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Clinically diagnosed with SciSet Brainworms


Learning how to be human, in the sense of both her physical body and her new outlook on life, has been an interesting process for Sunset Shimmer. Just as she starts to think she's figured things out through and through, something else comes to shake things up completely.

The latest such instance being when she learned her best friend had begun to think about their relationship in a whole new way.

And as Twilight and Sunset begin to explore what it means to care for one another the way they do, encounters with Twilight's family bring back moments in Sunset's life she'd long tried to lock away in shame. Resolving to confront some of the ghosts of her past in person -- albeit not quite in person -- the pair embark on a journey that brings Twilight to a brand new world, and Sunset to one she struggles to recognize, as both find themselves laying their souls bare before each other.

Cover art by Avery Day, who is pre-reading the story alongside Dewdrops on the Grass and The Sleepless Beholder.

While this story is not specifically a sequel, it is in continuity with two other fics: The Final Conversation and Milkshakes, Marionettes, and Midnight. The story begins late during the events of Legend of Everfree and diverges further from the canon timeline during "Dance Magic".

Featured on 6/20/23-6/21/23, 7/4/23, 8/15/23, and 9/10/23!

Chapters (6)
Comments ( 59 )

And yet there was something else—

Oh, no.

I’ve been seeking a story like this, awesome!!!

Delightful beginning to the relationship. I especially love the surreality of Sunset's mind and body having compatibility issues. Some degree of dysmorphia should be expected when living among aliens with a different body plan, especially as one of their kind.

Looking forward to seeing how Twilight handles it, along with whatever else rears its ugly head.


Gotta admit, the "Bi sweet spot" conversation in the first chapter had me rolling with laughter.

Also, its nice to see someone else exploring the whole "Oh yeah, Sunset's actually a horse" thing and how that would affect her views of things like attraction from a mental perspective. :} This is gonna be one I'll be following along with.

I love the way you’re looking at how Sunset being a pony changes the way she thinks about romance and her body, I can’t wait to see how this develops! :)

Let's see:
-queer romance?
-socially awkward protagonist ?
-making a plot point out of the fact that a character was originally a talking horse?
Sign me up.

This looks good so far. Off to chapter two...


Still setting up, I suppose. And already we are committing to the interlude structure. :)

I think it will be interesting to see how you handle Sci-Twi in this. While Sunset's past will naturally come with its own ghosts, I will like to see how you craft a journey for Sci-Twi as well.

Looking very promising so far. The two of them are cute, and the species dysphoria is something I don't think gets played around with enough. Definitely looking forward to seeing where it goes!

And also The Plan.

Oh? :rainbowhuh:

“Everything’s fine,” Twilight replied. “It is, really. We just, um, when Timber and I were making the invitations for the Ball earlier, um, we… we did talk about it. Not just the dance, but also how fast we’d kinda tried getting into this whole thing, when all this stuff’s been happening around us and how it’s been hard to think when we’ve had so much on our minds, and also– well, what things would look like for us after camp. And now with all these big clouds that were over our heads and stuff gone, I think we both, um, kinda agreed that it just didn’t feel right for us. Plus it wouldn’t really reflect well on him suddenly dating me when, well, he’s the camp counselor and I’m a camper.”

Ngl this scene sure reminds me of a fimfiction story I wrote on how I'd picture Sci Twi and Timber breaking up. Except in this chapter it's mentioned they never dated. Just thought I'd get that off my chest. :twilightblush:

The need to concretely reply was a nice social impetus that forced an armistice in Twilight’s mindscape as she quickly extracted a response. “We’re okay. We just kinda broke things off before they really got started, but we did exchange phone numbers after, so I think… I think we’ll be friends after this.”

Being friends is still something to be proud of. Good for you Twi. :yay:

“Anyway, um, the point was that I made this little vow to myself that the next dance I went to, I would go as someone’s date. Even if that meant asking them myself. It was… I know it’s a weird promise for me to make, when I probably could just, well, not go to the dance if it was making me feel like that. But, then again, I was – I am – really trying to, y’know, put myself out there and be more social! I mean, I have years of that to make up for! Sure, I probably won’t like everything I try, but, well, at least I can say I tried.”

Now there's something I can relate to. Being more social. I wasn't great at it when I was younger, but I've gotten better over time. :twilightsmile:

“A thing?” Spike exclaimed as he hopped off the bed and began to trot over to his own place of slumber. “Please. Twilight’s gonna need a way more technical term than that. This relationship is doomed already.”

Your so gonna regret saying that later Spike. :ajsmug:

Of to a great start already! :pinkiehappy:

Whats so great here is instead of the binary 'Yes I'm into humans and especially you, Twilight Sparkle/Humans are apes and I literally can't feel anything romantic towards you aliens' is the fluid middle ground Sunset is currently inhabiting and wishing to explore. Its not something done too often in my experience.

Okay, that was cute. Twiggles being a neurotic mess and Sunny being understanding and willing to give things a go. Looking forward to seeing where this leads.

Geez, this pairing - even their neuroses, relationship complexities and serious discussions are unfairly adorable.

Very interesting start. Gotta say, I really like the way you handled the whole Timber situation - just a simple "decided not to go for it". A lot of the time when he's included in fics shipping Twilight with someone else, they do have the relationship be a part of the story or background, and there's nothing wrong with that, great stories have resulted from it, but... I do prefer the approach of simply cutting it off before it starts.

Admittedly, my preferred preferred approach is just to excise him and his creepy-to-me-at-least vibes entirely, but I recognize that's not necessarily the best option for many stories, nor one that many would want.

Still, I am curious - are there going to be more AU elements here? I mean, it's kind of in a bit of a grey area anyway - typically, shipfics don't require an AU tag simply because they pair a character with someone other than whoever they're with 'canonically', since the fact it's shipping another pairing makes it redundant - the same way EqG fics don't require the Human tag - but this does appear to be making more of a point about the divergence than most, so it's not unreasonable to put it on anyway. But, well, I'm just wondering what, if it can even be divulged at this point, is the extent of the AU aspect.

Well. That final line wasn’t what I was expecting. At all. Awwwkward...:twilightblush:

That does make me wonder where the human Sunset Shimmer is, though, with a tie-in like that that ought to be mirrored between the two worlds. And what Cady is gonna do when she sees this Sunset. :pinkiegasp:

Now that you’ve surprised me like that, I have some pretty high expectations for this fic. Definitely keeping an eye out for future chapters! :twilightsmile:

Lmao, damn, wasn't expecting that reveal to drop. Maybe it's because First Hoof Account has my brain in SunDance mode, but I thought you were leading up to Sunset being Pony!Cadance's ex. It's so fun to be reading two fics that take the relationship between these two in such radically different directions.

But... Hang out, if Pony!Sunset is Pony!Cadance's sister... Where is Human!Sunset in all this :pinkiegasp:

On an unrelated note, I like what you've done with the Human world's cutie marks just... Existing without ever being mentioned. I enjoy fics that give the Human world a subtle magic of its own, and icons just sort of appearing on people's clothes is a fun way to do that.


One wonders how Sunset dealt with the presence of Principal Celestia in the early days.

The actual reaction I had to the ending.

Me reading - Oh ho, jealousy perhaps? Maybe even ex-lovers?

Me reading the ending - :derpytongue2: (but in a good way!)


“Oh,” Rainbow said. “I mean, I was already zipping around during the whole bake sale and stuff, and I don’t like doing that all the time, y’know? Time kinda gets all weird and messy after a while. Best just to use it when it matters.”

Can't argue there. :ajsmug:

“That was an emergency! ” Rainbow huffed. “How can I be an effective softball team captain when I haven’t had my protein fix that happens to have the right balance of flavor?”

Uh huh... :ajbemused:

Shining chuckled. “Probably not a great idea. Last time I was at CHS, some Crystal Preppers and I were dressing the Wondercolt statue in a clown outfit with super-adhesive glue. And since I’m the one who drove everyone there, I’m a little paranoid my car’ll get keyed if I pull up anywhere near there, even after everything since then.”

And here I thought it was someone else. :facehoof:

“Not really, offering discounts for people bringing more than one pet was a big mistake. Probably took in less than a quarter of the overall goal. Really hope the car wash goes well.”

Yikes. :fluttershysad:

It was a point of local pride, Sunset had come to learn, that housing in Canterlot City was affordable and plentiful, the former to the point where even those functioning primarily off the nation’s basic income could conceivably be a homeowner.

So that's what they mean by "modern fantasy"...

People – even her friends – seemed a lot more touchy talking about icons than ponies were with cutie marks.

Surely not because of some kind of subconscious memetic block. That would be ridiculous.

Hope you’re in the mood for Oleandrite cuisine.

Is it being served on/with/by unspeakable grimoires?

I mean, clearly you know the two Twilights are different people, cause otherwise you’d be trying to date them both!

"Yes. Ha ha. Ridiculous. Moving on..."

And that is one heck of a hook at the end. Looking forward to seeing just how Sunset handles this particular flavor of awkwardness... and what this may imply about her local analogue.


So that's what they mean by "modern fantasy"...

Ahahahaha oh the pain

Excuse me a moment, my train of thought seems to have completely derailed.


Ok, now that my brain has rebooted congratulations are in order. It's rare that I'm caught off guard and in this case the guard was not only sleeping but was not even close to their post when caught. Well done!

Shining grinned. “Hope you’re in the mood for Oleandrite cuisine.”

Huh, this... this feels like a reference I'm not getting, but a quick search didn't turn anything up. Right now, I only know 'Oleander' as a flower and a Psychonaut. And while the latter did, in a sense, try to create his own nation, I somehow doubt it would have ended this well.

Iiiiiiinteresting. I was expecting some sort of family relation such as cousin or step something, but sister is.... yeah.

Tension you can cut with a knife.

Awww that was really sweet :twilightsmile: Lovely start, I see.

Really excellent how you've described the disconnect Sunset feels with her human body, and I like how earnest the awkwardness is, hehe

Easy favourite, right away.

“But the point is that when I say I don’t know if I’m attracted to you… I mean it. I literally don’t know. And the fact that I already have all these other feelings about you just from knowing you, from being your friend, from caring for you… that just makes it even harder for me to recognize something like that. And I’m really sorry I can’t give you a more useful answer, but that’s the truth.”

Not going to lie this is exactly how I felt with my boyfriend as someone who doesn't know how he falls under the awomantic spectrum if he falls under that spectrum at all, no I still don't know how to categorize what I feel towards him I know what we have a special and he special to me, I don't know if you meant to write sunset as arrowsspec but that's what I got

The face of her sister.

Bravo I've never seen someone hold this headcanon before, I know I'm probably going to have to wait for more chapters but I would really like to know is cadence her bio sister or is this a found family situation the bravo I don't want to rush you but I'm patiently waiting for more chapters you have my interest Pete

Princess Twilight had mentioned that the Mare in the Moon, Vice Principal Luna’s counterpart, had returned to rule by her sister’s side, which was its own can of worms Sunset hadn’t felt like delving into at the time. (Or now. Like most such cans of worms.)

I get the sense some of those cans will burst open whether Sunset wants to deal with the worms or not. I probably could have expressed that in a less disgusting way, but that's what she gets for not confronting her problems.

That last one didn’t make any sense, she’d been a pegasus before her ascension. Sunset herself had been the one to teach her so much about unicorn magic–

I always do love that idea.

“Twily insists the word blossom is a puberty thing,” Shining said with a scoff.

Something, something, local equivalent of Georgia O'Keeffe...

Revealing how much remains unknown to a Twilight Sparkle is dangerous, but keeping it hidden would be even worse. I can only hope Sunset becomes comfortable enough to confront her past and share it with Twilight. Explaining Cadence's counterpart will be even more awkward, but she may well make it there in time. All told, this dinner could have gone a lot worse.

The question, of course, is what's next.

Well, Sunset's going to be a trainwreck when she learns about what's happened to her Cadance.

Not having to worry about the BIG secret means less to have to dodge or lie about. She just needs a moment or two to wrap her head around it.

Stranger Cadance gave her a bit of an odd expression, and Sunset, noticing her own awkward position, quickly stuck the fork black onto the plate. “I was just a bit distracted. From the, um, food and dinner and stuff. It is really good, by the way,” she said as she stabbed into the “meat”-ball.

fork back onto the plate.*

“What?” he balked. “What kind of BBBFF would I be if I did that? I think it’s awesome that you put yourself out there, especially, um… anyway, yeah. I think it’s great. I know we tease each other about a lot, but give me some credit.”

I figured he'd say that. :ajsmug:

“Crystal Prep starts and ends two weeks after CHS,” Twilight clarified, which Sunset momentarily acknowledged before a particular part of what Cadance had said overwhelmed her faculties.

Interesting. :rainbowhuh:

“Sunset, I was there at the Games that night,” Cadance said. “I saw the other world. A talking horse looked me in the eyes and screamed at me. And I saw you, and everything you did for us. For Twilight. And after things were calm and Cinch left, Celestia and Luna gave me the debrief on everything they knew. Including you.”

Oh boy! :twilightoops:

Shining capped the bottle and closed the dishwasher. “Hey, this is all new for you, right? Pretty much the biggest thing you learn in any relationship is that it’s not a formula. Just when you might start to think everything makes sense, something’s gonna shake it up. And that’s okay. The important thing is that you were there for her tonight, just like you said she’s been there for you. She’ll remember that.”

Exactly. :raritywink:

Comment posted by Skyshy deleted July 26th

Doesn't she know? Sunset seems to know she missed Cadance’s wedding, and EQG1 would indicate that she knows at least some of the goings-on in the pony world. Of course, maybe not all the exact details like, y'know, an invasion...

That, or her taking up the crown of the Crystal Empire.

It was a point of local pride, Sunset had come to learn, that housing in Canterlot City was affordable and plentiful, the former to the point where even those functioning primarily off the nation’s basic income could conceivably be a homeowner. It had made the town an attractive spot for new families to move to, and indeed Sunset was the only one in her friend group living in an apartment, of which Canterlot had comparatively few. And even her place, which she’d acquired through the surprisingly high value she’d managed to exchange her golden Equestrian bits for those few years earlier, was quite expansive and roomy, and even had a partial second floor that served as a bedroom.

Wtf based??? I applaud the elegant way yo addressed this fandom nitpick :twilightsmile:

Shining grinned. “Hope you’re in the mood for Oleandrite cuisine. I made the pasta and salad, but she insisted on handling the meatballs and garlic bread. Family recipes, and Twilight can tell you they really are that good.

:raritywink: A person of culture, I see. I appreciate the shout-out, hehe.

Some solid points had been raised in a very Rainbow-ish manner. But the athlete’s plan of action was proving very difficult to put into practice as Sunset looked across the table, into the face of Cadance.
The face of her sister.

That's a hell of a line to close it on.

Excellent writing all-around, as always, I love how... lived-in this feels, hehe :twilightsmile:

“But anyway,” Cadance went on, “I just wanted to know a little bit more about how you two got together. I mean, I hoped things would be different after changing schools, but this is still pretty surprising and exciting. It’s just so wonderful to see Twilight blossom like this!”
“Phrasing,” Twilight muttered.
Off to the right, Sunset noticed Shining Armor roll his eyes and sigh. “Not what she meant, sis.”
“It’s a loaded term.”
“I can’t believe you’re still on about that.”
Finishing the last bite of meatball, Sunset spoke up, head turning towards the other side of the table. “Sorry, I don’t follow.”
“Twily insists the word blossom is a puberty thing,” Shining said with a scoff.
“It is a puberty thing, it’s literally defined as when seed plants begin to bear flowers–”
“Okay, okay, you’re right, sorry,” Cadance interjected, raising a hand in defeat. “I should’ve remembered.”
“Aw, Cady, don’t let her win!” Shining said in an artificially nasally voice, and he smirked as the two girls across from him laughed.
“Oh, tough luck,” Sunset jeered. “Even your fianceé ruled against you!”

I love this banter so much.

Shining laughed softly, catching her eye. “Don’t sweat it, Sunset. You’re doing fine. You wouldn’t believe how bad it went the first time I had dinner with Cady’s nonna.”
Cadance shuddered. “Yeah…”

“Oh! You must have heard that Luna and I are family,” Cadance said. “That’s a bit of a misunderstanding that started during the last Games. I’m actually from Florentina. It’s a small community just across the provincial border. Mostly Oleandrite immigrants, which is how I got a lot of my recipes. My nonna and I moved to Canterlot just before I started high school, and I didn’t actually meet Celestia or Luna until the next Friendship Games, when Celestia was just a teacher and Luna was still finishing her degree. I got to know them well after that, but in terms of actual siblings, no, I never had any of my own.”


I love this a lot. That's a wonderful summation of Cadance's life :twilightsmile:. And, aw, that plain truth at the end...

“I, well… I did. A long time ago. My family situation is, well, hard to explain, and I guess I never really had a proper sibling either. But I had a po– uh, a person who felt like one, for a few years. I just… I just haven’t seen her in a really long time. Not since I started living here. And I miss her.”
For an interminable moment, there was heavy silence as Sunset’s head drooped, the image of the table in front of her glazing over with her eyes.

Awww Sunset...

I adored every moment of this. I loved the banter between all of them here and how kind Cadance and Shining were, and God, Sunset being overwhelmed with longing for her sister...

Very lovely chapter, and I eagerly await for more :twilightsmile: Thank you for the shout-out, and I'm happy to have inspired you.

Go visit your family Sunset. Bringing Twilight along will just make it that much more entertaining to Candance, lol.

Courage isn't having no fear. Courage is acting despite your fear.


By forcing some of the points that show has refused to address and explaining them as Sunset actively avoiding those topics, the focus is just completely reflected back to Sunset’s conflict with Equestria. I like it.

When I met our principal, I thought it was the universe mocking me. But when I met Dean Cadance, I knew I’d played the joke on myself.

Damn, Sunset.

“And maybe that’s a good thing. Or not even maybe, I know it’s a good thing that I can just be like that, without having to stop, without being overwhelmed. But it doesn’t feel brave to me; not really. I know it’s silly to put it in terms of some big action movie, but… bravery isn’t just doing something heroic in the moment.” Her hands relaxed. “It’s when there’s an actual choice in front of you, whether you actually take that mission or not. It’s when you have time to think about it, genuinely consider everything, and could get away with not doing it – and do it anyway.”

Ngl, this reminds me of a speech regarding destiny from one of my favorite tv shows on Netflix. :twilightsmile:

Sunset seemed to take the hint of encouragement. “It’s tough to really describe it to people, here. I mean, you’d probably think of, like, an animal. The way something like a dog wags its tail, and it’s basically as close to a language as they have. Or like Applejack’s horse swishing its tail. It’s not really like that, in Equestria. Tails are reactive, sure, but for the most part, I mean, we just talk, and stuff. And we can generally read faces pretty well. So it doesn’t really work the way humans would probably think, if that makes sense.”

Half of what she said made no sense imo regarding tails. :applejackconfused:

“Well, I say ‘closest thing I had to one’ for a reason. And not just because she wasn’t my birth mother; I never knew my biological parents, and I never tried to find out. She took me in as both her student and her ward when I was very young, not even in my teens. She never formally adopted me, but if I had asked, she probably would have. I never did, though, because I never truly accepted the Princess as my mother. She, um, uh…”

Must be tough being an orphan. :ajsleepy:

Her name being spoken did nothing to stop her from a jarring about-face, walking at a frantic stride back over to the window. She stood before it, her back turned, her face shielded from view as Twilight heard the faint sound of a sniffle. “I know how weird it is. To learn your girlfriend’s sister is a doppelgänger alicorn version of your brother’s fiancee. Great conversation material. But I used that weirdness as an excuse. A cheap, scummy excuse to not tell you, something that was nice and easy to rationalize, and didn’t make me think about the actual reason why I never, ever wanted to have this conversation even though it was gonna happen one way or another.”

Had a feeling it was Cadence. I have no clue why my mind thought it was an oc but shouldn't have listened to it. :twilightblush:

“It hasn’t been two-and-a-half years in Equestria since I left, Twilight. It’s been ten. ”

Sure makes sense when you put the pieces together. :applejackunsure:

Twilight pressed her cheek in once more, and felt the face beside hers pressing back. For a few minutes, at least, all would be well.

At least this is helping her. Somewhat. :fluttershysad:

Of course, it had been only barely two months since that fateful night in the CHS courtyard

Redundancy there.

Oof, that was so very real and I love it.

Dang, I never thought about how Sunset would have felt aboutCadance becoming an alicorn before.

Let me just add to that to my headcanon list...

Devastating stuff. It tends to be when the thoughts you've been running from eventually catch up to you. But they always do, and the tears are how the healing begins. Here's looking forward to seeing how that takes place, especially if and when Sunset and pony Cadence ever do meet again.

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