• Published 1st Jun 2022
  • 540 Views, 7 Comments

Mirrored Experiences - Knight of Cerebus

Sunset Shimmer meets another lost soul far from home

  • ...

Riding Into The Sunset

Eventually, the last bell rang, and Fizzlepop had to fight down the glow she felt rising within herself. She could be a chemist, or a physician, or a physicist. She didn't need a horn to make it happen, either. All she needed to keep up was knowledge. But more than that. It wasn't just the triumphant feeling of rekindling a dream she'd thought had died years ago. It was the sense she was sharing it with someone who was happy to see her triumphant, too.

"Did you want to hang out after school? I could introduce you to the girls." Sunset's voice probed into her thoughts, tethering her back to the real world. "They're a great crowd."

Fizzlepop gave a pause at this. One part of her stiffened at the idea of meeting anyone, let alone a crowd of new people, that could potentially jeopardize what she'd just found. But more than that, another part of her didn't want to share her new friend with a group of strangers. Sunset backpedaled at Fizzle's frozen body language. "It doesn't have to be all at once. If you want some time to yourself, first, I'm sure--"

"No!" Fizzlepop said, a bit more forcefully than she'd wanted to. "I, uhm." She cleared her throat. Took in her bearings. "I'd like that." She tried to organize her thoughts. "Eventually. But. I'd like to get to know you, better, before I meet your friends." Fizzle ran her good hand through her mohawk at that. "One thing at a time, I think. I'm still not used to this sort of thing."

Sunset gave that easygoing smile she'd expressed when they'd first met. "Sure. One thing at a time." This time, she took Fizzlepop's right hand in hers, and for the first time since she'd lost herself, Fizzlepop truly felt like someone wanted it to be there.

"You want I can show you my dirt bike?" Sunset broke the silence as they walked out the school's double doors. "You seem like a dirt biking gal."

Fizzlepop's mind tried to piece together what that might be. "Is that a building or a transport?" She hazarded a guess from Sunset's look of pride that it had to be something relatively big and impressive.

"It's like a..." Sunset's eyes searched around for a suitable metaphor, then lit up when she reached one. "Think of it like some crazy pony strapped a generator to an adult-size scooter."

Fizzlepop couldn't help but smile at the description. "What?" She intoned, searching to see if Sunset was pulling her leg.

"A motor-powered super-scooter."

"Do humans have a death wish?" Fizzlepop prodded her. "Is the high school motor-powered, too? Is it going to explode if I close a locker the wrong way?"

They shared a giggle together. "Listen, I've done a lot of odd jobs around this city but I never worked for Workplace Safety. I dunno who signed the papers approving them, but the principal okayed them for the Friendship Games and we kept them after enough begging and scraping from yours truly and a fellow hothead by the name of Rainbow Dash." Sunset elbowed her. "If you're really scared you can just watch me ride the oil-powered death wish for a bit."

"Never." Fizzlepop let Sunset lead her around back, searching around for this absurd-sounding vehicle that Sunset was describing. "Danger's an old friend."

"Explosions, too, apparently." From Fizzlepop's falling expression, Sunset dialed back the teasing. "Sorry." Sunset bit her lip. "If I ever say anything that steps on your history, let me know, okay?" She gave her a look of empathy.

Fizzle gave a single, little nod, and Sunset started over. "So. Was any of that danger the fun kind of danger?"

"I used to have a zeppelin, for work." Fizzle admitted. "Soaring through storms was always dangerous, but spells kept us safe enough. On the other hoof..." She gave a little smirk. "I may have had a reputation for...regulation non-conforming driving."

"You're telling me you used to stunt drive a zeppelin?"

"When sufficiently motivated." Fizzle gave a smirk. "You know by now I'm not always what we call patient."

"That," Sunset said, her eyes lighting up, "sounds like the kind of thing a madpony would do to get her kicks." Sunset led her over to a shed on the back wall of the school, opening up the double doors and revealing their prize. "I don't know if the principal will agree to insure a zeppelin-crashing stunt pony."

"Well. We had a policy back in the unit. Never break what you can't fix." Fizzle looked the vehicle up and down. It wasn't far off from Sunset's description. It was like a scooter built for sitting on instead of standing on. The colour scheme matched Sunset Shimmer's own, but unlike her, it was less streaky yellows and reds and more a naturalistic blend of oranges, yellows and reds together.

Fizzlepop ran her good hand down the frame of the bike, enjoying the feeling of cool metal on her skin. Following the nostalgic instincts that rose in her, she traced her hand all the way down to where she presumed she'd find the engine. "I don't know how to fix a dirt bike. But I'm ready to learn, if needs arise."

"It's not just the bike we'd be worried about. Make sure you don't break anything important out there." Sunset tossed her a helmet, kicking off her boots and pulling her legs through a skin-tight jumpsuit that matched her colours.

Fizzle strapped on the goofy blue headpiece and pulled on the biking suit reluctantly, reasoning she didn't want to add any more scars to her generous collection, and then waited for Sunset's signal. "C'mon. I'll show you how to take it out for a spin."

Sunset eased her body into the bike's frame like they were two halves of one single entity, always meant to be there. Her arms flowed up to the handlebars with practiced care, her body lowering to flow with the direction of the frame. She even narrowed her eyes to match the angle of the visor on her helmet.

"So, what, do I just watch now?"

Sunset gave her a look. "Look, I may be a showoff but I'm not an ego maniac. You want my friend with the crazy rainbow hair for that. No, you climb on and grab hold of me, and we ride together."

"Where? In the back?"

"That's right, you wrap your hands around the rider's waist to stay balanced with them. Just sit behind me."

Fizzlepop made to grab onto her, a bit awkwardly all things considered. Where Sunset practically melted into the seat, her arms grabbing the handles and her body leaning forward into the bike with practiced ease, Fizzlepop was rigid and stiff and not sure how best to wrap her hands around Sunset.

Sunset took Fizzle's hands in hers again, letting them snake around her waist and pressing their bodies together. Sunset was stronger than Fizzle had expected. She'd thought she'd looked skinny, up to now, but athletic was a better description. She held Fizzle tightly to her lithe and taut frame, sending a current of electric feeling through Fizzle that was as foreign as it was welcome.

Sunset kicked the stand away from the bike and turned on the engine. For once, Sunset had been under exaggerating. This engine didn't just purr. It roared. The flare of life in the engine sent her spirits soaring, and she laughed with the spin of the wheels as the bike shot out of the shed and onto the race track at the back of the facility. The bike kicked and sputtered as it ran its way across the dirt track, taking hills and valleys in sudden jolts that shot adrenaline into her veins in time with the momentum swings.

When Sunset at last skidded the bike to a stop, Fizzle was squeezing her for more than just her safety. "That," she said at last, "was fantastic."

"Am I hearing a request for another go-around?"

"In no uncertain terms." Fizzle chuckled.

A few rides (and some hollering from both girls) later, they drove back to the starting point again. Fizzle slid off the bike. "Okay. I'm going to need you to teach me how to do that." The two began to peel off the biking suits, sure to hang them up where they'd found them.

"So that's a yes to signing up for the team, then?" Sunset gave a little smirk.

"If I can even get paperwork done to stay in this crazy primate dimension." Fizzle rolled her eyes.

"I'm sure that we can work something out, between Twilight, the principals and I. For the time being, you have a place to stay?" Fizzlepop's breath hitched at that.

"I have...money. But it's Equestrian bits. I don't know if they take that."

"There's an antique shop in the neighbourhood that does. Good exchange rate, too. Just don't flood the market all at once. Til then, you can crash at my place, alright? Providing you're planning on staying."

That thought gave Fizzle pause.

"I'm still thinking about it. But...between the school and the company..." Fizzle looked at Sunset a bit bashfully. "I think I'll work something out."

"Well, if you like, I'll walk you back to my place and we can work things out from there? See the living conditions first, and all. Besides. There's something I want to show you over there, anyway."

"Well," Fizzle began, "if it's anything like dirt biking, consider me signed on."

"A little more subdued than that." Sunset admitted, smiling softly. "But I like to think it's something special."

"Well, lead on."

The two fell into a comfortable silence, walking through the streets side by side. Fizzle kept her right hand firmly shoved in one pocket, minimizing the attention from passerby. Sunset was very adamant about where they walk. Self-driving carriages called cars sped up and down the road at a regular pace, and they were big and heavy enough to cause injury, according to her.

Fizzle, for her part, made sure that she kept Sunset and herself between the carriage portion of the road. She wanted time to focus on getting her bearings, and fear of colliding with a rolling slab of metal was not something she wanted weighing on her understanding.

"I noticed that there are more colts on average over here." Fizzle said, idly.

"Yeah. I don't know why the gender ratios skew like that. The only real difference is that it makes for fewer lesbian couples." Sunset shrugged. "Which isn't really a problem for me."

"No?" Fizzle prodded.

"My barn door swings both ways." Sunset looked over at her. "You?"

"Never really gave it thought." Fizzle admitted. "I had bigger worries."

"Well, humor me." Sunset looked more curious than her casual tone implied. "What's the ideal colt or mare look like for Fizzle, then?"

"Absolutely not." Fizzle laughed, rolling her eyes. "If lightning strikes and I find the right person for me, I'll let you know." Sunset crossed her arms, but laughed with Fizzle. "But, to humor you just a little, we'll put me down as fairly flexible on he-versus-she until proven otherwise."

The comfortable silence resumed, and Fizzle returned to her people-watching. "So I haven't seen any nudists yet." Fizzle said, curious.

"Oh. Yes. That. Well, they're hairless, right? Clothes are for warmth and protection from dirt as much as for show." Sunset said, looking around at her fellow bald primates. "Also, nudity is a big taboo here. It's something you keep between yourself and your partner."


"As in, your romantic partner." Sunset stressed. "Being naked is considered sexual."

"So only take them off when you want to catch somebody's eye."

"Uhhhh." Sunset's eyes widened. "No, no, no. Once you've done all the dating steps to catch their eye. Then you do the undressing."

"Glad I asked." Fizzle said, wryly.

"Yeah. Fortunately, we haven't had anyone crossing over jump into stripping the minute they got here, but it's a bit of a culture shock for humans coming to our side."

Fizzle snorted at the thought of some of their classmates surrounded by naked talking ponies. "I always liked clothes better, anyway. More practical for travel. A wash of clothes is easier to do than a full coat brush."

"Where's the furthest out you've been?" Sunset asked, suddenly curious.

"Mount Aris." Fizzle admitted. "Which lives up to its reputation. I could have lived with fewer stairs, though."

"That must have been incredible." Sunset's expression turned wistful.

"I wasn't there for a...happy reason." Fizzle admitted, slowly.

Sunset took Fizzle's hand in hers and gave it another squeeze at this, falling into a quiet understanding, again.

Fizzlepop took in a breath. Sunset had said that making friends was about being brave, right?

"I was fighting a war. On the...well. The wrong side. We stole from Mount Aris." Fizzle looked over at Sunset. "I'm still a criminal there." She expected to see shock on her face. Horror, or contempt. What she saw instead was sympathy.

"You don't have to tell me this, either." Sunset said, softly.

"I want to." Fizzlepop stressed. "I need you to...to understand. I don't want to be insincere to you." Fizzlepop clenched her bad hand. "Knowing me comes with baggage. I want you to know what you're getting into."

"Okay." Sunset squeezed her ragged hand. "I'm listening." She said, softly.

"My own troops turned on me. It was like you said. I used fear to control them. The strongest survive. But together, they overwhelmed my loyalists, and our leader betrayed me when the battle turned against us. I only survived because Princess Twilight took pity on me. She was the only one who cared, in the end." Fizzlepop gave a little shrug.

"I guess we have even more in common than I thought." Sunset said, almost amused.

Fizzlepop gave her a flat look. "Look, don't take this the wrong way, but you don't look like a veteran, Sunspot."

"Sunspot, huh?" Sunset worked the nickname back and forth in her head. "Cute. I like it." She gave her head a shake. "No, I didn't do my own fighting. I used dark magic to try to take a brainwashed army of teens from this world to Equestria. Twilight stopped me with a different magic artifact. Believe me, your evil plan sounds way more impressive. Mine was like the dollar store knock off version. Good value tyranny."

Fizzlepop actually laughed at that. "Why?" She paused. "Uhm. You don't have to tell me. If it's still bothering you."

"Usually, when I talk about this, the other side is horrified. How could I be so selfish? What kind of monster would do something like that? Didn't I care? It's...something I have to own. I was selfish. I didn't care who was I hurting. I didn't stop to think, and I should have. All of that is true. All of that is important to admit to. But it doesn't make it fun to talk about." Sunset's expression dropped again.

"Or live through again." It was Fizzlepop's turn to squeeze her hand. Sunset's expression changed in an instant.

"Normally, when I talk to someone about this, they want to distance themselves from me. Tell themselves they'd never be the kind of person who did what I did." She gave Fizzlepop a strange look, then. Expressing an emotion Fizzlepop had never seen before. Some kind of mix of distant longing and a quiet joy. "But not you." She said, softly. "You could have acted like my story petty or cheap, next to yours. But you were worried about me. What being that person had done to me." Sunset blushed, twirling her hair around one of her fingers. "I've never felt...safe...talking about my past before. Not like now."

Sunset's expression brought a sense of pride to Fizzlepop. Not out of what she had done, or earned, but...out of who she was. She clasped her hands to Sunset's shoulders. "So. Why the evil teens? What did you want out of it?"

Sunset's voice came out in a tiny hush. "I thought I wanted power and control. To force ponies to like me. But what I really wanted was to be...understood." She said, at last. "It's...a long story."

"Do...do you want me to hear it?" Fizzlepop asked, gently.

Sunset took in a deep breath, giving a little nod. She turned to look Fizzle in the eyes. "I think I do. Do...do you want to hear it? We just met, it's a lot to dump on you..." Sunset's pupils quivered, staring into Fizzle's own.

Fizzlepop weighed what Sunset was saying. It was true. This stranger from a different world could be lying. Could be telling her things she wanted to hear. And maybe she didn't belong in Sunset's life, even if she was sincere. She was stiff, and cold, and gruff. Brooding and awkward and quick to anger.

But Sunset saw something in her. And, unlike the Storm King, she spent time with her for fun. She seemed to like just doing things together. She hadn't asked anything out of Fizzlepop but her company. And the teachers and classmates she met seemed to like her. If she had an ulterior motive, she'd made no steps toward it that Fizzlepop could see. What she could see was someone who saw something more in her than hired help or a useful puppet.

"You deserve someone who wants to know that part of you better." Fizzlepop replied, at last. "And I'd like to be that somebody. If you would like, uh, somebody like that."

Sunset gave her that same strange expression at this. "I was a very...angry pony, growing up." She said, at last. The words coming out more plainly, now. "I never knew why. I just blew up at the littlest things. Everypony was afraid of me. And I had a lot of magic, so I had...outbursts. That turned ponies away, y'know?"

Fizzlepop resisted the urge to squeeze away the pain in Sunset's voice, her own memories of her fractured horn's outbursts welling up. Instead, she simply said "I do" with all the warmth that she could bring into her voice.

"My parents tried to enroll me in magic school, to control my spells and learn how to control my temper." Sunset said, continuing on. "But all the time I kept feeling like something was wrong with me."

"I was good at the magic, though. Princess Celestia noticed. Quick to learn and full of ambition." Sunset sighed. "It didn't change who I was, though. Whenever somebody tried to tell me what to do, how to act, I just got so...angry." She looked to Tempest with a small, sad smile.

"I was stubborn. And we fought a lot. Celestia is very patient, but...something about how she's always so patient just...drives me bananas. She was always so perfect. And I was so...impatient, angry, jealous. I wanted to be good! A good student to her. But every part of me just felt like...there was this broken part of me--"

"That could never be good enough." Tempest said, at last. Sunset looked up at her in surprise. "So you wanted to make her understand. That you could be a success, even with that broken part of you. Show them all how much better you could be than any of them thought. Is that why?"

"I was so...stupid." Sunset said, at last. "It's only when I realized I didn't have to be...bigger than my anger, better than everyone who ever doubted me that...I got a handle on it. Even now, sometimes it still comes out."

"And sometimes you wonder, why would they bother? What's the point when they're going to get tired of humoring me." Fizzle said, softly.

"How do you..." Fizzle turned their hands over so Sunset could see the missing fingers.

"When I was little, I...picked a fight with an Ursa Major over a lost ball." Fizzle gave a sad attempt at a joking little smile. "I lost. And when I lost. I lost my horn. That's why I wanted to be so...strong. So much better. To show the world someone like me could do it. And to...to break down all the happy little lives they were living. Make them feel their world falling apart."

"And what about now?" Sunset asked, at last.

Fizzle gave a little blush at this. "Even right now, I still feel like I'm at square one again. Less than square one." Sunset tilted her head. "I'm starting that hardest step you talked about."

"You're right, you are. It's part of why I knew right away I would like you."

Fizzle blinked. "You lost me."

"Because, from personal experience, it takes a lot, and I mean a lot of resolve to realize you've been living your life the wrong way. It's that hardest first step." Sunset said, softly. "I didn't do so well, when I was first trying, either. And I had five people guiding me into being a better person. And you...you're just trying to make yourself that, through sheer force of will." Sunset blushed, curling her hair around her finger. "I don't know if I could ever be that strong."

Fizzle blushed with her. "I didn't get there myself, either. Someone showed me how to be better."

"You don't have to be ashamed of that, either." Sunset added quietly. "Being able to reach out to someone is a risk, too. It means someone meant enough to you that you were ready to admit they were right, and you were wrong. That isn't a defeat. It's getting wiser."

Fizzle smiled and shook her head. "So why does it feel like I know less than I did when I was younger?"

"Maybe because you're smart enough, now, to know you don't know as much as you thought." Sunset gave a small smile. "And maybe when someone who's put themselves through this looks at you, they see someone who's quicker on the uptake than they were when they were where you are."

Fizzle felt warmth rise up in her core and her cheeks at the admission. "It's a lot easier when you're there." She admitted. "I feel more...together." She gave Sunset a tender little glance. She frowned at her wording, turning her right hand over and looking at the scars. "Speaking relatively."

Seeing Fizzle fade into silence, frowning at her hand, Sunset decided to take a small risk of her own.

"This might sound really ignorant, but...I think it looks cool."

Fizzle looked up at her, momentarily stunned.

"I mean come on. The mohawk, the leather, the ripped jeans. You pull off the tough guy look better than I ever did. And I really had to work at it. But you? I take one look at you and everything about you screams you've won fights I wouldn't dream of picking with people."

"Is that right?" Fizzle settled into a softer smile.

"I mean you tussled with a star bear as a filly."

"It wasn't much of a fight." Fizzle admitted. "I took one paw to the head and ran home crying."

"Most kids can't get themselves out of a fight with the Tickle Monster, Fizzle." Sunset replied. "You're tougher than you're giving yourself credit for."

"Yeah, well, just don't make one of those inspirational movies about me."

"If you start up on breaking drama club property like you were planning, they just might threaten you with that."

Fizzle snorted, more of the tension leaving her body. The pair turned a street corner, and Sunset pointed to a shop that read 'Horse Feathers: Antiques and Artifacts'.

"Well." Sunset announced. "Here's what passes for a bank for us magic horse immigrants. Give me a holler if you need me."

"I may be new to friendship and humans, but I like to think I can handle a pawn shop, still." Fizzle gave a small smirk.

Sunset put her hands in her jacket and leaned up against a street light, looking expectant. Fizzle gave a single glance back, then walked into the store.

Sure enough, when she walked back out twenty minutes later and a hundred-and-fifty-odd human dollars richer, Sunset peeled off the street light and fell in with walking with her.

"So," Fizzle asked, glancing around, "what's this surprise you were wanting to show me? A magic pony dirt bike?"

Sunset gave a little grin, extending out a hand for Fizzle. She took it, this time with her right hand again, and let Sunset lead her up the stairs of an apartment and through the door of a small rectangular room . There, Sunset tugged Fizzle onto a rooftop patio, pointing to the brick wall of the room they'd just exited to get onto the patio.

Painted across the brick wall was a mural brilliant oranges, yellows and whites. The mural depicted a phoenix, rising up out of a black pit with a fanged, red-skinned she-demon lurking in the shadows. Its wings were curled and swarmed by embers, feathers reaching up towards six logos. Butterflies, balloons, lightning bolts and gems, a six-pointed star and a bushel of fruit.

The six were arranged so they were being buoyed on gusts of wind that also reached down and lifted up the phoenix's wings, as if at once they were pulling the bird up to their heights and its own wings were surging them ever higher. A neat little optical illusion achieved with the motion implied by the way the winds curled.

"So this is me." Sunset said, softly. "Or, um, at least, what I painted to express me. It's not gonna win any prizes or anything, but I really like looking at it."

"You look pretty." Fizzlepop said, looking over the use of colours and shadows, the way the phoenix erupted towards the audience. She gave Sunset a sideways smirk at this.

"Are you saying that about the mural or the person?" Sunset met her tease.

"Maybe I'm saying a beautiful girl painted a beautiful mural." Sunset blushed at this, smiling softly, and Fizzlepop grinned through her own little blush.

Sunset's look became playful again, but also ever so slightly nervous. Her eyes traced the lines of Fizzle's body, rising up to rest on her face. Fizzle smirked once again. "What are you doing?"

"I'm feeling inspired." Sunset admitted. "Thinking about my next mural."

"The Fizzlepop mural?" She asked, smirking.

"Well, I have to up my game." Sunset said, matter-of-factly. "Which means I had to find something even prettier."

Fizzle blushed even more at this. Smiling a gentle smile. "Sunset..." She said, looking into her counterpart's eyes. "You remember how I wasn't sure of some things..."

"Yeah?" Sunset's voice came out shy, a bit uncertain, her previous courage gone.

"I don't know about this world yet. I think I like it here. I might like your friends, I don't know. But you know, when you asked me...about finding someone special." Fizzle looked down at their clasped hands, squeezing Sunset's tight with the fingers she still had. "It makes me feel pretty certain about you." She said, at last.

Sunset's expression turned to one of shock, then relief, and then she leaned over to Fizzle. It was a gentle kiss. A shy thing. Like the two of them were scared that too much joy, too much passion would break the illusion, and wake them both back up in their darker past lives. But when they pulled away, they both felt the fireworks going off in their chest.

Fizzle had always hated looking in mirrors, it was true. But when she stared into Sunset's eyes, seeing her expression of quiet, sincere happiness mirrored in her own, Fizzle decided there were some reflections she wouldn't mind seeing more often.

Comments ( 6 )

Well, I'd love some more of this!

This was a lovely comment to come home to at the end of the day. Glad you enjoyed

Super cute and a great new fresh start for Fizzy. I wonder if she'll try and get a prosthetic?

Very nice. I like how they seemed to genuinely connect at a pace that seemed real. Love to see a sequel.

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