The Soul's Savior

by Dusty Old Qrow

First published

Sunset Shimmer has fallen. At her lowest point, she recieves help from a girl who helped beat her - Rainbow Dash. Meanwhile, CHS teacher Time Turner has his own journey of healing. How do their stories connect?

Currently under rewrites. Rewritten chapters edited by thehalfelf.

The Fall Formal sees Sunset Shimmer defeated and dethroned as leader of Canterlot High School. Desperate for redemption, she lacks anyone to turn to for help - except the five girls who's lives she tormented. Does she deserve help? Does she deserve friendship? Rainbow Dash seems to think so.

Meanwhile, Time Turner, a teacher at Canterlot High School, watches Sunset's progress from afar. But he too is desperate for redemption - but for what? Who has he hurt, and why? How is his story connected to Sunset's?

Cover art generously provided by Draconaquest!

Check out the TVTropes page!

Chapter 1: The Fall

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Sunset Shimmer’s shoulders heaved as she let out a choked sob. On her hands and knees, tears falling down her face as pain racked through her body, she reflected on where everything went wrong. How could she have ended up here, broken and defeated by Princess Celestia’s new favorite?

She could hear the whispers, the murmuring, of those that had been under her control seconds ago. She could hear them talking her, about how she lost. But she never lost! Except this time she did. She was supposed to be strong and powerful. She would have marched up to Canterlot and shown Celestia that she was meant to rule!

But there she laid, broken and beaten.

Sunset began to crawl forward. Every bone in her body screamed as she did, but she pressed on. The rainbow had burned - burned as the evil inside had been forcefully extracted from her being - and by Celestia she felt it. She pressed on despite the pain, crawling through the crater until she had to climb. By the time she reached the top, her limbs felt so heavy she could hardly move them, and she slumped over limply.

The grass felt cool against her skin in the chill of the night air. It felt almost peaceful in a way. As she lay on the ground, half out of the crater, she could still hear the whispers. Whispers of contempt, of hatred. But there were others that were different. She weakly lifted her head and looked around, and her eyes fell on them.

The ones who defeated her.

Twilight Sparkle stood in front of them all, her back to her friends as she looked at Sunset. The rest of them - Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash - were whispering amongst themselves frantically as Twilight began walking forward. Sunset felt the tears coming again. Of course she would want to gloat. She would gloat, then haul her off back to Equestria. She would probably be locked away.

Sunset looked Twilight straight in the eyes as the princess finally reached her. For a few tense seconds, neither of them said anything. Sunset sobbed again and blinked away the tears, only for them to immediately return. She opened her mouth to speak, but her throat closed and she only sobbed more. Everything she ever worked for... gone....

Suddenly, something broke through her wall of self-pity. She felt a hand take her own, and she opened her eyes to see Twilight looking at her with a warm, friendly smile. Sunset grasped Twilight’s hand with everything she had as more tears began to fall.

I’m sorry...!” She choked out as the princess helped her to her feet.

What a heartwarming sight, he thought, looking on as Twilight Sparkle stretched out a hand towards Sunset Shimmer. The beaten girl looked at it through her wet eyes, before gingerly grabbing it with her own hand. Twilight pulled Sunset out of the crater in the ground and gave her a smile.

Time Turner stood at the entrance to the school, before the ruined wall. Students were gathered around the grass, gaping at the girl who had caused them all so much trouble, it must have been gratifying to see her finally brought down to Earth. But Turner had never cared for grudges. It looked as if Princess Twilight was going to forgive Shimmer. Turner supposed he should do the same...

Twilight’s friends stood around her, all with their eyes glued to Sunset, who looked as if she wished to fade away. He didn’t envy her. Hell, he couldn’t imagine being in her shoes at all - she was an alien, for God’s sake! An alien! Who in the world can honestly say they’ve met a being from another dimension?!

Technically, the entire populace of Canterlot High School, he reminded himself. The fact that he had to share the delight of meeting an alien with the entire school mellowed his excitement a bit. Only a bit. He was still very giddy. Brilliant! Aliens! With magic! I really should ask her about it when I get the chance.

Turner chortled to himself, but stopped when he remembered the events of the night and the shape that Shimmer was in. Her clothes were tattered and her hair was matted and singed. Even from this distance, he could make out scrapes on her face and scratches where her clothes had torn. Maybe I should keep my distance for now.

“Time?” A voice sounded from behind.

Turner turned in the direction of the voice and saw Vice Principal Luna walking towards him with a smile on her face, which he returned happily.

“Ah, Ms. Luna,” he greeted warmly. “This has certainly been a Fall Formal to remember, eh?”

She laughed softly. “You are quite right. I doubt any of our students will forget this for weeks to come. Possibly years.” The two of them stared at the crowd of students. Some were talking amongst themselves, but most were staring at Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle.

Turner nodded and stuffed his hands into his longcoat’s pockets as he turned to look at the gathering of students. “Aliens...” he whispered under his breath. “I simply cannot wrap my head around it. Two aliens have visited our school.”

Luna crossed her arms as her face fell flat. “Yes. Makes me wonder about our admission process,” she said dryly. “Though Sunset Shimmer did provide an address for her file, so she obviously has some sort of life here outside of school.”

“And what of the dance?”

Luna looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Hm? Time, the front wall of the school is destroyed. There’s a giant crater in the middle of the grounds. I do not think anyone will have the dance on their minds after tonight.”

“Ah, on the contrary.” Turner said with a smile. “I think everyone will wish to dance. Yes, there was a bit of unpleasantness-” understatement of the year, Turner “-but everyone made it out okay, and the decorations are still up! Besides, I think some may wish to celebrate now that Sunset Shimmer is finally... dealt with.”

“Is she though?” Luna asked.

Turner shrugged. “After tonight, everyone knows that she can be defeated. She’ll never hold the same power here again.” He watched as the six friends began to converse amongst one another, huddled closely so as to prevent eavesdropping. Turner frowned slightly at Shimmer, who stood just off to the side of the group with her head down.

Luna crossed her arms and scoffed. “I do hope you’re right, Time. That girl has caused enough trouble and I am tired of giving out detentions that are never served.” Her stern look turned soft. “How do you think she will fare moving forward? Kids can be cruel, and even if punishment is in order, I fear there may be some students who will take it too far.”

Turner hummed and scratched at his chin. “Oh, I imagine that she'll have a rough go of it. But...” He trailed off, gazing ahead. Luna followed his gaze and saw Sunset Shimmer with a small, hesitant smile on her face as Princess Twilight gestured to her friends.

“... I think she'll have a little help. With those girls with her, she'll be just fine.” He couldn't stop a small smile from making its way onto his face. And it only widened when he saw Flash Sentry making his way through the crowd towards Twilight.

Luna saw him too and let out a laugh. “It seems the dance will go on, after all. It's almost like you know the future, Time,” she joked, looking at him with a twinkle in her eye.

Turner rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “Ah, no, nothing of the sort. I just-”

“Yes, I know, Time. I was joking.”


“Well, I believe I'll be needed in the gymnasium. Will you be rejoining the dance as well?”

Turner shook his head as he sat on the steps. “No, I don't think so. I'll just stay out here — I've had enough excitement for tonight.”

Luna frowned and briefly looked back to the students. “Are you sure? I think some socializing would do you some good. You don’t get out much.” She looked at him softly. Turner felt a pang of guilt in his chest, but shook his head.

“No, no... I think we’ll need someone out here to help any students who stay behind.” Even though we both know there won’t be. Some students began making their way into the school with the widest grins Turner had seen in a long time, but the one at the back of the pack gave him pause. Well, maybe one student will need my help.

This had to be a joke. There was no way in Equestria they seriously expected this from her. Principal Celestia had handed her a trowel and pointed her in the direction of the destroyed wall, and actually expected her, Snips, and Snails to fix the whole thing? Not a chance. Sure, she promised to turn over a new leaf and be nice, but this was just straight up impossible.

If only she had magic.

She had been so close... so close to victory. But Princess Twilight had thwarted her. Her, Sunset Shimmer, the ruler of Canterlot High School and former student to Princess Celestia herself. How could she have been beaten?

She knew it was for the best that she hadn’t been allowed to succeed. Honestly, now that she thought about it, she was pretty sure that Celestia could have beaten her no matter how many teenagers she mind controlled.

That just rubbed more salt into the wound.

What did Princess Twilight have that she didn’t anyway? Aside from magic, and power, and friends, and... everything else. Other than that, who even was she? From what little she could gather in her short return to Equestria, she was a nobody. A librarian, for Celestia’s sake! But... but now she was a princess. She was...

She was everything I could never be.

Sunset turned to the Wondercolt statue just in time to see Twilight and Spike disappear in a shimmer of white light. And the moon seemed to glow a bit brighter, followed by Pinkie Pie ramming herself face first into the now solid portal. She fell back and landed on her rear. “Aw, bummer...” She said sadly as the other girls crowded around her. These promised to help Sunset see the light — the long, long road to friendship. She wasn’t entirely sure she deserved their help. After everything she did to them... was she even worth helping?

“Penny for your thoughts, Ms. Shimmer?” Someone asked.

Gah!” Sunset turned on her heel, the puny trowel raised in defense, but instead of an angry mob like she was expecting, it was simply one of the teachers. Mister Time Turner. He taught two classes — physics and psychology, if she remembered correctly. Her shock at seeing the teacher was beaten only by the realization that she'd have to do her own homework from now on.

“M-Mr. Turner!” she spat out, realizing she had been staring at him in silence. “What are you doing here?”

Turner tilted his head to the side slightly. “Well,” he began, “after the events of tonight, I felt that there was enough excitement to be had tonight, so I declined to go back to the dance. And then everyone else went home, except for you three.” He glanced past her, towards Snips and Snails. Sunset turned and followed his gaze and felt the pit in her stomach grow wider.

"They're good kids, just... slightly misguided." Mr. Turner said. Sunset felt inclined to agree. She had enlist their help because she knew they'd be easy to manipulate. Sunset started to sigh, but was cut off by Turner continuing. "You, however, knew exactly what you were doing, Ms. Shimmer."

Sunset flinched back. "Y-yeah, but-"

He raised a hand and cut her off. “I admit that I don't know the full story. However, your actions in all this time have given me no reason to trust you. I want to be wrong about this, Ms. Shimmer. I want you to grow and to be a better person. That is the only thing any teacher wants out of their students. But you will need to give me and everyone in this school some proof that you are taking this second chance seriously.” Turner tried to keep his voice firm but steady. It wouldn't do to scare her too much.

“And.. and how can I do that?” she asked. “Everyone here hates me. There’s no way they'll trust me! So... how can I let them know that I’ve changed?” She looked at Turner with wide, wet eyes, the same ones that had been so full of scorn and malice only a few hours ago. But there was no trace of those things now, only fear and helplessness.

He knew those feelings all too well.

Turner took in a deep breath, his chest rising, before letting it out slowly. He spoke deliberately, “You can start... with those two.” He gestured towards Snips and Snails, who by now had stopped to look at the two of them. “I think, right now, they are the only ones who can understand you. If there’s anyone who will make a difference, it’s those two.” Turner gave her a small, reassuring smile, even if she could tell it was slightly forced.

Sunset turned to look at the two boys. She could barely meet their eyes — oh, the irony in that — but she sighed and nodded. She knew she had to do this. She turned back to Turner and returned his smile, just as slightly forced as his. “Okay... I’ll apologize to them. I guess it’s the least I could do.”

Turner nodded. “I imagine you’ll be giving out plenty of apologies in the coming days. Good luck, Sunset Shimmer.” Turner gave her a nod and made to leave, but stopped halfway. “Oh, and I’ll have a word with Principal Celestia regarding your punishment. She doesn’t seriously expect you to clean this mess up all by yourself, does she?” He looked at the destroyed wall and rolled his eyes.

Sunset laughed quietly and genuinely smiled for the first time since her defeat. “I... I think she just wants to make sure I’ve learned my lesson. She’s not that cruel.” I should know...

Turner hummed, eyes scanning the destruction. “Yes, well, goodbye, Ms. Shimmer. I will see you in class.”

Sunset waved as he turned and left. She saw him climb into his beaten up blue car and drive away into the night, leaving her alone with Snips and Snails on the stairs. She dropped the trowel with a clang and sat on the steps, burying her head into her knees.

Tension she didn't know she'd been holding suddenly left her body all at once. Her shoulders sagged as she suddenly felt exhausted. The events of the last few days had been so much. Sunset took in a breath but found it lacking. She tried for another breath. Then another. She couldn't get enough air. As her chest heaved, her throat suddenly closed and she found herself choking on a sob. Suddenly the corners of her eyes were wet with tears.

Sunset didn't know how long she sat there crying until she felt someone place their hand on her shoulder. She looked to her left to see Snips, and to her right to see Snails, both with hesitant smiles on their faces. What the hell? she wondered. What are they doing?

She expected them to be angry. Sunset wanted them to be angry. But through her blurry vision, she failed to see any trace of anger on either of their faces. Her chin wobbled as her mouth opened and closed, looking for the right words. But in the end, Sunset could only manage a whispered “I’m sorry...”, putting her head back onto her knees after she spoke.

They simply nodded and sat down with her. The three of them sat together in the cool night as Sunset cried.

Chapter 2: Asthenia

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Despite the extraordinary events of the night, for Time Turner it ended in a much more mundane manner. He drove home, exited his car, and found himself sitting on his porch gazing at the night sky, a common occurrence for the teacher.

Blimey, he thought to himself. What a night.

Turner rested his elbows on his knees and sighed. He was not looking forward to the coming weeks. No doubt that the student body would be rambunctious, though all things considered he couldn’t blame them. He was also not looking forward to finding a way to explain the gigantic crater in front of the school. He didn’t envy being Principal Celestia at the moment.

His house was a handful of blocks away from the school, which made the commute to and from it much easier. The street he lived on, being close to the school, also housed quite a few of his students. Most nights he would see a few of them about, hanging out either by themselves or with friends, and sometimes they would stop for a chat. Talking with them tended to be the highlight of his night.

With a hefty breath Turner rose to his feet, just in time for his phone to ring. He grabbed it out of his pocket and looked at the screen. “Berry Punch.” He said, his lips forming a straight line. He answered the call and raised the phone to his ear. “Hello?”

Turner! What the hell is going on?!

“Good evening to you too, Berry.”

Don’t start with me. The neighbors’ kids are going around telling stories about explosions at the school! Tell me what happened!

Turner pinched the bridge of his nose. This was what he was afraid of. “I’m… afraid the story’s complicated-”

Then uncomplicate it! The dance was tonight! My daughters were there! They aren’t picking up their phones - are they alright?!

“I can assure you that Derpy and Dinky are just fine. What happened was - was-” Turner sputtered. “There was… an altercation… between a group of students and Sunset Shimmer.” He regretted saying her name as soon as the words left his lips.

That Shimmer girl! What did she do? Did she cause the explosion?

“Berry, please, calm down. There was an explosion yes, but….” Turner racked his mind for a reasonable explanation, one that didn’t boil down to magical aliens, but nothing came up. “I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to say.”

Don’t you dare say that to me!

“Berry, please, be calm-”

My daughters could have been hurt! Your-

“I talked to Derpy and Dinky myself. They’re fine. They’re happy and unharmed, I assure you. Principal Celestia will no doubt have an explanation for all the parents by tomorrow.”

She’d better.

“Alrighty then, if we’re done here, I’m going to go to bed. Have a lovely night, Berry Punch.” Without waiting for a response, Turner slid his finger across the screen and hung up. With a sigh, he shook his head and turned towards the door. How I managed to survive growing up with her, I’ll never know. Berry Punch’s anger was not unjustified, Turner knew. But after the events of the night, he just wanted to go to bed.

With a final, extended look at the night sky, Time Turner opened the door and entered his home.

Turns out, having a good cry can make you feel much better.

Granted, she still felt terrible, but “terrible” was a step up from “absolutely horrible”, Sunset felt.

Progress on the wall was slow going. Between her, Snips, and Snails, the three of them barely made any meaningful progress. There’s no way Principal Celestia honestly expects us to do this alone, Sunset thought. Or at least, she hoped. It was much less of a punishment than she deserved, but still not one she wanted to go through.

None of them felt like talking at the moment, so the three of them worked in silence, which was fine by Sunset. She couldn’t tell if she wanted to be alone or not, but being with someone in silence felt good enough, so she kept her mouth shut and didn’t say a word.

Snips and Snails made sure to keep their distance. After her crying fit was over, they had slowly made their way away from Sunset, which she couldn’t blame them for. She didn’t want to be around her either. But the distance and silence left Sunset alone with her thoughts. Thoughts like I shouldn’t be doing this, and I don’t deserve this.

I don’t deserve this.

She didn’t deserve this. They were being far too nice. Sunset Shimmer had done horrible things. Torn apart friendships. Ruined lives. She’d broken every rule and gotten away scott-free. And then she blows up the school and the worst punishment she gets is “make friends”. Some people would be elated at such a light punishment. Sunset wished they’d throw her in jail.

Princess Twilight’s friends really were something else. After everything she’d done to them, they promised the princess that they’d watch over her, help her. Sunset didn’t know exactly what that meant, but it was more than she deserved regardless.

Sunset heard footsteps - a new pair, not from Snips and Snails. The boys seemed to have heard it, too, since they put down their trowels and turned to look at the newcomer. She turned and her heart froze, because walking up the front steps of Canterlot High was one of the girls she had tried to kill earlier that night. Rainbow Dash.

Sunset couldn’t read the athlete’s face as she arrived on the top step. Rainbow Dash’s expression was one of complete neutrality, with no trace of anger or any other emotion. She stood there without saying a word for a few seconds, her magenta eyes locked with Sunset’s.

Suddenly, she turned to Snips and Snails. “Hey.” Rainbow Dash said cooly. Principal Celestia told me to tell you three to go home.” At her words, the tension in the air that had been between Sunset and the boys seemed to vanish. Snips and Snails let out a cheer and wrapped an arm around each others’ shoulders.

“Thanks, Rainbow Dash!”

“Yeah, thanks!”

Rainbow nodded at them and watched as they ran down the stairs and into the night. Sunset watched them go, a small smile on her lips before she realized she was now alone with Rainbow Dash. The smile vanished in an instant.

Again they stood in silence. The cool night air sent a chill through Sunset’s body, the various holes and tears in her jacket doing her no favors against the cold air. As she shivered she saw Rainbow Dash’s eyes flicker down at her clothes and then back up to her face. Sunset saw some kind of emotion flash through Rainbow’s features, but what emotion it was she couldn’t say.

Rainbow Dash cleared her throat. “You need me to take you home?” She said curtly.

Sunset blinked. “What?”

The other girl rolled her eyes. “I’m asking if you need me to take you home.”

“... Why?” Not that I’m not grateful or anything…

Rainbow Dash crossed her arms. “Look, Sunset, I’m not going to pretend that everything’s fine. Because it’s not. You really hurt us. A lot.”

Sunset winced and took a step back. “I’m sorry....”

“I know you are. And I think I could find it in myself to forgive you. So, right now, I want to keep the promise I made to Princess Twilight. She asked us to watch you. So I’m going to do that. Do you need me to take you home?”

Sunset didn’t know what to say. She felt tears stinging at the corners of her eyes again, but she blinked them away. She opened her mouth to reply, but then closed it again. I don’t deserve this, she thought again. Not after everything I did.

“I…” Sunset began. “I appreciate this, Rainbow Dash. But....” The rest of the words refused to leave Sunset’s mouth.

Rainbow Dash cocked an eyebrow and shifted her weight. “But what? Look, it’s getting cold and I don’t want to be out here more than I have to. So, what’s it gonna be?”

“You see…”

“Spit it out already!”

Sunset shut her eyes tightly. “I’m homeless!”

With her eyes closed, Sunset couldn’t see Rainbow Dash’s reaction, but with no audible reply from her, she figured that the athlete was stunned into silence. After a few seconds of nothing, Sunset gingerly opened an eye, and upon seeing Rainbow looking normal, opened the other.

“... Rainbow Dash?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “How the hell does that work? Wouldn’t the school check the address? Try to call your parents? Anything?”

Sunset shrugged. “I don’t know. I just put down an address and everything worked out fine. No one questioned it at all.”

Rainbow Dash stomped the ground. “Well, shit. So you’ve just been sleeping, what, on the streets or something?”

Sunset rubbed at her arms, trying to stave off the cold. “It’s… a factory, I guess. Some sort of industrial place. I found it, no one’s ever bothered me. It’s abandoned.”

Rainbow Dash hummed to herself. “Guessing it’s on the other side of town, then. Lots of rundown buildings there. Right?” At Sunset’s nod, she continued, “Well, double shit. Wait here for a sec. I’m gonna make a call.” Before Sunset could even open her mouth, Rainbow Dash turned, whipped out her phone, and walked down the stairs, far enough away so that Sunset couldn’t eavesdrop.

Instead of wasting time trying to decipher what was being said, Sunset elected to simply sit down instead. She plopped herself onto the top step and waited for Rainbow Dash to finish her call. Occasionally she peeked a glimpse and saw Rainbow Dash gesturing wildly as if in an argument, or maybe a heated discussion, but looked away soon after.

It was a few minutes later when Sunset heard Rainbow Dash hang up and walk back to her. She lifted her head to watch Rainbow Dash approach, then stood as she began talking. “Alright, well,” Rainbow Dash began. “I managed to figure something out. You’re staying with Applejack tonight.”

Her words made Sunset’s blood run cold. “What?! N-no, that can’t- I can’t-”

Rainbow Dash raised a hand, cutting her off. “Save it. It’s been decided and I’m not letting you run back to that factory. It’s way too cold. Applejack’s house has a spare bed you can use tonight, though Applejack made me very aware that she doesn’t want you anywhere near Apple Bloom.”

Sunset nodded vigorously. “O-okay. Done. Thanks for setting this up. I… I don’t know how-”

“Don’t.” Rainbow Dash spat. “Listen, Sunset. Applejack’s pissed. I’m pissed. But we made a promise and we intend to keep it. It’ll take some time for us to get used to this. But just because I’m pissed, doesn’t mean I’m going to let someone sleep out in the cold if I can do anything about it.”

Sunset could only stare at the other girl, and admired the way her magenta eyes sparked with determination.

“Now, all we gotta do is wait for Applejack to pick you up.”

Chapter 3: Place To Start

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Sunset Shimmer shivered. Her jacket had been torn badly in the rainbow blast, leaving little to protect her from the chilly night air. It was her own fault, she supposed, since it was her own stupid choices that led her here. The thought did little to comfort her though. Regardless, she was still cold and miserable.

Rainbow Dash, however, seemed unbothered. She stood, not a shiver in sight, glancing both ways down the street in front of Canterlot High. She tapped her foot impatiently and whipped her phone out of her pocket, letting out an annoyed growl at the device. “C’mon, AJ!” She exclaimed. “Where the heck are you?”

I can’t imagine Applejack would be too eager to see me, Sunset wanted to say aloud, but elected not to. Best not to say anything that would jeopardize her getting to sleep on an actual mattress for once. Instead, Sunset asked, “does she live far away?”

Rainbow Dash shot her a look of puzzlement. “It’s a farm, Sunset. It’s the kind of place that needs a lot of space. Yeah, it’s a little far from here.”

“So why are you so impatient?”

The athlete turned to Sunset and put a hand on her hip. “Do you think I want to be out here in the cold all night? Hell no.” She turned away and resumed looking up and down the street. Sunset again noticed the other girl’s lack of reaction to the cold. She decided not to bring it up.

The two of them lapsed into silence, the only sounds coming from Rainbow Dash’s constant foot-tapping and the occasional passing car. Minutes passed without a word from either girl, and Sunset was honestly rather glad for it. Every word spoken between them was a reminder of what Rainbow Dash was trying to do, and how much Sunset did not deserve it.

Suddenly the silence was broken. “Hey,” Rainbow Dash said. Sunset jumped at the sudden noise with a yelp, and turned to race her. “You’re really serious about this second chance, right?” she asked.

Sunset nodded as hard as she could. “Yes. Yes I am.” She wanted to say more, more about how sorry she was, and the ways she could ever make up for the things she did, but Rainbow cut her off.

“Did it need to be here?

Sunset froze. “What… do you mean?” she asked slowly.

Rainbow shrugged, then sighed and then sat on the ground cross-legged. “You’re from that other world. You could have gone back with Twilight. I don’t think anyone would have stopped you.”


Rainbow must have seen Sunset flinch, because her eyes immediately widened. “No, no, I didn’t mean it like--” She stopped herself with a sigh, then continued. “So, why are you still here? You probably could have avoided a lot of trouble.”

Sunset looked at Rainbow Dash, biting her lip as she did. Then she looked at the sky; the twinkling stars and the shining moon, and slowly joined Rainbow Dash on the ground. “ I don’t know, really.” She began. “It’s… a lot. There was someone at home that I really loved. She was like a mother to me. And I hurt her. I think I’m afraid of seeing her again.”

Rainbow Dash hummed in response.

“And…” Sunset took in a deep breath. “It wouldn’t have felt right, just up and leaving. I can’t make what I did go away. I hurt you, and so many others. It wouldn’t be right of me to leave and pretend it never happened. I need to do something to make it right. I need to try.” Sunset brought her knees to her chest and cuddled them close. She didn’t see Rainbow Dash nod, with a slight smile on her face.

“So, why’d you come here, anyway?”

Sunset shot the girl a questioning look. “Why are you so nosy tonight?” She tried to keep her voice neutral, but she heard the bite in her words and winced. “Sorry. I guess I can’t blame you for being curious.

“I was selfish, wanted power. I thought that whatever was through the portal would give it to me. I didn’t know there was a whole other world beyond it. I didn’t know there was anything beyond it. I just… jumped through. And the rest is history I guess.”

“You just jumped through? That wasn’t very smart.”

Sunset grumbled, hiding her face between her knees. “I am very aware of that.” She heard Rainbow Dash let out a short laugh and felt her cheeks begin to burn. So that’s how it feels to be laughed at. Sunset knew Rainbow wasn’t trying to be malicious, but that didn’t make the embarrassment go away.

“Yeah, yeah.” Sunset muttered. “Laugh it up.”

Rainbow finished her laugh and let out a breath. “Sorry, dude. It’s just funny to imagine you, of all people, not thinking things through.”

“I’m irrational when I’m angry. As evidenced by my oh-so well thought out plan tonight.” Sunset said, rolling her eyes. Hindsight was 20/20, and with it came the realization that a high-school’s worth of brainwashed teenagers probably wasn’t going to be enough to overpower Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.

The two of them didn’t say anything else for a few minutes, unsure of where to go from there. “For what it’s worth,” Rainbow Dash said, breaking the silence, “I think she would be proud of you, that person you hurt when you left. I think if she could see you now, honestly wanting to make up for your mistakes, that she would be super proud.”

Sunset didn’t know what to say to that, and so said nothing. They waited in silence until Applejack finally arrived.

It was a tense few moments, when the beat-up red pickup truck finally pulled up. The engine roared as it rolled along the street and the brakes screamed as the truck came to a stop. The door opened with a groan, and Sunset felt her blood run cold.

Applejack looked pissed.

Stepping around the front of the truck, the farmer’s face came into view. Her lips were pulled into a tight frown and her eyes were full of fire. As her boots stomped against the ground, Sunset felt her heart beat a little harder in her chest. I think I’m in trouble, she thought to herself. Applejack came to a stop in front of the passenger side door and leaned against it. She shot a glare at Rainbow Dash, who simply waved hello. Applejack then turned her glare to Sunset. If looks could kill, Sunset would have dropped dead.

“Ah can’t believe Ah let ya talk me inta this.” Applejack said to Rainbow Dash, still looking Sunset’s way. “Ah know we made that promise ‘n’ all, but Ah expected just a tad more time before Ah had to see her again.” Applejack crossed her arms with a huff.

“I know it’s not what we want right now,” Rainbow Dash said, walking up to the farmer. “But it’s the best we got. She needs a place to stay and you’re the only one with a free space tonight.”

Applejack shook her head. “Ah know, Ah know. Don’ mean Ah gotta like it.” She then looked at Sunset again and straighted her posture, then took a step forward. “You listen ‘ere. You stay away from my sister. You don’t touch nothin’. You leave first thing in the morning. If you do all o’ that, then Ah’ll see about helpin’ ya. Ya hear?”

Sunset nodded vigorously. “Y-yeah. Loud and clear.” She shot Applejack a shaky thumbs up. Applejack simply glared until Sunset lowered her hand. “L-listen, Applejack, I… I know I did some horrible stuff-”

“Ya tried ta kill us tonight. Don’t you think Ah’ve forgotten that.”

“I don’t. I know what I did was so, so wrong. But I’m going to work to try to make it better. Or to at least make up for what I did.” Sunset lowered her gaze to the ground. “I’m sorry for what I did to you. To you and your friends. None of you deserved that.”

Rainbow Dash looked back and forth between the two girls. She could have sworn she saw Applejack’s glare soften ever so slightly, but then it intensified again. “Apology noted,” Applejack muttered. “Get in the truck.” She shot a thumb towards the vehicle over her shoulder and then went to get back in the driver's seat. She stopped and looked at Rainbow Dash, “Ah don’t suppose y’all need a ride, too?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “Nah, I’m good. Hey, before you leave, lemme talk to Sunset for a sec.” The farmer nodded and turned.

Rainbow Dash spun towards Sunset. “Hey, Sunset. Come here for a sec.”

Sunset had the passenger door open and was about to climb, but pulled back at Rainbow’s call. “What is it?” she asked, walking over to the other girl.

Rainbow Dash placed a hand on her shoulder and gripped it firmly. “I’m rooting for you here. I’m trusting you. I need you to understand me, I want to help you. I do. But I’m also not going to lie to you. If you take one step out of line, if you hurt my friends again…” Rainbow Dash’s eyebrows slanted, and her grip on Sunset’s shoulder became vice-like. Sunset’s eyes widened. Rainbow Dash relaxed her grip and let her hand fall to her side. “Are we clear?”

Sunset only stared at her. “Crystal.”

“Good.” Rainbow Dash turned on her heel and began walking away. She waved over her shoulder. “Now get going and get some sleep. We’ve got a long couple of days ahead of us.”

Chapter 4: Hold It Together

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Sunset’s first glimpse at Sweet Apple Acres was cut short by Applejack grabbing her by the arm and dragging her into the house. The door shut behind them with a click, and Sunset found herself trapped between a closed door and an angry looking farmer.

“Listen, Sunset,” Applejack hissed. “Your room’s upstairs, last door on the right. If ya try anythin’, Big Mac’s room is right next ta yours. Apple Bloom and Granny are asleep. Don’t bother them. And then in the mornin’, you’re out. Once this is over, then Ah’ll see about helpin’ you out.”

You said that already, Sunset thought. Outwardly, Sunset nodded. “I understand, Applejack. I won’t cause any trouble.”

Applejack’s eyes narrowed. “Good. Follow me.” She turned around and began walking up a flight of stairs. Sunset dutifully followed after, looking around at the walls as she went. There were clusters of pictures on nearly every wall, all of them showing at least one Apple family member. Sunset didn’t recognize most of them.

Applejack stopped in front of a door at the end of the hallway. “Here. Get in there, don’t come out until the mornin’, and leave when you wake up.” She pushed open the door and stepped past Sunset.

Sunset turned to watch her walk away. “Thank you, Applejack,” she said softly. Applejack froze and turned. The two of them locked eyes for a second before the farmer looked away and entered a door at the opposite end of the hallway. Sunset stood alone.

Sunset spun around and peered into the room she’d been offered. It was bare; normal for a guest room, she supposed. There was a small stand on one side of the bed, which had the headboard pushed up against the middle of the wall. All of the walls were bare, save for one with a window. Sunset imagined would give quite the view of the fields during the day.

Sunset let out a long breath and sat on the edge of the bed. It was soft, but obviously not slept in often. She threw her legs onto the mattress and laid back. A small smile crept its way onto her face. It was already a thousand times better than her normal sleeping conditions.

She tucked herself in and closed her eyes. For a moment, she relished in the warmth of the covers and the peaceful silence of the acres. Then the next moment she drifted off into sleep.

Time Turner was rudely awoken from his slumber by the ringing of his phone. His eyes shot open and he hand instinctively jutted out, bringing the device to his ear. “Hello?” he groaned.

Oh, did I wake you up? I apologize.” He heard a familiar voice say.

“Luna? What in the world are you doing, calling at…” He took a glance at the phone screen and then returned it to his ear. “Two-thirty in the morning?”

I’m sorry, Time, truly. It’s just that, you know, with everything that’s happened tonight, Celestia and I really haven’t been able to sleep. So many things to work out, so many questions we’ll have to answer. You understand, I’m sure.

“Yes, yes, I do. What are you calling about?” He didn’t mean to sound so curt with her - though Luna never would have called him out on it. She was always too nice to him, ever since they were kids.

Well, Celestia and I decided that we’d hash out a plan tomorrow over food. We’re going out, and I suggested we invite you.

Turner let out a hollow laugh. “I’m sure you mean that you wanted to invite me. I seem to recall Celestia not being too fond of me.” That was the way it had been for years now. Out of the sisters, Luna was the only one Turner was still close to. He had been close to Celestia, too, once upon a time, but that was a long time ago.

Yes, well, she’s at least willing to be around you now. She didn’t object when I brought you up, after all.

“True enough, I suppose.” Turner trailed off, biting the inside of his cheek as he mulled over his thoughts. “Where would we be going?”

Sugarcube Corner.

Turner’s breath hitched. Suddenly feeling as if he were choking, he moved his phone away and used his free arm to cover his mouth. He coughed a few times, then sputtered out a reply. “Wh-what? Luna, you know I haven’t been there since-”

I know, Time. I know. You met her there, after all. I know it’s a place with many memories for you, but it’s been years, Time. I don’t want you to feel like I’m pressuring you. If you don’t wish to go with us then don’t, but I wanted you to know that the option is open to you if you wish.

Turner’s chest heaved, rising and falling as he struggled to catch his breath. He didn’t know what to say. “I… I’ll think about it, Luna. I promise. I just don’t know if I… Did you know that Derpy works there, now?”

Yes, Berry Punch told me. Really takes after her mother, doesn’t she?

“I-” Turner stopped himself and took in a deep breath. He let it out slowly. “Yes, she does. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Luna.”

Goodnight, Time.

Turner hung up, tossed his phone back onto his nightstand, and then stared at the ceiling until the sun came up.

Despite not getting any sleep, Time Turner felt wide awake. He twiddled his fingers in the pockets of his longcoat. He stood in front of the doors of Sugarcube Corner, his heart pounding a mile a minute as he gazed through the glass doors. It was a Saturday, and quite an important one at that being the first day after Sunset Shimmer’s defeat. Many students were inside, some in large groups and others in smaller ones, all chatting with smiles on their faces.

Turner gulped and glanced around him. There was no sign of Celestia or Luna. Checking the time on his phone told him that he was still early, so he supposed he could stand to be patient. No need to rush things, Turner, he thought to himself. You’re the one who agreed to come, after all.

Standing alone with nothing better to do, he allowed his mind to wander. Sugarcube Corner had been around longer than he could remember. It had been there when he was a boy and it hadn’t changed much at all. It still gave off a comforting aura to anyone who entered, and even from outside he could smell the delicious treats that waited inside. No wonder he hadn’t come here in years; just the sights and smells sent him down memory lane.

Growing up, he’d never been the most sociable of children, much preferring to stick to his books and schoolwork. He’d sat inside every recess to study, and spent every summer vacation inside reading.

“Time Turner!” He heard a voice exclaim. Turner turned and smiled. Celestia and Luna came walking down the sidewalk, Luna waving at him while Celestia wore a small smile. He returned the wave as they approached. “You’re here awfully early. The time we agreed on isn’t for another twenty minutes.” Luna said.

“Yes, well.” Turner replied. “If you’re not early, you’re late, as they say. Though, what are you doing here so early?”

Celestia spoke up. “Truth be told, we weren’t actually sure if you would show up. We thought to get here early and grab a spot for all of us just in case though.”

“How thoughtful of you. Well, I am here. I... thought it was overdue I visited this place again.” Turner again turned to look at the building, a wistful look on his face. “It’s been far too long, hasn’t it?”

“I’m glad you think so, Time. It’s good to see you, by the way.” Luna smiled wider. “Come, let’s go in! We’ve got a lot to talk about!” Luna stepped forward, opened the doors and stepped into Sugarcube Corner without waiting for a response from Turner or Celestia, who both watched her leave and then turned to look at each other.

Turner coughed into his elbow. “Ahem. Well, let’s not keep her waiting, shall we?” he said, taking a half-step forward, flashing Celestia a smile. Celestia returned it, but her lips were pulled tight and it didn’t reach her eyes.

“Yes,” she said curtly. “Let’s.” The two of them followed Luna into the bakery and looked around. Students of all kinds were all around them. Luna called to them from a booth off to the side, and Celestia headedtowards her quickly. Turner hesitated, took another look around, and then followed.

Celestia had sat next to her sister, so Turner slid into the seat across from them. “Well,” he breathed, “here we are.” His heart had not calmed one bit, and being inside the building hadn’t helped matters. He could hardly take one look at the decor without flashing back to a childhood memory.

Turner cleared his throat and lightly shook his head. Get it together, Turner, he scolded himself. It’s been years now. You can sit still for a few minutes. “Has Berry Punch called you yet?” he asked the sisters.

Luna shook her head. “No, she has not. Why?”

“She called me to yell at me. Word of the events of last night has been spreading to the parents it seems, and she was concerned for her daughters’ safety.” He laughed lightly. “I told her to call you if she had any questions.”

Celestia scoffed. “She knows you just said that to avoid her. She knows you too well.”

Luna nodded. “Besides, I’m fairly certain she knew we’d call her anyway. We already planned to send out calls to the parents this weekend anyway.”

Turner leaned back and put on a shocked expression. “You mean to tell me that she just wanted an excuse to yell at me? Perish the thought, Berry Punch would never!” His eyes flickered to Luna and then they both let out a chuckle. Celestia simply rolled her eyes.

“Berry has always been… headstrong,” Celestia said. “I have gotten a few inquiries about the crater in front of the school, though. I’ve told everyone there was a gas leak that caused it, and since the dance was going on, nobody was injured.”

Turner hummed. “That should stick. How are we going about fixing it?”

“We’ve hired someone who says they can fix the wall soon. Hopefully we’ll be able to open on Monday.” Luna supplied. “If not, well, I’m sure the students would appreciate some extra time off. More importantly, you’re handling this very well, Time!”

Turner raised an eyebrow. “Huh?”

“Being here. You were so hesitant to come, but from what I’ve seen you’re doing fine. After all these years, I’m happy to see you doing so well.” Luna smiled brightly.

“Oh. Yes, well…” Turner rubbed at the back of his neck. “Truth be told, I’m terrified. But you two have always been there to help me, especially since…” He trailed off, and his gaze dropped to the table. Luna and Celestia’s faces darkened.

“There’s no need to bring that up, Turner.” Celestia said, slightly softer than the tone she usually took with him. “After Ditzy passed, it was the least we could do to help you.”

Turner ran a hand through his hair. “I’d say you did more than just help me. You saved me, but enough about that.” We’ve had this conversation too many times. “How are we going to handle Shimmer?”

Celestia made a noise. “That will be difficult. Undoubtedly there will be some who still harbor resentment towards her. If she steps out of line again she’ll be expelled but, honestly, I don’t want it to come to that. As faculty, we can only do so much unless we see it happening for ourselves, and the students will know that.”

Luna nodded. “We’ll have the entire staff keeping an eye out. If anyone starts anything, they’ll be taken care of. I hope she takes this second chance seriously.”

Just then, the bell above the door rang, and in walked two girls. Obviously sisters, one was taller with grey skin, blonde hair that went past her shoulders, and golden eyes that pointed in different directions. She wore a blue shirt with a green skirt. The smaller one also had shoulder-length blonde hair and golden eyes, but her skin was a light shade of purple and her eyes pointed in the same direction. She wore a pale yellow dress with white frills.

He knew those girls - Derpy and Dinky Doo. Derpy was in his physics class, an average student but not terrible in the subject, and while he didn’t have Dinky in any classes, he still knew her. He knew them both.

Turner looked from Derpy and Dinky to Celestia and Luna with wide eyes. "I think I should go," he said. "It was lovely chatting with you two. We must do this again sometime." He moved to slide out from the booth, but one of Luna's grasped his wrist.

"Time, I think you should tell them," she said, her voice low. "They're almost adults now. They deserve to know."

Turner wrestled his arm from her grip. "What? No. No. I can't possibly-" He stopped himself, then looked between the siblings in front of him. "... You've been thinking about this, haven't you? This is why you brought me here, isn't it?"

"Time, please listen to me," Luna pleaded with wide eyes. Her gaze bore into his. They locked eyes for a few seconds before Turner sighed heavily and sat back down. "Thank you," Luna breathed.

"I haven't agreed to anything," he explained. "But… say I do. It's not my choice to make. I gave up that right when I gave them to Berry Punch. It's her call." Turner sagged in his seat. "I don't deserve to tell them the truth. If I do this, it would just be for my sake. That's not fair to them. I can't make them bear that weight just to make myself feel better."

Luna shook her head. "Time, everyone deserves a second chance, that includes you. If Sunset Shimmer can get one, you can too. I believe that, and I bet Berry Punch will agree."

Turner snorted. "Unlikely. She's not like how she was when we were kids. At least, not to me. She hates my guts."

Not without reason, he reminded himself. You dropped Derpy and Dinky on her out of nowhere. Forced her into a completely different lifestyle practically overnight. It was a miracle she was able to get sober so quickly…

It seemed Celestia and Luna were thinking exactly the same, as they shared an uneasy glance. Luna turned back to Turner. "She doesn't hate you, I promise. Berry is just stubborn."

Turner said nothing for a few seconds. Out of the corner of his eyes, he watched Derpy and Dinky approach the counter and place an order. The two girls - his daughters - hardly noticed him.

"... You've been awfully quiet, Celestia."

"I haven't had much to say, is all. This was all Luna's idea." Celestia said as she waved a hand. "Turner. I won't lie and say that I'm as close to you as Luna is. After your previous episodes of… cowardice… I'm not sure if you being around those girls outside of school is a good thing."

Turner winced but said nothing to defend himself.

"But, like you said, this all ultimately comes down to Berry's choice. If she lets you do it, and if you do tell the girls the truth, what do you intend to do after?"

Turner steadied himself with a breath. "That… would be up to Derpy and Dinky. If they want anything to do with me once all is said and done would be up to them."

Celestia hummed. "You seem eager to delegate any and all responsibility off of yourself."

"That's not it!" Turner exclaimed. "It wouldn't be right of me to barge into their lives with this. I don't get to make that choice. This is up to them, not me."

The principal made another noise, but Turner couldn't tell whether it was disapproval or approval. "Luna is right, you know, about second chances. If Sunset Shimmer can get one, then surely you can too. But you must grasp it. You must take that first step, Time Turner." Celestia looked him in the eye. "Will you?"

Turner sputtered. He tried to form words, but his tongue caught on itself. From the edge of his vision, he saw Derpy and Dinky exit Sugarcube Corner with smiles on their faces. He tugged at his collar and breathed heavily.

"... I guess we'll have to see," Turner said. He then slid out from the booth, rose to his shaking feet, and on unsteady legs walked to the door.

Am I taking the first steps? He asked no one. Or the last?

Chapter 5: Beneath The Mask

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Sunset awoke from the best sleep she'd had in years.

Her eyes opened slowly, but then immediately closed again. She shut her eyes tightly and clutched the blanket close. Sunset kept herself as still as possible hoping she'd fall back asleep,ut to her great dismay she still felt fully awake. With a long, sad sigh, Sunset covered her face with the blanket.

Sunset remembered Applejack's ultimatum from the previous night. She was supposed to leave first thing in the morning. Heck, she was already overstaying her welcome just being here in the first place. I should really just leave, she thought to herself. No reason to make Applejack even more angry with me.

Sunset sat up hesitantly, allowing the covers to fall into her lap. As she did so, the door creaked open slowly, causing Sunset to jump and stare wide-eyed at the door and the figure steadily emerging from behind it. She was sure it was Applejack, here to tell Sunset to get out of her house and as far away from here as possible. Sunset closed her eyes and prepared for the yelling that was sure to come.

Instead of shouting, Sunset heard the sound of heavy footsteps against the floor. She opened one of her eyes and looked at the person approaching her, and then opened her other eye in surprise. Sunset easily recognized the old woman: the eldest of the Apple family and Canterlot High’s lunch lady, Granny Smith.

She greeted Sunset with a large smile. “Good mornin’. Ya slept for quite awhile.” As she spoke, the woman made her way to the side of the bed and sat down. Sunset felt the mattress bend under her. “Applejack wanted me ta wake ya sooner, but Ah figured it couldn’t hurt ta let ya sleep just a tad more.”

“Th-thank you,” Sunset stuttered. “I appreciate it.”

“No need ta thank me, darlin’. After what happened last night, Ah’m sure ya needed the rest.”

Sunset winced as memories of the night before came rushing back to her. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry about last night. And I’m sorry for everything else, too. I’m so sorry.”

Granny Smith nodded. “Ain’t me ya need ta apologize to, but thank ya anyway. If ya don’ mind me askin’, where do ya plan on goin’ now?”

Sunset hesitated. “I… don’t really know,” she said. “I guess I’ll go home, and then figure out what to do next.” To herself she added, my master plan didn’t exactly come with contingencies.

“From what Ah understand, yer ‘home’ ain’t all that homey, right?” Granny Smith asked. Sunset stayed silent, which Granny took as a cue to continue. “Otherwise ya wouldn’t’ve had ta sleep here.”

The older woman let out a long breath and closed her eyes. “Listen ta me, Sunset Shimmer. In my time at CHS, Ah haven’t heard many nice things about you. Kids talkin’ about how mean an’ nasty ya are. How you use people and make ‘em feel like garbage just cuz ya can. Ah dunno if that’s the same girl sittin’ in this room right now… but Ah just wouldn’t be able to live with mahself if Ah didn’t do nothin’ ta help someone in need. If ya ever need it, our door is open.”

Sunset froze. Her eyes widened slightly and her mouth opened and closed several times, trying to form words. She wracked her mind, trying desperately to formulate some sort of response, but came up empty. Sunset felt a sting in the corner of her eyes and realized it was the beginnings of tears.

“Why?” Sunset choked out. “Why are you being so nice to me?” After everything I’ve done, Sunset thought, why are you willing to do this for me?

Granny Smith looked Sunset in the eye and gave the girl her widest, warmest smile. “Because Ah believe everyone deserves a second chance, even if they don’ think they deserve it.”

Sunset’s cheeks became wet with tears. Granny Smith leaned forward and wrapped an arm around Sunset, pulling her in close. Sunset resisted the urge to latch on to her and simply left her hands in her lap. Feelings that had been stored inside Sunset for the past few days came out all at once - her brief return to her homeworld, the struggle to win the Fall Formal, her transformation and defeat - it all rushed out in the form of an unrelenting torrent of tears, and Sunset let out a sob.

Granny Smith stroked Sunset along her back. Sunset thought she heard Granny saying something, but couldn’t hear her over the sound of her own crying. I don’t deserve this, she told herself. Not after everything I’ve done, the people I’ve hurt. Why am I getting a second chance?

Sunset shot one last look at the room before turning away and closing the door. She desperately wanted to ask Granny Smith permission to stay another night, but Sunset resisted the temptation. She’d already used up too much of their hospitality. Sunset knew Granny would agree to house her for another night in an instant, but she refused to take advantage of the older woman’s kindness like that.

I have to go, she told herself. Applejack doesn’t want me here anyway. It wouldn’t be fair to her.

Sunset sighed and descended the stairs. She was slightly surprised to see Applejack waiting for her at the bottom, but hid it well. “Good morning, Applejack,” she said with a nervous smile. “How’d you sleep?”

Applejack rolled her eyes and walked to the front door, opening it without looking away from Sunset. “Slept fine. C’mon, we need to talk.” Applejack turned and walked outside with her arms crossed. Sunset blinked, then after a second walked after her.

The two girls came to a stop a ways away from the house. Applejack wheeled around towards Sunset with a thoughtful expression. “Mac says he didn’t hear a peep outta you all night. Take it you slept well,” Applejack said. “or ya snuck off ta mess with us in some way.”

Sunset’s face widened briefly in shock before she reigned in her emotions. “Do you really think I would-”


Sunset’s words sputtered into a stop. She let out a few noises in an attempt for a rebuttal, but eventually gave up. “Right. Well, no, I didn’t mess with anything. I just slept. Thanks again for letting me stay the night here. It means a lot.”

Applejack hummed. “Ah wouldn’t say it was no problem, but you’re welcome. Listen, Sunset, Ah’ll be honest with you: Ah can’t say Ah trust ya one hundred percent just yet. It’s gonna take some time before any of us can completely trust you.”

Sunset nodded gingerly. “I understand.”

Applejack nodded back. “For now, you’ve got my support. Keep on doin’ your best and we’ll be there for ya, if you’re serious about changin’.”

“I am.”

“Good. Please don’t make me regret this.”

“I won’t.”

Applejack and Sunset locked eyes; Sunset gave a small smile before Applejack turned on her heel and whipped out her phone. “Ah’ve got work to do here, so lemme call RD and have her pick you up.”

Sunset dashed forward and placed a hand over Applejack’s phone screen. “No! No, that’s fine. I can walk from here,” she said nervously. “Really, it’s fine.”

Applejack gave her a skeptical look. “You sure? Rainbow Dash told me you live on the other side of town. That’s a ways away.”

Sunset nodded sharply. “It’s fine, I promise. I can do this by myself.”

The farmer raised an eyebrow. “This ain’t what Ah meant by ‘doing your best’, y’know,” Applejack said. “Ah get it, ya don’t wanna feel like you’re relyin’ on our help too much. But walking from one end of town to the other just to prove a point is just plain dumb.”

“I know,” Sunset sighed, “I know. But what’s the point of any of this if I’m just relying on others the entire time? Shouldn’t I be able to do something by myself?”

Applejack let out a long breath. “Sunset, listen to me. You’re new to this friendship business, so Ah don’t blame ya for not knowin’. But part of being friends is helping each other, even if you don’t feel like ya need help. Ah’ve learned that lesson in the past. It’s great that you want to prove yourself, but if ya do it in stupid ways, you’re just goin’ to get yourself hurt. Me ‘n’ the other girls made a promise to help you, so let us help you. You’ll get your chance to prove yourself when it really matters.”

Sunset looked down. “When it really matters…?”

Applejack smirked and nodded. “Exactly. If you’re serious about this second chance, then prove it at school. Prove it to everyone, not just us.” Sunset watched Applejack begin to walk away. “C’mon,” the farmer said as she waved a hand. “Ah’ll call RD and have her pick you up.” Sunset watched her go, her lips pulled tight in thought. Sunset trailed behind, gaze pointed at the ground as she pondered the farmer’s words.

Time Turner’s conversation with Celestia and Luna that morning had been playing on repeat in his mind ever since. He could not stop his thoughts from turning to their words, and the way they looked at him, like he was a mistake waiting to be corrected. Like a problem missing its solution. Like they pitied him, and that was the last thing he wanted.

I don’t deserve pity, he told himself. I don’t deserve a second chance.

After Sugarcube Corner, Turner had left to compose himself, but he did not return home. That house had once been full of life and happiness, but now it only housed himself and his loneliness. He couldn’t bear to be there right now. So as he drove away, desperate for somewhere to go, it occurred to him to look for a place that suited his current mood.

Only one such place fit his needs. This place sat, empty and abandoned, for many years. As the city of Canterlot expanded in the wake of many people settling in, some areas of the city were bound to be forgotten in the hustle. The earlier parts of the city housed many abandoned buildings, completely empty and alone. They would be perfect. So Turner found himself there, in front of what had once been a factory of some sort, his face dark and with his lips pulled into a frown.

I must tell Berry before anything else, he thought. She needs to know first.

Turner bit the inside of his cheek in thought. The first thing he had asked himself had been “Do you want to tell your daughters the truth?” and the answer had been an immediate, obvious yes But no matter how much he wanted to rush to them and spill his guts, he knew he had to wait.

Berry is their parent. I am not. I’m just their teacher. Everything else is up to Berry Punch.

Oh, how he wished Ditzy were still here. She was always brighter than him. Though some in their school years had called her dumb, Turner knew better. Ditzy Doo had been the smartest person he’d ever met. Even though her grades in school were never something amazing, she excelled everywhere else. He figured she’d know exactly what to do if she were here now.

But she’s not, Turner thought sadly. So it’s up to you.

He decided what he was going to do. He’d call Berry, explain himself, and then… and then he’d accept her decision. Either she’d let him tell Derpy and Dinky, or she wouldn’t, and he’d live with it either way.

Turner sucked in a deep breath and turned to walk away, only to stop and turn his head. Was that a car? “I wonder who else decided to rummage their way around here…” he murmured to himself. Stuffing his hands in the pockets of his coat, Turner took off in the direction of the noise.

He didn’t have to walk far. Just around the corner of the factory he saw a car parked just a ways away. Turner stopped, and after a beat, blinked. He recognized that car. It was one he saw parked at CHS every day. What’s a student doing so far out here? Turner wondered. … It’s really none of my business though.

The teacher shook his head. Just as he was about to go back where he came, the doors to the car opened and two girls stepped out. His eyes narrowed at the flash of yellow-and-red hair, and then widened again at the sight of rainbow hair. What were they doing out here together?

Turner stood and pondered for a second, before shrugging and taking a step forward. “Sunset Shimmer?” he called. “Rainbow Dash?”

Chapter 6: Castle of Glass

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Despite Sunset’s initial hesitation, Applejack called Rainbow Dash to pick up Sunset from Sweet Apple Acres. She felt odd getting in the passenger seat, but Rainbow Dash flashed her a toothy grin and stepped on the gas. The two of them left the farm behind, and Sunset tried to relax as the world zipped by.

Sunset was pulled out of her relaxation by the car suddenly picking up speed. She sat up straight and turned to look at Rainbow Dash, whose eyes gleamed with delight as she gripped the steering wheel. Rainbow briefly glanced Sunset’s way and grinned, then Sunset felt herself pushed into her seat as the car began to go faster.

“Rainbow Dash! What the hell!” Sunset cried.

“It’s fine!” Rainbow Dash yelled back as she reached for the radio, turning up the volume. Loud rock music began to blare from the car’s speakers, causing Sunset to wince. “Just sit back and relax!”

“You’re crazy!”

As the car’s engine roared, Sunset gripped the sides of her seat for dear life. With her eyes shut tight she couldn’t see the world zip by through the window, but she could certainly feel every time the car switched lanes or hit a bump. Sunset let out a groan and suddenly found herself swung to the left as Rainbow Dash made a turn.

Sunset let out a string of curses while Rainbow Dash laughed loudly. “Could you please slow down?!” Sunset yelled, barely able to hear herself over the sounds of the car and the loud music.

“Don’t worry, Sunset!” Rainbow Dash shouted back. “I’m a pro at this!”

“I doubt that!”

Rainbow gave a grunt in acknowledgement as the car slowed to just above the speed limit. “There, ya big baby,” she said. “Are you happy?”

Sunset opened her eyes and glanced out of her window, letting out a sigh of relief at the trees that were no longer blurs. She leaned forward and rested her forehead on the glass. “No, no I am not.”

Rainbow Dash laughed. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I’ll cool it,” she said cheerfully. “It’s funny watching you squirm though. You shoulda seen the look on your face.”

“We could have gotten pulled over! Or crashed!”

Rainbow Dash waved a hand. “Oh, ye of little faith. I know these roads, and I know where it’s safe to really let loose. You really think I’d do that where I’d get caught? Please!” Then under her breath she added, “My parents would kill me,” just loud enough for Sunset to hear. Sunset couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Just please keep us alive for the rest of the drive,” Sunset said dryly. “I’d prefer not to die today, thank you very much.”

Rainbow Dash laughed loudly. “I said I was sorry! I was just trying to make you loosen up a bit. Drivin’ like that always helps me clear my head. Flying down the roads, being the fastest thing around… It’s the best feeling in the world!”

Sunset just shook her head. “I… appreciate the effort, I guess,” she muttered. “But please don’t do that again.”

“I won’t, I promise. Seriously though, you do need to loosen up. I get why you’re so nervous around me and the others, but always walking on eggshells isn’t gonna do much good.”

Sunset cocked an eyebrow and shot a curious glance towards Rainbow. “Why are you so insistent? Last night you threatened me with the whole ‘don’t ever hurt my friends again’ line, and now you’re being nothing but supportive. What gives?”

“What, do you not want me to help you?” Rainbow narrowed her eyes at the road. “After the way you treated us for years, yeah, maybe I’m not so comfortable just letting you do whatever around my friends. But keeping you on a tight leash ain’t gonna fix anything.”

“Well if that’s how you feel, why’d you let me stay with Applejack?”

Rainbow Dash scoffed. “Please. Applejack can take care of herself. I knew if you tried anything she could handle you.”

Sunset’s eyes widened. “Wow,” she breathed. “I honestly don’t know what to say to that.” She didn’t know if she should be hurt or not.

“Sunset,” Rainbow Dash continued, “I’m not trying to be an ass here, I just want you to know where I’m coming from. I want you to be better. I want to be there for you. But I can’t just forget the way you treated us for years. You hurt us, and that’s not going to disappear overnight.”

Sunset closed her eyes and let out a long breath. “Right,” she whispered. “I understand.”

Rainbow Dash sighed. “It hasn’t even been a day since the Fall Formal. We’re all still trying to figure things out. It’s a lot to take in all at once, you know?”

“Yeah,” Sunset agreed. “I know.”

The two girls had nothing else to say after that, falling into a silence that neither was willing to break, the only noises being from the car’s engine and radio. Sunset sighed and leaned back, closing her eyes. A lot to take in, she thought to herself. I know that feeling.

Not another word was spoken for the rest of the drive. Eventually the nice looking Canterlot buildings gave way to older, less looked-after ones, before those too turned to buildings left to rot. Some had windows smashed in and doors hanging off their hinges, while others had gaping holes in their walls and black spots of decay.

“Damn,” Rainbow Dash breathed. “I haven’t been here before. They really did just forget about this place.” She took a slow look around, the car slowing to leisurely glide over the road. “I wonder why no one bothers to fix it up.”

Sunset shrugged. “I don’t know. They don’t care too, I guess. Canterlot’s well off, and it’s pretty big. Maybe they just don’t think it’s worth it. Why fix up some crappy neighborhood when they can focus on their shiny new ones?”

Rainbow Dash gave a quiet sound of acknowledgement. “Alright, where’s your place?”

Sunset raised an arm and pointed. “Just that way. It’s one of the bigger ones - can’t miss it.”

Rainbow Dash rose from her seat and exited the car, closing the door with a loud slam. “You sure this is the place?” She asked as she looked around. “This isn’t exactly what I’d call ‘home sweet home’.”

She heard Sunset let out a sigh. “I know, believe me. But it’s the most intact building around here and it’s worked fine so far,” she said as she closed her door. The two girls walked around the front of the car and stood next to each other. Rainbow Dash looked to Sunset and then to the building in front of them.

Rainbow remembered Sunset saying it used to be a factory. It looked relatively normal, considering the years of abandonment the structure had suffered. It had more than a few floors to its height with only a few broken windows littered around the outside. On the roof three smoke stacks pointed up. Rainbow Dash crossed her arms and shook her head. “Jeeze. I can’t believe this is where you’ve been living for the past few years.”

“Believe me, it wasn’t my ideal choice either,” Sunset deadpanned. “Thanks for the ride, Rainbow Dash. I guess I’ll see you at school.” With that, Sunset began walking to the building without another word. Rainbow Dash watched Sunset’s back as she went, not sure if she should say or do something more.

“Sunset Shimmer? Rainbow Dash?” A familiar voice called.

Rainbow Dash jumped and turned in the direction of the voice - she heard Sunset stop in her tracks and turn as well - and saw a man approaching. His brown longcoat gave him away immediately. “Mr. Turner?” Rainbow asked. “What the heck are you doing out here?”

Their teacher stopped a ways away from the car, close enough to be heard without raising his voice. His lips were pulled into a tight line, a forced neutrality just barely noticeable. His hands were shoved into the pockets of his coat and his digits obviously fidgeted around under the fabric. The hell’s up with him? Rainbow Dash asked herself.

Turner spoke with the same tone he used in the classroom. “I’m sorry if I surprised you. I simply came here for a bit of peace and quiet. Not many people out here these days, as you can see,” he said. “I could ask you the same thing, though. I know school’s not in session, but as your teacher I can’t just let you two root around in abandoned buildings. That’s dangerous, you know.”

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow as Sunset walked over to her side. “Okay?” Rainbow questioned. “Thanks, Mr. Turner, but I think we’ll be alright.”

Sunset nodded. “Thank you for checking up on us, but we’ll be fine. Nothing to worry about here!” Sunset folded her hands behind her back and flashed a large toothy smile. Rainbow Dash looked at her and groaned internally.

Turner’s eyes flicked from Sunset, to the building behind them, and then to Rainbow Dash. He remained quiet for a few seconds before speaking. “I suppose I can’t stop you two from doing whatever you’re doing here, but please be careful,” he said. “And Rainbow Dash, I’m pleased to see you partaking in activities with Ms. Shimmer. Princess Twilight would be happy.”

“Right,” Rainbow Dash said dryly.

The three of them stood in silence for a few more moments, before Mr. Turner took his hands out of his pockets and put them up in a mock-surrender. “Alright, alright, I’ll leave you girls to it. Just please don’t get hurt,” he said, looking at them before turning away and waving. “I’ll see you two at school. Don’t forget your homework!”

Rainbow Dash and Sunset watched Time Turner leave until he turned a corner and was out of sight. Rainbow felt her shoulders let out tension she didn’t know she was holding and sighed. “Man, what was up with him?” She asked, jamming a thumb in Turner’s direction. “He was acting super strange.”

Sunset shrugged. “I don’t know. He said he needed some peace and quiet, maybe he’s having a rough day?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “At least he’s gone. And you,” she poked Sunset in the chest forcefully, causing Sunset to tilt backwards slightly. “Need to learn how to lie again. Seriously, what was that?!”

Sunset felt her cheeks begin to heat up. “I-I don’t know! I guess lying is just… not something I do anymore.”

Rainbow Dash’s face fell flat. “Really.”

Sunset nodded.

Rainbow Dash threw her arms into the air with an exasperated yell. “Man, you really did do a complete 180, huh?” She turned to Sunset, who stood with an awkward look. Rainbow Dash sighed. “Whatever. I guess I’ll see you later.”

Sunset raised a hand and waved. “Bye, Rainbow Dash. Thanks again.”

Rainbow Dash flashed a peace sign. “Later.”

Chapter 7: Bulletproof Heart

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Sunset Shimmer once again found herself in the passenger seat of Rainbow Dash’s car, in the parking lot of Canterlot High School. She sat with her backpack between her feet and her head hung low. Distantly, she heard the slamming of other car doors as other students arrived. If she listened closely, she could hear their chatter as they walked by. She was thankful that she had yet to hear her name.

Going to school had never been fun, but this was on a whole other level.

“Well?” Rainbow Dash spoke up, one hand on the door handle. “Are you ready?” Sunset took in a deep breath and raised her head. She took a look around, and through the windows she watched as the students walked up to the school. Just a few days ago, she had them all wrapped around her finger, too scared of her to ever rise against her. Now, it seemed the roles were reversed.

Sunset was silent. Her heart hammered steadily in her chest. Her eyes were wide as she scanned the faces of every person who walked by. She knew all of them. All of them were people she bullied, and harassed, and threatened, all in the vain pursuit of power. Her mind raced with all the names and faces and all the ways she had hurt them.

How can I ever hope to make up for that? For all of it? she asked herself. Is there even a way to do it?

Rainbow Dash looked at the girl next to her and studied her closely. The Sunset Shimmer she had known would never have been caught dead looking like this - scared shitless by the thought of facing her peers. The old Sunset would have charged out there and demanded everyone’s obedience. The old Sunset never would have had this look of apprehension on her face, she would have that evil, wicked grin as she reveled in her position. This Sunset was so unlike the one she knew. If Rainbow Dash hadn’t known any better, she would have said this Sunset was a different person entirely.

“Listen,” Rainbow Dash said. “If you don’t feel like going to school today, I don’t think anyone would blame you.” Rainbow watched Sunset’s face as she processed her words. She saw Sunset’s face morph from apprehension to consideration. It stayed like that for a few seconds as Sunset’s eyes darted from student to student before finally landing on a different emotion.

Sunset shook her head. “No,” she stated. “I need to do this. I want to do this. I need to start making up for my mistakes. I can’t do that if I run away. I ran away from my home because I couldn’t get what I wanted, and look what that led to.” Sunset waved a hand to herself. “I can’t do that again. Ignoring this won’t make anything better.”

Rainbow Dash hummed in agreement. “You sure? I don’t think I need to remind you that everyone in there pretty much hates you.” Sunset shot her a glare, causing Rainbow to put up her hands in surrender. “Alright, alright. If you’re sure you wanna do this, then I’m with you. Let’s show ‘em who’s boss, yeah?”

Sunset allowed herself to smirk. “I thought the whole point of this is that I’m not the boss anymore?”

“Fair enough,” Rainbow said as she opened her door and moved to get out. “Let’s go.”

Rainbow Dash stood and pushed her door shut behind her. Sunset sat alone in the car for a few seconds, breathing steadily through her nose. Her heart slowly calming, she took one last glance out of her window - the parking lot was nearly devoid of students now, almost all of them gathering by the front doors. Her face full of determination, Sunset opened her door and stood.

I can do this.

I can’t do this.

Sunset had hardly entered the school before she felt eyes on her. The bang of the shutting doors felt a hundred times louder in her ears as she looked around and saw them looking at her. She was frozen in place. Her feet refused to move, and her heart was slamming wildly in her chest.

Pairs of eyes glared at her from all directions. She could see them, could name most of them, and as their names rushed through her head, so did every horrible thing she did to them. Sunset jumped when she suddenly felt something on her arm. She looked to her side to see Rainbow Dash, who had firmly grasped Sunset’s upper arm.

“Come on,” Rainbow Dash said under her breath. Sunset could barely hear her through the sound of the blood in her ears. “Don’t let ‘em get to you. Let’s get somewhere else.” Sunset nodded as Rainbow began to pull her along. CHS’ main hallway was crowded, and the other students seemed less than willing to part for the two girls, so they instead pushed their way through.

Sunset numbly allowed herself to be dragged through the crowd. You can do this, Sunset repeated to herself. It’s the first day. Emotions are running high. Just endure it for now.

Sunset suddenly found herself stumbling. Something had crashed into her side and now she was tumbling over herself, desperately trying to regain her balance. Rainbow Dash came to a stop and helped her find her footing. “The hell? You okay?” Rainbow Dash asked. Sunset nodded, and the two girls took a glance at the crowd of students that surrounded them.

With Rainbow Dash’s arms wrapped around her, Sunset looked around and spotted two boys walking in the opposite direction, silently giggling to themselves. Rainbow Dash must have seen them too, as she let go of Sunset and stomped through the crowd, making her way to them.

Sunset reached forward. Her hand clasped around Rainbow Dash’s wrist, stopping her in place. “Rainbow Dash, just let them go,” Sunset said. “It’s not worth it.”

Rainbow scoffed. “I can’t just let them get away with that!”

Sunset shook her head. “It’s fine. It’s not like I don’t deserve it. Just let them go.”

Rainbow looked between her and the crowd. The boys who pushed Sunset were nowhere to be seen. Slowly, Rainbow let her shoulders fall and she turned back to Sunset. “Fine. But if I see anything like that again, I’ll shut ‘em down.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“It’s not about what I have to or about what you deserve,” Rainbow snapped, her eyes narrowed. “It’s about common decency. Just because you were horrible to them doesn’t mean they get to be horrible to you.”

“It’s fine-”

“No, it’s not,” Rainbow Dash said firmly. “You did some bad stuff, yeah. But that doesn’t excuse people who want to hurt you.”

Sunset was silent, thinking over Rainbow’s words. She wasn’t sure if this was what she deserved or not - for the bully to become the bullied - but a part of her thought so. After so long hurting people maybe she did deserve to be hurt for a change, but another part of her agreed with Rainbow Dash. An eye for an eye makes the world blind, after all.

She stammered out a series of false starts and stutters before finally saying a single word. “Okay,” Sunset choked out. She and Rainbow Dash stared at each other for a few seconds before the bell rang. All around them, students began making their way into classrooms. The shuffling of feet mixed in with the chatter became deafening.

Rainbow Dash put a hand on Sunset’s back. “Come on,” she said, just loud enough to be heard. “Let’s get to class.”

“... And then I left. I could tell they were uncomfortable having me there,” Time Turner spoke into his phone. He sat behind his desk in his classroom. The lights were off but enough sunlight shone through the windows to illuminate the room. “I wanted to ask them a few questions, but I doubt they would have answered.”

Honestly, Time, you do need to work on your social skills,” Luna said from the other end of the line. “Of course a couple of high school students are going to be weirded out when they run into their teacher in the middle of nowhere.

Turner groaned and leaned back in his chair. He hadn’t intended to come off that way at all. “I know, I know. I probably could have just left them alone. But I couldn’t help but think something was amiss. What were they doing there? It’s as you said, it’s the middle of nowhere.”

He could practically hear the deadpan expression on Luna’s face in her voice. “Well, why were you there? Yes, yes, you wanted to be alone. Maybe they needed some alone time too. It wouldn’t surprise me, that group of girls has had quite the last few days. Or they were telling the truth and just wanted to explore. You shouldn’t make a mountain out of a molehill, Time.

“I realize that, I do. But what if?” Turner asked. “What if I’m right and they were there for some other reason?”

Okay. Let’s say you’re right. What does it matter?

Time Turner shut his mouth and hummed. “Not much. But still, Luna, I can’t shake this feeling. Maybe I’m being too paranoid, but Sunset Shimmer is in a very delicate place right now. The moment she steps onto school grounds she’s going to be a target, and she knows that. She’s known all weekend where she stands in the eyes of her peers. There’s no way that doesn’t wear on someone.”

The phone went silent for a few seconds before Luna spoke again. “You’re really relating to her, aren’t you?

“I just…” Turner’s mouth opened and closed repeatedly, but more words wouldn’t come. He supposed that in some way, he did relate to Sunset Shimmer. He knew what it was like to feel lost, to feel overwhelmed with the burden of his mistakes. Turner knew what it was like to think that redemption could never come. That he’d get no opportunity to right his wrongs.

“I see myself in her situation,” Turner managed. “They’re obviously quite different, but when you break it down… really, we’re both just two people who made mistakes. And we both want to work towards fixing them. I suppose that I just want to make sure she gets the same chance to mend things as I am now.”

Luna made a surprised sound. “So you’ve talked to Berry, then?

With a sigh, Turner leaned forward and rested an elbow on his desk, propping his head against his hand. “I sent her a text last night. I was too afraid to ask her in person or on the phone. I never know how she’ll react towards me.”

How’d that conversation go?

“I wouldn’t exactly call it a conversation,” Turner laughed dryly. “I explained my feelings. That I wished to tell Derpy and Dinky the truth. That I want to be a part of their lives, if they’ll have me. That I would absolutely not do it if she forbade me. I tried not to be too pushy. She didn’t say much, but she asked me to meet her after school today.”

That’s fantastic news, Time. I’m so glad you’re finally doing this. Honestly, when Celestia and I were talking about it, we really didn’t know if you’d go for it.

“I wasn’t sure either,” Turner admitted. He ran his hand through his hair as he continued. “I am glad I did, though. I’ll admit that I was…”

“Scared?” She said in a teasing tone.

Hesitant,” Turner insisted. “Derpy’s eighteen now. Dinky is sixteen. They’ve already grown up and they’ve had Berry to love them. I don’t have the right to just waltz in and try to mess with that, you know?”

You and I both know that’s not what you’re trying to do. Berry knows that, too.

“I know,” Turner said heavily. “But I still worry. What if I mess this up? What if I mess them up? Hell, what if I don’t mess up? What if it goes smoothly and… and then what? What do I do then?”

I’ve lived like this for so long, Turner thought, that I don’t know how I’ll do anything else.

Time! Breathe!” Luna exclaimed. “I assure you, everything will be fine. Remain calm, keep your head. Everything will turn out okay, I promise you.

Time Turner took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. He felt his heart start to beat faster and his arms started to shake. His chest rose as he took another slow breath. “I’m sorry. I just…”

It’s fine, Time. It’s understandable to be worried. Just try to stay calm. Be positive. Everything will work out, I promise.

Turner opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the ringing of the bell. School was in session. “Ah. I’m afraid I’ll have to go now, Luna. Thank you for talking with me.”

It’s no problem at all. I’ll talk to you later. Goodbye, Time.

“Goodbye, Luna.”

Turner hung up and put his phone down. He could hear the hustling and bustling of students in the hallway making their way to their classes. The roar of their conversations easily pierced through the walls of his classroom. They were louder than Turner had ever heard them. A smile forced its way onto his face. In some twisted way, we do have Sunset Shimmer to thank for this, he thought to himself. I wonder if they will see it that way.

Turner stood and walked to the door, pushing it open with his foot. He stood in the doorway and watched the wave of students flow through the hallway, his eyes roaming over each student. They were mingled in ways that he hadn’t seen in years. Teens of all different cliques chatting and laughing together. The smile grew wider on his face as the first of his students entered his class.

Chapter 8: The Jester

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Turner heard footsteps entering his classroom.

He knew who they belonged to already. There was only one more student missing from the roll call. Turner saw as one by one his students turned to look at the new arrival, and bore witness to the wave of emotions that crashed through each and every one of them. Some faces landed on shock, some anger, but most looked conflicted. They didn’t know how to feel. Turner couldn’t blame them.

Turner turned to his left and put on a friendly smile. “Ms. Shimmer,” he said. “So glad you could join us. You know where your seat is.”

Sunset stood, frozen, in the doorway. She gripped the strap of her backpack tightly, so tight Turner could see her knuckles turning white. For a moment, he worried that the girl would remain there, unmoving, but eventually he saw her take a deep breath and relax. Sunset’s hand fell from the strap and to her side. She spared a glance at the students, and then turned back to Turner.

“Good morning, Mr. Turner,” she said smoothly. “Happy to be back.” With that, Sunset walked over to her desk at the end of the middle row and slid into the seat. As she walked, the other students’ eyes never left her. If it bothered her, Sunset refused to show it. As she started rummaging about her bag for her textbooks, her face was stone cold. A completely neutral expression was etched onto her face, and never once did it leave.

She’s being awfully brave, Turner thought to himself. I half expected her to bolt.

Turner’s voice cut through the overbearing silence in the classroom. “Yes!” He started with a clap of his hands. “Let’s get started. I know we all had an… eventful evening, last time we saw each other.”

“Why is she here?” A student exclaimed from the back of the class. Turner flicked his gaze to the source of the voice; a boy with grey skin, a tall, and a spiky red mohawk. He wore a green shirt with a skull on it. His face scrunched up in anger as he looked Sunset Shimmer’s way. “Why the hell hasn’t she been expelled?!”

A wave of murmurs went through the other students. Turner raised a hand to cut them off, but they simply ignored him and kept talking. Turner sighed. “Quiet!” He raised his voice - not quite a yell but close enough. The students ceased their conversations. Turner let the silence hang over the class before he continued.

“Crimson Napalm,” he said to the boy. “I don’t appreciate language in my classroom. Another instance of that, and I’ll be forced to write you up.” Crimson Napalm blinked at the teacher’s words, crossed his arms, and slumped forward over his desk. Turner resisted the urge to shake his head.

“I suppose I should address the elephant in the room,” Turner said with a breath. He briefly looked Sunset’s way, who was trying very hard to appear invisible but otherwise showed no objections to him continuing. “Yes, Sunset Shimmer is still a student at this school, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

A girl’s voice interrupted Turner’s from the front row.. The girl had pale yellow skin and bright baby blue hair. She wore a dark green shirt under a white dress with the image of a tennis ball on the front. “After what she did?! She mind controlled us! She turned into a demon!” Tennis Match exclaimed.

“As I said,” Turner continued firmly. “Celestia and Luna have made their decision. It is done.” Turner let his words hang before he continued on, in a softer tone. “Listen, I understand your frustration. You’ve been hurt, and you want to see the one responsible be punished. But I assure you, she is being punished. Sunset Shimmer no longer poses a threat to you. Please, let what happened remain in the past.”

“Are you saying we should just forget it ever happened?” Tennis Match spoke again.

“No, I’m asking you to move past it. Do not let your anger at Sunset Shimmer turn into something worse.” Turner looked over the faces of his students. Some of them seemed to agree with him, others seemed more apprehensive. And Crimson Napalm, Tennis Match, and a few others still held their looks of anger.

“If you need to, please take a visit to the school’s counselor. Or at the very least, talk to someone about your feelings. It’s never good to let negative emotions fester. I believe we can work past this, together, as a school. This is the start of something new. Something better. Let’s keep it that way.”

With that, Turner spun around and began writing on the whiteboard. Sunset Shimmer sat in her desk and sighed, and buried her face in her textbook. The other students occasionally glanced her way but mostly paid their own mind, which she was grateful for. From the opposite end of the middle row, a girl with pink fluffy hair smiled to herself.

Rainbow Dash struggled to suppress a yawn.

Classes bored her enough on regular days. But today of all days? No chance in hell she’d be paying attention. She wasn’t the only one, either. All around her, students were either whispering to themselves or sneaking text messages under their desks, which usually wouldn’t be a notable sight if it weren’t for which class this was. Ms. Harshwhinny ran a tight ship and usually shut down any signs of slacking off.

I guess even the teachers are a tad overwhelmed, Rainbow Dash thought to herself. It’ll probably be back to normal tomorrow though.

Rainbow Dash chuckled, just a little, at ‘normal’. Was anything normal anymore? Alternate dimensions, pony princesses, magical powers, she had her friends back, and Sunset Shimmer… Rainbow wasn’t exactly sure how to classify Sunset yet. Friend seemed appropriate - she just couldn’t bring herself to hate Sunset. So much had changed in such a short time, but at the same time it seemed that not much had changed at all.

After all, here she was, still in class, still bored out of her mind.

Rainbow snuck a glance towards Ms. Harshwhinny. The teacher had her back turned, writing something on the whiteboard that Rainbow Dash couldn’t be bothered to read. She retrieved her phone from her pocket and, keeping it hidden under her desk, lit the screen up.

One of her eyebrows raised when she saw one notification on the display. It was a text from Pinkie Pie of all people. Weird, Rainbow mused. She’s in Turner’s class right now, and Pinkie never slacks off during that class.

Rainbow slid her thumb over the device and the text opened.

Hey Dashie! Did you know Sunset’s in my physics class?

Rainbow quickly glanced around, making sure she was in the clear, before sending a response. “Cool. So you can keep an eye on her, then.

Aw, were you worried about her? Cute!

What’s that supposed to mean?

Aw, nothin’, silly. No need to worry about Sunset - I’ll keep her company until lunch! I think you two have some classes together after that!

How do you know my sched-

A sudden noise right next to her made Rainbow jump, causing her to toss her phone against the underside of the desk with a loud bang. She scrambled to catch it and gripped it tight, bringing it to her face to check for damage. Rainbow was barely able to sigh in relief at her undamaged phone before it was snatched out of her hand.

“Hey!” She screeched, only to find Ms. Harshwhinny staring down at her with an icy glare, her arms crossed in disapproval, and Rainbow’s phone in her hand.

“No texting in class,” Ms. Harshwhinny said, and turned to walk back to the front of the room.

“But-!” Rainbow protested, only to be cut off by the teacher raising a hand. She watched as her phone was deposited onto Harshwhinny’s desk, far out of Rainbow’s reach. Sighing loudly, Rainbow slumped forward and rested her head in her arm. Stupid rules, she whined internally. Stupid teachers. Stupid class. All of ‘em, stupid.

As the minutes ticked by, Sunset felt a growing sense of unease build up in her. It started with one look at the clock - class was just under halfway over, and then the sudden realization hit her. If this morning was bad, passing period was bound to be worse. Rainbow Dash wasn’t here with her this time, after all.

When class was nearly over, she could feel the tension in the air - it felt as if everyone was looking at her. Though she could hear the scratching of pencil on paper, and of students rummaging through their bags, her skin still crawled as if all eyes were on her back. Sunset’s mind couldn’t help but race as the minutes ticked away.

Turner was mid-sentence when the bell finally rang. It’s high pitched scream droned on for a few seconds before dying out, and all of the students began rising from their seats. “Well then, seems we’re out of time,” Turner spoke over the hustling and bustling. “I’ll see you all next time. Don’t forget to do your homework, and have a nice day.” His eyes roamed over the class as they went, but seemed to linger on Sunset, still at her desk.

Sunset looked around at the moving bodies. When she was confident that none of them were paying her any mind, she too rose from her chair and slung her bag over her shoulder. She stood still for a moment, watching as the last of the class made their way into the hallway, and then made to follow them.

“Ms. Shimmer,” Turner called, causing Sunset to stop and turn to face him.

“Yes?” She asked.

“Apologies for keeping you,” he said, as Sunset walked over to him. “But I wanted to ask you how you are doing. I know your… situation can’t be the easiest to deal with.”

Sunset looked at the teacher for a second. “Why?” She asked. “Of all the students in this school, do you really think I’m the one you should be asking that?”

Turner stuck his hands into the pockets of his coat and leaned against the whiteboard, shaking his head. “You may have a point there, but regardless.” He looked Sunset in the eyes. “How are you?”

“... I don’t know,” she answered honestly. “I’ve been trying to make up for the stuff I did, but so far I’ve just ended up being forgiven without doing anything to earn it. I don’t know how to feel about that.”

Turner raised an eyebrow and stood up straight. “What do you mean?”

Sighing, Sunset continued. “You know Granny Smith, the lunch lady, right?”

“I know of her, yes.”

“Well, she let me stay at the Apple farm for a night. But then in the morning, she gave me permission to stay there whenever I needed to. And… it was nice. Really nice of her. But it was the morning after the Fall Formal - I hadn’t done anything to earn that. I still haven’t.” Sunset’s voice cracked slightly as she spoke, but she continued on. “I just don’t get it.”

Turner was silent for a few moments. He closed his eyes in thought, mumbling to himself under his breath, and then opened his eyes. He gave Sunset a soft look. “Believe it or not, I know exactly what you mean.”

“You do?”

“Oh, yes. And it can be tough, accepting forgiveness when you don’t feel you’ve earned it. I’m still coming to terms with it, myself. But one thing that I’ve had drilled into me by someone very close to me, is that sometimes, we just have to suck it up. Forgiveness is a very personal matter. It’s up to whoever gives it - not who gets it - to decide when it’s earned.”

Sunset tilted her head down and frowned. “But why? Why would Rainbow Dash, or anyone, forgive me when I’ve done so much to hurt them?”

Turner hummed. “I can only guess. I’m not them. I’m sure they have their own reasons, very complicated ones for choosing to forgive you and help you through this time. But at the core of it all, it’s because they’ve decided you’re worthy of it. It’s not about whether or not you deserve it. At the end of the day, it’s their choice, not ours. We just have to live with that.”

Sunset let the words sink in, repeating them in her mind over and over again. “I’m not sure I like that,” she mumbled. “I don’t want to be someone who just takes stuff without earning it, not again.”

Turner chuckled under his breath. “If I may, I’d say that sentence there proves you’re worthy of it.” He then turned around, grabbed a pen, and scribbled on a small piece of paper. “Here, take this. If I’ve made you tardy, this will get you out of trouble,” he said, handing her the paper.

Sunset reached out and grabbed it. “Thanks, Mr. Turner.”

He smiled softly. “You’re welcome. I hope your day treats you well.”

Sunset gave a nod and turned, walking to the door. She stepped through, only to be stopped by Turner’s voice yet again.

“And do tell Pinkie Pie not to stay after class without permission!”


Sunset found herself cut off by a mass of pink fluff entering her vision. She jumped back in surprise, only for a pair of arms to wrap themselves around her midsection and pull her in for a tight hug.

“Sunny! It’s good to see you!” Pinkie Pie’s high pitched voice rang out. The hug became even tighter. Sunset saw black spots creeping at the edge of her vision, and just when she felt as if the end had come, the arms retreated and Sunset immediately gulped down a lungful of air.

“Hi Pinkie…” Sunset breathed out, her face flushed. Black spots dotted her vision. Behind them she saw Pinkie Pie standing there with bright eyes and a wide smile. She was cheery as ever, as if Sunset hadn’t just almost been suffocated.

“Come on, we’ve gotta get you to class!” Pinkie said loudly, leaning forward and grabbing Sunset by the wrist. “Get moving, lazy bones!” She yanked Sunset in front of her and gave her a light push, keeping Sunset moving forward.

“Pinkie, what are you-”

“I’m helping!” Pinkie Pie explained with a large grin. “Rainbow Dash was worried about ‘cha, and I offered to help you get to your next class. So come on! We’ve gotta go!” Pinkie said. She looked as if she were ready to run across the school at full speed, but relaxed when she saw Sunset not ready to run with her. “What, are you not in a hurry?”

Sunset continued walking at her normal pace. “No, not really,” she said. “Why?”

Pinkie shrugged, her grin falling. “I dunno. I just figured you wouldn’t wanna be in the hallways right now. There’s a lotta nasties out and about at the moment.” Just as the words left Pinkie’s mouth, Sunset felt a shove from behind, sending her stumbling forward.

Pinkie’s hand shot out to grab Sunset by the shoulder, barely keeping her on her feet, then yanked her back upright. Sunset took a moment to compose herself before shooting Pinkie a smile. “Thanks.”

“No problem, Sunny. There’s a lotta meanies, and I just thought that you’d appreciate someone trying to keep ‘em off of you for a sec.” Pinkie gave a smile - smaller than her usual ones but still larger than average.

Sunset felt her chest tighten. Another person helping me out, she thought to herself. When am I going to stop freeloading like this? She managed to keep her thoughts off of her face, and instead gave Pinkie a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “Thank you, Pinkie Pie. If I can ever repay you, please, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Pinkie’s smile instantly became larger than it had been yet. “Aw, Sunny, that’s what friends are for! You don’t gotta pay me back.” She then wrapped an arm around Sunset’s shoulders. “Now, we’re off to class! Let’s get going!”

“Wait, do you even know what my next class is?”

Pinkie stopped for a split second, but then kept going. “Not a clue!”

Walking with Pinkie had a strange way of putting Sunset at ease. As they walked through the crowded hallways, Sunset found herself noticing the other students less and less, their presence drowned out by Pinkie Pie’s constant flow of words. Sunset found herself hardly getting any words in edgewise, but couldn’t find it in herself to care.

The passing period was already over by a few minutes, but neither of them seemed to really care. They walked at a comfortable pace. Pinkie Pie bounced high with every step while Sunset followed by her side. It was the best Sunset had felt since getting to school.

Eventually they arrived at the door to Sunset’s next class. The two girls stopped in front of the door and looked at it for a second before turning to each other, both with smiles on their faces. “Well, Sunset,” Pinkie said cheerfully. “Looks like we’re here! I hope you’ll be alright without me.”

Sunset gave her a small nod. “I’m sure I will, Pinkie. Thanks for walking me here. It… it really meant a lot to me.”

Quicker than Sunset could blink, Pinkie rushed forward and trapped her in a tight bearhug. Sunset let out a loud oof as all of the air was pushed from her lungs. “Oh, Sunset, I’m so happy to hear you say that! The old you never would have! You really changed!” The hug became so tight, Sunset felt her feet lift off the ground.

“I’d… like… to think so…” Sunset choked out. Pinkie released her, and Sunset came crashing back to the floor, leaning against the wall as she tried to catch her breath. “Pinkie… please… stop doing that…” She said breathily.

Pinkie nodded, still smiling brightly. “I’m just so happy! When we made that promise to Princess Twilight, there was a teensie-tiny part of me that didn’t know if we could really keep it,” Pinkie said, bouncing on her heels. “But I’m glad we can! I can tell we’re gonna have some good times ahead of us.”

Sunset took in a last deep breath and pushed herself off the wall. “I hope so, Pinkie. Thanks again.” She outstretched her hand. Pinkie didn’t hesitate to grab it with her own. Pinkie shook up and down so hard, Sunset feared her arm would pop out of its socket. But eventually Pinkie stopped and let go.

“Not a problem, Sunny! I’ll see you at lunch!” With that, Pinkie turned on one heel and began skipping down the hallway. Sunset watched her go with a smile on her face. Funny. Before, I thought she was annoying, Sunset mused, but that was probably the best I’ve felt in awhile.

Eventually, Pinkie turned a corner and went out of sight. Sunset’s gaze lingered for a few moments before she turned towards the classroom door, her smile falling off her face. Through the door’s window, she could see the class in session. Some students were paying attention, though most were quite obviously talking to their friends. Mr. Clover didn’t seem to care much.

With a sigh, Sunset pushed the door open and stepped inside.

The day seemed to breeze by for Time Turner. Outside of his first class, the rest of the day went business as usual. The same students sat in the same seats they usually did, and he taught the same way he would have any day. Save for a few unruly students, it seemed as if not much had changed at all.

The lunch bell rang, and Turner found himself double-checking the clock to make sure it was right. The students all began rising from their seats with their bags in tow, and Turner watched as they filed out of the classroom. “Have a nice lunch, everyone,” he called as they left. “Enjoy the rest of your day!”

A few students gave goodbyes as they left, which Turner returned with a smile. The last student left and he was suddenly left alone in the empty classroom. With his hands in his pockets, Turner walked over to his desk and sat down, propping his feet on top of it as he leaned back.

He fished his phone out of his pocket. Just as he did it began to ring, making him jump and nearly throw it across the room. Turner cursed loudly as he composed himself and read the name on the screen - Berry Punch. Turner answered as quickly as he could.

“Hello?” he asked.

Hello, Time Turner.” Berry Punch’s voice rang through the speaker. “It’s about lunchtime at the school, yeah? Don’t think you would have answered otherwise.

“May I ask what you’re calling about, Berry? Are we still on for…” Turner paused to take a calming breath. “For after school?”

Yeah, yeah we are. I just wanted to… I don’t know, set some things straight.” Turner hadn’t heard her voice this soft in years. “I know I haven’t exactly been the friendliest to you, over the past few years. That wasn’t very fair to you.

“No, no, no. You don’t need to do that,” Turner said, placing his feet on the floor and sitting up straight. “I never held it against you. I did shove two kids into your lap unprompted, after all.”

Ah, I needed to sober up anyways. And those girls are the best things to ever happen to me, you know that. Not that I’m saying I’m glad Ditzy-

“I know you didn’t mean it that way. Ditzy would be happy to know you love them as much as she did.” Turner’s face fell as he closed his eyes. “Thank you for being there for Derpy and Dinky, for all these years. You’re a good mother, Berry.”

Thank you. You know, when you sent me that text, it really surprised me. I honestly never thought you’d want to tell the girls the truth about yourself.

Turner sighed. “I was scared. I still am, truth be told. I’m not sure how I’ll do it, and I’m not sure how they’ll react… but I won’t know unless I try, right? Honestly, I needed a push in order to get the bravery to ask you in the first place.”

Oh? And who gave you that push?

“Luna and Celestia. They encouraged me to entertain the possibility. Luna especially.”

Hm. You and Luna have always been close. Does Celestia still hate you?

“I wouldn’t say she hates me…” Turner said uncomfortably. “She just… really hated my decision to give up the girls.”

It’s been nearly almost two decades now. I say she needs to get over it.

Turner remained silent. Neither of them spoke for a few seconds before Berry broke the silence.

I’m thinkin’ we should meet at Sugar Cube Corner. I’ll pick up the girls and give you a call later. I’m gonna try to prepare them.

“What are you going to tell them?”

The truth. You’re gonna be there and you’ve got something big you need to tell them. The girls are smart, they might have an inkling the moment you open your mouth.

“Maybe,” Turner said. “... Sugar Cube Corner?”

Yeah. Figured it makes sense. I mean, the place does hold a lot of memories for us. Remember that time Ditzy threw a milkshape in some creep’s face?” Berry asked with an audible smile.

Turner couldn’t help but smile as well. “I do. He wouldn’t leave her alone. Ditzy never did give any mercy to people like that.”

Ah… good times. I’ll see you in a few hours, Turner.

“See you. And Berry… Thanks for this. It means a lot.”

No problem.

Turner took the phone from his ear and hung up. He stared as the phone’s screen faded to black, and then hung his head with a sigh.

The screeching of the school bell made him jump yet again.

Oh, dammit. I didn’t get any lunch.

Chapter 9: One More Light

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Sunset wasn’t used to lunchlines.

In days past, she would just take some nerd’s lunch money and buy something from the vending machines, or straight-up steal someone else’s lunch if she really wanted to. It was easy, with how much they feared her then. But now that fear was gone, and her power along with it, so she was forced to wait in the line like a normal student.

If only past me could see me now, Sunset thought. She’d probably have an aneurysm.

Standing in the line, surrounded by students who more than likely hated her guts, Sunset felt calmer than she probably should have. It helped that her new friends were with her; Applejack stood in front of her, with Pinke behind and Rainbow Dash to Sunset’s right. Just having them with her helped keep her calm, which she appreciated immensely.

“Oooh, I’m so excited!” Pinkie squealed loudly. “It’s our first lunch as a group again! It’ll be just like old times!” the party girl yelled loudly. Some students behind her shot her odd looks and glares, but she either ignored them or didn’t notice at all.

“Well,” Applejack piped up from in front, “not exactly like old times.”

“We do have a plus one this time,” Rainbow Dash said with a smile, bumping Sunset’s shoulder with her own. Then suddenly her demeanor shifted, her shoulders slumped and her face fell. “By the way, Sunset, there was something I forgot to mention.”

The line shifted forward. As a group, the four girls took a step closer to the front. “What is it?” Sunset asked.

Rainbow Dash rubbed at her arm. “I talked to Fluttershy earlier.”

Oh, Sunset realized.

Rainbow saw the look on Sunset’s face and winced. “Yeah. She, uh, wasn’t too thrilled about you having lunch with us.” Sunset saw Rainbow’s gaze move from her to a table across the room, at which she could barely make out the forms of Rarity and Fluttershy sitting next to each other. “She wanted me to tell you that she’s still on board with being friends and all. She just… needs a bit more time.”

“That’s… completely understandable,” Sunset said softly, looking at the tiny form of Fluttershy. Her chest twisted with emotion - a bit of disappointment, but also something else. Something that felt like satisfaction, strangely enough. Finally, someone who doesn’t forgive me immediately, she thought. Out of everyone, I should have guessed it would be Fluttershy.

Sunset couldn’t tear herself away from looking at Fluttershy until she felt Pinkie nudge her from behind. The line moved forward another space. “Don’t worry about it, Sunny!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Fluttershy’ll come around eventually! Girl’s too nice for her own good.”

Sunset hummed in response.

“Like I said, she still wants to be friends with you,” Rainbow continued. “It’s just… well, you know. She took everything the hardest out of all of us,” she said sadly.

Sunset frowned. “I was hard on her specifically. I knew she wouldn’t fight back,” she said quietly. “I was horrible to her. She has every right to be apprehensive.” She felt someone’s hand on her shoulder. She turned to the side and saw Rainbow Dash giving her a slight smile.

“It’ll be okay, Sunset. I know Fluttershy. I don’t think that girl’s ever held a grudge in her life. We just need to be there for her when she’s ready.” Rainbow Dash’s smile became wider for a second, before her eyes flicked back to Fluttershy and Rarity’s table, and then it fell again. “Whenever she’s ready,” she whispered.

Sunset leaned into Rainbow’s touch. It distracted her from the twisting in her guts. Give her space, and then be there for her when she needs it. That’s what a friend does, right? Sunset asked herself. I just have no idea what I’ll say to her. I don’t think “I’m sorry” will cut it, this time.

Eventually Sunset found herself at the front of the line with a tray of food that looked like it was months past its expiration date. She made a face at the sorry excuse for food, but found herself being dragged along by her sleeve by Rainbow Dash, leading her to their table. Sunset’s eyes locked onto Rarity’s as they approached. Rarity gave a wide, dramatic wave as they strided forward.

“Yoohoo, Rainbow Dash! Applejack!” Rarity’s face was absolutely beaming, and it remained so even as Sunset stepped closer. “And Sunset Shimmer! How happy I am to see you all.” Rarity was seated left of Fluttershy, and Applejack slotted smoothly on her right. Rainbow Dash stopped, looked at Sunset, and then sat directly opposite of Rarity. Sunset took a few shy steps forward and sat opposite Applejack. Pinkie bounced over with her tray of food, somehow not spilling a crumb, and sat on Rainbow Dash’s other side.

“I must say, it feels great to have us all together again,” Rarity said, her tray pushed away, untouched. “And with the addition of Sunset. Certainly not a development I saw coming just a few days ago.”

“Tell me about it,” Applejack said, crunching into an apple. “Havin’ her stay the night at my house was somethin’ Ah thought Ah’d never see.”

“Hey, it worked out, didn’t it? A fairly genius move on my part, I’d say.” Rainbow Dash said with a proud look . Applejack smiled and rolled her eyes playfully.

“Hush you,” the farmer said. “Don’t go gettin’ yerself a big head, there. Oops, too late.” Rainbow Dash simply stuck her tongue out in response.

“Ladies, please,” Rarity interrupted. “I’d rather none of that on our first lunch reunited.” Suddenly, Sunset found Rarity’s face leaning closer to hers. “Sunset, darling, I apologize for not getting in touch with you sooner. But let’s make up for that! How are you doing so far?” Rarity asked expectantly. Sunset didn’t say anything for a moment, letting Rarity’s words hang in the air as the fashionista blinked several times.

“Uh…” Sunset started. “Better than I expected, honestly. I know you all made a promise to Twilight, but I thought you guys might be a bit more apprehensive about all this.”

Rarity sat back down and shook her head. “Pffsh, absolutely not. You did some terrible things, yes, but you were simply misguided. You’ve changed - as evidenced by your sitting here now. We’d never turn away someone in need of friendship.”

Sunset cocked her head to the side. Is it just me, or is she way too eager? Sunset cleared her throat awkwardly. “That’s really nice of you all. Nicer than I deserve.” For a second, Sunset flicked her eyes to where Fluttershy sat. The shy girl was busying herself with her food, eating as slow as possible and trying to make herself appear small.

Rarity’s eyes followed Sunset, widened, and then flicked back. “Now, Sunset dear, forgive me if I’m getting ahead of myself,” Rarity asked, drawing Sunset’s attention back to her. “But do you know what you intend on doing next? I can’t imagine this has been simple for you.”

Sunset shook her head. “You’d be surprised… Most people so far have been really forgiving with me. You guys, The Apples, Mr. Turner…”

Rarity raised an eyebrow. “‘Most’?”

“There were a few people in Turner’s class,” Sunset answered. “Crimson Napalm and Tennis Match, I think? I don’t really know them all that well.”

Rarity made a face and crossed her arms. “‘Crimson Napalm’? Who names their kid something like that?”

Sunset shrugged and leaned forward. “I don’t think his name is the issue at the moment. Point is, he and Tennis Match aren’t the only ones holding a grudge,” Sunset said solemnly. “There’s gonna be a heck of a lot more, believe me.”

“Don’t you worry about a thing, sugarcube,” Applejack said, holding a stripped apple core. “If anyone tries anythin’, we’ll be there to help ya.”

“Agreed!” Rainbow exclaimed. Rarity nodded along, and Pinkie Pie smiled widely. From the corner of her eye, Sunset saw Fluttershy’s head make a slight movement. A nod in agreement? A shake in disapproval? She didn’t have any way of knowing.

Sunset’s eyes flicked between the other girls at the table, before she sighed and hung her head. “Thank you, girls. I really can’t tell you how much it means to me,” she said softly. Suddenly there was a hand on her back, and she looked up to see Rainbow Dash looking at her with a smile.

“Don’t worry about it, man,” Rainbow said. “That’s what friends are for. Give a shout and I’ll come running, no questions asked.”

“Don’t you mean ‘we’ will come running?” Pinkie piped up with a coy smile.

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. “That’s what I said!” She said in a raised voice. Sunset didn’t know if she was imagining it, but it seemed as if her cheeks were redder than usual. “Anyway! Lunch is almost over! You’d better finish your food before the bell rings.”

Sunset looked disdainfully at the sorry tray of food in front of her.

Time Turner stood outside Sugar Cube Corner yet again.

He’d avoided this place for so long, yet here he was for the second time in a week. His heart thudded in his chest and his entire body felt as if it were on fire. He gulped down a lungful of air to calm himself but all that did was accelerate his heartbeat. Turner put his hands in his pockets and closed his eyes tightly, letting out a long breath through his nose. Through the sounds of the hustling and bustling of the people around him, Turner heard singing.

Calm down, Turner, he told himself. This is it. I’ve waited for this day for so long. I can do this.

Could he, though? He wanted to, so badly. But oh God, what if he messed this up? What if he ruined this, ruined them, like he ruined everything? Turner started shaking, his arms trembling at his sides. His knees wobbled, threatening to give out from under him. He was going to fuck this up, he just knew it.

You were a coward before, and you still are now.

Turner raised a foot and slowly inched to the side. I’ll call Berry later and apologize, he thought. It was stupid of me to even think of this. I can’t do this.

He turned to his left and took a step forward. In the back of his mind he remembered how he felt on that day, being told his wife was not coming home. He remembered the darkness, how it creeped over his soul until there was nothing but black. He recalled the hopelessness, the despair, and how there seemed to be only one way out. The phantom feeling of a gun, heavy in his hands, echoed against his palms.

Just then his phone vibrated. Turner froze on the spot and blinked. His body was still now; even the shakes were gone. His heart seemed to freeze in his chest before starting to beat again. Slowly he looked around himself and saw that he was down the street from Sugar Cube Corner. He shook his head and brought his phone from his pocket.

On the screen was a text from Berry Punch. It simply read, “We’re ready.

Turner locked his phone and put it back in his pocket. He stood there for a few moments, letting the other pedestrians move around him as he struggled to organize his thoughts. What was that? He asked. I haven’t had an episode like that in some time.

The fog in his mind dissipated. Turner stood, blinking as the world came back to him. He slowly turned back to face Sugar Cube Corner and began walking towards it. No matter. I have to do this, Turner thought. I’ve come too far to throw this away. He reached the glass doors and pulled them open, then stepped into the bakery. From outside, Turner thought he could hear singing.

He stood in the doorway, gazing through the bakery. His eyes swept across the tables and booths until he found them. Berry Punch, Derpy, and Dinky all sat on one side of a booth towards the back of Sugar Cube Corner. Berry was against the wall, Derpy in the middle, leaving Dinky at the end, their faces all set in solemn expressions.

Now or never, Turner, he told himself. Now or never.

Turner gulped. He brought one hand up to straighten his tie, and then stepped towards them. As he walked, their eyes caught his. Derpy saw him first, and she gave a slight wave. Dinky looked his way and her eyes followed him as he walked. Berry smiled a small smile and straightened her posture as he slid into the other side of the booth.

“Hello everyone,” Turner greeted. He cringed slightly at the noticeable wobble in his voice. “I… I hope you all are having a good day.” He placed his hands on the table and started twiddling with his fingers. “If I may… has your mother said anything to you about why I’m here?”

Derpy cleared her throat before speaking. “She, uh, she said you had something you needed to tell us,” she said. Softer she added, “something big.” She then looked between her sister and mother before looking at Turner again.

“What’s this about?” Dinky asked. She was more than a head shorter than her sister, which clearly showed inside the booth. Her gaze never left Turner, and he felt as if she would pick up on any weakness he showed.

Before Turner could answer her, Berry spoke. “Girls, I told you years ago that you were adopted, and that I adopted you from a close family friend. Do you remember?” She spoke softly, a clear motherly tone in her voice. The girls both nodded, and she continued. “I met your birth mother when we were little kids. We were friends for almost our whole lives,” Berry said with a smile. Turner recognized the sadness in her eyes. “Her name was Ditzy Doo.”

“You told us this before, mom,” Derpy said. There was no attitude in her voice, no impatience either. She clearly knew the importance in this conversation.

“I know,” Berry said. “But it’s important. Ditzy loved you both very much. She was so excited to be a mother. I remember when she told me she was pregnant, and I’d never seen a person so happy. The day she brought you home, Derpy, I’d swear she was glowing brighter than the sun.”

Dinky looked at Berry Punch for a second and then turned to look at Turner. “Did you know our birth mom, Mr. Turner?” She asked.

Turner nodded. “... I did. We were very close. I…” He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. When he opened them, he locked eyes with Berry, who simply nodded. His breath hitched in his throat, but he fought past it. Turner gulped and continued. “Girls, what I’m going to say is going to be a bit shocking. I’m…”

He took in a final breath.

“I’m your father.”

There was silence.

It was as if the world had come to a complete standstill. As the words left his mouth, he felt his ears begin to ring and his head began to swim. The singing from outside sounded as if it were playing in his head. The sounds of the other patrons faded away into nothing, and it seemed as if everything but their booth had faded to black.

Then all at once it came back.

He focused his eyes and looked at his daughters. Both sets of eyes were wide with shock. Derpy's mouth was stuck moving though no words came out, while Dinky simply stared, lips pressed into a thin line. Berry eyed them both cautiously, a hand outstretched towards them.

“Girls?” she asked.

“Wait,” Dinky said. “You? You’re our dad?” Turner couldn’t read any emotion in her words. They were strained, most likely in shock.

Turner nodded slowly. “I am.” He let the words sink in. Derpy slowly tilted her head downwards, looking at the table. Dinky continued to stare a hole in his forehead. “I know this is, well, a lot. If you have any questions, I’m glad to answer them.”

Derpy looked up at him quickly. “Why’d you give us up?”

His heart skipped a beat, though he supposed he shouldn’t be surprised. Of course that’s her first question, he mused. If only I had a good answer.

Turner kept quiet for a few moments. He clasped his hands together and rubbed his thumbs back and forth. “Ditzy, she…” he started, then stopped. His tongue felt like sandpaper. His throat was scratchy. His collar felt much too tight.

“After your mo-” he caught himself, and sighed. “After Ditzy passed, I… was not in a good place. You must understand, I loved you both, but living in a world without her wasn’t something I was prepared for. I almost did something… cowardly.”

His breath shuddered. Turner tried his best to ignore the looks on the girls’ faces as his words set in, but their expressions burned into his mind anyway. “Luckily I was talked out of it, but that made me realize I wasn’t fit to take care of you. When you were born, Berry Punch was declared your guardian in case of emergency. The process of exchanging custody was simple. The rest is history.”

No one spoke for a long time. The silence was almost deafening, save for the singing outside. The other patrons at their tables became louder - some seemed to be arguing. Turner did his best to tune them out. Derpy wore a thoughtful expression on her face and Dinky had decided to cease looking at Turner altogether in favor of staring at the table.

“What was she like?” Derpy asked quietly, “our birth mother.” She leaned forward, resting on her elbows. Turner looked at her for a few moments. He felt the corners of his eyes begin to sting, she really did look so much like her mother.

“In school, some called her strange,” Turner began shakily. “She didn’t have many friends. Ditzy was different from most others. Her eyes were crossed, just like yours, Derpy. That made her clumsy, and she had issues in some subjects, but she never let any of that get her down. She stayed bright and cheerful the entire time I knew her.”

Derpy blinked, and her pupils became crossed. Her expression turned sad. “So I get this from her?”

Turner nodded. “You do. And she got it from her mother.” He looked at both of the girls. “You both look so much like her.” His voice shook even more. He breathed deeply to steady himself. “Ditzy never let her disability stop her. Did you know that she used to work here?” At his question, Derpy shook her head. “Just like you do now, Derpy.”

Turner shifted to look at Dinky. “And you, Dinky.” The younger sibling flinched at her name, but didn’t look at him. “I know how seriously you take your schooling. Ditzy was much the same way. You both have that drive to do your best.” Turner stopped and sighed. “That was one of her best qualities.”

Berry Punch nodded. “I met Ditzy one day after school,” she started. “A group of boys had just finished teasing her about her eyes. But once they walked away, her face was still smiling bright. She skipped away like the whole thing never happened.”

“How did you meet her?” Dinky asked Turner. Her voice was tense and she still refused to look at him. Turner couldn’t blame her.

Turner swallowed and continued. “I met her only a few days after Berry did. You see, as a kid, I was the type to stay inside during recess with my head in a book. One day, Ditzy saw me sitting alone and dragged me outside. She never let me stay inside after that.”

“Once Ditzy set her mind on something, no one could stop her,” Berry said with a laugh.

“Oh, no,” Turner shook his head. “She was a force of nature. No one could stand against her when she was determined.” He allowed himself a quiet laugh. Turner rested himself on his elbows as his smile slowly dropped from his face. “Your mother was the most amazing woman I have ever met,” he said, his voice dropping to barely above a whisper.

“Can…” Derpy started. “Can I ask… how she died?”

Turner flinched back violently. His head snapped up to look at the girl, his eyes wide in shock. “That’s… I-” he stuttered, trying to regain his composure. “I… Oh, I’m sorry, Derpy…” he said breathlessly. “Of course. You have a right to know. It was a car accident. Someone ran a red light… she was hit head on.”

Nearly twenty years on, that was the worst thing in Turner’s eyes. It was nothing out of the ordinary. A common death. Ditzy Doo died unremarkable and remembered by none other than those close to her. Time Turner’s world had been destroyed in a single instant, and for many others it was simply another day. How could the Earth keep turning when the best part of it had been stolen away?

“That’s awful,” Derpy whispered. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Turner.”

Turner’s breath hitched. “You don’t need to say sorry to me,” he said. “But thank you.” He looked at his daughters. Derpy’s eyes had uncrossed now. They were full of emotions that Turner couldn’t place. Dinky continued looking everywhere except for at him, her eyebrows angled and lips pulled into a frown.

Look at what you’re doing to them, he thought. You did this to them. You’ve made them feel these things, you monster. You just had to be selfish, didn’t you?

Turner did his best to pay his thoughts no mind. “Girls,” he began, “I just want you to know that I haven’t come here today expecting anything. I don’t want you to feel like I’m barging into your lives, or trying to change everything. The last thing I want is for you to feel pressured about anything. I want to be in your lives, to be there for you. But if you don’t want that, then I won’t. I won’t force you.”

Derpy and Dinky both turned to look at each other, and then back to him. Dinky’s face trembled with emotion, while Derpy held a downtrodden expression. The sisters stayed silent for a long few moments before one of them finally spoke.

“I…” Dinky started. “I… Mr. Turner, why did you wait so long? If we really mean that much to you, why didn’t you say something sooner?”

“I was scared. Scared that I would hurt you, or that Berry would think I was trying to take you from her. I was scared of that… and I was also just scared of doing it. The very thought terrified me. I suppose the answer is just that I’ve been a coward.”

Dinky’s mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. Her eyes locked with Turner’s for a second, and he saw how they seemed to glaze over for a split second. Her eyes narrowed and her mouth formed a sharp frown. The singing from outside returned in full force.

“That’s it? You were scared?” Dinky’s voice dripped with venom. “Because you were scared, mom had to raise two kids on her own? We had to grow up without a dad because you were scared?”

“I-” Turner tried to say, but Dinky cut him off.

“I don’t ever want to see you again.”

With that, Dinky stood and stomped away. Turner watched her as she reached the front doors of the bakery and stepped outside. He watched through the glass doors with wide eyes as she moved to the street corner and stood.

“Um,” Derpy spoke. Turner turned to look at her. “I… I should probably go check on her.”

“Yes, that would be for the best,” Turner said with a sigh. “Please tell her that I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way.”

Derpy nodded as she exited the booth. “I will.” She stood and cast a glance towards the exit. “For what it’s worth, Mr. Turner, I appreciate you telling us all of that. It couldn’t have been easy,” she said with a soft look in her eyes.

“It wasn’t. But I’m glad I did.”

Derpy smiled. “I’m glad you did too. I don’t know what will happen next, but I promise that we’ll be in touch. Right, mom?”

Berry Punch began to exit the booth as well. “Yeah. Time, I’ll keep you posted. I promise we’ll figure things out soon.” As she stood, she looked down at Turner and smiled. “I’m proud of you. You really did it.”

Turner chuckled. “I almost chickened out.”

Berry just shook her head. “Well, what matters in the end is that you did it. Come on, Derpy. Let’s get your sister and head home. You two have a lot to think about, I’m sure.”

Nodding, Derpy followed Berry to the doors. She looked back at Turner and flashed a bright smile, though Turner noticed the strain. “Bye, Mr. Turner. Keep your spirits up!” Turner watched her go and waved slowly. They opened the doors and stepped through them, and suddenly Turner was quite aware of the empty seats in front of him.

He could hear the singing from outside again, clear as day. Turner crossed his arms on the table and rested his head in his elbow, letting out a long sigh as he did. All at once his entire body relaxed. Stress he didn’t know he’d been holding was released, and he suddenly felt very tired.

Ditzy, what would you have done? He asked. If it had been me, and you were here now. Am I doing the right thing?

He remembered their expressions as he told them the story of how Ditzy died.

You’ve hurt them, because you had to be selfish. They were happy. Happy without you. What right did you have to mess that up?

In his head he saw Derpy’s smile as she left Sugar Cube Corner. I haven’t messed it up. Derpy seemed to take it well. She needs some time, obviously, but she’ll be okay. I didn’t mess her up, he told himself.

Dinky’s look of pure anger flashed in his mind. And what about Dinky? You’ve upset her so much. All because you just had to get it off your chest. She hates you now. You could have avoided all of this.

She doesn’t hate me, Turner insisted. She’s angry. She deserves to be.

In the back of his head Turner remembered sitting in his room, on the edge of a bed too big for one person. He remembered the feeling of holding something weighty in his hands. He remembered the feeling of cold metal being pressed against the side of his head, and the feeling of his finger on the trigger-

Turner recalled the sound of a door opening. He recalled the feeling of the bed giving way as someone sat next to him. He recalled soft fingers delicately taking the gun from his hands, and a soft voice ringing in his ears as he fell into Luna’s arms, tears falling down his face.

You should have pulled the trigger, his head told him. Who would even care about you?

Turner’s body stiffened. He slowly sat up straight and blinked a few times. No, he thought. I won’t go through that again. I refuse. Turner got out from the booth and gingerly rose to his feet. He gave Sugar Cube Corner a long look before stuffing his hands in his coat pockets and walking towards the door.

They would care. I am cared for, and they would mourn me. I won’t put them through that, Turner told himself as he walked outside. Images of Luna, Celestia, Berry Punch, Derpy, and Dinky flashed in his mind as he walked along the sidewalk. The singing faded away as Time Turner left Sugar Cube Corner behind.

Chapter 10 - This Is Me Trying

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“Come on, let’s get you to Sweet Apple Acres.”

Sunset stood on the passenger side of Rainbow Dash’s car with the door open and one foot already inside. Rainbow plopped into the driver’s seat and started the car, the engine roaring to life. Sunset slowly sat down in seat and sighed, placing her backpack at her feet.

“I don’t know, Dash. I think I should just go home,” Sunset said with a sigh. Rainbow Dash’s head snapped in her direction, an incredulous look on her face.

“You serious right now?” Rainbow Dash asked. “Why? Granny Smith’s giving you an actual bed to sleep on and you’d rather spend the night in a rundown building?”

With a shake of her head, Sunset closed her door, the car shaking with the resulting slam. “I don’t want to take advantage of the Apples. Granny Smith and Applejack would be fine with me there, but what about Apple Bloom and Big Macintosh? I don’t think they’d be very happy with me sleeping there every night.”

Rainbow Dash scoffed. “Have you asked them?”

“I don’t think they’d be very willing to speak to me.”

“Okay, fine. Did you ask Applejack to ask them?

Sunset paused. “No.”

Rainbow threw her head back and let out a long, frustrated groan. “Seriously, Sunset…” she said, slapping a hand against her forehead. “You can’t just assume the worst. Applejack is probably the most stubborn member of that family and even she’s come around. I’m sure Big Mac and Apple Bloom would be fine.”

Sunset crossed her arms. “Maybe. But I’d rather not bother them.”

The two girls stared each other down for a few moments. Rainbow Dash narrowed her eyes at Sunset, who simply looked at her in response. Eventually, with a groan, Rainbow rolled her eyes and turned away. “Fine,” she huffed. “No Sweet Apple Acres.”

“Thank you.”

A few seconds of silence passed between them. The only noise in the car was the hum of the engine and the muffled noises of other students’ cars leaving the parking lot. Suddenly, Rainbow Dash reached for the keys, twisted, and pulled them out of the ignition. The engine died with a low noise.

“What’s up?” Sunset asked with a raised eyebrow.

Rainbow pushed her door open and stepped out of the car. “Gotta make a call,” she said and pushed the door shut, leaving Sunset alone. Through the window she watched Rainbow Dash lean against the side of the car and pull out her phone. Sunset watched her for a few seconds before turning away.

Only a few students remained on school grounds. The parking lot was almost empty at this point, and just a handful of people loitered elsewhere. Sunset’s eyes passed over them all before landing on one in particular. His blue hair was immediately recognizable.

Flash Sentry stood next to his car, a backpack slung over one shoulder and a guitar case over the other. He swung open a door and placed his belongings in the passenger seat before he suddenly stood up straight and turned around. His eyes locked with Sunset’s through the glass.

Sunset felt herself freeze as her eyes widened. She wanted to look away, but found herself unable. Flash was a good distance away from her, but she could tell that he was looking directly at her. He stood, unmoving, for a good while before slowly turning away and getting into his car. Sunset let out a long breath as he drove away.

She was never really in love with Flash Sentry. When they were together, it was purely for her own benefit. He was the popular pretty boy, with a cool car and a band that the school liked. It seemed only natural for her to use his popularity to her advantage. And look at where that got me, Sunset thought.

The driver side door opened and Sunset jumped, breaking her out of her thoughts. “I’m back,” Rainbow Dash said as she sat down and closed the door. She took a moment to settle in her seat and then looked at Sunset. “Is something wrong?” she asked with a concerned look.

Sunset was silent for a second before answering with a sigh. “Just realizing how many people I still need to apologize to.”

Rainbow Dash hummed in response. “Dude, no offense, but there’s no way you’ll be able to apologize to everyone you’ve ever hurt,” she said matter-of-factly. Sunset shot her a glare, causing Rainbow to raise her hands in surrender. “Just sayin’.”

“What do you expect me to do, then?” Sunset asked.

“I want you to succeed at this,” Rainbow said. “You can go around the school and say ‘I’m sorry’ all day, but that’s not always going to work, you know? And there’s no way you’ll be able to say it to everyone in the school. You need to show them you’ve changed, not just tell them.”

Sunset considered her words. “... So, what do you think I should do?”

Rainbow Dash shrugged. “Hell if I know.”

Sunset gave her an unimpressed look.

“Look, maybe we can stick you up on a stage and you can give ‘em a big speech about friendship or something. We’ll figure it out!” Rainbow said with a smirk. Sunset’s face did not change. Rainbow’s smile fell. “Here, when we get to my house we’ll see if CHS has any events coming up and-”

“What? Your house?”

“Oh yeah.” Rainbow’s face lit up with sparkling eyes and a proud smile. “I was on the phone with my dad. You’re staying at my place for a bit.”

What?! I can’t stay at your place!” Sunset shrieked, causing Rainbow Dash to flinch away.

“Chill. Listen, I’ve thought this through-”

“Really,” Sunset deadpanned.

“Really!” Rainbow insisted. “Your whole deal about staying with the Apples is you don’t want to take advantage of them or make ‘em uncomfortable, right?”

Sunset nodded.

“Well, I have no issue with you staying at my place, and I don’t have any siblings. And my parents? They fawn over me so much they basically just let me do whatever. The second I told my dad I had a friend who needed a place to stay, he was crying about how good a friend his daughter was. They won’t have any problems with you.”

Sunset just stared at Rainbow Dash, who still wore her proud smile. “I…” Sunset started. “I don’t know. That still feels like taking advantage of them.”

“Oh, it is,” Rainbow said, her smile now a grin. “But you’re not taking advantage of them. I am.”

The two of them fell into silence. Rainbow crossed her arms behind her head and closed her eyes, still very obviously proud of herself. Sunset continued to stare before she suddenly broke out into laughter. She laughed loudly, clutching at her gut as she struggled to regain composure.

“Well, I guess I don’t have a choice, then,” Sunset said through the last of her laughter. “Thanks, Rainbow Dash.”

“No problem,” Rainbow replied as she reignited the engine. “Pinkie’s gonna kill us when she finds out we had a sleepover without her, though.”

Sunset smiled. “I’m sure we can make it up to her.”

“... And then I went home. I called you as soon as I got back,” Turner said.

Luna and Time Turner stood on opposite ends of his porch, illuminated by the setting sun. She’d rushed over as soon as Turner had given her a call, eager to hear everything. He relayed the story as she listened in silence, letting him speak at his own pace. When Turner finished, she stayed silent for a few moments before speaking.

“Well, all things considered, it sounds like it went alright,” Luna spoke smoothly. “I’m glad. I knew you would do well, but part of me was worried.”

Turner nodded. “I know. I was worried, too. Nearly had a panic attack just standing outside of the bakery.”

Luna’s brow furrowed as she frowned. “Yes, you told me about that. That is… troubling, Time. I know it was a stressful situation, but you haven’t had an episode like that in quite some time. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Turner’s lips formed a small smile. “I’m fine. I feel much better now that the girls know the truth. That was the important part.”

Luna’s frown deepened. She stepped towards Turner and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Time, it’s great that you finally told the girls the truth, but please don’t forget that you are important, too.”

They stared at each other in silence. For a few moments, neither of them spoke. Slowly, he raised a hand, wrapped it around her wrist and gently moved her hand off his shoulder. “Thank you, Luna. I really do mean it,” he said softly. “I don’t think I could have done this without your support.”

“You can’t forget that you were the one to make it happen. No matter how much I supported you, in the end you were the one to go through with it. You are much stronger than you used to be.”

Turner hummed. “I suppose.” Truth be told, he didn’t feel all that different, but he decided to take Luna’s word for it. “Though now all I can do is wait. It’s up to Derpy and Dinky to decide where we go from here. My part is done, for now.”

“No matter what happens, I am proud of you, Time,” Luna said. “And even if she refuses to admit it, I know Celestia is, too. She’s just stubborn.”

Turner let out a short laugh. “Berry Punch said she needs to get over it.”

“That she does,” Luna said with a smile. “Whatever my sister feels, the decision was never hers. It was yours, and she needs to respect it, regardless of how it made her feel.”

In lieu of a response, Turner just let out a noise. He was never as close to Celestia as he was with Luna. Ditzy was the one Celestia was friends with, not him. When Derpy and Dinky were born, Turner recalled Celestia being immediately taken with them, and how crushed she was when Turner gave them away. That news, on top of Ditzy’s death, hit her hard.

We have that in common, at least, Turner thought to himself. He and Luna exchanged a few more words before saying their goodbyes.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” Sunset said flatly.

“Don’t be a wimp, man. Just walk in.” Rainbow Dash grasped Sunset’s shoulder and flashed her a grin. “It’ll be fine, trust me.”

“I don’t know…” Sunset looked up at the house in front of her, while her stomach felt increasingly heavy. It was a modest looking house, not too big or too small. The lights were on and through a window she could see a wall filled with pictures. Many of the pictures showed what looked like a younger Rainbow Dash holding up trophies of some kind.

Rainbow Dash caught her eye, her face cringing slightly. “Yeah. Like I said, they’re pretty much my number one fans.” She made a gagging motion. “It’s kinda embarrassing. But they’re my parents, so, y’know. Gotta love ‘em anyway.”

Sunset stared at the pictures again, pictures undoubtedly taken by proud parents who loved their daughter. In the back of her mind, Sunset wondered how her parents would feel about her now. A runaway in an alien world, a failed conqueror, and now an outcast. Did they even know if she was still alive?

“Hey,” Rainbow Dash said softly. “You alright?” She stepped in front of Sunset, blocking her view of the house. Sunset didn’t respond immediately, and instead just looked downward. Rainbow Dash brought a hand to her chin and pulled her head up. “Look, if you really don’t want to stay here, I can bring you to your place. I don’t… I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable or anything.”

Sunset sighed. “It’s not that. I just haven’t seen my parents in…” she took in a shaky breath. “A long time. I was just wondering what they’d think of me now.”

“Oh. Well, shit. Offer still stands. If you don’t think you can do it-”

Sunset cut her off. “No, no. It’s fine. Thanks.” Letting out a breath, Sunset stepped around Rainbow and walked to the front door. “Let’s go.”

Rainbow Dash stood still for a second, watching her as she walked, before following her. “A word of warning,” she said, fumbling for her keys. “When I said my parents were my number one fans, I wasn’t exaggerating.”

“I’m sure I can handle it.”

She could not handle it.

Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles were nothing if not proud of their daughter. As soon as Sunset entered the house she was bombarded with question after question, like how she knew Rainbow Dash and how they became friends, if she’d seen her play soccer or any of the other sports she was good at. Then there were the pictures. So many pictures, some of Rainbow Dash winning a game but many others were just her doing mundane things.

Rainbow Dash stood off to the side, clearly embarrassed, until eventually she had enough and dragged Sunset away into another room. Rainbow Dash shut the door behind them and locked it, shutting her parents out. They could still be heard through the walls, fanboying over their daughter’s accomplishments.

Sunset stared at Rainbow Dash for a few seconds before speaking. “Jeez. Your parents…”

Rainbow Dash crossed her arms. “Are really frigging embarrassing, yeah.”

“No, they love you. A lot.”

Rainbow’s face lit up red. She uncrossed her arms and turned away from Sunset. “Yeah, well… They could stand to tone it down a bit,” she mumbled under her breath. Sunset let out a chuckle.

“I’m not arguing that. But still, it must be nice to know they’ll always have your back.” Sunset looked around the room. The walls were a sky blue with a large cloud pattern swirling across all four walls. A clothes hamper filled with laundry and a soccer ball sat next to a large wardrobe with two handles each with a medal hanging off it. A shelf was on the wall with a boombox resting on it - and what looked like two Daring Do books lay hidden under it. Sunset smirked.

Daring Do, huh?” she asked teasingly.

Rainbow Dash sped over, blocking her view of the books. “Never mind that! Ignore them!”

“Didn’t take you for much of a reader.”

Rainbow Dash walked over to the boombox, lifted it, and retrieved the books. “I’m not. Not really, anyway. Daring Do’s just the only book I’ve ever been able to get into.” She opened the doors to the wardrobe and tossed the books into it. “I’m more into movies and games.”

Sunset hummed to herself, walking around the room, soaking it all in. Ever since arriving in this world, she hadn’t had much of a chance to see how other people her age lived. “I haven’t watched many movies or played any video games.”

Rainbow Dash’s head snapped to her direction. “What? Seriously?”

“Yeah. I mean, Flash tried to get me to watch those space movies when we were dating, but I couldn’t get into ‘em.”

Rainbow Dash’s face fell. “Which movies did you watch?”

“Uh,” Sunset tried to recall. “He said they were the first three chronologically?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “The prequels suck. Shoulda had you watch the original trilogy. Those are easily the best.”

Sunset walked over to Rainbow Dash’s bed and sat on the edge. The mattress sank under her weight, and Sunset noted how soft it felt. “You know more about those movies than I thought you would. Maybe you do have a secret nerd side.”

No way. Rainbow Dash ain’t no egghead,” Rainbow Dash said indignantly. Sunset laughed, causing Rainbow to look even more offended. “I’m not!”

“Okay, okay. I believe you,” Sunset said. “You nerd.”

Rainbow Dash sat beside her, her eyes narrowed. “I can still kick you out, you know.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

The two of them lapsed into a comfortable silence, while Sunset continued looking around the room. Rainbow Dash waited, letting her take it in. Eventually Rainbow cleared her throat, breaking the silence. “So, uh, I dunno how you wanna handle the sleeping arrangements. We don’t really have a spare room and, well, y’know. I could just let you take the bed and I could sleep on the floor.”

As she spoke, Sunset watched Rainbow Dash stammer and laughed. “I’m not taking your bed away from you, Rainbow Dash. I’ll sleep on the floor,” Sunset said through her chuckles. However the floor felt, it couldn’t be worse than the warehouse after all.

“You sure? I don’t mind sleeping on the floor,” Rainbow said.

“Neither do I. I do mind making you do it, though, so it’s decided,” Sunset insisted. The two of them stared intently at the other for a few seconds before Rainbow Dash finally relented.

“Fine, fine,” Rainbow Dash said as she threw her hands into the air. “I’ll go get you some pillows and blankets.” She then stood and walked towards the door.

“Thank you.”

“But!” Rainbow suddenly wheeled around and pointed at Sunset. “I’m so gonna kick your ass at Smash. We’ll start when I get back.” With that, Rainbow threw the door open and walked out. Sunset, still resting on the edge of the bed, watched her leave. Now alone in the room, she smiled to herself.

So this is what friendship feels like.

She knocked three times. “Dinky? I know you’re in there. Please let me in?” Derpy called through the door. She stood there for a few seconds awaiting a response, but none came. “Dinky?” She knocked again, but again there was no reply. “You haven’t eaten dinner yet. Please come out.”

Derpy heard muffled footsteps as her sister came to open the door. It swung open revealing Dinky standing there with a large frown on her face. “Oh, Dinky,” Derpy said, placing a hand on Dinky’s shoulder. “Are you alright?”

The younger sister didn’t meet her gaze. “I dunno,” she muttered. “I’ve just been thinking.”

“Do you wanna talk about it?” Derpy asked.

Dinky was quiet for a bit before stepping back, letting Derpy’s hand fall to her side. She then turned and walked to her bed, sitting down on the edge. Derpy followed and sat next to her, wrapping an arm around Dinky’s shoulders. Dinky shrugged the arm away.

“What are you thinking about?” Derpy asked.

“Like you even need to ask,” Dinky said stiffly.

Derpy’s gaze fell to the floor, her eyes going cross-eyed. “Yeah…”

Dinky gulped, her dry throat screaming at her for doing so. “I’m just really… confused. About what he told us. About what to do now. You know?” She looked up at her sister, but Derpy was still looking at the floor.

“I know,” Derpy whispered.

Dinky continued. “I know why mom didn’t tell us, and I guess I can even understand why Turner - Time - Dad? Ugh…” Dinky paused, breathing deeply, before continuing. “I get why he was scared. But it still makes me so… so mad. All these years, all the time mom spent raising us alone… and he could have been there. But he chose not to be!” Dinky spoke, her voice getting louder slightly with each word. “I just don’t know how to feel about it.”

“I understand. I’m confused too,” Derpy said. She finally met Dinky’s gaze, and gave her a sad smile. “There’s so much I still want to ask him. I want to really know what she was like. I want to ask what it was like, choosing to give us up. And I want to know why he chose now to tell us all this. But really, I don’t even know if I’m going to ask him…”

Dinky tilted her head. “You don’t know?”

“I don’t,” Derpy said with a shake of her head. “There’s going to be so much going on in the next year. Graduation, college, my job… I don’t know if I could handle all of that on top of this. It’s all so much. But I do know that if I don’t ask him those things, then I’ll never know.”

Dinky clasped her hands together in her lap and looked at them. “What do you think is going to happen? Y’know, with him.”

Derpy hummed. “I don’t know. Every time I’ve pictured my future, I’ve never pictured having our dad in it. I was, and am, alright with it just being you, me, and mom. So whatever we decide, I know we’ll be fine.” Derpy wrapped her sister in a tight hug. “Because I also know that I love you.”

Dinky slowly returned the embrace. “I love you too.”

Chapter 11: Recovering [OLD]

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You find out that your science teacher is also the father of two students you used to bully? Awkward.

Your ex shows up out of nowhere, right in the middle of your emotional breakdown? Also awkward.

I swear, my life is a teenage drama. Sunset’s inward thoughts groaned.

“Uh, hi... Sunset.” Flash Sentry’s voice was also awkward. Adorably awkward, she had to admit. The way he held himself, with most of his weight shifted to the right and one hand always in the pocket of his jeans with the other hanging stiffly at his side, it all screamed awkward. Lover boy’s lost without his girlfriend, Sunset sneered. Twilight Sparkle and Flash Sentry. Couple of the year, ladies and gentlemen. I wonder how miss “Pretty Purple Pony Princess” is getting along without her boyfriend.

Uh... Wow, that was mean.

Sunset avoided looking directly at Flash- no matter what she did, flashbacks of the Fall Formal still haunted her. The way that Demon had forcefully stripped away the free will of the students... It horrified her. “Hey, Flash.” She finally replied. Say sorry say sorry say sorry-

Before she could say anything, Flash opened his mouth. “I just... wanted to check up on you. You seemed really on edge today. I wanted to talk to you earlier, but...” He glanced at Rainbow Dash and pointed at her. “She growled at me.” He said dumbly. Rainbow Dash chuckled nervously and slowly moved her hand to the back of her head.

Sunset let out a small laugh. “Heh, yeah... She does that.” She smiled as she gazed at her rainbow friend from the corner of her eye. “So, you...” Sunset started as she pushed herself to her feet, wobbling as she did so. “You wanted to check up on me?” She asked with a slight smile. Despite their entire relationship being nothing but a lie, it was nice to know that someone other than Rainbow Dash and her group of friends cared about her.

It was now Flash’s turn to grin. “Y-Yeah, I, uh...” He laughed a little as he rubbed the back of his head. He cleared his throat. “I saw how scared you were in the hallways and, well, knowing how you used to be... It was hard to believe, you know? So I wanted to make sure you were alright. Other than Dash, there, nobody else seemed interested in doing that.”

At the mention of her name, Rainbow Dash too got to her feet, though she jumped up.

“Well, I’m...” Sunset paused, mulling over her words in her mind. “I wouldn’t say that I’m ‘alright’, but I’m managing, I suppose.” She said with a shrug. “Between Rainbow Dash, Applejack and even Rarity, I’ve had some help.” Her smile grew wider. Her voice dropped to a mumble. “Friends really are a great thing to have...”

Rainbow Dash suddenly patted Sunset on the back with a wide grin. “You bet, Sunset. Like I said, I’ll be with ya every step of the way!” The athlete laughed loudly.

Flash Sentry smiled. Despite the horrible things that Sunset did during her time as a bully, if Rainbow Dash was willing to stand by her, then who was he to think different? “So... yeah. That’s all, I guess. Bye, Sunset.” He said simply before turning and walking away.

Or he would have, if someone hadn’t grabbed his arm.

“Huh?” He looked over his shoulder to see that the offending force keeping him from moving was Sunset. “Wh-What is it, Sunset?” He questioned.

The flame-haired girl stammered, trying to start the sentence but kept choking on her own words. “I-I...” Dang it, just spit it out! If you can’t apologize to him, how will you be able to apologize to everybody else?! “I’m... I’m sorry, Flash. For everything.” She finally said with a sigh. “I’m sorry for being such a jerk, for leading you on, for getting you involved in a fake relationship, for using you, for... Well, for being a really horrible person.” Sunset finished, her entire body seeming to deflate, her shoulders sagging and face falling, as she ended her words.

“Oh...” Flash mumbled in surprise. “W-Well, uh...” He shifted his eyes left and right, trying to think of what to say. “Well, there must have been some good in you. I mean, I-I never told anybody about you being... Well...” His eyes moved past Sunset to Rainbow Dash. Sunset looked over her shoulder and shrugged.

“She knows that I’m homeless, Flash. And thanks for not telling anybody... Even though you had every reason to.”

“Hey, you may have been a jerk to everybody,” He cringed at his terrible choice of words. “but you’re making up for it now, I guess...” He trailed off, tilting his head downward. “So... Yeah, I don’t think you were a totally mean person last week... I’m just repeating myself now.”

He and Sunset shared a chuckle. Rainbow Dash grinned.

“So...” Sunset began with a grin, holding out her hand. “Friends?”

Flash clasped his hand around hers and shook them with a grin. “Friends.”

The two simply stood, hands locked together, staring at the other with smiles on their faces... Until Rainbow Dash let out a long groan. “Enough with the goo-goo eyes, guys. We need to go!” She said in exasperation. She, for some reason, found herself glaring at Flash. The phrase ‘waifu stealer’, for some reason, came to mind.

As the three walked out of the school, with Rainbow Dash and Flash Sentry on either side of Sunset Shimmer, she found herself grinning from ear to ear. That was simple enough, I guess... If he can forgive me, then I guess others can, too... Things are looking up. I hope...

"So, uh," Flash began. "what were you too doing in the school anyway?"

Sunset and Dash groaned as they started to explain.

Turner sat in a random students’ desk in the back of his classroom, hunched over with his elbows on the table and his hand clutching his hair as tears dropped from his face onto the wooden top. His brown trenchcoat had long-since been abandoned, lying in a heap on the ground just a few feet away from him. His blue suit was wrinkled, the cuffs on his sleeves undone. He had long since ceased his sobs. By this point he simply sat in silence, never moving or speaking. Turner simply wallowed in his sorrows, completely and utterly alone.

With a sigh he slowly stood from the chair which made a loud creak as he steadied himself on his feet. Alright, Turner. You’ve been through this song and dance before... Just not in this exact scenario. Indeed, there have been many time Turner cried for his lost family. And just like every other time, you’re gonna get right back up. Go back to teaching tomorrow. And move on. He knew that the last part was a lie.

Now, then. Time to go.

What do you mean, time to go?

Go home. Call Celestia, say you’re not coming to school tomorrow. And mope until you feel better. You tried. You gave them their explanation, and they’re gonna live knowing that they have a father they can count on... Even if they don’t realize it yet. The rational part of his brain reasoned. In the end, that’s all a father can do. Be there for his children.

But was I ever there for them?

You were there when Derpy and Dinky won their first spelling bee. You were there for all their birthday parties thrown in class. You were there for them to talk to, and to trust. You did your best.

Did I?


That was the truth of the matter... He did not try his best. When the darkness got too rough, he tried to end it all. When that failed he gave them up. His own daughters, flesh and blood, and gave them to a friend who was not ready to be a parent. And yet Berry Punch was a fantastic mother. His daughters did well for themselves, yes, but they didn’t do it alone. Their friends: Rumble, Featherweight and their adoptive cousin Berry Pinch, and yes even their adoptive mother Berry Punch. Like Turner said, Derpy and Dinky had never needed him.

And as much as he would love to have them back, they were no longer his. No, while he may be their biological father, he had already given up any right to be their parent. Berry Punch was their mother, is their mother, and he just needed to get over it. Turner had made his choice long ago.

With his mind clear, he straightened himself out. He tightied up his hair, rubbed the wrinkles out of his suit and picked up his brown trenchcoat from the floor and put it on. He took the locket out of the coat’s pocket, and with but a moment’s hesitation put it around his neck.

“I’m sorry, Derpy, Dinky. Truly. But you never needed me, and you don’t now.”

Only one more tear fell from his eye as he opened the door and walked out calmly. If they don’t want anything to do with me, its their choice, not mine. If they want me in their lives, they’ll tell me. I have no right to intrude where I’m not wanted. Though his mind was clear, his heart ached, yearned, to be with his daughters once more. But instead of going to them, he went home.

His vision was blurred.

Oh, he could see just fine. Though the green haze surrounding his sight was indeed there, he hardly even noticed it, as if it was not there. But it was. He wasn’t sure why he could see through it... In fact, he was not sure of anything at the moment. While the green haze had no affect on his sight, it did blur his mind.

So there he stood, in an abandoned warehouse, on a slightly raised platform in the center of the room. The warehouse was dark, damp and dirty with rats noisily scurrying from one end to another and bugs crawling around silently. But he didn’t notice any of this. The green haze fogged his mind. At the moment, he wouldn’t notice if the world collapsed around him.

This is familiar.

That one thought- one singly line of words in his head- was the only thing to get through the fog. And it was true, he had experienced this sort of trance before, just last Friday night. Not that he made the connection. The fog quickly patched up any holes for thoughts to get through and prevented any more free thinking. The green haze on his mind and vision thickened. Crimson Napalm was completely and utterly under their spell.

On either side of Napalm was another person, not that he noticed. One was a male student that looked to be around his junior or senior year. He was tall, extremely so. He could me mistaken for a full-grown adult if it weren’t for his juvenile looking face, what with his pudgy cheeks and undefined chin. His light skin provided a nice contrast to the darkness of the warehouse, along with the stark whiteness of his button-up shirt. His black jeans, however, blended in nicely with the dark. And like Napalm, he too was under their spell. The other person was another male in a nice red shirt with a folded collar, on top of the shirt was a white tie, which complemented his fancy grey jacket with a lightning pin on the collar. His skin was a light blue, and his hair was a slightly darker shade of blue. Like the previous two, he was also under their spell.

Ah, yes. Them. The ones who cast this spell.

Napalm never saw them, nor did the other two students.

There were three of them, all of them girls. One was yellow. Very yellow. From her skin, to her hair (Which was also very orange. And fluffy.). Her eyes were a devilish magenta, though occasionally they flashed green due to the spell being cast. Her sisters, one purple skinned and purple-and-blue haired (She wore two ponytails) and purple eyed, the other blue skinned and blue-and-darker-blue haired (She wore one ponytail.) and blue eyed. Together, the trio made up the fearsome Sirens.

Or they would be, once they reached their full power.

Adagio Dazzle stood in front of the raised platform that held the brainwashed teens. Her magenta eyes slowly gazed over the three mind-controlled boys, a smirk growing on her face as she did so. She laughed smoothly, almost devilishly. Their magic wasn’t nearly as powerful without true Equestrian magic, but that would change soon enough. And these three boys would be the key to ripping that magic from Canterlot High.

“You know, girls,” She began, her voice naturally slipping into her deep and alluring tone. Her two sisters walked up behind her. “I don’t know about you two, but I really want our magic back.” Her smirk grew ever wider and her eyes hungry. She turned to face Aria and Sonata. “I’d say we sic these boys on their school as soon as possible... maybe, oh, I dunno... tomorrow?” She laughed as she finished. Her laughter was soon followed by her two sisters’, their voices echoing dauntingly from the walls of the warehouse.

Crimson Napalm could only weakly struggle against the binds of the green fog in his mind, internally screaming for help.

Adagio’s laugh ceased and she signaled for her sisters to stop laughing as well. “We need to move fast, girls. Our magic can’t hold them for long.” She stated, walking away. “And one of you needs to move those boys downstairs. I’m tired of looking at them.”

Yes, Adagio Dazzle thought. Soon enough, we will be at our peak! And the way to do that... is in Canterlot High.

Yet again, her smooth and cool laughter echoed through the walls of the warehouse.

Crimson Napalm continued to bang on the prison walls of his mind.

As he and the other boys were pulled away and down the stairs, he could only watch as the Sirens walked out of the dark basement, shut the door and locked it. The blue one’s laugh was the creepiest.

Interlude: The Week [OLD]

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Tuesday came and went with hardly any incident.

Some students noticed Mr. Turner's sudden absence, but they dismissed it as an unexpected sick day or something similar. Derpy and Dinky Doo were also missing from the school's populace, but nobody made any connection between them and Time Turner.

Sunset Shimmer seemed to be happier- which made several other students unhappier. None of them confronted the former bully, mostly because of her friend Rainbow Dash. Flash Sentry, oddly enough, also seemed protective of Shimmer.

Principal Celestia announced their newest school event- the Canterlot High Musical Showcase, which was to take place in a week. Apparently, it was to make up for the disaster of the Fall Formal. The students were excited to get started on their songs and to show off their musical talent. Rainbow Dash and her friends immediately jumped at the chance and formed a band- the Rainbooms- but oddly didn’t include Sunset Shimmer. Not that she minded. Really.

Crimson Napalm, Featherweight and Azure Strike seemed a little off. They seemed more aggressive than usual; and they would not stop talking about magic. Nobody questioned them. Anyone who even wondered about their attitude was rudely shoved into a locker or on the ground. Other students stayed out of their way.

The lights in Celestia's office were bright, opposite of the principal's mood. How could she be happy when she ruined Luna and Turner's friendship, and Turner's chances of earning his daughter's trust? No, under these circumstances she had no right to be in a good mood. So she sat in her chair, elbows resting on her desk with her hands folded over her mouth as she stared ahead.

Classes were wrapping up. Another day gone. Only a few more minutes.

Celestia's mind was blank- she thought of nothing as she stood and walked out of her office as the bell rung. Luna hadn't said a word to her all day. Maybe a quick stop at Sugar Cube Corner could fix that.

Wednesday was much the same as Tuesday.

Mr. Turner was still absent, but at least the substitute teacher was nice. Also still absent were Derpy and Dinky. Still, no student made any connection between them.

What was noticed, however, was Rainbow Dash. She was still very protective of Sunset Shimmer, but seemed more... Subdued. Instead of scaring away anybody who walked too close to the fallen bully, she would let them talk before deciding to growl them away or not. The only person not to get growled at was Vinyl Scratch, who ended up fist-bumping Rainbow and Sunset before walking away smiling.

Crimson Napalm was given detention today. Featherweight and Azure Strike were nowhere to be found. Napalm punched Carrot Top in the gut, sending her home for the day. He mentioned something about the mirror portal. Nobody knew why.

Time Turner received a call from Berry Punch that night.

"Hello?" He asked slowly. He saw the caller ID- he knew who he was talking to. But maybe, just maybe, it could be Derpy or Dinky-

"Time." Berry Punch said curtly. That one word dashed any wishes he had. "Might I ask why my daughters came home crying on Monday, and why I had to explain to them why you gave them up?" She always emphasized that they were hers, not his. She was angry. Turner would have to be stupid not to tell. And even then...

"Ah, right..." He explained what happened yesterday, and explicitly told the woman that he had not intended the secret be spilled. "But," he began again. "Why are you calling me about this now? Why didn't you call me two days ago?"

Berry Punch chuckled. "Believe it or not, they wanted me to wait. They wanted to think about all this." She paused, thinking over her next words. "They want to meet with you, Time."

Berry heard a bunch of clattering and sputtering as, in his shock, Time Turner dropped his phone and choked on his breath. When he finally recovered he picked up the phone. "Th-They... They want to...?"

"To meet with you, yes." She confirmed. "On Saturday, at Sugar Cube Corner at noon. I'll be there, you can bring Luna if you'd like."

Turner was at a loss for words. In the end he could only say thank you.

Berry Punch hung up.

Thursday was when things got strange.

Sunset Shimmer and Flash Sentry walked around the school, which Sunset apologizing to students for her past actions. Very few even spared her a glance. Some even tried to shove her away, but Flash had grabbed their arms and stopped them. A common murmur between students was "Is Shimmer sincere, or is she lying?" And nobody really knew the answer to that.

The strangest thing though, was Time Turner.

Suddenly back at school, his grin had never left his face the entire day. He seemed giddy, goofy even. Some students noticed his golden locket- usually in his pocket- hanging around his neck. Perhaps he had reconnected with a lost flame? Again, nobody knew the answer. But Turner's ecstatic mood never left him.

Three girls were hanging around the statue. Nobody knew who they were.


Exactly one week since the Fall Formal.

Of course, nobody wanted to mention it- but it was constantly hanging over their heads. And today, the students’ hate for Sunset Shimmer intensified. Their glares were sharp, their silent resentment torture.

Rainbow Dash’s extreme protectiveness of Sunset skyrocketed to overpower the students’ hatred. The athlete made sure to never be too far away from her friend unless she absolutely had no choice. One girl in particular was very rudely shoved aside when she tried to talk to the pair. This girl just so happened to be Tennis Match, one of the girls from Friday night that was with Crimson Napalm. Rainbow Dash didn’t care what Tennis Match had to say- it was probably nothing good.

Through the week, very few people ever warmed up to Sunset- the number of people she had talked to could be counted on two hands; Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Flash Sentry and Vinyl Scratch were the only ones who can get through Rainbow Dash’s protective shield.

Time Turner was still incredibly giddy and happy. He refused to say why, but everyone still held on to the theory that it had something to do with the golden locket around his neck.

The three girls were spotted again. They scared a few students away.

The week is over. The bell is about to ring. So why is Sunset Shimmer still in the library?

This. Is quite possibly. The stupidest. Idea. I have ever come up with.

She was lucky that the library didn’t close until an hour after school, otherwise her plan would have been completely shot. Sure, she could probably just run over to the city library, or even just use the Internet, but doing either had some risks. Going to the library: Sunset risked being spotted. Internet? Well, there are some experienced hackers in CHS. I’m probably just being paranoid... But better safe than sorry. Coming to the school’s library after hours meant that no student would be around to spot her, and no technology, aside from the computers already inside, was allowed in the library. Plus, the particular section of the library Sunset was in just so happened to be out of the sight of the glass doors, hiding her from any prying eyes.

Japanese culture is strange... She mentally grumbled, silently putting yet another book back on its shelf. With a sigh Sunset leaned against the opposite bookshelf, crossed her arms and closed her eyes. I don’t even understand why Fluttershy likes Japanese stuff. It all looks like mumbo-jumbo to me. But, I guess it’s one way to show her that I’m sorry...

With yet another sigh, she pushed off of the bookshelf and walked out of the library.

Chapter 12: Apologies [OLD]

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The week was finally over.

It wasn’t too bad, though. She managed to get a few people to forgive her- she’ll never understand how easy it was to get Vinyl to be her friend- and heck, even the hatred of the other students was getting a little easier to manage. But only a little. It still bothered her- hell, half the time Sunset felt like crying. And she probably would have, too, if not for her friends. Especially Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie. Those two could make anyone smile. And Flash had helped, too. But these few friends compared to the rest of Canterlot High... Sunset was lucky that she hadn't been thrown out of the school. Or worse.

The bell signaling the end of the school week had just rung, and waves of students were pouring out of every door of the school, the many colors of the students seemed to mesh together to create a rainbow of people. However, Sunset was not in this sea of teenagers. No, she was still inside the school, leaning against her locker, waiting. Her backpack hung off of her left shoulder, slightly unzipped, the corners of a few books poking out slightly.

“Where are they?” She exclaimed to the emptiness of the hallway.

Seriously, we’ve been planning this for... what, a few days now? And now Dash is late. Of course.

Grunting in frustration, Sunset dropped her backpack and sat on the floor, pulling her knees up to her chest. Did she forget? Oh, I hope she didn’t forget... Her heart sunk at that thought- did Rainbow Dash forget about her?

Those fears were quickly dashed, however, when she looked up and saw two of her friends- Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.

Fluttershy hid behind her pink hair, and strategically placed herself behind Rainbow Dash so that Sunset could barely see her. She wore her usual attire- a white tank top and a green skirt with matching boots with three pink butterflies etched on it, plus pink socks to match her hair. Sunset slowly stood as the pair made their way over to her.

Rainbow Dash waved at Sunset with a smile, but noticed Fluttershy cowering behind her. With a sigh, Dash pulled Fluttershy out from behind her and pushed her ahead with a heavy look of annoyance. “C’mon, ‘Shy!” Dash exclaimed. “I’ve told you time and time again, she’s changed!” Dash continued to push Fluttershy, who’s legs refused to move.

“O-O-Oh, I-I’m sure she h-has, Rainbow Dash! R-Really!” Fluttershy half-whimpered and half-stammered, holding her hands together and up to her chest. In her panic induced state, she failed to notice how close she was to the former demon. “I’m s-sure that S-S-Sunset Shimmer is a wo-wonderful person and is really nice but I- eep!” The shy girl almost literally jumped out of her skin when she finally noticed the very short distance between Sunset and herself. She scurried behind Dash yet again, cowering in a crouched position. “H-H-Hello, S-Sunset Shimmer please don’t hit me-!

Oh, sweet Celestia... This is what I did to people...

Sunset backed away with her eyes wide, but Rainbow leaped forward and grabbed her hand. “No, Sunset,” Dash started sternly. “you said you wanted to do this, so do it.” She stared intensely at her friend- Sunset looked at her oddly.

“You seem very determined that I do this.” Sunset stated in a mock-accusing tone. “Look, I’m gonna. But I can’t if she’s down there crying like a-” She bit her tongue. “... Like a person who... cries.” That was bad and I should feel bad. Sunset crossed her arms. “So, if you can get her up, we can get this over with and do whatever it is you wanted to do.”

Dash sighed and rolled her shoulders as she bent down to pick Fluttershy up. “Alrighty, come on, ‘Shy. I promise, she’s cool. And that’s coming from me.” She was finally able to get her shy friend to her feet, but Fluttershy was still scared stiff, her eyes wide and never leaving Sunset’s face.

“So...” Sunset began awkwardly. “Rainbow Dash, well, she told me that you’re into Japanese culture...” She knelt down and let her backpack slide off of her shoulder to the ground. After she unzipped the backpack, Sunset pulled out one book from it- simply titled Japanese Culture. She flicked her eyes upward, towards the pink-haired girl, only to see her shaking in her boots. Sunset sighed. “And I saw how... Well, how scared you’ve been of me...”

Fluttershy’s pupils shrank to the size of pinpricks. “O-Oh, sc-scared? No... I would never-!”

“Fluttershy.” Sunset interrupted flatly, making the shy girl jump in fright. “Listen to me, please.” Sunset made sure to soften her eyes, to at least try to calm Fluttershy down. It had some effect but not much. Fluttershy still trembled in fear, but her eyes held a sense of questioning instead of horror. Sunset stood, book in hand, and opened it up. “I hope I’m reading this right...” Alright... 'The more serious the apology, the lower you should bow...' And... Holy Celestia, I can't even pronounce half of this... Closing the book she cleared her throat and locked eyes with Fluttershy, who had not stopped shaking.

"Okay, um..." Sunset started nervously. "gomeiwaku o... okakeshite sumimasen...?" Her words were shaky and uncertain- the foreign language was completely unnatural to her tongue. As she spoke she leaned forward as far as she could without falling over, and she clasped her hands together- dropping the book as she did so- and closed her eyes.

I feel so absurd right now.

Regardless, she continued her foreign apologizing pose for a few seconds. Dash and Fluttershy are... Quiet.

Nervously, she poked open one eye and glanced up at Fluttershy.

The shy girl was no longer shaking in fear. No, she was still. Her eyes were still held wide open, but in shock instead of fear. Fluttershy held a hand over her mouth which had fallen open with a slight smile.

Rainbow Dash stared at her shy friend expectantly. "Well?" She asked, inpatient.

"I... Sunset, I..." Fluttershy gasped. "You w-went through the trouble of..."

When Fluttershy trailed off, Sunset continued her sentence. "Learning how to apologize in a completely different language that I do not speak in the slightest?" Sunset asked playfully. "Yeah, I did. And I mean it, Fluttershy. I can't begin to say how sorry I am."

The three girls were silent. Sunset and Fluttershy never let their gazes fall from the other. Rainbow Dash slowly switched between looking at one friend or the other.

"You're... You're sorry?" Fluttershy asked in astonishment while lowering her hand from her mouth. When Sunset nodded 'yes', Fluttershy's smile warmed and her eyes lost their fear. "if you really and truly mean it... Then I suppose I forgive you." She closed her eyes as she smiled, but opened them in surprise as Rainbow Dash pulled both her and Sunset in for a group hug.

"Ha ha! Alright!" Dash laughed in joy. "Now that we're all buddy-buddy, let's get going to Sugar Cube Corner. I'm starving!"

The three friends walked out of the school, arms around each other's shoulders, unaware that their actions were being watched.

"Oh my..." A grey-skinned girl mumbled as she watched from around a corner. "Perhaps Vinyl was right... She really has changed..." Octavia pondered as she walked away. "But I can't... I don't know if I believe it..." Later on in the day, Octavia had told Vinyl, who told Rumble, and so on... Word was beginning to spread.

Time Turner sat on his porch in the old wooden chair that creaked a bit too loudly. School had let out a few hours ago. He had immediately rushed home to think. The only thing on his mind all week had been this coming Saturday- tomorrow- and his daughters. Joy and fear cluttered his mind, the two emotions engaged in a war between each other. Should he be elated that his daughters are giving him a chance, or be terrified that they will tell him to leave them alone?

As he pondered, Turner also mulled over another thought, this one concerning Celestia and Luna.

Should I forgive them?

Practically every fiber of his being screamed no. They had almost cost him the chance at having his daughters back. They almost ruined everything. But a small portion of himself argued that they hadn't. Derpy and Dinky were making the decision to meet with him- an opportunity he wouldn't have been presented with if he never told them anything. If everything turned out in his favor, they had given him them back. He scrunched his face, mulling over his thoughts. And he came to a single conclusion.

I should forgive them.

His phone found its way into his hand faster than he could blink. Faster than he could think about what he was doing, he found himself punching in Luna's number. A second later, he heard the dial tone. He tapped his hand on his leg as he waited.

The phone rang three times before Luna answered.

"T-Time...?" Luna's voice asked. She was surprised- she probably thought that she'd never hear from him again. "You're-You're okay, right? Please tell me that you're not-!"

"No, no, Luna. I'm fine." Turner interrupted in a smooth tone. "I wanted to... Well, to apologize for Monday." He sighed. "And I know that you're gonna say that I was in the right, or that I deserved to let off steam. I did not have the right to treat you and Celestia like that."

"... Thank you, Time. I suppose I should apologize as well. Celestia and I, we thought we were helping you by making you tell them. That they'd accept you. I don't know why we-"

"Oh!" Turner exclaimed as he jumped out of his chair. "No, Luna, you see," he started explaining with a smile on his face. "they want to see me!"

"Wha- really?"

"Yes! Berry called me, said that we'd meet on Saturday at Sugar Cube Corner!"

"Time, this is wonderful news!" Luna said happily. "Do you know what you're gonna do?"

Turner sighed happily as he sat back down. "I don't know, Luna. But..." Turner leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees. "I do know that I want you to be there with me."

Turner could not see it, but Luna smiled the widest she had the entire week. "Of course I'll be there, Time. You can count on me."

"I knew I could. You're my best friend. There isn't anybody else I'd ask of this."

Luna laughed. "Oh, I know that, Time. You'd be helpless without me."

"I owe a lot to you, Luna. I won't ever forget anything you've done for me."

"Thank you, Time Turner."

The two friends hung up, both feeling the happiest they had been in awhile.

"Okay, Dash, so what's the plan?"

Six girls walked down the street away from Sugar Cube Corner with smiles on their faces as they conversed about the coming weekend. Or, the be accurate, five of them walked. Pinkie Pie skipped happily with a toothy grin. Sunset Shimmer had long since taken her place in the back of the group, perfectly content to watch the rest of her friends talk.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash led the group while talking. Rainbow Dash replied to her orange friend. "So, we'll meet up at my house in around an hour or so, and we'll have the sleep-over there. I've got some movies we could watch and some video games-"

Pinkie interrupted, dashing forward in a pink blur and lifted herself onto Dash's shoulders. "What kind of movies, Dash?" She asked loudly in a high pitched, happy tone.

Rainbow paused to think. "Uh... Daring Do, Star Wars, Spider-Man... And I think I have most of the Avengers movies." Dash said.

Rarity scrunched up her face and made a sound. "Ugh. Those movies are all mindless violence for violence's sake. Do you have any... Oh, I don't know... Romance? Or even comedy?"

"Hey!" Rainbow Dash objected in an offended manner. "The Avengers series has a perfect blend of comedy, romance and violence for violence sake! And so does Star Wars. So you can't complain, Rares."

"Um..." Fluttershy whispered. "Can... Can I bring a movie?" She asked timidly.

"Sure, 'Shy." Dash confirmed. "Which one?"

"Ah... H-How to Train Your Dragon... I-If you don't mind..."

"Alright, cool. So, everyone can bring their own food and drinks, but Dad and I got plenty. Uh..." Rainbow looked at Sunset, and then turned to Applejack. She lowered her voice to a whisper. "You still have those extra blankets, pillows and pajamas for Sunset, right?"

"Darn tootin' I do." Applejack replied confidently, her voice also a whisper.

"Thanks, AJ."

"No problem."

Dash raised her voice back to its normal level. "Okay, so it looks like we're all set up. Let's do this!" Dash said excitedly.

As they walked away, Rarity muttered to herself. "I'm still bringing Titanic, whether they like it or not..." Sunset chuckled as the group of girls continued their walk.

Rainbow Dash slowed her pace and fell to the back of the group, right next to Sunset.

He watched the six girls chatter amongst themselves, completely unaware of him watching them. He sat on a nearby bench, far enough away that they wouldn't notice him, but close enough so that he could hear them.

Slumber party. At Rainbow Dash's house.

The green fog in his mind prevented him from thinking. The only thought in his mind was hate. Hate for Rainbow Dash. Hate for Sunset Shimmer.

His orders were to find magic. Sunset Shimmer had used magic. So had Rainbow Dash. Therefore, they had the magic. The green fog combined this with his hate for the two. Logically, it led him to one possible conclusion.

I will get the magic. I will follow them to Rainbow Dash's house.

I will take their magic.

Chapter 13, Part 1: Sugar Cube Corner [OLD]

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Time Turner was tired. The night before had been restless- full of tossing, turning and sweating instead of sleep. The thought of today terrified him. Today was the day that would decide if he got to be a father again. Would Derpy and Dinky forgive him for everything he’d done? Turner had no idea. He could only hope.

Whatever they decide, he began in his thoughts. It’ll be their choice, and I have to respect that. If they don’t want to know me as their father, then they won’t. I’m lucky to even get this chance. His desperate thoughts served to solidify his resolve; he had to respect his daughters’ wishes, no matter what. Time Turner stood alongside Luna, just outside of Sugar Cube Corner, barely a few steps away from the glass doors. He could see inside the bakery and all of the people inside it. Mrs. Cake was behind the counter, finalizing a purchase with a teenager. Mr. Cake was not in immediate sight, but eventually walked out from the kitchen with a fresh order.

And in the far right corner, were his daughters and their adoptive mother.

Derpy sat straight up with her eyes wide, almost as if she was in fear. But then Turner saw her eyes move- they were aligned correctly, but they darted from side to side to side. She’s looking for me. Turner realized. He quickly brought his wrist to his eyes and rolled up his sleeves, checking his watch. Twelve thirty. I’m half an hour late. He slowly put his arm back at his side and continued watching the inside of the bakery.

Derpy sat on the outside of the booth. In the middle was Berry Punch, who sat with a neutral yet tense expression on her face. Dinky, however, sat with her elbow on the table, which supported her head as she leaned on it. Her eyes were grumpy- almost angry. I... I thought she wanted to be here?

“Time?” Luna asked, concern in her voice. “What are you waiting for?”

Turner sputtered and his throat locked; there was no way he could go in there. “Luna, I...”

“Don’t you want them back, Time?”

“I-I-I do! God, yes, I do. But... I’m not sure if I...” He tilted his head downwards and closed his eyes. “Do I deserve this chance, Luna? Because I don’t think I do. I gave them up. I’m not their parent. But yet... Here I am, asking for their forgiveness...” He felt his eyes start to moisten, so he wiped them with his sleeve. “My point is... Should I go in?”

Luna smiled sadly and put her hand in Turner’s, using her other hand to lift his chin. “Time...” She sighed slowly. “If you didn’t think you deserved this second chance, why are you standing here? You’ve had plenty of time to simply walk away. You could have said ‘no’, when Berry told you about this. But you’re here. You may not think you deserve this, but it isn’t a question of deservedness. It’s about if you want it. You said yourself that you want them back. So go get them, Time Turner.”

“I... I... Right...” Shaking his head, Turner cast aside all of his doubts and confidently walked inside the bakery.

Derpy’s eyes widened, either in happiness or shock, Turner couldn’t tell. Dinky gasped, but kept her head low and her eyes off of him. Berry Punch smiled softly as Turner walked over to their booth and sat on the opposite side of the three. Luna took her seat beside him.

And as Time Turner sat in the booth, opposite his daughters and their adoptive mother, he began the most awkward minute of his life.

He was too nervous to say anything- his throat closed and he started sweating underneath his blue suit and brown trenchcoat. Luna waited for Turner to say something. He fidgeted in his seat as he glanced from each woman across from him- Derpy seemed just as awkward as he was, Berry Punch just watched her adopted children with curious eyes and Dinky...

She’s glaring at me.

The younger sister had long since removed her elbow from the table and now sat up straight, glaring at her father, looking him in the eyes. Her breath was deep and angry, her glare sharp as daggers. Dinky took a deep breath and and started talking.

“You should not be here, Mister Turner.”

The pure venom in her words chilled Time Turner to the bone and made his blood run cold.

The pure, unadulterated hatred behind Dinky's words caused all the people at the table to reel back in shock. Dinky's eyes were sharp, full of anger as they bore into Turner.

Her sister was the first to recover. "D-Dinky..." Derpy sputtered. "What...?"

Dinky slammed her hand on the table as she turned to face her sister and pointed at Turner. "All this time, sis! He knew! He could have turned up at any time, and he does it two months before graduation? Derpy, your college is halfway across the country, and mine is three states over! If he really wanted to be apart of our lives," Dinky again turned to face her father. "He would have come back sooner."

Luna, angered, glared at Berry Punch. "You're going to allow your daughter to continue this?"

Berry kept her cool, but still narrowed her eyes at the vice principal. "She came here to speak her mind. I'm not going to stop her unless she gets seriously out of hand." She moved her gaze to Turner. "And as far as I'm concerned, she hasn't."

Turner was about to speak up, to tell everyone to calm down, but Luna yelled over him. "Turner has nothing to be sorry for! If anything, Celestia and I are the ones to blame for all of this!" The blue woman put her hands on the table and leaned forward. “Celestia and I made him tell them. It was not his fault!”

Berry Punch crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes further. “So he would have never told them, then? He would, what, sit idly by and let them live without a father?” She scoffed. “You have no idea how many times I’d been asked ‘where’s daddy?’ before I told them that he’d died in that car crash. If he’d been less of a coward and come forward years ago, I wouldn't have had to hear my daughters cry every night over the death of a man they never knew. They were five, Luna. Two five year olds shouldn’t have to worry about not having parents!”

Dinky smiled at her mother, agreeing.

“And besides,” Berry continued. “He was too much of a coward to live, let alone raise two kids. How could he ever-”

ENOUGH!” Turner shouted, but to his surprise he wasn’t the only one- Derpy had shouted with him.

Turner stared at his older daughter in slight shock, who stared at him right back. He blinked and hardened his gaze, looking at both Luna and Berry Punch. “Both of you, stop! Luna, we came here to hear what they have to say,” Turner sighed. “No matter how hard it may be. If this is what Dinky really believes... And I have no objections if it is... Then she has that right to speak it.” Luna nodded in understanding but kept her glare focused on Berry Punch as she leaned back in her seat. “Though I could have done without that jab at my suicide attempt, Ms. Punch.” Turner turned to his youngest daughter. “Now then. You were saying, Dinky?”

The girl in question scoffed and glared at her father. “I have nothing else to say to you, Mister Turner.” Dinky turned away and stared out of the window, blocking out everything and everyone else. Derpy sighed and tried to reach past her mother to her sister, but Berry Punch calmly grabbed her hand and shook her head.

“Leave her be, Derpy.” Berry said. “Give her time.”

“B-But...!” The older sister tried to object. “We-We came to talk this out, not to... to... whatever this is! Mister Turner wants to know us, doesn’t he have that right?!” Derpy yelled. By this time, other customers had taken notice of the drama, and several of them had stopped to stare. Among the onlookers were several of Turner’s students- this secret wouldn’t remain that way for long.

“Derpy Hooves,” Berry Punch began sternly. “Time Turner gave you up. You’re not his daughters, you’re mine.

She looks... Sad, Turner noticed. Almost worried... He spoke up. “Berry,” he began slowly. “You’ve been acting aggressive ever since we started this. I understand Dinky being apprehensive about me- Hell, I understand her hating me. But you? You were my friend.” He took a shaky breath as he continued. “You were Ditzy’s friend. Do you think that she would want you to keep your daughters away from me... out of fear they’d leave you? Because let me tell you...

“She would have never wanted that. They won’t leave you, Berry. You’re their mother. I’m not here to change that.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Dinky study him as she turned her head forward. “I’m here for two things: Do your daughters want to know me, and will they let me know them?

“Those are the questions.”

Berry Punch glared at him, her eyes narrower than ever before. She clenched her fists and leaned forward, pure venom in her eyes. “You hypocrite. You say ‘this isn’t what Ditzy would have wanted’ when you’ve already done worse twice over. You tried to kill yourself, Time Turner. Then you gave up your children. Do you think that’s what she would have wanted? Do you? Because I sure as hell don't." Berry Punch gave an angry sigh as she leaned back.

"Now get out."

Turner's mouth hung agape. Her words left him speechless, unable to form words as his breath caught in his lungs. She was right. Completely and utterly right. Dejectedly, Time Turner slowly pushed Luna out of his way as he got out of the booth, stood and walked out of the store.

Luna stood, angry. She turned to Berry Punch, who sat motionless. "I hope you're happy, Ms. Punch." She put as much weight on her words as possible- a last 'I hate you' before leaving- and rushed out of the store after her friend. "Time!" She called as she burst through the doors and into the sidewalk.

She saw him sitting there, on the edge of the sidewalk, his arms over his knees and his head in his hands. His brown trenchcoat lay beside him, discarded, revealing his blue suit.

"I blew it." He mumbled as Luna sat beside him. "My last chance. My last chance to make things right and I blew it!" Turner exclaimed, his voice full of despair. He used his sleeve to wipe his eyes as his continued. “What am I going to do, Luna? They’ll see me every weekday. I have them both for Science. And every day they’ll see me... And they’ll know what a failure I’ve been.”

Luna took his hands in her own and looked him in the eye. “Time Turner, you stop that. Stop it right now. I don’t care what you say about yourself. You are not a failure, and you never have been. Berry Punch may not want you to interact with Derpy and Dinky, but you tried. That’s better than what could be said about most fathers. You went out of your way to give them the best life that you could. And it was only after you knew that you wouldn’t jeopardize that did you try to make yourself known to them. You’ve tried your best, Time. You are not a failure.” She spoke with such certainty, such emotion and clarity... Turner wanted to believe her.

But you’re wrong, Luna, he wanted to object. But some force, whether it be himself or something else, prevented him from forming any words other than... “Thank you.”

He slowly blinked the tears from his eyes. He found Luna staring into them.

She lifted a hand and placed it on his cheek as she smiled. He smiled back.

She leaned in. He did too.

And together, they kissed.

Hours Later...

Sunset was hungry.

Sure, she had dinner with the other girls just a few hours ago, but when one is homeless your stomach tends to demand more food when you get some. So here she was, rummaging in the fridge in Dash's kitchen at one o'clock in the morning, with no light other than the one in five fridge.

Her stomach growled yet again, rather loudly, causing her to grasp it with her free hand in a vain attempt to make it shut up. She looked around her and listened for any sounds, but nobody was coming to look for her. She went back to snooping around.

She exclaimed in victory as she pulled out a microwave pizza- the sight of which made her stomach growl even more. As quickly as she could, Sunset grabbed a plate and put it and the pizza in the microwave. She pressed start and waited.

"What're you doing?"

To say that Sunset jumped at Rainbow Dash's voice would be an understatement. She almost leaped into the air with a high-pitched yelp, turning around on a heel with wide eyes to face her athletic friend. However, as Sunset tried to regain her balance she slipped and went crashing down to the floor, landing on her behind hard.

"Oh, crap, are you okay?" Dash fretted as she saw Sunset fall, rushing over to help her up. "Sorry," Dash chuckled lightly. "Didn't think I'd scare you." With Sunset back on her feet, Dash took her arm off her friend's shoulder and stepped away. "But seriously, you alright? You seem kinda jumpy."

Sunset chuckled nervously, sliding her pupils from side to side with her hands behind her back. Oh, just stealing your food, she snarked in her mind. Outloud she replied “Oh, n-nothing...?” Her face gave away her lie- her pupils shrank to the size of pinpricks and she was sweating bullets.

Rainbow Dash raised a skeptical eyebrow, obviously not buying it. “Uh huh. And it wouldn’t have anything to do with the microwave, right? You know, the one that’s cooking a pizza. Right there. Behind you.” She crossed her arms, waiting for an answer.

Sunset stammered, looking for the right words, but then the microwave beeped, signaling that the pizza was finished. Sunset sighed. "I stole some pizza..."

Dash grinned. "Stole? Sunset, you're my friend; you're welcome to my food!" The athlete assured the former bully as she walked over to the microwave and took the pizza out of it. "The pizza cutter's in the drawer down there," Dash pointed at the drawer in question.

Sunset, still a little ashamed, slowly reached for the drawer.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Whatever was pounding on the front door did so with enough force to make it heard from the kitchen, causing both girls to jump. "What the- who the hell is knocking at this hour?!" Dash yelled in anger. Another set of loud, forceful knocks caused her face to grow darker.

She stomped out of the kitchen and to the door, opening it with fury. “What the hell do you get off to, knocking like that at one in the-” She cut herself off abruptly.

Crimson Napalm shoved the barrel of a gun directly in front of her.

What the hell?!” She shouted as she jumped back quickly. Napalm moved forward clumsily, staring directly at her, never moving the gun’s barrel away from Dash.

“Give us the magic.” The teenage boy said slowly, almost tiredly, as two other boys emerged from the doorway, one holding a very sharp looking knife and the other holding a baseball bat.

Rainbow Dash gulped.

Chapter 13, Part 2: Heroes & Cons [OLD]

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When Rainbow Dash had stopped herself mid-shout and had not said a word since, Sunset immediately knew something was wrong. Knowing Dash, she wouldn’t just randomly stop shouting at a person she was made at unless she had a very good reason. Within three seconds of reaching this conclusion, Sunset had already whipped out her phone and sent a mass text to the girls:

Something’s wrong. Someone might be in the house. Stay upstairs.

Cryptic, yes. But it should get the point across. Sunset put the phone away and turned to look at the doorway- she couldn't see the front door from the kitchen, as the hallway turned to the left. Okay, Sunset, she began in her mind. Gotta figure out what's going on. Dash might be in trouble. And I have no idea what to do.

Just as Sunset was about to make her way to Rainbow, she heard somebody begin walking down the hall. Their steps were slow, methodical in a way, and heavy, almost as if they were tired. Sunset cursed under her breath as she dived behind the island in the middle of the kitchen, pressing her back into it as she listened for the mystery person.

The person walked into the kitchen. Sunset's breath caught in her throat as she gulped.

Her phone picked the absolute worst time to go off.

The distinctly loud Ding as her phone declared that she had received a text sounded, causing Sunset to flinch and close her eyes. This is very bad, She said in her thoughts. Her heart was beating a mile a minute, so she slowed her breathing, hoping to quiet herself.

That hope was dashed as soon as she felt the blade of a knife at her throat.

Sunset yelped as her unknown assailant grabbed her hair and yanked her up to her feet. "Sunset Shimmer," the person- who was know known to be male- droned. His voice, much like his movements, seemed tired and sloppy. "You..."

She couldn't look at her attacker, not with the knife on her throat and his hand in her hair. But one thing was certain: this boy had a grudge. Think, Sunset, think...! She looked around the kitchen for anything she could use, a weapon or something, but found nothing.

If I die, I'm gonna be angry.

Taking a deep breath, Sunset rammed her foot into the assailant's shin, causing him to yell in pain. Before he could recover- and use that knife- she grabbed his wrist and twisted. She ignored his scream of pain as he dropped the knife. She continued holding on as she pushed him back, and now held his arm twisted behind him.

"Featherweight." She noted with little surprise. Featherweight was one of her most frequented victims, though she never expected him to go this far.

The boy didn't seem to react to his name- instead he kept still, trying not to hurt his arm further. He stared directly ahead of him, his eyes blank, though Sunset didn't notice. "Let go!" He shouted, still trying to keep still. His voice, while still tired sounding, was full of rage.

Featherweight used his weight to yank at his arm. Sunset kept her grip on the limb, but was lurched to the side, her back facing the hallway. He's going for the knife! Even while Sunset kept his arm twisted behind his back, Featherweight's long arms allowed him to reach for the discarded blade, which thankfully lay a few inches out of his grasp.

"Oh, no you don't!" Sunset pulled the boy back, causing him to gasp as another jolt of pain went through his arm. I need to get him down, and keep him there. Sunset prepared to tackle him...

Suddenly, something collided with her head. Something hard. Pain filled her mind. Her vision failed her, and her grip on Featherweight ceased. She collapsed onto the floor with a grunt.

She heard Featherweight scramble for the knife.

"Don't kill her." Another tired voice droned. "We need the magic."

There’s two of them and the other one has a bat. And since Dash still hasn’t shown up, there’s probably a third. Oh, Celestia, I’m in trouble... Sunset clutched her head in pain, trying to block it out. Focus, Shimmer... You gotta find a way outta this... Through her throbbing head, she managed to crack open an eye. Featherweight’s got his knife back. Other guy’s standing right behind me with a bat. If my head was still in working condition, I could knock his legs out from under him... But then I still have to deal with Featherweight.

Okay, here I go...

Sunset tensed up her legs, preparing to sweep them around and knock Bat-Guy off of his feet. But suddenly, something hit Featherweight in his face, sending both him and his knife to the ground. A pink blur rushed into the kitchen, grabbing the object that had hit Featherweight- a rolling pin- and rushed at Bat-Guy.

Bat-Guy swung his weapon, which collided with Pinkie Pie’s.

The two teenagers with wooden instruments of pain stood, locked in a furious battle of who could outlast the other. Their wooden weapons clashed against each other, their faces inches away with their teeth gnashed. Pinkie Pie growled at the boy holding the bat as she leaned even closer to him with fire in her eyes- literally.

“You might know everything I’m going to do...” Pinkie said in a low voice. “But that’s not going to help you!” Her rolling pin pushed harder against the bat, gaining ground in the battle as Bat-Guy was forced to bring his bat closer to himself. “SINCE I KNOW EVERYTHING YOU’RE GOING TO DO!” She screeched, pushing Bat-Guy away stumbling as he lost his footing. “STRANGE, ISN’T IT?!” Pinkie growled for the final time, winding back her arm and throwing her rolling pin yet again, hitting the boy square in his eye, knocking him out cold.

Sunset could only stare in shock. “Was... Was that a hallucination caused by my head getting hit with a baseball bat... Or did you really just do that?” Sunset half-mumbled. Pinkie happily bounced over to her- rolling pin in her hand- with a goofy smile on her face.

“Yes!” Pinkie answered, wrapping an arm around Sunset’s shoulders.

"Why do you even have that rolling pin?"

"For rolling pin emergencies! Now c’mon, Sunny! We’ve gotta save Dashie!” Pinkie suddenly serious’d.

"W-wait!" Sunset stuttered, trying to get a grasp on everything. "What about the others?"

"Oh!" Pinkie giggled. "Don't worry, we've got a plan!" The pink girl said happily, zooming into the hallway just before the turn.

"You've got a plan?"

"Uh huh!"

"What is it?"


Sunset groaned and facepalmed. "That's... That's not a plan, Pinkie..." She sighed and shrugged. "But I guess it's the best we've got." Sunset walked over to the hyper girl- who had her back pressed into the wall. "So what do we do?" Sunset asked.

"We rush 'im! He'll never see it coming." Pinkie said with a mischievous smile. "Or we could wait for Applejack to get down here..."

Wait? But what if something happens to Dash?

Just as Sunset was about to voice her concerns, a loud bang sounded, startling both girls. "That was a gun!" Pinkie noted. "Oh, no! Dashie might be hurt!" She grabbed Sunset's arm and prepared to rush whoever fired that shot. "Come on, Sunny! Let's go!"

"Whoa, Pinkie! Wait!" Sunset cried, but Pinkie didn't listen.

"Sit." Napalm ordered as he motioned for Featherweight to head further into the house. Rainbow Dash backed away from the door with her hands up and a glare on her face.

She continued backing away until she ran into her couch on the side of the living room. She sat down slowly. "This is a little dramatic, ain't it, Napalm?" She began teasingly. "It's not my fault you were stupid enough to bring both girls you were cheating with to the same place at the same time! Honestly, who does-!"

She cut herself off yet again as the barrel of the pistol into her eyesight. "Shutting up now." She said quietly. Something's not right here. He hadn't said a word.

"Magic." He said.

Ah, there it is. "Magic." She said, imitating his tone. "What about it, huh?"

"You have it. They want it. Give us the magic."

"Yeah, okay, sure. Magic. That thing that doesn't exist in this world anymore. Princess Twilight took it all back, dofus." A ruckus from the kitchen briefly distracted her, but she eventually turned back to Crimson. "'Sides, why would I give it to you anyway?"

He glared at her- she could have sworn his eyes flashed green- and brought the gun closer. "You will give us the magic."

"Yeah, no." She smirked. "You wanna shoot me, Napalm? Do it. I don't think you're a murderer." Shut up Dash shut up shut up.

“Do not underestimate us, Rainbow Dash. We will get your magic. They will get it.”

Rainbow Dash cocked an eyebrow. “‘They’? Who’s they? Oh, I get it. You’ve gone completely insane. You come in here, talking big with one of the tiniest guns I have ever seen,” Seriously, that pistol was small. “And you threaten to shoot me. But we both know you’re not gonna do it.”

Inside Crimson Napalm’s mind, a battle ensued. Most of him was fogged by the green smoke, but a small part fought. Every fiber of his being said to shoot her and move on to the other girls in the house, but he didn’t. I ain’t a murderer! he shouted in his mind. He fought hard.

His finger quivered on the trigger.

The front door opened.

Keeping the gun on Rainbow Dash, Napalm turned to look at the new intruder... And found himself lassoed. A new voice sounded, an energetic "Yeehaw!" as the newcomer barreled through the door and punched him in the face.

"Gah!" He grunted. As he found himself tumbling to the ground, he clenched his fists.

One of his fingers happened to be on the trigger. The pistol fired.

Rainbow Dash closed her eyes tightly, preparing for impact- but it didn't come.

She felt the bullet whiz past her, embedding itself in the couch she was sitting on. "Holy crap...!" She breathed/exclaimed. Dash zapped her head up to look at Napalm, who was now being held on the ground by Applejack's foot. "AJ?"

"Don' you worry none, RD," Applejack said as she stepped off of Crimson Napalm's back. "Ah got 'im." She turned her head to the hallway and shouted. "Rare, Fluttershy! Y'all taken care of them other two?" She asked.

"Indeed we have, darling!" Rarity said as she walked into the living room with Featherweight slung over her shoulder. "Though this rope was a little hard to work with. I tie fabric, not rope." She grunted as she later the unconscious boy next to Napalm. "But a lady always finishes the task she is given."

Fluttershy walked in as well, walking backwards as she dragged Bat-Guy- sans bat- into the room. "Oh, my." She said with wide eyes as she saw the bullet hole in the couch. "Are you alright, Rainbow Dash?"

"Yeah, 'Shy," Rainbow Dash breathed as she stood. “I’m fine.” Rainbow took a deep breath as she looked at the three unconscious teens on her floor. "Bastard almost shot me. Me! I'm too awesome to get shot!" She crossed her arms and sighed. “I’m just glad that’s over.”

Fluttershy whimpered and grabbed a lock of her own hair, hugging it. “Me too. I-I was so scared when Sunset sent that text- and then that commotion in the kitchen...!” Fluttershy cowered behind Applejack, occasionally stealing glances at Crimson and the other two boys. “But... Why’d they even attack us in the first place?”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and began speaking with a shaky breath. “Somethin’ about magic. He wanted us to give it up, or whatever...”

“Give it up?” Rarity inquired. “But Princess Twilight took the magic back with her, right? And aside from that... What would these boys want with it?” Rarity looked at the boys in quest quizzically. “Quite frankly, it doesn’t make any sense. And Featherweight, oh, he was so sweet! He’s a nice person! To think he would do this...” The fashionista placed her hand on her chin, thinking. “Oh, I do wish we could talk to them. But we can’t, not with them like this.”

Just then, Sunset and Pinkie Pie walked into the room. “Oh, thank Celestia!” Sunset exclaimed, running over to Rainbow Dash and giving her a tight hug. “I thought something happened to you! After that gunshot and you weren’t making any noise that I could hear and... Oh, I’m just glad you’re okay!”

Rainbow Dash smiled awkwardly- she tried her best to hide the slight blush on her face- and gingerly returned the hug. "Uh, yeah, I'm fine, Sunset." Dash laughed awkwardly, the red in her face deepening. "You can, uh... You can let go now."

“Huh?” Sunset lifted her face from Rainbow Dash’s shoulder. “Oh. Oh! Okay.” She said awkwardly as she slowly unwrapped her arms from Dash’s body. “Sorry...” The room fell into awkward silence as nobody said anything.

Pinkie Pie laughed. “Oh, just kiss already!

Both Sunset and Rainbow Dash blushed deeply and scooted away from each other. The six of them shared a laugh.

Then Featherweight started to stir.

“Ow... My head...” He whined. His body stiffened as he realized that he couldn’t move his arms or legs. “Whoa, hey, what-?!” He frantically moved his head around, looking from one girl to to the next with a growing sense of dread. “I-I... Wh-what the hell’s going on?!” He cried as he desperately tried to move his limbs.

The six girls looked at the boy then to each other with confusion.

“Alright...” Applejack spoke up. “Either he’s plain’ the best game of ‘Playin’ Dumb’ Ah’ve ever seen... Or he ain’t rememberin’ anythin’.” The honest farmer stated with an eyebrow raised.

Sunset looked worriedly at the boy- who still vainly struggled against his bonds- and crossed her arms. “We could ask him what he does remember. See if that’ll tell us anything?”

Suddenly Featherweight started screaming horribly. “No! No, no, no! Y-You gotta help me.... Us!” He pleaded, managing to get to his knees while still tied up. “Th-Those girls, they’re... They’re...” As he spoke, his words became messier. He started slobbering, saliva getting all over his face and shirt.

He fell over unconscious.

“Wh-whoa! What the hell?!” Sunset and Rainbow Dash said at the same time. Rainbow rushed over to the boy, checking his pulse- weak, but still alive- and untied him. “We gotta get this guy to the hospital- now! Come on!”

With Featherweight over her shoulder, Rainbow Dash hurried out to her car and put him in the back seat.

He may have just tried to kill us... But something’s not right here. I’m gonna get to the bottom of this.

Sunset sat in the passenger seat of Dash’s car. I didn’t even hear her get in! Dash looked at Sunset, mulling over every detail of the flame-haired girl’s face. ... How do I feel about her...? No time for that. Gotta get Featherweight to the hospital.

She sped off, leaving the other four girls with the two remaining unconscious boys.

Oh, boy...

Interlude II: Sparks [OLD]

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In the center of the abandoned warehouse, were three girls sitting in a circle. Each one of them had their eyes closed and their legs crossed as they contemplated. The three had seen everything that had transpired this night, each one of the sisters being connected to a specific slave.

Aria Blaze had been connected with Featherweight, and thus saw first-hand his brief fight with Sunset and subsequent knock-out by whoever that pink girl was. Sonata Dusk had been connected with Azure Strike, and took perhaps a bit too much pleasure in seeing Sunset hit in the head with a bat.

Adagio Dazzle had been connected to Crimson Napalm. She watched with a front-row seat how their plan had oh so spectacularly failed. Granted, she didn’t expect to win just yet, but this little stunt should have given them something to work with.

“Ugh!” Adagio grunted, opening her eyes and throwing up her arms as she stood. “That’s it. I’m tired of this.” Her voice, while rather angry, was still smooth and seductive. She looked at both of her sisters. “Those three failed. We need a new plan, and we need it now. We need to move fast- or else we’ll be completely powerless.”

Aria scoffed, rolling her eyes. “Well, do you have another plan, Adagio? Because your most recent one didn’t really work out, if you notice.” She snarked. “But please, do tell us what to do, oh wise and benevolent leader. Show us the way!” As Aria spoke, she stood and mockingly bowed to her poofy-haired sister with a smile.

Adagio waved her hand and looked away from Aria. “Whatever you say, peasant.” She smirked slightly as her pupils briefly flicked back at her purple sister. “This time is going to be different. We know that Canterlot High has magic... somewhere. It may not have been with Sunset Shimmer and her friends, but it is there. All we have to do is find it.” She accentuated her point by jamming a fist into her palm.

"But wait!" Sonata said suddenly, startling the other two sirens. "The students of CHS are, like, really good friends! They'll never spill any secrets about each other." The blue siren stood with her hands behind her back and her legs crossed.

"You are such an idiot, Sonata!" Aria growled. "We can infect everyone there! They have a lunchtime, right? We burst in, and we start infecting from there!"

Sonata smiled sweetly. "Oh. Right!"

Adagio shifted her weight to a side and placed her hand on her hip. "Good thinking, girls." She smiled even wider. "Now, all we have to do is get into the school..."

Sunset winced in pain as Rainbow Dash gingerly touched her sore head. Bat-Guy was certainly no pushover when it came to hitting people. "Ow!" Sunset exclaimed and grabbed the armrest of the chair. "Dash, quit it!"

"Well, if you would just go see the doctor-!"

"You know why I can't do that!"

"Then you'll just have to deal with it." Dash said matter-of-factly. "You've got some bleeding and some minor swelling, but as far as I can tell, you don't have a concussion." The athlete dropped to one knee in front of her flame-haired friend. "You're gonna be fine."

Sunset breathed a sigh of relief and leaned back in her chair. The two fell into silence' with Rainbow Dash taking the seat next to Sunset's. Sunset's fine, as far as Doctor Stable can tell Featherweight's gonna be fine... Dash let herself be lost in her own thoughts. She didn't even notice Sunset looking at her.

Quick, make conversation, Dash! “So, Featherweight’s gonna be alright. They say that he was so shocked by waking up like he did, his throat just kinda started closing up. He’s all good now, though.” Rainbow Dash said casually.

“Oh, good.” Sunset muttered. “So, what are you gonna do? You’re not gonna get the police involved, are you?”

“Oh, hell no. For one, those boys seemed kinda out of it. Two, if I do, Dad’s gonna hear about it, and I’ll never be trusted alone in the house ever again! Napalm and them didn’t hurt nobody, so as long as they stay away from me, I’m good.” Rainbow Dash finished, crossing her arms.

The two sat in silence for a good few minutes, until...

"Dash?" Sunset asked. "Listen, um... Earlier, back at your home..."

Rainbow Dash gulped and balled her hands into fists. Uh-oh, she worried internally. Oh no. She's not about to... Is she? Out loud, she spoke: "Let me guess... It's about what Pinkie said, right?" She tried to keep her usual calm demeanor, but already Dash could feel her heart racing and sweat beginning to form on her face.

Sunset chuckled lightly. "Heh, yeah..." Though Sunset tried to hide her growing blush, Rainbow Dash could see it clearly. "A-Anyway, I was wondering..." The former bully brought a finger to her hair and started twirling it.

Oh no, Dash fretted inwardly. Here it comes...

"J-Just...” Sunset took a breath to steady herself. She couldn’t spit the words out- what if she was wrong? She didn’t want to ruin her closest friendship just because Pinkie said something stupid- but eventually, she decided to get it over with.

“Rainbow Dash, do you have a... a crush on me?”

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannd there it is.

Dash had no idea how to respond to that- really, it would be just like if Applejack suddenly declared her love for her. “Um...” Rainbow mumbled, looking downwards slightly. “Okay, um... Well...” Seriously, this is why I don’t do romance! I’m awesome, not a sap! “I...”

Sunset blinked and frowned sadly. “I was wrong, wasn’t I?” When Rainbow Dash didn’t answer, Sunset sighed. “Okay, then. I’m just gonna go...” She pushed her hair back behind her shoulder and stood slowly, grabbing her leather jacket off of the chair as she turned to leave.

“I’ll see you at school, I guess...”

Sunset draped the jacket over her shoulder and turned away from Rainbow Dash. Sunset blinked away small tears slowly forming at the corner of her eyes as she walked away. She could see the night sky through the glass automatic door, the stars shining brightly, almost mocking her.

But just as the door began to open, a hand roughly grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. “H-Hey, wha-?!” She yelped, but didn’t have time to register who it was who grabbed her before a pair of lips pressed themselves firmly against her own.

It wasn’t Sunset’s first kiss- far from it, actually. She had kissed a few colts back in Equestria, and she kissed Flash many times. But this kiss was different- the only word she could come up with was passionate. Sunset slowly melted into the kiss, closing her eyes and her arms unconsciously moving to drape themselves over the other person’s shoulders.

After a few seconds the kiss ended.

Sunset kept her eyes closed for a few more moments- that kiss was intense- but eventually decided to open them.

Rainbow Dash stood in front of her, a sheepish smile on the athlete's face.

“So, uh...” Rainbow began awkwardly. “That was, uh... That was my first kiss and, well, I... I don’t think it was too bad? I mean, I’m awesome, not some kind of Romeo... or, Juliet? I dunno, we’re both girls and-”

The rainbow haired girl was abruptly cut off by yet another kiss, but this time it was Sunset who kissed her. The two hugged as they kissed, eyes closed, content to live in the moment. Eventually, the two pulled away, each mesmerized by the other’s eyes.

“So... Uh...”

Rainbow grinned, embarrassed, and stepped away from Sunset with a toothy grin. “Alright, Sunset. Admit it: I’m a great kisser!”

Sunset chuckled- her blush was starting to fade- and took a breath. “Yeah, alright, Dash.”


Just as Time Turner and Luna parted their lips, the doors to Sugar Cube Corner burst open. The two adults jumped to their feet, slightly startled by the sudden noise, and turned to the doors. Out came Derpy, eyes watery and cheeks slightly red, looking around for them.

“Derpy?” Luna asked. The vice principal’s voice caught the blonde girl’s attention, causing her to run over to them. As Derpy reached the pair, Luna asked again, “What are you doing, Ms. Hooves? I’m fairly certain that Ms. Punch doesn’t want you-”

“Screw what Mom thinks!” Derpy sobbed, glaring at Luna before turning to Time. “Listen, Mr. Turner- er, Dad, or...”

Turner put a hand up, silencing her. “Just ‘Mr. Turner’ is alright for now, Derpy.” He said as fondly as he could. "But, what is it?" Turner asked softly, placing his hands in his pockets.

"This isn't right, Mr. Turner!" Derpy pleaded. "You... You asked us if we want to know you.... And I do! Dinky may not, but I'll get her to come around somehow! I promise." The older twin finished, looking at her father with wide eyes, which continued to water.

"You..." Turner started, dumbfounded. She really wants to know me? She wants me in her life? I... I don’t... His thoughts were a mess. He couldn’t think straight. “I, ah... O-Okay! Sure, uh...” He stuttered, shaking his head to clear his thoughts. “Alright, Derpy.” He knelt down to one knee and placed a hand on his daughter’s shoulder. “... If you’re sure, then alright. What, uh... what do we do now?”

Derpy rubbed an arm with her hand, gazing down at the ground. “I don’t care. Can I spend the night at your house, Mr. Turner? I... I don’t think I can stand to be around Dinky or Mom right now...” Derpy said sadly.

Poor thing, Turner thought sadly. She’s torn between her family and her heart. She wants to go with them, but at the same time wants to know me. “Well, I don’t think Berry would like that very much...” He started. “But, I’ll make an exception just this once. Hop in the car, if you please.” Turner said with a slight hint of satisfaction as he opened the door for his oldest daughter, who sat in the backseat of the car.

His car was a light blue. Slightly worn in. The paint was chipping in several places, and the engine roared insanely loud, but he loved his car all the same. It looks small, but actually has a lot more room than you’d expect from just looking at it.

Just as he was about to get into the front seat, Luna grabbed his arm. “Time,” She said sternly yet fondly. “This is your chance. Don’t mess it up,” She said with worry. “Please...” She whispered the last part, her eyes dropping downwards and a frown appearing on her face.

“Don’t worry, Luna.” Turner assured her. “I won’t. Besides, with you here, I don’t think I can mess up anything.” He finished with a smile, giving her a slight kiss on the cheek as he got into his car.

Chapter 14: Prelude to Rock [OLD]

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Time Turner didn’t get much sleep that night.

He should be happy, right? One of his daughters is trying to get used to him, to let him back in their lives. But at what cost? If Berry Punch finds out, they’ll be Hell to pay. He tossed and turned, grunting as he tried to get comfortable, but he just couldn’t.

He had decided to let Derpy sleep in his bed this night, and he laid on the couch in the living room. Not very comfortable, but it wasn’t the first time he slept on it... Though, it had been nearly twenty years since he did so.

... This day has been eventful, he thought to himself. And it was true, the day had changed two big things. Derpy wanted to see him, and was willing to try to ease Dinky to the idea as well. And he and Luna...

What were they, he and Luna? Were they a couple now? I suppose we are... I don’t know... They had kissed, he remembered that. And he kissed her again as he left. And she had been the one to initiate the first kiss, so... Did she like him in that way? Did he like her in that way?

She’s my best friend. But do I love her? Or... Am I looking for a replacement for Ditzy?

He wanted to punch himself for even thinking about it, but was he? Did he truly want to be with Luna, or was he using her as a way to forget his wife? With a sigh, Turner turned to lay on his back and raised a hand into the air, stretching it so that the back of his hand faced him. He stared at the ring finger, and the ring around it, with sad eyes. I never moved on, did I? These past twenty years. I spent all of my time wallowing in my sorrow. Trying to make up for my past mistakes.

Now who does that remind you of?

That’s right... I’m no better than Sunset Shimmer. She at least has friends, and is on her way to a better life, but me? What have I done to redeem myself? Sure, Derpy seems to have forgiven me, but nothing’s stopping her from changing her mind. I’ve given her no reason to stay. I need to fix that.

With newfound determination for tomorrow, Turner closed his eyes.

Derpy, Luna... He thought as his mind began to drift. I’ll make things right. I promise.

With that, he slept.

Crimson Napalm and Azure Strike- Bat-Guy had informed the girls of his name- had long since awoken and been untied, completely unharmed. They were informed of where Featherweight was, and were promptly shoved out of the door courtesy of Rainbow Dash, who was simply glad to have the whole thing over with. Rainbow had slumped herself against the door, her knees up to her chest and her head hanging down.

“Are you alright, darling?” Rarity asked, walking over to Dash and putting a hand on her shoulder. “This was a dreadful situation for all of us- and dare I say, you were almost shot, Rainbow Dash. I know that I would be wreck after that!” The fashionista said with dramatic flair.

Rainbow sighed and lifted her head, looking at her purple haired friend. “Look, Rare... Just drop it, okay? It’s been a long day.” Her words were tired, weary. As she got up, she locked eyes with Sunset, who gave her a reassuring smile. “I know you guys are worried, but I’m not the only one who got attacked, remember? Sunset did too. And I know the rest of you were pretty scared.”

The other girls nodded in agreement.

“So,” Dash continued. “Let’s just get some sleep, alright? We’ve got band practice tomorrow, and the Musical Showcase is next week today! We need to be at the top of our game!” She said with much vigor, running up to Sunset and enveloping her in a one armed hug. “Ain’t that right, Sunset?”

Sunset laughed awkwardly and rubbed her arm. I’m not in the Rainbooms, though... Still, Sunset smiled and returned the hug. But then she noticed Pinkie Pie practically shaking in her skin. “What?” Sunset asked the hyper girl.

Pinkie let out an insanely high “Eieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” as she hopped out of the chair and hugged both Rainbow Dash and Sunset Shimmer at the same time. “Oh, I knew it! I just knew you two would be good for each other, that’s why I said ‘just kiss already’ earlier, you remember that right? But you two got all embarrassed and were all ‘oh no we must break the hug and blush awkwardly’ and then you left and now that you’re back I mean it's just plainly obvious that you kissed I mean just look at you two!” Pinkie Pie said all that in one breath, with barely a stop between words.

Sunset and Rainbow Dash looked at each other awkwardly, small smiles forming on their faces. “Uh...” Sunset began. “... Thank you?” She said lamely, raising an eyebrow.

“Wait,” Rainbow interjected. “So... Does this mean we’re dating now? I don’t know, I’m not good at this romance stuff.” The athlete shrugged as she glared at Pinkie, who still held the two in a tight hug. “Seriously, Pinkie, let go!

“Oopsie!” Pinkie said sweetly. “Sorry!” The pink girl let her arms fall back to her side, releasing the other two girls from her iron-like grip, causing Sunset and Rainbow Dash to breathe a deep sigh.

Just then, Fluttershy tapped Dash on the shoulder. “Um, excuse me, but...” The shy girl began quietly. “Would... Would someone mind explaining what Pinkie Pie is talking about? I’m a little lost...”

Rainbow Dash looked at Fluttershy, then at Sunset. “Yeah, no.” She said. “You’re explaining it, Sunset. I’m no good with this kind of stuff.”

Sunset’s expression flattened. “Gee, thanks.”

“Yeah, your friend, who you’ve known practically forever, just kissed the girl who tormented all of you for the past four years and we just might be going out now. Surprise!” Yeah, that’ll go over well.



“You heard me, Sunset Shimmer.” Principal Celestia said with a smile on her face. She leaned forward and placed her arms on her desk. “I want you to escort three new students around the school. I know that your past actions have left a... stigma, against you among the student body...”

Sunset shook her head and crossed her arms. “No kidding.” She said simply.

“Regardless, I feel that this may be a good chance to show them that you’re not a monster, Sunset. You already have five girls who like you- maybe even one that likes you like more than a friend, if certain rumors are true?” The woman said with a sly grin.

Sunset blushed and tilted her head down. “I-I uh...” She stuttered. “Heh, I uh... Yeah, sure.”

Celestia allowed herself a slight chuckle. “Yes, well, the students you will be chaperoning are,” Celestia reached down to her desk and pulled out a drawer. She then pulled out a piece of paper and began reading from it. “... Adagio Dazzle, Sonata Dusk, and Aria Blaze. Well, very charming names, aren’t they?” The principal said with a slight chuckle. As she looked at Sunset, she noticed her uncomfortable look. “Okay, Sunset. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I understand that you my be a little uneasy about it, but please, I implore you to at least think about it.” Celestia gave Sunset a warm smile. “If you need to talk, my door is always open.”

Sunset returned the smile and got up, leaving the office.

Chapter 15: Rainbow Rocks [OLD]

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Canterlot High's student morale was higher than ever.

Ever since Sunset Shimmer's defeat, everyone was understandably happier. No one else stepped up to be the next big bully, and no one really caused any trouble.

Crimson Napalm, Featherweight and Azure Strike had all made sure to stay as far away from Sunset and the girls as possible, which they were grateful for.

However, not everything was so nice.

The student body still despised Sunset, despite Vinyl spreading the word that she was apologizing. Nobody believed it. They still gave her those hate-filled glares. Some tripped her up in the hallway, hit her things out of her hand, and made her as miserable as they could without stooping to her level.

Sunset never lifted a finger to defend herself. She took the punishments with no complaints- if anything, she deserved worse. The students never escalated past tripping, though. Rainbow Dash was almost always keeping an eye on Sunset, and would go up to the offending student to intimidate them into leaving Sunset alone. It didn't work.

But through all of that, Sunset kept going.

Though she may let other students do petty things in the hallways, she kept a smile on her face and kept going, never acknowledging them. After all, what was this compared to what she had done? So Sunset put on a brave face and took the punishments. She couldn’t defend herself anyway- the other students would probably just see that as an act of aggression.

However, she didn’t have to deal with all of that at this moment. Right now, all that mattered was she and Rainbow Dash, sitting together on the steps of Canterlot High. While they weren’t alone, they might as well have been- they didn’t bother noticing who was around them. The sun was just above the horizon, the day barely beginning. The two girls simply sat, their hands barely touching as they stared at the colt statue at the front of the school.

With Rainbow Dash by her side, there was nothing that Sunset couldn’t face, she was sure of it. They hadn’t been friends long, and had been going out for even less time, but for some reason everything felt right, now. She could deal with the hatred of the students, as long as she still had her friends and Rainbow. Together, the six could face any challenge. They were all sure of this fact.

It’s only been, what, a week and a half since Twilight left, Rainbow Dash thought. But it feels like a lot just changed. She furrowed her brow, a slight worrying expression coming across her face. We graduate in just a few months. What then? The athlete turned her head and looked at Sunset, who didn’t notice Rainbow Dash looking at her. I never expected to like her, let alone to start dating her. But I guess things don’t always work out how you expected them to. But no matter what comes my way, I’ll handle it. I’m too awesome for anything to get me down!

... Man, I’m getting way too sappy these days.

Three Hours Later...

Sunset sat idly outside of the store- some joint that sold guitars and other stringed instruments. She hadn’t wanted to go, after all, she already had a guitar that Flash gave to her just a month before they broke up. But Applejack had insisted that she come along. So Sunset Shimmer stood, her back resting against the wall of the store with her arms crossed across her chest.

What is taking them so long? She wondered. Rainbow and the others had entered the small building about ten minutes ago, and still were not out yet. I knew Rainbow Dash could be picky about her guitar, but I’d figured she would be out by now!

Just as she was about to start beating her head against the wall- seriously, why hadn’t she brought her phone?- the sound of a guitar riff reached Sunset’s ears. And then another, from a differently tuned guitar, followed it.

They’re getting into a guitar battle in there!

... Eh, I’m sure they can handle it.

Mentally preparing the back of her skull for repeated strikes from a concrete wall, she closed her eyes and sighed... and then the wall behind her shook, startling her. Sunset quickly backed away from the wall and looked at it, as if it would explode if she didn’t. “What the heck?!” She exclaimed.

Okay, that’s not normal!

Just as Sunset was about to rush into the store to see what was going on, the doors opened, and out stepped her friends, with Rainbow Dash in front...

And she had apparently grown a set of wings, protruding from the back of her shirt without any discernible holes for them to get out from.

Staring at her girlfriend in shock- and with a slight twitch in her eyes- Sunset only had one thought.


Magic.” Sunset said disbelievingly. “There’s magic here now. Honest to Celestia magic.” She just couldn’t believe it. It didn’t make sense! “All of the magic should have been nullified when the portal shut! There shouldn't be anymore magic here!” She was worrying like she never had before. Why was there still magic here? It doesn't make any sense!

Rainbow simply shrugged and laid back in the beanbag Fluttershy had laid out for her. After the fiasco at the guitar store and dodging an angry Trixie, the group of six girls had decided to retire to Fluttershy’s house for the evening. “I dunno,” Dash began, a slight tone of disappointment in her voice, as her wings had disappeared after the guitar battle. “It just sort of... Happened. But!” Her voice perked up as she jumped to her feet. “On the bright side, we’ll look totally awesome at the musical showcase! Right, Sunset?”

“Right...” Said the former bully with a hint of worry. “There’s nothing we can do about it, though, so I guess we’ll just have to deal with this... whatever it is.” Sunset sighed, leaning into Rainbow Dash, who draped an arm over her shoulders. “I just hope nothing else happens like this. The last thing this world needs is more magic...”

Needless to say, there was more magic in this world.

Not too long after Rainbow Dash suddenly sprouted wings, the Rainbooms, one by one, ended up with their own pool of magic. Strangely enough, though, it only activated when they were playing music really well- like when Rainbow would do a solo on her guitar or Applejack would strum a few strings on her bass. Sunset just couldn’t wrap her head around it- magic just doesn’t work that way, dang it!- but eventually just decided to let it be. It hasn’t hurt anybody... else... yet, so what’s the point in fighting it?

Walking through the halls of Canterlot High was a daunting task, lately. The scrutinizing stares from the other students were worse than any physical pain- to know that so many people hate you is soul crushing, and Sunset felt that every day.

But today would be different! Before school, everyone that entered in the Musical Showcase would be in the gym, working on flyers for the event. And Sunset would be there too, just to see if she could help out any students there. To prove that she has changed, you know?

It was foolproof. Obviously.

Well, no, that’s not how it turned out.

She spied the Crusaders- Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo- near the center of the gym, working on their poster. Smiling to herself, Sunset walked over and put on a friendly face. Since two out of the three Crusaders were siblings of her friends, surely she’d have an easy time with them, right?

Again, that's not how it turned out.

She grabbed one of their spare paintbrushes and- despite their shocked expressions- put on a smile. “Want some help?” Sunset asked nicely. Off to a great start, Sunny!

Apple Bloom stood and raised a suspicious eyebrow at Sunset. “Uh... No thanks.” She began, causing Sunset’s spirits to drop like a rock. “We’re good.”

Sunset sighed sadly, placing the paintbrush back in the paint can. “Oh...” It hurt, being turned away by your friends’ sisters, but Sunset tried to keep the hurt out of her voice. “Okay.” And with that, the former bully walked away... Only to attract the attention of everyone else in the room.

They glared at her, grumbling under their breath as she made her way through the gym. She distinctly heard the word “demon” uttered by several students. Sunset crossed her arms, trying to make herself as small as possible. I'm sorry, she thought to herself. I’m so sorry...

But then a high pitched, happy voice cut through the grumbles, snapping Sunset out of her sadness immediately. “Sunset Shimmer!” Pinkie Pie called, waving her hand in the air frantically, beckoning Sunset over.

The fiery-haired girl smiled. She tried to ignore the increasing number of students glaring at her.

She slowly walked through the crowd, towards her friends, with a smile that fell with every passing second. Sunset sighed as she finally reached the group of girls.

“I had no idea that the whole school would be here...”

Time Turner stood on the stage overlooking the gym with a genuine smile on his face. For the first time in twenty years, be seemed to finally have control over his life. Sure, Berry Punch was absolutely furious at him for letting Derpy stay at his house, and would likely pay for that in the near future, but he didn't let it bother him.

His gaze went from student to student, watching them work on their flyers for the Musical Showcase. Eventually he spotted two girls, his daughters, laying together in paint covered clothes and smiles on their faces. Turner couldn't stop a feeling of pride bubbling up inside him. Despite the fact that one of them hated him, he still loved them both.

And Ditzy would, too.

“Wonderful, isn't it?” He heard Celestia say as she walked up to him.

“Oh, hello Principal Celestia.” Turner said pleasantly. “I hope you're doing well.”

The woman smiled sweetly at Turner and chuckled. “Oh, I'm quite alright, Time Turner.” Her sweet smile turned slightly mischievous. “And if my sister is to be believed, you and Luna are very much alright, right, Turner?”

Turner tried- and failed- to hide his blush by bringing a fist to his mouth and faking a cough. “Y-yes, well,” the teacher stammered, trying to recover. “What Luna and I do in our free time is, frankly, none of your business, Principal Celestia.” He said in the nicest way possible.

The principal only laughed. “Yes, I suppose not.” She placed her hands on her hips and turned her gaze to the students. “It’s not everyday we get to sit back and relax, Turner. Right now, even with the end of the semester approaching and graduation at the end of the year, these children get to hang out with friends and let loose. No worrying about tests, or the future. Just the Musical Showcase. And with the disaster that was the Fall Formal... I think it will do is good to relax.”

Turner smiled at Celestia. “Don’t you have a speech to give?” He asked teasingly.

Celestia gasped in surprise. “Oh! That’s right. Honestly, Turner, between you and Luna, you’re the ones who keep me from losing my head!” She exclaimed with a laugh, waving goodbye to the man as she walked away.

He never saw her smile fall into a glare as she left.

Chapter 16: Let's Have a Battle [OLD]

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“Are you sure you’ll be okay, Time?”

“Luna, Derpy stayed the night at my house, and I was fine. I can handle a measly school day.” He said with a slight hint of laughter in his voice. “I am worried about Derpy, though. She hasn't talked to me since she slept at my house, and Berry’s been... Silent, which isn't like her.” Luna rolled her eyes but also nodded in agreement.

“I’m sure everything is fine,” Luna said as she grabbed a stack of papers and began looking through them. “I can't imagine Berry deciding something not in your favor and not calling to tell you about it. She’s blunt, not cruel.”

“True...” Turner leaned back in the chair in front of Luna’s desk, sighing as he closed his eyes. “I just want all of this to be over with. I don't want to feud with Berry over this. I wish she would just say something definite and let that be that.”

The blue woman smiled, picking one paper out of the stack and placing the rest down. “I’m sure everything will turn out fine, Time.” She stood, ruffling Turner’s hair as she walked by him. “I need to drop this off at Cranky’s class. If Celestia drops by here, tell her that we need more staples. I’ll see you later, Time.” Flashing him one last smile, she left the Vice Principal’s office, leaving Turner alone.

With a sigh, Turner stood and stretched, arching his back with a groan. “Well,” he said as his limbs fell to his sides. “Time for class.” The teacher straightened his tie and he too exited the office, hands in his pockets with one latched around the locket inside.

“Hi!” She said cheerfully as she appeared in the hallway. “Are you the girls I'm supposed to show around?” Of course, they knew who she was; Sunset Shimmer was easy to get information on, especially with how hated she was among the student body. Really, Adagio almost pitied her.


Smiling wickedly, she and her sisters stepped out of the shadowed entrance to the school with dramatic flair. “We are...” Adagio said seductively, one hand on her hip as she felt the magic in the school. The exact source of the magic has yet to be found, but it was undoubtedly here.

Oblivious to the lead Siren’s joy, Sunset brought a hand to her mouth and furrowed her brow. “Uh...” That was certainly an odd entrance. “Well, ah, I’m Sunset Shimmer!” As she moved her eyes between the three girls, Sunset smiled brightly. “What are your names?”

“Adagio Dazzle, at your service~”

“Aria Blaze.”

“I’m Sonata! Sonata Dusk!”

The way the sisters introduced themselves reflected how each of them felt. Adagio’s words were sultry, almost playful. She was taking joy out of fooling Sunset into thinking the Sirens were nothing more than regular girls.

Aria really didn't care about anything. She just wanted the magic. So her words were delivered in a blunt monotone, saying nothing more than necessary. Sonata was simply happy, like always. She knew that magic was at this school, so yay, and she would get to explore a new school! So yay!

“Well,” Sunset clapped her hands together. “Let’s see what our school has to offer! Right this way, please.”

Smiling wickedly, Adagio followed Sunset, her sisters falling behind her as they walked.

This would be too easy.

As they walked, the flame-haired girl would point out various classrooms and others, like the computer room and science labs. She began to introduce yet another classroom when she interrupted herself, rushing over to a poster hanging on a wall.

“Oh, that's right!” Sunset between happily, clapping her hands together. “We're having a Musical Showcase this weekend! The whole school’s pretty much rallying around it, and I think Principal Celestia would let you sign up, if you asked.”

Adagio tried her best to hide most of her excitement, but allowed herself to grin widely. This would be perfect. “A musical showcase, hm?” Behind her, Sonata and Aria looked at each other with their own smiles, though Sonata’s was distinctly more happy than wicked.

“We have been known to sing from time to time...” Aria said, looking at her fingertips to hide just how thrilled she was. Sunset was already getting a weird vibe from these girls- especially Adagio- and began to slowly back away from them.

The blue girl, Sonata, looked at her sister with a confused gaze. “Uh, hello? We sing, like, all the time! It’s how we get people to do what we want!” The ditz smiled, never dropping her grin even as her sisters glared daggers at her. “Wha- what’d I say?”

And that was Sunset’s next clue that these girls were very strange. But, hey, so am I. She rationalized in her mind. Maybe they’re just not from around here. I know I was odd when I came through the portal...

As the girls continued bickering, Sunset tried to get the tour started up again, but couldn't get that sinking feeling out of her chest... Something wasn't right here.

Sunset's uneasy feeling never went away through the day, not through her classes or through her walk to the cafeteria. By this time, Rainbow Dash had decided to finally let Sunset walk through the halls by herself... And while the other students mostly kept their anger towards her quiet, she sometimes suffered a stray pencil colliding with her head or getting tripped in between classes.

The new girls, however, seemed to have stolen the spotlight. Everyone seemed to ignore Sunset today, their attention completely focused on the trio of strange girls. It made her even more uneasy than before.

Entering the lunchroom was like opening a door to a firing squad. Sunset's heart stopped beating for a split second, her breath hitching in her throat as she put one foot in the room. Some students looked her way, others simply continued eating their lunch.

Deciding to forego food for the moment, she immediately set off towards her friends, who had already arrived and were sitting at a table together. Sunset couldn't help but notice the vacant spot in between Applejack and Rainbow Dash, which she occupied with a small smile. She happily took the empty seat.

Sunset turned her head to smile at Rainbow Dash, who returned the smile with a toothy grin and slipped an arm around Sunset’s waist. “So,” Applejack spoke up, taking a bite of her food. “How was the tour?”

The former bully's smile instantly vanished as she turned to look at the farmer. The uneasy feeling was back. “I-I dunno... These girls, they...” Sunset paused, trying to find the correct phrase. “They just acted so strange.

Every girl at the table raised an eyebrow, but Rarity was the only one to speak. “Strange?” She questioned. “What ever do you mean, darling?”

Sunset threw her arms up into the air. “That's just it! I don't know! They just acted really off.” She frowned, letting her limbs fall back down and resting her head on Rainbow Dash’s shoulder. “... Maybe somebody already talked to them... Told them about who I used to be...” Her frown deepened, her hair forming a shadow over her face. “So much for making a good first impression...”

Annoyingly, Fluttershy nodded, agreeing with the statement. “Uh-huh.” However, as she realized the other five were glaring at her, she corrected herself. “Oh, um... That’s... probably not it...” Her weak defense did nothing to dissuade the intense stares. She slowly shrank in her seat, squeaking quietly.

Just then, the doors to the cafeteria slammed open, revealing Adagio, Aria and Sonata. The impact of the doors banging against the walls immediately silenced the entire student body, drawing their attention to the girls, who slowly walked forward with sultry looks, swinging their hips seductively as their voices sang in perfect harmony.

The three girls’ voices carried through the entire room. They blended together perfectly, and anyone who had not been paying attention certainly was now as they placed their hands on every student they passed, entrancing the teens with their song. And just as every student- sans Sunset Shimmer and her friends, though the trio of singers did not notice this- was under their spell, Adagio’s voice turned into vocals.

We heard you want to get together...

Music seemed to come from nowhere, a steady guitar riff playing in the minds of every student. The song continued, with Adagio’s smooth voice and her seductive walk continued to hold the attention of everybody.

Why pretend we're all the same? When some of us shine brighter?

The singing trio continued moving through the lunchroom, their song pulling into the students’ minds, changing their thoughts.

Let's have a battle! Battle of the Bands!

And before the Rainbooms’ eyes, the student body that had been so tightly knit since Sunset’s defeat began tearing apart.

“I could beat you!”

“Heh, you wish!”

“I so want this!”

Not if I get it first!

As the teens argued, some green mist began seeping through the air, lazily expanding outwards until the mist covered the ground. As Adagio, Aria and Sonata continued singing, the students’ arguing intensified. Thunderlane and Featherweight looked as if they were about to come to blows. Watermelody and Bon-Bon were yelling loudly, nearly drowning out everyone else. Though strangely, Vinyl Scratch seemed to have no idea what was going on, thanks to her headphones.

Magic. Sunset thought. They're definitely in possession of dark magic.

As the trio of sisters finished their song, the Rainbooms could only stare in horror as the students of Canterlot High School resumed hating each other.

Chapter 17: Separation [OLD]

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Waiting by the portal was boring.

The five girls all sat by the stone statue with dejected looks on their faces, sadly gazing around. Ever since the Fall Formal, students would be walking around with their friends, laughing and smiling. Now there was nobody. They were all too busy arguing with each other inside.

Fluttershy tilted her head down solemnly, watching a ladybug crawl on her finger with sad eyes. “I can't believe they got to Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna, too...” Indeed, whatever spell that had caused the students of CHS to hate each other had spread to the heads of the school- and the Musical Showcase was now a tournament. A Battle of the Bands.

Applejack leaned against the statue, piling her hat over her eyes. “It don’t look good, y’all.” She said in a soft voice. “Not good at all.”

“Those girls have gotten to everybody, darling. Everyone’s acting like...” Rarity started, but trailed off when she glanced in Rainbow Dash’s direction.

The athlete sighed. “Like when Sunset was in charge.” The mention of the former tyrant caused worried looks to flash across the girls’ eyes. All except for Rainbow Dash's, who simply glared at the ground with her hands in her pockets. “And no, she hasn't responded to my texts or calls. I don't know where she went.”

Her girlfriend had simply disappeared after their meeting with Celestia and Luna. One moment Sunset was walking with her group of friends and the next she had vanished without a trace. A search of the school grounds had proved fruitless, and so the remaining five girls had simply decided to wait.

The mood had certainly dropped in comparison to everyone’s high spirits just hours ago. They simply sat in sadness, no one willing to break the quiet between them. But of course nothing remains quiet for long when Pinkie Pie is around.

The girl’s eyes lit up suddenly as she jumped to her feet with a large smile on her face. “Hey! I just thought of something!” Pinkie exclaimed as her friends looked at her with bewildered expressions. “You said those girls got to everybody, right Rarity?”

“I, well, yes...”

“Then why aren't we all mad and junk? We were in the cafeteria just like everyone else, so if the new girls’ magic affected them all, shouldn't it have gotten to us too?” As Pinkie Pie finished her inquiry, Rainbow Dash and the others started at her with emotionless expressions.

“She's not wrong.” Dash stated, glancing between each of her friends. “We should have been changed, too. But we weren't. Why?”

“Ah’d bet that it has somethin' ta do with the factthat we grow wings and hair when we play music!” Applejack spoke up, earning a nod of approval from the other girls.

“So, magic, then. And we have no idea how to use that magic to save everyone.” Dash confirmed. Disappointed mumbles from her friends were the only replies she received. Silence reigned over the group for a short while as they tried to think of solutions.

Fluttershy groaned softly in frustration. “Oh, if only Twilight was here!” She cried. “She would know what to do!”

Rainbow Dash scoffed. “That's not gonna happen. Portal’s closed.” To demonstrate, she picked up a nearby twig and threw it at the base of the statue. To the disappointment of all of them, the twig simply bounced off the stone instead of phasing into another dimension.

Rainbow hung her head. “So yeah.”

Silence once more washed over them as they resigned to think to themselves, each one holding their chins thoughtfully.

“Why don't we search Sunset's locker? We could see if she has anything we could use.” Rarity questioned.

Rainbow Dash nodded in agreement. “Or we could find out where she went. Either way, I'm game.”

He sighed as he pulled open a drawer and placed a stack of papers in it, leaving it open as he stood from his desk to pull out his phone, which had begun ringing. “Hello?” Time Turner answered to whoever was on the other end.

“Mr. Turner?”

“Dinky.” He breathed, the sound of her voice almost making him drop his phone. “I-I must say, I didn't expect to receive a call from you. How are you?” He asked while his heart hammered in his chest. “You haven't had any problems with any of the other students, have you?” Turner was well aware of the recent hatred that had spread amongst CHS, and while he knew his daughters could handle themselves he still worried.

“No, Mr. Turner. I called because I want to talk to you. In person. Today.”


Last time he spoke to his youngest, she had broken his heart and denied him any right to call himself her father. But now she was calling him, asking to meet again. “When...” He briefly choked on his own words. “When would you want to-”

She interrupted him. “In an hour, at the stadium. School will be out by then, and Derpy and mom will be there too. They, uh... They want to say a few things.” She coughed. “And I guess I do, too.”

There is no way this is happening. No way...

“I can assure you, Dinky...” Turner said, steadying himself so that his voice would stop shaking. “I'll be there.”

“Thank you, Mr. Turner. We'll see you then.”

With that, Dinky hung up the phone, leaving Turner sitting with his cell phone pressed against his ear with an empty tone playing in the place of his daughter's voice. After a few seconds of doing nothing, Turner slowly pulled the phone away and snapped it shut.

Just then, the door to his classroom opened, revealing Luna and Celestia who stood with small smiles on their lips. “Hello, Time.” Luna greeted pleasantly. “May we come in?”

Time Turner immediately jumped from his chair, fixing the collar of his suit and grabbing his trenchcoat from the back of his chair as he walked towards them. “Oh, by all means, ladies. Take a seat. I have wonderful news!” He gave Celestia a firm handshake and Luna a warm hug and a peck on the cheek. “To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

Celestia giggled lightly. “Well, Time Turner, we just wanted to chat.”

“And we have some news of our own.” Luna added as Turner stepped aside to allow them entry. He pulled a spare chair out and plopped in it as the two sisters sat at some students’ desks.

“Well,” Turner began. “I suppose I'll bite. You said you had some news, Luna?” He said, gesturing to her.

The blue woman's smile grew and she laughed. “Oh yes, Time. I don't know if you're aware, but Canterlot High School has received three new students today.” she informed him. “And they would just love to meet you!”

Time Turner raised an eyebrow. “They want to meet me?” He asked. “Odd, but not the strangest thing, I suppose. What are their names?” He leaned forward in his seat slightly.

Celestia answered for her sister. “Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze and Sonata Dusk. They're all positively charming. You'll like them, Time.” The women's slightly monotone voice had not gone unnoticed. The hairs on the back of Time Turner’s neck began to rise, but he ignored his concerns and smiled.

“Well, who am I to refuse?”

“Splendid!” Luna said happily as she clapped her hands together. “They should be here any-”

She was cut off by a knock at the door. “Oh.” Said Celestia. “Here they are now.” The principal stood and walked over to the door. After she opened it, three girls strode in with sways in their hips and songs in their hearts...

“You sure you know how to open that, Pinks?”

“Of course, Dashie! There ain't a lock in the world that can keep me out!”

“That’s disturbing, Pinkie.”

“What? I need to be able to pick every lock- what if I'm trying to throw a surprise party but I can't because there’s one pesky lock that I can't open so then I'm forced to go home and leave the guest of honor all sad because I promised them a party but they didn't get one-”

“We get it Pinkie! Thank you...”

The pink girl saluted and kneeled down in front of Sunset’s locker, resting an ear near the lock as she turned it. A series of clicks followed, and the other four girls kept glancing around to make sure they would not be caught.

“C’mon, Pinkie!” Applejack breathed as a single click sounded from the lock, different from the others. Pinkie turned from the lock to stare at the farmer.

“This isn't as easy as it looks, you know!” She exclaimed, turning the lock in the other direction. “Honestly, some people...” The party planner added under her breath.

Another click. Pinkie Pie’s grin returned to her face. “Almost done!” The entire group fell silent as the click of the lock continued to sound.

“Got it!” Pinkie said in a sing-song voice as she jumped to her feet and hopped to the back of the group. “All yours, Dashie!” She cheered as she passed the athlete, patting her on the back.

“Huh?” Rainbow said dumbly. “Why me?”

“‘Cuz Sunset's your girlfriend, silly! So you should be the one to invade her personal privacy and rummage through her locker!” Pinkie said with a large smile, ignoring Rainbow Dash's eye roll.

“Well when you put it like that...” Dash groaned as she opened the locker and bent down. There were some basic school supplies like notebooks and paper, but otherwise nothing to tell them Sunset's location.

“Great.” Rainbow mumbled.

Just as the rainbow haired girl was about to stand, she heard Fluttershy go “W-wait!”

“What is it, Shy?”

Everyone turned to look at Fluttershy, who squeaked and hid behind her pink hair. “It’s... It's just that, um... There's a... A book at the bottom, there...”

“Huh?” Rainbow Dash turned back to the locker and sure enough there was a small brown book sitting at the bottom, covered in dust. “How in the world for I miss that?” She leaned down and grabbed it, noting that on the cover was a sun exactly like the one on Sunset's shirt.

“I’ve never seen this before...”

“It looks like it hasn't been touched in forever!”

Ignoring the other girls’ mumblings behind her, Rainbow Dash slowly opened the book, coughing when the copious amounts of dust went into her lungs.

On the first page was a long passage, written in elegant handwriting, but obviously faded with the passage of time.

My dearest Sunset,

It is with great pleasure that I give you this journal. In all my time as a princess, I have only ever seen one unicorn with as much magical power as you possess, and he has long since passed.

“My faithful student, this journal was one of his first creations. It allows communication with another pony over long distances. He called it a “phone book”, if I recall correctly. For the life of me I can't figure out why. But the important fact is that this journal has a twin- and it is in my possession.

“Should you ever want to talk, and we are not within earshot, just write a message in this book and I shall receive it. I look forward to having all sorts of chats with you!

“Yours Truly,
Princess Celestia”

The five girls all stood with questioning expressions, none sure of what exactly they had stumbled across. “This...” Rarity began slowly. “This seems very personal, girls. Maybe we should...”

“Hold on!” Applejack interjected. “The other Celestia said that this here book can talk to the other one, and she has it back in Equestria.” The farmer took the book from Rainbow Dash and fished a pen out of her pocket. “So if we write somethin’ in here... “

Rarity gasped. “Then she can get a message to Twilight and help us with the new girls!”

“And maybe find Sunset!” Rainbow said with a smile. “Alright, I'm down with this! Go ahead Applejack.”

Somewhere in another dimension, in a newly formed crystal castle, a dull ringing sounded through the walls.

A purple aura grabbed the ringing book and opened it to the ringing page, gasping as she read the words that were printed on the paper.

“What is it, Twi?” Applejack asked, placing a hoof on her friend's shoulder.

“It... It looks like a message from my friends at Canterlot High!”

Chapter 18: Planning [OLD]

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You have one goal.

Take it back.

She strode down the hallway of the school with a confident smirk on her face.The day was already over, yes, but that didn't mean she couldn't get her plans underway anyway. An entire building to herself and nobody could stop her.

Giggling to herself, her hips swayed as she turned a corner into the main hall. The circular room was barren of life, save for herself. The walls were lined with trophy cases and pictures, all boasting about the accomplishments of the sports teams.


Walking over to the nearest case, she glanced through the glass at the name engraved into the golden trophy.

Rainbow Dash.

A soccer trophy, won a year ago against some school from out of state. That didn't matter to her, though. Raising a hand, she curled her fingers into a fist...

And punched through the glass.

Miraculously, her hand remained uninjured, even as she reached through the new hole in the case and grasped the trophy...

The campus was barren. Canterlot High School had long since been emptied of students, but on the premises. Each group was there for two different, but yet similar reasons.a group of students still remained sitting outside, just by the statue. The portal to Equestria was supposed to have been cut off for a long while, but judging by Princess Twilight’s hastily-written response to the girls’ cry for help, it would not remain that way for long.

Rainbow Dash sat idly at the base of the statue, absentmindedly rolling a soccer ball in her hands. Her thoughts were a jumble of emotions- worry for the school and the other students, anger at these ‘Dazzlings’ girls, and another bout of worry for Sunset. The missing girl still hadn’t returned any calls or texts. And Rainbow Dash knew that her phone was still working, as the calls hadn’t gone straight to voicemail and the texts were all delivered successfully. But yet Sunset never called back.

There was always the possibility that she simply didn't have her phone on her... But that seemed unlikely. Sunset never went anywhere without her phone. Being the most hated person in the school necessitated that. So either she was intentionally ignoring Rainbow’s calls, or something was keeping her from answering.

Sighing to herself, Rainbow Dash leaned her head against the statue and closed her eyes. Slowly letting a breath leave her lungs, she opened her eyes again once she felt a hand lay itself on her shoulder. She glanced to the side to find Rarity smiling warmly at her.

“It will be alright, darling.” The fashionista said. “Twilight will know what to do. We’ll find Sunset, Rainbow Dash.”

Dash appreciated the warm smile of her friend, and gave Rarity a smile of her own. The athlete said nothing but instead nodded at Rarity. Maybe, just maybe, everything would work out. They’d beaten magic once before, so why couldn’t they do it again?

Just as her smile became genuine, Rainbow saw a sparkling light come from the concrete base of the statue. Jumping to her feet, Dash turned just in time to see a purple blur burst from the face of the statue and jet past them. It didn’t take a genius to figure out who it was.

Twilight!” She and the other four called out in joy.

The girl was on her knees, a green-and-purple dog right next to her. She groaned and rubbed her head as she slowly stood. “I’m back...!” Twilight glanced up to see Applejack, who extended a hand to the princess. Twilight grasped the hand with her own and stood with the farmer’s help.

Twilight turned and smiled at the rest of the girls, smiling and waving at them before she was engulfed in a giant group hug.

“Oh, it’s so good to see you!” Pinkie Pie squealed. “It’s been so long! You need to tell us all about ponyworld and how it’s been!” As she spoke, the bubbly girl jumped up and down while still holding Twilight, making the princess mumble incoherently as she was shaken.

“P-Pinkie!” Cried the purple girl. “I’m glad to see you too! But p-please let me go!”

“Oh!” The party girl said as she unlatched her arms from Twilight. “Sorry!” Twilight took a few breaths to steady herself, and smiled at Pinkie.

“It’s okay, Pinkie.”

Her smile fell just a second later, however. “But I’ve got some bad news about those new girls...”

The happy mood was instantly soured, everyone’s smiles turning into frowns.

”They're called the Sirens.”

Rarity immediately recognized the phrase. A siren was a beautiful creature that used it's charming voice to lead sailors to their doom. The other girls at least heard of the creatures before, but the way Twilight said their name made it sound different than the ones in mythology.

“Sirens?” Fluttershy whispered from behind her hair. “That doesn't sound friendly...”

Twilight shook her head, pulling a book out and opening it. “Three beautiful but dangerous beings, the Sirens nearly plunged all of Equestria into chaos with their voices.” She turned the book around to show the other girls what was on the page. Three fish like creatures flew in the air, the mouths open in a song. Below them were ponies arguing with each other, some looking to be on the brink of coming to blows.

“But how'd they get here?” Rainbow asked as she leaned back in her chair. The group has decided to go to Sugarcube Corner to be filled in on the situation... And maybe find Sunset there, but that part was a no go. “And why are they just now coming around if they're so old?”

Twilight took a sip of her vanilla shake and sighed. “A wizard from those times... He came up with a spell to banish them here. And now they're back — I guess the Sirens were lying dormant until they had enough power to strike.

“But... Wait, I'm sorry, but where's Sunset Shimmer?”

None of them spoke for a few long seconds. Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Applejack all turned to Rainbow Dash who closed her eyes and growled softly.

“Gone.” She said tersely. “She vanished after we went to see Principal Celestia.” Already Dash could tell that Twilight didn't like that answer. The princess’s face scrunched up and her eyebrows darted down.

“Girls...” Twilight said slowly. “Are we one hundred percent sure that using the Elements on Sunset actually worked?”

Despite her better judgement, Rainbow Dash suddenly leaped forward, placing her hands firmly on the surface of the table as she glared at Twilight. “Hey! Are you implying what I think you're implying?!” She said angrily, causing Twilight to flinch back.

The other girls quickly jumped to restrain their athletic friend, with Fluttershy and Rarity grabbing Dash's arms, Applejack grabbing her shoulders and Pinkie wrapping her arms around Rainbow’s waist. Twilight held her hands up in front of her, eyes wide as dinner pledge plates. “Whoa! Rainbow Dash, settle down!” She insisted. “I wasn't implying anything! We just need to make sure we're prepared for every outcome!”

Rainbow Dash’s glare seemed to soften before her face relaxed, her eyes glazing over has her stare looked into nothing. She stayed like that for a few seconds before she suddenly blinked and shook her head, breathing heavily. “S-Sorry, Twi... “ She sighed as she sat back down. “Kinda lost it for a second... Sorry.”

Twilight gulped, slowly reaching out to grasp one of Rainbow's hands with her own. “It's okay, Dash.” She said slowly. “I know you didn't mean it. But why’d you freak out so much? How close did you get to Sunset in the short time that I've been gone?”

Rainbow Dash blushed as the other girls started to giggle softly. “Uh...” She managed dumbly. “I think we have more important matters to discuss, yeah?” Excellent save, Dash!

“Oh, yeah!” Twilight suddenly said. “Sorry. Okay, well, last time when we defeated Sunset...” Twilight ignored Rainbow Dash’s groan of disapproval. “All we had to do was use the elements on her. So I'm sure that if we find the Sirens and face them like that, there won't be anything to worry about!” The princess smiled as she let her words sink in.

Fluttershy suddenly whimpered and his behind her hair. “Oh, I'm pretty sure I could find something to worry about...” Then she pushed her pink locks at and smiled. “But it won't be the Sirens!”

Dash smiled. “Alright, we have a plan!” She pumped a fist into the air. “Whoo! Let's go kick some Siren butt!”

Pinkie informed Twilight that the bands competing in the tournament were to meet in the auditorium in a few minutes, so that's where the group set off to. On their way out of Sugarcube Corner however, Applejack stopped and gripped Rainbow Dash's arm. “Hey, Dash. Ah just wanna make sure we won't get another... Outburst from ya. Ya cool?”

Rainbow nodded exhaustedly. “Yes, AJ. I’m cool.” She pulled her way of of the farmer's grip and ran after the others. Applejack stood in place, watching RD leave, before following too.

Chapter 19: Falling

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Left. Right. Left. Right. Left… every footfall was an affront to his free will. Each reverberating step a dirge signifying his subjection. The sweet, melodic tune echoed in Turner’s mind, even long after it had finished. He watched his limbs move against his will, seemingly with the phantom of the rhythm. As hard as he tried to fight the influence, he could not break through the fog that had enveloped his mind and made it all but impossible to grasp onto a free, defiant thought for more than a few moments. Though, beyond it, he could see just how absolutely those three girls had exerted themselves over the school.

In every corridor, he could see students and faculty alike, sour-faced and isolated from one another. Whenever he met their eyes, he could see a vacuous malice in them. It was as if they all held some grudge with a basis long since forgotten.

And he felt it too.

It bubbled just below Turner’s inner thoughts. He could feel the ugliest thoughts aching to break through in his actions and his voice. He couldn’t control his body, but he mustered all of his resolve to fight the callous wrath that sought to spread through him like cancer. Yet the walls he had made a feeble attempt to build between himself and negativity over the years were being chipped away, slowly but surely.

What is this?, he thought desperately as he trudged on against his will. Why are they doing this? His arm rose heavily to push open the doors to the open air.

What do they want from us?

Somehow, being outside caused a feeling of abandonment to form in his chest, and it grew with each step away from the school. The music in his head seemed to deaden slightly, and the anger slipped away altogether. He looked back over his shoulder instinctually, feeling like he was an insect being forced from its hive. It disgusted him to feel so weak, and a rising sense of dread at the mystery of what those girls could do—and wanted to do—trailed behind that disgust. He gathered enough strength to grit his teeth and force the thought of dependence from his head. But, still, he was prodded on.

The afternoon sun was in his eyes, making it somewhat difficult to discern where he was being sent. He struggled to turn his head and alleviate himself of the annoyance, resigning himself to this excursion he was being forced on. It proved short, though, as he found himself stopping a rather short distance from the main building of the school. He looked up to see an archway framed by bleachers, and a grass field striated with white markings and numbers beyond.

Turner’s chest tightened as his surroundings became clear.

The Stadium.

The girls… Berry…

His angst grew at the thought of meeting them when he was in this state. Even after they both made it clear how revolted they were by his actions, Berry and Dinky had been gracious enough to throw him a line. Yet, here he was unable to take it; his hands all but tied behind his back. The worry lingered with him for a few moments before he was spurred forward onto the grass. As he stepped, the distant music seemed to swell again, shifting with him as he looked over the vacant bleachers for their familiar faces. The opportunity to speak with the girls and his old friend would have filled him with joy just a short time ago. But, standing in the center of the stadium with the ghostly tune seeming to echoing across the empty seats, all he could feel was dread.

His gaze turned when he caught movement a short distance away out of the corner of his eye. Derpy waved to him enthusiastically, beckoning him over with a small smile on her face. Dinky and Berry were seated near her, looking down at him from their perch on the bleachers with guarded expressions. Turner made his way to them with leaden feet and an unshifting gaze. He saw Derpy lower her arm and speak to her sister and mother, but he couldn’t hear the words over the distance and the music in his ears. Whatever she said was punctuated with an encouraging smile before she looked up to him again. Her smile shone through in her golden eyes, cutting through the fog in his mind and causing the happiness of years past to well in him for the briefest moment.

She looks so much like her mother, Turner thought lovingly before his chest tightened again in disquiet. Please… not like this… not now… In spite of his pleading thoughts, he rose to their row and shimmied his way to them. Dinky and Berry fixed him with unreadable looks. Even though they were empty of the fire they contained the last time he saw them, he could still wilt under their gaze. Turner reached them and stood stiffly for a moment, looking the girls over. Even if he could speak freely, he didn’t know what he would say. He plopped down on the bleacher tiered just below Berry and his daughters. Being forced to crane his neck to look up at them made him feel small.

For a moment that lasted an age, there was silence between them. Dinky and Berry looked back and forth between each other and Turner, their gazes completely empty of any enthusiasm for their situation. Derpy looked over them all, her hands folded in her lap in absolute patience. Turner found himself thanking the ever-present melody that had been plaguing his thoughts. It saved the quiet from being torturous.

“You wanted to speak with me?” He felt the words tumble out of his mouth, but they may as well have been in another voice. He would have cursed their forced nature if he had something else to say on his own.

Dinky looked to Turner, and managed to hold her gaze there. She steeled herself with a deep breath, and seemed to sit a bit straighter for it.
“Mister Turner, I’m sorry for… um… for hitting you like I did. And for… I guess… not giving you a chance.” The younger twin paused and looked away for a moment, frowning. “I was mad at you…”

Derpy gingerly placed her hand on her sister’s arm, interrupting the other girl’s words. Dinky continued to look away, but her frown lessened a bit. Her shoulders relaxed some before she continued, her voice a bit quieter, the words coming through with a little more effort. “And… I was confused too. I didn’t know what to think about what you told us at first. I… I really didn’t believe you. I guess I didn’t want to. But, when mom told us that it was true, I didn’t understand why you… why you never…”

The girl let out a shaky breath and swallowed. It grated at Turner to see her like this again, and to know that he was at the root of it all. He wanted to reach out to her… to apologize to both of them for causing them this pain. He wanted to be their father. But, no matter how much his desires struggled against the force that bound him, he could not break free.

Dinky placed her hand over her sister’s, wresting control of herself where Turner could not. She steadied herself. “If I were alone, I don’t know what I’d do.” Dinky looked up to her sister, receiving an encouraging smile. Turner could see her strengthen at the sight of it. “But if Derpy is willing to give you a chance… then I am too.” The girl shifted her gaze to her father, her smile lingering.

Turner’s heart soared. After everything, after the truth was laid bare and they knew just what kind of man he could be, they were still willing to let him assume the role he had abandoned so long ago. He felt that he shouldn’t have been surprised, though. In the years that he had known them as he had, he’d never seen them sullen, nor beholden to anger. They were sweet things, thanks to the one thing he did right by them. He managed to glance at Berry, who smiled proudly at Dinky. If he could, he would have fallen to his knees and thanked her with all of his heart for helping the girls be what they were.

They’re angels, he thought adoringly. They have none of me in them. The sentiment couldn’t have made him prouder.

The thoughts were pushed out of his head by the song emanating from within him. It surged, like a beast roused from sleep. And he could feel a pressure—that burning rage—building inside, beginning to push him down within himself. He thought of the present, trying his best to stay the noise from taking over. He wouldn’t lose himself. Not here, and not now.

He felt a hand place itself over his own, and he looked up. Berry’s eyes were disarmingly pleading.

“Time Turner, I’m sorry how I’ve acted, and how I’ve treated you in all of this. I haven’t been a great example to the girls.” She let out a sad chuckle. Turner lost concentration. “We are… or… maybe… were friends. And, no matter what, you’re still their father. I shouldn’t have tried to stand between you and them.” The emotion in her voice choked her for a moment, and she paused to compose herself. “I can make whatever excuse I want; I can say that I wanted to protect them from getting hurt. But, the fact of the matter is it’s not my decision to make anymore. It’s their’s.” Berry turned to the girls, smiling proudly at the sight of them, as she often did.

The music was throbbing. He could hear those girls’ enrapturing voices as clearly as if they were sitting next to him, whispering into his ear. Turner felt himself being pulled from the here and now, descending down to the deepest recesses of his being. The sorrow he had known and kept with him over the years twisted inside of him, morphing into something seething and blind. It enveloped him, as darkly as dirt does the grave.

“They’ve made it clear what they want. So, I’ll be there for them, and I’ll be there for you.” She squeezed his hand under his. “If… you can forgive me.”

Turner stood stiffly, finally able to look down at them all.

“Why do you need my forgiveness, when you already have the best part of me?” He smoldered, waving his arm to indicate the girls.

No… please…

“T-Time?” Berry looked up to him in shocked confusion.

“You always liked to say that they were yours… loved to remind me of that fact. And, from what I’ve seen, that’s half true.” He turned to Dinky, her mother’s look mirrored on her face.

It appalled Turner, but he was powerless to do anything.

“I let go of my daughters because I wanted to do one thing right by them. I thought that you, Berry, my and Ditzy’s friend, could give them what I wasn’t fit to.” The pure malice in his tone shook him to his core. It scared him to think that he was capable of emanating such contempt, even if he wasn’t in control of it. “There was no one in the world I would rather have my baby girls raised by. It gave me comfort to believe that they’d grow up to be like you. But if I knew then what you showed me the other night. If I knew just how hateful you could be…” He fixed Berry with a gaze full of fire, placing his forefinger against his head.

That simple motion brought him back to that night nearly twenty years ago. He could feel metal against his skin. If it were real, he would have gladly pulled the trigger, just to save them all from this moment.

“…I would have taken them with me!”

His heart shattered in his chest. To hear such ugly words, spoken in his own voice. He felt monstrous Turner was glad, then, when he was turned and compelled away. He stormed down the steps and onto the field, deaf to the sobs in his wake. He couldn’t bear to look at Berry and the girls after that.

Though he could feel himself moving onward, he was all but blinded by suspended tears. He felt sorrow more vivid than anything that could have gripped him in his darkest hour. As black and heavy as the deep sea, it crushed him. He wanted to gnash against it, to curse and scream for just a whit of relief. All he could do, however, was shed a few miserable tears. The music mocked him with it’s sweetness.

Adagio and her sisters drank deep of the energy from their place in the shadows. She leered at the man in the brown trench coat sulking off the field, a feeling of satiation coursing through her that she hadn’t known in a long while. He was quite the font for them… but she thought they may have wrung him dry with this little charade. Those girls, his daughters, they could be used just like all the others in the school. Their “mother” most likely could as well. But they had had a little too much fun with their newest toy. She could feel it from where she stood; his complete and utter desolation. A feeling of disappointment ran through her; she rather enjoyed him. It was rare for them to have the opportunity to feed on feelings as deep and poignant as his. Sorrow like that was uniquely decadent to a siren, like a fine wine. Something to be savored, and never to be known again once it was quaffed. She abandoned the reverie with a callous shrug.

Oh well, we can probably squeeze a little something else out of him. She thought, a crooked grin crawling across her face. She looked to her sisters, still in the midst of rapturous imbibement. She led their gaze to the broken man shuffling his way from them.

“Time Turner,” She purred, her voice dripping with cruel anticipation. “Delicious~”

Chapter 20: Reunion

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Rainbow’s eyes were downcast as she trailed behind the rest of her friends. Even though they had a plan, and even though they had Twilight on their side, her spirits were low—gloomy like the dying day. Not even the thought of kicking those “Dazzlings” to the curb could cheer her up. She tried to focus on their task, to be ready to play her part in saving the school once again... but her thoughts kept moving back to Sunset.

She clenched her hands in her pockets. The mystery ate at her, as did the possibilities. The thought of Sunset alone, among scornful students who, even before those girls brought out the worst in them, were all too eager to give her a taste of what she had given them over the years…
Dash tried to shake the worst of the notion from her head. Even if she didn’t treat her like it, Sunset was strong. She was smart, too. She could handle herself… Dash hoped so, at least.

But why can’t I reach her? she thought helplessly. What’s stopping her?

Dash thought of Crimson Napalm. She remembered how close he had come to blows with Sunset after the Fall Formal, and wondered if there was more of him in his head than the Dazzlings that night he had come to her home with the other boys—where they threatened her, and hurt Sunset.

She grit her teeth at the memory.

She wished that Sunset told her what had happened before they had gotten to the hospital that night. She would have made sure that the other two needed the doctor as much as Featherweight did. The thought that someone like them could have gotten to Sunset filled her with dread. And, as time went on without a word from her girlfriend, it reared and nagged at her more and more.

“Alright, so we’re all clear on the plan going in?” Twilight’s voice broke through Rainbow Dash’s despairing train of thought. She couldn’t help but be a little thankful for the distraction as she looked up to notice that they were fast arriving at the school.

It seemed so calm: shadowed by the early evening sky and quieter than the breeze wafting through the grounds. But the air surrounding the place hung low and heavy, like smoke from some invisible flame. Just the sight of it caused some vague, instinctual disquiet to bubble within Rainbow Dash—and she could see it matched in the eyes of her friends as she looked to them all. Even Spike let out a low whimper. Only Twilight seemed unmoved by the atmosphere.

“We’ll find the Sirens, evoke the Elements of Harmony, dispel their magic, and free all of the students from their control!” Twilight finished firmly, her voice happy and optimistic, just like it was the last time she had arrived in this world. With the rest of the group in tow, she climbed the steps to the entrance, radiant with confidence. The others seemed to perk back up in her assured presence. Dash found it almost infectious.


Twilight pushed the doors before her open, but was stayed by the sight that met her. The girls piled behind her, looking over her shoulders at the ruined foyer. The displays that lined the wall were broken through, the shelves splintered and their contents smashed and strewn throughout the floor in as many pieces as the glass that had guarded them. The sound of the wind whistling through the open doors and into the empty room made the scene almost haunting.

“Oh my…” Fluttershy squeaked under her breath.

“I’m guessing that this is unusual, even in the present circumstances.” Twilight bent to lift Spike off of the floor before stepping forward, glass crunching under her boots.

Applejack followed suit. “Ah’d say so…” she began as she took in the depth of the destruction, her voice developing a worried edge. “We didn’t see anythin’ like this after the Dazzlings stirred everyone up. It was just a bunch of fightin’ and hollerin’ then.”

Twilight brought a hand to her chin, looking over the room. “We… we know that the Sirens feed off of negative energy. But we didn’t anticipate the lengths they would go to in order to harness it. If they’re willing to incite something like this and draw from it…” She cut herself off, unconsciously hugging Spike a bit closer to her chest. There was an anxious moment of pause as the rest of the girls gingerly stepped their way into the broken space. Twilight cleared her throat and turned to face her friends. “We have to stop things from getting any worse than they already are!”

Rainbow spoke up. “Then what are we waiting for? The sooner we take those girls down, the sooner we get CHS back!” There was a tone of anxious impatience in Dash’s low voice. She took charge, making her way down the hall towards the auditorium in a brisk pace. The others looked to each other, varying looks of surprise and unease on their faces as they carefully stepped through the mess to follow their rainbow-haired friend.

The swath of wreckage waned, but still seemed to follow their path as they went on. Banners commemorating the abandoned musical showcase were stripped from their places on the walls and lied in tatters on the cold linoleum floor, a figurative reminder of the spoiling force of dark magic. It sprawled before them, ominously leading in its form, like a trail of bones to some deep, dark cave. The halls were empty of the usual school day bustle, and it was so quiet that a whisper might have echoed off the walls. It was chilling, and some of the girls felt their confidence in their magic falter under the weight of the inauspicious mood.

“D-Do you need all of the Elements for the s-spell to work?” Fluttershy’s voice trembled as she looked over her shoulder desperately. Her legs threatened to root her in her position, but Applejack placed a hand on her back, ushering her onward.

“C’mon, ‘Shy. Ya know we won’t be able to do this without ya! And we’ve faced worse before. What’s some singin’ compared to demon fireballs?” The country girl hooted in good nature, offering just a bit of levity. Fluttershy gulped, but managed to flash a half smile as she pressed on at her friend’s insistence. Rarity fell beside them both with a glance at the surroundings, a brief huff escaping her lips.

“I don’t like the state of things anymore than you do, darling. It’s positively ghastly!” She flicked her wrist in distaste, lamenting the disfigurement of the place. “But, as Rainbow Dash said, once we do away with the Sirens and their magic, we’ll be able to put everything back in proper order." The fashionista stumbled slightly as she stepped on a crumpled poster that lay on the floor. "And I, for one, would like to do so as soon as possible! This is simply unacceptable!” she waved over what lay ahead and behind in a dramatic gesture. “The lapse in decorum is one thing, but to leave our school in such a sorry state is just… monstrous. Though, I admit, it was a bit austere to begin with.” Rarity chewed lightly on her knuckle, lost in thought. “I’ve heard it said that a crisis is an opportunity in disguise. Maybe now I can push some of those redesigns I’ve been mulling over for the foyer!”

There was a sigh of exasperation among the group, but Rarity seemed deaf to it. Applejack peered over Fluttershy, a deadpan look on her face.

“Rarity, can we maybe focus on-“

“Now I know there’s little love here for Crystal Prep, but have you ever seen their building? It’s absolutely breathtaking! I hope it wouldn’t be too controversial if I suggested we take some design cues from their architecture and tweak them into something more in line with CHS’s current look. And, if I’m being brutally honest, I’ve never really like the color scheme here. A blue floor with such striking green lockers? What kind of contrast is that? One needs to be of a more subdued shade so the other can pop! The eye shouldn’t be drawn drawn to the floor, so I think—AH!”

She was dazed by the collision, but her arms instinctively shot forward to save her friend from a hard trip to the ground.

“Oh, Twilight, I’m so sorry! I guess I wasn’t looking where I was going.” Rarity let out a small, sheepish chuckle.

“That’s alright, Rarity. I think we were both a little distracted.” Twilight's gaze took in the noticeable shift in the disarray that had led them so far. It bent down an adjacent hall, snaking away and out of sight, leaving a clear path directly ahead. There stood the doors to the auditorium, and the small stretch leading to it was untouched and as cheerily decorated as the day before. The girls could hear muffled commotion emanating from the room, bringing a welcome change from the stark silence that had greeted and stayed with them. From her place at the head of the group, Dash looked to her friends, tilting her head towards the closed doors. The others nodded, stepping forward with the athlete.


They all turned to Twilight, but she shook her head insistently at their quizzical gazes, pointing down to the dog cradled against her chest. Spike’s ears twitched, his eyes glazed over in deep concentration.

“Do you hear that?” The dog urged, wriggling in Twilight’s grasp. The girl’s fell silent, trying desperately to listen for what unnerved Spike.

“What is it, Spike?” Twilight asked after a few long moments of quiet.

“Singing. But… it’s not coming from in there.” He jumped from Twilight’s arms to the floor, shaking himself off before stepping forward. “I don’t think the Sirens are… I…” His ears perked suddenly, and his gaze was drawn down the untrodden hall, back along the trail they had followed from their arrival.

“Come on!” He said in a growl, setting off before anyone could speak another word.

Rainbow Dash gave a quick shrug before hastily following after him, matching his pace. “You heard him!” She called over her shoulder to the others. From somewhere in the maze of halls, they could finally hear a faint voice carrying a cheery tune. The words were quiet, but instantly recognizable to the girls.

See how we’ve made a brand new start
And the future’s lookin’ up

Dash seethed to hear their song used as a tool to undo all the good that had been done. She bit down on her lip, her brows knitting together and her steps becoming a bit more forceful as she trailed behind Spike. The voice was sweet, upbeat and seemingly careless, but there was an icy edge to it that swelled as they approached. It cut through in every melodic word.

And when you walk these halls
You feel it everywhere

Spike slowed as he rounded a corner, listening intently. Dash flew past him, though, all fury as the hall became familiar to her. Glancing behind herself at the other Rainbooms, she could see recognition spark on their faces too. They had come this way often in the time since Twilight had been gone. The tune beckoned them to the music room; the place where they had spent so much time together, strengthening their friendship after being apart for so long.
You can feel it, we are back
And I’m so glad the we’re better

Dash stepped before the door, the song seeming to silence at her approach. She placed her hand on the handle before turning to her friends as they caught up to her. Her gaze lingered on them, and she felt her rage simmer down in their presence, replaced with a sense of single-minded determination. A ghost of a smile finally formed on her face. “Are you guys ready, or what?”

“Darn tootin’!’”

“Absolutely, darling.”

“Ready Freddy, Dashie!”

“I-I… y-yeah… I’m ready.”

She nodded firmly to them, throwing open the door with much force.

It shocked them to see the room demolished, punctuating the destruction that had led them so far. It shocked them to see the room absent of the Sirens. And it shocked them to see Sunset Shimmer, lounging languidly on the ruins of the piano at the far end of the room.
The girl turned her head to peer at the group, her red-gold locks shading her face. A jagged, playful smile flashed across her face, and her opal eyes narrowed.

Chapter 21: Love and War

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“Sunset?” Dash breathed in disbelief. The sight of her against the ruined room baffled the athlete. “You did this?!”

With a careless glance at the wreckage, the girl hopped off of the piano, giving a shrug as she smoothed out her clothes. “I had you guys in my heart.” She said in a cloying tone. Sunset fixed the girls with a frigid glare, no trace of the warmth or kindness she had been trying so hard to show within herself coming through in that gaze. She reveled in abandonment, standing as a picture of what she’d been before the Elements had rinsed her of the ill she carried in herself.

Dash’s chest tightened to see it. She looked deeply into the other girl’s opal eyes, searching desperately for just a hint of something familiar in them. Something that looked of Sunset.

And she saw it—resounding in the heartless, bitter depths of her gaze. She hated to admit it: that what stood before them all seemed more like Sunset than anything she had seen of the girl in the past few weeks. This was the Sunset everyone had known for years, and it shamed Dash to feel that all of the girl’s efforts and the place she held in her heart hadn’t yet washed that image from her mind.

She opened her mouth to speak, but she was embarrassed to feel only a helpless, quiet mewl quiver its way past her lips.

“Hold it there, Sunset!” She was glad to hear Applejack’s twanging voice from over her shoulder. It helped to mask her own feeble utterance. “How’re you gonna go an’ justify all this, after we’ve all gone through so much try’n to show you what it is to be a friend?” Her tone was faintly accusatory and almost condescending, as if she were trying to correct a spooked animal. She took a weary step forward, standing next to Dash with a stern look on her face.

The athlete took no comfort in her presence and looked to her friend with dissatisfaction. Applejack and the rest of the girls had gone through the effort of making amends with Sunset, which was more than what could be said for the majority of the school. But if Dash’s own conflicted feelings were any evidence, a short time as friends didn’t erase all of the time spent as victims. For all they stood for, she and her friends were still human, and their memories of what used to be were just as clear in their minds as they were in all of the students’ who hadn’t given Sunset the light of day since the Fall Formal. Dash only hoped that the rest of the Rainbooms were truly ready when they had decided to turn things around with the girl who had caused them so much grief in the years that they had been at CHS.

Sunset let out a flippant puff at Applejacks words. “What, you don’t like it?” She swept her arm over the room with a feigned pout on her lips. “After seeing Sweet Apple Acres, I thought you would have appreciated such a run-down look for the school. Or do hicks prefer the term ‘rustic’?”

A deep red flush crept up the farmer’s neck as she clenched her fists. She took another firm step forward, her body tense and her words grinding out through her teeth. “J-just you wait a chicken pickin’ minute-“

She was interrupted by a loud, mocking guffaw. “Sweet Celestia, you really are simple, aren’t you?”

Applejack flared. She never took Sunset’s jabs lightly in the past, but they stung with a hint of betrayal now—even if her trust in the girl had been tenuous. She advanced again on the flame-haired bully, but was held back by an alabaster hand on her shoulder.

Rarity’s gaze did little to soothe her, but Applejack backed down, crossing her arms tightly over her chest. Rarity kept her hand on her friend and cleared her throat pointedly before meeting Sunset’s challenging eyes.

“Sunset, dear… I know you might be feeling a little less than your best. But, surely you can see that this is all in senselessly poor taste.”

“Pffft… like you’d know anything about ‘taste’.” Sunset laughed as she looked Rarity over, scrunching her nose in disgust. “Honestly, I’m amazed that a clown would wear any of the tacky trash you put out. I think the only thing less appealing than the clothes you make is your personality.” She flipped her hair and placed the back of her hand on her forehead in a mock display of dramatic flair. “Oh, darlings…” she began in a warbling imitation of the fashionista’s voice. “I simply can’t comprehend why every man I’ve ever taken a liking to has such a superficial interest in me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, once you take away all the ‘finery’, I’m really as deep as a puddle in a pothole!"

The bully let out a contemptuous giggle, and Rarity placed her hand flat on her chest, completely aghast. Spike rushed past Rarity’s feet, standing in front of her protectively with his paws planted firmly on the ground. He bared his teeth and let out a low, rumbling growl.

“Hey, you take that back! Rarity is an amazing pon-… girl! Even if the worst thing you could say about her was true, she’d still be a thousand times better than someone like you!”

Sunset’s brows knit together at the sight of him, but she didn’t seem to hear what he said. “What are you doing here? Is…” She trailed off as she looked past the others at Twilight, who was making her way from behind all of the girls. A scowl flashed across Sunset’s face when the girl stepped closer to her, the mean-spirited mirth emptying out from her as her body tensed combatively.

Twilight stood before her; tall, challenging, and silent. She wore a guarded look of disappointment, as if she were a parent who had caught her child in a desperate lie. Sunset simply rolled her eyes.

Princess.” She said tersely. “Come to admire the work you put into turning this school around?” She crossed her arms, a smirk on her lips.

Twilight shook her head. “I’ve come to help my friends face yet another threat that’s going to tear everyone apart for selfish reasons.” She looked at Sunset pointedly. “I thought we might have succeeded the last time we tried that, but-“

“But you were wrong.” Sunset finished for her in a tone that could cut like a knife. “It took less time for everything to go back to the way it was than it did for you to change it. This animosity, this distrust and anger that everyone felt then and feels now… it’s stronger than anything you could have ever hoped to conjure up with the Elements of Harmony. You know why?” She blew a strand of hair out of her eyes and looked unwaveringly into Twilight’s. “Because it’s sincere. Take it from me… I’ve been a target ever since you left. Sure, everyone was going through the motions with each other and pretending to get along. But that wasn’t half as satisfying to them as taking the opportunity take a thing or two out on me. I’m sure you would have been proud to see them upholding your idea of friendship. Not that I blame them, though. It’s a lot more natural to be honest with your feelings than it is to ignore them so that you can play at making friends.”

“If that’s true, that’s not how I wanted to leave things.” Twilight said diplomatically. “I knew there would be more than a few students here who wouldn’t be able to leave everything in the past, but I didn’t believe any of them would act out against you and think that two wrongs could make a right. I didn’t want anyone to punish you, I wanted them to help you.”

Sunset scoffed. “They did. They helped me see just how much of a failure you are. You couldn’t use Equestria’s strongest magic to do your duty and keep them all in line. Everything you tried to fix here was broken again in less than a month. Face it, Princess: you’re unfit to rule.”

Dash couldn’t take it anymore. She rushed to Sunset, placing her hand on her shoulder and looking pleadingly into her eyes. The athlete held her there for a moment, almost frozen under the bully’s incredulous gaze. “Sunset, please, snap out of it!” Her voice dripped with emotion. “This isn’t you! I’ve seen you work so hard to make up for all the mistakes you made in the past. I’ve been right there with you when you’ve apologized to people that you knew would rather pound you into the ground than hear anything you had to say. You’ve shown me just how awesome of a person you are, a-and it means a lot to me. Y-you… you mean a lot to me… and…” Dash swallowed the lump in her throat and kicked the shakiness from her voice. “I know that you’re so much stronger than this. This isn’t who you are!”

Sunset simply stared at her, her eyes strangely blank and unfocused, like she had just been roused from sleep. But Dash frowned as she saw an eerie flash of green move across the other girl’s gaze, leaving the familiar impression of disdain in its wake. Sunset grasped Dash’s wrist and slowly removed her hand from her shoulder, raising an eyebrow at the athlete and fixing her with a defiant look.

“This is exactly who I am, Rainbow Dash. And the only mistake I ever made was trying to be anything different. If most here aren’t ever going to see me as anything but the girl who showed them all how pathetic they can be, then why should I go through so much effort to prove them wrong? And… well… if I’m being completely honest, this is just a lot more fun. Everybody else seems to be feeling that way too, for all the good the Princess has done. Why don’t you give it a try Dash? All that bluster and competitiveness… it’s not so much different.” Her lips curled up ever so slightly. “C’mon, how about you roll around in the dirt with me~”

Dash looked from Sunset’s eyes to her wrist still caught in the other girl’s grip, her blue flesh whitening where Sunset’s fingers dug in. She wanted to pull away, but the husk and firmness in the flame-haired girl’s voice and the strength of her grasped stirred something inside the athlete. She felt her face flare, and her heart pounded in her chest with something much more than angst. She looked back to Sunset, those aqua pools fierce and commanding.

“Sunset… I… I-I don’t…” She couldn’t finish her thought, though. Not when she could feel a slight tickle on her skin from the other girl’s breath.

She hadn’t realized they were that close.

Dash’s gaze fell and lingered on Sunset’s playful smirk. The athlete licked her lips.

A faintly irritated grunt sounded from the group, and Dash was wrenched out of Sunset’s grasp as Fluttershy zipped between them. The shy girl looked Sunset dead in the eye, leaning into her slightly. “Sunset Shimmer, why don’t you stop and think about what you’re doing? You’re throwing away all the effort you’ve made to show everyone that you’re a good person. We asked Twilight to help us fight the magic that’s made everyone so nasty and to help us find you, because you’re our friend, and we were worried about you. But you’re acting like a big meaning towards all of us! And why? Because you think that no one believes you’re sincere? Well that’s not true. I believe you’re really a good person, and Rainbow Dash does too. So why don’t you apologize for acting so rude and start acting like the friend I know you can be?”

Sunset gasped—everyone did. The bully shook her head in utter disbelief.

“And who do you think you-“

Fluttershy took another step towards Sunset. “Hmmmm?” She hummed expectantly.

Something in her eyes burrowed it’s way into Sunset’s Equestrian soul. She turned her head, but couldn’t seem to look away from the other girl.

“I… uhh…”

Fluttershy tapped her foot, gaze unwavering.

Sunset seemed to shrink, her words coming out in a struggled mutter. “I… I’m… sssseerry.”

“What was that?” There was a subtle, unfamiliar edge to Fluttershy’s whispery voice.

The bully shoved her fists into her jacket pockets and gave a petulant pout. “I’m sorry!” She grumbled, fidgeting in her place.


Sunset grit her teeth. “For being rude…”

Fluttershy crossed her arms. “Do you think you’re ready to come with us to the auditorium so that we can stop the Dazzlings?”

The other girl’s eyes danced back and forth between Fluttershy’s before she looked down, suddenly very interested in her boots. She gave a single, almost pained nod.

Fluttershy’s pink tresses whipped around as she looked back at the others, a small, encouraging, and vaguely triumphant smile showing on her face.
All the girls simply stood in awe at the shy girl’s uncharacteristic display of dominance. Fluttershy blushed under their incredulous eyes and brought a finger to her hair, spinning a lock around her digit nervously.

Rainbow Dash shook her head slowly. “What. The. Fu-“

“We don’t have any more time for this!” Twilight’s voice broke in, less amazed by the situation than the others. She scooped Spike up off the floor and was already making her way to the door. “We need to find the Sirens ASAP! Come on… back to the original plan.”

Her urgency was enough to bring everyone else back to the present. They all shared a look of understanding before, one by one, they followed the Princess down the hall, Sunset begrudgingly slinking along behind them.
Rainbow Dash fell in alongside Fluttershy. “We’re gonna talk about this whole thing with the stare and the aggro-Shy after we’re done with the Dazzlings.” She whispered insistently before looking over her shoulder at the flame-haired girl. She looked completely sullen, her eyes still downcast and fists held stiffly at her sides. She glanced up briefly, meeting Dash with a nasty look before returning her gaze to the floor. Dash sighed as she looked ahead again, catching Applejack and Rarity peeking at Sunset as well. The two girls turned and whispered to each other, but Dash could just about make out what they were saying.

“I know the Dazzlings have their hooks in most everyone. But, don’t you think Sunset’s case is a little… extreme?” Rarity stole another quick glance at the bully

“Maybe Twilight was right. Maybe the Elements didn’t work. Ah think… ah think we made a mistake with her.”

“Well, once bitten, twice shy.”

Dash bit her tongue to hold back some comment or another. She looked desperately at Sunset again, feeling the chasmic distance between her and the others. Maybe it was always there, and she just didn’t want to admit it. Maybe she was stupid to believe that her friends would think any differently of Sunset than all the others at CHS. She thought that they had something, but it was only now, after whatever it was had crumbled around them, that she saw it was built on sand. Rarity, Applejack, even Pinkie Pie… they might have tried with Sunset, but they hadn’t seen what Dash saw in her… not really. Fluttershy might have been the only one to feel the same way that Dash did about the girl.

Still, she really hoped that Fluttershy meant what she said. Dash crossed her arms, thinking on what she told Sunset. She knew it was true; that her girlfriend wasn’t this spiteful person anymore. She just wished it wasn’t so hard for everyone else to see it too. Dash sighed, feeling frustration like Sunset must whenever someone gives her a hateful glance or mutters an ugly insult. Though she wouldn’t admit it to the other girl, sometimes things did seem a little hopeless to Dash. But the fact that Sunset kept trying to make things right despite that was one of the things the athlete lo-… liked most about her. Even when things were as bad as they were now, she would never have given up. It’s what made her certain that Sunset was sincere about turning herself around. She dipped her head and remembered the promise she made to the girl—what she said to her when things seemed at their lowest.

Dash nodded to herself. “Every step of the way.” She whispered.

The girls were met with cold shoulders and colder stares that followed them as they pushed their way into the auditorium. Some were surprised to see Twilight again, but most seemed not to care at all. That suited their purposes just fine, though. Twilight thought it would have been best to catch the Sirens off guard, which would have been difficult if everyone made a fuss about her returning. And the Sirens didn’t seem to be there yet, so they would have a little more time to prepare themselves.
Pinkie Pie had skipped her way over to where the sweets and drinks were laid out, a half-eaten cookie already in each hand. The others joined her, silent as they took in the sight of everybody. It was familiar to the Rainbooms, but it bothered Twilight to see everyone so isolated from each other. Sunset’s words rung hurtfully true now; the Princess couldn’t help but feel that she failed CHS.

She tried to pep herself up. She had just been made a Princess when she first came to the Human world. She didn’t quite understand her new power, and maybe that meant that she didn’t use it to its full effect when she and the others cast their spell. But she’d learned so much since then, so… if they all came together again, maybe their magic would be strong enough to protect Canterlot High once and for all.

She could only hope. With a small sigh, she turned to meet her friends at the table…

When the air rushed out of her lungs and she found herself careening towards the floor. She braced herself for the impact, but it never came. She was vaguely aware of an arm wrapped around her waist.


The girl shook the swimminess from her vision and first noticed a shock of blue hair. The voice was instantly familiar, as were the concerned, dreamy eyes.

Twilight felt her face heat up, and all coherent thought seemed to flush out of her head for a moment. “Heh… F-flash… w-we have to stop meeting like this. Or… m-maybe… maybe I should say bumping. Into… that is. Um… each other…”

She giggled lamely.

Flash laughed good-naturedly as he helped Twilight back onto her feet, keeping his arm around her. “Just when I’m getting used to it?” He gave an airy chuckle and let go of the girl. “When did you get back? Are you here for the battle of the bands?”

“Sssomething like that, yeah. The girls contacted me and said they needed my help.”

Flash smirked and puffed his chest out a bit. “Well, I think they’re gonna need it, ‘cause no one wants to win this thing more than my band! But, with you on their side, I think the Rainbooms will really make it a competition. I didn’t think anyone had a way to reach you, though. Do you… uh… mind if I get your number?”

“My what?”

“Your phone number?”

“My what num- OH! Oh… heh… I don’t actually have one of those…”

A hint of dejection, mixed with more than a little confusion, showed in Flash’s eyes. “Oh… but I thought you said that the Rainbooms were able to get to you.”

“They… uh… wrote to me, actually.”

“Ah, snail mail?”

“Well… usually it’s dragons. But…” Twilight swallowed, interrupting herself when she realized exactly what she was saying. “Um… enough about me. How have things been since—“


The girl looked over her shoulder to see Applejack ushering her to the table. She turned back to Flash, holding her palms before her. “Heh, will you excuse me for a second?”. Before the boy could respond, she rushed her way over to Applejack, a quizzical look on her face.

“Sorry to break up yer reunion…” she couldn’t help but let a little sly grin slip through. “… but we got company.” The farmer led Twilight’s gaze to a trio of girls who had just pushed their way through the doors of the auditorium.

The Princess took note of them; the one on the left with the pigtails, the one on the right looking giddy, and the one in the middle with the… enormous hair. They all wore the same look of satisfaction, which seemed to grow as they looked over all of the sour-faced students. The three sauntered closer to the center of the room, looking outward at the discord they had sown and drinking it all in. They carried themselves so lightly, as if they didn’t have a single worry in the world.

Twilight aimed to change that. She looked to the girls at the table one-by-one. Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash. With all of them here together again, they could show these girls how much more powerful the Magic of F was than anything that sought to undermine it. She nodded to the girls, spared a glance to Sunset as the girl leaned cross-armed on the wall of the auditorium, and marched on the Sirens.

Over the quarrels and arguments sounding around them, Twilight could here the Sirens speaking amongst themselves. Their voices became clearer as they approached.

“…imagine what a tizzy they’ll be in by the time the Battle of the Bands starts.”

Twilight stepped forward and raised her voice high enough for the entire auditorium to hear. “There isn’t going to be a Battle of the Bands. We’re going to make sure of that!” She kept her eyes on the Sirens as she reached down to either side of her, taking Rainbow Dash’s and
Applejack’s hands in her own. Out of the corners of her eyes, she could see the other girls stepping forward and linking hands with each other as well. A triumphant smile spread across the Princess’, her heart swelling in the presence of her fiends. It was at moments like this that she felt her strongest.

Perfect. She thought.

She closed her eyes and tightened her grip around the other girls’ hands.

Friendship is magic!

Twilight frowned as nothing seemed to happen. She poked open an eye after a few moments of uneventful silence and was met with stares incredulous, confused, and derisive.

The Princess bit her lip as a stinging howl of laughter rang from Sunset’s place against the wall

Chapter 22: Out of the Frying Pan...

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Rainbow Dash sat on the steps of the school with the rest of the girls, watching with her chin propped up on her fist as Twilight paced a small circuit in front of them. The girl’s eyes were downcast, squinted in deep thought as she nibbled anxiously on her finger. She looked just as lost as the rest of them did.

The thought worried Dash. They called her here for help because they didn’t have the first clue what to do about magic. If Twilight didn’t know what to do either...

“It doesn’t make any sense!” Twilight finally blurted out, throwing her hands into the air. “All of us together… I thought we’d be able to create the spark that would help us fight their magic. That’s how it worked before!”

Sunset sniggered from her place on the first step. “Oh, it sure did, Princess. It took a whole, what, week and a half for everything to go to Tartarus?” She crossed her arms a little tighter across her chest, straightening her posture defiantly. “If that’s your idea of something ‘working’, it’s a wonder how you ever ascended.”

Twilight stopped in her tracks and let out and audible grumble. She only glanced at Sunset before moving once again. The flame-haired girl chuckled lightly, flipping her hair. Dash frowned and reached forward to the girl on the step below her, placing her hand on her shoulder. Sunset flinched slightly at the touch, looking to the hand at her shoulder before looking back at Dash, an expression of irritation on her face. Dash shook her head in disapproval, eliciting a dismissive ‘tsk’ from the other girl as she wrenched from Dash’s grip.

Sunset turned her back to Dash once again. The athlete let her hand fall back to her lap, closing her eyes and letting out a dejected sigh.

“Ahem,” Rarity cleared her throat daintily, breaking the brief silence. “Perhaps… perhaps we’ve gone about this the wrong way.” She looked to Twilight. “I don’t presume to know a thing about magic, dear. But--”

“Ah don’t remember us just holdin’ hands to get it to work before.” Applejack intoned.

Rarity huffed out a breath as she shot a glance to the farmer. Applejack simply shrugged, her hands turned up as she mouthed ‘what?’ in response to the other girl’s scrutinizing gaze. The fashionista raised an eyebrow before turning back to Twilight. “I think what we mean to say is; do you think there was a little… more to it last time we cast the spell?”

Twilight slowed to a stop and turned to her friends, but her head was still bowed in thought. “Mmmmmaybe…” she mused, her purple eyes finally meeting the group. “What we were dealing with then was different than what the Sirens are capable of.”

“Whaddya mean? We were up against magic then too.” Dash said, scratching her head.

“Yes… we were. But… it all came from the Element in my crown. From my Element of Harmony.” The princess paused, but then gasped as her eyes went wide. “Maybe that’s it! Maybe we were able to use its magic to power our own spell!” She exclaimed as she smashed a fist into her palm.

Sunset scoffed, rolling her eyes with her arms crossed. “So your grandstanding moment was only possible because you leeched off of my power? Heh, go figure.” Sunset deadpanned. Twilight’s gaze flit down to meet the bully’s. Her brow knit tightly as Sunset flashed her a mocking smirk.

“Yer power?” Applejack’s twangy voice rang out. Sunset looked over her shoulder at the girl, her eyebrow raised quizzically. The farm girl crossed her arms and met her glare half way. “How was it ‘yer power’ if it all came from what ya stole from Twilight?” Her voice was gruff as she tilted her head down, her Stetson shading her face. Her green eyes seemed to pierce a little more from the slight darkness.

“What I claimed from Twilight.” Sunset corrected, unfazed by Applejack’s gaze. “Not that it was worth the trouble. If that piece of trash amounted to anything, the Princess wouldn’t be here now; either I would have had my way, or she wouldn’t have been able to live up to her title at the Fall Formal!” She turned back to face Twilight with a sharp glare. “Instead, here she is, wondering what went wrong and gearing up for what’s sure to be another spectacular failure!” The bully tilted her head back, her mouth twisted into a slight grin. “Some princess you turned out to be.”

Twilight seethed and took a firm step toward to the bully with her fists clenched at her sides. “I’d rather experience failure and be able to come back to fix it, instead of going on to live like you!” Sunset sneered at the Princess and let out a barely audible growl, but it was Rainbow Dash who shot to her feet, placing herself in between the two girls.

“Hey! Back off!” she snarled, leaning into Twilight. “You don’t know what-” the athlete cut herself off. She looked down and took a step back with her hands raised in front of her, taking a second to even her breath. With a ‘gulp’, she looked back up to Twilight apologetically, dropping her hands to her sides. “Twi, I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean… it’s just that…” she stammered before giving a frustrated sigh and turning to Sunset with a pleading look in her eyes. “Can we just try to stop fighting? Please? We have more important things to deal with.”

Sunset harrumphed sourly at Dash. Something in her girlfriend’s gaze gripped at the athlete. She found it hard to look at her—she would take Sunset with miserable tears in her eyes over the pure contempt that showed in them now. At least then, she would be able to do something for the girl—to try and cheer her up, or make things better with a hug, or… something.

The athlete glanced away from Sunset. She began to chew on her lip anxiously when she felt a hand on her arm. Dash looked back up to Twilight, who flashed her a small, understanding smile before nodding.

Twilight looked past her friend to the bully on the steps below them. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply as she brought her hand to her chest. She took a half-step forward as she exhaled, fluidly extending her arm as she did so. Her body seemed to loosen, and she stood tall as she finally opened her eyes to look down at Sunset.

“Rainbow Dash is right. We can’t let our differences overshadow the real problem here at CHS. This concerns you too, Sunset, and we stand a better chance of beating these Sirens if you help us.” Twilight paused, rubbing her arm as she looked away. “And… what I said was… harsh.” She glanced back to Sunset. “I’m sorry, and-”

“Save it, Princess.” Sunset said tersely as she stood, smoothing out her clothes. “You said what you meant. We both did. So don’t waste your breath trying to make it seem otherwise.” She placed a hand on her hip. “And you want my help? Fine, I’ll help; I’ll get out of your way and leave you and your friends to your ‘work’. Watching you struggle with magic is only so fun, anyway.” The girl turned on her heels and sauntered carelessly away. “Thanks for the show, Your Highness. Friendship is Magic!” she called mockingly with a fist raised to the air. The flame-haired girl chortled to herself, placing her hands in her jacket pockets.

She only made it a short distance away from the school before she was stopped by a hand on her shoulder. Sunset screwed her eyes shut and bared her teeth, growling as she spun around. “Stop doing that!” she hissed, slapping Rainbow Dash’s hand away

A look of hurt flashed across the athlete’s features. “Sunset…” she began, her voice wavering around the girl’s name. She took a breath to steady herself. “Where are you going?”

“Does it really matter?”


Sunset raised an eyebrow at the other girl’s outburst. Dash looked down and rubbed the back of her neck. “I-I mean, we just found you. And--”

“I wasn’t lost.”

“Well, you know how everyone’s acting, yeah? I don’t think… I don’t think you should be out by yourself.”

“You don’t think I should be out by myself?” the bully repeated slowly, incredulously.

“Yeah. A… a lot of people wanted to see you hurt, even before this stuff with the Dazzlings. And now that they have everyone so worked up…” the athlete trailed off. “You remember what happened with Crimson Napalm.”

Sunset sneered at the mention of the boy’s name. “Yeah, I remember him.” She grumbled, looking away from Rainbow.

“I just… don’t want anything to happen to you.” Rainbow Dash took a small step towards her girlfriend, who simply stepped away with her eyes shut tight.

The flame-haired girl shook her head. She opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off as someone brusquely pushed passed her. Sunset wobbled precariously on her heels as she tried to regain her balance. Dash instinctively reached forward to steady the girl, a hand on her arm and the other on her shoulder.

Sunset turned, glaring at the retreating figure. Dash followed her gaze, squinting at the person as they shuffled away. Even though their head was bowed low, she recognized the long, brown coat that they wore.

Mr. Turner? Both girls thought. Rainbow almost sneered along with Sunset, but the way the teacher’s shoulders sagged, and the way he barely picked up his feet — she didn’t think he looked angry like everyone else in the school. Something was different, but she pushed the thought out of her head.

Dash fretted as she looked back to Sunset. The girl was still looking at their teacher intently. She took a step towards him, but was held in place by Dash’s hands. The athlete squeezed with her fingers lightly to grab the bully’s attention. She turned to Dash, her eyes flitting down to the hands on her body before looking back up to the athlete with irritation.

Rainbow Dash peeled her hands off of the girl, gnawing on her lip. “Sunset… if… if you just stay… we’ll find a way to help you.”

“Oh, I don’t think your friends would like that very much.” Sunset leaned over to look past Rainbow Dash, her eyes pointed to the group of girls, a sardonic smile playing at her lips. “I have more to say to them.” she finished, almost gleefully.

Rainbow Dash looked back to their group of friends. They chattered amongst themselves, no doubt about what they were planning to do about the Sirens. But, every now and again, the girls would steal a glance at the two of them. Some were sour, and others were quizzical, but they all made Dash a little uneasy.

“I’ll stay with you, then.” she announced firmly.

Sunset rolled her eyes. “I think they have more use for you than I do.”

Dash frowned and looked down, trying to ignore the tightness in her chest. “I don’t want you to go.” she said, half to herself.

Why should I care about what you want?

Rainbow Dash’s eyes widened and she took a step back, her heart beating painfully in her chest. She looked back up — only to see Sunset walking away from her. Her hands clenched into tight
fists at her sides, letting out a shaky sigh as she turned back to her friends.

His sleeve was heavy — soaked through with tears as he brought it up to wipe his vision clear again. It hurt now, his eyes red and raw. But Turner didn’t mind… it took his mind off of the song echoing in his head.

If only for a second.

Those girls… he could still hear their voices as clearly as if they were with him, whispering in his ear. And with their song came visions of his daughters, and of Berry, pain etched across their faces as they looked up at him — the monster those three had made of him.

He relived the moment over and over, and each time it made him feel more empty — a lonely hollowness he hadn’t felt since…

Ditzy… Turner thought. He rubbed at his eyes vigorously, inviting the sting. He turned off the sidewalk, down the path leading to his porch...

Ditzy, I always hoped you were… somewhere.

…fishing in his pocket for his keys…

Someplace where you could see our girls. Watch them grow up and be proud.

…and up to the door to his empty abode.

And maybe I hoped you’d see me too… if you could still love a man like me.

With a sharp turn of his wrist, he unlocked the door and pushed it open, flooding his dusty home with pale moonlight.

But now… God… I’ve never been so comfortable to think of you as just some bones in a box. A heavy sob racked Turner’s frame as he stood in the doorway, his tears falling freely.



…because I can only imagine how heartbroken you’d be if you saw us now.

He stepped forward, blinded by tears. He left the door open as he trudged through in darkness, walking a route made familiar by many solitary, sleepless nights.

It was always deathly quiet in the lonely house — Turner swore he could hear his thoughts echoing off of the walls most nights. But now, all he heard was music… sweet and soft, and weighing on him more heavily than all the heartache he’d known for so many years.

Poor, poor Turner... The voices sang. The raggedy man is all alone, once again...

His steps were labored and heavy as he found his way to his room. The curtains fluttered with the chilly autumn breeze wafting through his home, causing the stark space to flicker with pallid light.

The music grew louder, and he roughly cleared his vision again.

What kind of a man am I that I couldn’t care for our girls after you were gone? Our daughters...

Past the sweet humming invading his senses, he swore he could hear them again. Derpy and Dinky, crying for a dead mother and a useless father. Our baby girls...

Turner bit down hard on his lip to stifle a sob. He could taste copper on his tongue as he trudged to his closet, flinging open the door with a resounding ‘crack’ as it struck the wall. He pushed through the curtain of his drab attire, feeling around blindly in the far reaches of the space.
All I wanted then was to crawl into the grave with you. The only part of me that was worth a damn was already there…

His fingers clutched at their mark. From the closet, he pulled a small wooden box, cradling it against his chest as its contents clinked lightly.

“What was the point of stopping me?” He said aloud, his voice bitter.

He slid his hand across the to top of the box, filling the air with dust as he turned to leave his room again.
He grabbed a creaky chair from his dining room, dragging it behind him as he made his way to the room neighboring his, pushing the door open.

The nursery was bare. Only the faded pink walls with peeling decals of teddy bears and unicorns and other happy things saved the space from being completely colorless.
Turner remembered when they had finished it. He closed his eyes, and swore he was still there in that moment — his arm wrapped tightly around Ditzy, both of them flecked with paint and a little sore from a couple of days’ work.

His hand was over hers on her swollen belly as they looked over the room with excitement, their daughters only a few weeks away. He turned to see Ditzy gazing at him, those beautiful golden eyes so full of love. They fluttered closed as she leaned up to him, and he dipped his head to meet her lips… but she faded away with a swell of music, and he was alone again.

Turner sniffed as he dragged the chair to the center of the room, the box still pressed against him. He planted the chair down and fell into it heavily.
I can’t think of a single moment of my life that was worth living without you, Ditzy. I’m a waste. I’m useless.

He placed the box at his feet, flipping the lid open.

The revolver caught the moonlight in a spectacular way. Its metallic luster captivated Turner for just a moment as he ran a finger across the length of the barrel. His stroke wiped away a small trail of dust that revealed the untarnished steel beneath.

Turner wiped his finger on his knee before reaching forward, taking the butt of the gun in one and and a single bullet in the other. But maybe it’s better this way. I got to show the girls who their father is. He let out a sour chuckle through his tears. His fingers were chillingly practiced as he loaded the gun.

They know what a weak, pathetic, sorry excuse for a man I am. They don’t have to believe lies or wonder anymore. They know…

He flipped the cylinder shut and pulled back on the hammer with his thumb, the sound bouncing off the walls of the empty room.

I just hope they’ll be able to forget…

Tuner stared down at the gun. The longer he looked, the lighter it seemed to sit in his hand.

And Ditzy, if you can see me now… if you cared enough watch over me… just look away now.

He raised his arm and placed the barrel against his head, shuddering and hissing in through his teeth.

God, that’s cold.

His finger quivered for just a second before pulling back on the trigger. The shot sounded loudly in the room, and Turner crashed to the ground from his chair, the breath leaving him in one heavy sigh.

Turner gasped deeply, the weight on his chest causing him to fall into a blistering cough. Confused, and with a shrill ringing in his ears, he tried to sit up, but found his arms pinned to his sides. He thrashed against whatever it was that held him down and his eyes shot open, meeting a fiery aqua gaze.

He gaped, baffled and wordless as the girl leaned towards him with a snarl, her red-gold locks framing his face.

“You idiot!” Sunset growled, baring her teeth. “What were you thinking?!”
Turner shut his eyes again, tears seeping from them as he wriggled in the girl’s grasp.

“No… no not again!” He slurred through the pain in his head that made it hard to focus. “Please, just let me… let me die!”

He turned and twisted, trying desperately to wrench himself free. But Sunset twisted his wrist, causing him to help in pain before she pried the gun from his grip. Turner whimpered pitifully as he lay on the ground, shaking his head. “No no no no no… please, just let me die. I’m a monster.” He sobbed deeply and laid motionless even as Sunset rose off of his chest and let his arms free.
“I’m a monster…” he blubbered again. “I’m a monster, I’m a monster.”

Sunset reached down and grabbed the man by the lapels of his coat, pulling him to sit up. “Stop saying that.” she growled tersely. “You don’t have the first clue what it’s like.”

Turner peeked furtively at the girl, still hardly believing that she was even there. He steeled himself to speak through his sobs. “I abandoned my daughters. I let them live their lives thinking I was dead, only to come back and show them how much worse the truth is! They shouldn’t have had to have been lied to.” He hung his head down, tears falling from his cheeks and onto his lap. “I should have been dead. I’m a monster.”
Sunset's glare only intensified. “Stop. Saying. That. You want to see a monster? Look at me!”

Turner flinched slightly at her tone and looked back up to the fiery-haired girl.

She stepped forward, her aqua eyes glistening in the moonlight. “I lived as one! I had the power to enslave and kill, and I didn’t hesitate to use it!” The girl bit her lip and looked down. “I was pure evil. What are you?”

When she looked back to him, her eyes were accusing, but the fire in them had smoldered down a bit. Still, he felt small under her gaze, and he labored to speak. Turner opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again. He only uttered quiet mewls as he tried to think of an answer. It was hard to focus, and all that came to his mind were thoughts of his wife and daughters.

“I’m alone.” he muttered absentmindedly.

Sunset was not impressed. She crossed her arms. “So you’re just going to sit here and mope?”

Turner shook his head. “It’s too late for anything else.”

“Sweet Celestia, you’re such a… how can you be…” The girl struggled, as if she couldn’t find the right words. She took her hands off of Turner once more and clenched them at her sides.
“Why can’t you fight?” she managed to say quietly.

“For what? It’s too late…” Turner moaned.

“How can you give up like this?” The girl asked, shaking her head “Because you’re alone? So what? I know what that’s like…” Sunset paused. Turner’s vision was still a little bleary, but he thought he could see the girl’s lip give the slightest tremble. “I know what it’s like not to have anypo-… anybody. B-but that doesn’t mean th-that I ever let it… that I…”.

Sunset stood silent for a moment before taking in a shaky breath, rubbing at her eye furiously with her tightly clenched fist. When she met Turner’s gaze again, her eyes were softer, and laced with tears.

“I… I know how horrible it is.” The girl placed a hand over her chest and clutched at her shirt lightly.

Turner shook his head. “If that’s true, then let me-”

“No!” the girl yelled firmly, kneeling down in front of the man. “M-Mr. Tuner, I do know what it’s like to be lonely, and to know that it’s all because of something I’ve done. All my life, I’ve hurt others and pushed them away for some selfish reason or another. But… b-but I also know that the feeling of trying to make up for your mistakes is worth so much more than dwelling on them.”

As she spoke, a faint light began to seep out from between the fingers clutched at her chest. Tuner gaped — he swore he could feel a faint warmth from it.

Sunset placed a hand on his shoulder. “It may be hard, but… you can’t let the goodness in you go to waste.

The light in Sunset’s hand flashed a little brighter, growing from its place above her heart. Turner turned his head as it entered his eyes. “There is no goodness in me… hasn’t been for so long.”

“There has to be.” The girl paused as she thought. “You… you can’t fault yourself for being bad if you don’t know what it means to be good. I never did… not until I had someone who really made me feel that there was something more in me than the monster I made of myself.” A small smile formed on Sunset’s lips, even as a tear fell from the corner of her eye.

The eldritch energy spread throughout her body, enveloping
Turner in it’s comforting aura. He looked to her in awe as her hair grew, lengthening until it coiled around the ground at her knees. Atop her head, a pair of pony ears sprouted, seemingly from thin air.

“I think there is goodness in you, Mr. Turner. You just need the strength to make it the best part of yourself.”
Her words seemed to move through Turner, piercing the fog in his mind like rays of sunlight. He could feel her magic flow through him like the very blood in his veins. The warmth it brought with it comforted him, like a hug from the one he needed most.

Turner's throat was dry. He let out a small whimper as he pushed himself against the wall and curled his knees assist his chest. “... thank you...

And with that, they both could see once again.

Chapter 23: Break My Heart

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hey shims. r u alright?

She felt stupid. She didn’t know what she was expecting to hear back, if she was going to hear anything at all. But Rainbow Dash had sent the text off before she really knew what she was doing, and it did make her feel a little better just to reach out. Sunset hadn’t contacted her since she walked off. With a sigh, she looked up from her phone, letting herself hope that her girlfriend would get back to her soon.

Rainbow and the others had made their way to Pinkie’s after the girl insisted on a slumber party to celebrate Twilight’s return to CHS. They all jumped at the suggestion, and the mood had really gotten better once they sat back to enjoy each other’s company. When Rainbow looked at the other girls — giggling, gossiping, and playing games — she could swear that they had forgotten all about the Dazzlings.

She didn’t know how to feel about that. She wished she could just push her worries out of her mind and enjoy their time together like everyone else. She tried, and she could for a minute or two. But her thoughts always trailed back to the way things were, and to the flame-haired girl… and she couldn’t fight that tiny prickling feeling that came with them.

One thought always repeated. Sunset should be here too. But the others didn’t seem to agree.

Rainbow shook her head as she tapped absentmindedly on the keyboard of her phone, trying desperately to focus on the brighter things for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.

:)” The text sent with another groan from Rainbow. Why wouldn’t Sunset respond?

Her gazed shifted to Twilight. The princess was sat on Pinkie’s bed scribbling in a notebook, a look of deep concentration on her face as she worked on the spell they’d all use against the Sirens. Rainbow cracked a half-smile; Twilight had a plan, and it was only a matter of time before they really had something to fight back with.

Twilight and Sunset said that the best way to fight the Siren’s music was with a song of their own. A ‘musical counterspell’, that’s what they’d use. Rainbow’s smile grew as she sniggered, looking out over the room at her friends. If there was anybody who could pull a musical anything off, it was her band.

\m/” Another short text.

She was determined to play the best song in the world. It would have to be, if it had the power to save everyone. The Rainbooms would make those girls wish they never messed with CHS. Rainbow couldn’t wait to see the look on the big-haired one’s smug face when they broke their spell.


…what if the spell didn’t work? The athlete remembered how confident they were in the last one, and how stupid she felt just standing there when nothing happened. She shot another glance at Twilight, spying the girl pinching the bridge of her nose with her eyes screwed shut. Rainbow chewed on her lip. What if Twilight couldn’t finish the spell in time? What if it wasn’t enough to fight the Siren’s magic? What if they couldn’t save the school? What if they couldn’t help Sunset?

Her chest tightened as she remembered the girl pushing her away and leaving her behind, like she was nothing but a nuisance.


Rainbow tapped the heel of her hand against her forehead, trying to push the thoughts out of her mind. She was better than that.

Worrying was for chumps without a plan.

It was a thought she kept coming back to, and it gave her some pep when she needed it before. But the words got emptier and emptier every time they crossed her mind. Now, it was just something she used to drown out the feelings that nagged at her.

Worrying is for chumps…

Everyone’s counting on us…

Worrying is for chumps!

What are we going to do?

Worrying is for chumps!!!

Dammit… Sunset… where are you?!

Rainbow let out a startled yelp as her phone suddenly vibrated, almost dropping it to the floor. She scanned the text on her screen, letting out a puff of relief when she saw it wasn’t some bitchy brush-off.

Better, I guess.

Her fingers flew across across the screen.

where r u sunset?

Rainbow Dash sat unblinking, hunched over her phone with a slight impatient rocking to her form. After a minute that seemed like twenty, she typed the same question out on her phone. Her finger hovered over ‘send’, but she caught herself. She straightened out, shaking her head as she let in a deep breath through her nose.

She let it out of her mouth slowly, her breath coming out through a small smile as she felt her phone vibrate in her hands again.

Just left Turner’s house.

Rainbow furrowed her brow.

what were u doing there?

It’s complicated. Been a weird night.

The rainbow-haired girl hummed to herself, tapping on her screen before a smirk crawled across her face.

sounds kinky. didnt know u were into older guys. ;)

She waited…


…waited for a response…

She fretted after some minutes, typing out a few apologies and deleting them all, each one more pleading and mushier than the last. She nibbled down on her lip and fidgeted as she tried to find the right combination of words that said ‘sorry’ and ‘I didn’t mean it’ and ‘please get back to me’ and…

You’re not funny. >.<

Rainbow let out a breath and wiped the back of her hand across her forehead.

I thought you’d be mad at me.

cuz of what u said?

Well yeah.

Rainbow thought about it again — just how much it hurt to think that Sunset didn’t want her, and just what that meant too. It wasn’t like when she fell out with her friends. Sure, that sucked when it happened. It sucked a lot. But, with Sunset, things were… different. She was different.

Duh! the girl thought to herself. Me and Sunset, we’re… what we are. That’s… how it’s supposed to be.

She didn’t know how else to put it, and she really didn’t like to think about it. Every time she did, she felt her mouth go dry and her heart lodge in her throat.

But, it was Sunset that did that her — thinking about the Sunset she saw when everybody else remembered a ruthless bully, or a heartless demon.

i said it b4 shims, i know thats not u.


The athlete allowed herself a cheesy grin, mirroring the smile appearing on her screen. She couldn’t help it; just hearing from Sunset came as such a relief, and it made her feel a little something in the pit of her stomach.

If she was sappier, she might have called it butterflies.

She tsked at herself as she typed.

were at pinkie’s. u should come over.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea. I was going to go home.”

Rainbow rolled an argument or two around in her head, but she knew that, for Sunset, the thought of coming over now was probably no better than the thought of what she would walk into at school each and every morning.

The athlete looked back up to her friends, all more carefree now than she ever remembered seeing them. She could see Applejack swatting her hat at Fluttershy, who giggled softly at beating the farmer once again as she guarded herself with the controller in her hand. The shy girl was almost scary-good at every video game they put in front of her.

She looked over to see Rarity, struggling in vain to separate Pinkie Pie’s frizzy hair for a braid. Pinkie had to chew on her lip to stop from laughing out loud at every unladylike, half-stifled curse that the fashionista let slip when the mass of pink poofed back to its regular shape.

But then she thought back to how sour things were when Sunset was around them. Maybe she could talk to them — Applejack, Rarity, and Twilight. Maybe she could get them to understand that the flame-haired girl didn’t mean what she said.

But how could she say it? It was just like… a bad mood, Rainbow thought to herself. You guys know how that can be, right? I know I can say some harsh things when I have a bad day, hehe. But you know that I’d never say anything to hurt your feelings on purpose… I’m your friend.

But that was just it…

Could Sunset say the same thing? Did they feel like she was still their friend? Did they ever?

She sighed to herself. Sunset was right; no one would be happy with her there right now. But the athlete wasn’t happy to think of the other girl out on the streets by herself in the middle of the night, on her way to… wherever it was she lived.

What did she say? A factory?

what if u went to my place?

Rainbow winced as she read over what she sent — it kinda just came out. But hey, it was that or nothing, she reasoned. What was the worst that could happen? She waited for a response — the little bubble that said Sunset was typing appeared and disappeared several times before a new text popped up.

What do you mean?

y don’t u come to my house? its probably closer than urs anyway.

Where would you be?

there… obviously.

I don’t want you to leave Pinkie’s just because of me, Dash.

stop tryna argue w/ me shimmer. u gonna b there or am i gonna have to go out and hunt u down?


Rainbow let out a small, triumphant ‘ha’ under her breath. She typed out a quick ‘c u there’ before she finally put her phone down. The athlete stretched out as she sat on the floor, feeling invigorated. Her limbs and joints cracked lightly at their peaks, eliciting a small, crooked smile from the girl before she finally pushed herself to her feet.

Rainbow Dash zipped back and forth across the room, gathering the few stray belongings she had strewn about and placing them in her backpack. The other girls were still a little too busy enjoying themselves to notice as the athlete haphazardly packed.

Rainbow stepped behind Applejack just as the farm girl leaned back on her hands to collect herself after yet another resounding loss to Fluttershy. Rainbow’s foot caught in the crook of Applejack’s elbow, sending the athlete to the floor with an ‘oomph’ as the last of her belongings scattered from her grasp.

“Ah, shoot! Sorry there, Dash,” Applejack fretted as she turned over and reached out to help her friend up off of the floor.

“Don’t worry about it, AJ,” Rainbow said absentmindedly as she took the farm girl’s hand and pushed up onto her knees. She let out a quick ‘thanks,’ but kept her head down as she reached for the things she dropped.

Applejack raised a quizzical eyebrow at Rainbow Dash, but it was Fluttershy who spoke.

“Um… are you going somewhere, Rainbow Dash?” she murmured questioningly as her eyes drifted over to Rainbow’s crammed backpack.

Rainbow scooped the rest of her things into her arms and stood up straight before it seemed that she heard Fluttershy at all. “Oh,” Rainbow blinked. “Uh, yeah, I was… just gonna go home, got somethin’-” she finished as she shuffled over to her backpack and shoved her belongings inside.

A sharp gasp brought a start to Rainbow’s frame before a pink hand gripped her shoulder and spun her around. Pinkie Pie’s eyes bored into the rainbow-haired girl incredulously as she held her in place by her arms.

“What?! Why, Dashie? Are you not having fun?” Pinkie gasped again, screwing her eyes shut. “Why aren’t you having fun?!” she cried desperately as she shook Rainbow Dash.

“P-Pinkie!” Rainbow grumbled as she struggled against the girl’s panicked grip, “It’s n-nothing like that.” She managed to slip an arm free and placed it on Pinkie’s shoulder, trying desperately to soothe her friend.

Pinkie stopped manhandling Rainbow, and she took a second to let her dizziness subside. Her vision cleared to meet the sight of every eye in the room suddenly trained on her. Pinkie kept her in place and looked at her with a questioning gaze.

Rainbow pursed her lips sheepishly as she peeled Pinkie’s fingers off of her.

“I… uh… heard from Sunset. She’s heading over to my place, and I was going to meet her there,” Rainbow said.

A mix of expressions formed on her friends’ faces—some guarded, others less so. The girls looked between each other, the room silent but for the video game Applejack and Fluttershy had left idle.

“So, yer leaving because of her.”

It wasn’t a question, so much as an accusation.

Rainbow peered over Pinkie’s shoulder at Applejack, scowling at the farm girl’s tone and disapproving gaze. “Because of Sunset? Yeah,” Rainbow said firmly. “And she’s fine, by the way…

“Yippee,” Applejack snarked.

Rainbow felt her anger rise. “…but, she’s out on the streets by herself,” She took a breath to settle down a bit, swirling her thoughts around in her head. “Look, I know you’re probably still sore after what happened earlier. But you gotta understand that’s not how Sunset is. Not really.”

“Oh?” Applejack drawled incredulously as she rose to her feet. “Wow, she’s really got you by the lariat, huh?”

Rainbow furrowed her brow at the farm girl. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Applejack crossed her arms, defiant. But before she could open her mouth to speak, Rarity stepped forward to chime in.

“Rainbow Dash, I think what Applejack is trying to say is that… or… well… what I’m trying to say is... have you considered the possibility that Sunset hasn’t been the most sincere… with you, that is.” Rarity said as delicately as possible.

Rainbow’s chest tightened at the suggestion, but she quickly pushed it to the back of her mind. Rarity clicked her tongue and spun her hand in thought.

Rarity continued, lightly pushing Pinkie away as she stepped closer to Dash. “You must admit, what we saw back at the school was a bit… familiar. Is it so hard to believe that what we’ve seen these past weeks has just been an act on her part?”

Rainbow shook her head, getting into the fashionista’s face. “You don’t have any idea what you’re talking about! I’ve been with Sunset almost every day since the Fall Formal, and all she’s done since then is apologize and try to make up for the things she did in the past! Nobody’s made it easy for her, so what reason would she have to put up with all that just to throw it away?”

As Rainbow’s voice rose, so did Rarity’s. “Rainbow, she’s been duplicitous before! Do you remember when she first came to CHS? She was the picture of decorum; polite and unassuming. Is wasn’t until she became popular that she let the mask slip,” Rarity took a breath and her gaze softened. “I know you might not be... inclined to see things that way given how close you are to her. But… didn’t she mention that whatever she had with Flash Sentry was all for image’s sake? What should have us believe that she’s not doing the same with you?

Rainbow sputtered; she had no clue what to say to that. Sunset, leading her on? No way! She knew Sunset better than anyone. Sunset didn’t have it in her to do something like that.

Not anymore.

Not to me… Rainbow Dash thought.

“Shackin’ up with one of the people who brought her down either makes her look good or makes us look like fools,” Applejack said before grunting in frustration. “Ugh, we should all have our heads examined for trustin’ her, even for a second!” the farmer fumed, grabbing her hat off of her head and swinging it. She looked to Rainbow Dash. “Probably you most of all.”

“Hey!” Rainbow protested as she motioned over to the princess sitting on the bed. “Twilight asked us to look out for Sunset after she left, and I was the only one to lift a finger to help. I was keeping my promise, but would any of you have even done anything if I hadn’t pushed you?”

When nobody responded, Rainbow crossed her arms and huffed. “Thought so.”

“Girls, please...” Twilight spoke, but went unheard as the argument continued.

“Well, can you really blame us?” Rarity questioned. “After everything she did?”

“Yeah, yeah, we all know how you feel.” Rainbow Dash jeered. “What about you, Pinkie? Are you with them?”

Pinkie Pie seemed to freeze in place with the attention suddenly focused on her. Her head zipped from each of her friends as her eyes grew wide. “Dashie, I don’t wanna see you girls fight...” she began sadly. “I mean, I love making friends. You know that. But... What Sunset did was really, really, really awful.”

“She apologized!”

Suddenly a soft voice added, “She tried to kill us.”

Dash whipped around to face the source with eyes as wide as dinner plates. “Fluttershy?

Fluttershy eep’d and grabbed a pillow to shield her face as Rainbow looked at her. “I-I mean... I know that the m-magic probably made her into something she’s not but... that was a huge fireball... it was scary...

“Exactly!” Applejack butted in. “And with how she was actin’ at the school, it’s gonna take more than an ‘I’m sorry’ this time.”

“She’s changed! I know it! Why can’t any of you see it?! What happened at the school was... was...” Dash’s voice faltered as she tried to come up with a reason. “... I don’t know what it was. Hell, maybe it was the Dazzlings! They’re making people act horrible, how do we know it wasn’t them?”

Applejack’s eyes narrowed, as did Rarity’s, as they thought over Rainbow Dash’s words. Yes! Dash thought. I got through to them!

“But...” Twilight spoke, and Rainbow’s heart sank. “The effect the Dazzlings have seem to be turning people into something they’d never be otherwise. Sunset, she... she was acting exactly like she was when I first got here. Plus, it hasn’t changed any of us. I can only assume it’s because of the magic we still have. Why wouldn’t that protect Sunset?”

“I-I... I don’t know, but there has to be a rea-!”

“Face it, Rainbow Dash.” Applejack interrupted with a scowl. “She never changed, she was never our friend, and you should have never fallen for her!”

Shut up!

The room went quiet as Rainbow’s yell washed over them. The rainbow-haired girl took in several deep, shaky breaths as she balled her fists and looked between her friends. They all stared at her with mixed expressions of shock, anger and pity. Rainbow hated those looks. “What are you all looking at?” She said tersely.

The girls simply looked between themselves, saying nothing. Rainbow tsked as she lifted her backpack from the floor and moved to leave Pinkie’s room.

“I’m not sorry for giving Sunset a chance. And I’m sure as Hell not sorry that we’re together. I’m just sorry that I’m the only one who has the backbone to believe in her,” Rainbow said with finality, slipping out of the room and down the hall.

The remaining girls could hear the front door slam from where they stood. They stayed silent-- Applejack let out a dismissive huff as she looked to Rarity, the fashionista matching her expression with a purse of her lips. The sounds of Fluttershy softly sniffling reached their ears, and Pinkie went over to console her.

Twilight Sparkle stood from the bed, smoothing out her borrowed nightclothes clothes as she looked to regard her friends. Her expression morphed to one of indignation.

“So, when was somepony going to tell me about Rainbow Dash and Sunset Shimmer?”