Twilight blinked at the vehement reply, staring at the shaky stallion in front of her. "Oh. I... see. I'm sorry, it's just--"
"Where did you even hear that name!?" Sunburst demanded, pointing a hoof at her... before suddenly realizing she was a princess and backing away. "I mean, not that I need to know, your highness, I just wondered out of purely academic, you know, curiosity, haha, us scholars are certainly a curious bunch you know--"
"Oh no, I completely understand. I used to live in a library, and then another library, and then my second library got blown up so I had to move to a palace. You know how it is." Twilight waved a wing. "Have to adapt to any changes life throws at you."
"Oh, yes, certainly. I mean I never expected a unicorn as weak as me would be Celestia's student even for such a short time... apparently she seeks intelligence over raw power. Which I suppose makes sense, given... certain... things..." Sunburst cleared his throat. "But you already know all about that, I suppose, you've heard about Sunset after all--"
"Actually, I've met her."
"Mmhmm. She stole the element of magic, I had to chase her into another world where we were both these strange stick creatures with spider hooves, and after I defeated her she was so distraught that I couldn't just leave her there, so I got some of the natives to help her turn her life around and we became friends after that." Twilight tilted her head. "Kind of Starlight in retrospect, except Starlight is still in Equestria."
Sunburst's glasses slid down his snout, almost falling off before he pushed them back up. "You've... met... Sunset Shimmer."
The alicorn nodded happily. "I could introduce you two if you like--"
"NO! I mean, I couldn't possibly!" Sunburst laughed, his eyes darting left and right. "Breaking the fabric of reality just to hop to another world and introduce me to one of Celestia's other students who I have definitely never met is probably far too much for somepony like me, you know, I'm not nearly that important..."
"Well, we don't have to go to the other world." Twilight rummaged through her saddlebags. "I happen to have... aha! Here it is. This journal is linked to another one that Sunset has; whatever's written in one will appear in the other."
"Oh. Really?" Sunburst coughed. "You... haven't mentioned me to her, have you?"
"Well, I only learned about you a few weeks ago," Twilight admitted, "and that was during the whole thing with Starlight, so it hasn't really come up. But now that I know you were also Celestia's student around the same time she was--"
"Oh, Celestia had a LOT of students at that time, I'm sure!" Sunburst grinned broadly. "I wouldn't want to bother the legendary Sunset Shimmer about me, I'm just a random stallion, you know, nothing worth writing about ever--"
"Don't be so hard on yourself! You were instrumental in restoring the Crystal Heart and you're the crystaller to a baby alicorn! I'm sure she'd be proud of you."
"Proud? Sunset Shimmer? Jealous would be more like it. Seriously, don't bother her on my account--"
"Look," Twilight interrupted gently, "I know that she used to be... well, very cruel. But she's changed, really. You have absolutely nothing to be worried about."
"Besides, you reconnected with Starlight easily enough," she continued, casually opening the journal. "I'm sure this will be--"
She gasped as the quill in her magical grip burst into flames.
"...choo!" Sunburst covered his nose. "Sorry. Sneezed. Must have accidentally cast a fire spell. Whoops! Good thing I didn't hit the journal."
"Oh, I enchanted it to be virtually indestructable," Twilight assured him. "After what happened to my library, I wasn't going to risk such a precious book. And luckily enough, I always carry backup quills!"
Sunburst's eyes widened as she pulled an array of colorful feathers from her saddlebags. "Oh! I guess that is--" His horn lit up suddenly, beams of light lancing out at the array. "Choo! Choo! Sorry, I--choo! Must have got--choo! A cold from--choo! The blizzard! Choo! Choo! Choo!"
He gasped, letting out a few pants of breath as the last of the feathers disintegrated. "Oh dear. All of your quills, gone? I'm so sorry, princess. I'll personally pay for replacements--"
"Oh, well, I guess now would be as good a time as any to test this out." Twilight pulled a small rod out. "It's called a ball-point pen, it's like a quill but made of something called plastic."
"Plastic," she gently corrected. "It's almost impossible to set this on fire."
The stallion watched in abject horror as the metal tip of the tiny rod hit the journal's blank page, unable to do anything as she spoke what she was writing out loud.
Dear Sunset, we've had an incredible day over here! I am now an aunt to an adorable alicorn filly, and while there were some problems with her crystalling they were solved with the help of Starlight's old friend Sunburst and she is now officially a member of the Crystal Empire. Incidentally, Sunburst was apparently a student of Celestia at around the same time you were, so I was wondering if you ever heard of him--I have him right here if you want to talk.
Twilight smiled at Sunburst as she shut the journal. "And now all we have to do is wait. It's the weekend, so I don't know how long it will take for her to respond--"
The book buzzed.
"Oh, that was fast." Twilight opened it again. "Let's see what she had to say..."
Holy heck, Sunburst?! Oh my god I can't believe it! How's he doing?
The princess rose an eyebrow, looking from the journal to the stallion who was somehow sweating despite the snow still around them.
He seems to be doing pretty well. Did you know him?
Did I know him? Twilight Sparkle, I used to be him!
"What?!" Twilight shrieked.
"OOOOKay, that was fun!" Sunburst reached out. "Why don't we just put the journal away now and--?"
The alicorn levitated it away from his hoof, writing frantically on the page.
Used to be him? What are you talking about?!
Well, you see, I--well, Sunburst wasn't very popular at magic school, despite being Celestia's student. So when this big gala came up he couldn't get a date, so instead he found some obscure spell to create a construct he could take and claim was his mare--and what he got was a prettyer femaler clone of him with all his memories. God that was awkward!
"I'm totally sure that whatever she's talking about isn't important at all--"
"Let me get this straight. You couldn't find a date, so you made one?!"
Sunburst bit his lip. "...um. Y....yes? In my defense, I was... not really liked by anyone, and I kinda wanted to show off, and... I was young and stupid..."
Twilight glanced at the journal as it buzzed again.
Celestia was ticked, let me tell you. I mean, just creating life like that, kind of a big deal. Didn't help that I was in the middle of a breakdown, you know, the usual 'am I real' kinda thing you read in sci-fi, but the gala went pretty good despite all that. Man, some of the things I said to him though--can you let him know I'm sorry about yelling at him? I've moved beyond all that. Actually, can you hand him the journal for a moment?
Sunburst shivered as Twilight looked from the journal to him. "She wants to talk to you."
"I.... well." Sunburst shook his head. "I don't know if that's a good idea, I.... uh--"
Hello? Twi? You still there? Darn it, I wish this thing had speakerphone...
"Speakerphone... That's it!" Twilight grinned, lighting up her horn. "I'll just cast a speech-to-text spell on the pen and then we can both talk to her!"
"No wait don't-!"
do that, it's a very oh you did it.
Hi Sunset! I cast a speech-to-text spell on the pen over here! Now we can all talk to each other!
That's... that's brilliant! Why didn't I ever think of that?!
"Well, you just did," Twilight pointed out. "The thing about the speakerphone is what inspired me. Anyway, now you and Sunburst can catch up and explain why the heck I was never told you were a clone."
Oh, you know, Celestia wanted to treat me like an actual person, and I wanted to prove I could be a 'real unicorn' so I tried to outdo him and I think that kind of depressed him for some reason? I dunno. Maybe I reminded him of Starlight--
Wait a second! The Starlight Glimmer you told me about! Sunburst, is it the same Starlight we used to crush on?
Sunburst said absolutely nothing, his blush growing as Twilight stared at him.
Oh my god! That's just... wow, that's amazing! Man, we used to think she was so cute... how about it, Sunburst? Is she still cute... or is she sexyfine now?
"Oh sweet Celestia," Sunburst moaned, falling to the ground.
I'm taking that as a yes. You know what, go for her! I mean, from what Twilight's told me she's done some crazy stuff, but so have I and since I'm you, that means you're totally cool. I bet she'll love Spicy. You still have Spicy right?
"What's Spicy?" Twilight asked.
"....it's my beard."
"You.... named your beard?"
"...Huh. I guess it's not any stranger than Applejack naming her legs."
Speaking of which, how are Starlight's legs, Sunburst? Are they still as sleek as they were when we were kids?
"I'm just going to roll over and die now." Sunburst covered his face. "Roll over, and die."
Alright, bro, I'll stop yanking your chain.
Would you prefer 'Dad' instead?
"Ew no. We kissed that one time!"
Yeah, that was weird, looking back on it. But seriously, bro, I'll lay off.
"I'm not sure whether to be amused or terrified," Twilight remarked.
"Yeah..." Sunburst sighed. "So, uh... how have you been, Sunset?"
Mixed bag. After I ran away, I spent a few weeks on the streets, then manipulated myself into the top tier of a local institution, then I lost it all when I went back to steal a crown, but then I saved them from these crazy fish ladies, so they started liking me again, and then I saved them again and yeah. Right now things are pretty good, got friends, got something to do with my life, and, you know, plenty of hot girls all around--not dating any of them yet, but who knows?
"Huh. You know, I thought ponies would be turned off by the glasses."
Actually they have something here called contact lenses. Amazing really. Also they're not ponies, they're humans. And also I have to meet up with the girls now. Bye for now--oh! And get after Starburst, you lazy colt!
The journal ceased its incessant buzzing, and after a moment Twilight shut it. She turned to Sunburst. "...Well, that was interesting."
"Please don't tell anypony. Please don't." Sunburst clutched at her leg. "I'll do anything. I'll do your taxes. I'll sort your books, uh, bake your meals--lock me up in a room and make me your plaything if you have to but don't let anybody know!"
"Alright! Alright, I won't tell anyone. Promise."
"OH THANK YOU, MERCIFUL ONE! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!"
"Hey Twilight, I just got done.... uh...."
Starlight Glimmer stood in the doorway, staring at the scene in confusion.
"...why is Sunburst kissing your hoof?"
"...Princess," the stallion said with utmost sincerity, "please just kill me now."