Sunset Past the Horizon

by Ponealone

First published

Things happen when Anon-a-miss doesn't fess up. Good things and bad things, but mostly bad things.

Sunset Shimmer's friends meant the world to her. After having recently defeated the Dazzlings with the power of friendship she felt like her friendships with those five girls would last forever. Unfortunately, those friendships are gone now. After being successfully framed as the cyberbully Anon-a-miss, Sunset loses her friends and her purpose. To make matters worse Sunset knew who Anon-a-miss was, but nobody believed her. Can she still clear her name? Does it even matter anymore?

Chapter 1: Rumination

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“Ding-a-ling” sounded a tiny bell fixed above the door. A fiery haired girl ran into the pastry shop panting. She let the door swing closed behind her sounding the tiny bell once again. A table seating five girls all turned their heads to the source of the disruption and their eyes widened when they saw who approached them.

“Hey! GET OUT!” Rainbow Dash shouted.

Applejack eyed the intruder with contempt. “Yer not welcome here, Sunset!”

Sunset held her hands up in a yielding gesture. “No, wait please!”

The girls spared Sunset a moment to hear her out.

“I know you don't trust me a-and I can't prove I'm innocent but please—” She unzipped her bag and removed a thick book bearing a stylized picture of the sun on the front cover and handed it over.

“Look at this. I've been telling Twilight everything that's been happening and she reminded me. You're more than my friends. You're my family. You know me better than anyone. Ask yourself, would the Sunset Shimmer you know, the real Sunset Shimmer, the person I am now. Would she do this?”

“If-if you're not Anon-a-miss then who is?” Fluttershy asked.

“That's what I've been trying to figure out. AJ, you said us and your family are the only ones who knew your nickname, right?”

“Yeah... But I know none of my family would tell, and I trust you five, you four.”

“Maybe someone overheard it?” Rainbow Dash said.

“Maybe... but what about the party photos? I had my phone with me the whole time after the party...” Sunset said.

“And the only people at the party were us! Well, and my family, of course,” Rarity said.

“Your family? Wait!” A look of sudden realization struck Sunset's face. “Dash, Anon-a-miss posted a science paper you wrote, right?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“Did you have soccer practice the day you got that paper back?”

“Soccer practice? Um, yeah.”

“And the junior team was practicing too, right?”

“Well, sure. They usually do.”

“I know who Anon-a-miss is. It's Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo.”

The bell on the front door rang as it swung open and the three young girls Sunset just named coincidentally appeared.

“Hey, Applebloom and friends, come here for a minute ah gotta ask y'all something.”

“W-what is it sis?” Applebloom grinned nonchalantly.

“You and yer friends ain't Anon-a-miss are you?”

“Anon-a-miss? No way would we do somethin' awful like that. Right guys?” The other two nodded in agreement.

Applejack squinted with a pensive look. “That's what I thought. Well, that's it. Run along now.” The three girls scurried away.

Sunset's blood ran cold. “I-I was sure it was them. That doesn't make any sense, nobody else could have done it! They must be lying!” She regretted her accusation the moment it left her lips.

Applejack bared her teeth and clenched her fists. “The only liar here is you! How dare you try an pin yer crimes on mah little sister! Take yer book of lies and get!”

“Yeah! Take this, and get the hell away from us you demon!” Rainbow Dash pitched the journal full force at Sunset's stunned face. Everything went white.

Snowflakes drifted down from the bright overcast sky peppering everything below with white. Trickles of sunlight struggled through the thick clouds shining barely enough to signify early morning. The motes of ice illuminated by the gentle rays of the sun settled on the windowsill of a frost glazed window attached to a second story apartment. A single dove perched by the window preened its feathers before taking off in a panic when a sudden startled gasping erupted from inside the building.

“Ahh! No!” Sunset exclaimed as she was jolted awake. Pale light stung her eyes prompting a reflexive twist back down on her pillow resting in a comfortable shadow. A shiver came over her body as the frigid air penetrated the sheets. Sunset pulled the covers tighter over herself.

“Not again...” She mumbled under her foggy breath.

Though it had only been about two weeks since the girls exiled her, this morning Sunset felt like she had never been happy once in her whole life. Her memory of spending winters by herself when she had first come to this world had begun to bleed into her memory of the recent weeks. As she drifted out of sleep the memory she was running away from the most suddenly flooded back. Sunset clenched her fists and let out a heartbroken whimper. Tears streamed sideways across her face into her pillow. She curled into a ball as the scene replayed in her head. Her former friends gathered in the hall. Applejack showed pictures Sunset took on her phone at Rarity's sleepover posted on social media by a user named “Anon-a-miss”. The hurtful things each of them said to her as they ended their friendship on the spot were seared into her memory.

“We trusted you Sunset! We thought you were our friend!”

“How could you do this? After all we've been through together?”

“You must have been pretending to be our friend, when all along you were just after our secrets! You—you secret stealer!”

“You're not the person we thought you were! You're not our friend!”

The book on Sunset's nightstand began to glow and vibrate. Sunset lethargically reached for the book and flipped it open.

“Hey Sunset, I just got your message. I'm so sorry I took so long, I think something's seriously wrong with the connection, but more importantly are you alright? How did confronting the girls go?”

Sunset grabbed her pen and began writing. ”Where were you Twilight? You weren’t there when I needed you.”

“I’m sorry, It’s just that I had some business to take care of in the Crystal Empire and then when I got back the portal wouldn’t work for a week. I still don’t exactly know what’s wrong with it. Sunset, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine. It’s not your fault the stupid old mirror doesn't work. The girls though, they didn't believe me.”

“What? How? What did you say to them?”

“Exactly what I told you I'd say, but they didn't believe me. Those three little liars denied everything. I just don't know what to do anymore.”

More tears streamed down her cheeks as words magically appeared in her book.

“Sunset... I don't know what to say. I mean you found the culprits, I was certain that would clear your name. No, this isn't what I thought would happen. This is unforgivable, I am coming over there right now.” Sunset wiped the tears from her eyes.

“You're too late. I don't think things are going to be the same anymore. Even if you do convince them what if Apple Bloom and her friends don't confess? The entire school hates me Twilight. They hate me even more than back in the old days.”

“You're not just going to give up are you?”

“Last week when I ate lunch alone behind the school I was cornered by some Anon-a-miss victims. They tried to hurt me and I almost didn't get away. Twilight, I don't know how much more I can take. What should I do?” Sunset rubbed her puffy red eyes as she waited for a reply.

“You can always come back home to Equestria.”

“No. I mean I don't know. I know things are bad here, but I don't have the courage to face Princess Celestia just yet. I don't know what's worse though, being alone in an alternate dimension, or whatever punishment Princess Celestia is going to give me for stealing that crown. Anyways, thanks Twilight. You're the only one I can turn to these days, it means a lot to me. I just wish you could have helped me sooner.”

“Don't worry Sunset I'll do everything in my power to help you get through this. I won't fail you twice. I promise.”

She closed the book and sat it on her nightstand. A quick glance at the clock showed it was nearly time to leave to class. Sunset made her way to her bathroom. The mirror reflected back a girl with messy red and gold hair, sullen bloodshot eyes, and dried streaks of tears down her cheeks. The rusted hot water knob squeaked as she turned it, and a flow of cold water sputtered out. Sunset washed her face, brushed her teeth, and organized her hair. She went to change out of her pajamas, but realized that her emotional exhaustion and subsequent fourteen hours of sleep from the day prior left her already wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Too depressed and groggy to care about breakfast or not wearing the same soiled shirt for another day, Sunset put on her signature black leather jacket, put on her scarf, grabbed her book bag, and headed out on her way to school.

Sunset wasn't sure why she was going to school today. Maybe today's the day her friends will realize the error of their ways and offer their deepest most sincere apologies. Hearing their pleas of forgiveness Sunset could deliver a cool line like I believe in second chances, they would all cry and group hug and everything would be okay.

“Yeah that's what's going to happen today,” the jaded girl mumbled under her breath. Sunset approached the front of her school when something purple in the window of a passing school bus caught her eye.

“Hey was tha— oof!” A passing student violently shoved Sunset to the ground causing her to drop her books. She didn't say anything as she recovered her books while students around her laughed and jeered. A bell sounded and she quickly snatched up the last one and hurried to class.

* * *

Class wasn't terribly eventful although it was the last regular school day before the midterm exams. Sunset carelessly crammed her untouched review worksheet into her bag and left her desk. Leaving the classroom, a group of nearby students threatened and insulted her while another shoved her against the lockers as she passed them in the hall. Over the past week Sunset has gotten used to the casual violence in the halls, she even learned through trial and error various maneuvers to lessen the impact of the abuse. She gracefully rolled and rebounded off the lockers she was callously pushed against and with an outstretched middle finger she swiftly continued on her way to a desolate area behind the school. It was cold outside, but it definitely beat the harassment from the students in the cafeteria. Nobody would let her sit with them anyway. Crouching near a dumpster Sunset was careful to remain hidden in case the gang of students from last week come by again seeking their misguided revenge. Upon unzipping her backpack's zipper she was surprised to find that she didn't make herself a lunch today. A wave of resignation washed over her and conveniently ruined her appetite as she sank against the cold brick wall of the school.

“Sunset?” a voice called out from an arms length away. Sunset leapt to her feet poised to run away when she recognized her spiky blue haired ex-boyfriend standing just around the red brick corner of the school trying to hide his cigarette behind his back.

“Flash... I didn't know you smoked.” She said as she let her guard down.

“You're not going to tell anyone are you?” Flash nervously brought the cigarette to his lips and took a drag.

“Of course not! But I'm not surprised if you don't believe me.” Sunset put her back against the brick wall and slid back down into a sitting position. Over the past few weeks Sunset noticed that Flash Sentry was among the very few students who did not harbor any ill intent towards her. A question formed in her mind, but was answered before she could ask it.

“Nuh uh, you got me wrong Shimmy, I know you're not Anon-a-miss. I was worried that you'd like, care too much about my health and try to get me to quit or something.” Flash blew a thick cloud of smoke.

Sunset blushed at hearing her old pet name while she waved the smoke out of her face and tried not to cough. “You know I'm not Anon-a-miss? How? And no. Smoking is bad, but what you do with your body is none of my business.”

“Remember back when we were a thing I let slip all sorts of deep personal things about myself?”

“Yeah... how could I forget?”

“All that stuff would have been some great gossip material for the Anon-a-miss page, but none of it made it on. Instead she posted about me being in the—” He paused and groaned. “Girl's bathroom.” He begrudgingly mumbled.

Sunset blushed with secondhand embarrassment. “Wait what? Why were you in the girl's bathroom?”

“It was an accident! I swear! I was playing a game on my phone while walking to the bathroom and I wasn't paying attention. I walked into the bathroom and got confused when I couldn't find any urinals. Then, I realized where I was and freaked out. I almost knocked over this screaming freshman girl when I got the heck out.”

Sunset's face changed colors from her restrained laughter. “Don't worry about it too much Flash it happens to the best of—” She couldn't finish her sentence before succumbing to laughter. She immediately disguised her suppressed outburst as a coughing fit to protect Flash's pride.

“Hey, uh are you alright?”

Sunset composed herself. “Yeah I'm fine, a uh bug went in my mouth.”

“That's gnarly.” Flash was convinced. “Anyway, back to my point. If you were Anon-a-miss, she doesn't seem to mind spilling everyone's deepest darkest secrets so I was pretty surprised when she didn't post any of my real stuff, y'know? Also, from the website design it's obvious someone is trying to frame you. If you wanted to fling dirt without anyone knowing it's you then you wouldn't make your profile pic your silhouette and the theme your hair colors. You're way too smart for that.” Flash took another drag as Sunset moved upwind of the cigarette smoke.

“That's... actually... the best thing I've heard in weeks! Now there are two people who think I'm innocent. You and Twilight.” Sunset's face brightened up considerably.

“Twilight!?” Flash's face flushed red and the cigarette fell out of his mouth.

“Yep, Twilight.” Sunset noticed Flash's reaction. “You like her don't you?” Sunset teased.

“O...of course I like her everyone does.” his face returned to it's original hue as he crossed his arms and looked away.

“Yep, they do.”

An uncomfortable silence followed. Sunset pulled out her phone and pretended to check it. Moments passed before a thought crossed her mind.

Sunset sighed. “Hey Flash.”


“I never apologized to you for the way I was back then, did I?” Sunset asked, as she fidgeted with her hair.

“I... I don't remember.” Flash looked away.

“Well, I'm sorry for how I was back then and for how I treated you. You're a great guy and you didn't deserve any of... that. And um well, I was kinda wondering—”

“Hey If it isn't Anon-a-miss, trying to dig up dirt on Brad are ya?” A white feathery haired student interrupted. A group of four students with malicious grins approached Sunset from seemingly out of nowhere.

“Huh?” Sunset gasped and spun her head around in surprise as she felt her phone swiftly disappear from her hand.

“Hey! Give that back to her!” Flash yelled.

“Hell no, I bet she has dirt for this week's posts on this thing.” Gilda snapped the aluminum bodied smartphone in half with her bare hands and casually tossed it into the nearby dumpster.

“HEY!!!” Sunset exclaimed as Flash stood looking more upset than her.

“Now that I took care of that how about I break something else in half?” Gilda cracked her knuckles and her gang grinned menacingly.

“Leave Sunset alone! She hasn't done anything wrong!” Flash took a step forward putting himself between the group and Sunset.

“Airing out the entire school isn't wrong? Move it prince charming, we're gonna teach her a lesson.” Gilda put her hand on Flash's shoulder to push him aside, but he didn't budge.

“I SAID. LEAVE. SUNSET. ALONE.” Flash scowled, the hand left Flash's shoulder and the three lackeys each took a step back.

“Poor son of a bitch must be being blackmailed into being a bodyguard.” Gilda said.

“Well if that's how its gonna be then...” A fist made contact with Flash's stomach completely winding him. While doubled over in pain Gilda slugged him again in the side of the face sending him to the ground.

“Flash! No!” Sunset shouted. Flash's vision turned red with rage. He got back on his feet.

Gilda rose her eyebrows. “Persistent are we? Hey Fido you take ca—”

Flash swung his right fist with the full weight of his body backing it clean into the center of Gilda's antagonizing face producing a sickening crack. Gilda shot backwards further than expected and slammed the back of her head against the sturdy post of a chain link fence. She landed motionless in a hunched over position with her arms curled inwards. A small pool of blood formed by her head on the hard frozen concrete. The three other troublemakers gasped in terror and ran away as fast as they could.

“Flash... what did you do? I mean thank you for standing up for me, but I think that was a little too much...” Sunset's voice was exasperated with worry.

“Oh man, I'm in deep trouble now.” Flash reached his bleeding right hand to a bruised spot on his cheek.

“Flash you're hurt, I'm so sorry I shouldn't have gotten you involved in my mess.” Still rattled, she wrapped her arms around him out of reflex.

“Sunset, actually I'm sorry.”

“What? Shut up, you don't have anything to be sorry for. Come on, we need to get you help.” She helped steady his dizzy stagger.

“No. Wait, this has been weighing on my mind for a while now. I need to tell you this.”

Sunset's eyes widened as his words piqued her interest. “What is it?”

Flash took a deep breath. “I... knew about the trouble you were in. I overheard your friends shunning you in the hallway that day, but I didn't do anything to help. I was worried that if I stood up for you then everyone would also go after me. I was a coward, but I don't care about that anymore. Someone wanted to seriously hurt you, Sunset. This has gone too far, even if you actually were Anon-a-miss this isn't the answer.” Noticing tears forming in Sunset's eyes, he tightened their embrace.

“What should we do about her?” A pair of worried opal eyes were fixed upon a bloody and motionless mass on the floor.

“Go tell Principal Celestia about this right away. I'm hauling her to the nurse.” Flash released Sunset and hoisted Gilda up over his shoulder. Blood dripped on his jacket from the girl's shattered face.

“Be honest about what happened. It wouldn't be right if I got off easy for this.” Sunset nodded at his request and he began dragging the limp body to the nurse's office.

Sunset stood dazed for a second trying to process what just happened before taking a few steps back and making a mad dash for the principal's office.

Chapter 2: Consequences

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Standing before a sturdy oaken door with a brass placard reading “Principal's Office” Sunset gathered her thoughts. Although she came here to tell Principal Celestia about the fight, Sunset was certain that the dreaded topic of Anon-a-miss would come up in conversation. Sunset recounted her previous visit sometime after the Anon-a-miss incidents began when she informed Principal Celestia that the identity of Anon-a-miss was Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. Principal Celestia said that she would look into the matter and Sunset hadn't heard anything since. It dawned on her that it had been a week since that meeting. She meant to follow up on the visit, but the abuse from the other students and the rejection from her former friends left her feeling too down in the dumps to act as her usual proactive self. Then again, does it even matter, if Principal Celestia declares her innocent? If those three girls don't publicly confess then it doesn't matter what anyone says. Everyone would assume Principal Celestia is mistaken and nothing would change. Even if by some stroke of luck that were to happen, Sunset may never be able to trust her friends ever again. A thought crossed her mind, but vanished when she noticed how long she had been starring at the door. Sunset took a deep breath and knocked.

“Come in.” said a calm voice on the other side of the door. Sunset turned the knob and stepped into the room closing the door behind her. Principal Celestia was sitting serenely at her desk while vice principal Luna stood by her side.

“Hello Sunset, what can I help you with?” Principal Celestia asked in a neutral tone wearing an equally neutral expression on her face.

“There was a fight behind the school.” Sunset replied.

“Another Anon-a-miss related altercation I presume?”

“Well sorta, I'll start at the beginning.” Honoring Flash's request to be honest about what happened, Sunset recounted the events that transpired behind Canterlot High sparing no detail other than Flash Sentry's smoking habit.

“Thank you for telling me Sunset.” Her stoic expression showed cracks of worry.

Sliding her chair back in preparation to leave Sunset gave her parting words. “Well I better be going now.”

“Wait one moment Sunset, we still have something to discuss.”

Sunset's felt her heart rate jump as she unnervingly shifted her weight back down into the chair. “Is this about Anon-a-miss?”

“I'm afraid so.” Principal Celestia took a sip of her coffee.

“I told you last time! It isn't me! I told you exactly who it is and if you would just search their phones you would find proof!”

“Sunset, we did search their phones and we didn't find anything.”

Sunset's blood ran cold. “N-no no way it has to have been there.”

“Sunset, there is no evidence that those three girls had anything to do with this.” Principal Celestia took another sip of coffee while Sunset stared at her shoes.

“I'm sorry Sunset, I really am, but I'm afraid that for the sake of both you and the other students I'm going to suggest that you transfer schools.”

Sunset jolted her head back up a hint of tears were forming in her eyes. Did she hear that properly? Did Principal Celestia really just say that? Out of everyone who Sunset expected to believe her, Principal Celestia with her familiar aura of wisdom was the last person Sunset would expect to betray her. She should have been expecting this. If her closest friends didn't believe her then it should follow that nobody else would.

With a quivering voice, Sunset shouted, “What!? Transfer!? You... you don't believe me, do you? I already said, I didn't do it! I told you who the real culprits are! Why won't you believe me!? Why!?”

Principal Celestia's facial expression changed to one of earnest concern. She spoke slowly and comfortingly. “Sunset. I undoubtedly believe that you are completely innocent.”

A single tear fell from Sunset's salty expression before her face softened. She asked softly. “Then why? Why do I have to go?”

“Because I want you to be safe. Because I want you to be happy. Because I care about you Sunset. You've come so far so fast and it breaks my heart seeing this happen to you.” Principal Celestia's eyes were getting misty and Vice principal Luna broke out in belligerent sobbing behind her clipboard.

“We had our own investigation into Anon-a-miss, but we couldn't do anything to stop her, and now there are students who want to hurt each other, and hurt you. I have failed in my duty to protect several of my students already. Please don't let me fail to protect you.”

Sunset watched a tear leave Principal Celestia's eye. “I'll do it. I'll change schools. Thank you Principal Celestia. I gotta ask though. Where am I going?”

“The only other school in the district is Crystal Prep Academy which has high standards when it comes to accepting students. With your grades you might not ordinarily be admitted, but I can pull some strings and put in a good word for you with principal Cinch. I have the paperwork right here for you to fill out.”

Sunset quietly filled out the sheets as Vice Principal Luna regained control of her emotions.

“Okay. I'm done.” Sunset stood up slowly and the two administrators followed her to the door.

Sunset closed in for a hug with Principal Celestia. “Be strong Sunset.”

“I will. Thank you for believing in me. I'm sorry I doubted you.”

“I hope you have a fantastic winter break,” Principal Celestia said as they separated.

“Thanks, you too,” Sunset said before turning to Vice Principal Luna.

“Sunset! You're such a good girl!” Vice Principal Luna flung her soggy clipboard to the ground, embraced the girl tightly, and sobbed into her hair.

“Be strong Vice Principal Luna.”

Sunset's head was spinning. “Transfer...” she mumbled. The thought actually crossed her mind for a split second before she stepped into the office, but to have it thrust upon her so suddenly was disorientating. In her heart she knew that this was inevitable. Maybe a change of scenery could do her some good, or perhaps she should just return to Equestria the moment she leaves this office. Either way her best move at the moment was to accept Principal Celestia's offer.

Feeling defeated Sunset started down the desolate hallway crestfallen and gazing at the floor. She took a few steps before bumping into something.

“Sunset? Is everything alright? How did it go in there? And um, you didn't notice me calling your name over and over or that I'm standing right in front of you.” Sunset rested her forehead on something warm and breathing.

“Sunset...” Flash stood there awkwardly trying to get a response.

“Sunset!” Flash gripped the girl's shoulder with his bandaged hand and shook.

Sunset looked up with her dejected face and responded, “I'm transferring schools.”

“What!? Seriously? Where?”

“Crystal Prep Academy.” She rubbed her bloodshot eyes.

“Oh. So is this some part of a plan or...”

“No Flash, this is it. Anon-a-miss wins. Everyone hates me. I lose. I won't be here after break, it’s for the best. I need some time to clear my head and find out what to do with myself. Good thing I've got a couple weeks to do that starting right now.” She felt a slight bit of relief as the reality sank in that today was the last day of school before winter break.

“Sunset, I want to go with you to Crystal Prep.”

Sunset jolted her head up wearing a worried face. “Flash! You can't! What about your friends?”

“Um yeah about that. In the forty minutes since I punched out Gilda word got around on social media that I was helping you and well... I kinda don't have friends anymore either... Yeah.” Flash held up his phone showing a deluge of abusive messages in his notifications.

“Flash, I'm so sorry I never should have gotten you involved.” Sunset began crying again.

“Whoa hey calm down it's alright they were shitty friends anyway, its cool.”

“B-but” Sunset stuttered.

“No seriously, Sandalwood only ever talks about how he vapes weed and drops acid and thinks everyone else should too and Chips always finds a way to turn every conversation to either some nerd stuff I don't care about or that show for little girls he's obsessed with.” Sunset giggled a bit and quickly calmed down.

She rubbed her teary eyes. “How are your grades? You need a high GPA to get into Crystal prep.”

“Basically straight B's. I know I don't look like it, but I take school super crazy seriously. I'm actually kinda freaking out over this, oh snap, I hope this doesn't affect my college applications. Seriously though, what did the principal say about me?”

Sunset held a quizzical expression. “Actually she didn't say anything. Oh which reminds me what happened with Gilda?”

“Oh man, so I dragged her to the nurse and the nurse practically screamed and immediately called an ambulance. It came and took her to the hospital, then I went back to the nurse and got cleaned up. She really wasn't happy giving medical care to what she called 'a monster who hits girls'.”

“Woah, you sent her to the hospital. Principal Celestia isn't going to be happy about that. Speaking of which you should probably go in and talk with her now.”

“Hah right, them zero tolerance policies are gonna come in handy. I'll see you on campus next semester, Shadowbolt!”

“Good luck Flash!” Sunset smiled brightly and waved at Flash. Sunset was glad she didn't have to go through this alone, but she still felt guilt for getting the only other student on campus who believes her into so much trouble. Leaving this dimension was always an option, but for Flash's sake Sunset was leaning on staying. Thankfully, she had the rest of break to figure everything out. Sunset ditched the rest of her classes and headed for the school's exit stepping into the sun with a bittersweet smile on her face.

Chapter 3: Calm

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The patchy grey sky dusted the scenery with snow until the silver clouds parted and revealed a glimpse of bright sunlight. Sunset had the best night's rest she had in a while. She hopped out of bed and watched the snowy scene visible from her window. A dove landed on her windowsill and took off again. Sunset smiled as the sunlight on her face left her feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. However, she was unsure how exactly she should take on the day. With nothing school related to complete, no errands or chores in imminent need of attention, and no friends to spend the holidays with, she found herself feeling at a loss for what to do with her free time. With a pensive look she paced her room trying to decide on something to do. Her eyes drifted to the commemorative Wondercolts calendar tacked on the back of her bedroom door. This Saturday was circled in red with the words Sleepover @ Applejack’s. Her pace slowed as sudden feelings of emptiness crept into her gut and she felt the urge to cry.

“No! I was having a good day! Why can't I stop thinking about them?” She yelled in frustration, tore the calendar down, and violently hurled it in the small office trash bin next to her door.

She brought both hands to her face. “I really need to do something to get my mind off of this.”

Sunset rubbed her eyes, no tears. “Okay, I decided. I'm going out for breakfast.”

She quickly finished her morning routine and was out the door.

* * *

Sunset stood before a colorful establishment reading The Sweet Shoppe. This pastry shop was the favorite hang out spot of her former friends and Pinkie's place of employment. Sunset figured she might as well eat here for the last time, since after winter break officially begins for the rest of CHS the girls will be practically living here. A bell rings as she enters.

“Welcome to The Sweet Shoppe what can I get you,” a monotonous voice greeted.

“Maud? You work here?”

“Yes.” A long uncomfortable silence followed.

“Er well, anyways I'll have a croissant, a bear claw, an apple fr- I mean cupca- I mean scone and a small coffee,” she stammered. Being in the building was already making her nostalgic, no need to overdo it.

Maud prepared Sunset's order. “That will be seven dollars.”

Sunset paid in exact change.

“Thank you. Have a nice day. I left you something extra,” Maud deadpanned.

“Thanks Maud.” Sunset left the shop.

Holding her bag of pastries and her black coffee Sunset looked both ways down the sidewalk before picking a direction to go. After walking for a bit she ended up at a small park. She sat down on a bench and balanced her coffee precariously on the narrow armrest. Absentmindedly, she opened the bag of pastries and grabbed something cold and hard.

Huh, must have gotten something stale. Oh well, I paid for it might as well eat it. Sunset rose the fist sized igneous rock to her mouth.

“Sunset? Why are you eating a rock?” a deep voice asked from her immediate right.

“A what?” Sunset realized she was holding a rock to her mouth. “Oh, I thought that croissant was kinda heavy.” She sat the rock down on the bench.

“You feeling alright?”

“Yeah I'm fine.” Sunset looked at the ground. “What are you doing at the park Flash?”

“Just getting some fresh air.” Flash took a drag on his cigarette. “Mind if I sit with you?”

Sunset tossed the rock off of the bench startling some birds. “Sure.” Flash flicked his cigarette out in a public ashtray and took a seat.

“So how did things go with Principal Celestia yesterday?” Sunset asked.

Flash frowned. “She kept quiet when I gave her my story, then she got scary when she lectured me about the fight. She said that we should have gone to her instead of me taking matters into my own hands. I think she was right.”

“Flash... you handled the situation just fine. Don't worry so much.”

“No you don't get it.” Flash paused. “Gilda, she's in a coma.” Flash starred at the ground and sighed.

Sunset held her hands to her mouth in shock and gasped.

“Yeah, I actually found out about it last night when I went to go delete mystable. Word got around that she's in a coma with a broken nose, fractured skull, and a severe concussion. I feel really bad about it. I keep replaying it in my head. When she punched me I should have just grabbed you and ran. I don't know what came over me, I've never done anything like that before. Now, because of me there's a girl in the hospital and if she never wakes up then that makes me a murderer.” Flash clutched his head and rested his elbows on his knees.

Sunset put a hand on his shoulder. “No Flash. You didn't do anything wrong, she did. You were only trying to protect me. If you hadn't intervened when you did, I could be the one in a coma right now.”

“Sunset...” Flash sat back up. His eyes looked watery.

“You hungry? Want a pastry?” She held out the bag of baked goods.

“Maybe a little. Rip me off part of that frosted thing.”

Sunset tore off half of the pastry and handed it over. “That's a bear claw. I think it's called that because of the shape.” She took a bite of the other half still in her hand. “Mmm.”

“Thanks, and that's a weird name for a baked thing. 'Frosted raisin breakfast thing' is what I would have named it.” Flash bit in to the strangely shaped pastry.

Sunset giggled at his name suggestion. “You're such a dork.”

They ate in silence. Sunset watched some doves peck at the rock she threw earlier and broke them off some crumbs to apologize. They flocked to peck at the flakey bits at Sunset's feet. She washed down the last bit of her pastry with her black coffee. “Ugh bitter.” She wished that she remembered to get some cream and sugar on the way out of the Sweet Shoppe.

Clearing her throat Sunset resumed the conversation. “So, what else did Principal Celestia say? Did you switch schools?”

Flash hastily chewed and swallowed. “Yeah. Celestia was going to suspend me. I asked her about switching schools, but she didn't like that idea. She said I was a good student and she didn't want to lose me, but after I showed her my mystable messages she changed her mind. She said she's gonna talk me up to Principal Cinch.”

“Well I'm glad you got in.” Sunset smiled.


“You know, It's not totally guaranteed that I'm getting in right?” Sunset said.

“What do you mean?” Flash looked concerned.

“My grades haven't been the best.”

“What? Seriously? But you're like crazy smart.”

“Yeah, so smart that I didn't bother wasting time on grades when I could have been plotting world domination.” She sighed. “I got an A on everything ever since the fall formal, but I still have mostly C's.”

“Don't worry Sunset. I don't think Principal Celestia would let you down.”

“Yeah you're right. She wouldn't.”

The flock of doves at Sunset's feet flew off.

“This all just feels really weird doesn't it? Like this is all a really big change y'know?” Flash said.

“Yeah. A big change...” Sunset trailed off looking at the sky and sipping her coffee.

A gentle gust of wind rolled through Sunset's gilded crimson hair jostling it to the side. Clouds passed in front of the sun casting some comfortable shade over the park. Sunset took a moment to appreciate the serenity of the weekday morning in the park.

“Sunset?” Flash broke the silence.


“I've been wondering. Like, you're from another dimension right?”


“How come you didn't go back? I mean weren't your friends the reason you stayed here?”

“I was wondering the same thing actually.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I last left Equestria I stole a powerful magical artifact that belonged to royalty and tried to use it to take over the world. If I go back home I'll be punished for it. I mean, someday I'll go back and answer for my crimes, but I don't feel like I'm prepared for it yet. On the other hand there really isn't much here for me in this world. I guess I could try to live here for a while longer, but what's the point? All my friends are gone. Sorry, I'm rambling, it's just been on my mind a lot.”

“Not ALL of your friends are gone, I'm still here.” Flash smiled.

“Thanks Flash.” She playfully leaned against him.

“Hey, y'know I really like this new you way better than the old you.” Flash grinned.

“You better.” She nudged him with her shoulder.

“Hey, Sunset.”

“Hey, Flash.”

“What were you gonna ask me yesterday before Gilda interrupted us?”

Sunset's face turned red. “I-I was just going to ask you if... if you maybe wanted to do something sometime?”

“Something sometime? Like a da—”

Sunset suddenly sat up straight. “Oh which reminds me. I need your number again. Do you have something to write with?”

“Uh... yeah actually.” He pulled a miniature permanent marker out from his coat pocket.

Sunset tore off a piece of the pastry bag. “Here write it on this.” Flash wrote down his phone number from memory.

“Cool, now all I need is a phone. So, um what do ya say?” Sunset stood up and put the scrap in the back pocket of her jeans.

Flash also stood up. “I'd love doing 'something sometime' with you. Is right now a good time?”

“Right now is perfect.” Sunset beamed.

“Got anything in mind?”

“How about the mall? I need a new phone.”

“Sounds good. You totally could have asked me to mow your lawn or do your taxes and I'd still say yes. Just sayin'. I'm totally desperate for things to do this break.”

“Careful, I might take you up on that offer.”

Chapter 4: Shopping

View Online

“It sure was nice of you to give me a ride to the mall.” Sunset stepped out of the car and flopped the door shut.

Flash grinned. “I wouldn't wish public transportation on my worst enemy.” He slammed his car door shut and locked it with the wireless key. Beep.

“Ooh, I thought your world didn't have magic,” Sunset remarked, feigning intrigue of the car magically locking itself.

“That's right. I'm actually a wizard who can lock car doors with my mind.” Flash brought his fingertips to his temples and stared intensely.

Sunset snorted and rolled her eyes. “If only you knew.” They started heading across the parking lot to the entrance of the mall.

“Speaking of magic, I still haven't decided which phone I should get, but I narrowed it down to two options.” She turned to Flash. “The Neighxus 5X or the iPone 6S. Which do you think is better?”

“The way you talk about it makes me think you know more about this stuff than me. But, since you asked, I use an iPone and it works pretty good so I guess I'd recommend that. They're kinda expensive though.”

“Money shouldn't be a problem. Gold in this world is worth way more than I thought it would be. In Equestria one gold bit will get you a box of girl scout cookies. Over here, one bit got me a computer which I used to find out that I got ripped off. It turns out I could have gotten three computers for one bit. So, long story short I'm sorta rich.”

“Dang, I kinda wanna visit Equestria now.”

“Bad Flash, no inflating the value of gold.” Sunset approached the front door of the mall.

Flash opened the door and held it open. “After you.”

Sunset entered the mall. “You're such a gentleman,” she teased.

The mall was as empty as one could expect for a late Tuesday morning. It would have been silent if it wasn't for the murky unintelligible music reverberating down the halls. Sunset spotted a directory and located a shop that should sell phones.

“Okay, this way.” She began walking down the large empty corridor with Flash in tow.

Flash looked around as he walked. “I've never been at the mall at this time of day before. This place is kinda creepy when it's empty.” He eyed an old man sleeping on a bench in an upright position.

“Yep I agree, but I don't want to be here when school lets out.”

“Oh man, I just realized we can still run into Canterlot High students outside of school. Like, we changed schools, but we didn't change cities!”

“That's... a good point. It would also be nice to live closer to our new school. Hmm, I'll have to check some places out later, you can help right after you mow my lawn and do my taxes.” She winked at him.

“Oh man, what did I get myself into...” He looked away nervously.

“Ah there's the store.” Sunset pointed at a large entrance with giant letters above it reading Wise Electronics.

Flash scratched his head. “I wonder what's so wise about it.”

“Hello and welcome to Wise Electronics. We're having a sale on ergonomics,” the saleswoman by the entrance rhymed.

“Or perhaps I may help you with what you seek. Customers, I assure you I'm quite the geek.”

“I'm looking for a new smartphone,” Sunset said.

“Follow me my child, I'll show you just what you need. A next gen smartphone, satisfaction guaranteed.” They followed her to a glass case containing assorted phones of various makes and models.

“Do you sell the new iPone? I'd like a gold colored off-contract one.”

“Indeed we do. I'll get it for you.” The saleswoman unlocked the glass case and retrieved a boxed iPone 6S.

“Would that be all? Done with your haul?”

“Yeah, just that.”

“If you are sure beyond a doubt, then follow me to the checkout.” They walked over to the cash register.

“There's ten percent off if the price tag is starred, but only if you have a membership card.”

“I don't have one.”

“Would you like to register for a membership card? The process is quick and not at all hard.”

“No thanks.”

“If it is your wish to not lessen the expense, then it will be seven hundred eighty seven dollars and forty nine cents.”

Sunset rummaged through her purse and removed a wad of hundred dollar bills and counted out eight of them. “Here you go.”

“Here is the change for what you pay. Thank you very much and have a nice day.” Sunset accepted her change and took the bag with her new phone in it.

“Thanks, you too.” Sunset headed back out into the mall, she noticed a few more people roaming around than before.

“It must be lunchtime. You hungry Flash? I'm hungry.”

“Yeah I could go for some food, but uh aren't you going to say anything about back there?”

“Yeah, I got a new phone and it's gold! I should thank Gilda for giving me an excuse to splurge.”

“That's not what I... nevermind, lets go look for the food court.”

* * *

The air was abound with a mish-mash of delicious aromas ranging from greasy fast food to refreshing health food and everything in between. Sunset took interest in the burrito counter while Flash followed his nose to the burger stand. After ordering and picking up their lunches they sat at a relatively clean table amidst the chatter and chaos of the lunch rush. The ambient noise made it difficult to hear each other talk so they focused on their meals instead. After they were satisfied, Flash volunteered to carry both trays to the lunch tray receptacle. Sunset Figured it was time to leave, she stood up and walked in the direction of the exit stopping momentarily to wait for Flash to catch up. Flash jogged up to her looking like he was going to say something about not wandering off without him when his eyes went wide.

“Uh Sunset? I just remembered that today at CHS is a half-day due to the exams.” Flash said with a note of concern in his voice.

“I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but alright. Good to know I guess.” She replied.

“It has to do with the fact that your old friends are standing over there.” Flash pointed behind her at a group of five girls.

“Hey, that's not funny.” She assumed he was joking until she looked over her shoulder. Sunset's heart stopped and she dropped her shopping bag on the floor. Rarity noticed Sunset and pointed at her which drew the attention of the other four. Sunset took a deep breath to calm down. She steeled her nerves.

There's nothing to worry about anymore.

“Fancy meetin' you here, secret stealer,” Applejack greeted.

“Why are we even talking to her? C'mon guys we're supposed to be takin' it easy,” Rainbow Dash complained. The others stood around looking uncomfortable.

Rainbow's remark awoke in Sunset a calm resolute anger. A moment ago she felt like running, but now she found herself at ease and no longer concerned about the repercussions of what she was about to say. Sunset cleared her throat.

“You know what? No. I'm not taking this from you anymore,” Sunset said, her furled eyebrows and gesturing hands embellished her words.

“Back when you beat me at the Fall Formal I thought that laying defeated in a crater in the ground would be the worst point of my life, but it wasn't. The worst thing that ever happened to me was when my closest friends decided that I was no longer their friend for reasons completely beyond my control. You didn't even stop to question it, you just took one look at that web page and decided 'yup! she dun it!'. I'm not even going to try and convince you that I'm not Anon-a-miss anymore because I've given up. I don't care. We're not friends, we probably never were friends, and we're not even classmates because starting at the end of break I'm a Shadowbolt, so screw you and goodbye forever. Bitches.”

Sunset turned sharply, picked up her shopping bag, grabbed Flash by the wrist and stormed off towards the parking lot.

The girls stood slack jawed at Sunset's fiery speech waiting for her to walk out of earshot before commenting.

“She's leaving our school?” Rarity broke the silence.

“Good riddance I say. She's their problem now,” Rainbow said.

“Ah gotta admit. Once she leaves I'm sure the posts are—” Applejack halted, “—um Shy? Are you feelin' alright?”

Fluttershy tried to hide her tears behind her long pink bangs, but everyone noticed. “I'm sorry, it's just that what if she's really not Anon-a-miss? Sunset sounded like she was really upset. It breaks my heart to see her like that.” Fluttershy rubbed her eyes.

Rarity rested her hand comfortingly on Fluttershy's shoulder. “I'm sorry to hear that Fluttershy dear, but we all must move on.”

“Come on guys, I don't want to think about this anymore.” Pinkie interjected with her hair cotton candy hair drooping into her face. The group moved on to the food court.

Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle sat at a table on the far side of the noisy food court. “Hey! What took you guys so long?” Applebloom asked. “Yeah, we already finished our food.” Scootaloo added. Sweetie Belle was sipping a milkshake.

“We ran into Sunset on the way over,” Applejack answered.

“She told us that she is transferring to Crystal Prep,” Rarity said.

The trio collectively looked very worried. “O-oh, that's... great? So now the Anon-a-miss posts will stop. Ha ha ha.” Applebloom said while looking to the side.

“Y-yeah those posts are sure to stop now!” Scootaloo reiterated. Sweetie Belle slurped her milkshake faster.

“A-anyways we already got y'all a seat.” Applebloom said.

“Yeah! You guys go get food, we'll guard the table.” Scootaloo added.

The five other girls all dispersed to get their lunches.

“Oh man, what did we do?” Scootaloo said in a hushed voice.

“We got Sunset expelled is what we did!” Applebloom said in the same hushed voice.

Sweetie Belle looked extremely uncomfortable with tears in her eyes. “Uh Sweetie Belle are you okay?” Scootaloo asked.

“D-don't sniff worry guys, I just have a brain freeze.” She immediately burst out in tears and put her head down on the table to muffle her sobs.

Applebloom turned to Scootaloo and said, “We really messed up.”

* * *

Sunset was angrily plodding across the linoleum floor sending reverberating echoes up and down the sparsely populated halls of the mall. Flash struggled to keep up with his wrist grasped tightly by the force of nature dragging him along. He felt their walking pace slow down and the grip loosen. Then he felt their walking pace halt to a stop and the grip release. Sunset stood with her back to him and her head drooped to the ground.

“Uh Sunset? You alright?” Flash asked hesitantly. When she didn't respond he walked around to her front and bent his knees to be eye level with her. Cautiously looking past her forlorn bangs he could see her cheerless face.

Sunset glanced up at his worried blue eyes. “I wanna go home,” she mumbled, and they began walking again.

It was a quiet ride home. Sunset rested her chin on her palm and gazed out at the scenery rushing by her passenger side window while Flash was laser focused on the road. After watching a few miles of buildings and streetlamps whizzing by, Sunset turned in her seat and turned her melancholic gaze to the hypnotizing road. Flash drew air into his lungs as if he was going to say something, but instead exhaled. Rounding a corner, the car pulled up by Sunset's apartment complex. The engine slowed to a low rumble as Flash put the car in park and disengaged the ignition.

Sunset turned to Flash. “Thanks for today Flash. I had fun except for... you know.” She looked down.

“I also had fun today and hey, try to take it easy.”

“I will, thanks, and um, can we do something like this again tomorrow?” She gave him a smile.

“Aw man sorry, I promised Gran Gran I would come visit her tomorrow. How about the day after?”

Sunset was frowning internally. “Yeah, that's good too. I'll look forward to it!” She waved goodbye as she opened the car door.

“See ya Thursday.” He smiled and waved back.

Sunset stepped out of the car and closed the door behind her. She felt a tinge of loneliness as she waved at the car driving off into the distance. She to her apartment and took a step when the car reappeared around the corner and drove back up to her. It came to a stop and Flash stepped out holding a shopping bag.

“Hey, you forgot your phone.” Flash handed the bag over to Sunset.

“Oh wow, I can't believe I forgot that. Thank you.”

“Don't mention it. Well, I better get going.”

“Wait!” Sunset called out.

“Huh?” Flash felt a warm embrace and something wet on his cheek.

“Thanks for everything, Flash.”

Chapter 5: Wednesday

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The midterm exams had just ended for the day and everyone was excused home early. Fluttershy couldn't stop thinking about what Sunset said yesterday. She stood in the courtyard in front of her school with her eyes hazily focused on the ground. The others were chatting idly.

“So where do you guys wanna go for lunch?”

“Ah reckon we should steer clear of the mall.”

“Yeah definitely, so anyone got any ideas?”

“Lets go for some cupcakes!”

“No Pinkie.”

“Ooh, I know this wonderful cafe downtown that serves the most delectable finger sandwiches.”

“Sounds good by me.”

“Yeah me too.”

“Yoo hoo, Fluttershy dearie.”

“Huh?” Fluttershy gasped, turning to the source of the sound.

“Is that alright with you?” Rarity asked.

“Um... I... sorry I have to go.” Fluttershy turned away and jogged off.

She heard someone shout “Hey! Wait! Where are you going?”, but paid no mind to it and kept her pace. There was something she needed to do, something that she should have done a long time ago. On that fateful day when Sunset was accused of being Anon-a-miss it just didn't feel right. At the time Fluttershy trusted the judgment of her friends. She particularly trusted Applejack because of how logical and pragmatic she usually is, but those tears Sunset cried that day in the hall, those were real.

I should have been braver.

If I was braver Sunset would still be here.

Fluttershy sped up from her jog to a run. Recounting yesterday at the mall, the way Sunset spoke. She couldn't have done it, anyone with a heart would know for certain that she didn't do it.

I have to find Sunset!

Her foot hit an icy patch and her face met with frosted concrete.

“Eep!” she yelped as she felt a sting on her left cheekbone. She laid still on the ground grimacing in pain.

I deserved that.

The scrape on her cheek mixed with her feelings of guilt were too much to deal with at once. Fluttershy laid sobbing on the cold empty sidewalk. A flock of doves heard her cries and swooped down surrounding the upset girl. They chirped and tugged on her long pink hair.

She sniffled and rubbed her eyes. “No birdies, not right now,” she tried waving them off, but they persisted. One bird in particular flapped it's wing against Fluttershy's shielded face.

Fluttershy opened her eyes. “Henry? Is that you? I'm glad to see your wing is healed, and you have friends!”

“Coo coo.” Henry said.

“Thanks for worrying about me, but I'll be fine. It's just a scratch.” She got back up on her feet.


“Well, if you really want to help so much then there might be something you can do. By any chance, have you seen this girl?” Fluttershy pulled up a picture of Sunset Shimmer on her phone and showed it to the small white bird.

“CHIRP!” Henry danced and flapped around wildly. “CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP!”

“Really? She fed you crumbs yesterday? And you know where she lives? Well, lead the way!” Fluttershy hastily yet cautiously followed the small white bird.

* * *

Nursing a cup of earl grey tea Sunset sat on her couch in her pajamas and fuzzy slippers configuring her shiny new gold tinted iPone. She rested her tea filled coffee mug on her coffee table and fiddled with a mangled wad of cracked glass and bent metal. Cracking off the back cover and extracting a small chip she was relieved that the SIM card from her old broken phone was unharmed. Seeing the chip completely intact made her glad she fished the ruined phone out of the dumpster on the way back home earlier this week. She painstakingly inserted the card into her new phone and returned the shattered broken phone to the trash can sitting beside the coffee table. Some shards bounced off the discarded calendar sitting inside the bin. Sunset copied Flash's number into her contacts list from the frosting stained scrap of paper he wrote it on yesterday. She typed him a test message.

Testing out my new iPone. :)

She promptly received a response.

Message received, Gran Gran says hello.

Sunset chuckled at Flash's reply, but her smile vanished when she heard a sudden, but light knock at her door. Sunset glanced at the time on her phone. Tiny numbers reading twelve forty-seven glowed in the upper right corner. CHS lets out early all week so the stranger at the door is likely a student. She hesitantly opened the door feeling an icy breeze roll through the frame.

“Fluttershy?” Sunset had a look of astonishment on her face. Her expression turned sour and she bluntly asked, “What do you want?”

Fluttershy looked visibly stressed as her eyes darted to different spots on the floor. She was also shivering, but Sunset was unsure if it was because she was cold or nervous. Most worryingly, Fluttershy had a nasty scrape on her cheek. Sunset eyed it and let a quick glimpse of concern show on her face before returning to her stoic leer.

“H-Hello Sunset, I-I just wanted to... um,” Fluttershy mumbled.

“What is it? Did the others put you up to this?” Sunset crossed her arms. She must have some nerve showing up uninvited at Sunset's own home after shunning her for so long. Whatever game she's playing there's no way Sunset was going to fall for any of it.

“N-No, no. Um, it's just that...” Tears welled in her eyes.

“Well? What!?” Sunset grew impatient and had already begun formulating which exact words she was going to use to tell this intruder to leave her the hell alone when Fluttershy said something that made her mind go blank.

“I don't think you're Anon-a-miss!” Her voice quivered as she shouted.

Sunset felt all her anger melt away. “Wait, what? Did you just say wh—”

“I'M SO SORRY SUNSET! I'm so sorry, for everything! You're not Anon-a-miss! I believe you! You're innocent! Do you think you could ever forgive me?” The pink haired girl burst into inconsolable weeping and shaking.

Sunset was incredulous. Was this actually happening? Is this a trick? No, those are real tears. She stood in her doorway wearing a stunned expression watching the girl cry. Sunset felt a plethora of emotions bubble up to the surface and down her cheeks. She lunged out onto the sleet with her fuzzy slippers and held Fluttershy tightly as her own tears melted the snow on the wailing girl's overcoat.

Fluttershy forced some words through her sobbing. “I should've believed you at the start, but I didn't and I said those mean things to you. That was very out of character for me. I'm so so sorry.”

“It's okay Fluttershy.” Sunset tightened her embrace. “I believe in second chances.” Sunset pulled away and smiled. “Why don't you come inside? You're freezing and you're hurt.”

Fluttershy stepped into Sunset's home and Sunset closed the door shutting out the cold.

“I'll get the first aid kit, you can hang your coat there.” Sunset gestured at the row of hooks mounted to the back of the front door, one of which was occupied by a leather jacket.

Fluttershy took off her backpack and poofy spring green coat and hung them both on the hook next to the leather jacket. After checking if Sunset was watching she hastily wiped her face dry on her jacket's sleeve. She started toward the living room, but realized there was still a wet pair of yellow rubber boots on her feet. She gently kicked them off and left them by the door before heading to Sunset's couch. She sank into the comparatively warm plush couch and tried to stop shaking. Though she was wearing a thick green Christmas sweater and two pairs of sweat pants she couldn't keep still. Maybe she wasn't cold? Fluttershy suddenly processed that she was inside her friend Sunset Shimmer's home. Thinking back she can't recall ever having been to Sunset's home before. Rubbing her eyes and looking curiously around the room she noted a disturbing lack of possessions and an accumulation of dust on what little furniture existed in the room. Something brightly colored and out of place in the waste bin sitting next to the coffee table caught her eye. While Sunset was still fetching the first aid kit Fluttershy snuck up to the waste bin for a closer look. She put her hands over her mouth to contain her gasp. Sitting in the garbage was a Wonderbolts themed calendar with the dates of their get-togethers circled and labeled. A symbol of their friendship and time spent at CHS, literally thrown away.

“I found it. Now hold still, I gotta disinfect that scrape.” Sunset dabbed some cotton balls with hydrogen peroxide and took a seat on the couch, her eyes still a bit red.

“Uh, Fluttershy? Are you okay?” She noticed Fluttershy was focused on something and with her hands were raised to her mouth. Fluttershy slid her arms around Sunset's waist and laid the good side of her head on Sunset's shoulder holding her comfortingly like she would to one of her larger animal friends.

“Shy? Um, is everything alright? You're kinda freaking me out.”

“Your calendar,” she whispered.

“Oh.” A wave of realization washed over her. It would make sense that Fluttershy would be bothered by that. “Yeah, that wasn't a good day for me.”

Fluttershy looked up at her. “What happened?”

“I woke up yesterday feeling okay, but then I saw the calendar, and it reminded me of... you know. I kinda lost my head for a moment.”

Fluttershy returned to resting her head lovingly on Sunset's shoulder half as a sign of support and half because Sunset was really warm.

“You know, before all of this I was really looking forward to that party this Saturday, but now I'm just wishing you guys didn't plan everything out so far in advance.” Sunset sipped her tea. “I hope you have fun.”

“No. I'm not going. Not without you.”

“Fluttershy... you'd ditch the party, for me?” Sunset pulled away. “No, you shouldn't miss out. You apologizing and being here with me right now was enough. You should go have fun.”

“No. If I can't get the others to tell you they're sorry by next Tuesday then I'm spending that day with you and that's that. Leaving you alone for the holidays is wrong and I've wronged you enough already.”

“Fluttershy, I— um that means a lot to me. Thank you.” Moved by Fluttershy's words, Sunset reciprocated the kind girl's embrace pulling her close. Fluttershy still felt cold to the touch from being outside in the snow, but she had finally stopped shivering.

Sunset let go of the girl and reapplied more disinfectant on the cotton ball. “I can't help but to ask though. What made you change your mind? Also, how the heck do you know where I live?” Sunset asked.

“To be honest, I started doubting you were Anon-a-miss right after we confronted you in the hallway that day. I really did think you were her until you started crying. Nobody could fake crying like that.”

“Shuddup.” Sunset pressed the cotton ball into Fluttershy's wound.

“EEP! Sorry! Sorry!” Fluttershy shrieked as the disinfectant stung.

“Sorry, keep going with your story.” Sunset apologized.

Fluttershy continued, “anyways, I should have tried harder to convince the others, but I was afraid of standing up to them. Applejack's logic, Rainbow's anger, and the others' mistrust aren't going to be convinced very easily, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try. Tomorrow I'm going to give them a piece of my mind!”

“Are you sure about that Fluttershy? If worst comes to worst they might think you're working for Anon-a-miss.” Sunset applied antibiotic ointment on Fluttershy's scrape.

“I don't care. They're wrong and I'm going to set them straight! You deserve better than this Sunset.”

“Thanks Fluttershy, you can text me about how it goes. I got a new phone, but I still have the same number.” She gently put a large band-aid on Fluttershy's face. “There! All patched up.”

“Thank you Sunset.” Fluttershy smiled. “But, why did you get a new phone? Your old one was practically still new.”

“Gilda busted it before Flash had to defend me from her.”

“Really? Oh my. I heard about that on mystable. Rover posted saying that Flash picked a fight with Gilda behind the school and put her in the hospital.”

“That is definitely not what happened. Come on Shy, be more skeptical.” Sunset explained the actual events.

“Oh no. So did Flash get expelled for it?”

“Sorta, he's transferring to Crystal Prep with me so I guess there's a silver lining to it all.”

“I'm going to miss not having you around all the time.”

“Me too.”

An awkward silence passes before Sunset asks a question. “Hey, so how did you find my apartment again?”

“Oh, a little birdie told me. Hey look! There he is!” Fluttershy pointed at the windowsill. “His name is Henry, he had a broken wing, but it's all better now.”

“You can talk to animals?” Sunset was perplexed.

“Can't everyone?” Fluttershy cocked her head to the side.

Sunset burst out in laughter and Fluttershy joined. “Hey are you hungry? I got leftover pizza, some brown salad that used to be green, and lukewarm earl grey tea.”

Fluttershy's stomach growled. “Why yes, I'd love some.”

“Sorry, I wasn't expecting company.” Sunset made her way to the fridge.

They spent the rest of the evening eating leftovers and chatting about the smaller inconsequential things in their lives until the sun went down.

“Hey it's getting late. Do your folks know you're still out?”

“Oh my you're right. I'll have to head back soon.”

Peering out the window Sunset couldn't see a thing through the blizzard. “I don't think you're walking home in that. Why don't you give your mom a call and tell her you're staying over at a friend's.”

“Wow really? It's like a sleepover!”

Sunset chuckled. “Yeah, sleepover at Sunset's place.”

“Um, Sunset? I think it's getting a little cold in here. Could you turn up the heater? I mean if that's alright with you, I know heating in the middle of winter isn't cheap.”

“Yeah, you're right. I can see my own breath. I'll just crank up the thermostat and the heat should kick in right away.” Sunset dialed a large number into a box on the wall. Minutes pass and nothing happens.

Fluttershy was getting worried. “Uh Sunset?”

“Oh crap. I think it's broken, I'll have to call the landlady tomorrow. Uh, no worries I got loads of blankets, we'll be fine.”

Chapter 6: Confrontations

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A ray of sunlight shone onto Fluttershy's face gently pulling her from her sleep. With her eyes opened and focused, the sleeping face of Sunset Shimmer greeted her from an inch away. Their legs were intertwined, their bodies pressed up against each other, and Sunset rested her arms around Fluttershy's waist. Flustered and reeling she wracked her brain for details of last night. There was a snowstorm, she decided to sleep over, then...

“Good morning Fluttershy, sleep well?” Sunset grinned.

“Um y-yes?” Fluttershy stammered, her face glowing red.

“You okay? You seem tense.”

“Um, it's just that um, why am I in your bed?”

“You don't remember?”

“N-no, I don't. Oh my… we didn't… y'know?”

Sunset looked puzzled for a moment until she realized what Fluttershy was trying to say. Her face turned a shade redder than Fluttershy’s and in a flustered tone she began explaining. “W-what? No, no, the heater's broken and it was sub-zero last night. You'd literally freeze to death if you slept on the couch so we huddled together for warmth.” Sunset sat up accidentally knocking the thick covers off exposing them both to the stinging icy bite of the unheated air.

“Eep!” Fluttershy shrieked, a small cloud of condensation puffed from her mouth. Fluttershy reflexively clutched the blankets back over herself.

“You're my friend, you’re super cute, and I love you to bits, but not in that way. I mean... unless y—”

“C-c-cute?! L-love?! B-b-bits?! Eep!” She hid under the covers.

Sunset watched in amusement as the embarrassed mass twitched under the covers before something dawned on her. She glanced at the clock to confirm her suspicions and turned to the flustered blob to speak.

“Hey, it's almost time for school. Today’s the last day of exams right?” The shuddering mass rose up from the bed and rolled away taking the sheets with it. Sunset let out a screechy complaint about the sudden rush of cold immediately followed by a succinct apology from the mass as it shed its cocoon and returned it to the nest. Fluttershy scurried into the bathroom and shut the door. Sounds of rushed rustling, a rusty squeak, and some splashing noises emanated through the cheap hollow core door culminating in the door flying open with Fluttershy barreling out looking moderately presentable. She hastily returned her neatly folded set of borrowed pajamas to Sunset and thanked her for letting her use them and the extra toothbrush. The rushed girl said her goodbyes and made off to the front door. Two yellow boots were yanked onto a pair of woolly sock insulated feet and a spring green jacket was hurriedly wrapped around a petite frame.

“Good luck with your exams Fluttershy.” Sunset stood in the living room wrapped in a blanket and holding a mug of tea while waving goodbye.

“Thanks Sunset. Oh and thank you for having me over, I'm so glad that we can be friends again.”

Sunset beamed. “You have no idea how happy it makes me to be your friend.”

Fluttershy smiled. “Bye Sunset, I love you.” She grabbed her bag and caught a glimpse of Sunset’s flush red face spraying tea on the floor before she embarked off into the cold white snow. Fluttershy hadn’t realized why Sunset reacted the way she did until the door closed. One moment passed. Two moments. And…

“EEEeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Fluttershy squealed, her hands clutching her crimson cheeks. How could something like that slip out so casually? She sprinted the half mile to school completely uninterrupted. Under normal circumstances her frail body would give out thirty seconds into the sprint, but right now she was much too embarrassed to remember how unathletic she was. The brick facade of Canterlot High appeared as she rounded the corner. Fluttershy slowed her frantic running down to a brisk walking pace as she finally ran out of steam and she collapsed against a stony structure. She stopped for a moment to regain her composure while clouds of condensation billowed from her mouth with every exhale. When rested, she looked up and found herself standing before the Wondercolts statue. A gaggle of familiar voices sounded from the other side of the statue. Fluttershy hadn't forgotten the promise she made to Sunset yesterday and prepared herself for the difficult conversation that needed to be had. She stepped around the statue and saw four of her friends standing in a circle chatting idly.

“Oh hey Fluttershy crazy storm last night huh?” Rainbow greeted.

“Hey everyone, um there's something we need to talk about.” Fluttershy stood up straight with a determined look on her face.

“What is it Shy?” Applejack asked.

She took a deep breath. Be assertive. “I don’t think Sunset is Anon-a-miss, I believe she is completely innocent. I visited her yesterday and apologized, we even had a sleep over. Anyways I was hoping that all of you could apologize to her too, but I know you must have questions first.”

Fluttershy's revelation left the group stunned. Applejack was first to comment.

“Um what now? Seriously? I thought we settled this already. We have undeniable proof that she'd done it, photos and videos from her phone were posted under Anon-a-miss' account. There's no way it ain't her.”

Fluttershy felt a pang of disappointment at Applejack's reaction. “But don’t you remember how much she cried after we confronted her about it? How about what she said to us in the mall yesterday? Why can't you see that her pain is real? If she really was Anon-a-miss she wouldn't be so heartbroken by what we did to her.”

Rainbow Dash crossed her arms. “Psh, it's just acting and you totally fell for it. You should quit talking to her or else that traitor bitch is gonna steal more of your secrets if she didn't already.”

Fluttershy reeled and stamped her foot down. “Rainbow Dash! How dare you talk about Sunset that way! You're lucky Twilight isn't here!”

“If Twilight was here she would totally be agreeing with me. Come on Flutters, lets just drop this okay? I don't want any bad vibes before the exams,” Rainbow said.

“I'm sorry dearie, but I think Rainbow is right for once. We should just forget anything ever happened and continue about our business. What do you say?” Rarity added.

While Fluttershy expected these responses, hearing them out loud was more disheartening than anticipated. “I can't believe this. Twilight trusted us to be there for Sunset, but we aren't. Even IF she was still evil we should be trying to help her. Pinkie! You haven't said anything, please tell me at least you agree?”

Her pink cotton candy hair drooped over her face as she responded to Fluttershy in an uncharacteristically sorrowful tone. “I don't know Fluttershy. I just don't know.”

Hope boiled into anger. “Well FINE! If you won't be her friends then I WILL! Don’t talk to me unless you realize how big of a mistake you are making.” Fluttershy curtly turned away and stamped off to the school building.

“Should we go after her?” Rainbow asked.

“I reckon we should let her be for now, but to be honest I don't think she's gonna quit until she learns first hand why we shouldn't trust Anon-a-miss. Lets all hope it ain't too embarrassing for her.”

“I wish Twilight was here.” Rainbow said. “She’d know what to say.” The bell rang.

* * *

Fluttershy felt relieved that school was officially out for the holidays, but questioned whether this break would be any fun without her friends. She hadn't spoken to any of them since morning and likely won't speak to any in the near future, at least not until they apologize to Sunset. Fluttershy let out a prolonged sigh and started down the sidewalk in the general direction of her house. She felt the packed snow crunch beneath her boots as she strolled down the frozen walkway. Pulling her phone out she formed a text message to Sunset as she walked, but she stopped halfway through upon hearing a rustling sound ahead caught her attention. It was Flash carrying several plastic bags filled with groceries.

Fluttershy put her phone away and meekly waved at him. “Um, hi. Flash.”

“Uh... Hey. Sorry, have we met?”

“I'm F-Fluttershy.”

His eyes narrowed and his brows furled. “Wait a second, you're one of those girls giving Sunset the cold shoulder. I remember you from the mall a couple days ago.”

She didn't expect the interaction to go like this. Her knees began shaking. “I-I apologized to her yesterday. She s-said she's giving me a second chance. T-then we had a slept over with her.” She mixed up her words.

“Huh?! You did what with her?” His face bore a confused expression.

“Um, s-she let me stay the night in her bed.”

“What? Really? Wow. Uh, I'm... glad? I think...” He glanced away.

“Oh, um Flash? I wanted to thank you for protecting Sunset from Gilda. Sunset told me what happened. I-I think that was very brave of you.”

“Haha, its no big deal. I’ll punch out anyone if it means keeping Sunset safe. Anyways, I gotta finish this errand for Gran Gran. See ya, and uh congratulations.” He passed Fluttershy and hurried back to his grandmother.

Fluttershy waved as he left and wondered what he meant by congratulations. She retrieved her phone from her sweatpants pocket and resumed typing her message to Sunset.

Hi Sunset. The exams are over now so we can hang out whenever you want.


Without missing a beat Sunset responded.

How about right now?

Oh I'd love to, I'll be right over.

* * *

Fluttershy stood outside Sunset’s apartment for the second time today. She walked up the cement stairs while holding the wrought iron guard rails until she made it to Sunset’s door. She knocked once and the door flung open.

“Fluttershy!” Sunset lunged out greeting her with a big hug. “How were the exams?”

Fluttershy reciprocated the hug. “I-I think I did fine on them. Thanks for asking.” The girls released each other.

“Alright, so on a more serious note, there’s something I need to check today,” Sunset said, she turned around and made a beckoning gesture, someone walked up to the doorway.

“Oh hey Shutterfly,” Flash said.

“Her name is Fluttershy, you jerk.” Sunset ebbed him in the ribs with her elbow.

“Ow, sorry Fluttershy.” Flash rubbed his side.

“Anyways, I’ll explain on the way there. Flash, you’re driving us to CHS.” Sunset shut and locked her apartment door. The three climbed down the stairs and got into Flash’s red sports car.

“So um, Sunset. What’s this all about?” Fluttershy asked. Flash turned the ignition and pulled out of the parking spot.

“This is about Twilight. The last message I received from her was over three days ago, but I’ve been writing her everyday since then trying to keep her updated on the situation, but she hasn’t responded yet. In her last message she mentioned there was something wrong with the portal, so I’m afraid that the portal might be busted. I need to check for myself just to be sure.” Sunset watched the scenery whiz by from the passenger window.

“Wait, so is that why Twilight hasn’t been able to help? The portal doesn’t work?” Flash said.

“I hope not.” Sunset looked out the window at the Wondercolts statue spotting a flash of light and a hooded figure running off.

“Whoa! What the heck was that? Stop the car Flash.” Flash pulled into a space next to the curb and parked.

Sunset leapt out of the convertible and ran after the figure. “Hey! Wait!” she shouted, but the figure was nowhere to be seen.

“Um, Sunset?” Fluttershy gestured at the statue looking worried. Sunset walked up to the face of the statue and pressed her hand against it. Cold solid marble.

“This is just what I was afraid of.” Sunset scowled.

Flash rested his hand on her shoulder comfortingly. “Is there some way we can fix it?”

“Without any magic? Impossible. Even with magic I don’t know if I could do anything, but what really worries me is that person I saw. Why would anyone do something like this? Do you know what this means? We might not see Twilight ever again.” Sunset rested her forehead against the statue.

Sunset lifted her head back up. “Come on guys, lets—” Sunset heard a trio of familiar voices.

“And she was all like ‘No Applebloom, big sis is tryna drink ta forget an if ya tell granny I’m drinkin her moonshine I’ll hogtie ya to the windmill.’ I just wanted to play a board game with her, but she’s gotta be all mopey,” Applebloom said.

“It’s the same with Rarity! She did that thing again where she cries and binge eats ice cream at the same time. I actually feel pretty bad about it.” Sweetie Belle stared at her feet. Scootaloo slurped her chocolate milkshake.

“Hey girls.” With a smug expression Sunset stood on the sidewalk blocking their path. Flash and Fluttershy watched from a distance.

“S-Sunset? W-what are you doing here?” Applebloom said.

“Just, y’know enjoying the holidays. It, sure is great getting to spend time with the people you love. Hey, are you girls feeling alright? You’re looking a bit pale, like you’ve seen a ghost or something.”

“N-no we’re fine,” Scootaloo said trembling.

“You’re a terrible liar, kid. I can see you shaking.”

Scootaloo rendered speechless, dropped her milkshake on the ground.

“Wh-what are you gonna do to us?” Sweetie Belle shrieked.

“Nothing. Just saying hi. Enjoy the rest of your break with your sisters, girls. Happy holidays.” Sunset gave them a toothy smile.

Chapter 7: Beginnings

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Dark clouds blanketed the sky, Fluttershy wouldn't have known if it was daylight if the time on her phone didn't say so. The halls of Canterlot High were empty. Initially, Fluttershy reacted with shock. Perhaps break wasn't over yet and she came to school a week too early, but the occasional other student passing through the front door was enough to ease her mind. To pass the time she stood by her locker and checked her phone. She saw that Sunset had sent her a message earlier this morning.

Hey Shy, just wanted to wish you a good first day of the new semester, and thanks for staying with me for the holidays it was lots of fun. I'm just kinda bummed that you still haven't heard anything from the girls yet. How long are they going to keep up the silent treatment? Anyways, love ya and hope we can hang soon.

Fluttershy smiled and started typing a reply.

I hope you also have a good first day at your new school, and don't worry I'll get them to talk eventually. Oh and break was definitely lots of fun. We should really do that again sometime. Love you too Sunset.


“Hey… Fluttershy…” an uncharacteristically sad voice called out.

Fluttershy looked up from her phone and saw a slouching girl with straight pink hair. “Pinkie? What happened to you?”

“Nothin' much, just y'know.” She hid behind her straight bangs.

“Well, um how was break? Did you sleep over at Sweet Apple Acres?” Fluttershy asked.

“Nah, we canceled that and everyone stayed home instead. Break was… okay… I guess.” Pinkie stared at the floor.

“Oh, and um. How is everyone else doing?”

“They're… fin—” A yelling voice interrupted from around the corner of the hall.

“And ah said it was all because of Sunset!”

“Don't you raise your voice at me you ruffian!”

“Ruffian!? Looky 'ere missy, I'm just tryin' to explain why it was canceled!”

“I thought you said you canceled it because it wouldn't feel right celebrating without Fluttershy,” a third voice chimed in.

“Yup, AND Fluttershy wouldn't be going BECAUSE of Sunset. Y'all get it now?!”

“I don't know darling, it still sounds like you're blaming poor Fluttershy for it.”

“Will y'all just shut up about it?!”

“Heck no, I was super pumped for that party. I'm still pissed you canceled it. We totally could have done it without Fluttershy!”

“Why can't you keep your mouth shut for once Dash! We absolutely could not have any party without dear Fluttershy.”

“Of course we could! She doesn't even like parties! Besiiides she's got Anon-a-miss to chill with.”

“Say, speaking of parties, any of you girls notice Pinkie actin' strange?”

“Pinkie's always strange Applejack.”

“No, that's not it, I mean she changed her hair and she seems… depressed?”

“Nah, you're just imagining it. She's totally fine.”

“I don't know Rainbow, I for one am also concerned about dear Pinkie Pie. She didn't even react when she found out the party was canceled.”

“You guys are over thinking it. It's Pinkie we're talking about here, since when does she ever get sad?”

“Ah swear Dash if you keep flappin' yer gums like that I'm gonna…”

“Do it Applejack! Do it!”

“Don't you tell me what ta do!”

Pinkie ran around the corner. “Girls! Stop fighting!” Pinkie said with tears in her eyes.

“Pinkie? Er, uh… you didn't hear any of that did yuh?”

“I heard all of it.” Pinkie was visibly upset.

“Oh, fiddlesticks.”

“This isn't like you guys. You've all been at each other's throats all break. I hate it,” her voice squeaked, “I hate it so muc—” She fell to her knees and began sobbing.

Fluttershy stepped out from around the corner and comfortingly wrapped her arms around Pinkie's shoulders. Fluttershy glared daggers and shook her head disapprovingly at the other three, especially Rainbow Dash.

* * *

A plain black umbrella folded closed revealing a red and gold haired girl donning a burgundy blazer and matching tartan skirt. She adjusted her navy blue ribbon bow around her collar and tugged her slightly-too-short skirt down to almost cover the tops of her wooly navy blue thigh highs.

Sunset shivered in the cold. “How come the girl's uniform can't have pants? This is garbage weather for skirts, my thighs are freezing. I'd kill a man for a pair of jeans right now.”

“Good thing we're at the front door already,” Flash said, noting Sunset's murderous envy.

“Thanks for letting me borrow your umbrella.”

“No problem,” he replied, shaking pea sized hailstones out of his hair.

She handed Flash his umbrella back, but he refused it. “Nuh uh, that thing is your responsibility now. Consider that the cost of borrowing it.” Flash grinned impishly.

“Hah, fair enough. But seriously though, what is with this weather? It was just a little cloudy when we left, then thunder and hail just started coming down outta nowhere, and on the first day of school?” Sunset pushed open the front door, walked inside, and held it open for Flash.

“Uh, thanks.” Flash looked disappointed.

“Hey, you think your car is okay? That tree we parked under isn't gonna hold off all the ice,” Sunset asked, shivering a bit.

“I mean, the hail didn't put any dents in my head and my car's tougher than my head so I think it should be okay, but my insurance doesn't cover weather damage so I'm luckin' out if it looks like a golf ball when we get back.” He sighed.

Sunset pranced around to his front and looked him in the eye. “Hey, cheer up. Worst case scenario, I fix the portal to Equestria, we drive it through, and I cast a dent fixing spell on it. Anyways, thanks for giving me a ride. I'd still be walking in that storm if you didn't offer to drive me today.” Sunset leaned her umbrella against a wall and gave Flash a hug. “Gah! You're so warm.” She slid her numb hands inside his jacket and around his back.

“Augh! Cold! Cold!” He exclaimed, feeling the icy sear of Sunset's frozen hands against his thin dress shirt.

“Shh, you're my furnace now,” Sunset whispered.

“Two can play at that game!” He reached his also somewhat cold hands towards Sunset's exposed skin above her tall socks.

“Ahn!” she moaned. “I'd slap you for that if your hands weren't so warm.”

Flash pulled his hands away. “Ow! Your stupid thighs gave me freezer burn,” he said, rubbing his hands together.

“Ahem.” A woman with a clipboard was eyeing them with a bemused grin. Sunset quickly pulled back with a sheepish smile and collected her umbrella.

“You two must be the transfer students, um—” she flipped through her clipboard, “—Flash Sentry and Sunset Shimmer. Correct?”

“Y-yeah that's us.” Flash said.

“Great. I'm Dean Cadence. Principal Cinch asked me to give you two a tour of our campus, but you're late and class is about to begin in fifteen minutes,” she said in a less than pleased manner.

“Ah man, sorry about that. Crazy traffic.” Flash rubbed the back of his head as Sunset made embarrassed faces and shifted her weight nervously.

“Well, I'll at least show you where your first class is. You have your schedules?”

“Um yeah,” Sunset said. They each pulled out a piece of paper and showed them to the dean.

“Oh, you're both in the same English class, follow me.” Flash and Sunset looked at each other and smiled.

They followed Dean Cadence to their classroom. As they passed through the halls of the school, they marveled at the crystal columns and ornamental gemstones embedded in the walls.

“This place sure looks expensive.” Sunset eyed the mirror finish on the glossy marble floor.

“Yeah, um, how much is tuition again?” Flash asked.

“Ha ha, don't worry Flash, you're covered. I processed your application myself. It's great that you could attend Crystal Prep Academy on that disadvantaged student scholarship. This school needs more socioeconomic diversity,” Dean Cadence said.

“Hey! I'm not that poor…” He sulked. “Uh, hey Sunset how did you pay?”

“In gold. Remember?”

“Oh right.”

“Okay here's your classroom.” Dean Cadence gestured towards a cobalt colored door with an immaculate mirror-like window filling the upper half.

“Thanks, this place is huge. I'm not sure if we would have found it ourselves.” Sunset said.

“Well, here's a couple of maps for you. I hope you can find the rest of your classes fine. I hope you enjoy your time here at Crystal Prep, class is about to start, time to get going!”

“Thank you Dean Cadence.” Flash and Sunset said in unison as they accepted the maps and entered the classroom.

* * *

The bell sounded which signaled the temporary end to the boring lectures and tedious coursework inflicted upon the student body. The blue doors in the halls pulled open and streams of relieved students filed out into the corridor. Flash and Sunset stepped out into the hall.

“This is going to be a boring semester.” Sunset sighed.

“It's not that bad,” Flash said.

“Not that bad? It's the first day back from winter break and I already got a ton of homework and three quizzes on Wednesday.”

“Yeah… who am I kidding, this sucks.” He paused and let out a sigh. “Well, I Hope the food is alright. Lets get lunch.”

They made their way to the cafeteria by following the flow of the crowd. Upon entering the lunchroom Sunset scanned the tables looking for a place to sit.

Sunset began walking towards an empty bench. “I'll get us a table,” she told Flash.

“You're not getting lunch?” He asked.

“I brought bag lunch,” she replied, holding up a brown bag.

“Oh, smart. I'm not liking the looks of what these kids are eating.” He sighed and walked away to the lunch line.

Sunset sat down on the aluminum bench and put her lunch on the table. Today she packed the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, and a bottle of water. She took a drink of water.

“Hey! What are YOU doing here!” A shrill voice remarked.

Sunset turned her head towards the voice. In astonishment she sported water all over some poor girl, just barely missing her two friends standing behind her. “The Dazzlings!? Oh whoops sorry.” Sunset spouted.

“Gah! What the hell? It isn't enough for you to take away our powers you gotta track us down and spit at us too?” Aria began swearing profusely as the other two physically restrained her.

“Seriously, sorry about that you just surprised me, and I wasn't trying to find you. I didn't even know that you were here.”

Aria calmed down and sulked at the next table over with Sonata enthusiastically drying her off with some napkins.

“So… Sunset Shimmer was it?” Adagio asked.


“If you're not looking for us then why are you here?” Adagio questioned.

Against her better judgment Sunset decided not to dodge the question. “So basically, I got kicked out of CHS over a misunderstanding, and…” She paused and looked away. “They're not my friends anymore. Well, most of them.”

“Kicked out? Not your friends? That's amazing! Ha ha ha!” She cackled.

“No Dagi! Look at her face! She's sad! She looks like she needs hugs right now. Just like that one time when we lost that music competi—”

“Alright, alright. No need to bring that up now,” Adagio said.

Sonata came from behind and grabbed hold of Sunset against her will, the impact knocked Sunset's hair over her face. “There there it's okay, your old friends were meanies anyways.”

Sonata tightened her grip around Sunsets waist and whispered more comforting words in her ear. Taken aback by the gesture, Sunset's eyes grew misty hidden behind her disheveled veil of red and gold. She surprised herself with her reaction. With a whole two weeks to grieve over her losses she thought it was a done deal, but it seems like it wasn't enough. Regardless, crying on the first day of school isn't something Sunset wanted to do so she rubbed her eyes and pulled away from the comforting girl.

“Um, thanks.”

“Don't worry Sunny w—”

“No. Not Sunny.”

“Don't worry Shimmy! We're ALL friends now! Yay!” The energetic girl threw her hands in the air. Sunset swore she saw rainbows in her eyes.

“Damn it Sonata, I am NOT EVER going to be friends with HER!” The damp one shouted and pointed.

“Yes, I think I threw up in my mouth a little watching that pitiful display. Don't forget who it was that blasted us with magic and stripped us of our power. There must be something wrong with your tiny walnut brain if you think we're going to be her friend.” The orange one said.

“Aw come on guys, it'll be fun and we totes had that rainbow blast coming. We tried to mind control everybody and take over the world. I mean duh of course someone's gonna stop us. Don't you guys watch movies? Oh which reminds me.” Sonata stiffly stood straight up.

“Sunset!” She saluted.

“Me, Adagio, and Aria are all sorry for trying to take over the world. It was very bad and we'll never do it again.” She bowed in apology in an exaggerated manner.

“Uh, apology accepted?” Sunset was unconvinced the other two were sorry.

“I'm not sorry and I'd totally do it again. You're an idiot Sonata,” Aria said.

“Well, in hindsight it wasn't a very good plan. However, am I sorry? I can't say that I am, but at least nobody has to worry about us trying anything new ever again,” Adagio said, with a hand grasping at where her magic amulet once was.

“Eh close enough… Lets eat!” Sonata took a seat on the bench uncomfortably close to Sunset. Adagio sat across from Sonata and put down her lunch tray.

“Aria dear, would you come join us?” Adagio chimed.

“Ugh fine…” Aria reluctantly slinked over and sat next to Adagio.

They ate in relative silence for a few minutes before being interrupted.

“Whoa! Sunset why are you sitting with those girls who tried to take over the world?” Flash stood nearby holding a tray of lunch.

“It's okay they're harmless.”

“But—” Flash was going to ask Sunset another question, but was interrupted.

“Heyy cutie how you doin?~<3 Haven't seen you here before.” A sweetly smiling girl giggled and looked up at Flash standing too close.

“Oh um hi.” Flash took a step back.

“Sooo, what's your name?~<3” She giggled more and took a step forward.

“Hey! We were having a conversation!” Sunset barked at the strange girl.

“Well… SO WAS I!” The girl barked back.

“Just who the hell do you think you are?” Sunset said.

“My name is Sour Sweet!~<3 Pleased to meet you…” She said sarcastically.

“My name is Sonata! I like your hair!” Sonata interrupted.

“And I'm Sunset Shimmer. Now go away!” Sunset yelled. Flash was at a loss as to how he should react to the scene before him so he just stood there dumbfounded and watched.

“Like heck if you think I'm leaving without getting this guy's name and phone number!”

“That's just uh Brad and he's already dating that guy you were hitting on last week. Don't waste your time,” Aria interjected.

“HEY!” Flash and Sunset reacted in unison.

“Brad huh? Damn it! I never hit on the straight ones!” Sour Sweet wandered away cursing under her breath.

“Uh thanks for that. I think.” Brad took a seat next to Sunset.

“It's actually Flash Sentry by the way.”

“Ooh ooh! I'm Sonata, that's Aria, and that's Adagio! Lets all be friends with Brad!” Sunset sat fuming as Sonata peeked around her to wave at Brad.

“So are you Sunset's boyfriend or something? She was foaming at the mouth defending your baloney pony from that psycho bitch.” Aria teased. Adagio descended into a coughing fit to disguise her laughter.

The two responded to Aria's claims simultaneously. “Uh well it's complicated…” Flash stuffed his face with lunch to save himself from elaborating. His eyes lit up as he voiced his approval of the grey slop on his plate.

“I was not foaming at the mouth and he's… kinda my boyfriend? I guess? I mean… it's complicated…” Sunset trailed off.

“Awkwrrrd,” Sonata blurted out through a mouth full of food.

Everyone ate in silence for the rest of lunch. They said their goodbyes and went to class when lunch came to an end. Flash and Sunset waited in the hall among a group of students waiting for the teacher to arrive and open the door.

“Hey, it looks like we're in the same math class too,” Flash said.

“Looks like we only have two out of six classes together.” Sunset said. Sunset glanced down the hall looking to see if the teacher is coming to unlock the door yet when she saw something unexpected. Sunset spotted two girls she didn't recognize harassing somebody. Sunset squinted and made out the terrified face of Twilight Sparkle. One of the girls shoved Twilight causing her to drop her books and the other one kicked Twilight's books away as she tried to collect them. Feeling fire in her veins Sunset stomped her way over. Flash was confused for a moment until he saw what Sunset was headed towards and immediately joined in on the rescue with a scowl on his face.

“Hey! What do you think you're doing?” Sunset stepped between Twilight and the harassers. Flash asked Twilight if she was alright. She nodded meekly as Flash helped gather her books.

“How quaint, you must be the plebs from Canterlot High. We're not doing anything at the moment that would concern rejects such as yourselves. Now run along. Nothing to see here,” the condescending girl demanded.

“It is definitely my concern when my friend Twilight is being attacked by raging psychopaths such as yourselves.” Sunset mocked the girl's mannerisms.

“I don't have to take that from you.”

“Whatcha gonna do about it princess?” Sunset stepped forward with white knuckles around a sturdy black umbrella.

“I-I have better things to do than argue with CHS rejects.” She turned away and walked down the hall as calmly but quickly as she could.

“Sunny Flare! Wait up!” The spiky teal haired girl shouted and ran down the hallway.

Sunset watched smugly as they walked away. “Amateurs.”

Flash Sentry turned to Twilight to ask her what happened. Twilight hid behind her books unresponsive to Flash's questioning. After watching the bullies run away Sunset turned to Twilight.

“So, Twi what was that all about and what are you doing here at Crystal Prep?”

“Um thanks for saving me, but who are you two and why do you know my name?”

“Twilight? It's me Flash Sentry don't you remember?”

Wheels turned in Sunset's head. “Oh, I get it.” Sunset grabbed Flash and pulled him just out of earshot of Twilight.

“I think this is your world's Twilight Sparkle,” she discretely whispered.

“Oh that makes sense. She does seem different, more uh low-key.” They rejoined Twilight.

“My apologies, we thought you were someone else,” Sunset said.

“I still want to know what was going on though,” Flash added.

“W-Well, before break they told me to do their over-the-break homework since I'm so smart. I didn't do it though because I'm busy with my personal research, and I forgot to tell them that I didn't do it until they asked me this morning. They've been bothering me all day since,” Twilight said.

“That's messed up,” Flash said.

“Those bitches!” Sunset clenched her fists and Twilight flinched at her cursing.

“Well you don't have to worry anymore. We have your back.” Flash gave her a smile.

“Um, thank you.” Twilight said. “Oh, you still haven't told me both your names yet.”

“Right, I'm Sunset Shimmer and this is Flash Sentry.” Sunset gestured at Flash.

“Can we get your number so we can stay in touch?” Flash asked.

“Smoooth.” Sunset chided.

“S-sure.” Twilight felt butterflies in her stomach from being asked her number. She clumsily dug her phone out of her backpack and exchanged numbers with her heroes. Twilight marveled at her now substantially longer contact list. Snapping out of her giddy daze, she noticed her classmates filing into their classroom. Twilight excused herself and went to class as did Flash and Sunset. Twilight sat in an open seat by the window. Turning to look through the glass she spotted her reflection starring back with the biggest smile she'd ever seen on it.

Chapter 8: Descent

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The air was still and the sky was grey. While the roads and sidewalks were kept relatively clear of precipitation, the area surrounding sweet apple acres had white up to Applebloom's knees.

“Why are we headed to the tree house today? My socks are getting wet,” Scootaloo asked.

“Why shouldn't we be in the tree house? It's our secret base!” Applebloom replied.

“I guess that makes sense, but I can't stay too long. I gotta go home and do my homework soon.” Scootaloo said.

“Hey… girls?” Sweetie Belle yawned and rubbed her eyes.

“Yeah? What's up Sweetie Belle?”

“Have Applejack and Rainbow Dash been doing okay recently? Because it seems like Rarity was arguing with them for the whole break.” Sweetie Belle stared down at the snow.

“It's just a disagreement. I'm sure they'll get over it eventually,” Scootaloo said.

“Ah agree, it should all blow over soon,” Applebloom said, climbing up the ramp into the tree house.

“I'm not so sure about tha— whoa!” Sweetie Belle wobbled on some ice frozen to the planks, but regained her balance. “I mean, they're all still arguing about Sunset. Did you know that Fluttershy hasn't spoken to any of them in like, weeks?” She took a seat on one of the wooden clubhouse chairs.

“That's just Fluttershy, she normally doesn't talk much,” Scootaloo said, taking a seat opposite of Sweetie Belle.

“Yeah, I mean Sunset is gone now so what do they have left to argue about?” Applebloom sat down completing the triangle.

“Girls, I-I think we should come clean.” Sweetie Belle confessed.

“WHAT!?” the other two shouted in unison.

“N-no way are we doing that. We're taking this one to the grave, you hear?” Applebloom said.

“Yeah! We already got away with it, and since Sunset is gone we don't have to post anything else on the Anon-a-miss page. Just let it go.” Scootaloo added.

Sweetie Belle shifted in her seat. “I-I can't. The guilt is killing me, every time Rarity screams or cries about her friends I feel like I wanna puke. Guys, it's our fault that the people we care about are suffering and we can still make things right. And what about Sunset? We ruined her whole life. I keep having nightmares about her.” She yawned. “In my dream she told me to 'enjoy the rest of your break' and then I just hear my sister arguing and crying for the rest of the night.”

“I-I'm sorry, I had no idea.” Scootaloo said.

“I have dreams like that too, but we still can't. My sis is gonna disown me if she ever finds out about this.” Applebloom leaned back in her chair and exhaled.

“Sorry girls, I can’t do this anymore. I gotta go home and tell Rarity.” Sweetie Belle stood up and headed for the exit ramp.

“WHAT!? NO! YOU CAN'T!” Applebloom jumped up in a panic and grabbed Sweetie Belle by her wrist, as Scootaloo blocked the exit with her body.

“Let me go! I have to do this!” Sweetie Belle shouted.

“NO!” The girls all wrestled with each other until Sweetie Belle was restrained to a chair. Applebloom tightened the rope on the back of the chair and around Sweetie Belle's ankles completely immobilizing her.

“What are you girls doing? Untie me!” Sweetie Belle screamed. “HELP! SOMEBODY!”

Scootaloo grabbed a roll of duct tape from the arts and crafts cabinet and gagged Sweetie Belle's screams with it. The girl looked up from her bondage with hatred.

“Oh no, what are we going to do now?” Applebloom said, gripping the sides of her head.

“We can't keep her like this forever!” Scootaloo paced around the room.

“Um, we can just keep her like this fer now while we buy time an figure out what we're gonna do. Scoots, can you run to the store and get us all some snacks? I think we might be here a while figuring this out,” Applebloom said.

“Alright, I'll be back as soon as I can.” Scootaloo dashed out the door and down the street.

“Now then, um… Sweetie Belle?”

“MMPH!” Sweetie Belle grunted and stared venomously.

“Are ya sure you want to rat us all out?” Applebloom asked, Sweetie Belle nodded.

“Uh, well… gosh darn it… think Applebloom think…” Applebloom paced around the room and stared out the window hoping for some inspiration when she heard the squeak of wood scraping against wood and some thumping. Her head spun around and she saw Sweetie Belle jumping towards the exit with a chair tied to her back and her ankles bound together.

“Hey! Get back ere!” Applebloom shouted, chasing after her escaping prisoner.

Applebloom watched Sweetie Belle make it to the start of the ramp before she watched the girl slip to the right.


“S-Sweetie Belle? Are you okay?” Applebloom cautiously peered over the edge of the ramp and saw her friend laying motionless in the snow. She hastily made her way down the ramp to get a closer look.

“Sweetie Belle! Say somthin! Please!” She shook her limp friend revealing a bloody wound on the side of her head. Sweetie Belle's head must have struck the root at the base of the tree when she fell from the ramp.

Applebloom began sobbing and hyperventilating. “Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh I killed her!” She untied the rope and pulled Sweetie Belle into her arms.

“Sweetie Belle! Please wake up! Please! SWEETIE BELLE!” Tears fell onto Sweetie Belle's face mixing into the trickles of blood running from the gash above her right eyebrow and into the creases of the duct tape still around her mouth. Applebloom's heart was beating out of her chest as a million thoughts raced through her mind, none of them coherent. However she knew that she had to do something, and that first something that came to mind was to continue doing what she had been doing all along, hiding the truth.

Applebloom carried the chair and the rope back up to the tree house and arranged it to look like Sweetie Belle escaped. She ran back down and lifted Sweetie Belle several yards further into the apple orchard plopping her down at what she deemed to be a discreet enough location. Applebloom then dug a child sized hole with her hands and rolled her friend into the hole face up. She packed some snow on top so the girl was hidden. She finished by smoothing the surface with the flat side of a nearby snow shovel that she was too shocked to notice earlier.

After carefully retracing her steps and obfuscating them with the shovel she returned to the tree and buried the bloody spot on the tree with snow. After the whole ordeal, she returned to the tree house, collapsed to the floor on her side, and broke down crying. She knew what she was doing was wrong, her own actions made her sick, but she was in too deep to turn back. Not ten minutes have passed when Scootaloo returned. “Hey, Applebloom I got th… where's Sweetie Belle?” Scootaloo dropped her plastic shopping bags on the floor of the clubhouse sending snacks tumbling out.

“She escaped.” Applebloom managed to lie between her sobs.

“You let her escape!? We're done for.” Scootaloo sank to her knees.

“Hey, quit crying, you're going to make me cry.” Scootaloo's eyes watered.

“We should go look for her. I bet she went home. Come on, Applebloom lets go.” Scootaloo rubbed her eyes, stood up and ran off in the direction of Sweetie Belle's house.

Applebloom climbed up onto her hands and knees and wiped her face on her sleeve. She lumbered up onto her feet and slogged after Scootaloo.

Chapter 9: Deadset

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Snowflakes fell from the sky and onto the ground forming a deep layer of untouched puffy snow above the previous day's hail. What started as a routine after-school hangout turned into something out of a nightmare. With her best friend laying in a shallow grave, assumed dead, Applebloom was a petrified wreck. She and Scootaloo have been running to Sweetie Belle's house for the past ten minutes, though Applebloom could only manage a light jog with her dazed mental state. The icy stagnant air stung their lungs and the cold numbed their extremities. Giving in to her anxious knees, Applebloom tripped and face planted in the snow.

“Hurry up Applebloom! We might still be able to catch her if we hurry!”

Applebloom took her time lifting herself up with her shaky arms. Running around town looking for Sweetie Belle was pointless, she already knew where she was, but Scootaloo didn't and she never should. If Scootaloo ever found out what happened it would certainly be the end of their friendship.

Applebloom and Scootaloo stood before a white and purple house.

“You wanna ring the bell Applebloom?”

Applebloom stood motionless like a deer in headlights.

“Fine, I'll do it.” Scootaloo approached the door and rang.

“Coming!” Sang a voice from inside summarily followed by the door flinging open. Rarity stood in the frame.

“Hello girls! Are you looking for Sweetie Belle? I'm afraid she hasn't returned home yet.”

“Oh, okay.” Scootaloo said.

“It is absolutely frigid out today. You girls really ought to bundle up some more. Here, I've got something for you.” Rarity draped thick knitted scarves around each of the girls' necks.

“Aww, don't you two just look precious?” Rarity smiled.

“Wow, thanks Rarity.” Scootaloo said.

“Y-yeah thanks.” Applebloom pulled the scarf over her face.

“And give this one to Sweetie Belle when you find her.” She handed Applebloom a neatly folded pink woolen scarf.

“Bye bye now!” Rarity waved as the girls said their goodbyes and left.

Applebloom was glad she didn't have to look at Rarity any longer, but being handed a physical reminder of what she did worsened her trepidation. Her teeth began chattering despite the warm scarf covering her face, almost as if the scarf made her colder.

“Well, what now?” Scootaloo asked.

“I-I think we should split up and look.” Applebloom tightly squeezed Sweetie Belle's pink scarf in her hand.

“Sounds good, I'll go check school.” Scootaloo spared no time and dashed off.

Applebloom looked down at the scarf she clutched in her hands and was overcome with guilt. Rarity would be crushed if she knew what happened, but if Sweetie Belle really was dead, Rarity would be absolutely devastated. But, wait. Dead? After having some time to calm down, Applebloom realized that she hadn't checked Sweetie Belle's vitals rather, in her frenzied state she automatically assumed the worst and acted accordingly. Adrenaline doesn't always result in the best outcomes. This epiphany made her blood run cold. She'd buried her best friend alive, is this really how she acts in times of emergency? Applebloom began sprinting back to the tree house.

What have I done?

She'd arrived back at the scene of the crime haggard and gasping for air. She looked for the spot she'd buried Sweetie Belle, but what she saw shocked her to the core. The hole was empty and a single set of footprints lead away. A single strip of bloody duct tape sat in the hole next to some red-stained snow. After a moment's hesitation she followed the prints, but was interrupted by something buzzing in her pocket. She pulled out her phone and read the message sent by Applejack.

Sweetie Belle's hurt bad. I took her to the hospital. Do you know what happened?

Yes, she did know, but there was no way she was going to tell the truth. Applebloom wracked her brain for a story compatible with what she told Scootaloo and with what she was about to tell her sister.

Oh no! Shes hurt?? We were just playing hide and seek near the clubhouse. No wonder we couldn't find her.

Well y'all should be more careful. She's lucky I tripped on her while looking for the snow shovel. I reckon you should ask Big Mac for a ride over to the hospital and bring Scootaloo.

I gotta go, sugar-cube. Sweetie Belle's mom is here.

Applejack put her phone away and adjusted her Stetson.

Rarity came running into the hospital lobby alongside a woman with a purple beehive hairdo and large gold earrings. “My baby! Where is she?” The woman shrieked.

“She's still in the operating room ma'am.” Applejack answered.

Sweetie Belle's mother ran up to the reception desk and unloaded her questions at an annoyed receptionist.

“Oh Applejack! Thank you so much for helping my sister. Have you found out anything from Applebloom?” Rarity said.

“Apparently, they were just playin' hide and go seek, but that don't explain how Sweetie Belle buried herself in the snow so perfectly with that head injury. Hmm…” She rubbed her chin.

“To think something awful like this could happen to your loved ones at any time… It's absolutely terrifying. If… No. When! Sweetie Belle recovers I won't take her for granted ever again!” Tears streamed down Rarity's face.

“Hang in there Rare. I'm here for you.” Applejack put her hand on Rarity's shoulder.

“Oh Applejaaack!” Rarity sobbed into Applejack's shoulder. Applejack comfortingly stroked her back.

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash came rushing into the lobby.

“Hey guys, we came as soon as we got your text,” Rainbow Dash said.

Pinkie brushed her straight hair out of her face and frowned at the sight of Rarity's grieving. She tried to think of something reassuring to say, but instead crossed her arms and stared at the floor.

Sweetie Belle's mother approached the group and collapsed onto a chair.

Rarity let go of Applejack and gathered herself. “Mother? How is she?”

Before her mother could respond, a man in a white coat with a crazed look in his eyes approached the group.

“Salutations, I am Doctor Discord.” Everybody was focused on him.

“How is she? How is my daughter?”

The man took a deep breath and spoke somberly, “I must inform you that Sweetie Belle is dead-” he paused, faces turned white, “-set on a speedy recovery!” He waved his arms and did a little dance.

“Oh…” Sweetie Belle's mother exhaled.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Rainbow shouted at the doctor while reaching for his collar, Pinkie muffled and restrained her.

“No Rainbow! Don't!” Pinkie held Dash in a headlock.

Doctor Discord pretended not to notice. “So, from her injuries it appears that she had fallen and hit her head. Poor little thing… Thankfully, Sweetie Belle's external injuries weren't particularly serious. Only six stitches on her head, some bruising on her arms and legs, and she was just the teensiest bit too cold. Her internals however, well… put simply… we dunno. Brain scans didn't show anything wrong in her noggin, but cases like this are a mixed bag. But, if you want my professional opinion, she's going to be just fine, though she may be a tad bit confused when she wakes up, might even have a bit of amnesia.”

The doctor continued, “Nonetheless, it never ceases to amaze me how durable children are. Still, she's going to be needing to stay the night so we can keep an eye on her, just in case.”

The doctor pensively held his forehead and gripped his clipboard to his chest. “Sheesh, we've been having far too many head trauma cases lately. To think the administration laughed when I said we should order protective helmets and ballistic vests for the whole city!”

He raised his hands near his mouth and shouted down the hall. “Well who's laughing now?! Ha! Ha! Ha! Haaaa! Nooooot meeeee!”

“Um, Doctor Discord? Where is my daughter? I would like to see my daughter.” Sweetie Belle's mother requested.

“Oh, she's being moved from the operating room to a bed as we speak. One of our nurses should be letting you in soon.”

“Thank you Doctor. One more thing, erm, how much is all this going to cost?” The woman shifted nervously in her seat.

“We will go over that later when Sweetie Belle is discharged.” Doctor Discord answered.

Pinkie finally lost control of Rainbow Dash and she lunged at the Doctor grunting. “Graaah!”

Doctor Discord checked his watch. “Well, looks like I'm needed elsewhere. Ta ta.” He stepped around the corner and vanished, much to Rainbow's confusion.

She did a double take and scanned the hall, but the doctor was nowhere to be found. Cursing under her breath she rejoined everyone back around the corner.

“Rainbow Dash! Now is not the time to be tryin' ta start a fight!” Applejack yelled.

“But, Applejack! Did you hear what he said?”

“Yes. Yes I did, and surely we will be filing a formal complaint about it. Like an adult.” Applejack furled her brow and gave Dash a disapproving look.

“Well…” Rainbow trailed off as she saw some familiar faces enter the lobby. “Hey guys! Over here!” She waved over Big Mac, Applebloom, and Scootaloo.

Big Mac seemed stoic as usual while both the girls were shaking. Scootaloo looked to be holding back tears with limited success on account of her moist red eyes and tear stained hands. Applebloom on the other hand looked extremely worried and she wouldn't look anyone in the eye.

“H-how is she?” Scootaloo asked, her voice sounding strained.

“Sweetie Belle is going to be just fine. The doctors just finished treating her,” Applejack answered.

Without missing a beat, a nurse appeared from behind a door. “Sweetie Belle can take visitors now,” the nurse announced.

Applebloom, Big Mac, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and her mother all approached the door.

The nurse's eyes widened when she saw the large group approach. Thankfully, Sweetie Belle had her own room otherwise these visitors would need to come in two at a time so as not to bother the other patients.

“Right this way.” The nurse guided everyone to Sweetie Belle's room.

The nurse stopped before an anonymous white door in a long hallway. “Remember to be quiet. She's sleeping,” she said.

Everyone silently nodded.

Rarity and her mother entered first, followed by everyone else. The worried mother scurried up to the bedside, she was relieved to see Sweetie Belle steadily breathing safe and sound. Her attention shifted to the bandage on the girl's head, a tiny spot of red dotted the center of the gauze.

“Oh my baby…” She held her hands to her mouth to silence her cry and collapsed onto a chair Rarity moved from the wall to the bedside.

Rarity comforted her mother while fighting back tears and failing. Rarity and her mother held each other tightly and cried openly.

Scootaloo approached the bed from the other side. The difference between hearing about something bad happening to her friend and actually seeing it in person were like night and day. Her knees grew weak and gave away hitting the tiled linoleum floor. Looking straight ahead eye level with her unconscious friend, tears streamed down her face.

Rainbow Dash rested a hand on the shocked girl's shoulder.

Pinkie leaned against the doorway brooding and aloof in demeanor. Her long straight bangs curtained off the harrowing scene, but the cries still reached her ears. Cupcakes and balloons can't fix this one, what was she even doing here? Her tears fell silently.

Applebloom stood at the back of the room facing the foot of the bed. She approached and placed the scarf that Rarity made for Sweetie Belle on the foot of the bed. She eyed Sweetie Belle cautiously, like she could spring back from the dead at any moment in seek of vengeance. As much as that thought disturbed her, what disturbed her more was everyone's grief stricken faces. The guilt ravaged her stomach, waves of nausea washed over her.

Applebloom felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up to Big Mac's reassuring face. She felt arms wrap around her and Applejack's comforting whisper in her ear.

“It'll be alright, I know you girls were jus' playing. It's not your fault sugar-cube.”

Not your fault.

Her insides twisted and turned into ice hearing those words. Her guilt was like poison in her veins making her shake and sweat.

“There there lil' sis, keep calm. I gotcha.” Applejack whispered.

It was too much, she didn't deserve her sister's kindness, she couldn't listen to Rarity's grief, she needed to escape. Applebloom jerked away from her sister and darted out the room, nearly tripping on Pinkie in the doorway.

“Hey!” Applejack called out extending an arm towards her fleeing sister. She and Big Mac went after the girl.

They spotted Applebloom running down the hallway back to the entrance lobby. Moving at a brisk pace, Applejack and Big Macintosh caught up to the distressed girl hunched over a trashcan retching.

Applejack took a moment to catch her breath. She planned on scolding the girl for running off, but seeing her little sister in such a sorry state left her at a loss for words. “Oh Applebloom…”

“Eeeup…” Big Mac agreed.

Applebloom peeked up from the defiled can with pale skin and a string of bile hanging from her chin. “I'm sorry, it's just—” she coughed and hacked into the bin.

“What's wrong sugar-cube?” Applejack lowered herself to be eye level with her little sister and wiped her face clean with a handkerchief. “Do you have anything you wanna tell us?” Applejack watched Applebloom's pupils contract.

Applebloom had trouble speaking. “I… I… I'm just really… worried about Sweetie Belle. I-It was um… too much for me to handle… seeing her like that.”

Applejack spoke with unwavering compassion. “We completely understand how hard this is for you Applebloom,” Applejack narrowed her eyes, “but if you know something about this incident, please. Tell us.”


Applebloom opened her mouth like she was about to say something, but instead turned back to the trashcan to cough and spit.

“So, how about we call it a day then?” Applejack stood back up and extended a hand to her sister.

Without saying a word, Applebloom tentatively took her hand. Hearing footsteps from behind she turned around to see everyone except for Sweetie Belle's immediate family exit the hallway into the lobby.

Rainbow spoke up, “Rarity and her mom are going to stay a bit longer. The rest of us are heading home now.”

“Alright. Us too, it's been a long day. Rest easy everyone.” Applejack said before leaving with Applebloom and Big Mac in tow.

Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Scootaloo headed for the exit when Rainbow Dash had something to say.

“Hey, you guys go ahead. I'll catch up, there's something I gotta do before I leave.” Rainbow Dash paced off before anyone had a chance to protest.

Rainbow stopped before an elevator and pressed the call button. It's been a week since Rainbow had last visited her friend in the hospital. Since she was here already there's no sense in wasting a trip.

A ding was heard and the metal doors slid apart revealing a white feathery haired girl in the elevator.

“Hey! Gilda!” Rainbow exclaimed in surprise.

“Well, I'll be damned. If it isn't Rainbow Dash. If you're here to visit ya just missed yer chance. I'm on my way home right now.” Gilda grinned.

“Wow really? It's awesome that you're all better now!”

Gilda hobbled out of the elevator steadying herself on the wall. “Well, I wouldn't say all better. That sonofabitch hit me so hard I forgot how to walk. Spent weeks in therapy practicing after I woke up, and I'm still not one hundred percent back.” She staggered precariously away from the wall and looked like she was going to fall.

“Whoa!” Rainbow caught her and held her steady.

“Hey! Let go of me! I don't need yer help! I got this.” Gilda snarled.

“Oh my bad.”

Gilda is such an independent girl that she hates it when people do favors for her. Actually needing help is going to be a difficult adjustment for her, Rainbow held a look of sympathy upon realizing this.

“Ya know Dash, you were the only one who came to visit me. Nobody else from school came even though they did that '1 like = 1 prayer' horseshit online. So, uh thanks Dash.”

“Aww, don't mention it.” Rainbow smiled.

“Hey! D-don't think I'm going soft or anything!” Gilda scowled.

“I'm not! I'm not!”


“So what are you going to do now that you're out?” Rainbow asked.

“I'm gonna finish my fight.”

Rainbow's eyes shot wide open. “Whoa! Whoa! What? You sure about that?”

“What? Don't think I can handle it?”

“It's not that it's jus—”

“It's just what? It's just fair that I get knocked stupid while the she demon and her boy toy get off scot-free?”

“Gilda, they got expelled. Isn't that enough?”

“No Dash that isn't enough! I'm not satisfied until I knock em both out like they did to me and the least you can do is stay out of my way.” She shoved Rainbow to the side and staggered off.

Pinkie peered around the corner. “Um Dashie? Wowie… was that Gilda? Oh, I mean we're waiting for you.”

Rainbow Dash watched Gilda's back disappear out the front door and around the corner. “Lets go home.”

Chapter 10: Meanwhile

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Ding dong!

Sunset shot up out of bed. “Huh?” she groaned and looked around for the source of the noise. Over the low roar of her central heating she could hear doves cooing outside her window and the automatic coffee maker gurgling in the kitchen, but she couldn't make out the noise that roused her from her slumber. Perhaps she dreamed it?

After rubbing her eyes, Sunset's gaze fell to the nightstand. The display on the bedside alarm clock glowed six twenty, but the alarm was set to six thirty. She groaned and mourned the loss of those ten minutes she never got to sleep as she canceled the alarm.

Ding dong!

While letting out a big yawn and stretch, she heard the noise clearly this time. The doorbell? Who could be visiting her so early in the morning? Was it Fluttershy again? With caution she tiptoed over to her front door and squinted through the peep hole. A wide grin stretched across her face. Sunset flung the door open and leapt at her visitor with arms wide open.

“Whoa! Sunset!” Flash caught the girl mid-flight. Her fluffy slippers dangled inches above the freezing wet slush.

“Flash! It's great to see you. I just got outta bed.”

“Y-yeah, I can tell.” Flash noticed how soft, warm, and tangible Sunset was through her thin pajamas.

“Are you feeling okay?” Sunset asked.

“I'm g-great, couldn't be better,” he lowered the girl back down inside her apartment, I uh… like your pajamas. Very… purple.”

“Oh thanks. I um, hadn't had the chance to get dressed yet.” she said, eyeing Flash’s freshly pressed burgundy uniform.

“Sorry I’m early, I just thought that maybe you wanted a ride? Cuz…” He rubbed the back of his head.

“Friends don't let friends take public transit?” Sunset finished.

“Yeah. That. Cool line.”

“Ha ha, very funny now come inside. I’m freezing my butt off out here.”

Flash stepped inside while Sunset shut the door behind him. “Mmm it's warm in here.”

“Yeah, I've been going kinda nuts on the heating since the landlady just got it fixed. She gave me a magic coffee maker as a 'sorry you almost froze to death' gift.”

“What's magic about it?” Flash asked.

“It can turn on by itself! So now I don't have to decide between sleeping in or waking up early to make coffee!”

Flash stifled his laughter.

“Want some? Freshly made.” Sunset stepped into the kitchen and poured a mug of coffee.

“Yeah that'd be great. Coffee would go good with the breakfast pastries I brought.” He plopped down a large white paper bag on the small kitchen table and took a seat.

“Aww, that's so nice of you. Is that from the Sweet Shoppe?” She poured another cup of coffee for herself.

“Yep. I got plenty of frosted raisin breakfast things.”

Sunset giggled. “Of course you're calling them that.” She brought the two cups of coffee to the table and sat down across Flash.

“You like your coffee black right?” she asked.

“Yeah, with no sugar. It tastes real awful. Makes me feel tough.” He took a swig of the steaming black liquid. “Ow! Hot hot! I mean, Mmm that's a good cuppa Joe.”

“You didn't burn yourself did you?” Sunset stirred cream and sugar into her cup.

“Maybe a little…”

Sunset took a careful sip of her coffee. “Want a band-aid for your tongue?”

“It's not that bad.” Flash's tongue hung out.

“Yeah, looks a little red. I keep the band-aids on the living room table now.”

“I don't wanna taste band-aids.” Flash sulkily blew on his coffee.

“Want me to kiss it better for you?” Sunset joked.

Flash was glad he wasn’t drinking anything at the moment or he would've done a spit take. “Wait, what?”

“Too late, offer's expired, and you smell like ashes.” Sunset took a bite out of a pastry.

“Quit messin' with me ya jerk.” He took a bitter sip of coffee.

Sunset finished eating breakfast and got ready for school while Flash moved to the living room couch to mess with his phone. After an unreasonable amount of time passed, Sunset frolicked out of her room wearing her school uniform and just enough make-up to look like she wasn't wearing any make-up.

“Okay! I'm ready! Sorry I took so long!” She made a final adjustment to her navy blue thigh-highs.

Flash grinned. “Lookin' sharp, lets get going.” He put away his phone and accompanied Sunset out to his car.

Flash unlocked the doors of his red convertible with a press of a button.


Sunset giggled in amusement. “I can never get tired of that.”

Flash chuckled. “I can never get tired of you never getting tired of that.” He opened the passenger door for her.

“Oh thanks.”

He shut the door after her, walked around to the driver's side, and leapt over the side into the driver's seat.

“Now you're just showing off.”

He turned the key in the ignition. “Is it working? Do you think I'm cool yet?” Flash joked.

“You're such a dork.”

They laughed in unison as the car rolled down the frosted street.

As the car got up to speed, Sunset shrieked in discomfort. “Ah! Cold cold! Where’d your roof go?” She hugged her book-bag for warmth as the air rushing past penetrated the threads of her blazer.

“Sorry!” Flash panic braked and reached for the controls to deploy the hard top.

Sunset watched in eager amazement as the car's roof emerged from behind and automatically took its place. “Wha? Oh…”

Flash turned a knob on the dashboard and warm air bellowed from the vents. “Better now?”

“Better now, and I guess that answers that. Magic!” Sunset warmed her fingers by the dashboard vent.

“Yep, Magic.” Flash wiggled his fingers mysteriously.

“Ha ha, what was that?” Sunset snickered.

“Y'know it's that hand wavy thingy magicians do before pulling a bunny out of a hat.”

“Really? Where I'm from we do magic like this.” She formed a unicorn horn on her forehead with index fingers. “Pew! Pew!”

“That's adorable.”

“S-shut up.” Sunset pouted. “But, really how is your car so nice if you got in to Crystal Prep on a scholarship?”

“Oh, this car used to belong to my uncle.”

“He just let you have it? He must be a really nice guy.” Sunset looked impressed.

“Yeah, he was the best. He was super into cars and motorcycles. I used to spend hours with him in his garage working on old cars and listening to old rock cassettes.”

“Sounds like a blast, you gotta bring me along sometime.”

“I’d love to, but he died in a motorcycle accident a two years ago,” Flash answered.

Sunset held her hands to her mouth in shock. “Oh my gosh I had no idea, I'm so sorry.”

“It's alright.”

The car skidded to a halt behind a row of stationary vehicles sending Sunset jerking forwards then back into her seat.

“Ah crap. Sorry about that. I really should've gone the other way.” Flash sighed.

The car idled behind a row of vehicles inching their way forwards.

“Well, it looks like we're gonna be late again.” Sunset sighed and folded her seat back.

“Man, I hope not. We're almost there.”

They quietly idled in traffic until Sunset broke the silence again.

“Hey, Flash.” She starred at the roof from her reclining position.


“What do you think about Crystal Prep so far?”

“It's alright I guess. The campus is way nicer than CHS, but other than that I think it's still too early to judge.”

“Fair enough, but even though it's only the second day at this new school, I think things are finally starting to feel normal for once. You agree?”

Flash smiled. “Yeah. It's nice.”

“And I never would have thought it before, but so far I'm actually kinda enjoying it at Crystal Prep. No one hates or fears me at this school.” Sunset hugged her book-bag smiling.

“But the kids are kinda…” Flash trailed off.

The passenger seat shot back up and Sunset swiveled her head to answer. “Stuck up? Yeah sure, but being ignored is way better than what was happening to me at CHS.”

“That's for sure, but if anyone here does give you any trouble then this time you got me to help.”

“If by help you mean punch then no thanks.”

“It's okay, I'll punch softer next time.”

Sunset furled her brows. “You better not get expelled Flash, Crystal Prep is a lot more strict. If it ever comes down to it, I want you to stay at this school with me even if it means I get a black eye.” A lock of Sunset's bangs fell loose into her face while she emoted.

“If it ever comes down to it, I’m going to stay not-expelled AND protect your face.” He tucked her loose bangs behind her ear.

“You better.” She nuzzled his hand, smiling.

“We're definitely going to be late again.”

* * *

Academics at Crystal Prep was more demanding than Sunset was used to. Despite it being only the second day of the new semester, each class spared no time delving right in to the material, and at twice the pace she was used to. She didn't mind though. Ever since Sunset abandoned her plans for world domination and started putting effort into school she found herself genuinely enjoying the material, particularly history. The stories about this strange world fascinated her. Literature on the other hand was her least favorite subject because of how time consuming the reading and writing was. As much as Sunset was enjoying her human education it was still tedious to be assigned so much homework. At least, math and science to a certain extent were identical to what she already learned in school back in Equestria. The bell rang signaling the end of fourth period. Sunset stepped out into the busy hallway. A waving hand stood out amid the chaos of students walking to and from their lockers. Sunset weaved her way through the crowd towards it.

“Hey Sunset, ready for lunch?” Flash said.

“Yep, you eating the school food again?”

“Nah, turns out the scholarship doesn't cover lunch so I'm bringing my own from now on. As amazing their cream of kale was I can't afford an entire fancy lunch everyday.”

“You like kale? I don’t like kale and I’m literally a horse.”

“It’s the rough and bitter quality, it makes me feel tough.” Flash flexed his bicep.

“You still don’t strike me as the kale-eating type.”

“I know! This school better stop revealing uncomfortable truths about myself.”

Sunset smirked. “Well then, lets get to the cafeteria before the walls start whispering your true feelings.”

“W-what?” Flash stuttered.

Sunset crept up to Flash and whispered in a spooky voice, “Flash reeeally wants mooore kaaaleee.”

Flash sighed in relief. “You know what? Maybe I do. I have just enough money on me today to buy a pack of cigarettes after school, but kale is obviously the better option.”

“Flash! That's great!” Sunset beamed and hugged his side squishing her cheek against his tough bicep. He smiled knowingly.

“Yeah, it's about time I quit. I picked up the habit just a week before you caught me behind CHS that day and it didn't end up being as cool as I thought it would be.”

“Well, lets not keep the kale waiting.” Sunset held her head up high and smiled as they started toward the cafeteria.

Flash cleared his throat. “Hey, so I tried inviting Twilight to lunch with us but, she's busy with an experiment. She's got some serious dedication to science to skip lunch like that.”

“Oh, that's too bad.” Sunset’s posture sank slightly as she felt an unfamiliar sensation in her chest.

“I know right? This Twilight isn't as sociable as the one we're familiar with, yesterday in literature class she flat out told me that she doesn't have any friends. How can that even happen to a girl like her?”

Sunset squinted suspiciously. “A girl like her?”

“Y’know… smart, and cute, and stuff.”

“I see…” An annoyed expression crept on Sunset’s face. “And, you're in a class with her?” She asked.

“Yeah my bad, I forgot to tell you. We're in the same history class, last class of the day.”

Sunset wondered why Flash would wait to tell her something so important. He couldn’t really be that forgetful could he? She knew about Flash’s mutual crush on her friend Princess Twilight, but this world’s Twilight is a different person. Was this still something she should be worried about? Sunset realized that the place this line of reasoning was taking her was somewhere that she didn’t want to go right now, so she pushed it out of her mind.

“We need to help that poor girl,” she said.

Flash smiled. “I was thinking that maybe the three of us can hang out after school. Donut Joe's sound okay?”

“Good thinking, she better not be too busy.” Sunset felt guilty hoping she was.

“I’ll text her now.” Flash tapped away at his phone while he walked, ignoring his surroundings. “And yeah, I hear ya. There's a good chance we'll never see her ever again because she's so cooped up doing science stuff.”

Sunset steered the distracted texter away from a group of bystanders, narrowly avoiding a girl carrying a cello. “Who knows.”

“I think we should set our expectations nice and low so we don't get disappointed.” He pressed send.

Flash's phone buzzed with no hesitation. “Oh never mind, she said yes.”

“Good, I guess.” Sunset stepped into the cafeteria. “Go get your kale, I'll find us somewhere to sit.”

Flash left for the lunch line while Sunset let out a deep sigh and scanned the room for an empty table. Despite how busy it was, there were several empty tables to choose from. She headed for the nearest table when shouting erupted behind her.

“Sunny! Oops! I mean Shimmy! Great to see ya friendo!”

Sunset jumped and spun around to face the source of the disturbance.

“Ah!” she shrieked, “Sonata! You startled me. It's great to see you too. Um, where are your sisters?”

“Ditching school.” Sonata yawned and stretched.

“Really? How come you're here then?”

“They said I wasn't invited. Those jerks. So I got replacement sisters for today. Um where did they go?” She looked around behind her.

A girl with a fuchsia ponytail slid to a halt from the hallway with a grimace on her face. “Hey! Don't ask me to eat lunch with you then run away!”

A second girl with white pigtails calmly stepped out from around the corner. “Indeed. That was very rude of you.”

Sunset didn't recognize the second girl, but the first one was not a welcome sight.

“You made that crazy girl from yesterday your replacement sister?” Sunset held an incredulous expression.

“It's cuz her hair is so pretty!” Sonata gushed.

“You both have the exact same hairstyle.” The mystery girl remarked.

“Hey! What is she doing here!” Sour Sweet pointed at Sunset.

“Um, eating lunch? You're really not the sharpest crayon in the box.” Sunset crossed her arms.

“Who are you calling a crayon! You… you…”

Sonata interrupted, “Hey! No fighting! Can't you two start over and get along?”

“No!” Both girls shouted.

“Do it for me?” Sonata pouted.

Sunset crossed her arms. “Only if she cooperates.”

“I'm not doing ANYTHING for ANYONE!” Sour Sweet replied.

“Please?” Sonata looked up with puppy dog eyes.

“Why should I? Who the HELL even are you?!”

“Pleeease?” Sonata’s bottom lip began quivering.

Their exchange went back and forth several times before Sour finally conceded.

“FINE!! I’ll be super duper besties 4 evar with this BITCH over here! You can count on me for sure! ~<3”

The mystery girl nudged Sour with her elbow. Sour's expression softened.

“Yay!” Sonata cheered, “now lets redo your first impressions. Replacement Aria! Introduce yourself to Sunset.”

Sunset interjected, “Whoa whoa if she’s going to start name calling, then I’m outta here.”

“Wait!” Sour called out as Sunset turned away.

“Uh yeah?”

“I’m sorry, I uh have some issues I’m working on. I didn’t mean that. Honest.”

Sour extended her hand. “My name is Sour Sweet. Pleased to meet you! ~<3” She seemed earnest this time.

Sunset sighed, smiled, and accepted her handshake. “I'm Sunset Shimmer and am also pleased to meet you,” she then leaned in and squinted intensely, “provided you leave Fl… er, Brad alone.”

“Huh? You think I'm still hung up about that?! You think I'm DESPERATE or something?!” Sour shouted, veins popping from her forehead.

Sunset recoiled at the girl's sudden outburst.

Sour's demeanor changed as she smiled sweetly, “I'm over it! You've got nothing to worry about Sunset! ~<3”

“Oh, well… I'm glad we're on the same page now. I really don't need any more drama in my life.” Sunset grinned.

Sonata threw her arms up in celebration. “Yay! I fixed your friendship!”

“Whoa, hang on. I didn’t agree to that…” Sunset hand motioned her to slow down.

“Are you three finished? I believe we should be looking for a table right now.” The girl with the white pigtails said.

“Yeah, they're starting to fill up. Um, I'm sorry have we met before?” Sunset scratched her head trying to put a name to that face.

“No, we haven't. I'm Sugarcoat.”

“And I'm Sunset.” Sunset extended her hand.

Sugarcoat starred at it. “I don't want to shake your hand.”

“What? Why not?” Sunset asked, feeling slighted.

“Sour didn't wash her hands after using the bathroom.” The girl deadpanned.

“Hey! I was in a hurry!” Sour yelled.

“No you weren't.” Sugarcoat adjusted her glasses.

With a grimace, Sunset swung her bag to the front and retrieved a small bottle of strawberry scented hand sanitizer. She applied it liberally to the contaminated area and offered some to Sour Sweet, who shamefully accepted.

The four girls wandered over to the nearest empty table and sat down.

Flash approached the table carrying a lunch tray with one item on it.

“Hey… everyone.” He sat next to Sunset while trying not to notice the strange girl from yesterday.

“Hi Brad!” Sonata yelled.

“Brad? I believe his name is Flash Sentry.” Sugarcoat corrected.

“It is?! I've been LIED to!” Sour shouted while Sonata stared blankly.

“Hi Brad!” Sonata yelled.

“How did you know his name?” Sunset asked Sugarcoat.

“History class. New students tend to stick out in memory.” Sugarcoat placed her lunchbox on the table.

“Oh cool. We're in the same class?” Flash stirred his cream of kale.

“Obviously.” Sugarcoat deadpanned.

Flash held an unamused expression on his face. “And your name is?”


“Good to meet you.” Flash said, trying to be polite.

“Liar.” She turned her attention to her lunch.

Sour began laughing. “Don't worry Flash, she does that to everyone. Ha ha good ol' Sugarcoat. You TINY BITCH! I've known her for ages, we're good friends ~<3.”

Everyone except Sugarcoat jumped at Sour's outburst.

Sunset began choking on her lunch, but quickly cleared the blockage with her water. “Can you give us a warning before you do that?”

“I'll do whatever the HELL I WANT!”

Sonata, who had been watching until now intervened. “Girls! We're all friends now okay? That means no fighting.”

Sunset grimaced and angrily continued eating, as did Sour. Flash sympathetically pet Sunset's back to calm her simmering rage. She nudged him with a shoulder and let out an annoyed growl.

“Aww, you two are acting so totes adorbs!” Sonata commented.

Sunset's face turned red while Flash’s eyes darted to the side.

“S-shut up. What do those stupid words even mean?” Sunset angrily took a drink of water.

“Come on! It's totally obvious that you like each other.” Sonata said, grinning mischievously.

“I agree, they do seem rather comfortable with one another.” Sugarcoat added.

A gush of water narrowly missed Sonata as Sunset was flustered. “What the heck are you guys talking about? I-It's not like that at all!” She turned her head away pouting.

Flash had been wearing his best poker face this entire time and was pretending not to notice the situation, but his eyes reacted to Sunset’s last few words.

“You suuuuure?” Sonata grinned harder and narrowed her eyes.

“S-shut up Sonata…”

“She's dodging the question.” Sugarcoat said.

“Yes! I'm sure! Now quit messing with me!” Sunset demanded.

“Oh, so… You don't mind if I date Brad?” Sonata wore a wide grin.

“He's outta your league you i-idiot!” Sunset retaliated.

“We'll see about that!” Sonata turned to Flash. “Hey Brad! You wanna go out with me?” She giggled.

Flash hesitated and looked to Sunset for clues. Sunset's angry piercing stare was all he needed to reassure him. “Sorry, I uh I'm gay.”

An uproar of various reactions sounded out from the table. Sunset simply face-palmed and shook her head. Sonata seemed genuinely disappointed while Sour was telling her “I told you so.”

Chapter 11: Donuts

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Sunset leaned against the side of Flash’s red convertible with her arms crossed. “She’s still not here. Maybe she’s not gonna show up.”

“Hang on, let me send another text.” Flash began typing on his phone.

“I wonder if Fluttershy wants to come. I still haven’t told her about the new Twilight.” Sunset tapped at her phone.

Sunset’s phone buzzed immediately. “Oh, Fluttershy can’t make it. She has volunteer work at the animal shelter.”

“What’d she think about Twilight?”

“No way am I gonna tell her over text. I wanna see her face in person when she finds out.” Sunset grinned at the thought.

Sunset’s phone buzzed again. A picture of Fluttershy cuddling a bundle of tiny calico kittens appeared on the screen. The kittens were batting at her pink dangling bangs while she laughed with an overjoyed expression. Fluttershy followed up with an explanation, “One of our mommy cats had her kittens last week!”

There was no way Sunset could keep a straight face. She burst into laughter. “Hey Flash look at this.” She showed him the picture.

“Ha ha, that’s cute.”

“I know right? Fluttershy is just too precious. Looking at her adorable little smile makes me wanna…” Sunset was interrupted by a blue blur followed by a low metallic thud.

“Heyy Shimmy!” said the girl laying collapsed on the hood of the car.

“Gah! Sonata! You scared me, are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m good. I just tried sledding down some stairs with a lunch tray. It was fun until I went over the curb.” She rubbed her sore forehead.

“You didn’t dent my car did you?” Flash examined the hood.

“Psh, nah. Adagio says my head’s fulla air.”

“So why exactly were you sledding on a lunch tray?” Sunset asked.

“Cuz I don’t have a snowmobile, duh!” Sonata clanged her lunch tray against her head. Sunset swore it sounded hollow.

“CPA has snowmobiles in the storage building by the field. I saw them during PE today.” Flash said.

Sunset face-palmed. “Don’t encourage her.”

“Wow really? I gotta go borrow one right now!”

“They’re locked down when they’re not in use. But, come to think of it, I wonder if they’ve ever been used?”

“Yeah, I still haven’t gotten used to that. This is totally the kind of school that buys things because it can.” Sunset smirked.

“Those poor snowmobiles! Locked up with nowhere to run… We have to save them!”

“Uh, good luck, but we’re staying out of this.” Sunset said, Flash nodded.

“You’re gonna be on the wrong side of history guys! Snowmobiles need big wide open spaces to roam, it’s just not right keeping them caged up like that. I’m gonna go free the sleighs! See. You. Later!” Sonata ran off miming handle bars and making motor noises.

“Well alright then…”

A bespectacled girl came running and apologizing. “Sorry I’m late! I just had to check on my research one last ti—” Twilight shrieked as she slipped on a forlorn lunch tray.

“Whoa! Twilight!” Flash managed to grab her before she hit the frozen ground. “You okay?”

Twilight blushed. “Y-yes thanks.”

Sunset grimaced. “We’re glad you made it Twilight, and even though you’re late I’ll let you have my super special seat in the front next to Flash.”

“Oh no, y-you don’t have t—” Twilight stammered.

Flash chuckled. “Take it easy Twilight, Sunset’s just messing with ya. Come on girls, lets go.”

Twilight adamantly insisted that she should sit in the back. Sunset chuckled and took her usual seat in the front. While waiting for everyone to get settled, Sunset caught a glimpse of motion by a cypress tree but figured it was nothing.

“Wow, I’m really hanging out with my classmates after school. I never thought I’d ever get the chance.” Twilight said.

“Correction, you’re hanging out with your friends after school.” Flash said, twisting around to back out of the parking space.

Twilight beamed.

“So what were you up to that took you so long?” Flash asked.

“Oh um, I was just waiting for my computer to finish crunching some data from an experiment. It’s been running all day and I really wanted to see the results.”

“Were they good?” Sunset asked.

“It’s… complicated.”

“Of course.” Sunset smirked.

“Wow, so you’re like a real scientist. That’s so cool.” Flash said. Sunset rolled her eyes.

Twilight blushed hard, “Nobody’s ever said that about me before.”

Flash raised an eyebrow. “Really? I thought CPA valued brains.”

“They do, I think they value it too much actually.” Twilight twiddled her thumbs.

“Too much?”

“I think a lot of the other students are jealous of me. It doesn’t bother me though, I’m too busy most of the time to notice them.”

“Well, I hope you won’t be too busy for us, Twi,” Flash said. Sunset groaned under her breath.

“O-of course not!” She stammered.

“Hey look! We’re here!” Flash pointed at the donut shop on the side of the street.

They parked the car and entered Donut Joe’s. Glossy wooden tables with matching chairs were spaced out on the clean white and teal checkered linoleum floor. A row of seating booths occupied the space along one of the walls. In the front of the shop was a glass display case filled with every type of donut imaginable. A plain looking man wearing baking attire stood behind the counter taking orders from the line of customers.

“Donuts are on me, you guys find a table,” Sunset said as she got in line. Though, she didn’t really have an appetite at the moment.

“Cool, get me some glazed. What do you want Twi?”

“Um, glazed is fine for me too.”

“Got it.” Sunset said, arms crossed. Flash and Twilight wandered away.

Flash seemed a bit too comfortable with Twilight, she thought. And what was with that stupid nickname? Twi? Flash never calls her by anything cute, or at least not in ages. Why does Twi get special treatment when they’ve barely known each other?

Sunset squished her face into her palms and tried to push it all out of her mind.

Lighten up damn it, today is supposed to be fun.

* * *

“I think I see an empty booth over there.” Flash started towards the table and Twilight followed.

While Flash turned to sit down he noticed that Twilight had stopped walking and froze in place next to the table.

“Twilight? You okay?” He asked.

Her hands covered her face with her fingers under her glasses.

“Twilight? What’s wrong?” He rushed over and rested a hand on her shoulder, giving her a look of concern.

“N-nothing’s wrong.” She sniffled between words.

“Twilight, it’s okay. You can tell me if something’s bothering you.”

“I’m sorry, I’ve been holding this in this whole time so I don’t look like a weirdo, but I totally look like a weirdo right now don’t I?” She rubbed her face and looked up with moist eyes and a genuine smile, “It’s just that I’m so happy I get to finally have friends like you.”

Flash smiled and chuckled. “You’re not a weirdo Twilight.” He took a seat.

Twilight’s weak knees gave way and she plopped onto the cushioned seat opposite of Flash.

“You know, ever since I was a kid I thought making friends was a waste of time especially when I could be reading books and learning instead. I was fine being by myself for years, but lately I’ve been feeling really lonely. I thought that if I could keep myself busy then I would be okay, but… It’s been tough, and the bullying wasn’t helping.”

Flash smiled and held her hand from across the table. “Everything’s okay now Twi.”

Twilight smiled.

Sunset approached carrying a flat box filled with sugary treats. “Hey guys do you think a dozen is too ma—” Sunset’s eyes grew wide and she paused for a moment when she caught Twilight’s hand darting away from Flash’s.

“Um, here’s the donuts,” she sat the box down on the table and slid into the booth next to Flash, “so… what’d I miss?”

As Flash opened his mouth to answer Twilight interjected, “Nothing!”

“Oh, right, okay then.” Sunset turned to the box of donuts, “Y’know, I’ve somehow never been to this shop before even though it’s right across the street from my place.” Sunset opened the pink pastry box and picked a chocolate donut.

“Really? You’ve never been to Donut Joe’s? If I knew I woulda taken you during break.” Flash picked out a glazed donut.

“You say that like you bring a lot of girls here.” Sunset bit aggressively into her donut.

“Just you two so far actually.”

Sunset grinned. “You hear that Twilight? We’re Flash’s first date at the donut shop.” Flecks of pastry flew as she talked.

Twilight blushed and squirmed. “Is it really?”

Sunset laughed. “You’re so easy to mess with Twi. You’re turning red. What’s wrong Twi? Never been on a date before?”

Twilight struggled to answer before being cut off.

“You don’t need to say anything Twi everyone knows you’re a sad little nerd.”

“Sunset, that’s enough,” Flash said.

Sunset instantly regretted everything, but why did it feel so good to say?

Twilight looked at Sunset with the same expression she had when she was bullied in the hall the day before.

“Oh no, Twilight I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. I’m just uh… kinda stressed right now. I got an… essay due tomorrow that I haven’t started yet ha ha!” Sunset’s laughter wasn’t very convincing.

“It’s fine.” Twilight mumbled.

“I should go… and do my homework. I’ll see both of you tomorrow,” Sunset said.

Flash rose an eyebrow. “Sunset? Is everything okay?”

“I’m fine Flash, just fine.”

“Um, okay Sunset if that’s what you want. You need a ride home?”

“N-no thanks, I uh live just across the street from here but thanks for offering, you’re so considerate, I really lov— I mean like that about you. Um, see you tomorrow.”

Flash watched Sunset scurry away while wondering what was really going on.

* * *

Sunset flopped on her poofy bed sheets and groaned. “What the hell is wrong with me?” She rolled over and starred at the ceiling.

Was running away really the best decision? Flash and Twi were probably hitting it off on what could actually be considered a date now that they’re alone together. The thought twisted a knife in her gut. What could she have done instead? She definitely would have hurt Twilight’s feelings even further had she stayed.

Sunset groaned and rolled onto her side curling around her pillow.

Taking out her confusion on that poor girl wasn’t right, especially considering how fragile and mousy she is. Sunset didn’t want to hate Twilight, but her feelings of jealousy were overwhelming.

“Jealousy? Am I jealous?” She wanted to deny it, but knew in her heart it was true.

It makes sense. Loosing Flash to another girl wouldn’t be something she could cope with. He’s her closest friend. During her exile he was the first one at school who believed her, and until recently he was the only one she had in the whole world.

Sunset rolled onto her back.

Flash was simply too dear to her to lose to anyone or anything. If he really did end up falling for someone else, then she wouldn’t even be able to think about him ever again without her heart aching. It would make keeping him in her life impossible. The longing would simply be too much. Their friendship would suffer, it would eventually fall apart, and he would be gone.

“What happens if I tell him?” She asked herself out loud.

What if he doesn’t feel the same way?

Sunset recalled back when everything started behind CHS Flash told her that he felt guilty about not helping her. What if all this time he was just sticking around out of a sense of guilt? He would have asked her out by now if he really did love her. Maybe he didn’t because he already knows what it’s like to date her. She was a terrible person and a worse partner, why would he want to subject himself to that again? Of course she’s grown a lot since then, but the earlier incident with Twilight casts doubt on that. Could there be some demon left in her?

Tears ran out the corners of her eyes and seeped down past her ears onto her sheets as she starred at the ceiling.

“What should I do?” Sunset spaced out hoping the answer would call out to her when she heard her phone buzzing.

She quickly wiped her tears away and scrambled for her phone.


“Sunset! Something terrible has happened!” The voice was Fluttershy’s.

“Fluttershy? What’s wrong? What happened?”

“It’s Sweetie Belle! She got hurt really bad. Applejack drove her to the hospital.”

Sunset gasped. “What happened to her?”

“We think she fell out of the tree house and hit her head.”

“You think?”

“Nobody saw it happen but, Applejack found her by the tree house and the doctor said her head was injured. I don’t know how accurate that is though, it’s just what Pinkie told me.”

“Pinkie told you? I thought the girls were giving you the cold shoulder.”

“Pinkie’s been willing to talk to me, but she’s been so sad lately. I think out of all of us Pinkie has been taking your situation the hardest, and now this happens…”

“Well, I don’t think they want it, but give Rarity and everyone my condolences anyway. Hey, while you’re at it, tell Pinkie that Sunset says to cheer up. Okay?”


“You be sure to be there for Rarity, she’s your friend even if you disagree with each other about me. There’s no room for stupid drama in an emergency like this.”

Especially my stupid drama.

“I will. I was feeling so anxious about that but, not anymore. Thanks Sunset.”

“No problem, now go. You’ve got phone calls to make.” She hung up.

What a terrible time for something like this to happen. She thought about telling Fluttershy about her problems, but was worried that Fluttershy would think less of her talking about something so petty with the current crisis going on. Why are those brats still causing her so much grief?

“What a mess.”