was about to protest but went along silently.

As they walked back to the house Applejack thought back on what happened. That was a lot more than dislike, that was obvious. The girl had been downright paralyzed in fear and couldn't even tell how easy it was to get out of the trap, and the whole wasn't even that cramped. But that was not the only thing eating at Applejack, it was Sunset's words that really got her thinking.

Sunset had begged her not to be left alone, she had clung to Applejack like she was her lifeline. While she couldn't confirm it yet she could tell Sunset was terrified of being alone, and that made her wonder. Why had Sunset created Anon-A-Miss if she was so scared of being alone? Why would she tear apart her friends when she knew it would lead to her being abandoned by them. It just made no sense and Applejack knew what she saw was not act, Sunset was a good actress, but no one was that good. And that sent Applejack down a line of thought she did not want to go down. If Sunset was so scared of being alone and Anon-A-Miss had forced her to be alone, then just maybe they were not the same person afterall.

Author's Note:

So this one was a bit more difficult to write for several reasons, one being how to best incorporate a fear of being alone and cramped space together and giving an explanation for Sunset's reactionary personality. In the end, I went with the idea that she gained a fear of dark cramped places by combining it with a sensation of being abandoned and remembering the worst feelings in her life. And this fear is not going to be a one time seen thing, I plan for it to be shown several times along with a gradual attempt to get over the fear.

Now in case, it did not come off clear in the story I'll try to explain a few things I felt might come off as confusing. First Apple Bloom was on the opposite end of the hallway when Lightning Dust confronted Sunset and Rainbow was on the other end, the same end Lightning went in. Next Apple Bloom might have considered telling Applejack but still withheld information from Sunset because she is still conflicted, and her confession might still implicate her friends. And for Applejack and her lie-detecting, it is not perfect and seems to not be very strong when it comes to Sunset who tricked her many times in the past which could lead to her being distrusting during Anon-A-Miss, but in this, she is starting to question things herself, nothing certain yet but she is curious. And finally, I decided to have Sunset have mood swings because she does seem to have them, sudden extreme bursts of anger in several movies followed by immediate regret of her actions, the extreme sadness after her defeat and when she was accused of being Anon-A-Miss, she cried a lot more than one would expect considering her rather tough exterior, she's also rather impulsive in her actions, the entire first movie being a good example despite her high intelligence, something that will likely be shown in this story.

The next chapter might skip the other meetings with her friends since most of them are side characters in this story with only a couple playing major roles. As for its release, it should be around a week from now.