A Flash of Regret

by MythrilMoth

First published

Flash Sentry wakes up in bed next to Sonata Dusk, and can't remember how they ended up that way.

One morning, Flash Sentry wakes up in bed next to Sonata Dusk.

Something very clearly happened between them.

But he's not really sure how or why. And he's kind of freaking out.

In a panic, he turns to the one person he thinks can help him...

His ex.

Good plan, right?

(Inspired by the cover art.)

A Flash of Panic

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It was a warm, muggy summer morning in the suburbs of Canterlot.

The morning sun shone through partially open dark blue curtains, landing on a pair of figures nestled cozily in bed. One of them, a boy with peach skin and spiky blue hair, stirred and grunted, eyes slowly opening. "Mmmn," he groaned as he sat up, scratching under his left arm. His right hand landed on the mattress beside him...

He paused, frowning. His mind told him something wasn't quite right. The mattress felt wrong. He glanced to his right...

The peacefully sleeping face of a blue-skinned girl greeted him. She had ice blue hair with a darker indigo stripe down the center. She was naked.

The boy glanced down at himself and discovered he was naked as well.

His eyes widened.

"Oh no."

* * * * *

A bedraggled, barely-awake Sunset Shimmer sat at her kitchen table, blearily poking at a microwave breakfast bowl with a fork. Steam wafted off the eggs, sausage, and congealed cheese.

Sunset had been up late the previous night reading. Twilight Sparkle had unexpectedly appeared and dumped an entire pile of books from Equestria on her, then ran off in a rush. A lot of it was recently-published treatises and theses, a few of which were penned by Twilight herself; the pile had also contained a hardbound omnibus of newspaper clippings covering the important (and some of the mundane) events from the last five and a half years in Equestria. While Sunset preferred hands-on research to books, she couldn't deny the importance of reading.

Besides, it was kind of...comforting, in a way, to have news from home. She hadn't exactly spent much time catching up on Equestrian current events the last time she'd gone back...

But long, late nights of reading until you couldn't see straight anymore came with a price, and she was paying it now. Her eyes were tight and puffy and she had the mother of all headaches.

Just as she was lifting a forkful of rapidly-cooling, rubbery eggs and cheese to her mouth, her phone rang. She let out a frustrated, zombie-like groan and picked it up. She had to squint at the screen to make out who it was; after a second, she gave up and just answered. "Hello?"

//Hey uhh, Sunset? It's...it's Flash.//

*Oh Celestia. He saw Twilight come by yesterday and he's about to nag me and I don't want to deal with this today...*

//I've...got a little problem here, and...and I didn't really know who else to call.//

Sunset frowned. "Is it an emergency?"

//Ki...kinda? Yeah...//

Sunset groaned. "What's the problem?"

//Well, I just woke up and...and there was a girl in my bed.//

Sunset blinked.

//It's, umm...it's one of the Dazzlings. The blue-haired one.//

Sunset blinked.

//And, umm...she's naked and...and I'm naked, and...I, uhh...I'm pretty sure we did something, but I don't really remember, and...//

"You...you slept with a Siren?!"

//I guess so? Probably? Yeah...// There was a pause. //Look, she...she's still in my bed, still asleep, and...and I just don't know what to do here, Sunset...//

Sunset groaned. "Take a shower, get dressed, and make her breakfast, you idiot," she said. "That's what nice guys DO the morning after." *And PRAY you didn't get her pregnant or something...*

Another pause. //O-okay. I'll do that. Umm...w-would you come by, y'know, later? I'm kinda...kinda wigged out here, and if I called one of the guys, well...you know how guys are.//

Sunset facepalmed. "Fine. But it'll be a while. I had a long night."

//Oh. Okay. Um. Thanks. Bye.//

Flash hung up. Sunset shook her head and groaned. "Good grief." She turned her attention back to her breakfast. "Too early in the morning for this..."

Five minutes and half a breakfast bowl later, Sunset's eyes snapped open wide. "Wait, WHAT?!"

* * * * *

After a shower and a change of clothes, Flash looked in on his unexpected "guest". The girl whose name he didn't even know was still asleep. He had to admit to himself she was pretty cute, even if she was part of the trio that recently turned the entire student body against each other and so thoroughly corrupted him with their evil magic that he'd made Twilight cry.

Remembering that, his jaw hardened. "No," he said. "I'm waking her up and sending her home..."

Make her breakfast. That's what nice guys DO the morning after.

Flash winced as he recalled Sunset's words. With a sigh, he headed downstairs to the kitchen. "I'm just glad Mom and Dad are off on their second honeymoon this weekend..."

As he looked around the kitchen, though, the fatal flaw in Sunset's advice leapt out at him.

He had no idea how to cook.

"I don't guess cereal and toast will cut it," he said with a sigh. Shaking his head, he opened the fridge and rooted around.

There was a Supperware container full of taco meat left over from two nights before. There was also a carton of eggs. He frowned thoughtfully. "Hmm..."

He took out the taco meat, the eggs, and some shredded cheese, then rooted through the cupboards. There was a jar of salsa, there were some tortillas...

He pulled out his phone, opened his browser, and searched the Internet for 'quick breakfast tacos'. After several results, he found a recipe that looked simple enough, was designed for novices, and listed everything he had on hand. Writing it all down on the whiteboard on the fridge, he found a skillet and got to work. After some false starts and three wasted eggs, he ended up with a serviceable pan of seasoned beef, eggs, and salsa.

"Mmm, something smells gooooood," a voice said from behind him. He turned to find the blue-haired Dazzling standing there wearing nothing but a long T-shirt from his closet.

"Uhh...hi," he said. "I, uhh...I made breakfast."

She giggled. "Thanks. Mind if I eat first, then shower?"


"Cool." She sat down at the table; he shook his head and started making breakfast tacos. He rolled three on a plate and put it in front of her, then made three for himself and carried his plate to the table, followed by two glasses and a bottle of orange soda.

"I hope it's alright," he said. "I've never cooked before."

She picked one up and took a big bite. Her eyes closed and she moaned in delight. "Ff gffd," she said through a mouthful of eggs, meat, cheese, and tortilla. After chewing and swallowing, she took a long sip of soda.

"That's good," Flash said. After eating one of his own tacos, he said, "So, uhh...kind of an awkward question, but...I don't think I ever got your name."

She blinked. "For realzies?" She tilted her head, tapping her cheek. "Huh. You know, you're right!" She smiled. "It's Sonata. Sonata Dusk. And you're Flash Sentry, right?"

He nodded.

"Yay! Now we know each other."

Flash drank some soda, then said, "So...about last night." He coughed. "I, uhh...I'm gonna sound like a real jerk here, but...I kinda have no idea what happened."

Sonata shrugged. "Yeah, I figured you might. Not. Not might, might not. Remember. Last night." She devoured the rest of her first taco, then explained:

"I was wandering around with a case of fizzy cider when I found you outside CHS, staring at that silly horse statue and moping. I asked you what was wrong, and you started going on and on about that Princess Twilight from Equestria. How you missed her, and how you weren't sure you'd ever see her again, and how could a kid in a band with a muscle car ever be good enough for a magical princess, and you just went on and on and ON AND ON! It was so, so pathetic.

"So anyway, while you were babbling about that princess, we got to drinking the ciders I had with me, and you got all moody and started dozing off. So then I looked through your pockets until I found your wallet and your driver's license, and I put you in your car and drove you home.

"Then when we got here, I was gonna put you to bed and go home, but then outta nowhere you got all grabby and stuff, so..." Sonata shrugged. "I thought, what the heck, and I slept with you! And that's pretty much it."

Flash stared at her. "Guuuuuh..." He shook his head. "Oh my gosh. I...I'm sorry."

"For what?" Sonata asked, picking up another taco. "I didn't mind, you're cute. I mean, you weren't that good, but I guess that's because you were kinda out of it..." She bit into her taco, chewed, then reached for her soda.

"Still," Flash said, "that's...that's just not me..."

Sonata shrugged again. "Eh. Everybody has a bad day. I've been having a lot of them ever since your girlfriend and her friends kicked our butts at the Battle of the Bands."

Flash frowned suddenly. "Oh yeah. I forgot. You're evil."

"Well, yeah," Sonata said. "That doesn't mean we can't be friends though, right?" She smiled hopefully.

Flash stared at her. "Uhh...I guess?"

"Great!" Sonata said cheerfully. "Because you have to be my boyfriend now." She gave him a wide-eyed, innocent stare. "That's not gonna be a problem, is it?"

Flash's brain seized up. "Huh?"

Sonata's smile widened into a dangerous Cheshire grin. "You're mine now, Flash Sentry. Or else."

And with a gleefully deranged giggle, she finished her breakfast.

A Flash of Anger

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"You're mine now, Flash Sentry. Or else."

Flash's brain seized up as he watched Sonata attack her breakfast. She suddenly looked less like a cute, slightly spacy girl and more like a dangerous, predatory beast. "Wait...what?"

"That's not gonna be a problem, is it?" Sonata asked, batting her eyelashes innocently at Flash. "Isn't that what nice boys do when they deflower innocent virgin maidens?"

Flash scooted back from the table. "Uhh..." He blinked, then shook his head. "Now wait a minute," he said. "You're far from innocent. And I'm pretty sure you're not even a virgin!"

"Well, not anymore," Sonata crooned in a voice that dripped with honey. She covered her mouth with a hand and giggled cutely.

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure you weren't one last night either," Flash said with half-lidded eyes.

"Oh? So you do remember our night of wild passion?" Sonata gave him a sly look.

"Guk!" Flash grabbed his soda and chugged it, thumping his chest with a fist. Sonata laughed at his reaction. Setting his cup down and taking several deep breaths, Flash closed his eyes. "What. Do. You. Want?" he gasped out.

Sonata put a finger to her lips and made a show of thinking. "More tacos," she said. "These are pretty good."

Flash glanced back at the stove. "I think there's enough left for one or two more."

"Great!" Sonata said, snatching Flash's unfinished plate. "You go make yourself more, I'll get started on these."

"H-hey!" Flash protested. After a second, he sighed and trudged back over to the skillet, rolling himself two new tacos. Suddenly, he didn't feel terribly hungry anymore...

"Oh, and I'm gonna be crashing here from now on," Sonata said.

Flash nearly flipped the skillet off the stove onto the floor. "WHAT?!"

"Eh, the others kicked me out," Sonata said with a shrug. "Something about 'you're worthless, you're an idiot, it's your fault we lost our magic, why do we even put up with you, you empty-headed ditz, just go get hit by a car'..." Sonata trailed off. "I mean, they say that stuff all the time, they kick me out and I wander around for a while then go home and..." She made a vague gesture with one hand. "But this time they don't really need me because none of us have our magic anymore and I'm kinda tired of their crap, so I was actually trying to figure out how to con somebody into letting me couch-surf for a bit." She smiled shrewdly. "And then you landed right in my lap!" She pulled a doe-eyed face. "But...but it's okay if you really want everybody to know Flash Sentry took advantage of a poor starving homeless girl and then threw her back out onto the cold, mean streets..."

Flash stared at Sonata, terror, dread, and anger battling for dominance in his soul. She stared back with a bright, sunny smile.

Just then, the sound of a fist hammering on the front door broke the tableau. Shaking himself, Flash rushed to the door and threw open the chain lock, turning the deadbolt with numb, frantic fingers. He threw the door open...

A worn-out old tennis shoe met his sternum, throwing him clear through the foyer. He landed on his butt in the living room.

Sunset Shimmer, dressed in old, faded jeans, ancient tennis shoes, a faded T-shirt, and a light windbreaker, stomped into the house, slamming the door closed behind her. "What. The FUCK. Did you DO," she snarled.

"Me! He did ME!" Sonata said cheerfully from the kitchen door, waving enthusiastically.

Sunset glowered at her, then dragged a hand down her face. "Well, at least it's the almost-tolerable one," she muttered.

"Aww, thank you!" Sonata said sweetly.

Flash picked himself up off the floor and groaned, massaging his chest. "S-Sunset, what the..." he wheezed. "What's with...the mule kick..."

"Yeah, what's up with that?" Sonata asked. "I thought you were supposed to be all goody-two-shoes now!"

"You! Don't talk," Sunset ordered.

Flash winced. "Sunset—"

"You, same as her," Sunset said. Flash stared at her dumbly. Sunset grabbed him by the arm and dragged him over to the couch, then pointed a finger at Sonata, snapped her fingers, and motioned for her to join them. Sonata blinked and did as commanded.

"Alright," Sunset said, "explain this stupidity."

"We had sex and now I own him," Sonata said simply.

Flash scowled at her. "You do NOT 'own me'!" he said.

"Oh, but I think I do," Sonata said sweetly. Wide-eyed, she clutched at her stomach. "Oh! I...I think I feel it!" She gasped. "Yes! I feel a baby coming on!"

Sunset glared at her. "Bullshit."

"Are you sure?" Sonata asked sweetly, a sly grin on her face. "I mean, I'm not on the pill and Flash sure didn't use a condom, so..." She raised the back of her hand to her mouth and let out a short, snotty laugh.

"You're deranged," Sunset snarled.

"No, I'm homeless," Sonata replied simply. "And loverboy here is my meal ticket. He's got a nice cozy house, there's plenty of room for me, and besides, he's kinda cute!" She reached over and wrapped an arm around Flash's bicep. "I could do a lot worse. And I have blackmail material on him!"

Flash stared at her, visibly sweating. Sunset rolled her eyes. "Flash? Feel free to man up any time now."

"Uhh..." Flash swallowed. "W-well..."

Sonata fluttered her eyes at him. "You know," she purred, "what we did last night? There's plenty more where that came from...if you're a good boy..."

Flash gulped. Sunset facepalmed. "You know? I don't even care," she muttered. "I'm outta here. You do...whatever." She stood up and marched to the front door. "I came over here because I was actually worried about you, but if you're just gonna bend over and take it up the ass like this—"

"Oh, that's more Adagio's thing," Sonata interjected.

Sunset shot her a sour glare. "Don't bother calling me when this whole mess goes sideways," she said. With that, she made her exit, slamming the door behind her.

Flash stared at the front door, then at Sonata.

Sonata smiled. "I'm gonna go shower now," she said. "Get the guest room ready for me? I'm gonna be here a looooooooooooooong time."

Flash slumped forward, heaving a sigh.

* * * * *

An hour later, Sunset joined her friends for weekend band practice in Applejack's garage. She wasted no time in telling them the news.

"So he calls me up, totally freaking out," she said as she tuned her guitar, "and get this. He slept with Sonata Dusk last night."

Rainbow's guitar made a *skrikaRONG!* sound. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. As in the Siren? THAT Sonata Dusk?"

"Holy cow!" Pinkie gasped comically.

"Umm...slept with as in...?" Fluttershy rattled her tamborine, blushing furiously.

"Huh. Didn't peg Flash as that type," Applejack said.

"He's not," Sunset said. "I mean, this...this is just...bizarre." She played a quick riff, adjusting the knobs on her guitar. "But it gets weirder."

"How could it possibly get any stranger than that, darling?" Rarity asked.

"Well...apparently she's forcing him to be her boyfriend now."

The others stared at her.

"...goodness," Fluttershy said quietly.

"And she's blackmailing him for a place to crash," Sunset added with a grimace. "Honestly, I knew Flash was spineless, but this is just disgusting."

"Now hold on there," Applejack said with a frown. "Sure, Flash is a dork, but he ain't whut Ah'd call spineless."

"You didn't see him this morning," Sunset said. "And trust me, Flash is totally spineless. I'd know. You have any idea what it takes to get him to grow a pair?" The other girls frowned at her. Sunset blinked, then grimaced. "Crap. Sorry, I...I guess that's the old me talking."

"A bit, yes," Rarity said.

"Still, my point stands. Flash has a bad habit of rolling over and taking stuff. I mean, he only makes an effort if it's to impress a girl he likes, and pretty much any cute girl who shows any interest in him can get him to do anything." She sighed. "Again, I'd know." She averted her eyes.

"Yes, but we're talking about one of those wicked Sirens here, darling," Rarity pointed out. "Surely Flash is aware—"

"Oh, he's aware," Sunset said sourly. "And she's not as dumb as she looks. Honestly, back when they first showed up, I was so worried about Adagio that I wrote Sonata off as, well...a vaguely evil Pinkie Pie." She glanced at Pinkie. "Err...no offense."

Pinkie shrugged. "None taken. She is a vaguely evil me."

"Yeah, well that 'vaguely evil' just turned into 'sneaky little bitch'," Sunset said. "She played Flash like a harp."

"So what're we gonna do about it?" Rainbow asked.

Sunset shrugged. "Honestly? I don't wanna get involved. I mean, this is his mess, he's gotta deal with it."

"But ain't it dangerous havin' one'a them Sirens hangin' around?" Applejack wondered.

"They don't have magic anymore, so all she can do is be bitchy and manipulative," Sunset pointed out.

The other girls stared at her. She blinked. "What?"

Fluttershy coughed pointedly.

Sunset's face fell. "Oh."

A long silence fell.

"Maybe this won't be so bad?" Pinkie suggested. "I mean, she's evil, but she's...goofy. Maybe we could try being her friends? Hey, maybe this could be a good thing! I mean, Flash does kinda need to get over Twilight, right?"

"That's a good point," Rarity said. "As adorable as they are together, theirs is a love that simply cannot endure. Surely Flash realizes that."

"I have a feeling that's how Sonata got to him in the first place," Sunset said with a sigh.

"I, umm...I think maybe Pinkie Pie has the right idea," Fluttershy said. "Maybe this...maybe this is a chance to make a new friend, like we did with Sunset." She looked around at the other girls.

Rainbow shrugged. "I guess," she said. "I mean, I'd rather just kick her butt and send her packin', but..."

"That could blow up in Flash's face," Sunset said. "I mean, she outright threatened to ruin his reputation with everything up to and including a fake pregnancy."

"Oh my," Fluttershy whispered.

Rarity scowled. "How...crude."

"Okay that jes' ain't right," Applejack muttered.

Sunset sighed. "Thing is, I was angry when I left Flash's place, and I told him not to bother me with his problems anymore, but..." She hung her head. "The truth is, I'm really, really worried about this."

The girls looked at each other, frowning. As one, they moved to surround Sunset.

"We're with you," Rainbow said.

"Whatever you decide to do about this situation, we're behind you a hundred percent," Rarity agreed.

"Yeah, you're like the sixth Ranger that comes in mid-season and takes over the whole group from the Red Ranger!" Pinkie said cheerfully. "Just say the word and we'll jump right in!"

"Umm...what she said. I think," Fluttershy added.

"We beat them gals once, we can do it again," Applejack added confidently. "Besides, this sounds less like takin' down evil magic Sirens and more like dealin' with..." She trailed off.

Sunset gave her a wry smirk. "Me?"

"Uhh...yeah," Applejack said lamely.

Sunset snorted. "Thanks, girls." As her friends moved in for a group hug, Sunset's thoughts turned back to Flash. *I hope I'm worrying over nothing...*

A Flash of Terror

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Adagio Dazzle frowned as she sat at the kitchen table, drumming her fingers on the table. "Where the hell is breakfast?" she grumbled.

Aria Blaze had just stomped into the kitchen a few minutes earlier and was busy making coffee. "There isn't any," she muttered.

Adagio frowned. "Why not?" She shot an annoyed glance toward the hallway that led to their bedrooms. "Go wake Sonata up and tell her to make breakfast."

"She's not here," Aria said. "We kicked her out yesterday, remember?"

Adagio snorted. "We kick her out at least once a month. She's always back in time for breakfast."

"Well, this time she isn't," Aria said with a shrug. "So if you want breakfast, make your own." With that, she rummaged through the cupboard and plucked out a wrapped pop-tart.

Adagio scowled. "When she comes back, I'm pulling out all her pubes with tweezers..."

* * * * *

In the wake of Sunset's departure, Flash had wandered listlessly around the house while Sonata occupied the bathroom. The whirlwind of panic that had seized him earlier had given way to despair, then frustration, then anger at being played, then panic again when he realized he didn't have any real hope of extricating himself from this situation without risking having his reputation completely trashed.

Now, he was left hollow, wondering if his reputation was even worth protecting...wondering if perhaps Sunset Shimmer had truly abandoned him.

And if she had, what then? There was nobody else he could turn to. As much as he hated to admit it, the only real friend he had—his bandmates were more "bros" and wouldn't really understand the situation—was Ditzy Doo, and asking for her help or advice would be...uncomfortable.

"Got my room ready?"

Flash turned to see Sonata, freshly scrubbed, hair shiny and sleek, and still wearing nothing more than one of his T-shirts. He frowned. "If you intend to stay here, you can at least make up your own damn room," he said. "And put some clothes on!"

Sonata shrugged. "Don't have any," she said. "Just what I had on last night and those need to be washed."

"Then wash them."

Sonata dug in one ear with a finger. "Hmm...I could do that I guess," she said. "Or, you could go do a little shopping for me!"

Flash snorted. "Yeah, not gonna happen."

"Okay," Sonata said, beginning to strip off the T-shirt she was wearing. "Then I'll just wander around naked."

"GAH!" Flash cried, face flaming. "J-just...!" He sighed. "Okay. Let me text a friend to ask her for a favor. I...don't like the idea of dragging her into this mess, but I think she'll help. In the meantime, like I said, if you really plan to stay here, you can make up the guest room yourself. But don't think for a minute this is a permanent arrangement! Soon as my folks are back, you're gone, got that?"

"We'll see," Sonata said, humming happily (and tunelessly) to herself as she wandered off into the back of the house.

Sighing again, Flash grabbed his phone and texted Ditzy, then slumped on the sofa. "How do I get myself into these things?" He grabbed the remote and turned on the TV, listlessly channel-surfing without really paying attention. After several minutes, he found a superhero cartoon playing that had been cool when he was younger, one he had fond memories of watching every Saturday morning until it went off the air. He started to settle in, then remembered the mess he'd left in the kitchen. With a sigh, he got up and headed for the kitchen to clean up the breakfast dishes.

His mother had drilled into him, from an early age, that keeping the house clean was important. She'd shown him some pictures and videos of what happened if you left the place a mess. It had scarred him for life. So many roaches...

He'd just finished scraping the grease out of the skillet and had put it in the sink to soak for a few minutes when the doorbell rang. "Huh, that was fast." He headed for the door, eager to greet his friend (and, at the moment, possible only savior)...


The man standing on the front porch was dressed in a mortician's suit at least a century and a half out of date and had unhealthy-looking, wrinkled yellow skin, deep creases around his mouth, a hooked nose, and thick eyebrows. Balding on top, his grey hair was full in the back and on the sides, framing his broad, intimidating face in an iron curtain. His right eye was squinted closed; combined with the creases in his face and the downturned sneer of his wide lips, this gave him a fiercely angry expression. His one good eye glared at Flash, and his teeth were yellow and uneven. In his left hand, he held a cane topped with a gleaming silver ball.

Flash gulped. "G-Grandpa Angus," he said nervously.

A high, whining chuckle sounded from behind the dour, intimidating old man. "Oh, Dad, don't make the poor boy wet himself!" a nasally voice with a distinctive lisp said. A second man peeked out from behind Angus Sentry: he had light brownish-grey skin, an angular jaw with pronounced cheekbones, and hazel eyes magnified by ridiculously large black-framed glasses. His short dark hair was wavy and curled at the ends. He gave Flash a jaunty little wave.

Flash let out a shaky breath and stepped away from the door. "Uncle Rear," he said. "And...and Grandpa Angus. Wh-what brings you by?"

Angus stepped in with a stiff limp, and Rear Sentry strolled in like an ambling breeze. Flash suppressed an urge to roll his eyes at his uncle's attire, which consisted of a purple velvet suit, a white ruffled shirt, saddle shoes, and a bright orange silk scarf. "Oh, we were in the neighborhood," Uncle Rear said airily, waving one hand around absently. "I know Chop finally took your poor mother on that second honeymoon he's been promising for ages, but that doesn't mean I can't stop by just to see my favorite nephew!"

*I'm your only nephew...* "That's, uh...that's great, Uncle Rear," Flash said nervously. "So, uhh...you were just in the neighborhood, huh?"

"Rear and his damn antique chickens," Angus grunted in his gravelly voice as he stumped to the living room and sat down. He scowled at the TV. "You're too old for this shit, booooooy."

"Oh, uhh...just had it on for noise," Flash said. "You know, been cleaning up the house."

Rear chuckled. "Now see, that's why I love River, such a stickler for a clean house, she is." He shook his head. "How she manages to put up with a slob like your father, I'll never know..."

"Dad's not that bad," Flash said absently.

"Oh, but he is!" Rear said. "Why, I could tell you—" His phone rang. "Hold that thought," he said as he pulled it out of his pocket. He looked at the screen and clicked his tongue, then answered the call. "Yes, Stephen, what...no, Stephen...yes, Stephen...ugh, okay Stephen...look, I'm visiting my nephew right now, you know I don't get to see him that often, I'll call you back later, alright? Okay. Yeah. You do that. Goodbye, Stephen." He hung up, then pocketed his phone. "Honestly...so, where were we?"

The doorbell rang. "Umm...just a sec," Flash said, scurrying to the door. He opened it and found Ditzy standing there.

"Hey Flash," Ditzy said with a smile and a wave. "What's up?"

"All hell's breaking loose is what's up," Flash said quietly but urgently. "It's been that kind of day since I woke up and it just keeps getting worse and—"

"Well hello THERE!" they heard Rear say from the living room. "Say, aren't you a little cutie!"


Flash felt his blood turn to ice. "Aaaaaaand now I'm dead."

Ditzy tilted her head. "Okay, so your creepy grandpa and your weird gay uncle are here, but what—"

"Hi, I'm Sonata, nice to meet you! I'm Flash's girlfriend," they heard Sonata say with a cheerful giggle.

Ditzy blinked and gave Flash an inquisitive look tinged with suspicion and accusation. Flash facepalmed, grabbed her by the hand, and dragged her inside.

In the living room, they found Uncle Rear eyeing Sonata up and down while Angus glared murderously at the room in general. Sonata, for her part, was playing up the cuteness and sweetness factor. As soon as Ditzy saw her, she frowned, her eyes almost focusing. "Flash," she said slowly, "what's going on?"

"Oh, teenage drama, I love it!" Uncle Rear said, clapping his hands together. He gave Flash a saucy grin and a wink. "When the cat's away, right Flash? Hmmhmm, meeowwwww..."

"Hey Flash, who's the creepy old mortician and this hairball the 1970s spat up?" Sonata asked brashly.

Flash buried his face in his palms while Ditzy blinked several times.

"Oh, she is a firecracker!" Uncle Rear said, laughing through his nose. "But seriously, hon, bit late in the day to be...well, who am I to judge, right?"

Flash sighed. "Sonata, this is Grandpa Angus and Uncle Rear. Grandpa, Uncle Rear, this is Sonata Dusk. She's...staying the weekend, I guess. Sort of. It's...complicated."

"One night stand that blew up in your face?" Uncle Rear said with a knowing smirk. "Hon, how do you think I ended up with Stephen?" He shook his head. "Nothing new under the sun here, right Dad?"

Angus grunted, glaring at Flash.

"Flash?" Ditzy asked quietly, her eyes never leaving Sonata (and a rhododendron in the corner, but that's not important right now). "Why is one of the Dazzlings here, and why is she, umm...almost-but-just-barely-not-quite-naked?"

"My roomies kicked me out, I ran into Flash in town, we got to talking, one thing led to another, and we did it," Sonata offered. "And now I'm his girlfriend and I'm crashing here for a while. Also, I kinda left home without any, y'know, stuff, so right now the only clothes I've got are in the wash."

"And now I'm really glad I stopped by," Uncle Rear said with a grin. "This is so much better than The Drama Channel!"

"Umm, yeah, so, Ditz, about that favor I called you over for," Flash said quietly. "I, umm...was kind of hoping you'd maybe run to Navy Blue and pick up like maybe two or three days' worth of clothes for Sonata? Something not very expensive?"

Ditzy pursed her lips. "Are you kidding me?"

"Please, Ditz. I'm begging you."

Ditzy sighed, putting a hand on her hip. "Fine," she said, closing her eyes and holding out her other hand in a 'gimme money' gesture. "But I want an explanation later!"

Flash breathed a sigh of relief as he dug out his wallet. "Thanks, Ditz. I owe you one."

"Yeah yeah," Ditzy said dismissively. "I'm surprised you didn't call Sunset for this one, honestly. She's more the 'help you hide a body' type."

Flash scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "Actually...I kinda did," he admitted. "She kicked me in the chest and yelled at me."

"Yeah, that was pretty messed up," Sonata said with a giggle.

"Alright," Ditzy said as she counted the money Flash handed her. "Let's go in the back so I can get your measurements," she said to Sonata. "Then I'll go get you some clothes."

Uncle Rear rubbed his hands together. "Well, I think I'm gonna take Dad home, but I'll be back later." He grinned. "I don't wanna miss a second of this whole catastrophe." As the girls wandered into the guest room, he fixed Flash with a knowing look. "So, bet you're really looking forward to Chop and River coming home and finding this mess, huh?"

Flash groaned, his shoulders slumping. "Yeah, I'm dead," he said.

A Flash of Irritation

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It took Ditzy a few minutes to find a measuring tape; once she did, she headed for the guest room, where Sonata was standing around, casually naked. Ditzy shook her head and sighed. "Okay...what's going on here?" she asked as she began measuring Sonata. "Really."

"What's it to you, Derpy?" Sonata asked with a smirk.

"Well," Ditzy said, refusing to rise to the taunt, "Flash is my oldest childhood friend, so when he calls me over here in a panic and I show up in the middle of this mess, it kinda bothers me." She began measuring Sonata, taking notes on her phone as she did so. "Now, wanna try telling me what's going on?"

"Well, it's like I said earlier," Sonata said with a shrug. "I ran into Flash in town last night, he was being pitiful about that stupid pony princess, I drove him home in his car, then we ended up having sex." She giggled. "After I put up with his super lame attempts at foreplay. I mean, how lame do you have to be to think a cock puppet is sexy? I had to suffer through being serenaded by Vinnie Tong the Singing Dong, how dumb is that!"

Ditzy blinked several times. "Umm..." Her cheeks heated up. "Th-that aside...so you, umm...had sex with Flash, and now you're...what?"

"Now I'm living here," Sonata said cheerfully. "I don't have anywhere else to go and Flash gave me the perfect set-up."

Ditzy frowned. "Yeah...not gonna happen," she said. "Look, Flash is a nice guy, maybe too nice sometimes, and he can be a bit of a dork, but he doesn't let bullshit girls walk all over him. He kicked Sunset Shimmer to the curb back when she was still a mean nasty bitch, he'll do the same to you."

"But I'm not a mean nasty bitch!" Sonata whined. "I'm a vaguely manipulative cute goofy girl people take pity on!"

Ditzy crossed her arms and gave her a flat, half-lidded stare.

Sonata scratched her nose. "You know, that'd be more intimidating if one of your eyes wasn't looking at the window."

Ditzy scowled. "I don't like you," she whispered harshly.

Sonata gave her a sly grin. "I knooooooooooooooooooooooooow," she said.

"UGH!" Ditzy threw up her arms, then went back to measuring Sonata, making sure to poke, prod, and jab her as roughly as possible while doing so. "Fine," she spat. "Since Flash asked, I'll go buy you some clothes. But if you think you're actually going to stay here—"

"Oh, I'm not going anywhere," Sonata said lazily, pulling her borrowed T-shirt back on and flopping down onto the guest bed in a shameless pose that failed to cover things that should perhaps have been covered. "I like it here, and Flash is pretty cute. And so much fun to tease!" She laid back on the bed and made blanket angels with her arms. "I'm gonna do whatever it takes to make sure I get to stay here a loooooong time."

Ditzy groaned, then left the room, stomping out to the front. Once she was out of earshot, Sonata giggled into the back of her hand. "Somebody's jealous..."

* * * * *

Flash frowned as Ditzy emerged from the guest room, her expression one of frustration and annoyance. "Everything okay?" he asked.

"Flash, how the hell did you let yourself get tangled up with that obnoxious twit?"

Flash sighed. "I know," he said. "Not one of my finer moments."

"You've gotta get her outta here as soon as you can," Ditzy said. "You know that, right?"

"I know, I know," Flash groaned. "I'll...I'll figure something out, alright?"

"You'd better," Ditzy said. "And you owe me big time for this one." She paused, then, her cheeks flushed, added in a quiet tone, "Vinnie Tong the Singing Dong?"

Flash's face turned scarlet. "Wh-what?!"

"She said..." Ditzy shook her head. "N-nevermind. I...I'll be back in a bit." She scurried to the front door, leaving a bewildered and embarrassed Flash alone with his thoughts in the living room.

Shaking his head, he stomped back to the guest room, barging in without knocking. "What the hell did you say to..." He trailed off as his eyes landed on Sonata, who was lying on her back on the bed, legs scissoring in the air as she made bed angels. He made a stuck sound in his throat, then hastily retreated, closing the door. On the other side, he heard Sonata giggling. He leaned against the door to his own bedroom and slid slowly to the ground, drawing his knees up to his chest. "Why is this my life?" he whined to nobody in particular.

* * * * *

"Ugh, why isn't she answering her phone?" Adagio growled, running a hand through her massive orange curls. She stared at her phone in frustration, as though willing a text from Sonata to materialize.

And then, just like that, Sonata fired off a series of replies.

Oh hey

Wow ur in a bad mood

newayz pack up my stuff

ill txt u where to bring it

Adagio frowned.

What the hell are you talking about? Where are you? Come home immediately!

A pause.

screw U

Not puttin up with ne more of ur shit

Got a new place 2 crash & a cute boytoy

Just pack up my stuff & bring it when I say

Adagio blinked repeatedly.

Don't you dare presume to take that tone with me! Enough of your games, Sonata! Come. Home. NOW.

A longer pause.

A placeholder loading circle for an MMS.

Adagio recoiled in disgust from the GIF of a dog eating shit that loaded on her phone screen. With a snarl of frustration and irritation, she tossed her phone to the side. "Why you little...!"

Aria wandered in, her toothbrush sticking out of her mouth. "Whaff wrn, Dji?"

Adagio glared at her. "We're going to go find Sonata," she snapped. "She is going to pay for her insolence."

Aria rolled her eyes. "Wdeffer." As she returned to the bathroom to finish up, Adagio picked up her phone again, frowning as she went back over the unpleasant exchange. She seethed as she slipped her phone into her mass of hair, clenching her fists so tightly her knuckles turned white and her nails bit into her palms.

*What's gotten into that ditz...?*

* * * * *

Not half an hour after Ditzy left, Rear Sentry returned. Flash tilted his head in confusion at the abrupt reappearance of his uncle. "I thought you were taking Grandpa home?"

Uncle Rear chuckled. "Dad asked me to let him off at the bus station and come back here. Said he didn't want 'the stupid boooooooooy' left alone any longer than necessary." He smirked. "Like my being here is so much better, am I right?"

Flash groaned. "Alright, just...please, please don't make this any worse than it already is."

"My dear boy, you won't even know I'm here!" Uncle Rear promised.

Flash gave him a look. "Uncle Rear, the last time you walked past a deaf and blind woman, she complained about it getting really gay all of a sudden."

Uncle Rear laughed. "You've got your mother's sense of humor, I'll give you that." He shook his head. "But seriously. I'm just gonna sit back and—" His phone rang; he gave a disgusted groan and pulled it out. "Hello, Stephen. No, Stephen. Look, Stephen. I'm in the middle of something, Stephen. No. Wait. No. Listen. Listen, Stephen. Look, I'm gonna be over at my brother's place for a few days. Things just got interesting over here and I need to be on top of this situation for a bit. I KNOW, STEPHEN! I—look. Look, Stephen. Listen to me, Stephen. I know, Stephen, and I'm sorry, Stephen. Yeah. Yeah. No, trust me, this is worth it, Stephen. I'll tell you all about it later, Stephen." He listened for a moment, then rolled his eyes and sighed. "Fine, Stephen."

And then, to Flash's horror, Uncle Rear began singing in a horribly bad fake Trottish accent over the phone. Flash facepalmed as it went on and on for far longer than he was comfortable with; at some point, Sonata walked into the room and was clearly struggling not to laugh out loud.

When Uncle Rear finally stopped singing, he said, "Happy, Stephen? Good. I'll see you in a few days. You'll be fine, Stephen. Yeah. Love you too. Goodbye, Stephen." He hung up and shook his head, sighing theatrically.

Sonata finally burst out laughing. "That," she giggled, "was the worst fake Trottish accent ever!"

"Thank you," Uncle Rear said, taking a bow.

"So who was that?" Sonata asked, rocking back and forth on her heels.

"Oh, that was Stephen," Uncle Rear said with an airy wave of his hand.

Sonata rolled her eyes. "I got that," she said. "But who is Stephen?"

"Oh, he's my boyfriend, you know," Uncle Rear said as he wandered toward the kitchen. "We've been living together for about, oh...ten years, I think? He really gets on my nerves sometimes, he's so needy!"

Sonata giggled. "You should bring him over! He sounds like fun!"

"Oh HELL no," Flash said sharply. "Putting up with Uncle Rear is one thing, but Uncle Rear and Stephen together? Is more gay than I can take."

"That's not very nice," Sonata said, pouting.

"Oh no, he's right," Uncle Rear said, chortling. "We're too fabulous for most people." He smirked. "Anyway, that's a no-go on bringing Stephen over, he's stuck home recovering from surgery and the doctor says he can't get out of the house for two weeks."

Flash blinked. "Then shouldn't you be looking after him?"

"I probably should, but to be honest? He's driving me up the wall." Uncle Rear shrugged. "I needed an excuse to get out of that house for a few days, that man is such a bitch when he's sick, let me tell you! Say, is there any ice cream?" He wandered toward the kitchen.

"I think I saw some earlier," Sonata said, trotting after him. Flash shook his head and went back to the living room, drowning out the sound of his gay uncle and his evil "girlfriend" bonding.

* * * * *

As band practice wound down, Sunset grew more agitated and less able to focus. When they finally decided to call it a break, she quickly packed up her guitar. "I'm gonna go check on Flash," she announced. "I...I left things in a bad place. I shouldn't have..." She sighed. "I should've been more supportive."

Rarity patted her on the shoulder. "I'm sure he'll understand, darling," she said. "He's fortunate to still be able to rely on you as a friend."

Sunset smiled. "I hope he still thinks of me as a friend after the way I acted this morning," she said.

"If you need us, be sure to call," Rainbow said. "We'll be there in a jiffy!"

"Would you like one of us to go with you?" Fluttershy asked kindly.

Sunset paused to consider that. "That...might be a good idea, actually," she said. She smiled hopefully at Fluttershy. "Are you offering?"

"Well...yes," Fluttershy said, nodding resolutely. "I may not know Flash Sentry as well as you do, but...he is your friend, so he's my friend too. And maybe...maybe I can talk to Sonata reasonably, approach her calmly..." She looked around at her friends. "N-no offense, but...the rest of you might, umm...get into a fight...with her..."

"None taken," the other Rainbooms chorused before breaking out into giggles.

Sunset chuckled. "Okay, let's get going." She frowned. "Applejack, can you drive my bike over to my place? I think Fluttershy would rather drive her van than ride with me."

"Oh yes please," Fluttershy said, shuddering.

"Sure," Applejack said. Sunset tossed her the keys, then left with Fluttershy.

Twenty minutes later, they pulled up outside Flash's house. Sunset's brow furrowed as she saw a turd-brown sedan parked on the curb. "Whose..." Her irises narrowed into pinpricks. "Oh no. No no no no no."

"What's wrong?" Fluttershy asked as she turned off the engine.

"This is bad," Sunset muttered as she stripped off her seat belt and threw open the door, slamming it behind her as she hit the pavement running. Fluttershy followed behind her at a more sedate pace.

"Wait!" Fluttershy called quietly. "What's wrong?"

Before they got halfway to the door, an electric scooter puttered up the drive, parking behind Flash's muscle car, which was parked in the open garage. Ditzy Doo got off, stowed her helmet, and began wrangling several large shopping bags. She noticed them and called out. "Sunset Shimmer! Fluttershy! A little help here?"

Sunset skidded to a halt five seconds before her finger could hit the doorbell. "Ditzy? What—" She blinked at the shopping bags. Her brow furrowed. She closed her eyes and sighed. "Flash asked you to go shopping for her, didn't he."

"Yeah," Ditzy said. "Did you...did you really kick him in the chest?"

Sunset sighed. "I was mad," she said. She shook her head. "Nevermind that now! We've got a serious problem!" She waved at the car out front. "That's—"

"Yeah, I know," Ditzy said. "Funny, I didn't think he'd already be back. I wasn't gone that long." She shook her head.

Sunset blinked. "Wait. Back?! You mean he was here before?"

"Yeah, he was already here with the creepy old grandpa when I got here the first time," Ditzy said.

Sunset's jaw dropped. "Angus was here too?! Then...they BOTH saw...!?"


"Oh shit," Sunset moaned. "We're too late...he's dead..."

"Excuse me," Fluttershy interrupted, holding up a hand. "What are you two talking about?"

Ditzy blinked. "Oh, right, you don't know Flash's family, do you?"

"No, I...I don't," Fluttershy said.

Sunset sighed. "Flash has this weird gay uncle and this crazy scary old grandpa," she said. "Either one of them walking in on this freakshow would've been bad enough, but both of them?" She shook her head. "It's game over."

"Well, Uncle Rear seemed to be taking it pretty well," Ditzy said. "Actually, he seemed to think the whole thing is pretty funny. He said he was taking his dad home then coming back to enjoy the show."

Sunset blinked at that, then groaned. "Great," she said. "So you mean we're gonna have the gayest gay uncle that ever gayed hanging around laughing at us while we're trying to save Flash from himself?"

"That's about the size of it," Ditzy said with a shrug.

Fluttershy frowned in confusion. "Wait. What about Flash's parents?"

"Second honeymoon," Ditzy said.

"So...so they don't know anything about this?" Fluttershy asked. At Ditzy's head shake, she paled. "Oh...oh my."

"And Ass Entry walking in on this mess is not gonna help matters at all," Sunset muttered.

Ditzy shot her a stern look. "Really?"

Sunset blinked...then bit off a curse. "Crap. Sorry. Old habits."

Fluttershy blinked, shooting Sunset a mild frown. "Ass...Entry?"

"It's a mean nickname Uncle Rear's picked up," Ditzy said. "You'll...you'll see why when you meet him."

"Well...I guess we'd better get in there." Sunset led the way to the front door and rang the bell. After thirty seconds, the door opened. Flash saw Sunset and yelped, jumping backwards.

"S-Sunset!" Flash stammered. "Y-you—"

"I'm not gonna kick you again," Sunset said. "And, umm...sorry about earlier." She pushed past Flash into the house; the other girls followed.

"Where's the Pop Tart?" Ditzy asked. "We've got her clothes."

"She's in the kitchen with Uncle Rear," Flash said miserably.

"Flash?" Uncle Rear called from the kitchen. "We're out of ice cream, can you make a run?"

Flash slumped his shoulders, sighing. "Aaaaand it starts," he muttered. "In a bit, Uncle Rear," he called toward the kitchen. "Ditzy just brought some clothes for Sonata, and..." He hesitated. "And she brought some friends with her."

"Oooh! It's been a while since I met any of Ditzy's friends," Uncle Rear called. They heard a chair scraping. "Hon, why don't you and Ditzy head on back and get you all sorted out while I entertain."

"Okay!" Sonata chirped. She bounced out of the kitchen, all smiles...then skidded to a halt as she saw Sunset. "Oh, you're back?"

"Yeah, I'm back," Sunset said, crossing her arms. "I'm Flash's friend. You'll just have to deal with it if you wanna keep this up."

Sonata shrugged. "Eh." She grabbed the bag Sunset was holding, then motioned for Ditzy to follow her to the guest room.

"Oh my," Fluttershy said, covering her mouth and blushing. "She...she's been walking around the house like that all day?"

"Yep," Flash muttered.

Uncle Rear walked into the living room, drying his hands on a dish towel. "So, Flash, who's..." His eyes landed on Sunset, and his smile turned into a frown. "Oh, it's you," he said sourly.

"Uhh...hey," Sunset said awkwardly.

"Flash?" Uncle Rear said. "Why is she—"

Flash held up a hand. "Sunset's changed, Uncle Rear," he said. "I know what she used to be like, and I know you're the one who convinced me to break up with her in the first place—"

Sunset blinked. "Wait. What?"

"—but she's in a better place now. She's turned her life around. We patched things up and we're...we're friends."

"She really has changed, Mr. Sentry," Fluttershy spoke up. "Oh, and, um, I'm Fluttershy. I'm...I'm one of Sunset's friends," she added more quietly.

Uncle Rear pursed his lips, stroking his chin as he considered this. "Well," he said slowly.

"How about I go buy us all some ice cream?" Sunset suggested. "The good stuff. It's on me."

Uncle Rear planted one hand on a cocked hip and raised an eyebrow. "Are you trying to butter me up?"

"No, I'm trying to make amends for all those times I called you 'Ass Entry'," Sunset said.

Uncle Rear made a 'tch' sound. "Oh, honey, that sass of yours is the one thing about you I ever liked," he said dismissively.

"Oh. Well." Sunset blinked, nonplussed. "Then yes, I'm trying to butter you up."

Uncle Rear smirked. "Well, alright. Just don't get anything with pistachios! They make my face swell up like a puffer fish."

"Got it," Sunset said. "Fluttershy, mind if I borrow your van for a sec?"

"Huh? Oh, umm...sure," Fluttershy said. "Umm...should I go with...?"

"Nah, you stay here and...and keep an eye on things." Sunset looked toward the bedroom area with worry. "Ditzy could probably use some backup." She patted Flash on the shoulder, smiled encouragingly, then headed out.

Uncle Rear clapped his hands together and smiled at Fluttershy. "Well!" he said. "I have to say, you're the prettiest little thing that's ever been in this house. Where's Flash been hiding you, hmm?"

"Eep," Fluttershy eeped.

"It's not like that!" Flash cried. "Uncle Rear, this isn't...it's not...!"

Uncle Rear laughed. "I'm teasing," he said. He smirked. "But Sonata did mention a girl you've been pining over..." His smirk turned malicious. "Why don't you tell your Uncle Rear all about that..."

* * * * *

It being a weekend, the Canterlot High courtyard was deserted.

Thus, nobody was around to see one of the smooth marble faces of its iconic horse statue begin to ripple and shimmer with ethereal light.

Nor did anybody notice a lavender-skinned girl with long, straight violet hair step right out of the statue...

A Flash of Desperation

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"Sonata did mention a girl you've been pining over..." Rear Sentry's smirk turned malicious. "Why don't you tell your Uncle Rear all about that..."

At Flash's stricken expression, Fluttershy's eyes turned soft and sad. She laid a hand on Flash's shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. "Umm...Mr. Sentry? That's...that's kind of a sensitive subject."

"No, it's okay, Fluttershy," Flash said in a tired, defeated tone. "I mean, I...I kinda know, so..."

Uncle Rear frowned, his mirth turning to concern. "What's wrong?"

"W-well, it's a little tough to explain," Fluttershy said, "but basically, Twilight's...she lives very far away and can't visit here very often. I mean, she has a crush on Flash, and he has a crush on her, but..." She shook her head. "It isn't really..."

"Ahh," Uncle Rear said, nodding sagely. "Yeah, the same thing happened with Chop when he was your age. Met this cutie from Cloudsdale, they hung out a bit, they were sickeningly cute together. But it wasn't long before they stopped exchanging letters, and then he met River in college..." He shrugged. "The rest is history." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Say, you pining over this out of town girl wouldn't happen to be how you got into this whole mess, would it?"

"Yeah," Flash said, nodding miserably.

"Ouch," Uncle Rear said, wincing. "Rebound gone wrong is even worse than one-night stand gone wild." He tilted his head. "Still, Sonata seems like a pretty decent girl."

Fluttershy coughed. "Umm...she's blackmailing Flash into letting her stay here," she pointed out.

"I mean besides that," Uncle Rear said airily. "I could probably even smooth this whole thing over with Chop and River if you wanted to keep her around."

Flash made a stuck sound in his throat. "N-no!" he stammered. "She's seriously gotta go! You have no idea how much trouble she can be!"

"Aww, and I just texted my meanie-pants roomies where to bring my stuff," Sonata interjected from the hallway in a dramatic pout. Three heads whipped around to see her standing there wearing white canvas shorts, pink canvas tennis shoes, and a dark pink T-shirt with horizontal white stripes. She rocked on her heels, sticking out her bottom lip. "You really hate me that much?"

Flash stared at her, then sighed. "I guess you can stay tonight at least," he said. "Tomorrow, umm...tomorrow you should, maybe...try to find somebody else to..." He trailed off. "Or maybe not."

"Yay!" Sonata cheered, rushing forward and hugging Flash enthusiastically.

Ditzy facepalmed. Fluttershy winced. Uncle Rear snickered. Flash sighed again.

* * * * *

Pinkie Pie puttered down the pavement on her sparkly party scooter, pondering the prickly predicament Flash Sentry had poked his pecker into. So preoccupied with preponderance was Pinkie, she passed a pretty purple pony princess without parsing her presence.

"Pinkie Pie! Wait up!"

Pinkie blinked, then pulled over and parked. "Pielight Parkle!" she said. Then, she shook her head, her eyes rolling comically. "I mean, Twilight Sparkle!"

Twilight braced her hands on her knees, taking deep breaths. "I...was...chasing you...for two blocks..." Twilight wheezed.

"Oh! Sorry. I was kinda lost in thought," Pinkie said. "Surprised to see you here today!"

Twilight shrugged. "Well, I had a break in my schedule and didn't really feel like doing anything back at the castle, and my friends are all busy with other stuff today, so I thought I'd take a quick trip over. I mean, I don't get to see you all very often, and usually when I come to this world I don't get to just enjoy myself, you know?"

"True that," Pinkie said. "I was just on my way home from Applejack's, want me to drop you anywhere? Or you could come to my place."

"How about Sunset Shimmer's place?" Twilight asked.

"Oh, umm..." Pinkie's eyes darted back and forth nervously. "She's...not home right now. She's, umm...she's helping...another friend. With...something."

"Oh," Twilight said. Then, brightly, she added, "Maybe I can help?"

"NO!" Pinkie cried. When Twilight flinched away, she laughed nervously. "I mean, haha, it's not...I mean, it's kind of a personal thing, you know?" After an awkward moment, she said, "Hey, hop on, we'll head to my house! We can see what some of the other girls are doing when we get there!"

"Well...okay!" Twilight climbed onto the back of Pinkie's scooter and wrapped her arms around Pinkie's midsection. Pinkie peeled back off onto the road at a more sedate pace, her mind whirling.

*This is bad...! Whatever I do, I've gotta keep Twilight from finding out about Flash and Sonata...!*

* * * * *

"Gotta keep Twilight from finding out this ever happened," Sunset muttered to herself as she browsed the ice cream selection at the nearest supermarket to Flash's house. "Then again, what are the odds she'd find out? I mean, unless I write to her about it or she randomly comes through the portal at just the wrong moment..." She chuckled. "Yeah, like that'll happen."

Her phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out and checked it.

Twilight's here. Taking her to my place. Gonna keep her busy.

Sunset nearly dropped her phone. "What the f..." She noticed a cream-skinned woman with long honey-brown hair scowling fiercely at her and held her tongue, offering a sheepish smile. "Sorry. Bad day."

"Uh-huh," the woman said sourly as she thrust an arm into the next freezer over and pulled out a box of ice cream sandwiches. She tossed them into her basket and moved on, a young brown-skinned boy wearing a propeller beanie hot at her heels.

Shaking her head, Sunset withdrew a carton of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and another of triple fudge brownie swirl from the freezer, then mosied down the aisle to select various toppings and goodies to go along with it. *If Twilight's here, there's no way in hell I can let her anywhere near Flash, or Flash anywhere near her. Unless this whole Sonata thing blows over really fast, and I don't see that happening...* With a sigh, she finished loading up her basket, then headed for the check-out lines. *I hope Fluttershy's doing okay back at Flash's place...maybe I should've sent her after the ice cream instead...*

* * * * *

*I really wish Sunset had let me go after the ice cream...* Fluttershy shuffled her feet awkwardly as she studied Sonata, who was clinging to Flash and giggling. Ditzy stood off to the side shaking her head sadly; Flash's Uncle Rear was smirking on the sofa.

One thing Sonata had said, though, stuck out in Fluttershy's mind and filled her with dread. "Umm...Sonata...did-did you say the other Dazzlings are...are coming here?"

"If Adagio ever gets her head out of her butt," Sonata said. She snicker-snorted. "Which should take a few hours with all that hair, am I right?"

"Is...is that a good idea?" Ditzy asked. "I mean, I'm not sure those two having Flash's address is...is a good idea..."

"Well I'm not gonna haul my own stuff across town," Sonata said with a roll of her eyes. "Besides, they kicked me out, the least they can do is bring me my stuff."

"It's just that...they're, well..."

"Totally evil bitches?" Sonata asked. "Yeah...but I'm the only one they're mad at, so don't worry!"

"Umm...I'm not so sure about that," Fluttershy said nervously. "I mean—"

Sonata blinked. "Oh wait, I remember you now! You're one of the Rainbooms!" She giggled. "I honestly didn't recognize you because, you know, you spent most of the Battle of the Bands hiding behind things."

Fluttershy cringed.

"That's enough, Sonata," Flash said sternly. "Don't start on Fluttershy, okay?"

Sonata sighed. "Yeah, you're right. My bad."

"And I gotta agree, I'm not totally cool with the idea of those other two showing up," Flash said. "After what you three did at CHS, I mean—"

"Oh, don't worry about it," Sonata said airily. "They won't cause any drama, promise!"

* * * * *

Aria Blaze tested the heft of an aluminum baseball bat, scowling. "I dunno, Dagi," she said sourly. "I mean, yeah, Sonata's the worst, but isn't this kind of...much?"

Adagio Dazzle sat at the breakfast nook, oiling a pair of sharp, nasty-looking pliers. "Sonata insulted me. Me. And presumed to tell me what to do. She needs to learn her place."

Aria's brow furrowed. "Umm...you know, Adagio...you're not exactly better than any of us. Your big plans always fail. It's your fault we're stuck in this shithole of a world. It's your fault we lost our magic."

Adagio glared at her. "The three of us have survived this primitive world all these years because of my wits, my cunning, my understanding of human nature."

"Your willingness to spread your legs..." Aria leaned to the right, dodging a coffee cup that sailed past her head and shattered on the wall.

"YOU BOTH OWE ME," Adagio seethed, "and I will NOT have the most useless Siren ever spawned telling ME to eat shit!"

Aria snickered. "Man, she burned you good." She sighed and tossed her baseball bat onto the couch. "Look, you wanna mess her up? Go for it. I just...really don't care, okay? This is your drama." She turned to head back to her room. Over her shoulder, she tossed, "And don't even think about pulling this crap on me, Adagio. I can rip you apart with one hand tied behind my back and you know it."

Adagio growled, glaring murderously in the direction Aria had departed. She then set the pliers aside and picked up a large pair of shears and a sharpening stone.

* * * * *

"So, what's life like in magic pony land lately?" Pinkie asked as she parked in front of her family's exceptionally ordinary-looking house.

Twilight, a bit wobbly on her feet after the ride, stomped her feet in place for a minute to get the feeling back, then steadied herself. "Oh, it's...it's been fine," she said. "My castle has a magic map that summons my friends to different parts of Equestria whenever there's a friendship problem that needs solving..." She let out a deep sigh. "It hasn't summoned me anywhere...even the one place I really really wanted to go..."

"Aww, that's too bad," Pinkie said sympathetically. "I hate missing out on fun things I really want to do. Like, last week? I had to miss a super cool birthday party at Greas E. Pizza's Pizzaporium because I had detention!" She tilted her head. "Well, not like I was invited, I mean it was Thunderlane's kid brother Rumble's party, but it was a party at Greas E. Pizza's and I mean come on, who can say no to the ball pit?"

Twilight stared at her. "Uh...huh," she said. "Well, as...as fun as that sounds...wait, why'd you have detention?"

Pinkie scratched her cheek sheepishly. "Mthvbnbldngprtycnnntkndblwp," she mumbled.

"I'm sorry, what was that?" Twilight asked, cupping a hand around one ear and leaning closer.

Pinkie sighed. "I might've been building a prototype party cannon in shop class and it might've sorta...blown up..."

"Oh," Twilight said, blinking. "Well...still...I mean, it's shop class, right? Accidents happen when you're working with tools..."

Pinkie toed the driveway, her expression even more sheepish. "Yyyyeah, thing is...I'm not in shop class...I was supposed to be in history class at the time..."

Twilight frowned. "Oh," she said in a mildly disapproving tone.

"I COULDN'T HELP IT!" Pinkie cried, digging through her curls with clawed fingers. "History is boring and party cannons aren't boring and Mr. Doodle hates me and—"

Twilight held up a hand. "It's okay," she said. "You're Pinkie Pie. Pinkie Pies do crazy things, I get it. You got punished for it, you learned your lesson, case closed." She clapped her hands together. "Are you grounded or anything?"

"Nope," Pinkie said. "I got yelled at for an hour, but Maud got me out of anything worse."

"Good." Twilight smiled. "Let's have some fun then!"

Pinkie immediately brightened. "Okay! I'll call Rainbow Dash and Rarity and Flutt—no, wait, Fluttershy's helping Sunset Shimmer at Flash's pla—" Her eyes widened as her brain caught up with her mouth.

"Flash?" Twilight asked, perking up. "Flash Sentry?"

Pinkie giggled nervously. "Hahahaha, no? Flash Sentry, why would Sunset and Fluttershy be at Flash Sentry's house? No, they're helping Flash Dancer, yeah, totally different Flash, you see, and—"

Twilight gave her a half-lidded glare, arms folded. "Pinkie Pie, what's going on?" she asked slowly and sternly.

Pinkie stopped rambling, letting her hands fall to her side. "Yeah, okay, so there's kiiiind of a problem with Flash, but you shouldn't worry about it, really, because Sunset's got it covered, and—"

"Take me," Twilight said.

"Uhh...don't know where he lives?" Pinkie offered sheepishly.

"Find out," Twilight said.


Twilight rolled her eyes. "I know how smartphones work, Pinkie," she said. She reached into Pinkie's hair, pulled out her phone, and tapped the button on the side. "Hey Coocle, show me how to get to Flash Sentry's house from here."

Pinkie's jaw dropped. "How did you—"

"Please," Twilight said with a smirk. "I've been friends with the other Pinkie Pie for years. You really think I haven't learned how you work?" She studied the phone's screen, then nodded. "Okay, let's go."

"Umm...Twilight?" Pinkie offered plaintively as she took her phone back. "I seriously, really, really really think you don't wanna do that."

"If Flash is in trouble, I wanna help," Twilight said confidently, though she wasn't able to hide the blush that crept across her face. "I'm the Princess of Friendship, solving problems is what I do."

"Y-yeah, but..."


"No, see, it's—"


"Twilight, you really don't have to—"


Pinkie jumped. Her hair deflated. "O-okay, Twilight. We'll...we'll go...to Flash's house..." She crammed her helmet back on her head and hopped onto her scooter. As Twilight secured herself behind her, Pinkie reached into her pocket—having placed her phone where it was supposed to be and cursing the Rule of Pink for betraying her earlier—and touch-texted Sunset Shimmer.

BIG SOS! Twilight's making me take her to Flash's place! THINK OF SOMETHING!

* * * * *

Sunset Shimmer had just walked through the front door with the ice cream and was looking forward to sitting down with the unusual group at Flash's house and maybe talking through a lot of things over delicious creamy frozen desserts when she got Pinkie's frantic texts.

Her irises shrank to pinpricks. She almost dropped the ice cream.

"Oh horseapples..."

A Flash of Magic

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As soon as Sunset Shimmer was inside the house, she started talking. "We've got a problem."

"What now?" Ditzy asked.

Sunset took a deep breath, looked at Flash, and braced herself. "Twilight Sparkle is on her way here."

Fluttershy gasped, covering her mouth. "What?!"

Flash's jaw dropped. "T-Twilight? She's here?!"

"Twilight being here means...means there's a new magical problem, right?" Fluttershy whimpered.

Uncle Rear raised an eyebrow. "Magical?"

"No, she's not here for that...I don't think," Sunset said. "Sounds like she's just visiting. Pinkie Pie was supposed to keep her occupied and not say anything about any of this but apparently she screwed up, so..." She shrugged, the bags of ice cream rustling in her hands. "Yeah."

Flash began pacing. "Oh man, oh man, oh man," he moaned. "If Twilight finds out, she'll...she'll hate me..."

"So who says she needs to know?" Sonata said. "I mean, she'll drop by, stay a bit, then go away, then you'll be all mine again!" She smirked into the back of her hand. "All we need to do is pretend we're just having a little ice cream party and it'll be okay!"

"Works for me," Uncle Rear said. "If you can keep from taunting this girl or tipping your hand."

Sonata snorted. "Please," she said. "I'm not as dumb as I am."

Everyone blinked as they parsed that. Fluttershy shook her head. "A-anyway, I...I think that's all we can really do. Umm. Play like everything's fine, for Twilight's sake."

"Except how do we explain Sonata being here?" Ditzy pointed out. "Also, the other Dazzlings are bringing her stuff over. It'll be pretty hard to explain that to Twilight."

Everyone stopped, frowning, to consider this.

Sunset sighed. "Ice cream first," she decided. "We can figure out what to do about Twilight while we're...yeah."

"Good idea," Uncle Rear said. "It'd be a shame to let good ice cream go to waste just because we're all panicking."

"I know, right?" Sonata giggled.

"I think I'm gonna cut out now," Ditzy said. "Sorry, but I really don't wanna be here to see what happens when this whole thing blows up in your face. Besides, you've got Sunset, you don't need me."

Flash sighed. "Fair enough. Thanks, Ditz. Sorry for dragging you into this whole mess."

"Yeah yeah," Ditzy said, waving him off. "If you live through this mess, you can make it up to me next month. Music festival in Canterlittle. You drive, you pay for snacks."

"Deal," Flash said.

As Ditzy left, Sonata gave Flash a sly look. "Making a date with another girl in front of your girlfriend? Kinda risky, isn't it?"

Flash groaned. "It's not a date," he said. "Ditzy and I are just friends. Always have been, always will be."

"Sure," Sonata said. "Come on, let's get to that ice cream already!"

"I'll go along with that," Sunset said. "If only because this stuff was expensive and I don't want it going to waste."

As the group filed into the kitchen, Fluttershy said, "I didn't know you and Ditzy were such close friends, Flash."

"Yeah, ever since first grade," Flash said. "We've always had each other's backs. I'm one of the few people that knows the real Ditzy."

"She used to be a huge pain in my ass back when I was, y'know...my old self," Sunset said as she unpacked her purchases while Uncle Rear got out bowls and spoons. "She's one of the few people at CHS I couldn't hold anything over or do anything to because she's already got such a weird reputation nothing bothers her."

"I can kind of see that," Fluttershy said. "I mean, I've never liked it when people call her Derpy just because of her eyes, but she played the musical saw at the Battle of the Bands..." She shook her head. "Even I thought that was a little, umm...weird."

Flash chuckled. "Yeah, she...has her moments. But then, you girls are friends with Pinkie Pie, you know how that is."

In addition to the ice cream, Sunset had bought canned whipped cream, a small jar of maraschino cherries, a jar of crushed cookie crumbles, a jar of fancy fudge sauce, and a small bag of chopped walnuts. "Ooh, you have good taste in ice cream and toppings," Sonata said, licking her lips.

"Glad you approve," Sunset said wryly. "By the way, you're paying half since it's your fault we're all in this mess to begin with."

Sonata shrugged. "Fair enough." Sunset passed her the receipt; Sonata winced, but took out her wallet and handed Sunset a few bills. While they settled up, Fluttershy grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl on the counter and started peeling it. "Ooh, out comes the banana, just like in a harem anime!" Sonata giggled.

Sunset made a stuck sound in her throat. Flash's eyes bugged out. Fluttershy froze, blinking slowly. She looked around the room, then at Sonata. "No," she said. "Just...no. I'm going to make a banana split, not...that thing you're thinking."

"What thing?" Sonata asked innocently.

"Let's not go there," Flash said hastily. "EVER."

"Agreed," Fluttershy and Sunset said loudly.

"Aww, you're no fun," Sonata pouted as she plopped down at the table.

Uncle Rear shook his head and laughed. "You kids," he said as he opened the triple fudge brownie swirl. "I am so glad I was here for all this."

The little group set about scooping ice cream into bowls and adding various toppings. As Flash finished mixing walnuts into his bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough and started eating, he couldn't help but watch Fluttershy as she meticulously constructed a banana split; after slicing the banana down the middle and spreading it in the bowl, she spooned fudge sauce down the center, then scooped triple fudge brownie swirl on top of that. She added a few sprinkles of cookie crumbles and walnuts, then sprayed a huge dollop of whipped cream on top before adding a cherry and some more cookie crumbles. Lastly, she drizzled one more spoonful of fudge sauce around the entire thing in a lazy spiral.

Flash wasn't the only one watching her. Sunset stared, eyes wide, as Fluttershy took her first creamy spoonful and savored it slowly, moaning appreciatively. "Uhh...wow," she said. "You...really know your way around ice cream."

"That looks soo yummy," Sonata moaned. She scrambled over to the fruit bowl and got herself a banana, then clumsily copied Fluttershy's banana split.

"Somebody's got experience," Uncle Rear commented.

Fluttershy looked up, noticed everyone staring at her, and blushed. "Oh. Umm. Well..." She ducked her head. "I, umm...I always make myself an ice cream sundae every day when I get home from school. It's...it's my little thing. It's how I unwind."

"I think I like your way of unwinding," Uncle Rear said with a grin.

"That explains your tits," Sonata commented through a mouthful of ice cream. Fluttershy paused with her spoon halfway to her mouth, her eyes wide and her cheeks red. Sunset spluttered; Flash choked on a walnut piece.

"Umm," Fluttershy whispered. "Umm...oh my...umm..." She ducked her head and shrunk in on herself. "Please...please leave me out of...anything weird or perverted going on in this house. Please?"

"Yeah, Fluttershy's boobs are off limits," Sunset said. Flash choked again. Uncle Rear started giggling. Fluttershy shot Sunset an exasperated look; Sunset's eyes widened as she realized what she'd just said, and she groaned, smacking herself in the forehead. "Oh god, I am so sorry, Fluttershy."

Fluttershy sighed. "Well, they are," she said resignedly. This just sent Uncle Rear and Sonata into giggling fits.

The doorbell rang. Flash sprang out of his seat. "I'll get it," he said hoarsely, still pounding his sternum. He rushed to the front door and threw it open to find Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle standing there. His breath caught in his throat, his heart hammered in his chest, and the blush already rising to his cheeks deepened. "H-hey, Twilight," he stammered.

Twilight smiled and waved the fingers on one hand, a blush coloring her own cheeks. "H-hi," she said. "Umm...I heard you needed...help with something? So I came over. To help! Because I...I like helping. Yeah."

"Oh. W-well." Flash looked at Pinkie, who shrugged and shook her head. "Actually, we're...we're just having a little ice cream party in the kitchen, kinda, so..."

"SAY NO MORE!" Pinkie exclaimed, grabbing Twilight by the wrist and dragging her through the house. Twilight yelped and flailed, but made no move to disengage. Flash followed them, his stomach doing flip-flops as he watched Twilight's violet hair flounce around.

*Oh god,* he thought, swallowing nervously. *I don't know if I can handle this...*

Things had largely calmed down in the kitchen, though Fluttershy had a slightly peeved look on her face as she rather viciously tore into her banana split. Uncle Rear looked up and smiled pleasantly at the new arrivals. "Well! This house just keeps getting more and more pretty little things in it all the time!" he said loudly.

"Pinkie, Twilight," Sunset said in a matter-of-fact tone, "this is Flash's uncle, Rear Sentry. Uncle Rear, this is Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle."

"O-ho, the Twilight Sparkle," Uncle Rear said saucily, looking Twilight up and down. "Well, make yourself some ice cream and then tell old Uncle Rear all about how you and Flash met."

"W-well, that's—" Twilight began, then paused, noticing Sonata. She blinked, then tilted her head. "Sunset Shimmer? Why is one of the Dazzlings here?"

"It's...complicated," Sunset began. "You see—"

"Adagio kicked me out, I was wandering around town all alone with nowhere to go, Flash took pity on me and loaned me his guest room," Sonata said lightly.

"Oh," Twilight said, blinking. "Well...good for you, Flash! It's always good to be a friend to those in need, even if they haven't always been the nicest to you."

Flash scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. "Uhh...thanks?"

Pinkie and Twilight joined the group at the table; in no time flat, Pinkie had plonked whipped-cream covered bowls of ice cream in front of herself and Twilight. As Twilight spooned fudge sauce around her bowl, she looked at Fluttershy. "So what brings you here?" she asked.

"Oh, umm...I drove Sunset over," she said. "She, umm...wanted to make sure Sonata wasn't up to anything evil, because...because she used to be evil, but she's not evil now, umm...right?"

"Hmm...nah, not much," Sonata said, making a 'so-so' gesture with her hand. "Maybe a little."

"Stop being evil," Twilight said tartly. "Being evil isn't nice!" She glanced at Uncle Rear, then at Flash. "Umm...so you live with your uncle?"

"Oh, I'm just visiting for the weekend," Uncle Rear said airily.

"My folks are off on their second honeymoon," Flash said.

"Oh, really!" Twilight said with interest. "Huh, that's funny. Mine just went on theirs the other day too! It's their thirtieth anniversary, so they decided to go..." She paused, licking her spoon as she thought how best to word what she wanted to say next. "Well, up where my brother and his wife live."

"They're spending their anniversary with their son and his wife?" Uncle Rear asked. "That's a little...unusual."

"Yeah, well, it's kind of a big tourist attraction," Twilight said absently. "They haven't really had a chance to go there yet, so..." She trailed off. "A-anyway. So yeah, funny coincidence."

"And you don't need to be home minding the house while they're away?" Uncle Rear asked.

"Oh, I don't li—" Twilight started to say, then caught herself. "I mean...the house can mind itself for a little while."

Uncle Rear narrowed his eyes slightly. "Hmm." He clicked his tongue. "Well, anyway. I hear you're from out of town. So you what, hopped a bus to come visit your long distance boyfriend?"

Twilight stammered, her face dark purple. "N-no! I-I mean, I'm happy to see Flash, but..." She paused to shovel some ice cream into her face, then let out a pained yelp as she succumbed to an ice cream headache. Everyone watched her with varying degrees of concern, dismay, and amusement. Finally, she got control of herself and coughed once, then continued, primly, "Actually, I was a little bored at home, so I decided to come see what Sunset Shimmer and her friends were up to."

"I see," Uncle Rear said. "And you don't have any friends of your own back home?"

"I have lots of friends!" Twilight protested. "They're just all busy with their own stuff. You know how it is."

Uncle Rear chortled. "Yeah, I know." He shook his head.

"You're being unusually responsible," Sunset noted.

Uncle Rear considered this. "Huh. Maybe." He shrugged, licking his spoon. "I guess I'm just trying to get a feel for this girl my favorite nephew is pining after. I mean, you understand a long-distance relationship at your age just isn't going to work, hon, you do know that, right? But after...well, after what happened the last time Flash had a girlfriend, I guess I'm feeling a little...careful."

An awkward silence descended upon the table.

"Wow, way to kill the party, Uncle Hairball," Sonata said.

"Yyyyyeah," Sunset drawled, her eyes clouded and her expression sorrowful. "I, uhh..." She sighed. "Look. Me and Flash, we already...we already hashed out a lot of stuff about where we were when things ended, and..." She looked down at her bowl. "I mean, Flash accepts that I've changed—hell, he trusts me enough to call me when he's in a tight spot—but I know I...I know I still have a hell of a lot to live down."

"It's okay, Sunset," Twilight said gently, smiling across the table at her. "You're not that person anymore. You've changed. You let real friendship into your heart. Everybody knows it now, right? I mean, you saved—" She paused, glanced at Uncle Rear, then continued, "You showed everybody how you've changed at the Battle of the Bands."

"She sure did," Sonata said with a giggle. She paused, then blinked. "HEY! I totally forgot I'm still supposed to be pissed at you girls over that!"

"Oh, knock it off," Pinkie said, waving her spoon at Sonata. "Do you want to hold a grudge over us stopping your evil plans, or do you want to have fun? I think you're more like me than you're like any of the others, and I know which I'd rather do."

Sonata considered this. "Well," she drawled, "it's not like holding a grudge does me any good, and..." She giggled. "You're right, having fun is more important than being all AHH! REVENGE!! like some people I could name."

Uncle Rear chewed his lip. "Okay, hold the phone, kids. I get the feeling there's a heck of a story I'm missing out on, and I'm totally lost and confused here, so...you wanna explain all this?"

The teens looked around the table at each other uncertainly. "Uhh..." Flash said, swallowing.

"Twilight?" Sunset asked hesitantly. "What...what should we do?"

"You're asking me?" Twilight said incredulously. "You should be the one to decide. I'm just visiting, remember?"

"Well, yeah, but you're the Princess," Sunset pointed out.

"Well...! But!" Twilight shook her head. "You know how out of my depth I am here. Seriously. It's your call. You decide."

Sunset sighed. "Alright." She shook her head, looked around the table, then grabbed a couple of stray spoons and tossed them to Pinkie. "Pinkie? Pony up."

Pinkie grinned maniacally as she caught the spoons, twirled them, and started drumming away on the table, her bowl, the spoons themselves, and everything else in reach. Within seconds, a pink glow surrounded her body.

Uncle Rear's eyes widened and his jaw dropped as Pinkie Pie rose into the air, pointy pink pony ears poking proudly through her poofy pink perm...

A Flash of Indignation

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The ice cream was long since gone.

Uncle Rear sat back in his chair, looking at the group, pursing his lips. "Wow," he said. "That's quite the story, kids."

"Yeah, it's hard to believe it until you've lived it," Pinkie Pie said as she fished the last cherry out of the jar with a toothpick and popped it in her mouth.

"Well..." Uncle Rear chewed the inside of his cheek. "I mean, if the portal to this Equestria is right at the school, it isn't really a long-distance relationship, is it?"

"Well...not as such, but..." Sunset said, frowning. "The thing is, Twilight can't just get away and come here whenever she wants because she's kind of super important over there, and..." She pursed her lips. "I'm...not sure things would work out if Flash decided to go over there instead."

"Why not?" Uncle Rear asked.

"Yeah, why not?" Sonata said with a faint grin.

"Umm...you did catch the part where me and Twilight—and this ditz over here—aren't human beings, right?" Sunset pointed out. "The portal turns us human. In this world, we're human. Back home, we're...not human."

"Umm...wouldn't Flash turn into a pony going over there though?" Pinkie asked, tilting her head. "I mean...you'd still be the same species..."

"I think it's easier to adjust coming from there to here than going from here to there," Sunset said. "Besides...well..." She smirked at Flash. "I happen to know for a fact Flash has certain...interests when it comes to girls. Which...don't really translate over to Equestria."

Uncle Rear thought about that for a minute, then smirked. "Ah. No boobs."

Flash burned scarlet as everybody laughed at him. "Don't make me sound so shallow!" he cried.

"Sorry Flash," Sunset said, laughing, "but you do like boobs, admit it, and I don't know if you'd...well...feel the same way about Twilight as a pony as you do about Twilight as a cute human girl with a sexy body."

"S-sexy?" Twilight echoed with a blush. Then she blinked as the rest of what Sunset said caught up to her. "Wait. Is that all it is, it's..." She glanced at Flash, a demanding look in her eyes.

"NO!" Flash yelped. "I mean, yes, okay, I'm attracted to...stuff about girls, most guys my age are," he said defensively, "but that's not—I mean—"

"But it would be hard for a human to see a pony as a lover," Fluttershy said. "Umm...I mean, a human who isn't some kind of weird pervert anyway."

"Wow," Sonata said, staring at Fluttershy. "Judgmental much?"

Fluttershy looked away. "I...accidentally clicked on a really really wrong website once," she said, shuddering. "I don't like to talk about it..."

"I honestly do kinda see it as a potential problem," Sunset said before anybody could ask Fluttershy anything. "I mean, even if Flash was a pony himself, he'd still think like a human, and the reality is he'd be surrounded by talking ponies. As freaky as the culture shock coming from there to here was, I honestly think one of you going there would be a lot worse." She paused. "Well, except maybe Fluttershy. Pretty sure going to Equestria would be like dying and going to Heaven for her." At Fluttershy's disbelieving and mildly offended look, Sunset held up her hands in a placating gesture. "Because you love cute fuzzy animals!" she insisted. "And, well, entire world full of magical ponies!"

Fluttershy considered this. "Fair enough," she said with a shrug.

Twilight frowned. "From what I've learned about this world...yeah, I think I can see that," she said. "Besides, it'd be awkward having Flash there when I actually know the other Flash Sentry. Not very well, but..." She grimaced. "I don't know if I can look at a pony Flash and see this Flash."

"So why don't you just hook up with that Flash?" Sonata suggested brightly.

"He's a weiner," Twilight said dismissively. Everybody blinked at her. She ducked her head and coughed. "I mean, he's...just...not very interesting to me?"

Flash frowned. "I feel like I should be mildly insulted," he said.

"No, no, it's—!" Twilight shook her head frantically. "He's not you, you know?" she said. "I mean, you're you, and he's...just this guardspony at my sister-in-law's castle..."

"Oh, he's a guard over there?" Sunset asked. "That sucks. The only thing guards are good for is harems."

Everybody stared at her. She blinked, then blushed. "I-is what they say! You know in-in Canterlot..." She ducked her head. "I never...I mean..."

"Oh...my..." Fluttershy whispered, her cheeks heating up.

"Oh my indeed," Uncle Rear said, fanning himself with a napkin. "Now I'm picturing a dozen oiled-up, sweaty Greek gods in polished gold armor..." He dabbed sweat from his brow. "I...need a minute here, kids..."

Twilight blinked. "Um. Wow. You guys are..." She shook her head. "Yikes."

Flash coughed. "Um. Right. So...anywa—"

The sound of breaking glass cut him off. Every head whipped around to the front of the house. "What the hell?!" Flash cried.


A Flash of Understanding

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Fluttershy screamed, bolted out of the kitchen, and locked herself in the bathroom.

Everyone else stared in the direction of the enraged shrieking, eyes wide. "What the hell?!" Sunset exclaimed.

"Someone's PMSing," Uncle Rear observed cattily.

"I-is that...is that Adagio?" Twilight asked shakily, her face pale.

"Oopsie," Sonata said with a giggle. "Guess that last GIF I texted her was maaaaaybe pushing it a bit too far."

Flash whipped his head around to stare at Sonata, his mouth going dry. "Wh-what the hell did you text her?!"

"Umm..." Sonata touched a finger to her chin in a pose of thoughtful cuteness. "A dog eating a pile of poop?"

"Oh, ouch," Uncle Rear said.

Twilight blinked. "Huh? I don't—"

Flash groaned, burying his face in his palms. "You didn't," he moaned.

Sunset shook her head and sighed. "Okay, I know Adagio is kind of a bitch, but she's usually more...composed than to overreact to something like that."

"Eh, she's been really on edge lately," Sonata said. "And then there's the whole, well, I refused to come home when she called, pretty much ordered her and Aria to bring my stuff here..."

Another window shattered. Flash flinched. Uncle Rear frowned, standing up. "Alright, enough is enough," he said, marching to the front door. "I'm all for screaming drama fits, but only up to the point where some little tramp starts breaking my brother's windows." He threw open the door. The teens inside heard him yelling at Adagio, who yelled back; a minute later, Uncle Rear returned to the kitchen, a stiff-legged, frizzed-out, puffed-up Adagio in tow, radiating hate and malice at the room at large.

"SO-NA-TA," she growled as her gaze landed on the target of her ire, "I am going to make your life a living hell if you don't get your ass home right now!"

Sonata folded her arms and returned Adagio's glare with a frosty stare. "Fuck you," she said.

Adagio's eye twitched. "What did you just say to me?" she said in a soft, dangerous tone.

Sunset frowned and stood up. "I'm pretty sure she said fuck you," she said. "And I don't blame her. I'm not cool with her just deciding she's gonna live here and we're still dealing with that, but if this is what she's been putting up with? I don't blame her for telling you to eat shit."

Adagio whipped around to glare at her. "You stay out of this, you reject from Equestria!"

Twilight stood up. "That. Is. ENOUGH!" She walked over to Adagio, meeting her furious stare with calm composure. "You're not impressing anyone with all this screaming and breaking stuff," she said. "If you don't sit down, calm down, and get ready to talk this out like a reasonable person, Sunset and I are going to drag you, physically, back through the portal to Equestria and deal with you there." She paused for one deep breath, then added, "And in Equestria, I'm an alicorn."

She let that hang in the air for a long moment.

Adagio, visibly seething, plopped herself in the chair Fluttershy had vacated, arms crossed, aiming a sullen glare at Twilight.

"Woooow," Pinkie breathed into the heavy silence, popping candy-coated licorice bites into her mouth from a little purple carton. "You go, Twilight!"

Fluttershy reappeared. "Umm...there's a lot of broken glass in the living room," she said. "I, umm...I'll sweep it up if—"

"Broom and dustpan are in the laundry closet," Flash said absently.

"Okay," Fluttershy said. "Umm...good luck with...all this..." She disappeared again.

Twilight took a deep breath. "Now—"

"Oh, and um, sorry, but...there's an awful lot of implements of murder on the front lawn," Fluttershy said suddenly, reappearing before Twilight could get going. "Umm...maybe somebody should do something about that?"

"Lock it all up in your van," Sunset said absently. "We're confiscating it."

"Oh. Um." Fluttershy worried at the hem of her skirt. "It's just that...I don't know if I want to handle some of this...stuff..."

"Just imagine you're using it on Zephyr Breeze," Pinkie offered.

Fluttershy nodded. "Right, got it." She disappeared again.

Twilight blinked, staring after her. "What the—"

"Don't ask," Sunset said.

Shaking her head, Twilight returned to the task at hand. "Right, so, just so I have all the facts, explain this whole showing up here breaking stuff and threatening to mutilate Sonata."

Adagio glared at her. "It's no concern of yours, Princess," she spat. "This is between me and the worthless ditz."

"I am NOT worthless!" Sonata snapped. "Just because you're an arrogant, conceited bitch and Aria hates literally everything doesn't give you the right to call me worthless! Besides, you two can't even feed yourselves without me around to cook for you!"

"Is that so?" Adagio challenged.

Sonata snorted. "Adagio, before the Battle of the Bands, you had exactly three skills. Singing, manipulation, and sex. Now you're down to two." She fixed Adagio with a haughty smirk. "Sure, you can probably whore your way through life like you've ALWAYS DONE, but now that none of us have our magic anymore, what's even the point of me putting up with your bullshit?"

Adagio's left eye twitched. "My bullshit?"

"Yeah," Sonata challenged, leaning forward and narrowing her eyes. "Your bullshit. Whose idea was trying to take the Equestrian magic at CHS? Whose idea was the Battle of the Bands? Whose idea was it to spread the plague across half of Stirrope?" She threw up her hands. "THE PLAGUE, ADAGIO! THAT WAS ALL ON YOU, AND FOR WHAT? We only got enough juice out of that to keep us fresh and tasty for about sixty years! Just long enough to find the next war to feed on!" She pinched the bridge of her nose. "You think I wanted to kill tens of thousands of humans just to stay young, cute, and sexy? We could've waited for something bad enough to happen all by itself! HUMANS LOVE MAKING EACH OTHER MISERABLE!"

Everyone stared at Sonata.

Pinkie shrugged. "Well, she's not wrong," she said.

Adagio raised an eyebrow. "And you've ever had any good ideas, hmm?"

"YES! I HAVE!" Sonata shouted. "How about, I dunno...giving up, falling in love, starting a family, growing old surrounded by people who love you?" She threw her arms up in the air. "I'd have been fine with being an old granny a hundred years ago! Immortality kinda starts to suck after the first couple hundred years!"

"Really," Adagio drawled. "Then why didn't you strike out on your own sooner?"

Sonata pursed her lips, sitting back in her chair. "Because I didn't wanna, okay? As long as I kept hanging around with you and Aria, I didn't actually have to put any effort into anything. I can't help it, I'm lazy." She shrugged. "But now that we can't magic people anymore, there's no point in staying together. You can't do jack except screw guys to get them to do stuff for you, and you and Aria are both such complete and total bitches I can't stand being around you anymore. So I'm done." She crossed her arms, glaring defiantly at Adagio.

Sunset blinked. "Wow," she said. "I...had no idea you were dealing with all that," she said.

"Neither did I," Flash said, eyes wide.

Uncle Rear looked back and forth between the Sirens. "You're immortal?" he asked.

"Well, we were," Adagio said sourly, glaring hotly at Twilight and Sunset. "Not anymore, of course. You and your little band of friends took care of that."

"It was your own fault," Twilight said. "You didn't give us any choice. You turned the entire student body of CHS against each other. We did what we had to do to save the world from you."

Adagio snorted. "Typical pony hero complex," she snarled. "First that bearded bastard, now you and your goody-goody friendship magic."

"Well what did you expect, Adagio?!" Sonata cried in exasperation, throwing her hands up. "We're evil! HELLO!"

"I'm getting a little sick of your tone," Adagio snapped, glaring at Sonata.

"Yeah? Well I'm getting a LOT sick of YOU!" Sonata retorted. "Like I said, I'm not coming home and you can't make me, and I'm not the least bit afraid of you!"

"Oh, you will be," Adagio seethed, eyes narrowed.

Fluttershy walked back in. Flash sat back in his chair. "Okay, look," he said. "All Sonata needs from you is her stuff. If you're not gonna bring it over, I guess some of us can go get it and bring it here?"

Sunset blinked, looking at Flash. "Wait, what?"

Flash shrugged. "Look...I didn't get what Sonata was going through until just now," he said. "I mean, after this morning...this morning was pretty messed up, yeah, but I get it now. I get all of it."

Sonata gasped happily. "You mean...?"

"You can stay," Flash said. "At least until you can find someplace better to go, get yourself kinda put together and get on with your life." He stood up, jamming his hands in his pockets. "I mean, it sounds like you just want a clean start, we've got a guest room, I'm sure I can smooth this over with Mom and Dad..."

Sonata jumped up and threw her arms around Flash, giggling happily. "Oh thankyouthankyouthankyou!" she gushed. "I won't be a burden or anything, I promise!" She kissed him on the cheek. "Wow, sleeping with you may be the best thing that ever happened to me!"

Sunset's eyes widened. Pinkie's hair deflated.

The temperature in the room plummeted.

"Wait," Twilight said softly. "What?"

A Flash of Confusion

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"Wow, sleeping with you may be the best thing that ever happened to me!"

Sunset's eyes widened. Pinkie's hair deflated.

The temperature in the room plummeted.

"Wait," Twilight said softly. "What?"

Sonata blinked rapidly, then put a hand to her mouth. "Oopsie!" she said with a cute giggle. "I forgot we were keeping that a secret." She leaned toward Twilight and cupped her hands around her mouth. "You didn't hear that," she stage-whispered.

"Ah...hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!" Flash giggled nervously, rubbing the back of his head. "Yes! Slept! Here in this house, because she was tired and needed a place to sleep! So she slept! Here! Where I sleep!"

Sunset facepalmed.

Twilight narrowed her eyes and folded her arms. "Oh, so you're saying you didn't have sex with her?"


Uncle Rear raised an eyebrow at Flash. "Boy, what even made you think that was gonna work?"

"I don't know, I panicked!" Flash flailed. "Look, Twilight, I—"

"No! You know what?" Twilight said in a loud, falsely cheerful tone, a disturbing smile on her face. "Who you...FUCK!...is NONE OF MY BUSINESS!" With that, she marched out of the kitchen. They heard a door elsewhere in the house slam. Fluttershy let out a terrified squeak and slid low in her seat.

Sunset blinked. "Wow. It took me a whole year of living in this world to start saying that word."

Pinkie shrugged. "Eh. It's been that kind of day."

"I know, right?" Sonata said.

Everybody turned slowly to glare at her. Sonata recoiled. "Oh," she said softly. "Right. Kinda my bad, huh?"

* * * * *

It took Sunset a minute to find Twilight. She'd found Flash's parents' bedroom and was sitting on the bed in a full-on furious pout.

"Twilight," she said softly.

Twilight's eyes snapped onto her. "Did you know?"

Sunset grimaced and sat down. "Yeah."

"So you were just gonna keep this from me? Lie to me?"

"Look, it's complicated, alright?" Sunset said with an aggravated groan. "Flash called me out of nowhere early this morning, this shit's been going on all day, and we were busy dealing with this whole idea of Sonata blackmailing Flash into letting her live here. Then you showed up and none of us were expecting you, and..." She threw her hands up. "Panic! We panicked."

Twilight blinked. "Wait. Hold up. Blackmailing Flash?"

Sunset winced, but recounted the day's events to that point. When she was finished, Twilight sat stonefaced, wringing her hands aggressively in her lap, one foot swinging against the bed like an overclocked pendulum.

"So let me get this straight," Twilight said at length, ticking points off on her fingers. "Flash was, umm...trying to get over me...I think?"

"More like whining pathetically about not getting to see you for a while," Sunset said with a smirk.

Twilight rolled her eyes. "I guess I could try to sneak away a little more often," she said. "And Sonata, she had a fight with the other Sirens and got kicked out?" At Sunset's nod, Twilight continued, "Sonata went home with Flash, they had sex." She grimaced. "Then Sonata decided she'd force Flash to let her live here from now on." Gritting her teeth, she continued, "Apparently half of Canterlot has been in and out of this house all day watching this whole thing spiral out of control, then I showed up and you all lied to me to cover for Flash, and then Adagio showed up to kill Sonata and we had that whole scene in the kitchen just now. Does that about cover it?"

"Pretty much, yeah."

Twilight sighed, flopping back onto the bed. "I don't know what to think here," she said tiredly. "I'm mad at all of you for lying to me. I'm mad at Flash for having sex with that ditz. I'm mad at Adagio for pretty much existing." She took a deep breath, then deflated like a beach ball. "But...listening to Sonata..." She swung her legs against the side of the bed. "I mean, she just wants a better life for herself, right? A chance to be happy and stop being caught up in all that...that..." She gestured vaguely with a hand.

"Toxic bitchiness?" Sunset suggested.

"Yeah, that." Twilight looked up, a helpless expression on her face. "I wanna be mad at Flash for sleeping with her and I wanna be mad at her for the stunt she pulled this morning, but..." She sighed again. "They're both so pathetic and pitiful I just can't!"

Sunset snorted. "Yeah, that about sums it up," she said.

"But I'm still pretty ticked at all of you for lying to me!" Twilight added quickly and sharply.

Sunset winced. "Yeah...that...wasn't cool. I'm sorry. Really." She held out a hand. "Come on," she said awkwardly. "Let's go back to the others."

Twilight groaned, took Sunset's hand, and stood up.

* * * * *

The scene in the kitchen hadn't changed much. Uncle Rear was on the phone about the broken windows. Adagio was scowling darkly at the room in general. Pinkie and Fluttershy were tidying up the kitchen quietly. Flash looked miserable and full of dread. Sonata kept wringing a napkin on the table.

Everyone looked up as Twilight and Sunset returned. Twilight took a deep breath. "Okay," she said. "I'm pretty ticked off at all of you for lying to me about what started this whole thing, but..." She sighed. "I kinda understand why, so..." She wrung her hands. "I want to help you, Sonata. I think you deserve to live the way you want to live, and if you want a fresh start and a new chance at life, I'm all for helping you with that. But I don't think you can start a new life by forcing your way into somebody's guest room with half-baked threats and blackmail. That's not a healthy way to start a new life."

"Yeah, probably not," Sonata agreed with a shrug. "It's all I've got though. Well, it was until Flash agreed to let me stay for a bit on his own."

"Right, about that," Twilight said, turning to Flash, who paled. She closed her eyes and smiled. "That was sweet of you to offer and I know you offered because you're a good person and want to help her. I'm..." She took a deep breath. "I'm not mad at you for what happened last night. Really, I'm not." She opened her eyes. "I'm sorry I blew up at you like that when I found out."

"Uhh...it's cool," Flash said numbly.

"I mean, it's not like..." Twilight waved her hands around, an awkward look on her face. "I mean, we're not...we just kinda...you know?"

"Uhh...yeah," Flash agreed vaguely.

"I mean because, heh...you're you and you're here, and I'm me and I'm there, and we can't be, you know, here and there...you know?"


Sunset groaned. "Twilight," she said. "I think you're getting off track here."

"Oh, right." Twilight coughed. "So anyway...Sonata." She clapped her hands together briskly. "I'll have to clear it with Princess Celestia, but if you wanted to come back to Equestria, you—"

"Bleagh!" Sonata said, pulling a face. "No way!"

Twilight blinked. "No? But...but Equestria! It's where you're from! You got blasted out of your home world by—"

"Does Equestria have cable TV?" Sonata asked. "Cat videos on the Internet? Crispy, crunchy beef tacos?"


"Then keep it," Sonata said indifferently.

Adagio raised an eyebrow. "What happened to this place being 'the worst'?" she asked cattily.

Sonata shrugged. "Eh. I honestly think it's the company I've been keeping. Besides, there never were that many of our kind in Equestria." She looked around the room. "At least here, I'm the same species as everyone else. Kinda makes stuff like friendship and fitting in and, y'know, sex a lot easier, right?"

"W-well..." Twilight coughed. "I mean, it's not that ponies don't have friends who are other species. I mean, there's tons of cows and donkeys and stuff in Equestria and...oh! Griffons! We know a lot of griffons! And my best friend and number one assistant is a dragon!"

"Yeah, but Sirens are kinda...well...we were pretty much the only three in the whole world," Sonata pointed out. "I mean, we're not quite seaponies and we're not quite dragons. Pretty much the only creature we have anything in common with is Discord!" She snorted derisively. "Like what, I'm just gonna randomly go back and make friends with the spirit of chaos?"

"Well you could," Twilight said lamely. "I mean, he's good now, it's..."

"Twilight?" Sunset said. "Give it up." She shook her head and chuckled. "If Sonata wants to live in this world, that's her choice. We've just gotta figure out how to make it work, that's all."

"Right, sorry," Twilight said sheepishly. "I guess I just...heh." She looked around the room. "So—"

"FLASH? Why are the front windows broken?!"

"Grk—!!" Flash said, pale and sweating. Uncle Rear grimaced.

"Oh horseapples," Sunset grumbled, pinching the bridge of her nose.

The kitchen door opened. A tall, broad-shouldered, pot-bellied man with fading cobalt hair and a thick mustache walked into the room. Next to him stood a woman with long, curly lawn-green hair and high cheekbones, with a sturdy build and wearing a deep maroon dress.

"Girls," Uncle Rear said calmly, "meet Vance Sentry and River Melody. Flash's parents."

A Flash of Remorse

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The kitchen door opened. A tall, broad-shouldered, pot-bellied man with fading cobalt hair and a thick mustache walked into the room. Next to him stood a woman with long, curly lawn-green hair and high cheekbones, with a sturdy build and wearing a deep maroon dress.

"Girls," Uncle Rear said calmly, "meet Vance Sentry and River Melody. Flash's parents."

Sonata tilted her head. "I thought your dad's name was Chop?"

"Nickname," Uncle Rear said absently. "He was a helicopter pilot when we were in the Navy together. Funny story—"

"Rear," Vance said sternly, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Flash," he added with more bite.

"Uhh...h-hey Mom, Dad," Flash said shakily. "Didn't expect you home until—"

"Storm cut our trip short," River said in clipped tones. "Now, explain all this, please."

Flash sighed. "I...honestly can't," he said. "It's been a really crazy day and it's kinda still in the middle of happening."

"Hmm. Well. From the looks of it, you invited a bunch of girls over, the front windows got broken, and..." Vance frowned. "How'd you get mixed up in this, Rear?"

Rear blinked. "What, me? I just came to visit Flash and walked in on a big teenage soap opera," he said. "I called the window guy just before you got here, by the way."

"Let's get back to who broke the bloody windows?!" River snapped.

Everyone pointed to Adagio.

"I'm calling the police right now," Vance said, pulling out his phone.

"And I'm outta here right now," Adagio said, rising to leave.

Sunset gut-checked her and slammed a heel on her foot. Adagio went down with a pained hiss.

"Ow! Dammit, you—"

"No need for the police, Chop," Rear said in a calm tone. "The skank with the big hair is going to pay for the windows, right?"

"I'd rather burn this whole house down with all of you in it!" Adagio snarled.

"Adagio," Twilight said firmly. "You broke their windows. You'll pay for their windows. Or else you'll find out what's worse than being trapped here without your magic."

Adagio glared at her. "You wouldn't," she sneered. "You're far too goody-goody and forgiveness and friendship is magic, I know your kind."

Twilight glared at her, arms folded. "You don't know me as well as you think," she said. "My patience and my general ability to put up with someone's crap only goes so far, and right now, everyone in this room is on thin ice with me." She paused, blinked, then turned to Flash's parents. "Ah! Except you two, we haven't even met, aheh..."

Adagio groaned in frustration. "Fine," she snapped. She reached into her hair and pulled out a money clip, from which she peeled several bills. She practically threw them at Flash's dad. "There," she said. "Enjoy your windows. I'm done with all of this." She stood up and shot Sonata a glare. "Your stuff will be on the curb. You'd better come get it before it all gets stolen." With that, she pushed past Flash's parents and left the house, slamming the front door behind her.

"Wow, what a total bitch," Pinkie commented into the vacuum of sound she left in her wake.

Vance blinked, shook his head, and picked up the money from the floor, idly counting it. His mustache twitched. "Well, that'll fix the windows," he mumbled. "More or less." He sighed and looked around the room. "Alright, I still want an explanation," he said. "What the hell is going on here?"

"Short version?" Sunset spoke up, drawing all attention to her. "Flash let this girl—" she pointed at Sonata. "—crash here last night because the girl that just left here kicked her out last night. Sonata here, umm...kinda tried to pressure Flash to let her crash here indefinitely, and I got tangled up in it, so did Ditzy and, well..." She gestured to the room at large. "Anyway, when we found out just how messed up Sonata's life really is, we all kinda took pity on her, and Flash was willing to talk you two into letting her stay here until she can get her life together." She shrugged helplessly. "That's pretty much where you two came in."

Vance and River glanced at each other. River shrugged. Vance frowned. "And the windows?"

"Adagio got really really mad at me for a text I sent her when she tried to make me come home," Sonata said. "Like, she wanted to kill me she was so mad."

"She's not exactly a nice person," Fluttershy said.

"Maybe you should call the police, Vance," River said.

"Not a good idea," Sunset said. "Trust me, it's better to let it go where it is now. We pick up Sonata's stuff from their place, none of us ever have to see her again, she'll probably blow out of Canterlot with the other one in a month or two and that'll be that. You call the cops on her, you'll make a thing out of it. Then you'll never be rid of her."

"Yeah, being rid of Adagio is better for you, trust me," Sonata said. "You want her hair outta your hair, and getting her arrested is just gonna make her mad."

River frowned. "Flash?" she asked. "Just how did you get mixed up with another deranged sociopath?" She bit her lip, then glanced at Sunset. "No offense."

Sunset rolled her eyes. "None taken," she said with a weary sigh.

"We just...kinda bumped into each other in town last night," Flash said with a shrug.

"Flash," Twilight warned. "Tell them the truth."

Flash paled. Everyone looked to Twilight, then to him. Uncle Rear smirked.

Flash sighed. "Okay, so I was kinda bummed out last night, I met Sonata, she was bummed out because of...well, you saw what she has to put up with." He shrugged. "She came home with me, I guess one thing led to another..." He trailed off, not meeting his parents' gaze.

River shifted awkwardly. Vance made a low sound in his throat. Rear rolled his eyes. "Chop," he drawled, "now you know you brought girls home when you were Flash's age." He folded his arms. "Remember that one time you brought that college girl home, the one you met at a party? What was her name, Tia?" He raised an eyebrow. "I certainly remember. The two of you were so drunk you decided you were gonna try to 'cure me' of being gay, remember?"

"OKAY OKAY!" Vance cried, throwing up his hands in surrender even as a look of pure panic crossed his face. All eyes turned to stare at him in disbelief. Flash, for his part, looked like he was about to be sick. River narrowed her eyes, her frown deepening.

"Vance?" she asked archly.

"I WAS SIXTEEN!" Vance cried defensively. "I didn't even KNOW you then!"

River snorted and folded her arms in a way that said they were absolutely not done talking about it, but relented, casting her eyes to Flash. "So you brought this young lady home and slept with her," she said.

"Y-yeah," Flash said, nodding and swallowing. "A-and then this morning, when I woke up and..." He coughed. "I panicked. I mean, I don't do stuff like this, you know I don't!"

"That's true, he doesn't," Sunset said. "He's too much of a dork to pull something like this most of the time."

"That's true," Vance agreed. At Flash's incredulous look, he raised an eyebrow. "What? You're a dork. Until today, the worst thing you ever did was have Sunset Shimmer as a girlfriend and you know it. Uhh...no offense."

Sunset just sighed and made a roll of her hand for everyone to continue, but her eyes were pointed squarely at Sonata—as were Twilight's and Fluttershy's. Sonata blinked, then sighed and spoke up.

"Umm...so yeah. I...umm...kinda maybe used the sex thing to try to blackmail Flash into letting me stay here?" She put on her best innocent look. "That's...kinda how we got here, with all these other girls showing up and the whole Adagio and the windows thing."

"Yeah, we came to help because we're Sunset's friends, and friends help friends," Pinkie said, pointing to herself and Fluttershy.

"And I just happened to be in town today and got caught up in all this," Twilight said. "Of course, if I hadn't been here, this probably would've ended in somebody getting maimed or killed," she added in an undertone.

"Probably, yeah," Rear agreed. "I don't know exactly what you said that calmed the bitchy hair girl down, but she definitely seemed to not want to push her luck with you."

"Yeah, why is that?" River wondered. "I mean, you don't exactly look like you could take a punk rock skank like that in a fight, or—"

Sunset laughed. River blinked and stared at her. Sunset held up a hand as she struggled to control herself. "S-sorry," Sunset chuckled. "Sorry," she said again once she mostly had calmed down. "No, you're right, Twilight probably wouldn't be much use in a fight here," she said. "But where we come from, she's...well...not somebody you wanna cross. And I'd have beaten Adagio unconscious and dragged her back where we come from, and I can handle myself in a fight, so..."

"Oh God, this is all that crazy magic stuff that's been happening at school lately, isn't it?" River asked shakily. "I swear, you kids and...and whatever crazy thing is happening at that school..."

"Pretty much," Sunset said. "Me, Twilight, Adagio, Sonata here, we're all from the crazy magic place."

"They filled me in on all the details," Uncle Rear said with a grin. "Now I wish I was in town more often!"

Vance frowned. "So let me get this straight," he said, pointing at Sonata. "You tried to blackmail my son into letting you stay here because he slept with you?"

"Umm...yeah," Sonata said. "And that was wrong, and I'm sorry."

"But it's okay, because I get why she did it now," Flash said hastily. "And...and I do kinda still want to let her stay, because...because she needs help. I mean, she wants to be able to make it on her own. If...if she could just crash in the guest room until she can get herself together...?" He gave his parents a pleading look.

Vance and River looked at each other. "We'll think about it," Vance said. "I...guess at the very least, she can stay the night, and...maybe we'd better go pick her stuff up." He sighed. "Flash, Sonata, you'll go with me to do that. Girls? It's time you all went home. Rear, can you stay here with River and look after the house, maybe put tarps up on the windows?"

"Can do!" Rear said with a jaunty salute.

"Umm...Twilight, do you need a ride back to the portal?" Fluttershy asked. "I have to drive Sunset home too, so..."

"I'd appreciate it," Twilight said. "Pinkie's scooter is kind of hard on my butt."

The three girls were halfway to CHS in a van full of gruesome implements of murder when something occurred to Sunset.

"Wait a second," she said. "When Flash's dad was sixteen...a college girl named Tia..." She looked at the others. "You don't think...?"

Fluttershy's eyes widened, and she nearly veered off the road. "Oh my," she whispered, her face burning crimson.

Twilight frowned. "What? I don't get—" Sunset wrote something on a piece of scrap paper, underlined it, and handed it to Twilight. Twilight's eyes widened. "Oh," she said. "Um. Wow. Okay then!"

The rest of the drive back to CHS was really awkward.

A Flash of Resolution

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Some time later...

Sonata Dusk breezed through the front door of the Sentry household, carrying several large plastic bags. "I'm home!" she called. "I brought tacos!"

"Again?" Flash said as he wandered in, studying his phone. "Don't you ever get tired of—"

"Just kidding," Sonata said with a giggle. "I got takeout from that Cat Cafe place that just opened up! You know, the one with that pretty Chineighse waitress with the huge titties you like?" She laughed at Flash's blush and strangled sound as she headed for the kitchen, where she began unpacking boxes of Chineighse takeout.

Vance and River wandered in from elsewhere in the house. "Thanks for picking up dinner, Sonata," River said. "I had a rough day, I'm too tired to cook."

"Oh, it's no problem," Sonata said. She stretched and grimaced, rubbing her back. "Though I think I might have to change my shift schedule. I'm really tired tonight."

"Rough shift?" Flash asked.

"No worse than usual," Sonata said with a shrug and a wince. "Just...tired. Achy. Kinda feel swollen." She finished setting out cartons, then sat down with a weary sigh.

River frowned as she filled glasses with ice and glanced over at Sonata. "You don't look so good," she said. "Maybe you should go to bed early tonight, have a lie-in tomorrow."

"Yeah, might be a good idea," Sonata agreed.

It was a common scene ever since Sonata had moved in. What was originally going to be a couple of nights had become a prolonged arrangement: Sonata had gotten a job at Los Tacos Hermanos, but wasn't earning enough to rent her own place and had no references, so Flash's parents had agreed to "rent" her the guest bedroom indefinitely. In turn, she'd become part of the household, helping with chores and livening up family meals and outings. Adagio and Aria had, as Sunset predicted, skipped town.

As for Flash, his "relationship" with Sonata was more good friends or cousins; they enjoyed spending time together and doing stuff together, but they'd quickly discovered there was no spark between them. Sonata had decided to make it her life's mission to find Flash a perfect girlfriend—but to his consternation, that "life's mission" turned out to mean "tease Flash mercilessly about any girl whose tits she caught him checking out".

As she broke open a steamed pork bun, Sonata looked around the table. "You know, I just wanna thank you guys," she said sincerely. "I mean it. You guys are great. I'm really lucky I ran into Flash that night."

"Well, that certainly was one of the craziest weekends we've ever had," Vance said, "but now that we've gotten to know you, we're happy to have you staying with us for as long as you need."

"Thanks," Sonata said warmly, smiling broadly.

After dinner, River insisted Sonata turn in early. Sonata headed to the bathroom to take care of her nightly ablutions. As she was brushing her teeth, a wave of dizziness washed over her. Once she finished brushing, she frowned at her reflection. Biting her lip, she dug around under her makeup bag for something she'd tucked away out of sight.

Fifteen minutes later, as Flash was heading to his room to finish up some homework, he noticed Sonata sitting on her bed, staring blankly at her feet. He knocked on the open door and leaned in. "Hey, you okay?" he asked.

Sonata looked up at her, then looked away sheepishly. "Umm..." She played with her hair. "Y-yeah, I..." She shook her head. "I'll tell you later. You've got that nasty history test to study for. Don't worry about me."

Flash frowned. "You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure." She smiled brightly. As Flash left, though, the smile fell. Sonata wrung the hem of her shirt, then glanced at her phone. Hesitantly, she reached for it. She tapped Sunset's contact, took a deep breath, then held it up to her ear.

"H-hey, Sunset? I...umm..."