• Published 11th Dec 2022
  • 399 Views, 8 Comments

Chasing Shadows - astrolatryy



Flash Sentry is used to weird magical mishaps by now. The guy his age sprawled unconscious in his backyard, however, is a new one.

  • ...
3
 8
 399

IV.

The first sign that Flash Sentry is going to have one hell of a Saturday morning is when he's woken up in bed by the sound of howling wind.

The second sign that Flash Sentry is going to have one hell of a Saturday morning is when that sound is punctuated by the terrible crashing of shattering glass.

Flash bolts upright in bed, staring down his bedroom door like something might burst through and kill him. It doesn't, but he can actually see little whorls of snowy wind curling and swirling beneath his door, and he's pretty sure that sound was the sound of the glass door caving in.

Well, fuck.

Flash grabs his phone and scrolls to the group chat the girls made with him and Sombra. (Finally, he managed to get Sunset's number. Shamefully, it wasn't through asking her himself; he just grabbed it off the group list when Sombra invited him to the voice chat.)

Nearly two hundred unread messages. If he couldn't guess, surprise, Flash Sentry! A huge snowstorm hit the town this morning and it has not let up. Alongside the frantic buzzing of the group chat, he has several weather warning alerts left unread in his notification bar and Flash has no idea how he managed to sleep through those. Damn it.

Trying not to let his fingers shake—still hearing the howling of wind outside in his ears and pretty damn certain that the only thing between him and the cutting, cold snow is exactly one bedroom door, which is starting to feel flimsier and flimsier by the second—Flash types out a quick message to the group chat about how he just woke up, he heard something shatter in his house, he's pretty sure he's trapped here by the storm but he really doesn't want to open the door to check.

Then he drops his phone back on the bed and gets dressed at what must be world record speeds.

Back to the group chat. Sunset's dropped a pretty solid wall of text explaining the situation. Tl;dr: the snowstorm rolled in early that morning before the sun rose, hasn't let up since. Principals Celestia and Luna have set up the high school as a safe haven from the storm; they're keeping the place warm and serving soup in the inner classrooms where the storm hasn't gotten to them yet. The girls have been all around town trying to do damage control, they've gotten most of the students holed up safely in the school by now.

Twilight wasn't home when the storm hit because she was having a sleepover at Fluttershy's, something about helping her with a research project. This is unfortunate, because Fluttershy's house is across town from Twilight's, and Twilight has only just managed to get home to grab the Crystal Heart shard they need to beat back the storm.

Sunset gave us your address, Twilight texts, because of course she did. I'm the closest to you, so I'm going to go pick you up as soon as I can, okay? Hang in there, Flash.

Thanks, I'll try my best, Flash replies, only wondering after he puts his phone down how Twilight is going to manage that in this storm.

Well, he'll find out.

And find out he does after thirty minutes or so when he hears the honking of a car outside, loud enough to cut through even the shrieking winds of the storm. Flash pulls his winter coat tight around himself and grits his teeth, hoping he'll be able to navigate to Twilight through the blizzard.

Turns out, he doesn't need to. He opens his bedroom door and makes his way through the snow-drenched rest of the house—ugh, it's in his socks—opening the front door to find a narrow horizontal path to the street cleared completely of snow, parted like red waters.

Twilight is standing valiantly on the sidewalk, hair whipping sideways in the wind, arms outstretched beside her and horn curving elegantly from her head, both hands and said horn glowing with power.

She's using her telekinesis to hold back the snow!

"Flash!" she shrieks. "Hurry! I can't hold this for much longer!"

"Coming!" Flash says, breaking into a sprint for the minivan he can see parked against the curb. He flings the side door open and tosses himself in, landing safely sprawled across two of the seats.

To his surprise, there's someone already sitting in the driver's seat. He'd recognize that shimmery, tri-tone hair anywhere. "Dean Cadence?"

Cadence looks over her shoulder at him and smiles. "The very one. Are you alright, Flash?"

"I'm fine, just a little cold," he says, shaking out his hands. "What are you doing here? I mean, not that I'm not grateful—"

Cadence laughs. "Did you think I was going to stay on the sidelines while you saved the day? I was at the Friendship Games too, remember? Twilight explained everything to me when I caught her snooping in my bedroom. Really, I would have just given the Heart to her if she'd told me…"

Speaking of the Heart shard, there it is, sitting pretty on the dash. It shines beautifully in the sunlight, but Flash can't quite imagine a little blue gemstone like that saving the city.

Then again, seven little gemstones were apparently all it took to save Camp Everfree, so what does he know?

The side door opens and Twilight hops into the front seat next to Cadence. "Okay, hi! Are you okay, Flash? Is there anything you need me to do before we go?"

"No, I'm good," Flash says. "Let's go."

-—-

It is a damn miracle that Cadence manages to drive them to Canterlot High through that much wind and snow. To be fair, having Twilight around helps; she has to keep her head low so her horn doesn't bump into the roof of the car, still ponied up as she is, but outside Flash can see how the snow swirls and twists away from the windshield and the wheels, caught in a cloud of magenta.

The van slows to a stop outside the signature horse statue and Flash gets out first—good thing, because as Twilight gets out she sways and nearly falls, leaving Flash to stop her from cracking a tooth on the concrete.

"Whoa, careful!" Flash says. "Are you alright?"

"I'll be… fine…" Twilight says, rubbing at her temples. "I didn't know I could strain my magic like that. Some rest should fix me up, later. We have to keep going!"

Flash has to agree. He's up past his ankle in snow and the wind just keeps howling, howling, battering at them like a cat particularly determined to knock a box off a table. Snowdrifts spin and dance in the flurry and ice bites at Flash's hands, neck, and face, making his eyes watery and his nose red.

The only reason he can see more than a foot in front of him, in fact, is because of the six girls standing guardian outside Canterlot High's entrance, their hands linked and their bodies back-to-back as a shimmering technicolor bubble of light keeps the snow at bay.

"Girls!" Twilight cries.

"Twilight!" the girls cry.

"Oh my gosh, I was so worried—" Fluttershy says.

"Do you have the crystal?" Sunset says, eyes flicking between Twilight and Cadence behind her.

"I do," Cadence confirms, cupping it solemnly in the palm of her hands like it'll save them all. It just might. "What do we need to do with it?"

"And where's Sombra?" Flash asks.

"Sombra's inside," Sunset says, jerking her head behind her. "As for the crystal… hand it to me? Let's see what we can do."

Sunset lets go of the girl next to her with one hand, giving room for Twilight to fill in a space with the girls while Sunset examines the crystal, turning it over and over in her hand. "It should have activated by now, shouldn't it?" Sunset says, sounding worried. "Usually these things are pretty intuitive. It just—feels right."

"The last I saw it used—" Sombra's voice is sharp and commanding as always, cutting through the sound of the wind and drawing everyone's attention. "—it was at the center of a faire. The Heart works because it is powered by the love of many, not just the few. I believe to get the crystal to work, you will have to rally the hearts of the majority here."

"You couldn't have told us that earlier—?" Sunset huffs.

"I can do that," Cadence says, taking the crystal back from Sunset.

"You can?" Flash asks.

"If there's one thing I'm good at—" Cadence says, stretching her hands with a twinkle in her eye. "—it's speeches."

-—-

The gymnasium is packed with crowds of students murmuring to each other. Their nervous voices rise above the crowd into one distinct sound—a sound full of the uncertain terror and worry that Flash feels. He doesn't even think twice about reaching for Sombra beside him, lacing his hand with his.

Sombra gives his hand a squeeze, but says nothing as the two of them watch Cadence stride into the midst of the crowd.

"Students of Canterlot High!" she says, the microphone taped to her vest picking up her voice loud and clear. (This is the second time now that Vinyl Scratch's impromptu sound systems have saved the day, Flash thinks. He should really get her something.)

The sound of the students speaking to one another fades to a murmuring, uncertain halt.

"I understand that right now we live in uncertain times. A freak snowstorm has descended on the walls of Canterlot High and the wind blows fierce and destructive outside. But you have been through worse, haven't you? When the sirens came to this school, you were here to watch the Rainbooms blow them away! When you were here when wild magic descended on this school, you were here to watch Sunset Shimmer talk it down.

"This terrible storm has been caused by an equally as terrible magic, yes. But you have dealt with rogue magic in the past, haven't you? This school is strong. You, all of you, are strong, and brave, and persevere against all odds."

Cadence raises the crystal in her hand high above her head, so everyone watching can see. "This is a shard of the Crystal Heart that the founder of Crystal Prep Academy made a hundred years ago. It represents love, and unity, and perseverance above all else.

"A storm rages outside these walls, but it does not have to! You can defeat it! We can defeat it! Even shattered, the Crystal Heart has power far beyond a blizzard like this! Think of the unity this school shares between its students—the love we have for each other! We will not freeze as long as we have each other to warm us!

"Come together, Canterlot High, and use the love and light in your hearts to banish this storm for good!"

A collective cheer goes up between the students. Flash stands and watches Cadence, so encaptured by the passion with which she speaks that he finds he's believing it himself.

He nearly misses Sombra dragging him away from the bulk of the crowd. There is a sharp, solemn look on his face, one that immediately grabs Flash's attention. He's never seen him look that serious. "Sombra?"

Sombra lowers his head to meet his, hands on his shoulders, forehead nearly touching. "Flash. I have something to tell you."

"What is it? What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry."

Flash has about half a second to process this before something surges in the students crowding around Cadence, and the shard of the Crystal Heart in her hand lights blue.

A shockwave of power washes over him, sharp as pop rocks, sweet as cotton candy. He can taste it in his mouth, feel it on his tongue—the way his heart skips a beat, the way it begins to soar as he feels, actually feels, the respect and love the students here have for each other. The way they understand each other. The way they're unified as one—Canterlot High, never give up, never let a fellow student fall alone—

—he'd be more caught up in this, in the rush, if it weren't for the sensation of Sombra's nails digging into his shoulder and the way he hisses terribly with pain as he falls into him. He can see—fuck, he can see smoke rising off of Sombra, like something burned. Small cracks are beginning to spiderweb their way over Sombra's skin and what the fuck, what the fuck—

"What the fuck," he hisses, his first instinct to wrap his arms around Sombra and draw him close as if maybe that'll fix it. "Sombra. Sombra, what—"

Sombra is laughing, a low, humorless sound that he can feel against his chest. "The—Heart. It is a weapon, is it not?"

Sombra picks his head up to look him in the eyes. It looks like it hurts him to even try. "It is a weapon against my kind. The umbrum, the shadow ponies. Even bound in human form, I am still a fragment of the shadow the Empire has tried so hard over these years to destroy."

"You knew this?!" Flash wants to scream but the terror in his chest chokes it out. "The whole time, you just—and you didn't—"

Sombra smiles at him. The fangs in his mouth have somehow grown longer, sharper. There is shadow dancing in his eyes. "What would you have done if you knew? You would have stalled, desperately trying to find another plan, desperately trying to find another way. Too long. It would have taken you too long, and this little town would have been buried under a mountain of ice and snow. You would have frozen to death, all for the sake of one little monster."

"You idiot, we should have found another way!" Flash says. "There's always another way, there's always a way to save the day—that's how magic works! Couldn't we have put you through the portal, or—"

"What do you think—" Sombra stops to cough, hard, the sound wracking his chest as dark shadow flows out of his mouth. "—think that would do to me? I am defined by my absence, my shape here in the other world. Perhaps if I crossed the portal I would simply collapse into a wisp of shadow. Or become the monster you know me as in those stories, the one willing to shackle hundreds of ponies to my will to get my way."

"You—" Flash is not going to argue with him about this, not now, not when he can feel him getting lighter in his arms. "You should have told me," he says, hating how broken his voice sounds. "You should have told me because—"

He chokes. Chokes on the words, chokes on the realization—except it's not a realization at all, not a sudden one. Like sinking all the way into a warm bath; that kind of feeling of 'oh. Yeah, I should have seen this coming.'

"—I love you."

Sombra's eyes widen—sharply-slitted, now, wisping from the edges. The slits make him look more beautiful, Flash thinks, and so does his hair, wisping around him like spilled oil, nearly iridescent.

"You fucking idiot," Flash says, grasping as tightly to him as he can, white-knuckled. "Don't leave me."

Sombra lunges forward and kisses him.

Flash has kissed people before, of course he has. It's not a new sensation. And yet it's completely new the way Sombra does it; pushing insistently into him, warm, warm as he always is, the whisper of his smoke trailing around Flash like just grabbing hard to him with his hands isn't enough. There are fangs at his lips, sharp, and yet though they push smooth at him they don't threaten to pierce once. Sombra is a monstrous thing, most monstrous in this moment, where the magic of the love around them is threatening to tear him apart—but Flash doesn't care about that.

All Flash cares about is him. Always him, from the moment he saw him for the first time and thought—I'm not leaving him alone.

And Flash refuses to leave him alone now; clinging tight to him as though he's crumbling, because he is, and Sombra may be a damn idiot but there has to be a way. There's always a way to save the day, there's always a way to save people, because magic is belief and he believes—oh, he believes so fucking hard, with every fiber in his heart, that he can save him.

Flash's eyes flutter open as he breaks for air, hands tangling desperately in Sombra's smokey hair—

—and he sees a shimmer of blue light on him, protective, like a shield. Sombra glances down at an arm full of spiderweb cracks and chips that still hasn't managed to fall apart yet, only because the cyan of love magic is holding him together like a glass sculpture of himself, and he laughs.

"Of course," Sombra says. "Stupid, foolish magic."

"Always a way," Flash says, breathing relief—and he leans up and kisses him and thinks about him, thinks about the way he grins like he's going to rule the world someday and Flash would let him, thinks about how he throws himself into the things he's truly passionate about wildly, and freely, and without fear of falling; thinks about the gentle moments where Sombra tells him about the things he's learning about the world, the history he knows and the history he wants to, the way his eyes shine proud when he manages a difficult chord on the guitar for the first time.

He thinks about him, and how he loves him, and Flash holds him tight and doesn't let go.

He doesn't let go.

-—— [EPILOGUE] ——-

"You know, I've been hearing strange stories about last year's Fall Formal," Sombra says, teasing, hand warm around his. "Something about a she-demon…? I certainly hope that doesn't happen again."

Sunset, who is walking towards the both of them looking like she wants to say hello, puts her head in her hands and sighs. "You turn into a demon one time…"

Her head pops back up and she grins. "Hey Flash, Sombra. I was wondering if you'd show up at the Formal this year. Thought maybe you decided to stay home, you know, I hear people have a history of turning into demons at these things."

"How do you both manage to crack jokes about this?" Flash says, looking bemused. "Sorry we're late, Rarity wanted to do some last-minute changes to Sombra's outfit."

It's not like it isn't absolutely stunning. Sure, he's certain Sombra could manage to look handsome in anything, but damn if Rarity isn't a professional. She's put Sombra in a deep red tailcoat swirling with black floral patterns, almost like smoke, sharp and gothic. Silver accents and a button-up shirt make him look like he's just stepped out of the Victorian ages. For jewelry Sombra wears sharp, pointed metal bracelets and diamond-shaped earrings that hang from his piercings like waiting guillotines.

Sunset raises her eyebrows at them. "Rarity got here ten minutes ago. I feel like you two are late because of some… other reason."

She snorts. "You still have lipstick on your cheek, Flash."

"Fuck," Flash says, to low laughter from Sombra as he tries to wipe it off with a sleeve. "You never tell me anything, Sombra."

"I thought it was sweet," Sombra—who is wearing the black lipstick he's stained Flash with—says. "Now they know you're mine."

"You really do have a type, Flash," Sunset says, raising her eyebrows again.

"Shut up," Flash says, going red. "You're both terrible, you're both awful. Why did I agree to go to the Formal knowing either of you were here?"

"Because you love me," Sombra hums, sing-song, taking his chin with a hand. "And I am simply too handsome to resist."

Sunset rolls her eyes. "I'll let you two flirt out here, I'm going inside."

"Come on, let's go inside too, it's cold," Flash complains. He never thought he'd be grateful for the regular late-night fall chill of the Formal, but he's still going to complain about how cold his arms are.

"You should have brought a coat, then," Sombra says, laughter in his voice, and he leads him inside hand-in-hand.

Author's Note:

Please feel free to leave comments fixing typos or other prose errors! I wrote the entirety of this in three days and my brain's slightly fried.

Comments ( 5 )

Interesting. A Sombra X Flash Sentry EG ship.

Flash grabs his phone and scrolls to the group chat the girls made with him and Sombra. (Finally, he managed to get Sunset's number. Shamefully, it wasn't through asking her himself; he just grabbed it off the group list when Sombra invited him to the voice chat.)

ooh love that the mini Sunset’s number arc has a conclusion!

Turns out, he doesn't need to. He opens his bedroom door and makes his way through the snow-drenched rest of the house—ugh, it's in his socks—opening the front door to find a narrow horizontal path to the street cleared completely of snow, parted like red waters.

ooh Biblical!

"Students of Canterlot High!" she says, the microphone taped to her vest picking up her voice loud and clear. (This is the second time now that Vinyl Scratch's impromptu sound systems have saved the day, Flash thinks. He should really get her something.)

aww he should!

Sombra lowers his head to meet his, hands on his shoulders, forehead nearly touching. "Flash. I have something to tell you."

"What is it? What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry."

oh no… Sombra knew the whole time what would happen…

Flash has kissed people before, of course he has. It's not a new sensation. And yet it's completely new the way Sombra does it; pushing insistently into him, warm, warm as he always is, the whisper of his smoke trailing around Flash like just grabbing hard to him with his hands isn't enough. There are fangs at his lips, sharp, and yet though they push smooth at him they don't threaten to pierce once. Sombra is a monstrous thing, most monstrous in this moment, where the magic of the love around them is threatening to tear him apart—but Flash doesn't care about that.

All Flash cares about is him. Always him, from the moment he saw him for the first time and thought—I'm not leaving him alone.

augh i just love this

He thinks about him, and how he loves him, and Flash holds him tight and doesn't let go.

He doesn't let go.

beautiful and perfect

Sunset, who is walking towards the both of them looking like she wants to say hello, puts her head in her hands and sighs. "You turn into a demon one time…"

ehehe so relatable

"I thought it was sweet," Sombra—who is wearing the black lipstick he's stained Flash with—says. "Now they know you're mine."

"You really do have a type, Flash," Sunset says, raising her eyebrows again.

ahaha so true

"You should have brought a coat, then," Sombra says, laughter in his voice, and he leads him inside hand-in-hand.

well that was just wonderful. i am left breathless at how perfectly this fic captures Flash Sentry and the very essence of his being as a background character linked romantically to two beings with world-destroying powers. the complexes that come from that, that unfinished story, is just so beautifully and intricately explored here, and given their proper place and conclusion at the heart and focus of a story. you didn’t need to add a single element to canon Sombra to make this version seem made in a lab specifically to murder Flash Sentry, and augh, all of it is so perfect. thank you so much for it!

11505087
thank you so much for leaving such a detailed, in-depth review, oh my god! i can't express how much seeing the notifs for these comments made my night; this kind of in-depth review is every author's dream, mine included.

i'm ecstatic that you liked my fic so much, and i can't wait for the next contest!! :heart:

Fantastic story! I saved this one for last because of how well you did in the contest, and it was a great final read, VERY worthy of the high finish! Amnesia can be a tricky thing to write well, and you threaded the needle nicely without belaboring anything.

The characters felt very true to themselves, and the dynamic between Flash and Sombra was very believable. I like especially how Sombra's growth is subtle, and the two of them maintain their flirty teasing relationship.

My one (very minor) gripe is that I felt like the other characters pulled too much focus in the last couple chapters. A lot of it was necessary for the plot, of course. However, I think having more of Sombra earlier on in chapter 4 would work great, may in place of some of Cadence's speech. That said, the ending was still VERY effective. Great job bringing the emotional climax home. Having Flash's lines be, "I love you. You fucking idiot." in immediate succession really sold me on the flavor of their relationship.

Fantastic work, and congrats again on 2nd place in the contest!

这个故事太棒了!!能读到它是我的幸运!!!🥰🥰🥰
This story is AMAZING!! It's my fortune to read it!!

Login or register to comment