A Ray of Sunlight

by BChunter426

First published

Twilight has just transferred to CHS, she's nervous to start at this new school, but a red and yellow haired girl makes the transition easier.

Twilight is new to Canterlot High, forced to leave her friend's and school since her dad got a new job. This is the story of how she met Sunset Shimmer and the rest of her friends. Join her as she makes her way through High School and all the experiences it provides. New Friends, first love, and dealing with bullies all await her and her friends, can they make it through it all together?

Art by: https://www.deviantart.com/looknamtcn

First Day

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Well, here it is. My new school. Twilight thought as she opened the door of her dad's car.

She stared at the two story building laid out before her, a little intimidated by its size compared to Crystal Prep. Students were still making their way inside, she let out a heavy sigh.

"Hey kiddo," her dad said softly "I know this sucks, but this job was a huge opportunity. I'll be able to provide much better for you and your mom."

Twilight's dad, Nightlight, had taken a job as a professor at Faust University over the summer. He had to leave his job as a science teacher at Twilight's old school. The family had all moved across town to be closer to the university.

"I know dad," Twilight said. "I'm just going to miss my old school and friends. I had a hard enough time getting to know them, what if I can't make any friends here and I'm doomed to just be that lonely new girl that everyone avoids. Then I'll grow to be an old spinster with seventeen cats. Seventeen cats dad!"

"Whoa whoa whoa, cool your jets!" Her dad said with a chuckle. "Lets deal with day one first. Go in there, put your best foot forward, and I'm sure you'll make friends in no time."

"Maybe," she said, picking at a loose thread on her pants. "But what if they all think I'm weird and awkward?"

"Well they might at first, but do you wanna know a secret?" He leaned in close and whispered. "Everyone's a little weird and awkward.

This made Twilight smile. Her dad always knew how to cheer her up.

"Tell you what, I'll even bribe you. If you go in there, and talk to at least three people and make an effort to make friends I'll get you that new book in that series you love so much."

"Daring Do!?" She exclaimed. "What's to keep me from just saying I met your demands?"

"Because, your mom and I raised you better than that." He said. "Now get out of here, you're going to be late."

"Alright, I'll see you after school!" She called back as she made her way to the building.

The main entrance was a mass of adolescent bodies milling about. Twilight had to squeeze her way through the crowd to find a spot to check her notes she had made the night before. She found her locker number in her notes and started following the numbers posted on the lockers. She was so focused on counting numbers that she didn't see the girl in front of her and walked right into her, dropping her notebook.

"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry." She said as she was bending to pick up her book. "I wasn't watching where I was going."

"Hey, don't sweat it. These halls can get pretty insane. Name's Rainbow Dash, what's yours?" The girl extended her hand.

"Uh Twilight, Twilight Sparkle." She responded, taking her hand.

The girl before her was dressed in skin tight jeans, with a T-shirt of a band Twilight hadn't heard of before, the most striking part of her appearance was her long straight hair depicting the colors of the rainbow.

"Nice to meet you Twilight. Are you new around here? I don't think I've seen you before." Rainbow said.

"Yeah, my family just moved over the summer, so I'm still trying to get my bearings." Twilight said with a weak smile. "I was just heading to my locker when I, quite literally, bumped into you."

"Oh cool, what's your locker number?"

"Two-forty seven." Twilight said.

"Awesome! That's right near mine, I'll show you where it is." Rainbow Dash said excitedly.

"Thanks!" Twilight responded and followed her new acquaintance.

They continued chatting and arrived at Twilight's locker after a few turns and a staircase leading downstairs. Twilight made mental notes all the while so she could relocate it. Rainbow Dash's locker was on the opposite wall and a few to the left. Twilight was excited at the prospect of having someone she kind of knew so nearby.

"Well I've got to get to class, I'll see you around Twilight." She said as she waved good bye.

"Yeah, see you Rainbow Dash!" Twilight called after her.

Twilight looked at her schedule, and checked the complimentary map of the school that was given out. Her stomach fell slightly when she saw her class was on the opposite side of the school. She speed walked to class, barely making it before the bell rang. She looked around the room, the desks were set up in seven rows of six desks going back toward the wall. She took the last available seat next to a girl dressed in a blue and white plaid shirt over a white tank top and jeans. Her blonde hair tied at the end and slung over the front of her shoulder. Her tan cheeks dotted with freckles.

"Cuttin' it a bit close there on your first day sugar cube." Her southern accent threw Twilight off a bit.

"Yeah, my locker is on the opposite side of the school." She responded.

"That's rough." The girl remarked. "By the way, name's Applejack." She extended her hand.

"Twilight." She shook it.

The teacher, Miss Cheerilee, took role and they went through the standard first day activities, introductions and get to know you games. The bell rang an hour and a half later, excusing the students to their next class. Twilight began gathering her things.

"It was a pleasure gettin’ to know you Twilight. Good luck with the rest of your classes." Applejack said.

"Thanks, see you next time." Twilight slung her bag onto her back and headed to her next class.

She had math next, which she wasn't too thrilled about, math wasn't her strongest subject. The class was still filling up when she got there, the class period seemed to last forever, crawling by at a snail's pace. During the free time after the introductions Twilight noticed a girl receive a note. After unfolding it she looked to her left, her red and yellow hair whipping with the rotation of her head. In the brief instance Twilight saw the girl's face she could have sworn she saw a sadness in her aquamarine eyes. The girl crumpled the note and stuffed it in the trash. When she got back to her desk she put her head down on her desk.

The bell rang to let out for lunch, Twilight had first lunch with her A-day schedule. She looked for a spot to sit after getting her tray. As she was scanning the area she saw the girl from her math class sitting alone. She hesitated for a moment before walking over to the table.

"Mind if I sit here?" She asked the girl.

"Uhh, sure." The girl said with a confused look.

"Difficult first day?" Twilight asked.

"You could say that... did someone put you up to this?" She suddenly asked.

"What? No, I just saw you sitting by yourself and wanted to keep you company." Twilight responded. "I'm new to the area and don't know anybody yet. If you want me to go I can."

The girl stared at her for a moment. "You're serious aren't you?"

"Y-yeah," Twilight said nervously. "is that ok?"

She sighed and shook her head. "Yeah, I'm sorry. My head's in a weird place today. What's your name?"


"I'm Sunset Shimmer, nice to meet you."

"Likewise." Twilight said. The two sat in silence for a moment. "So... do you mind if I ask why you're sitting by yourself?"

"My friends and I had a bit of a falling out over the break, so I'm flying solo for the time being." Sunset admitted.

"I'm sorry to hear that, it must be lonely. Well you won't have to worry about eating lunch alone on A-days at least." She said trying to lighten her mood.

This made Sunset smile. The two girls fell easily into conversation, laughing and discussing school. When the bell rang Sunset was sad to see her new friend go, knowing the rest of the day wouldn't be as good as this moment. The rest of the day passed uneventfully, Twilight's schedule was rounded off by a science class and a study period. She went home feeling good about her first day.

Sunset Shimmer thought about the girl she met at lunch that day, unable to keep from smiling at how well they hit it off. She took the bus to the hotel she was staying in. When she got up to her room she allowed herself to be carefully optimistic about this new year. Maybe she really could have a fresh start.

Making Connections

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When Twilight got home she had the house to herself. Her dad wouldn't be home until six o'clock and her mom was at the book club she joined. Twilight went straight to her room to more fully absorb the day she had. She couldn't help but smile when she remembered her lunch hour and meeting Sunset Shimmer. She felt something hop up on her bed and walked over to where she was laying on her back. Before she could stop it, she was assaulted by wet slobbery puppy kisses.

"Spike no!" She said while laughing, but the pup was undeterred and would follow her as she tried to roll away. "No more kisses, your breath is stinky!"

She was finally able to get her hands around the small beagle and lift him above her. The dog stared at her before trying to wriggle free. She put him down on the bed and he bounded out of the room only to return moments later with one of his toys.

"Alright you stinker," she said grabbing the toy and tugging on it. "But you're gonna listen to me talk about my day. It went really well Spike, I was able to find all my classes, I met some new people. I even made my first friend at my new school. Her name's Sunset Shimmer."

Something in Twilight's voice made Spike cock his head to one side when she said the name.

"She's really nice," Twilight continued. "We ate lunch together and really hit it off. Talking to her came so naturally, and here I was worried about making friends. Her hair is really pretty too, it's red and blonde, and her eyes, her eyes are this beautiful shade of blue..."

Spike got the toy from Twilight as her voice trailed off. He shook his head, causing the toy to flap around. Spikes muffled bark snapped her back to the present. She lay on her stomach and reached for the toy.

"Spike, do you think it's too soon to send a friend request on Facebook?" The dog stared at her before tugging on the toy again. "I know I'm probably overthinking it, but we just barely met today, what if I send it and she didn't actually think we hit it off as well as I think we did. Then she won't want to hang out at lunch anymore and I'll have to eat alone."

Spike just continued to tug on the toy, unaware of what Twilight was stressing over, content to just be playing.

"You're lucky, you know that? You don't have to worry about things like this." After a pause she spoke again. "I've made up my mind, I'm just going to do it."

She released the toy and dug her phone out of her pocket. She looked up Sunset Shimmer's name on the app and sent the friend request.

I can't believe I just did that. Twilight thought. I should have waited. I messed things up because I was too eager to make friends.

Across town in a one bedroom hotel suite, Sunset Shimmer's phone pinged drawing her attention away from the show she was watching. She stood up and unplugged it from its charging cord, going to the cupboard to grab an opened bag of chips before returning to her spot on the couch. She smiled when she read the notification on her phone.

You received a friend request from Twilight Sparkle.

She accepted the request and used the messenger app to send her new friend a message.

"I don't want to eat alone for a whole semes-" Her words were cut short by the alert tone from her phone. Her eyes widened when she saw that she had a message from Sunset Shimmer. "Yes! She accepted my friend request and sent me a message! Alright Twilight, be cool, see what she has to say and respond in kind." She opened the messenger app.

"Hey Twilight." The message simply read

"Hey Sunset." She responded

"Thanks for sending me a friend request."

"No problem, to tell you the truth... I was kinda nervous to send it"

"Really? Why?"

"This is going to sound so stupid... I thought it might be too soon since we just met today."

"Haha you're too funny Twilight. By the way, thanks for sitting with me at lunch today."

"You're welcome! I was happy to!”

"So tell me some more about yourself, which school did you go to before?"

"Crystal Prep."

"Ooh miss smarty pants ;)"

The two girls messaged back and forth for a couple hours. Twilight hardly noticed when her mom got home. They talked about Twilight's love of science, Sunset's musical interests and how she wants to write her own music. Sunset even offered to educate Twilight in good music when she mentioned that she doesn't really listen to much music. They talked about their schedules and found out they have another class together on their B to day. Twilight soon heard her mom calling her from downstairs.

"Well, I've got to go, my mom is calling me to help with dinner." Twilight typed.

"Alright, well it was great to chat with you, I guess I'll see you tomorrow."

"Definitely! Goodnight Sunset."

"Goodnight Twilight :)"

Twilight went quickly down the stairs to the kitchen where her mom was washing some potatoes to make french fries for dinner. Twilight's mom, Velvet, was a fairly accomplished author of young adult fiction. She loved her family above anything else. She attended church fairly regularly, but didn't force her family to go, except on special occasions.

Twilight washed her hands and set about cutting vegetables for the burger toppings. Velvet noticed the smile on her daughter's face.

"I take it you had a good day at school?" She said.

"Oh, yeah I guess you could say that. I met some girls in a couple of my classes, and I think I already made a friend."

"Oh, sweetheart I'm so glad to hear that!" Her mom exclaimed. "I know you were worried about meeting new people, so I'm glad it went well."

"Me too. So, how was your book club tonight?" Twilight asked.

"It was good. I wish that we could read something that wasn't a Christian fiction book. The last two have been Christian Fiction. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, but they have to know there's other good stories out there."

"Don't they take turns choosing the next book?" Twilight asked. "Why haven't you suggested any of your favorites?"

"I'm still the new one and I guess I just haven't felt like I've earned the right to yet. Don’t want to ruffle any feathers" She explained. “I’m hoping Midnight will choose something good.”

"Well, when you feel ready, I'm sure you'll pick a good one."

Mother and daughter prepared dinner together, waiting for Twilight's dad to get home. Twilight told her mom about her first day of school at Canterlot High, about the rainbow haired girl that helped her find her locker and the girl with the southern accent. Twilight got very talkative when it came to Sunset Shimmer, which brought a big smile to her mother's face. She was so happy to see her little girl thriving in her new school.

The front door opened. "Hello family! Where are my two favorite ladies?"

"We're in here dad!" Twilight called.

Mr. Sparkle gave his wife a kiss. "Dinner smells delicious! How was your first day kiddo?"

"It was really great! I'll tell you all about it after dinner is on the table."

The three of them set the table and after blessing the food, dug in. Twilight recounted her day one more time for her father.

"Well, looks like I better track down that book." Her dad said with a smile

"Book? What book?" Mrs. Sparkle asked.

"I was freaking out before school today." Twilight explained. "So, Dad made a deal with me that he'd buy me the new 'Daring Do' book after I had a conversation with three people, but I think I only had two conversations."

"Yes, but it sounds like you made yourself an honest to goodness friend today." Her dad retorted. "I'd say that counts as at least two."

Twilight smiled. "Thanks dad."

They finished dinner, Twilight helped with the dishes then went up to her room. She read until she fell asleep, looking forward to her next day of school.

B Day

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Twilight woke up the next day ready to go. She showered and chose her outfit quickly. he only hesitated for a moment trying to decide whether to wear her contacts or glasses. After setting the frames in place she headed downstairs to get some breakfast.

Twilight and her father arrived at the school ten minutes later, giving Twilight plenty of time to look for her classes. She looked at her schedule to figure out where to start.

"P.E. first, where the heck is the gym?" She wondered aloud.

Twilight wandered the halls for a few minutes, the halls were fairly baron since it was so early. She rounded a corner, and down the hall saw a mane of yellow and red hair. Sunset Shimmer was sitting on the floor against a locker, her head tilted down reading a book. Twilight's heart began to pick up its pace when she saw the girl.

Should I go talk to her? Twilight thought to herself.

Her decision was made for her when Sunset looked up from her book. They made eye contact and Sunset grinned widely. The girl waved her fingers at Twilight as she placed her book mark to save her spot and stood up. Twilight noticed her hair was pulled back in a messy pony tail, bangs swept to the side.

"Hey Twilight! I didn't expect to see you here this early." Sunset said cheerfully.

Hearing her name said aloud by Sunset made butterflies flutter in her stomach. "Y-yeah I hitched a ride with my dad so I could find my classes. I like your hair today"

"Oh thanks," Sunset said, some color rising in her cheeks."I was feeling lazy today, but that's sweet of you to say. That's actually not a bad idea, mind if you have some company?"

"Not at all, I'd be happy to have you join me." She smiled.

"Cool, let me just grab my stuff." Sunset opened the locker behind her and grabbed her backpack. "Ready to go?"

"Yeah, I was looking for the gym when I found you, any idea where it is?" Twilight asked.

"Actually yes, I had P.E. yesterday so I can help you find it no problem."

The pair walked in silence for a bit, wanting to continue conversing with her new friend Twilight asked about the book she was reading. She learned it was a book by Stephen King called 'Duma Key'. Twilight explained that her mother respected his talent, but discouraged her from reading his books because she didn’t think the language and "evil imagery" contained within were appropriate for her.

“I’ve read summaries of some of his work and I think I’d really like them.”

"If you ever want to borrow any of his books I have most of them, just let me know." She told her.

"Thanks, I might have to take you up on that offer.”

"I'm trying to finish this one before I buy the next installment of 'Daring Do'."

“You read 'Daring Do'? What did you think of the last one?"

They discussed the series of books while they walked to the gym. Twilight geeked out at one point and turned bright red which caused Sunset to laugh. They talked easily and continued their search for their classrooms. They were able to find Twilight's health and history classes as well as Sunset's own history and music classes, and the class they both had together, video productions.

"So I have to say," Sunset began. "I didn't peg you for a media gal."

"Yeah, it was kind of an impulse choice, it sounded interesting at the time."

"Well I'm glad you chose it." Sunset said with a smile.

Twilight blushed and looked away, playing with her long purple hair. "Yeah me too. It should be fun."

They headed back toward their lockers, the halls were considerably more full this time. They arrived at Twilight's locker and as Twilight was dialing in the combination to her lock she felt Sunset's eyes on her. She anxiously fixed her glasses which had slid down her nose.

"What is it? Do I have something on my face?" Twilight asked and wiped her cheeks with her hand.

Sunset chuckled. "No... hey Twilight, thanks for hanging out with me this morning, I had fun."

"So did I." Twilight agreed. "Maybe we can make this a morning ritual?"

Sunset smiled. "I'd like that. Well, I better get back to my locker I forgot a couple things." Sunset took a step forward and gave Twilight a hug. "Thanks again Twilight."

Twilight was taken aback for a moment but hugged her back, her heart beating faster despite herself. She was sure she was blushing and hoped Sunset wouldn't notice. They pulled apart, Sunset began walking away before turning around.

"By the way, I like your glasses, you look cute in them. See you later Twilight."

Well if she hadn't noticed before, Sunset certainly saw her cheeks were bright red after that. Twilight turned back to her locker and took several deep breaths. She lightly smacked her cheeks.

What is going on with you today? She asked herself. Whatever just head to class.

Sunset Shimmer was smiling giddily when she reached her locker. Twilight looked so cute blushing after she complimented her glasses. The color in her cheeks really brought out the purple in her eyes. She couldn't help but laugh a little.

"What are you so happy about?"

Sunset stood straight when she heard the familiar voice she was dreading. She turned around to face the girl who had spoken. The stern sneer on Adagio Dazzle's face made Sunset's blood run cold. She was flanked by her two cronies Aria Blaze and Sonata Dusk.

"What do you want?" Sunset demanded. "I told you, I can't hang out with you anymore, I didn't like who I was-"

"I know what you said!" Adagio snapped, cutting her off. "I was willing to give you a chance to take it back and get back into my good graces. I see you're still going to be a little bitch though." The other two girls chuckled.

"Just leave me alone ok. I don't want any trouble." Sunset fired back.

"I'll let you be for now, but we'll see you around Sunset," she said before shoving her backward. "Let's go girls."

Aria chuckled maliciously as they followed their ring leader. Sunset waited until they rounded the corner before opening her locker to grab her class book, fighting back tears. She took a moment to steady her breathing and wipe the tears forming in her eyes. She slammed her locker shut and headed to class, determined to make the best of the day ahead.

Don't let them get to you. she told herself. This year is going to be different.

Twilight entered the gym, clothes in hand, and headed to the bleachers. She was just getting comfortable when she heard a familiar voice.

"Hey Twilight!" Rainbow Dash called from the doorway. She started jogging in Twilight's 2direction followed by the blonde girl from her English class. "You have this class too?"

"Yep, looks that way." Twilight responded.

"Awesome! This class just got twenty percent cooler. By the way this is Applejack."

"We've actually met. We have English together. It's good to see you again Applejack."

"You too sugarcube. You can call me AJ if ya like." Applejack said cheerfully.

"And this is Fluttershy." Rainbow Dash gestured to the girl behind Applejack, she seemed to shrink at Twilight's gaze, one eye hidden behind long light pink hair. Her yellow sundress speckled with little butterfly designs.

"Nice to meet you, I'm Twilight Sparkle." She extended her hand.

Fluttershy hesitated, but extended her own hand. "Nice to meet you Twilight." Her voice so quiet Twilight had to strain her ears to hear it.

After the bell rang the teacher, coach Bulk Biceps informed them of the importance of exercise and that today was an optional day, they could change if they wanted to or sit out. Rainbow Dash and Applejack went to the locker room to change, leaving Twilight and Fluttershy in awkward silence.

"So... how do you know Rainbow and Applejack?"

"Rainbow Dash and I grew up together and Applejack is..." Her voice gradually lowered before sinking below a whisper again.

"Sorry, I didn't catch that last part."

"Applejack..." Again her voice was too low to hear.

Twilight awkwardly chuckled and said. "Sorry, one more time?"

Fluttershy merely let out a small squeak and fell silent.

Twilight looked around, racking her brain for any topic they could talk about.

"Do you like dogs?" The girl perked up a bit at that. Twilight decided to run with it. "Wanna see mine? His name is Spike." She pulled out her phone and pulled up a cute picture of Spike.

"Awe he's so cute, what kind of dog is he?" Fluttershy asked in her soft voice.

"He's a beagle," Twilight said. "My parents got him shortly before we moved to the area."

"I love beagles, they're so cute and friendly. I love all animals really, my parents work with animals so I guess it's only natural that I'd love them."

"Oh, really? What do they do?"

"My dad runs the animal shelter and my mom is a vet. What about your parents?"

"That's so cool! My dad is a professor at Faust University, and my mom is an author. She’s actually working on a novel at the moment."

By that time Rainbow Dash and Applejack had returned to the gym and were playing basketball against each other. Twilight and Fluttershy continued their conversation. Fluttershy became more comfortable and open as time passed. Coach Bulk Biceps blew his whistle signaling those who chose to participate to hit the showers. Rainbow Dash playfully hit AJ's butt.

"Good hustle." She said

"Hey, you know how ah feel about that stuff in public." Applejack said sounding frustrated.

"Sorry, couldn't help it." Rainbow Dash said with a wink, a playful tone in her voice.

Applejack shook her head, a smile breaking across her face. "What am ah gonna do with you?"

"I dunno, but you'll have to catch me first." Rainbow bolted towards the door, with Applejack hot on her heels.

"They seem like they're really close." Twilight mused.

"Well yeah, you could say that." Fluttershy said.

"What do you mean?"

Fluttershy looked at Twilight with a look of mild surprise. "Oh, you don't know? Well I'll let them tell you when they feel like it. It's not really my place."

"Huh?" Twilight said, feeling confused.

New Friends

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Health and history passed without incident or note. Twilight's schedule gave her second lunch on her B-days so she headed to the lunch room. Along the way she ran into Rainbow Dash, the two of them got their lunch and were looking for a table.

"I can't wait to introduce you to the rest of the gang." Rainbow Dash was saying. "I think you'll get along with them just fine. Oh look there they are, let's g- oh no, what is he doing here?"

Twilight looked where Rainbow Dash was leering. At a table across the dining hall was Applejack and Fluttershy, along with two girls Twilight didn't recognize. One of them had a wild mane of pink curls and dressed in a t-shirt with a cartoon character that looked familiar and was talking animatedly to the group. The other had purple hair done in a very stylish wavy fashion, and had on a flowy white top. She was looking very sheepishly back and forth from the group to the bored looking dapper young man next to her, his blonde hair styled just so.

"What's wrong Rainbow?" Twilight asked.

"That guy is Blue Blood, the biggest douche bag I've ever met." Rainbow Dash explained. "I thought they broke up. So what the hell is he doing here?"

The two girls approached the table, and if looks could kill, there would be two bodies at the table. "Hey girls, how's it going? Enjoying lunch?" Rainbow said to the table.

The boy cleared his throat.

"Oh by the way this here is Twilight Sparkle. Twilight, the girl balancing spoons on her face is Pinkie Pie." The pink haired girl jumped at the sound of her name, causing the impressive number of spoons to fall to the table and waved excitedly at Twilight.

"Hi, nice to meet you, I haven't seen you around before." She suddenly gasped very loudly and started talking rapidly. "Oh no did you go to Junior high with us and I never introduced myself, how could I forget to introduce myself to someone at my old school. I was sure I knew everyone."

She looked distressed so Twilight cut in. "No I went to Crystal Prep last year."

"Oh good, I was starting to feel really really bad."

"No worries." Twilight said. Which seemed to put her at ease and she went back to balancing spoons.

"And this is Rarity." Rainbow said motioning to the quiet girl.

"Lovely to meet you darling." She said extending a slim manicured hand.

"You too." Twilight said. "I like your hair"

The girl perked up at that. "Thank you darling. I spent a considerable amount of time on it, thank you for noticing."

"And that's everyone." Rainbow Dash said before sitting down.

The boy stared daggers at Rainbow Dash, making Twilight feel uncomfortable. "Aren't you forgetting someone?" The boy said

"Nope." Rainbow said curtly.

The boy's fists clenched. Rarity chimed in to attempt to smooth things over. "This is Blue Blood, he's my boyfriend."

The energy at the table seemed to change at that. Twilight noticed several reactions to the news. Fluttershy' mouth momentarily arched into a frown and she averted her eyes. Applejack couldn't keep her eyes from rolling in their sockets. Rarity didn't seem to notice this, since her gaze was on Rainbow Dash, whose jaw had clenched so hard you could see the tendons.

"Congratulations." She said coldly.

"Whatever," Blue Blood said before standing up. "I'm going to talk to Coach about when tryouts start. Bring my stuff with you to class."

"Ok, see you there." She looked at him, lips slightly puckered as if expecting a kiss. The boy either didn't notice or ignored her and turned away. Rarity pursed her lips and turned to face the group.

Rainbow Dash wasted no time. "What the hell Rarity? Do you not remember what kind of person he is?"

"Your concern is noted Rainbow Dash, but I swear he's changed. He came to me a few weeks ago and apologized for everything."

"A few weeks, you've been together for a few weeks?" Rainbow said incredulously.

"Yes, I didn't tell you because I knew how you would react." Rarity responded

Rainbow Dash looked around the table. "I can't be the only one mad about this! You all remember how much of a tool he was right? Fluttershy, back me up."

The shy girl seemed to shrink into herself. Rarity looked at her pleadingly. "I, um..." she stammered. "I-if Rarity's happy isn't that what matters?"

"Thank you dear." Rarity said

"Oh come on!" Rainbow Dash said frustrated. "How can you-"

Applejack placed a hand on Rainbow's arm. "It sounds like she's made up her mind. What we should be doing is supportin’ her and bein’ there for her if she needs us."

"Thank you Applejack." Rarity said. "That means a lot to me." She looked at Rainbow Dash.

"Sure, whatever. But expect an ‘I told you so’, when it inevitably turns sour."

"I suppose that's the best I can expect from you." She said. "Now that that unpleasantness is out of the way, Twilight tell us more about yourself."

"What do you want to know?" She responded.

She told them about her family and her dad's job causing them to move to the area. She told them a little bit about her brother, who had left for college recently. He had gone to Cloudsdale rather than Faust so he didn’t make the move with them. She mentioned how nervous she had been to start school here and that she was glad that they had taken her into their group.

"But of course darling, I believe you will be a wonderful addition to our little ragtag group."

"Thanks Rarity, so what about the rest of you? I know a little about Fluttershy, we had a chance to talk in P.E. but the rest of you are a mystery."

"I suppose I'll start." Rarity said. "Where to begin? I like to consider myself a bit of a fashion aficionado. I have my mother to thank for that. She actually owns Carousel Boutique so if you need a dress or a gown be sure to come to me. I’m sure I can get you the friends and family discount."

“Thanks Rarity! I’ll remember that.” She smiled.

"Ah reckon I'll go next." Applejack chimed in. "There ain’t much to say, really. Me ‘n mah siblings moved here when ah was little. We live just a bit outside town on our Granny’s farm."

"How many siblings do you have?" Twilight asked.

“Two, Big Mac is our older brother and Applebloom is the young’n. She’s real good friends with Rarity’s little sister Sweetie Belle.”

“Oh yes, those two are peas in a pod as they say.” Rarity beamed.

Twilight smiled. “That’s great that your sisters are friends too. None of Shining Armor’s friends had siblings my age so I had to make friends the old fashioned way, awkward conversation.”

The others chuckled at her joke.

“You’re doing pretty well right now.” Fluttershy said.

“I have had a little more practice since then. So, Applejack do your parents live with you all on the farm too?”

Applejack cleared her throat. “They uh, actually passed away in an accident shortly after Applebloom was born."
Twilight’s breath caught in her throat. “I’m so sorry. I-I didn’t mean to-“

Applejack held up a hand. “It’s alright sugarcube, you didn’t know. It’s just not exactly somethin’ ah like talkin’ about.

“I’m so sorry for your loss. It must have been so hard.”

Rainbow Dash held Applejack's hand. "It was, but I'm alright now." She looked to Rainbow Dash, a little smile on her lips. “Why don’t you go next Rainbow?”

"What else is there to say about me other than I'm the awesomest!" Rainbow Dash said proudly. “Now that we’re friends you have to come and support me at every game, no matter how far away it is. It doesn’t matter that I plan on joining every team the school has to offer. If you don’t I’ll never forgive you!”

Twilight became flustered at her newfound and unasked for responsibilities. “I mean I can try, but what if I have a school activity of my own and can’t make it?”

Rainbow couldn’t hold back any longer and burst into laughter. "Relax Twilight it’s a joke. I would never expect you all to attend every game. Seriously though, I'm a huge sports nut and I'm awesome at all of them. Soccer and basketball are my specialties though"

"As ya can see she's also real humble." Applejack said with a wink.

Twilight couldn't help but smile at the two of them. They really were close friends, they were even comfortable enough with each other to hold hands.

"Ooh, ooh my turn!" Pinkie Pie said excitedly. "I'm Pinkie Pie and I love to throw parties, and make new friends!" She was grinning from ear to ear at this point. "I have three sisters, Limestone, Maud and Marble. My family owns a local landscaping company."

“Oh, what’s it called? My dad mentioned he was thinking of doing some landscaping.”

“It’s called The Rock Farm.”

“I’ll be sure to let my dad know.”

“Thanks Twilight! He won’t regret it, we take a lot of pride in our work.”

"Your families all sound so fun," Twilight said. "I'd love to meet them some day. What about your family Fluttershy?"

"I guess the only other person I haven’t told you about is my brother Zephyr. He’s… a character." She smirked. “Nothing at all like me.”

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked.

“I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m not exactly the most outspoken person.”

Twilight thought back to when they first met and nodded.

“Zephyr is the exact opposite of that. He’s loud, and loves bragging about himself, no matter how small the accomplishment. And he loves to push my buttons.” The shy girl sighed with exasperation. “He’s very good at being a younger brother.”

Twilight grinned. “I’m sure Shining armor would say the same thing about me. I knew just how to get under his skin and get a reaction just as the parents parents were watching. We younger siblings just seem to be born with that skill.

By this time lunch was almost over, and the group gathered their garbage and threw it away. Rarity grabbed Blue Blood's things and waved goodbye to her friend's. Rainbow Dash clenched her fists.

"She should have left his crap there. Made him learn his lesson." She muttered. "See Twilight, he's a huge douchebag."

"I hate to say it, but yeah, what does she see in him?"

"His family is wealthy and are friends with Rarity's parents, they've also known each other a long time and their parents encouraged them to get together the first time. I don’t know if they had a hand in this newest development though."

"Oh, I see." Twilight said.

"I just hope she sees him for what he really is sooner than later." Rainbow Dash huffed.

"Yeah." Twilight agreed.

The five of them went their separate ways then. Twilight realized what her next class was and her heart skipped a beat. There was an extra spring in her step as she made her way to her video productions class.

Twilight entered the classroom and heard her name being called. "Hey Twilight, over here!" She looked in the direction of the voice and saw Sunset Shimmer's hand raised and waving her over.

The classroom was larger than any of the other rooms she had been in as of yet. It was set up with six rows of long tables split down the middle with an aisle to walk down. Computers were set up with enough room for two people to work at each one. Which was good since the room was already pretty full.

Twilight went over to her friend and took a seat on one of the rolling chairs. "Hey, how's it going?" She asked.

"Better now." Sunset said with a smile.

Color rushed to Twilight's face. She started playing with her hair. "Whys that?" She asked, her voice shaking slightly as her heart beat faster.

"I had a run in with one of my ex-friends and she kinda rattled me. But getting to have class with you brightened my mood considerably." She smiled again.

Before Twilight could respond, the final bell rang. Their teacher came to the front of the room and addressed the class.

"Good afternoon everyone. I am your teacher Media Mogul, and welcome to Video Productions One." The teacher went on to explain what they should expect in the class. He explained the types of projects they will be asked to create.

A girl in the back raised her hand. "My name is Cloud Chaser sir. Are we going to be watching movies in class?"

A few students chuckled at that, but Mr. Mogul silenced them by saying. "Good question. No we will not watch any in class, some movie clips yes, but not full features. I will tell you where the clips came from so you can watch the movies on your own time if you so choose. Also, you will be required to film and edit your own videos. So if you have access to a video camera, great. If not, I do have a few available to borrow, but they go quickly. Now, you may have noticed there are not enough computers for everyone to have their own so some of you will have to partner up."

Sunset's hand grabbed onto Twilight's and they both chuckled, but neither of them pulled their hands away.

"So if you have a friend in here and are willing to volunteer let me know after class."

The class went well after that, they played the usual fare of get to know you games, except they also told their three favorite movies. After class Twilight and Sunset approached their teacher and told him they would work together. He thanked them and said he looked forward to seeing what they would make.

"Oh, should we put our name down soon to rent a camera?" Sunset asked.

"Nah, my dad has a camera I'm sure he'd let us use." Twilight assured her. "Do you need to get anything from your locker?"

"No I've got everything I need, but if you need to get something I can come with you. I like talking with you."

Smiling, Twilight said. "Me too... ok, lets go to my locker."

They walked together, talking about their days and what they were hoping to get out of school this year. As they neared Twilight's locker Rainbow Dash called out.

"Hey Twilight, who's your friend?"

She turned and said. "Oh hey Rainbow Dash. This is Sunset Shimmer."

A look of concern crossed Rainbow's face. "Hi, I'm Rainbow Dash."

Nervously Sunset responded. "Sunset Shimmer, nice to meet you. Twilight told me about your group, you all seem really nice."

"Yeah. Oh Twilight I forgot to tell you something, it's kinda private though." She shot a glance towards Sunset.

"Oh, ok. Um, if you wanna wait here I'll walk to the bus zone with you." Twilight said

"Sure, I'll just wait here." She said rubbing her arm.

"Great, I won't keep her long." Rainbow said tugging Twilight along around a corner.

"What's this all about?" Twilight asked. "And what was with that face you made after I introduced you two?"

"Listen Twilight, I don't want to alarm you or anything, but I've heard some things about that girl. I don't know how truthful they are but they make me nervous."

"What kinds of things?" Twilight asked, feeling nervous now.

Rainbow hesitated. "N-never mind, forget I said anything. It's probably nothing, I just overheard some people talking in one of my classes."

"O-Kay?" She said quizzically.

"Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow Twilight."

"Yeah, see you tomorrow."

She rejoined Sunset Shimmer a moment later. "Hey, are you alright?" Sunset asked.

"Huh, yeah."

"What did she need to tell you?" She asked nervously.

"Well, she told me..." she looked into Sunset's eyes, seeing anxiety behind their brilliant color. "Um, she just wanted to let me know that it is in fact a communal shower and not separate stalls in the locker room."

"Oh, really?" Sunset asked.

"Yeah, I was nervous about it so I had Rainbow Dash check for me." Twilight said.

Sunset suppressed a laugh. "You're such a dork. By the way, I was wondering... would you wanna come over and hang out today?"

"Yeah, let me just call my mom and let her know where I'm going to be."

She called her mother, who said it would be fine, but to be home by eight for dinner.

"Thanks Mom!" She said before hanging up. "I'm good to go."

"Sweet, follow me."

The Hangout

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The two walked out of the school and past the bus pick up zone. They were so deep in conversation that Twilight barely realized this.

"Wait, don't we need to catch a bus?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah, but my place is a bit far so I take the public bus most places, or I'll drive."

"I see... Wait, you have your license already?"

"Yeah, I got held back a year when I was younger so I'm already sixteen." She admitted

The bus picked them up shortly after that. They traveled into the city while they made small talk. They stopped in front of a huge immaculate building. Balconies jutted out on every floor, the marquee above the entrance read the name of an upscale hotel chain. They exited the bus.

"You live here?" Twilight said with a confused look on her face.

"Yeah..." Sunset hesitated. "I hope I'm not overwhelming you too much. Come on, I'll show you my room."

Twilight hesitated a moment before following her friend. "Alright, lead the way."

The pair rode the elevator nearly to the top floor, when it finally stopped they rounded a corner and went to the room at the end of the hall. Sunset gave Twilight a quick tour of the space, it was bigger than Twilight expected. It had a spacious living area with a large television and had a small but usable kitchen area with an electric oven stove combo. A microwave and toaster sat on the counter next to the sink. The bedroom held another tv with a DVD player hooked up to it, the bathroom was off to the side of the entrance. Twilight didn't understand how a whole family could live here.

Sunset couldn't help but smile at the look on her friend's face. The way her brow pinched in the center of her forehead was too cute. "I live on my own." She offered.

"What?" Twilight said, jolted back to the present by Sunset's voice.

"You looked like you were trying to figure out how more than one person could live here, so I figured I'd help you out." She said with a wink.

"Really? Did you... run away?" She asked, lowering her voice on the last two words.

Sunset burst out in a fit of laughter, after a moment she composed herself and said. "No, nothing that dramatic. My home life wasn't too great, so I worked a deal out with my uncle, who owns this condo-hotel. I can stay here as long as four days a week I help with housekeeping in exchange for a room and a small, but steady income until I turn eighteen and can get an apartment."

"Really? That's really impressive." Twilight thoughatt for a moment before asking. "Do you mind if I ask what happened?"

"Not all, first off I don't want you to get the wrong idea, I love my parents, and they did their best, but we didn't get along for the longest time. They had me when they were really young, I don't think they were ready to be parents. They started fighting a lot, and I'd pick fights with them too. I was left alone more as I got older while they would go to work or go out for a night off. My mom would always say she wished she had gone to college, and while she never said it outright, I think she partly blamed me for not being able to reach her goals. I felt so bad that eventually I talked them into letting me be an emancipated minor. That's when I came to live here."

Twilight took all this in before responding. "I'm sorry, that sounds like it was really hard."

Sunset waved her hand in dismissal. "It's fine. I mean it was rough for a while, but I'm in a much better place now, both personally and with my parents."

Twilight looked at her friend with admiration.

"Sunset Shimmer, you lead an interesting and unusual life, I'm glad I met you." They both had a good laugh at that.

"So what would you like to do?" Sunset asked. "I've got some video games, a pretty extensive movie library, tons of music."

"Umm, could I see your books?" Twilight asked sheepishly.

"Sure, they're in my bedroom." She led Twilight into the room. Sunset lay on the bed facing her bookshelf as Twilight started looking through the various titles, briefly reading the synopses on the backs.

"If you see any that look interesting feel free to borrow a couple." Sunset told Twilight.

"Are you sure? I don't want to be a bother." Twilight said.

"It's no problem, really. I'd be happy to lend them to you." Sunset smiled.

"Thanks Sunset." After a pause. "What Stephen King books would you recommend?"

Sunset got off the bed and sat next to her friend in front of the book shelf. As she did, Twilight caught a sweet smell she hadn't noticed before. Sunset's perfume reminded Twilight of a summer afternoon, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply. A vision of the two of them walking through a park holding hands rose into her mind's eye. She heard her name and snapped her eyes open to see Sunset's smiling face.

"I lost you there for a second." She said with a chuckle.

"Yeah, sorry." Twilight said, her cheeks hot. "I like your perfume."

What was that about? Twilight thought.

"Thanks. So as I was saying, 'The Shining' is a classic, it's a little intense, but well worth the read. I know vampires have been pretty popular so if that's what you're looking for 'Salem's Lot' is a great vampire story. My personal favorite is 'Needful Things' though."

"I guess I'll borrow that one." Twilight said putting the other two back on the shelf. "Thanks again. I can't wait to read it."

"No problem." The two looked at each other smiling. "Would you like to watch a movie?" She asked.

"Sure, lets see what you've got." Twilight said, standing up.

Sunset's movie collection consisted of mostly horror, thriller and action movies. They decided on a crime thriller Twilight had heard of but never seen.

"So what's this movie about?" Twilight asked

"It's about an FBI agent who has to seek help from a cannibal serial killer to catch another serial killer. It's so good and so intense!" She said while inserting the disk.

"Sounds interesting." Twilight said

The two made microwave popcorn and started the movie. Twilight was on the edge of her seat the whole movie. Sunset smiled at the look of intensity on her friend's face and the squeaks she would make when something made her jump. As the credits rolled Twilight sank into the couch, eyes wide.

Twilight looked at her friend. "That can't be how it ends!"

Sunset laughed. "Right! What a cliffhanger."

"Did they make another?" She asked pleading

"Yeah, it was alright I guess, but the prequel was better." She informed her friend.

"We have to watch them all!" Tiwilight said excitedly.

"It's a date." Sunset said smiling.

Twilight blushed a bit. "So you mentioned you were going to educate me in good music, wanna show me some?"

"Absolutely!" Sunset grabbed her laptop and a pair of headphones. She played some of her favorite songs by a variety of artists spanning very different genres. She watched Twilight bob her head and close her eyes during certain songs.

"These are really good." Twilight said after a song ended.

“I'm glad you like them. I love music, it's like a form of magic to me." She said with a smile.

"What do you mean?" Twilight asked.

"Well... ok I'll tell you, but you can't laugh." She said with mock seriousness in her voice.

Twilight smiled. "Promise."

"Ok, I love the way music can create powerful emotional responses," she started. "and how some songs can seemingly tap into what you're feeling in that moment and give voice to that feeling. It blows my mind that it holds that kind of power."

Sunset became more animated and passionate the more she talked. Twilight couldn't help but smile at the passion she had. The music was still playing in their headphones as Sunset was talking. The next song started and Twilight felt something inside herself seem to compel her into action. Her hand reached for Sunset's.

"-and to give credence to the magic I mentioned. Have you ever had your music on shuffle and a song pops into your head. Then the next song that plays is the one you were thinking-" Sunset's voice cut off when she felt a hand on her own. She looked down at Twilight's hand covering hers, color rushing to her face, she looked into Twilight's eyes. The song in their ears seeming to read both their minds. The words resonating with them.

Twilight found herself drawn closer to Sunset, her breath becoming shaky. Their fingers intertwined as Sunset began closing her eyes, the sweet smell of Twilight's breath entering her nostrils. Their lips were centimeters apart when Twilight's phone rang.

Twilight's eyes grew wide as she scrambled to answer her phone. "Hello? Oh hey mom, yeah, we just finished a movie. Umm let me ask." She turned to Sunset, still trying to steady her voice. "Can I get a ride home?"

Taken slightly aback Sunset responded. "Yeah... sure."

"Thanks. She said yes, I should be home in about twenty minutes." She hung up the phone. "Sorry, my mom wants me home for dinner. Otherwise I'd stay longer."

"No, that's fine. I've just got to let my uncle know I'm heading out." The two girls went to the lobby and found the manager's office. "Hey uncle Silver, i'm taking the car to take my friend home."

"That's fine, just drive safely." He said, after a pause. "Well, aren't you going to introduce us?"

"Sorry, Twilight this is my uncle Silver Dollar." She said, her mind back upstairs in the moment.

Silver dollar was a slightly heavyset man with a jovial energy about him. He had tidy hair that was slicked back and had some grey around his temples. He was dressed in a charcoal business suit that had been tailored for him. He gave Twilight a good firm handshake.

"Nice to meet you, sir." Twilight said

"Please, no need for such formality. Silver will be fine."

After some small talk the girls went to an older model SUV in the hotel's employee parking.

"This is my baby." Sunset told Twilight. "My uncle found it for a good price when I moved in. It's a little old, but it's a good way to get around."

They were on the road now, driving in an uncomfortable silence. Unable to take the quiet, Twilight spoke.

"So, I had a really good time today." She said.

"Really? You did?" Sunset responded.

"Yeah! I'd love to come over again if you'll have me."

With a smile Sunset said. "I'd like that."

The girls continued chatting until they were out in front of Twilight's house. A comfortable looking two story house with a spacious backyard. "Well, this is me. Thanks again for a fun day Sunset."

"No, thank you, Twilight." The pair looked into each other's eyes.

Kiss her! Twilight's mind screamed at her.

"Well I'd better get inside." Nooo!

"Yeah, see you tomorrow?"

"Definitely." She started to get out of the car.

"I'll burn you a mix cd!" Sunset blurted out.

"Huh?" Twilight looked back.

"Umm, with music I think you'd like. If you want me to that is."

"I'd love that." Twilight responded. She started toward the house. Sunset made sure she got inside before driving back to the hotel, smiling giddily the whole way.

Meet the Sparkles

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The first month of school passed without much incident. Twilight had gone over to Sunset's several more times since the first time they hung out. She really enjoyed spending time with her, abd felt like they were getting closer every day.

Twilight had also introduced Sunset to the others, who accepted her into their little group with open arms. Rainbow was the only one to keep her at a distance, though she was starting to warm up to her.

The seven of them met up by Rainbow and Twilight's lockers every day before classes started. They would chat and joke around, growing closer each day as friends. A few times Rarity would abruptly leave when Blueblood would all but command her to come with him.

Twilight was on the floor leaning against her locker next to Pinkie who was talking excitedly about turning sixteen next month so she could put in her application at Sugarcube Corner. Rarity had left with Blue Blood already and Fluttershy was telling Rainbow and Applejack about a cute ferret her parents just got in the store.

"He just has so much personality." Fluttershy told them. "He's so cute, I think I have a video of him on my phone." She reached into her pocket just as Sunset arrived.

"Morning Sunset." Twilight said as the other girl's backpack slammed into the locker a few spaces down. Sunset sat down in a huff.

"Whoa, what's wrong sugarcube?" Applejack asked

"Ugh, sorry." Sunset started. "My damn car just ruined my plans. It’s been making a weird noise and the repairs are going to make it so I can't buy the tickets to the concert I wanted to go to. It’s going to be a great show, but I’ll be way in the back in the nosebleeds instead of in the pit! UGH!" She brought her legs to her chest , wrapping them in her arms and leaned her head against her knees.

"Who's gonna be there?" Rainbow asked

"The Offspring! They're my favorite band and they're headlining! which is why I was excited to be up front!"

"Who's openi-" Applejack elbowed Rainbow, cutting her off.

"It's fine AJ." She sighed before addressing Rainbow. "Sum 41 and Good Charlotte, this just sucks. Stupid car." They all sat in silence for a moment. "Sorry, I have other news though, I'm having a little get-together next Friday for my birthday. I hope you can all make it, we'll order pizza, watch a horror movie and go swimming in the hotel pool." Sunset had told all of them about her living situation previously. "And if your parents will allow it, you can all spend the night too, I can make room."

"Ah'm sure we can make it." AJ said cheerfully.

"Yeah, it's going to be so awesome!" Rainbow Dash agreed, clutching Applejack's hand with excitement. They looked at each other for a moment before sharing a quick kiss.

Twilight's jaw dropped. "You two are lesbians?" She said a little too loud.

The others were silent, then Rainbow burst into laughter. "Did it really take you this long to figure it out? We don't exactly hide it."

"Sorry, it's just... at my old school it was really conservative so if there were any lesbian or gay couples they didn't tell anyone. And they definitely didn't show it in public. I guess it just took me by surprise."

"Don't worry about it sugarcube, no harm done." Applejack assured her.

The conversations continued until the bell rang. The six of them gathered their things and started to disperse. Rainbow gave AJ a kiss before heading to her class. Sunset smiled at Applejack who was watching her girlfriend go.

"You two are really cute together." She said.

"Well thank you kindly Sunset, she makes me pretty happy." Applejack replied.

"I hope I can find someone like that." She glanced at Twilight who was rummaging in her locker. This did not go unnoticed by Applejack.

"Anyone you have in mind?" Applejack said slyly.

"Not really." Sunset said, unaware of Applejack's tone. "Oh, by the way, could you tell me which class Rarity has first? I wanna tell her about my birthday. I think I'll tell her it's a girls night, I don't really want Blue Blood there."

"Ah don't blame ya," AJ said. "Besides it'll be fun just us girls."

Applejack gave Sunset Rarity's class information, she waved goodbye to Twilight and went to find Rarity. Twilight and Applejack walked together to their English class talking as they walked. When they were about halfway there when Twilight grabbed Applejack's Arm.

"Hey AJ, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, what's up?" Applejack asked.

Twilight hesitated. "Never mind, it's not important. So did you finish the reading assignment?"

After her English class Twilight felt nervous to see Sunset in math class. This had been happening on and off since that first night they had hung out. She couldn’t quite place why it was happening but her heart was pounding right up until she reached the doorway.

All of her nervousness melted away when she saw Sunset's smile aimed at her. Twilight entered the room and sat next to her friend. They were starting a new course in the class which Twilight was struggling to understand. Sunset was more than willing to help her though. By the end of class she had a better understanding of the subject.

The pair walked to the lunch room together and grabbed a table.

"Thanks for helping me in class today. I wish I understood math better." Twilight said, feeling frustrated.

"Don't worry Twilight, I'm here to help if you need it." Sunset said.

"Thanks, I really appreciate it." She said

"Any time!" She said with a grin.

The two continued talking until the lunch bell rang to excuse them to their next class. The two embraced before going their separate ways. Twilight called after Sunset.

"Hey, do you want to come to my house to hang out today?" She asked hopefully.

"Yeah, that sounds like fun! I brought my car so I'll drive us over." Sunset said.

"Sounds good, I'll see you after school!" With that, they went their separate ways.

Twilight felt a fluttering in her stomach when she thought about spending time with Sunset.

It’s just because we’re friends. She thought to herself. That night was a fluke. It was the combination of the music and seeing one too many romantic movies.

She told herself this whenever she reminisced about that day at Sunset’s or felt feelings that could be construed as romantic. She had to remind herself a lot recently. The rest of the day went well enough, Twilight found herself spacing out more than usual today and just wanted school to end so she could spend time with Sunset.

Because we’re friends.

"Oh, hey I have that CD I told you about" Sunset said as they were walking to Sunset's car at the end of the day.

"What CD?" Twilight asked

"Remember, after the first time we hung out when I dropped you off at your house. I told you I'd make a CD of music I thought you'd like." She reminded Twilight as she took the CD from her bag.

"Oh yeah, thanks Sunset." She took the disc with a smile.

"And I made a slip with the artist and song names for you too." Sunset said excitedly. "Let me know what artists you like and I can make more CDs with similar artists for you if you want.” Sunset smiled brightly. “What? What are you smiling at?"

"Oh nothing. I just like how excited you get when it comes to music." Twilight responded.

"I can't help it, it's my favorite thing." She said with a smile as she turned on the vehicle.

"Sorry it took so long to get it to you." Sunset apologized. "My uncle has needed me to help out a bit more around the hotel since some of the staff left after summer break. Plus I wanted to make sure I gave you songs you'd really like."

"Don't worry about it. I'm just appreciative that you did it at all." She smiled.

"Wanna listen to it on the way?" Sunset asked.

"Of course!"

Sunset had chosen well, there were several slow jams mixed with more upbeat songs that Twilight thoroughly enjoyed. They were able to listen to half of the playlist before they got to Twilight's house. Her mom was out in the yard watering her flowers.

"Hello sweetheart! Who's your friend?" Velvet asked.

Twilight hugged her mother. "Hey mom, this is Sunset Shimmer. I've told you a bit about her."

Velvet turned off the water and extended her hand. “That’s right, it's nice to finally meet you Sunset.”

She shook Velvet's hand. "Likewise, Twilight speaks very highly of you."

Velvet smiled at that. "Well, come inside you two, I just made a batch of cookies."

The two girls set their bags down and sat at the table. Velvet got three glasses from the cupboard.

"Milk?" She asked.

"Yes please." Sunset responded.

She poured the glasses and brought the still warm cookies to the table.

"So tell me a bit about yourself, Sunset."

"Where do I begin?"

The next few minutes were spent by Sunset telling the story of her past and how she was living on her own now, but still attending school, because she knows how important it is to get an education.

Velvet nibbled on her cookie. "I'm very impressed by you Sunset. You've had a hard go of things to be so young. You're so strong, and I'm glad Twilight has a friend like you in her life."

"Thank you Mrs. Sparkle. I'm lucky to know Twilight." Sunset said.

"Well, I have taken up quite enough of your time." Velvet stood from the table. "You two go have fun. I'll call you when it's time for dinner."

"Oh, I don't mean to impose." Sunset began to protest.

"Nonsense, you're joining us for dinner and that's final." She said with mock fierceness.

"Alright, I wouldn't want to make you mad." Sunset laughed.

"No you wouldn't." Velvet laughed and waved them off.

Twilight and Sunset retreated to Twilight's room where they played video games on an old gaming system her dad had bought for her.

"I can't believe your dad still has this!" Sunset exclaimed as Twilight blew in the bottom of the cartridge before putting it in the system.

"Yeah he loves these old games, he has a big collection of them. We have another one in the living room, that's the original he bought. He got me this one from a garage sale."

"Your dad seems awesome!" Sunset said while selecting her character.

They played several rounds, which Twilight won most of, before deciding to play one-on-one soccer outside. They set up goals on either side of the backyard.

"You ready for me Sparkle?" Sunset said while tying her hair back. "I won't hold back."

Twilight adjusted her glasses. "Bring it Shimmer!"

The two played first to ten, which Sunset held the lead for most of the game. Twilight steadily caught up though. Soon they were tied for the last point. Twilight started running toward her opponent. When she got right in front of her Twilight tried to use some fancy footwork to get the ball away from Sunset. Unfortunately her feet became tangled in each other and she fell forward on top of Sunset, knocking them both to the ground.

They both lay there in stunned silence for a moment until Sunset broke into laughter, with Twilight joining her shortly after. Twilight stood and extended her hand to help Sunset up. After she was on her feet she noticed that Twilight hadn't released her hand. Sunset glanced down at their clasped hands then up at her friend.

"Sunset, I-" Twilight began.

The door leading to the backyard started to open. Twilight quickly let go of her friend and turned toward the door.

"Twilight, you and Sunset wanna start packing it in? Your father's home and dinner's just about ready."

"Coming!" Twilight called to her mom.

"Hey, what were you going to say just now?" Sunset asked.

"Oh that, I was just gonna say that," she looked into Sunset's eyes. "I'm glad we're friends."

Sunset felt a little disappointed, but smiled back at her friend. "Me too. Now let's go inside, I'm starving."

We’re just really good friends. She thought before jogging after Sunset.

Sunset met Twilight's dad at dinner and made a good first impression by talking to him about retro video games.

"I like her. She has good taste." Nightlight said before shoveling a good helping of lasagna into his mouth.

"Thank you, I like to think so." Sunset said with a smile.

"I'll take your word for it." Velvet joked. "I don't know anything about games."

"By the way," Nightlight addressed his daughter. "I've noticed you've been wearing your glasses more. Any reason?"

Twilight readjusted her frames. "Well I got complimented on them so I decided to wear them over my contacts." She caught Sunset's smile when she glanced over at her.

The parents got to know Sunset better over dinner. She was able to make them laugh and they were completely taken by her. Dinner wound down and so did the conversation as the food comas started to kick in.

"You really outdid yourself tonight honey. That was delicious!" Nightlight leaned over and kissed his wife.

"You stop that." She smiled.

"It really was delicious. I haven't had a meal this good in a while." Sunset praised.

"Well, whenever you come over you can expect at least a home cooked meal." Velvet gushed. "Do you cook for yourself?"

"Only really basic stuff, a lot of grilled cheese and tuna." She admitted.

"That won't do. You're taking some of this home with you." She said with conviction.

"Oh no, I don't want to steal your food." Sunset protested.

"I don't want to hear it. I've made up my mind." She set about putting a portion of the food in a container.

Twilight laughed. "I'd listen to her, she can be pretty stubborn."

Sunset conceded with a smile, emotion welling inside her chest. "Thank you. Do you want any help with the dishes?"

"No, I'll be ok, but I'll remember that for next time." She started collecting plates and utensils. "You two go have some fun before Twilight has to go to bed."

They retreated to the living room where they played a few rounds of a dancing game they both enjoyed. When it was time for Sunset to go Twilight walked her to her car.

"So I think that went really well." Twilight said as they walked.

"Me too! Your parents are super nice, I really like them." Sunset said.

"I'll be sure to tell them so." Twilight said as they reached sunset's SUV.

"Thanks for having me over, Twilight. I had a ton of fun today." Sunset said as she dug for her keys.

"Thank you for coming over. We'll have to do this more often."

The two hugged and Sunset set off for home. Twilight made her way back to the house and up to her room, smiling all the while. She put the CD Sunset made for her onto her phone and listened to it as she fell asleep. Her eyes quickly opened when the song from their first hangout came on.

She was taken back to the moment they shared. The smell of Sunset's perfume wafting into her nose. The way their fingers had intertwined, how close their lips had been. Her fingers went to her lips, her smile growing. She had a thought then, one which she had been pushing back as a stray thought, but she couldn't deny it any longer.

We are really good friends, but I want us to be more than that… I'm attracted to Sunset Shimmer

Sunset's Party

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In the days leading up to Sunset Shimmer's birthday party Twilight was racking her brain trying to figure out what to get her friend. Then it suddenly hit her. After convincing her parents, she made her purchase and eagerly waited until Friday.

The long awaited day finally came, and school couldn't end fast enough. They all met up at the usual spot before going home.

"So I'll see you guys around five. I've gotta get home and get my place presentable. See ya later girls!" Sunset said as she headed toward the parking lot.

The rest were about to part ways when Twilight asked to talk to Applejack alone. Once they were by themselves Twilight had to find the right words to use.

Twilight breathed deeply. "What... how did your family react when you came out?"

"Oh,” She said, taken aback by the suddenness of the question. “well it was bad at first. Granny Smith is very traditional so she didn't accept it or talk to me for quite a while. Applebloom and Big Mac were very supportive though, so that made it easier. It's better now, Granny gets along with Rainbow well enough, but it's still tense sometimes. Why'd you wanna know?"

"Well..." Twilight trailed off. "I like Sunset Shimmer. I guess I just wanted to know what to possibly expect if I act on it."

"You- really?" Applejack asked. "Have you told anyone else about this?"

"No, this is the first time I've said anything. I don't know what to do." Twilight said.

"Do your parents know?" AJ asked.

"Are you kidding, my mom would lose it. My dad might be ok with it... I just don't know." Twilight said, nervously playing with her hair.

"Well, if you ask me, don't overthink it. When it comes to tellin’ Sunset, just do what comes naturally and things'll figure themselves out."

"You think so?" Twilight sighed.

"I'm sure of it." Applejack responded confidently.

"Would you mind keeping this between us for the time being?" Twilight asked, to which Applejack smiled and nodded. "Thanks Applejack." She hugged her friend and they made their way to the bus.

Twilight got a ride to Sunset's building from her parents, she exited the car with her overnight bag, waved goodbye to her Mom and Dad and headed into the building. She hit the button for Sunset's floor, rocking back and forth on her heels all the while. When the door opened she saw someone standing off to the right.

"Oh, hey AJ. Why are you standing by the stairwell entrance." She asked raising an eyebrow.

Applejack smirked while looking at her nails. "Oh Rainbow got it in her head that she could beat me by running up the stairs while I took the elevator."

Just then the door banged open. "Yes! Dammit!" Rainbow yelled as she noticed her girlfriend standing there.

"Don't worry sweetheart," AJ said as she rubbed Rainbow's back. "ya made really good time. Got here right after me." She shot Twilight a wink.

The three of them walked together to Sunset's room, Rainbow panting the whole way. Twilight knocked and moments later Sunset opened the door, a wide smile on her face. She hugged each of them and thanked them for coming.

"What's up with Rainbow Dash?" She asked as they made their way into her condo. They told her about Rainbow's hair-brained idea which caused Sunset to laugh.

"Yeah yeah laugh it up, but one day I'm gonna beat the elevator!" Rainbow said defiantly.

"But why would you wanna take the stairs and waste your party energy?" Said a voice whose owner was obscured by a very colorful bouquet of balloons.

"How long have you been here Pinkie Pie?" Twilight asked.

"About an hour." She said cheerfully

"Yeah she showed up with all these party supplies and helped me decorate." Sunset told them.

“Its good practice. If I’m gonna be the best event planner the world has ever seen I’ve got to get my decorating on point!” Pinkie said cheerfully.

"Well the place looks awesome." Rainbow said admiring the streamers and balloons around the room.

The five of them talked until there was a soft knock on the door. Fluttershy entered and placed her gift on the table with the others. Rarity sent a message to Sunset saying she was running late, so the girls played a couple rounds of Cards Against Humanity until she arrived. After a few more rounds and some snacks they made their way down to the pool in the courtyard.

The pool was designed to look like it was in a rocky outcropping complete with a grotto with a sitting area. They were the only ones there. Applejack and Rainbow Dash wasted no time, they threw their towels on a table, slipped off their flip flops and jumped right in. Fluttershy took the steps into the water, her pink hair tied up in a bun. Rarity was sitting on the side of the pool kicking her feet and leaning back to take in the sun's rays. Pinkie was floating on her back her curly hair fanning out in a pink halo around her head.

Twilight was applying sunscreen to her arms and legs when she heard her name. "Hey Twilight, could you help me with my back?" Sunset asked. She was wearing a light blue two piece swimsuit, the top wrapped around her chest with a thin strap that looped around her neck.

Twilight gulped. "Uhh sure."

"Thanks!" She said and turned her back toward her friend. Twilight started applying the sunscreen, on contact Sunset arched her back and let out a little squeal. "Sorry, it's colder than I expected."

Twilight's heart was beating fast as she ran her hands along Sunset's smooth skin. "That should do it." She said after finishing her lower back.

"Thanks Twilight, you're the best." Sunset said as she was putting her hair in a ponytail. "By the way, I love your swimming suit. See you in the pool."

"Thanks," Twilight said looking down at her purple one piece. "I'll be there in a second, just gotta put my hair up." She used the hair ties on her wrist to put her hair in a tight bun.

This is getting out of hand. I have to talk to her soon. Twilight thought as she walked toward the pool and got in.

They played and splashed each other for a while. Rainbow and AJ started trying to dunk each other and were sneak attacked by Pinkie Pie. Fluttershy was hanging on the side of the pool watching two birds chasing each other, a little smile on her lips.

At one point Rainbow and Applejack got out of the pool and flanked Rarity who was laying on her back on a towel. "Hey Rare, how's it going up here?" Rainbow asked.

"Just marvelous darling, I think my tan is coming along nicely." She said looking up at them.

"Say uh, how long did you take on your hair?" Applejack asked.

A little suspicious at this, Rarity responded. "None at all, I've only tied it back." She narrowed her eyes at them. "Why?"

"Oh, just curious." And with that they grabbed her arms and legs and started hauling her to the water.

"Noooo! Unhand me you brutes!" She protested, though there was a smile creeping across her face. She was tossed in and followed closely by her attackers. "That does it! It. Is. ON!" She jumped on Rainbow Dash after she had a chance to come up for air.

After that they had three-way chicken fights, with Rarity being the referee, claiming she didn't want to mess up her nails. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were a force to be reckoned with, their competitive sides showing strongly. Pinkie and Fluttershy put up a good fight but were the first to go down the first few times. Sunset and Twilight gave them a run for their money but were unable to defeat them. Now it was the final round, Twilight was on Sunset's shoulders, Rainbow on AJ, and Fluttershy atop Pinkie Pie.

"You're going down Dash." Twilight taunted

"In your dreams Sparkle." Rainbow came back.

"Don't underestimate me." Fluttershy said, a fire in her eyes.

"Alright, I want a good clean fight, ready... Go!" Rarity slapped the water.

The three girls locked hands and started pushing against each other. They stayed like that for a minute before a look passed between Fluttershy and Rainbow. They both pushed against Twilight, flinging her into the water. Rainbow and Fluttershy were locked in a death grip. With a mighty shove Rainbow pushed Fluttershy backward. Fluttershy's back arched at an impossible angle, her hair dipped into the water, but she was able to get herself upright. Rainbow Dash was celebrating when Fluttershy made contact and knocked her off Applejack's shoulders.

"We won? We won!" Fluttershy cried and climbed off Pinkie's back.

After some celebrating and congratulations they were all taking it easy. Pinkie, Applejack and Rainbow Dash were challenging each other to breath holding contests. Rarity and Fluttershy were talking on the steps, while Sunset was hanging out in the grotto, leaning back with a big smile. Twilight kept glancing over at her, trying to muster up the courage to go over. Finally she swam over to her friend.

Atta girl. Applejack thought to herself.

Twilight swam up next to Sunset Shimmer. "Hey birthday girl, what are you doing way over here?"

"Just taking in the day. It's been so much fun, way better than my birthday last year." She beamed.

"I'm glad you're having a good day." They sat in a comfortable silence for a moment. "So I was hoping to talk to you about something."

"Ok, shoot." She said sliding some stray hair behind her ear.

"Ok, I uh... what I'm trying to say is... I like..." she looked into Sunset's expectant eyes. She lowered her gaze. "Your taste in music. I was wondering if you could make another CD for me."

Dammit! She cursed herself.

"Oh," a disappointed look crossed her face, but she quickly smiled. "of course, maybe I can get you one tonight."

"Hey Sunset, when are we going to eat? I'm starving!" Rainbow called from across the pool.

They all headed up to the room shortly thereafter. Sunset ordered the pizzas and they played some more party games until it arrived. Pinkie's party music, played through Sunset's tv, provided light-hearted ambience. They were discussing what movie to watch when Fluttershy noticed Rarity's middle finger.

"Oh my, Rarity, what happened?" She asked.

"What? Oh, I um, smashed it in the door on my way out." She said, stumbling over her words a bit.

Fluttershy looked at the discolored knuckle, something didn't add up. "Are you sure?"

"Don't worry darling, I'll be fine." Rarity assured them.

Rainbow Dash didn't look convinced, and the others had their suspicions, but Rarity dismissed any more questions. They ate pizza and played games, enjoying each other's company. After cake and singing 'Happy Birthday', it was time for presents to be passed out.

Pinkie went first, Sunset gasped at the complete Daring Do collection, including the newest installment, and gave Pinkie Pie a big hug. Applejack gave her five bottles of Sweet Apple Acres premium apple cider and the collector's edition of the original Evil Dead trilogy. From rainbow Dash she received an acoustic guitar.

"I know you're super into music so I figured what's better than making your own!" Rainbow said.

"Thank you Rainbow, I can't wait to play it!" Sunset said, strumming a couple cords.

"Here's mine darling." Rarity said, passing her gift.

Sunset opened the envelope, and gave Rarity a hug. "Thank you, this will be so great!"

"What is it?" Rainbow asked.

"A spa day for two at Pure Harmony, it looks like it's the works too." She told them.

"But of course, if you're going to go to a spa you must do the whole nine yards." Rarity said

"Umm, this one is from me." Fluttershy's timid voice came from behind a sizable gift, a hanger protruding from the top.

Sunset unwrapped a beautiful turquoise one-shoulder gown. "Wow, it's beautiful Fluttershy."

"I can't take all the credit, Rarity helped me with it too." Fluttershy said.

"Oh please, I merely provided the fabric, you designed and sewed it completely by yourself. You're very talented dear, if you're ever looking for a job I'm sure my family would welcome your skills."

Fluttershy blushed. "Thank you."

"Well put it on darling, we all want to see it on you." Rarity said with barely contained excitement.

Sunset chuckled. "Hold on I still need to open Twilight's present." Twilight handed Sunset an envelope. Sunset's eyes became saucers when she saw what was inside. "Oh my god. Twilight thank you!" She jumped up and squeezed her friend. "Thank you thank you thank you!"

"The suspense is killing me, what is it!?" Pinkie Pie cried.

"Two VIP tickets to the Offspring!" Sunset showed everyone her present.

"I got you two so you could bring a friend." Twilight said.

"Well I guess I better get you a playlist of their music." Sunset said with a smirk.

After that Sunset put on her gown, it fit perfectly. The sleek fabric hugging her torso and fanning out around her legs when she twirled. Everyone fawned over how good she looked in the gown. Once she got changed everyone put on their pajamas and they watched the Evil Dead 2 and went to bed. Sunset offered her bed to AJ and Rainbow.

"Keep it PG." Sunset joked. Causing Applejack to go bright red.

"Don't worry, I'll keep an eye on them." Pinkie said as she flopped on the bed.

Sunset pulled the hide-a-bed out from the couch. Rarity and Fluttershy thanked her and settled in for the night. Twilight and Sunset shared an inflatable mattress she borrowed from her uncle.

In the middle of the night Twilight was awakened by the mattress moving. She heard footsteps and the sliding door to the balcony open. As she was about to drift back to sleep she heard sniffles and decided to investigate.

"Sunset? Are you okay?" She asked the girl who was curled into a ball on the bench.

She wiped her eyes. "Yeah, I'm just so happy. I can't believe how good you all are to me, I don't feel like I deserve it."

"What do you mean, why don't you deserve kindness?" Twilight asked, worried about her friend.

"I wasn't always a good person. I used to be really terribleactually." She lowered her head into her knees.

"Well you're not now." Twilight sat on the cushion next to her friend and put an arm around her. "You're a good person, and I'm so glad we're friends."

Sunset rested her head on Twilight's shoulder. "Thanks Twilight. Could you sit here with me a bit longer?"

"Of course." Twilight responded softly.

They stayed that way for several hours, talking and looking at the city before them.

Film Project

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A week and a half before the concert, Twilight and Sunset received their first filming assignment in their video class. They were tasked with making a PSA from a list of topics, Sunset wanted to do one on bullying. They talked to the others and they all agreed to help how they could.

"I'll talk to my parents tonight and see if everyone can come over tomorrow." Twilight told Sunset before getting on the bus.

Sunset watched the bus pull away with the others, a smile on her lips. She was about to go to her car when she saw her three tormentors. Adagio, Sonata, and Aria had been ragging on her for weeks, shoving, taking her things and other classic bullying tactics. And now they were standing in front of her, arms crossed, malice in their eyes.

"Would you look at that girls, Sunset Shimmer has a little group of friends." Adagio sneered. "How desperate are you that you made friends with those losers?"

Sunset felt her blood boil. "Hey, I don't care what you say about me, but you leave my friends alone!" She snapped.

Adagio frowned. "Temper temper, Sunset. You might be loyal to them," an evil grin spread across her face. "but how forgiving do you really think they'll be when they find out what you've done? Do you think they'll still let you into their little group?"

Sunset felt the fight leave her body. "Please don't." She said timidly. "I'm begging you, please don't tell them."

"Are you begging? It doesn't look like it to me. How about you two?" Adagio said coldly.

"Not to me, I think she needs to get down on her knees." Aria said.

"That sounds perfect, what do you think Sonata?" She asked the other girl.

"Hmm? Uhh, yeah get on your knees." Sonata agreed.

"You heard them, kneel down Sunset." Adagio pointed to the ground.

Sunset glared defiantly at her old friend.

"Not going to obey? Well, then I guess you won't mind when I tell your little friends what you did to that poor girl?" The trio began walking away.

"Wait." Sunset said weakly, and walked toward them.

"Good, now on your knees." Adagio sneered.

Sunset knelt in front of them, head down, the sting of tears forming in her eyes.

I deserve this. She thought.

They left her there, Adagio letting her bag strike Sunset as she passed. Sunset looked after them, she noticed an expression of what looked like pity in Sonata's expression before she turned and continued talking with the others.

"Watch it nerd!" Aria said as she shoved a passing classmate. She recognized him from her music class, but couldn't remember his name. The boy stood up, brushed off his pants and bright yellow shirt and lugged a black case in her direction.

"Hey, are you alright?" He asked, helping her up.

She sniffed and wiped her eyes before answering. "Yeah, I'm fine, are you ok? I saw them shove you." She looked the boy over, his brown curls which fell just above his shoulders reminded her of Pinkie Pie. She noticed what looked like a rubber chicken poking out of his backpack.

"Yeah, not my first time being pushed, I'm sure it won't be the last." He grinned.

"You play the accordion in Beauty Brass's music class right?" She asked.

"That's me!" He extended his hand. "Cheese Sandwich, nice to meet you."

They got to talking, Cheese's unending cheerfulness made her smile despite herself. They talked as Sunset walked to her car, he was very funny. He told her that he likes to write parody versions of popular songs in his free time. She thanked him for cheering her up.

I bet he and Pinkie would get along great! She thought as she drove home.

The following day Sunset pulled into the driveway of Twilight's house. She had arrived early to help prepare the lunches they would have while filming their project. She knocked on the front door and heard Twilight call from the other side.

"Come on in Sunset!"

Twilight was wiping her hands as she entered the living room from the kitchen. "Thanks for being willing to help out."

Sunset hugged Twilight. "No problem, I'm happy to."

"Hello Sunset," Velvet greeted her. "How are you today?"

"Hey Mrs. S, I'm good. I'm excited to start filming!" She told her.

The three of them made the fixings for sandwiches and chopped vegetables for sides. Once they were finished, Sunset and Twilight went to the front yard to wait for everyone. Velvet told Twilight to let the others know they were welcome to stay for dinner.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash were the first to show up. Their arrival was announced by country music played loudly from the speakers of her brother's truck. Five people piled out of the vehicle. Big Mac, who lived up to his nickname, stepped out of the driver seat. AJ got out and moved the seat forward to let Rainbow out, who was followed by two younger girls.

"Thanks for drivin’ Big Mac." Applejack said.

"Eeyup." He responded.

"Hey Scootaloo, Applebloom, wanna play some soccer?" Rainbow asked them, grabbing a ball from the truck bed.

"Yeah!" They answered in unison.

The three played two on one. The girl Twilight assumed was Scootaloo was a good player, and noticed that she seemed to be trying to impress Rainbow Dash. Applebloom wasn’t as goof, but seemed content to just be playing the game.

Applejack approached Twilight. "Ah hope it's alright we brought the young'ns. They'll only be here for a bit until Rarity gets here."

"Of course, it's no problem at all." Twilight said.

They were joined by Sunset shortly after, they watched the other three play their game. Rainbow subtly let them get a few goals on her, congratulating them each time. Pinkie Pie arrived on a motorized scooter and quickly joined in on the game. Eventually Rarity was dropped off with her sister Sweetie Belle, and an annoyed looking Fluttershy, by Blue Blood. Sweetie Belle ran to greet her friends as Rarity was saying goodbye to her boyfriend. He took off at a speed that was way too fast for the area.

"Good afternoon, sorry to keep you waiting. Blue Blood had to talk with the coach before bringing us here." Rarity explained.

"It's fine, we haven't been waiting long." Twilight said.

Rarity went to watch the younger girls play with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie. Fluttershy still looked like something was bothering her.

"What's wrong Fluttershy?" Sunset asked.

She chewed her lip before answering. "I think something bad is going on between Rarity and Blue Blood."

"What do ya mean?" Applejack asked.

"Well... I can't be sure, but there's just these little things that seem… off. Like her finger, I've noticed she still can't fully move it. I saw her rubbing her ribs earlier today too. I don't know, maybe it's nothing."

This hung between them for a moment, none of them quite knowing what to say. Applejack put a comforting hand on Fluttershy's shoulder. Twilight's mom came out soon after to meet everybody. She got along with everyone very well. She did notice her mother looked uncomfortable whenever AJ and Rainbow showed affection to each other. Big Mac took the younger girls to the apple's house so they could hang out.

Mrs. Sparkle gave Twilight her dad's camera and lunches so they could get started. They all piled into Sunset's SUV and went to a nearby park they had selected as their first filming location. After some deliberation it was agreed that Rarity would play the girl getting bullied in this scene, while Rainbow and Pinkie played the bullies. Rarity seemed a bit hesitant at first but fell into the roll fairly quickly.

During a break between filming the girls discussed their plans for the Fall Formal that was coming up.

"I've already selected my gown for the dance!" Rarity said gleefully. "What about all of you?"

"Well ah've got an old dress that's a little dated but that's fine by me. I don't need nothin’ fancy." Applejack showed them a picture on her phone that she had sent to Rainbow.

"Yeah, I'll probably just do a long skirt and a button up top." Rainbow said.

This news brought a look of horror to Rarity's face. "No! That simply won't do!" Rarity said forcefully. "It's called a fall formal not a fall nice casual. We are going shopping this weekend, we'll go to my parents store, they'll lend them out as long as we're very careful with them."

Applejack and Rainbow tried to protest, but Rarity cut them off.

"No buts! This will be fun, you'll see!" She turned to Fluttershy. "What about you darling? Will you be joining us for the dance?"

"Umm, I'm not sure." Fluttershy responded. "I haven't been asked by anyone yet. I might just help my parents at the shelter that night."

"I'll be sitting this one out too." Pinkie said. "Maud's coming down for the weekend and we made plans to spend time together."

Rarity looked disheartened. "Well we'll miss you girls that night. What about you two? Surely you'll be there." She asked Sunset and Twilight.

Twilight rubbed the back of her neck. "Actually the dance is the same night as the concert, so..." she trailed off.

"Oh poo. I was hoping we could all go to the dance together."

"How about this. Why don't we all promise to make it to the next dance?" Sunset suggested.

Everyone agreed to the terms and finished up their lunches before returning to filming. They had a productive rest of the day. They were able to film several scenes at different locations, depicting different types of bullying before they lost daylight.

They headed back to Twilight's house for a spaghetti dinner. Her father met her friends and instantly charmed them all. This was expected, as her father was a very personable man who got along with everyone he met. After dinner the others went home. Sunset took Applejack and Rarity with her, so she could pick up Sweetiebelle and Scootaloo and take them home too. Pinkie rode her scooter home and texted Twilight when she got in as per her request. Fluttershy and Rainbow were taken home by Mr. Sparkle. Now it was just Twilight and her mom taking care of the cleanup and dishes.

"So what did you think?" Twilight asked excitedly.

"Your friends are just lovely Twilight." She responded.

Twilight sensed something in her mom's voice. "What is it mom?"

"It's just..." she hesitated. "what's going on with Applejack and the rainbow haired girl? I saw some things that seemed inappropriate to me."

"Oh, I mean they're together, like a couple. That's not a problem right? Am I ok to still be friends with them?" She asked, half joking.

"Of course sweetheart," Velvet assured her. "just be careful to not let their choices sway your own."

"Right." Twilight said.

She was bothered by her mom's words though, and worried about what would happen if her mom found out about her feelings for Sunset. Luckily her Dad got home shortly after this exchange and gave a glowing review of her friends. The three of them stayed up a bit longer talking about how their days went before going to bed.


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The day before the concert was a slow slog. Classes seemed to drag on, and Twilight found herself unable to focus on anything in them. The only part she had enjoyed so far was seeing her friends before classes started. She and Sunset had hashed out the final plans for the following day, while the others had talked about their plans for that evening, be it for the dance or family.

The only one who didn't join in their revelry was Rarity, who was absent from the usual spot that morning. This did not go unnoticed by Fluttershy, she was worried because she knew Rarity and Blue Blood had been fighting and her imagination was getting the better of her. Her friends tried to talk to her but she just kept assuring them that she was fine. Before they went to classes Rainbow Dash had pulled her aside.

"I know you said you're ok, but if you need to talk, I'm always here for you." She squeezed her friend's shoulder. "I'm sure Rarity is ok, she probably just had something to do this morning."

"How did you-" Fluttershy started.

"I'm worried about her too." Rainbow said. They hugged and went to class.

Lunch finally came, Twilight had rushed to sit with her friends. As she was approaching, she saw that Rarity was there too. She took the empty seat next to her. As her bag was sliding off her shoulder to the floor it grazed Rarity's side.

"Sor-" Twilight tried to say before she saw the look of sheer pain on Rarity's face. Her hands were on her ribs where the bag had made contact. Tears started to stream down her face, Fluttershy was the first to react, she was up on her feet, she put an arm around Rarity and began ushering her toward the girl's bathroom. Luckily the bathroom was empty, they piled in and were able to convince Rarity to lift her shirt. What they saw made them all sick. An ugly black and blue bruise glared up at them, it ran under her bra and began wrapping around her back.

Pinkie removed her hand from her mouth. "How long?" She asked, her voice shaky.

Rarity began sobbing. "Only once, he lost his temper and hit me, I didn't know what to do. I finally stood up to him about how he's been treating me and he got so angry." Her body was shaking now, she tried to steady her breathing. "I'm so scared, I don't know what to do." She repeated.

Fluttershy stormed out of the bathroom. "Someone go after her." Rainbow urged. She was holding Rarity, trying to help her calm down.

"I suppose you get to say 'I told you so' after all." She sniffled and laughed weakly. Rainbow simply held her, her eyes brimming with tears for her friend.

Applejack, Twilight and Pinkie Pie were trying to keep up with Fluttershy, who was nearly running with how fast she was moving. She rounded a corner, all the other three heard was a level, yet forceful, "Hey!"

When they turned the corner the scene was very different than what they were expecting. Fluttershy had Blue Blood backed up against the lockers, a finger pointing at his chest. She wasn't quite yelling, but something in her voice demanded his attention.

"Did it make you feel like a big strong man when you hit her? Did it! You're not a man, you're not even a child. I never want to see you anywhere near Rarity again, or I swear I will do everything in my power to ruin you."

Blue Blood looked amused. "You're not serious are you? You can't do anything to me." He looked to his friends, a smug grin on his face.

Fluttershy turned his face toward hers. "Look me in the eye and tell me how serious I am."

There must have been something in that stare that shook him, because his grin faltered. The three girls watching got chills from the intensity.

"Whatever, I won't go near her." He averted his eyes to get away from that piercing gaze. “I was going to break up with her anyway.

"Good, now here's what's going to happen. You're going to come with me and Rarity to the principal, you're going to fess up to what you did, apologize and never speak to Rarity again."

"What! No way, they'll suspend me. I'll get kicked off the team." He protested.

"That's the least you deserve!" This time she was yelling. "Do you have any idea how lucky you were to have her? Do you have any clue? If I were with her I would cherish every minute and never do anything to hurt her, but all I can do is be her friend and I've accepted that. And as her friend I'm going to make sure you do right by her!"

Blue Blood looked as if he was going to say something, thought better of it and slumped down, defeated. Fluttershy was breathing heavily, her veins coursing with adrenaline. She wiped at some tears that had formed at the corner of her eyes. She was about to address Blue Blood when a quiet voice made her head turn to the right.

"Fluttershy... I had no idea. How long have you felt this way?" She asked as she walked toward her friend, her protector.

"As long as I can remember." The two embraced.

"Thank you, darling." Rarity said, her voice breaking as tears started to form.

"Let's take you to the nurse's office." Fluttershy said, gingerly leading Rarity away. She turned her attention to Blue Blood. "You're coming with us."

The three of them made their way to the Principal's office. Blue Blood admitted to hitting Rarity, and both their parents were called. Her parents were obviously furious, but after the initial shock they were able to calm down enough to talk with Blue Blood's parents. His mom was very apologetic and offered to pay for any medical expenses should the need arise. His father was silent for the most part, agreeing with his wife when appropriate. Rarity was able to convince her parents not to press charges, she just wanted the whole thing behind her. Blue Blood gave a surprisingly heartfelt apology, which Rarity accepted. After it was all said and done, Blue Blood was suspended for three days and his position on the football team was under advisement. Throughout all of this Fluttershy was by Rarity's side, holding her hand and giving her any support she could.

Rarity was sent home early, the nurse recommended taking her to get checked out. She had several bruised ribs, luckily there wouldn't be any permanent damage. She invited Fluttershy over after school got out and they spent the evening together. Rarity's parents were very grateful to Fluttershy for standing up to Blue Blood on their daughter's behalf. Even Sweetie Belle thanked her, she knew her sister had been unhappy for a while, but she had hope that things would get better now.

Fluttershy was flustered by all the attention she was getting, so the two girls stepped out to the backyard and sat on the bench swing, the clear night sky above them.

"I haven't properly thanked you for what you did." Rarity said when there was a lull in their conversation.

"You don't have to," Fluttershy protested. "I only did what anyone would have."

"But it wasn't just anyone, it was you Fluttershy. You've always wanted what's best for me. You've always wanted me to be happy."

"And look where that got you." She looked down at her feet. "I should have said something sooner, intervened somehow."

"There was nothing you could have done, I was in denial about how bad it was. That's why I never told anyone, I thought I could handle it by myself. You helped me darling, got me out of that terrible situation, now I can try to be happy again." She placed a hand over Fluttershy's.

Fluttershy gasped, she looked at their hands then into Rarity's sapphire eyes. Their lips met, Fluttershy closed her eyes wanting the moment to last forever. The two held each other, swinging on the bench. They didn't know what the future would hold for them, the only thing they knew was that right now, this is where they wanted to be.

Fluttershy cleared her throat. "Rarity, will you go to the dance with me?"

Rarity smiled, and put her head on Fluttershy's shoulder. "I thought you'd never ask."

The Concert

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Twilight was watching Fluttershy and Rarity go, amazed at the hidden strength inside her friend. Pinkie, Rainbow and AJ were just as amazed, and the four of them stared after them in silent awe.

Rainbow was the first to speak. "Who knew she had that in her. I've known her pretty much my whole life and I've never seen anything like it."

"She must really care for Rarity." Pinkie observed. They all nodded their agreement.

"One thing ah know for sure, ah definitely do not wanna be on the receivin' end of that stare. Blue Blood looked just about ready to wet himself." Applejack stated.

"Wow, sounds like I missed quite the spectacle." Said a voice from behind them, causing them all to jump.

"Sunset! What are you doing here?" Twilight asked, giving her a hug.

"I'm just heading to the bathroom. So what happened?" She asked.

When they finished telling her what had happened Sunset was just as awestruck.

"Our Fluttershy did that? Wow, I never would have guessed." She smiled at the thought. "Well, I better do what I came to do and head back to class. I'll see you next period Twi." Sunset said goodbye to her friends and headed in the direction of the restrooms.

"Yeah, I'd better head back and get my stuff before the bell rings." Rainbow said. She gave Applejack a kiss before leaving.

Pinkie left for her locker as well, squeezing her friends in a big hug. Applejack and Twilight remained in the hallway.

"So have you told Sunset how you really feel yet?" Applejack asked suddenly.

"... No." Twilight responded.

"Look, I know ah said to do what comes naturally and not to rush things, but get the lead out girl. She's not gonna wait forever." She said.

"I know! I just get so nervous every time I try." She rubbed her arm uncomfortably.

"Ah know it's scary, but if you want to make something happen you might have to take charge." The five-minute bell rang then. "Just something to think about sugarcube. See ya 'round Twilight, have fun tomorrow."

Twilight and Sunset were hardly able to concentrate in their video class. They received an 'A' on their bullying PSA, Mr. Mogul even asked them if he could keep it as an example for later classes. They were honored and of course agreed. When the class finally ended the two practically sprinted out the door and finalized their plans before Twilight boarded the bus.

Saturday morning, Twilight woke up bright and early, unable to sleep in how she wanted to. She ate breakfast and watched videos on the internet to pass the time until two-thirty when Sunset would pick her up.

Sunset called Twilight to let her know she was on her way. Twilight waited patiently in the living room with her parents. They were talking about the date night her parents had planned when there was a knock at the door.

"I've got it!" Twilight cried.

She opened the door to see Sunset Shimmer smiling broadly. She was dressed in a black t-shirt with a cool design on it, blue jeans and black combat boots.

"You look concert ready Twi." She said.

Twilight was sporting a pink tee with black, white and pink stars on it, with a black skirt, knee high socks and high tops.

"Thanks I was hoping I looked alright." Twilight said.

Velvet and Nightlight came to the door and hugged them both goodbye.

"Drive safe you two, and have fun." Velvet said.

"We will!" Twilight called back as they ran to the car.

The two of them hit the road. They had an Offspring playlist that Sunset made special for the occasion playing in the background while they excitedly talked.

"So how many concerts have you been to Sunset?" Twilight asked.

"Umm, I think this will be my fourth. Each one was awesome, but I know this one will be my favorite."

"Well yeah, it's your favorite band!" Twilight said.

"True, but the company is also way better." She gave Twilight a sly wink, which caused Twilight to become flustered.

The two stopped to get burgers before continuing on to the venue. They were singing at the top of their lungs to the songs on the playlist. Twilight was playing a riff on her air guitar when she heard the sound of a cell phone camera click. She looked at Sunset, who was barely holding back her laughter.

"Oh, that is a keeper for sure!" Sunset said, sliding her phone into her pocket.

"No no no, delete it!" Twilight reached for the phone, but Sunset slapped her hand away playfully.

"Hey I'm driving, no distracting the driver!" She laughed.

“Says the one who took her eyes off the road to snap a picture.”

“It was worth the risk.” She teased.

They finally arrived, and since they made such good time they were only in line for about a half hour before it was their turn to go through the security check. Once their bags were cleared they were given their things back and their VIP badges on lanyards, then they were ushered in.

“Enjoy the show.” The heavily tattooed security guard told them with a smile.

“Definitely!” Sunset called back.
The venue was awesome, it was outdoors with an expansive lawn in the back where many had already set up blankets to relax on before the opening act. A middle section with seats bolted to the ground. Then the VIP section which had a full bar, tables and comfortable looking seats, with staircases that lead down to the pit area.

"This is incredible! Thank you so much Twilight!" Sunset scooped her companion up in a hug then grabbed her hand to explore the grounds around the stage. They went to the food stands and got some pretzels and water. They looked at the posters for the bands performing, they each bought an Offspring poster that featured the band. The two flitted around to the different stands for a bit when they ran into a girl from school.

"Hey Octavia!" Sunset said to the girl with elegant dark brown hair. "I didn't expect to see you here."

"Sunset Shimmer, how are you dear?" Octavia said with a silky English accent.

The two hugged and Twilight felt a pang of jealousy. They talked easily with each other about class and music. Twilight was silent for the most part, discouraged slightly by how well they were getting along.

"Oh, I'm so rude." Sunset made introductions. "this is Twilight. Twilight, Octavia. We have music class together, she's basically a cello expert."

Octavia shook Twilight's hand. "Lovely to meet you Twilight."

"Likewise. Are you here with anyone?" Twilight asked.

"She's with me." A cheery voice said from behind Octavia, the newcomer handed Octavia a water bottle. "Here you go babe." She moved her blue hair out of her face.

"Girls, this is my girlfriend Vinyl Scratch." They made their introductions and talked until they could hear the band starting warm ups on the stage. They all dispersed and got ready for the first act.

Good Charlotte put on an excellent show. Their set was a perfect combination of high and mid-energy songs that twilight was able to sing along with. During the song "Silver Screen Romance", Sunset and Twilight did an improvised swing dance routine in the VIP section they had secured. Twilight couldn't believe how much fun she was having, she was so glad that her first concert was with Sunset Shimmer.

After Good Charlotte there was an intermission before Sum 41 took the stage, so the girls went to a kiosk that had caught Twilight's eye the first time around. They approached the airbrush tattoo artist and looked over his book of design templates. They got their tattoos on the underside of their wrists, Twilight got a pink star with six smaller stars surrounding it, while Sunset got a red and yellow stylized sun design. Even though it was only temporary, Twilight felt very rebellious with it. They took a picture of their tattoos side by side on their phones, adding to the many they had already taken that day.

The mid-October sun was shining down on them enough that Sunset took off her t-shirt. Her plain white tank top had a low neckline, she looked up from putting her shirt in her bag and caught Twilight staring.

"See something you like?" She teased.

"I wasn't staring!" Twilight said flustered.

Sunset laughed. "It's fine Twilight, I know it's a little revealing," she blushed a bit. "but I knew it was gonna be hot."

The band was warming up as they went to the bar and got complimentary water bottles. Sum 41 took the stage and rocked the show, Sunset and Twilight even ventured down into the pit. Twilight held Sunset's hand so she wouldn't be separated from her, although she'd be lying if she said it wasn't partly an excuse just to hold her hand. They bumped into Octavia and Vinyl again, and the three of them showed Twilight the basics of moshing and before long they had a small mosh group. Sunset acted as a buffer between Twilight and the others until she got acclimated, but soon Twilight was jumping around with the rest.

The sun was setting as Sum 41 finished their set. Sunset and Twilight went to one of the food stands and got hot dog combos and nachos to split for dinner. They went back to their spot and set the food down, ready to eat.

"You looked like you were having fun out there." Sunset said as she tied her hair back in a ponytail.

"Yeah! It waff sfo muff fun!" Twilight said, her mouth full of food.

"In english please." Sunset said with a laugh as she dug into her own food.

Twilight swallowed. "Sorry, it was so much fun! I was a little nervous at first but then I just rolled with it."

"I'm so glad you're enjoying yourself. I was worried this would be too much and you'd be miserable."

"Well, having you here really helps. I don't know that I'd be having as much fun otherwise. I'm really happy I went to my first concert with you." Twilight smiled broadly at Sunset.

Sunset felt herself blush. "Well I'm glad we could come together."

Feeling sufficiently full, they decided to wander around for a bit. They walked close together so they wouldn’t be separated, and every so often their hands would brush each other. Every time this happened Twilight was tempted to lace their fingers together. They headed toward the t-shirt booth, where they each bought an Offspring shirt that had the tour dates on the back. Sunset bought one of Sum 41's and Twilight bought a Good Charlotte shirt. It was considerably cooler now that night had fallen so Sunset put her t-shirt she brought with her back on.

They made their way toward the pit again, squeezing their way toward the front. They were right at center stage, leaning against the guard fence. They were talking excitedly when the stadium lights turned off. The crowd erupted with cheers, Sunset and Twilight adding their voices to the cacophony. After a brief wait the classic bass intro of 'Bad Habit' played, causing the crowd's cries to grow louder. A spotlight shone on each member as their part started. As soon as the song took off the lights flashed on and off in various colors in time with the music, and mosh pits broke out all around them. Laughing, they joined the nearest one, jumping and pushing with everyone else.

The band played a lot of Sunset’s favorite songs during their time on stage, she and Twilight moshed and sang along. Sunset noticed that whenever Twilight sang a curse word her eyes would get really wide, and she found this adorable. The concert went on well into the night, the two of them had a blast the whole time. After the concert was over and they were able to eventually make it out of the crowded parking lot, they were on their way home reflecting on the amazing day they just had. Sunset had her music playing quietly as they drove home, Twilight could barely stay still she was so full of energy.

They made the journey back into town, the song they were listening to was just ending as they pulled up in front of Twilight's house. Sunset leaned back in her seat, smiling as Twilight highlighted her favorite parts of their day. She was talking very animatedly when she suddenly stopped. She made eye contact with Sunset, who started to blush.

"What is it Twi?" Sunset asked, a little concerned.

A determination filled Twilight's gaze. "If I don't do this now I never will."

"What are-" that was all she was able to get out before Twilight kissed her.

Sunset's eyes widened, but they closed shortly after as she sunk into the kiss, taking in every bit of the moment she could. The smell of the sweat coming from Twilight's pores, the feel of Twilight's hand on her cheek, of her fingers laced through Twilight's long hair. She imprinted the taste of Twilight's lips as they held each other, the stereo playing the same song that had been playing when she’d nearly kissed her that first day, which in that moment, became their song.

The Next Day

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The song played on as they separated and looked into each other's eyes. Twilight was the first to speak.

"So... I like you, I don't know if you knew that." Twilight said, a nervous smile on her face.

"Well I do now." Sunset said with a laugh. "It just so happens that I like you too."

"Oh thank goodness." Twilight said with relief. "I'm so glad I didn't misread your feelings. I have been stressing over this for a while now."

"You don't have to worry anymore." She gave Twilight another kiss.

Smiling with butterflies in her stomach Twilight said. "So what does this mean for us? Are we... together?"

Sunset thought for a minute. "Well I'd like to call you my girlfriend... if you'll let me that is." She looked hopefully at Twilight, who hugged and kissed her.

"Of course!" She laughed and held her new girlfriend. "It's been a night full of firsts for me. My first concert, first girlfriend... my first kiss."

"Really? That was your first kiss? I didn't realize it. You're a good kisser." Sunset told her.

Blushing, Twilight said. "You're just saying that because you're my girlfriend."

"I like the way that sounds." Sunset said gently.

"Me too." Twilight agreed. They were about to kiss again when Twilight's phone started ringing. "She has the worst timing. Hey Mom, yeah we're outside just talking, I'll be in in a bit." She turned toward Sunset. "My mom says hi."

"Hi Mrs. Sparkle!" Sunset yelled toward the phone. Sunset's hand hadn't left Twilight's the whole time she was on the phone. She was lightly drawing little patterns and shapes on the back of her girlfriend's hand with her finger. She drew a heart and lifted Twilight's hand to her lips.

Twilight continued talking to her mom, but leaned over and gave Sunset a little kiss. "Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I'll tell you guys about it when I come in. Ok, see you in a few, love you." Twilight turned toward Sunset. "They want me inside, so I guess this is where we part ways."

"Do we have to? I don't want to go, I'm too happy." Sunset said.

Twilight cuddled up as best she could into Sunset. "I know, I'm worried that I'll wake up and this won't have happened."

Sunset lifted Twilight's chin and kissed her. "This is real. You don't need to worry about that." Twilight stayed for another few minutes when she received a text from her mom. "You better get inside before they forbid you from seeing me anymore." She said with a wink.

"You're probably right. Before I go though, one more kiss?" She leaned closer, their lips met one more time before she got out of the car. "Text me when you get home so I know you made it safely."

"Will do." Sunset started the car and made her way home, smiling the whole way.

Twilight turned to start heading toward the house only to be met by her mother waiting by the front door.
How much did she see? Twilight thought to herself, her heart racing. "Hey mom, what's up?"

"Oh nothing," she said with a scrutinizing look on her face. "Umm what was that I saw?"

"Huh? What do you mean?" Twilight asked, sweat starting to build on her brow. "Oh I was just giving Sunset a hug to thank her for the day and for driving."

She narrowed her eyes at her daughter. "Not that. I thought I saw something on your wrist. That had better be temporary.” She gestured to the tattoo.

“Don’t worry mom, it is.” She chuckled.

Twilight excitedly told them all about her day. The drive up, the concert, the only thing she left out was her new relationship with Sunset. She wasn't ready to deal with coming out to her parents yet. After she recounted her day she went to her room. She didn't get to sleep for a couple hours after, since she was messaging Sunset late into the night.

When Monday came around Twilight was ready in a flash, practically bounding out the door. She was about to leave when she heard her dad call out behind her.

"Whoa kiddo, where's the fire?" Her dad asked.

"Oh you know, just excited for school." She responded.

"Right, school." He said with a suspicious smile. “Is that his name? Strange name for a boy.”

“What? No, it’s nothing like that.” She rerorted, a little flustered. “I’m excited to see my friends again. I guess there’s still a little leftover adrenaline from the concert too.”

"Mhmm, sure.” He teased her. “Well have fun sweetheart."

She playfully stuck her tongue out at him before leaving the house.

Twilight couldn't sit still during the whole bus ride, she was tapping her feet and fidgeting with her hair. She was cleaning the lenses of her glasses for the third time when the bus finally pulled up to the school. Twilight went straight to Sunset's locker where they embraced and shared a small kiss before going to the usual meet up spot, walking hand in hand.

They met up with the others, still holding hands. Twilight took a moment and addressed them.

"So… you might have noticed something different today... Sunset and I are together. I'm... gay." She was surprised to hear the word out loud, but it felt good to have finally said it.

Applejack stood up and hugged Twilight. "Well its about time!"

"You knew?" Sunset asked.

"Yeah, Twilight told me she liked you a few weeks ago." AJ said with a grin.

"And Sunset confided the same sentiment to me not too long ago as well." Rarity offered.

"But it's not like we couldn't tell from a mile away." Rainbow Dash said, leaning back against her locker.

"You could all seriously tell that I liked her? I thought I hid it pretty well." Twilight said.

"Oh, I knew almost as soon as you introduced her to us." Pinkie said cheerfully while laying with her feet in the air against the lockers.

"How!?" Twilight said incredulously

"There was just something about the way you looked at her and talked about her." Fluttershy timidly offered from her spot next to Rarity.

"Well, that takes care of that I suppose." Sunset said, squeezing Twilight's hand reassuringly.

The two sat down next to each other, Twilight leaned on Sunset's shoulder with a big smile on her face. Sunset leaned into Twilight and held her hand when she noticed Fluttershy and Rarity's intertwined hands.

"So how is it going for you two?" She asked Rarity.

"We're uh, taking it slow. Seeing where it takes us." She looked at Fluttershy and squeezed her hand. "But I couldn't be happier with where we are now."

"I'm happy for you two." Her face became more serious. "How are your..." she trailed off.

"They're mending. You needn't worry about me though darling, I'll be fine. Besides, Fluttershy has been taking care of me." She kissed Fluttershy's cheek which caused her to turn bright red.

The group continued to chat until the bell rang.

"I'll walk you to class." Sunset said, grabbing Twilight's hand.

"Are you sure? Won't you be late for class?" Twilight said, concerned.

"Yeah, but I can afford to be late." She replied.

They walked in the direction of Twilight's class, talking easily and happily. Sunset watched her girlfriend get more animated as she talked about her science class and how well she's doing. Sunset leaned in and kissed her cheek.

"What was that for?" Twilight asked.

"You were just really cute." She grinned at Twilight. "I was thinking, do you wanna go out this weekend? Like on a date."

"Of course!" She smiled broadly.

"Great, I'll pick you up around four-thirty on Friday."

"It's a date!" Twilight said cheerfully.

After school Twilight decided to tell the one person she told everything to, her brother, Shining Armor. She got home and started to head to her room when her mom called out to her from the living room.

"How was school?" Her mom asked, closing her book."

"It was good, I aced my science test!" She said as she sat on one of the chairs.

"Good, I'm so proud of you. You definitely take after your father in that respect. How's your math coming along?" Her mother asked.

"Alright I guess. Sunset's been helping me with it since she's so good at it. And I help her with her science." She told her.

"Sounds like you two have a good little system in place. She's a good friend, I like her a lot." Mrs. Sparkle admitted.

"Me too." Twilight said, smiling to herself.

"So what are your plans today?" She asked.

"Homework, and I'll probably write to Shining Armor." Twilight said.

"Oh, well when you do, tell him hi and ask when he's planning on visiting." She said, feigning annoyance.

Twilight grinned at her mom. "I will mom. I'm gonna go start on that email." Twilight said, rising from the chair.

"Dinner will be ready at six-thirty." Velvet called after her daughter.

Twilight wrote to her brother regularly. She hadn’t seen him since he moved to live on campus at Cloudsdale University. Shining Armor was the only person before now that knew she'd had feelings for other girls in the past. As she was writing her email she recalled the day she told him.

It was half way through sixth grade when a new girl moved into the school. Twilight had had a few conversations with her and felt the kinds of feelings she’d heard people talk about and read about in the books she liked to read. That day she had gone home in a stupor, not quite sure how to process her feelings. She had been silently crying in her room when Shining Armor walked by and heard her sniffling. He had asked if she was ok and everything had come flooding out. She told him that she had a crush on one of the girls in her class, that she didn't know why she didn't like boys. She told him how she was scared of their parents finding out because she had always been told it was wrong for girls to like girls that way.

He had let her unload everything inside, soothingly rubbing her back as she did so. After she calmed down she asked him if he was ashamed of her. He had assured her that he absolutely was not and that he was glad she felt comfortable enough to tell him. He told her that she didn't have to tell their parents until she was ready, that he would support her no matter what. She knew then that her brother was one of the most important people in her life.

After that day Twilight had decided to push those feelings down and part of that had unfortunately included stopping her budding friendship with the new girl. When she moved on to Crystal Prep she had done her best to convince herself that she liked boys. When that didn’t work she threw herself more into her school work. She was able to make some more friends at Crystal Prep and when they would ask who she liked she would just tell them she wasn’t really interested in dating anyone. They hassled her a little, but it was all good natured.

Twilight read over her email once more before sending it. Happy with the final result she sent it off, eagerly awaiting her brother's response. She hoped that he would be visiting soon, writing the letter had made her miss him even more.

First Date

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During lunch on Friday, Sunset and Twilight were talking about their date that evening. They were going to go on a hike and have a picnic in the Everfree Forest. Twilight was a little nervous since she wasn't the most physically active person, but Sunset assured her that it was pretty easy, and that the payoff at the end was well worth it.

"I can't wait, it's been a while since I've been on a hike, so bear with me." Twilight said apologetically.

"Don't worry, I won't leave you behind." She winked and held Twilight's hand. "Remember to wear something comfortable."

Twilight rode the bus home and went straight to her room to change into hike appropriate clothing. She decided on a pair of black yoga pants that ended just past her knees, a tank top and a purple light jacket in case she got cold. A Faust University cap her dad gave her topped it all off. She grabbed her water bottle and went to the kitchen to fill it.

"Where are you off to?" Her mom asked from the table where she was working on her laptop.

"Oh, right. I forgot to tell you, Sunset and I are going on a hike." She informed her mom.

"Really? She must be really persuasive, you haven't been on a hike in a long time. In fact when is the last time you went outside of your own volition?" She teased.

"Hey!" She tossed a baby carrot at her mom who caught it and laughed. "I go outside, I just have more to do inside. Do you mind if I take the rest of these?"

"Go right ahead." She said as she munched on the carrot she was assaulted with.

"Working on your book? How's it going?" She asked as she pulled out some celery and potato chips.

"Pretty well, I've written a few chapters today, I'm just proofreading before moving on." She said as she tapped a few keys.

They continued talking until there was a knock at the door.

"I'll get it, you finish getting your snacks ready." Mrs. Sparkle said getting up. "Hello Sunset."

Sunset entered the house and waved at Twilight. "Hi Mrs. Sparkle. Hey Twi, are you ready for our daa-" she saw Twilight shaking her head, her eyes wide. "-aay trip?"

"Yeah, I'm just grabbing some snacks." She finished what she was doing and headed for the door. "See you later Mom." She hugged her on the way out.

"Have fun and be safe you two!" She called after them.

The two of them were on the road to the Everfree Forest. When there was a lull in the conversation Sunset turned to Twilight.

"So I take it you haven't told your parents?" She asked.

"No..." she said, feeling embarrassed.

Sunset gently placed her hand on Twilight's. "Hey, don't worry, I won't pressure you. You do it when you're ready. I know how hard it is to come out to your parents."

"How did your parents react? If you don't mind me asking."

"Not at all. They were shocked at first. There was an awkward stretch where they were processing and didn’t know how to talk to me, but they got over it eventually and things mostly went back to normal." She finished just as they arrived at the trailhead.

They grabbed the necessities for when they reached their destination, the blanket and snacks were in Twilight's backpack while Sunset had the food and drinks in a large insulated lunch bag. They each had two water bottles for the trek up and their swimsuits, which Sunset said they might need.

They had already been walking for twenty minutes making conversation as they followed the trail to wherever Sunset had in mind. She hadn't told Twilight any specifics as to where they were going. All Twilight knew was that it was a favorite spot of Sunset's.

"We're not going to end up in the plot of one of your horror movies are we?" Twilight asked as Sunset waited for her at the top of a small rise.

Sunset laughed at that. "I can see how you would think that, but no... well maybe." A sly smile appeared on her face.

"Sunseeet." Twilight said with apprehension in her voice.

"Well think about it, we're two attractive teenagers walking in the woods towards an unspecified location." She felt Twilight's hand tighten as she spoke. "It's kind of the perfect set up."

"Except there's only two of us, not enough to span the archetypes of a horror movie." She countered.

"That's just it. We're the opening scene, the set up for the rest of the movie. Right now, we would stumble upon an abandoned cabin, and that would seal our fates."

Just then an animal bounded through the woods causing them both to jump. Twilight repeatedly lightly smacked Sunset's arm.

"You're terrible." She said playfully.

"I know, I couldn't help myself." She made her eyes big. "Forgive me?

Twilight frowned, then kissed her girlfriend. "You're lucky I like you." Her look became serious. "But I swear if there's an abandoned cabin at the end of this trail, I'm out."

They continued through the woods for another fifteen minutes when Sunset went off the trail. Twilight pensively followed her, her mind still imagining a deranged man in the woods. Sunset sensed her nervousness and held her hand.

"Don't worry, I know where we're going." She assured Twilight.

The feel of Sunset's hand in hers calmed her down. "I trust you. Lead the way fearless traveler."

"Dork." Sunset said affectionately. They both laughed and trudged onward.

Five minutes later Sunset was pushing aside a bush that had grown between two trees, allowing Twilight through. When she saw what was before her she gasped in surprise. They were on a rocky outcropping that jutted out over the lake. The light from the sun sparkled and danced on the water's surface. The surrounding forest gave off a sense of peaceful isolation.

Twilight held Sunset's hand. "It's beautiful."

Sunset wrapped her arms around Twilight's waist and rested her chin on her shoulder. "It's even prettier with you here."

Twilight turned her head and they kissed deeply for several minutes. Once they pulled apart they set up the blanket in a shaded spot close to the tree line they just exited. They ate their lunch and talked.

"So how did you find this place? I mean it's not exactly marked by a trail." Twilight asked.

"It actually happened completely by accident."

Sunset explained how she'd had a big fight with her mom a couple years ago and rode her bicycle out to the trail to clear her head. Once there she had gotten distracted and lost. She had started panicking when she heard people in the direction of the lake. She'd headed that way and came out here.

"I fell in love with it so I backtracked and memorized the way. Now whenever I need to get away, I come out here and take some time to myself." She finished.

"This place must be really special to you. Have you brought a lot of people here?" Twilight asked.

"Actually, you're the first one I've shown this to. I haven't wanted to share this spot with anyone until you."

Twilight blushed at this. "What makes me so special?"

"You're the first person that's made me this happy in a long time. Even before we started dating." Sunset told her.

Twilight kissed Sunset and said. "Thank you for sharing this place with me, I really am honored."

They continued their lunch, sitting side-by-side looking out over the lake when Sunset turned to Twilight.

"So I know I'm your first girlfriend and first kiss, but is this your first date?" She asked.

Twilight laughed a little. "Why? Am I that awkward? No, I've been on dates before. The guys were nice enough, really sweet and gentlemanly, but I was never attracted to any of them."

"Did any of them try to kiss you?" Sunset asked.

"A couple did, but I was able to deflect their advances." She said slyly.

"How'd you do that?" Sunset chuckled.

"Let's see, there was the classic hug then open the door. A handshake, awkward goodbye. The worst one though, was this guy I’d been on a couple dates with gave me a hug, then held me there, obviously wanting to kiss me, so I patted his head thanked him and went inside."

Sunset nearly choked on the soda she was drinking. "No you didn't! You actually patted his head?"

Twilight joined Sunset's laughter. "I didn't know what else to do. He was really nice but I wanted to save my first kiss for someone I liked."

"Well I'm glad I was someone you liked." She kissed Twilight's cheek.

"Me too." Twilight took Sunset's hand and kissed it. "So what about you? Am I your first girlfriend?"

"Unfortunately no. I've had one girlfriend before you." She looked away. "It wasn't a good relationship."

"What do you mean?" Twilight asked.

"She wasn't good for me, she brought out an ugly side of me that I hated, but when I was with her she made me feel like it was who I really was." Sunset's voice wavered. "But it wasn't. Twilight I need to be honest with you, I don't want any secrets between us."

Twilight was getting nervous. "Ok, what do you need to tell me?"

Sunset inhaled deeply. "Remember at my birthday party when I told you I used to be really terrible? Well the truth is that I used to be a huge bully. I was so bad I caused a girl to drop out and she had to be home-schooled. I know this is a lot to take in, but I wanted you to know everything before our relationship went any further. I understand if that’s too much."

Twilight took a few minutes to process what she had been told. She wondered if her past as a bully was too much and if the old Sunset could reappear. She looked into Sunset's eyes, and came to her conclusion.

"That's not who you are now. That's what matters to me.” She took her hand in her own. “You are one of the kindest people I've ever met. You always think of others feelings, and I would love to still go out with you." She squeezed Sunset's hand affectionately.

Sunset's eyes welled with happy tears, and she embraced her wonderful girlfriend. She kissed Twilight and they just held each other, the sounds of the forest providing a peaceful ambience for them.

After they finished their lunch they made their way down to the lake. Twilight had gone a ways into the woods to put on her swimsuit while Sunset had worn hers under her clothes. They swam in the lake for another hour. Twilight even mustered up the courage to jump from a low cliff into the water. The water was cold and refreshing. When their teeth started to chatter they both agreed it was time to get out.

When they were done swimming they went to Sugar Cube Corner, the local sweets shop. The store had ice cream and fresh baked goods, there was little wonder as to why it was a local favorite. They were immediately struck with the sweet scent of pastries fresh from the oven. The little bell above the door signaled their arrival.

"Good afternoon dears!" A cheery voice said from behind the counter. Mrs. Cake had a round, kindly face with a cheerful smile that made everyone feel welcome as soon as they entered. "What'll it be today? Oh, hello Sunset, it's been a while since we've seen you around here. How's school going dear?"

"Yeah, life has gotten busy. School is good, I'm doing well, getting good grades." Sunset said with a smile.

"And who's your friend?" She said addressing Twilight.

"This is my girlfriend Twilight." Sunset said holding Twilight's hand.

"Twilight Sparkle, pleased to meet you." She extended her hand.

"Sparkle... oh I know where I've heard that name. Your father, Nightlight, comes in quite a bit on his way home. He's such a nice man, always gets you two oatmeal raisin cookies if I'm not mistaken."

"Yep, they're my favorite!" Twilight said.

They placed their order, Twilight got herself a raspberry Danish and a cup of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. While Sunset chose a couple eclairs and a cup of strawberry ice cream. As Sunset was paying Mrs. Cake slid a little bag across the counter to Twilight.

"These are on the house. Don't be a stranger, any friend of Sunset's is a friend of ours." She said with a wink.

They chose a table by the window and enjoyed their sweets.

"So how does she know you so well?" Twilight asked after a few minutes.

"I used to come here almost every day when I first moved out on my own. It was rough for a while because I had no friends and I was learning that it was harder to live on my own than I thought, so I would come here and eat alone. Eventually Mrs. Cake would come out and talk to me and we became really close."

By the time they finished it was getting late, so they got back into Sunset's car and drove a little ways out of town to a park with an unobstructed view of the skyline. They set up a blanket and prepared to watch the sun go down together. They talked and cuddled under a second blanket as the sun receded below the mountains.

"This has been the best day I've had in a long time." Twilight said as she snuggled up to Sunset under the blanket, her arms around her waist.

Sunset kissed the top of Twilight's head. "I'm glad you've had fun. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my day." Sunset looked into Twilight's beautiful eyes. "Twilight I... really like you."

Twilight smiled. "I really like you too." They kissed, happy to be with each other in this moment.

A Day With Pinkie

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Sunset and Twilight's relationship kept growing as the days passed. They went on a few double dates and group dates with the other couples in their group. Sunset had come clean to the others about her past shortly after her date with Twilight. They were all very accepting and didn't hold it against her. All the while Twilight still hadn't told her parents about herself so she had to tell them half truths as to where she was going with Sunset, and it was starting to weigh on her. She didn't like being dishonest with her parents, but she was still building up the courage to come out to them.

While the other six were double dating and spending more time together, Pinkie had to find ways to keep herself occupied. She was able to spend more time with her sisters, which she was happy about, but she was starting to miss her friends. Twilight felt bad about excluding Pinkie so she made special plans with her. Twilight caught a ride with Pinkie on her scooter after school and they went to Sugar Cube Corner. Pinkie immediately started up a conversation with Mrs. Cake.

"Hi Mrs. Cake! Are you ready for my application?" She slid a piece of paper across the counter.

"Finally turned sixteen I see. Did you and your friends have a party?" She asked.

"You know we did!" Pinkie said with a huge grin.

Twilight smiled at the memory. Grannysmith Apple had let Pinkie set the barn up for her party. Pinkie had made great use of the whole space. She had cleared the center for a dance floor, and hired Vynil to DJ the party. She had tables full of snacks she had made by hand with the help of her friends, including something she had come up with called a cherry-changa. There were also two huge punch bowls, one with a fruit punch and the other had a homemade strawberry lemonade.

The party had been held on Halloween night, and was a combination Halloween/ birthday party since Pinkie's birthday is only a few days into November. Everyone had dressed up and a few people went all out on their costumes. There had been a lot of people that Twilight had known from school. She was able to get to know them better and made a few more friends. Vynil had done a great job choosing the music, she had even played a few originals of her own creation. She really was a talented DJ, and Pinkie was an incredible party planner. They had played a lot of party games and danced and had a night they would all remember.

Back in the present Mrs. Cake looked over Pinkie's application. "You're applying for the baker position?"

"Yep yep yep! I think I could be really good at it." Pinkie beamed.

"Well, how about you come in on Sunday and we'll have you show us what you've got." Mrs. Cake said with a chuckle. "For now though, what can I get for you two?"

They placed their orders, a fruit tart and fruit smoothie with two oatmeal raisin cookies for later for Twilight. Pinkie Pie ordered the seasonal cupcake flavor, chocolate dome, caramel praline cupcake, a wild berry tart and a fresh lemonade. Pinkie found a seat and they enjoyed their treats.

"How do you eat so many sweets? This is about all I can handle." Twilight asked, amazed at her friend's appetite.

"I've always loved sweets and baked goods, when I was little it's almost all I would eat. In fact if I could survive on sweets alone I would!" Pinkie took a big bite of her seasonal cupcake.

Twilight laughed. "I'm sure you would. So what have you been up to? I feel like it's been too long since we've just talked."

"Yeah that happens when you're the only single gal in your group of friends." Pinkie said, a little down-trodden.

"I'm sorry Pinkie, I really don't mean to make you feel left out." Twilight apologized.

"I know," she said a little cheerier now. "It's ok Twilight. I've been able to spend more time with my sisters, so that's been nice!"

"How are they doing?" She asked.

"They're good, Maud is on break at School so she is visiting for a week. She and I are going to make rock candies and see a movie tomorrow!"

"That sounds like a lot of fun." Twilight said with a smile.

They talked about Pinkie's family for a while, then Twilight's. She told Pinkie about her troubles with lying to her parents and about how excited she was about Shining Armor coming to visit in a couple weeks for the holidays. When she brought up the winter formal she noticed Pinkie's mood change.

"Oh yeah, I'd almost forgotten about the dance." Pinkie said stirring the remains of her tart. "I imagine you'll be going with Sunset?"

"I think so, we haven't really talked about it-" Twilight started.

"I bet Rarity and Fluttershy will go together," she continued as if she hadn't heard Twilight. "and AJ and Rainbow. Then there will be just me." She finished with a heavy sigh.

"Hey, don't worry Pinkie. There's still plenty of time before the dance." Twilight said reassuringly.

"I guess that's true." Pinkie said.

"I'm sure someone will ask you to the dance, you're such a catch!" Twilight said "Is there anyone you are especially hopeful for?"

Pinkie's eyes peered over Twilight's shoulder. Twilight looked in the direction of Pinkie's gaze and saw a boy with curly brown hair and a big black case next to his table. She remembered seeing Pinkie talking with him at the party. He was with some friends and they were all laughing and having a good time. He must have felt their eyes on him because he blushed. His eyes fixed on Pinkie and he smiled timidly and waved.

Pinkie waved back as Twilight turned to face her.

"Who's that?" Twilight asked.

"His name's Cheese Sandwich." Pinkie smiled to herself. "We have a few classes together and we get along super well! I keep thinking he's going to ask me out, but he hasn't yet. I've even been really obvious with my flirting!"

"Maybe he's just shy." Twilight offered.

"Maybe, I'm just tired of waiting around." Pinkie said.

“So, how long have you wanted to work here?” Twilight asked, attempting to lighten the mood.

Pinkie smiled brightly. “I think since the first time I tried one of their pastries. So… since I was five?”

“That’s a long time! At least you knew what you wanted.” Twilight chuckled.

“That day was when I realized the wonderful world of baked goods. As soon as I had that first wild berry fruit tart I was never the same. It changed me Twilight.” Pinkie said with a far off gaze.

Twilight couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s earnestness. Pinkie broke character with a giggle shortly after, unable to remain serious for too long.

“Actually working here is an important first step toward my future plans.”

“What’s that?”

“I want to be an event planner slash caterer. My dream is to plan all sorts of events and parties, from birthdays to conventions! What will set me apart will be that I’ll do my own catering so they won’t have to go through another person as well. There’s still a lot of kinks to work out if I’m going to make it work, but I think I can do it!” She beamed.

“That’s pretty creative! I can tell you right now you have at least one dedicated customer.”

“Thanks Twilight!”

After the duo finished their treats they headed to Pinkie's house. This was the first time Twilight had met Pinkie's family and she was struck by how different she was from the rest. Her parents seemed loving yet stern, in stark contrast with Pinkie's out going, friendly attitude. Her sister Limestone was pretty intense. She seemed like something was always bothering her, but Pinkie knew just how to talk with her to get her to smile. Marble, the youngest and Pinkie’s fraternal twin, reminded Twilight of Fluttershy, she was very soft-spoken and bashful.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you around school. I’ll be sure to say hi if I see you in the halls.”

Marble tapped her toes uncomfortably. “I, um, don’t go to school with you. You see, I have a lot of anxiety and my parents agreed to try homeschooling two years ago to see if it helps.”

“Oh, I see. How has it gone for you?”

“Pretty well.” She gave a small smile. “Therapy has helped a lot too. If everything works out I might join you all next year.”

“I hope we’ll see you there. You’ll have a group of friends when you get there.”

Pinkie seemed to be closest with her sister Maud, but Twilight could not get a read on her no matter how hard she tried. She tried making jokes, regular conversation, nothing seemed to click between them, until she asked about her studies. Maud was an endless wellspring of information about rocks, mountains and rock formations. Any questions you had about rocks and stones she would answer them in her low monotone voice. Twilight had to admit there were some fascinating things to learn about them.

"Boulder and I are going to run some errands, we'll be back in a little while." Maud said after telling them about igneous rock formations.

"Boulder?" Twilight wondered aloud.

Maud reached into a pouch she had on her waist and pulled out a small smooth stone. "Yes, this is boulder. He’s my pet rock. His favorite movie is "127 Hours", because it's about a rock's triumph over man." She paused, then in that same monotone voice. "That was a joke."

Twilight smiled and laughed awkwardly.

Pinkie gave her sister a hug. "We'll see you later sis."

They played video games and ate shepherd's pie with Pinkie's family. When it was time for Twilight to go, Pinkie gave her one of her signature hugs.

"Thanks Twilight, I really needed this." Pinkie said after releasing her friend.

"Any time Pinkie." She addressed the rest of the Pie family. "It was great to meet all of you." She went to her father's car and they went home.

Twilight texted Sunset as soon as she got to her room.

"Hey, are you awake?"

"Yeah, what's up babe?"

Twilight's heart still fluttered every time Sunset called her that.

"Do you know a Cheese Sandwich?"

"I know that I've enjoyed a cheese sandwich on occasion ;)"

"Ha ha very funny. This is serious, I could have sworn you've mentioned a boy named Cheese Sandwich."

"Thank you, I'm glad you can see my comedy genius. But yes, I have music class with him. Why do you ask?"

Twilight proceeded to tell Sunset about what she had heard from Pinkie Pie.

"This is great! I always thought they'd be cute together! I'll see what his deal is tomorrow. But for now I should get back to my homework and then to bed. Goodnight Twi I'll see you tomorrow."

"Goodnight Sunset."

Twilight went to bed in a great mood from the day she had with Pinkie. She was glad she had made special plans and caught up with her.


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It was almost Thanksgiving, and Twilight could barely contain her excitement. Sunset would be joining her family in the festivities, her brother was going to be there, and he was bringing a surprise guest. She made her excitement known as soon as she saw Sunset on Wednesday by running up to her and planting a kiss on her lips.

"Good morning to you too." Sunset said with a chuckle.

"Good morning!" Twilight responded while holding Sunset's hand. "Sorry, I'm just so excited for Tomorrow! I can't wait for you to meet my brother. I'm sure you and Shining Armor will get along great."

"I hope so. I hope he approves of me dating his little sister and doesn't immediately dislike me for it." She chuckled, half joking.

Twilight laughed. "I'm sure you won't need to worry about that." She kissed Sunset's cheek. "Now let's meet up with the others!"

They met at the usual spot, talking about their Thanksgiving plans.

"Rainbow and her parents are comin' over to our house this year. Grannysmith insisted on it." Applejack told them.

"Oh Rainbow, are you nervous?" Fluttershy asked.

"Well a little, but I think it will be fine." She said, though her grip on AJ's hand tightened.

"I wish I could spend the holidays with Fluttershy," Rarity said, holding Fluttershy's arm. "but alas my parents and I are going to my grandparents house out of town."

"Don't worry Rarity, we'll get to see each other when you get back." She hugged Rarity.

"My family is going to have a big dinner and go on our Thanksgiving hike." Pinkie said with glee.

"Thanksgiving hike?" Sunset asked.

"Yeah, we dress in old timey clothes and walk a trail behind our landscaping property. While we hike my dad tells us stories about the pioneers and our family history." She explained.

"That sounds like a great tradition!" Twilight said.

"Yeah, we do it every year!" Pinkie agreed. "What are your plans Twilight?"

"Sunset's coming over to celebrate with my family. She's going to get to meet my brother Shining Armor too!" Twilight said excitedly.

"I'm pretty excited. It's been a while since I've had a big Thanksgiving dinner, and Twilight keeps talking up her mom's cooking so I've got high expectations." She said playfully.

"You won't be disappointed." Twilight responded.

The rest of the day was very subdued since it was a half day and the day before Thanksgiving break. Teachers either watched movies in class or let students visit amongst themselves. Quite a few students just stayed home for the day, three of which were Sunset's old friends, which she was just fine with. Their bullying had been ramping up recently and she was more than happy to have a break from it.

Twilight and Sunset hugged their friends before going to Sunset's car. Twilight was practically vibrating with excitement. Sunset couldn't help but smile at her enthusiasm. After dropping Twilight off, Sunset went home and started trying to put together an outfit for the next day. After she had it all picked out her phone pinged with an alert.

"Hey Sunset, would you mind coming over early to help prepare dinner?" The text read.

"Of course." She responded.

"Great! I'll see you around 1."

"I can't wait. See you tomorrow ;)"

Sunset decided to call it a night early and went to bed after catching up on some of her tv shows and playing video games for a few hours.
She woke up hours before she had to leave so she leisurely got ready for the day, and even tried her hand at making a pumpkin pie. It did not go well. So she opted to stop at the store to get one. When it was time to go, Sunset put on her skirt and plaid button up shirt before picking up her pie at the grocery store.

As she exited her car, the smells of Thanksgiving hit her, causing her mouth to water. She knocked and let herself in.

"Hello, Sparkles! I come with pie!" She said cheerfully.

"Oh good, Sunset you're here." Said a slightly frantic Velvet. "Could you start chopping vegetables for the veggie platter!"

"Oh, sure. Where should I put this?" Sunset asked.

"Just set it on the counter for now. By the way did you invite your uncle?" She asked.

"Yes, he said thank you, but he won't be able to make it." She said, while chopping celery.

Velvet pinched the bridge of her nose. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be so frantic. I had to take Nightlight to some faculty meeting for the science department that apparently couldn't wait until tomorrow. So I'm behind on my preparation and a little frazzled. So I apologize. How are you, and thank you for the pie, that was very sweet."

Sunset chuckled lightly. "I'm good, and you're welcome. I'm sorry they called your husband away, that's super annoying. I'm glad I could help you out."

"Alright girls we can do this. Sunset after you get the platter set up would you mind washing and peeling potatoes?" Velvet asked.

"Yes ma'am!" Sunset saluted.

"Twilight, if you could get a pot ready for after Sunset is finished we can get the potatoes done a bit faster. Then grab the stuffing from the pantry and get that started. I'll start on the whip cream."

"You guys make your own whipped cream?" Sunset asked.

"Yep! We use my Grandma's recipe. There's just something about fresh whipped cream." Twilight said while rummaging in the pantry. After a moment she stopped. "Okay, don't freak out."

Velvet tensed. "What is it?"

"The stuffing went bad a week ago." She informed her mother.

Velvet closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. After checking the time she said. "This could work. I think I can make it to the store to get more stuffing and some frozen rolls, then I can pick up your dad. Would you mind finishing the cream? All the ingredients are in the mixer, I just need you to keep an eye on it until it finishes. Then if you wouldn't mind getting the potatoes ready to boil and set the table we should be back on track."

"We've got this Mom." Twilight said while hugging her.

Moments later Twilight and Sunset were alone in the house. They had been alone before at Sunset's apartment, but there was something different about it being Twilight's house.

Sunset was peeling the last of the potatoes before transferring them to the pot. Twilight was grabbing the plates from the cupboard above her. After setting the pot on the stove Sunset wrapped her arms around Twilight's waist, holding her close.

"Hello there." Twilight said as she turned to face Sunset. "How's it going?"

In response Sunset kissed her. Softly at first, but the kiss gradually grew more passionate. Twilight was the one to break the kiss.

"I've got to check the whipped cream." She said after she caught her breath.

"Can I taste it?" Sunset asked after Twilight confirmed it was finished.

"Sure, just wash your hands." She responded.

After doing so she dipped a finger into the fluffy cream. It was delicious, much better than any store bought whipped cream she'd had. She helped Twilight get the mixing bowl off the mixer and into the fridge. She scooped Twilight into an embrace and moved to kiss her again.

"We still need to set the table." Twilight said playfully right before their lips met.

"How about we do that after some more kissing." Sunset offered moving closer.

"That will be your prize after we finish." With that Twilight escaped the embrace and went to the cupboard to grab more plates.

Sunset tickled Twilight's sides. "Tease."

The two laid the table cloth down and set the six place settings for dinner. Twilight turned around after placing the last fork to see Sunset sitting on the counter with her arms spread, waiting to bring Twilight in. She approached her girlfriend, and kept walking to the potatoes on the stove. She glanced sideways as she passed Sunset, a playful smile on her lips. She checked the time and added water to the pot. She walked back in Sunset's direction and stood in front of her, an inquisitive look on her face.

"I feel like you're trying to tell me something." She winked.

"What was your first clue?" Sunset played along.

"You know I'm not sure. There's just something about your body language." She said stepping closer.

As she did Sunset wrapped her lags around Twilight's waist and pulled her to her. Their lips met, Twilight rested a hand on Sunset's cheek, pulling her deeper into the kiss.

Several minutes later Twilight broke the kiss again. "My parents could be back any minute."

"I know, it adds a sense of danger." Sunset said flirtatiously. She kissed Twilight again.

"Yes, but I don't think us making out is the best way for them to find out I'm gay." Twilight said.

After one more kiss Sunset responded. "Fine, I guess you have a point." She hopped down off the counter. "So we've finished what your mom asked us to do. Wanna watch some tv til they get home?"

"Sure." Twilight said, leading Sunset by the hand to the couch.

They sat on the couch watching a sitcom, holding hands until Twilight moved Sunset's arm around her shoulder and they cuddled. They stayed that way until they heard a car pull into the driveway. They separated, making it look as though they were just hanging out. As the door knob turned Twilight leaned over and gave Sunset one more kiss on the lips.

"I'm just so happy you're home. How is school going?" Velvet was saying as she entered the house.

"It's going great! My professors are really nice and helpful." Said a voice Sunset had never heard before.

As soon as Shining Armor walked in Twilight wrapped her arms around him in a big hug.

Laughing he greeted his sister. "Hey Twily! I'm happy to see you too!"

"Welcome home Shining Armor!" Twilight cried cheerfully.

"I hope I can get one of those hugs." Came a voice from behind Twilight's father.

"Cadence!?" Twilight practically shoved Shining Armor out of the way before giving a spinning hug to the young woman who had just entered the house.

"Do you still remember the rhyme?" She asked Twilight.

"Of course I do!" She cheered.

"Sunshine sunshine, ladybugs awake! Clap your hands and do a little shake!" They said together with actions that went along with it.

It dawned on Twilight that Sunset had seen that whole display. She turned around, cheeks flushed with embarrassment. It took all of Sunset's willpower to not shower Twilight with affection for being so adorable.

"We'll let you all catch up. Dinner should be ready in about an hour." Velvet announced.

"You must be Sunset Shimmer. Twiliy's told me a lot about you." He said.

"Good things I hope." She responded, shaking his hand.

"Mostly." He joked. "Well I can't wait to get to know you better. You seem to be an important part of my sister's life."

"She's become pretty important to me too." Sunset said.

As Sunset and Shining Armor were getting acquainted, Twilight and Cadence were catching up.

"Good job Twilight, she's cute." Cadence said quietly with a wink.

"Thanks," she blushed. "We've been together for a little over a month now. I'm really happy.” She raised her voice to a normal level. “So how long have you and Shining Armor been going out? He didn't say anything about you two."

Shining Armor and Sunset joined their partners on the couch.

"We reconnected shortly after the semester started. We had classes in the same hallway and bumped into each other after class let out. We both had a free hour until our next class so we decided to get lunch together." She smiled fondly. "It was like no time had passed between us, we talked just as easily as we used to before my family moved. After a few weeks of meeting between classes for lunch we finally made plans for our first date."

"Who did the asking?" Twilight asked.

"I asked him. I could tell he wanted to ask me out, but he would get all nervous and flustered, so I finally took charge." She chuckled. "The look of relief on his face was adorable."

“Hey, I would have gotten around to it.”

“Of course you would have babe.” Cadence kissed his cheek.

Twilight giggled. "Well I'm happy to see you again."

“So am I.” She smiled. “I’ve missed you guys!

"Shall we move to the backyard until dinner?" Shining Armor asked.

They all agreed and went to the back porch. Cadence and Shining Armor took the porch swing while Sunset and Twilight sat on cushioned lawn chairs. Spike was running around chasing a butterfly, yipping happily.

"So Sunset, tell me a bit more about yourself. Twily mentioned you live by yourself?" Shining Armor asked.

"Yeah. My home life was pretty messy, so I moved out into a room at my uncle's hotel. I knew I had to keep up my education so I'm still going to school." She began.

Cadence and Shining Armor listened intently as Sunset told her story. She didn't spare her past as a bully, wanting to be truthful with them. She told them everything up to when she met Twilight. By the end of it cadence was wiping away a tear that had formed in her eye. Shining Armor was quiet for several moments before he spoke.

"You've been dealt a tough hand, but you haven't let that keep you down. I'm glad Twily is in such good hands." He said with a smile. "As long as you treat her right, you're okay in my book."

"Thank you. You don't need to worry, I plan on only treating her kindly." She kissed Twilight’s cheek.

"Aww, you two are so cute!" Cadence squeeled.

They all laughed at that. Then Shining Armor became more serious.

"So I understand you haven't told Mom and Dad yet right?" He said addressing Twilight.

"Not yet." She said quietly.

"That's fine," he said. "can I give you fifty cents worth of free advice?"

"Sure." She smiled.

"It'll probably be easier for them to take if they hear it from you rather than someone else. So I would maybe think about when you want to tell them."

"I know, it's just scary." She admitted.

Shining Armor stood and hugged his sister. "I know, but at least you know you have us in your corner."

They talked and laughed with each other, Sunset was even comfortable enough to make playful jabs at Shining Armor which got a good laugh out of the others. Velvet came out to call them all in for dinner a short time later.

The spread was incredible, the turkey had been cooked to perfection. The meat was deliciously tender, the potatoes were light and fluffy, complimented perfectly by Nightlight's homemade turkey gravy. Even the rolls were perfect.

After they had eaten their fill, Velvet retrieved the pumpkin pie Sunset had brought along with a chocolate pie and a banana cream pie from the fridge. It was the perfect end to a perfect dinner. After the dishes were cleared and the food comas started to set in Nightlight and Shining sat down to watch the game. Cadence and Velvet were catching up in the kitchen over cups of tea.

"Sunset and I are gonna go play some video games in my room." Twilight announced.

"Alright sweetie, don't forget about the movie later." Her dad said from his spot on the couch.

"We won't." She responded, heading up the stairs.

As soon as the door was shut behind them Sunset flopped onto Twilight's bed.

"I don't think I've ever been this full." Sunset said from her spot.

Twilight chuckled. "Yeah, that tends to happen at our house. So what game should we play?" Twilight asked.

"How about 'cuddle time two: the snuggling'." Sunset joked.

"I don't think I have that one." Twilight said looking through her collection.

"Babe, it's not a video game." Sunset said smiling at her girlfriend.

"Is it a board game?" She asked, while turning to face Sunset. "How do you- oh."

"How you play is you join me on the bed, and we spoon. It's great for all players." She smiled.

Twilight hesitated. "What if my parents walk in?"

"We'll just lay together for ten minutes, promise." Sunset positioned herself, arms waiting to accept Twilight into their embrace.

"You must have rolled high in charisma." She said, laying down with her back to Sunset who pulled her close to her body.

"That may be the nerdiest compliment I've ever received. Maybe we can run a campaign sometime." Sunset said stifling a yawn.

"That'd be fun." Twilight said entwining her fingers with Sunset's. "We'll have to talk to the others but I think we could convince them. I'd actually love to do this if you're serious."

Light snores and steady breathing came as a response. Twilight smiled, feeling her own eyelids grow heavy.

I should set an alarm. She thought to herself before sleep overtook her.

"I should probably let twilight and Sunset know that we're leaving for the movie soon." Velvet said after rinsing out her and Cadence's teacups.

"Don't worry, I can get them." Cadence said, wanting to make sure Velvet didn't walk in on any surprises.

Cadence knocked lightly on the door before walking in. What she saw made her involuntarily squeal with delight. Twilight was the little spoon and was holding Sunset's hand placed between her cheek and the pillow. Sunset was nuzzled into Twilight's neck. Both were snoring lightly.

Cadence snapped a quick picture on her phone before waking them up.

"Hey girls. We're heading out soon so get ready to go." She said, causing them to stir.

Hearing Cadence's voice allowed Twilight to wake without a start.

"Thanks for waking us up Cadence.” She said, then mouthed. “Seriously."

"You're welcome." Cadence winked and left the room.

Twilight turned her head toward Sunset and they shared a quick kiss before getting up.

"So that was a bit longer than ten minutes." Sunset said while stretching. "Sorry."

"Don't be, it was worth it." She kissed Sunset again before holding her in her arms.

After a minute, Sunset said. "We should probably join your family. Let's go." She released Twilight's hand before they entered the hall.

The movie was very enjoyable, it had been the newest animated movie from Pixar. The six of them came home to make leftover turkey sandwiches and play board games. Sunset really felt accepted as part of the family and got along with all of them. After the games it was getting late so Sunset got ready to head home since she had work the next morning.

"Oh, don't forget your leftovers." Velvet said, handing her containers and sandwich bags of food.

"Are you sure you want to give me so much? I wouldn't want you all to go without." She protested.

"Don't you worry, we have plenty for us, Nightlight got a huge bird this year." She insisted. "Just get the containers back to me when you can."

"Thank you, I will." She smiled. "Thank you all so much for letting me spend today with you. It really meant a lot to me."

"We were happy to have you" Nightlight said. "You're always welcome."

"It was wonderful meeting you Cadence and Shining Armor."

"It was, hopefully we'll see you again sooner than later." Cadence said, giving her a hug.

"Hey Twilight, could you give me a hand?" Sunset asked.

"Of course!" She said, already putting on her jacket.

The two walked together to Sunset's car. They walked to the drivers side back door to put the food down so they could have some privacy.

"Thank you so much for inviting me Twilight." She said holding Twilight's hands. "I had such a good day"

"I'm so happy you could make it." She kissed Sunset gently. "Oh, look at the picture Cadence took of us."

She showed Sunset the picture of them asleep.

"She says we're adorable." Twilight chuckled.

"I'd have to agree with her." She hesitated before asking. "Could you send that to me?"

"I just did." She said as Sunset's phone buzzed.

They embraced and kissed each other one more time before making plans to go out again before school started back up. Twilight watched Sunset's tail lights recede in the distance before walking back to the house, happier than she ever had been.


View Online

When Twilight got home the Monday after Thanksgiving break, there was a poster board taped to the front door. When she got close enough to read it she noticed there were different candies used to replace some of the words in the message.

The poster read. "Please don't Snickers. It would bring me Mounds of Almond Joy if you would join me at the Winter Formal. It would make me feel like 100 Grand if you said yes. So one last time, will you be my Bit o' Honey at the dance? From, your SweeTart.

Twilight took a picture of the poster and laughed to herself. She brought it inside, immediately thinking about how to answer Sunset. She was typing a message to her when her mom called from the living room.

"Whatcha got there sweetheart?"

Twilight jumped a little, placing a hand on her chest, she turned, hiding the poster behind her a bit. "Mom! What are you doing home? I thought you had book club today."

"Oh Midnight Sentry had to cancel, her husband Stalwart had the day off so they went on a day trip. The others are meeting at someone else’s house, but I’m just not feeling it without Midnight today." She looked at the poster her daughter had tucked behind her legs. In a singsong voice she said. "I bet I know who that's from."

"Really? And you're okay with it?" She said with hope rising in her chest.

"Of course, I told Flash he should ask you to the dance." She said.

"Oh, well I think someone already beat him to it." Twilight said nervously.

"Oh? Who's that?" Velvet asked her daughter with a smile.

"... Sunset." She said. After a pause she quickly added. "But we're just going as friends. The seven of us are going as a big group to the dance."

"Oh," she sounded slightly disappointed. "are you sure you don't want to go on a date? It's been a while since you've been on one."

"I think I'll be ok this time just going with friends." She saw her mom's expression change. "What's wrong Mom?"

She took a moment to answer. "I just worry about you. You spend a lot of time with Sunset, you haven't dated at all since starting at Canterlot High and the few times you have been asked out you turned them down."

This was true, a few guys at school had asked her out, but she had politely declined. She had shared those times with her mom after she'd been asked about her dating life. She had told her that it was because she wanted to focus on her schooling.

"I just wish I knew what was going on. Is there anything you're not telling me? You know you can talk to me." Velvet said, worry apparent on her face.

She wanted to hug her mother and tell her everything. She wanted to tell her that she was gay, that she was in a relationship with Sunset. She wanted her mother to hug her back and accept her for who she is and to accept her girlfriend, but all she could muster was.

"N-no, everything's fine Mom. School is just keeping me busy." She felt a lump form in her throat. "Well I'd better put this in my room."

"Let me see it first." Her mom said, a little more cheerful. "She's such a creative girl." She said with a laugh after looking over the poster.

Twilight hugged her mom and finally made it to her room. She lay on her bed, a few silent tears fell to her pillow. Something had to change, she couldn't keep lying to her mom.

Twilight wiped her eyes, looked at the poster again and smiled. Sunset really was creative. She sent a picture of her with the poster.

"Thanks for the candy :)" she typed.

"Whatever do you mean? You must have a secret admirer ;)"

"I think I do. Are you jealous?" Twilight played along

"Oh so jealous, how are you going to answer her?"

"Now how do you know it's a girl?

"Educated guess?"

They continued talking for a while, which put Twilight in higher spirits. She spent some time with her mom before her dad got home. At dinner she told her dad about going to the dance. He was very excited for her and thought the idea of going with friends was a good one.

Twilight was excited for school on Thursday because there was a big mandatory assembly at the end of the day. This meant both lunches would be combined, so she was going to be able to have lunch with all of her friends.

The bell rang for everyone to go to lunch, Twilight met up with Sunset and they walked hand in hand toward the lunch room. The entrance to the lunch room was just ahead, but Sunset pulled Twilight past it.

"Where are we going?" Twilight asked.

They rounded the corner, then Sunset pulled Twilight close and planted a big kiss on her lips.

Bright red, Twilight caught her breath and asked. "What was that for?"

"I've wanted to kiss you all day, and this was my first chance." She said with a wink.

"Did you pull me aside just to make out with me?" She said playfully.

"As great as that sounds right now, we actually have somewhere to be. But I'll take a rain check on making out." She grabbed Twilight's hand and they went to Pinkie's locker.

When they arrived she noticed that AJ, Fluttershy and Rarity were already there.

"What are we all doing here?" Twilight asked quizzically.

"You'll see," Fluttershy said with a big grin on her face. "We're just waiting for Rainbow and Pinkie to- there they are!"

The two rounded the corner, Rainbow was speaking. "Thanks for letting me store my books in your locker. I got mine cleared so I can take them back now."

"No problem, I'm glad I was able to help." She noticed the rest of her friends. "Hey girls! What are you all doing standing around here?"

"Your locker's closest to the lunchroom so we figured we'd meet ya here." Applejack responded.

"Okie dokie lokie! Rainbow's just gotta get some stuff out of my locker."

Rainbow put in the combination a couple times. "Ugh, pinkie I can't get it. Would you mind?"

"Sure!" Pinkie said cheerfully.

She opened the locker and yelped in surprise. She jumped backward as a curly haired boy popped out of her locker with a small accordion. He played a little intro then started singing at a quick pace.

"This is your singing telegram I hope it finds you well. I'm asking you to the school dance, i think you're really swell. I wrote this song to ask you, if you said yes that'd be great. Sorry that it took so long, but I hope you'll be my date!"

On the last note the others pulled the strings on the party poppers Rarity had handed out. Confetti floated down, getting caught in both their hair. Cheese was standing with his arms raised at an angle when Pinkie scooped him in a hug.

"Of course I'll go to the dance with you! I've been waiting for you to ask me since the day they announced it!" She said with delight.

"Thank goodness! I was worried I had missed my chance." Cheese hugged her back.

"I loved the song by the way. Did you come up with it by yourself?" Pinkie asked after she released him and they all headed toward the lunchroom.

"I wrote the music, but your friend Sunset helped me with the words." He admitted.

Twilight smiled as Pinkie thanked Sunset. They found a seat in the crowded lunchroom. When they had all gotten situated Twilight showed the others the picture of the poster that Sunset had made. This sparked a conversation about how the others had asked and answered.

They were all smiling over Rainbow Dash having asked Applejack in a cutesy romantic way when a girl with curly orange hair walked behind Sunset and hip checked her, which caused Sunset to spill her drink into her lap. The girl's two friends that were with her laughed and continued walking.

"Hey! Do you want to apologize?" Rainbow called after them.

The girl merely glanced back with a wicked smirk and kept walking.

"I'm talking to you!" Rainbow yelled and stood. "You did that on purpose."

This got Adagio's attention. She faced Rainbow Dash and locked eyes with her. "Is your little friend right Sunset? Do I owe you an apology?" She didn't so much as glance at Sunset when she asked the question.

Quietly, she responded. "It's fine, I'm sure it was an accident." She started dabbing at her skirt with napkins. Twilight helped her and looked in disbelief at Adagio.

"See, she says it's fine." Adagio sneered. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to eat my lunch." She turned to go.

"Why you-" rainbow growled.

"Let it go Rainbow, it's not a big deal." Sunset pleaded.

Rainbow clenched her fists, but sat down. "What was that Sunset?" Rainbow asked incredulously. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"Don't worry about it Rainbow. I'll deal with it." Sunset said while averting her gaze.

"You don't have to deal with this alone sugar cube." AJ assured her.

"Yeah, we'll stand by you if those meanies mess with you again." Pinkie added.

"Just drop it ok!" Sunset snapped. She put her hand to her forehead. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get mad. I can deal with this myself. Thank you all for your concern though, it means a lot just knowing you care."

After an uncomfortable silence, the group conversed until the bell rang to dismiss lunch. Everyone went their separate ways to class, Sunset and Twilight walked together. Silence hung between them, the events during lunch had upset them both. Twilight had never seen Sunset like that before. Finally, Twilight couldn't take it anymore.

"How long have you been getting bullied?" She blurted out.

She looked at her girlfriend. "A while." She sighed.

"Why didn't you tell me? I would have helped you, stood up for you, whatever you needed!" Twilight said.

"I didn't want to involve you. It's not your problem." Sunset said.

"It is my problem. I care about you and don't want you to be in pain." Twilight placed her hand on Sunset's arm.

Sunset covered Twilight's hand with her own. "I know, but this is something I have to deal with on my own."

"Why haven't you gone to the principal though?" Twilight asked.

Sunset didn't answer immediately. "I... I guess I feel like I deserve it... to make up for everything I've done. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense."

Twilight stared intently at Sunset. "You don't have to put up with this. I know you made mistakes in the past, but that doesn't give those girls the right to bully you the way they have been." She wiped the corner of her eye. "Maybe if you talked to the girl who dropped out and apologized you'd feel better."

Sunset's eyes dropped to the floor. "I could never face her. She probably hates my guts and would never talk to me anyway."

"I may not understand, but if this is what you feel you need... I can't promise I won't interfere," Twilight took her girlfriend's hands in hers. "but if you ever need to talk or need help you know I'm here for you right?"

Sunset smiled and kissed Twilight. "I know."

The rest of the day got better after that brief unpleasantness. The seven of them met up before the assembly so they could sit with each other in the auditorium. After the students sang the school anthem Principal Celestial and Vice-Principal Luna took the stage and thanked the students for a wonderful year thus far. They went on to explain the different activities that would be available during the week of the dance, including the next home games for the girl's basketball and volleyball teams. They also asked students to submit pictures of themselves and friends to the yearbook club for a picture slideshow that would be playing on a loop at the dance. The student body officers announced a fundraiser they would be running and implored any and all volunteers to sign up.

After the assembly, Sunset saw Twilight off at the bus stop, with a smile she turned to go to her car. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Sonata. Her old friend looked uncomfortable being there. Sunset had always liked Sonata. Of the three, she was the nicest and was even kind of sweet when she wasn't around the other two.

"Hey Sunset." She began. "Adagio wants to talk to you."

"Does she? Well, I'm not interested." Sunset started for her car.

"She said she wants to apologize." Sonata called after her.

This gave Sunset pause. She considered for a moment before responding.

"Fine, I'll give her five minutes." She finally said.

The two walked to the back of the school where Adagio and Aria were sitting on an old table.

"I'm surprised you actually came." Adagio said.

"I'm probably an idiot for doing so, but my curiosity was piqued." Sunset folded her arms.

They were all silent, finally Sunset broke the quiet.

"So why did you want me here?" She asked, annoyed.

"Feisty today aren't we? That's the Sunset I know." Adagio got off the table.

"Well you do bring out the worst in me." She responded curtly.

"Now now, there's no need for the attitude. I wanted you here so I could say I'm sorry for making you so upset."

This took Sunset by surprise, she didn't expect an apology of any kind.

Adagio continued. "And if you'll apologize to me I might even take you back and take you to the dance."

"What now?" Sunset said, taken aback.

"That's right, I figured it out. You broke up with me to make me miss you. Admittedly it took some time but it worked. Then you started "dating" that dork Twilight. I must say, that was pretty clever, using that plain looking girl to make me jealous. But you don't need to settle anymore, I'm willing to forgive you and take you back."

Sunset's temper started to flare hearing Adagio say those things about Twilight.

"Are you serious? Are you really that full of yourself that you thought this was all a clever ruse to get back together with you? Did you honestly think that a half-assed apology would just make these weeks and months of abuse just go away?" Sunset pinched the bridge of her nose. "I can't believe I felt bad about breaking up with you the way I did. That's half the reason I've been taking all this shit from you. I felt guilty for not being able to talk to you in person, but now I don't care anymore."

Adagio glared daggers at Sunset. "You want to choose your next words very carefully, I could ruin you."

"What, by telling my friends about my past? Too late, I already told them, and they forgave me because they're good people and true friends. And I am not settling with Twilight, if anyone is, it's her. I don't deserve someone as good as her. I actually care deeply for her, and she cares about me. I'm not just arm candy for her to parade around. She's building up what you tore down!" Sunset breathed deeply, calming herself. "This is the last time I want to talk to you. I don't want you messing with me anymore and if you do anything to me or my friends, I will report you to the principal. Goodbye Adagio."

Sunset left without another word, leaving a silent but furious Adagio behind. She drove home feeling liberated and hopeful that things could finally be alright.

Coming Clean

View Online

Sunset was still feeling good about telling off Adagio when she got home. She said hello to her uncle and took the elevator to her floor. As soon as she exited something caught her eye. She looked down the hall at her door and saw a poster board hanging from her door knob. It dawned on her what it was and she ran down the hall, a smile spread wide. Similar to hers, the poster had some strange items on it in place of words on the message.

"I hope you're bread-y for this cheese-y response. You really butter-ed me up when you asked me to the dance. I would love to go with you! I'm tomato soup-er excited! If i was a betting girl, I would put all my chips on us having an amazing time. I can't wait for the dance. P.s. Lunch is on me ;)"

Everything had been individually wrapped, and Twilight had managed to secure the can of tomato soup with packing tape. In total there were enough ingredients for Sunset to make two grilled cheese sandwiches with a bowl of tomato soup and a bag of chips.

Before she made her lunch she had taken a picture of the poster. After her soup was finished cooking she texted Twilight.

"Your response is delicious ;)"

"I'm glad you liked it, it wasn't too "cheesy" was it?"

Sunset actually laughed out loud. "You're such a dork."

"Yeah, but you know you like it :)"

"I really do."

They texted back and forth for a while until Twilight had to go run some errands with her mom. Sunset took that time to do some homework and watch some television. She was in the middle of a crime drama when she heard her phone start ringing.

"Hey babe, what's up?" She heard a little sniffle on the other end. "Twi, what's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, my mom asked me about dating again today, and I had to lie to her. I wish I didn't get so upset about this."

"Hey, it's ok. Have you thought anymore about telling them?" She asked.

"That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about..." she paused. "I think I'm ready."

"Really? Are you sure?" Sunset asked.

"Yes, but I don't think I can do it alone. Could you be there when I tell them?"

"Of course. Nothing would make me happier." After a pause, Sunset asked. "Out of curiosity, can I ask what brought this on so suddenly?"

"Mostly I'm tired of keeping secrets from my parents. I hate not being able to talk to them about us." Her tone brightened slightly. "Another, slightly selfish, reason is I want the entire experience of the dance. I want my parents to take pictures of us in our dresses and to be excited for us."

"I understand. I want that too, and I will be there for you." Sunset told her. "When did you want to talk to them?"

"... are you free tomorrow?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah, I can do that. What time should I come over?"

They made plans to hang out after school, then go to Twilight's for dinner. They would talk to them afterwards. After they hung up Sunset noticed her heart was beating fast.

"I hope tomorrow goes well." She said to her living room.

Sunset finished her homework and went to bed early, her mind racing with possible scenarios.

The next day Sunset and Twilight were in Twilight's living room sitting with Velvet and Nightlight. Sunset placed a hand on Twilight's trembling leg.

"Mom, Dad... I'm gay, and I'm in a relationship with Sunset." Sunset felt Twilight tense up when her parents didn't respond.

Without a word, Velvet stood and made her way to the kitchen. Twilight started trying to get some kind of response from her dad while Sunset sat quietly, not knowing what to do or say. She looked up when she heard footsteps coming rapidly from the kitchen.

"You corrupted my daughter!" Velvet shrieked.

Sunset looked up in time to see the knife coming toward her.

She woke up with a start, her heart racing. Sunset glanced at her alarm clock, she still had two hours before she had to be up for school. She toyed with the idea of going back to sleep.

"Yeah, right." She said aloud as she tossed the covers off herself.

Sunset went to her living room to see what was on tv. She settled on an action movie that she had heard of that was playing on the movie channel. She got herself a bowl of cereal and settled in to watch what was left of it.

When the movie ended there was just enough time to shower before heading to school. She was glad she had decided to go to bed early, hoping that would counteract waking up early.

"Darling, you look a mess! You have bags under your eyes!" Rarity said when Sunset joined the others.

Apparently not. Sunset thought and yawned.

"I didn't sleep super well last night." She admitted.

"Awe, what happened?" Twilight asked while rubbing Sunset's back.

"I had a nightmare." She said simply. "Your mom tried to stab me."

Twilight laughed nervously. "Well I don't think we need to worry about that. Are you still ok with this?"

"Yeah, I'll be by your side, don't you worry about that." She gave Twilight a little kiss and laid her head in her lap. "I'm just gonna take a power nap until the bell rings."

"What are you two talking about? I-if you don't mind me asking." Fluttershy asked.

Twilight stroked her girlfriend's hair. "I'm telling my parents today. Sunset's going to come with me to be my support."

"Are you nervous?" Fluttershy asked.

"Incredibly. But I want to tell them. I don't want to keep any secrets from them anymore."

"Well, good luck Twilight. You're very brave." Fluttershy said with a smile.

This gave Twilight new courage. "Thanks Fluttershy."

They continued talking as Sunset lay in Twilight's lap.

"So has Sunset done anything with the guitar I got her?" Rainbow asked Twilight.

"Yeah, she's learned to play a couple songs already. Including our song." She added shyly.

"That's so sweet!" Pinkie exclaimed.

Twilight looked down at her girlfriend, who was breathing rhythmically, on the brink of sleep. "Yeah, she can be really sweet and romantic. I really like her."

At that, a smile spread on Sunset's lips and she raised her head just enough for Twilight to lean down and kiss her. "I really like you too."

Sunset was feeling a bit more awake when the bell rang for classes to begin. The day passed like any other, same boring classes, same mild paranoia during those she had with her bullies. She was happy to see Twilight in their math class. They talked a bit more about what they wanted to do after school before they talked to Twilight's parents. It was decided to go to their spot in the Everfree Forest to get in the right head-space.

During lunch Sunset was on high alert, as she had been ever since she had told Adagio off. Surprisingly there was no retaliation, no increase in bullying towards her, in fact they had mostly backed off other than glares and dirty looks here and there. Thankfully they hadn't added her friends to their list of targets either, but she wasn't letting her guard down. It still seemed too early to tell if they were really done. She looked across the dining area to where the trio was sitting, watching them intently waiting for them to do anything suspicious.

Twilight saw Sunset glaring at the three girls across the dining hall.

"Hey, don't worry about them." Twilight said and rubbed Sunset's back.

"I know, I just can't help it." She turned to face Twilight and took her hands in her own. "I'm sorry, let's talk about something else. How are you doing?"

"Anxious. I've been freaking out all day, what if this is a mistake." Twilight said.

"If you want to wait we can wait, but it'll come to their attention eventually. This way it's on your terms instead of them finding out from someone else."

"You're right, I just can't help but be nervous." She said.

Sunset rubbed Twilight's back reassuringly. "I'll be by your side the whole time. And hey, if things get uncomfortable we can go and get ice cream or something." She comforted.

"Thanks." She smiled. "Ugh I just wish I could get my brain to stop coming up with every possible way this could go wrong."

Sunset held her hand. "I wish I knew how to help. Luckily you don't have to wait much longer until we talk to them."

"I just wish time would go faster." She slumped forward.

As the day passed Sunset started to feel her own nervousness creeping in. She was worried she would lose her girlfriend and surrogate family all in one day. She started bracing herself for that possibility as school drew to a close.

They hiked to their spot in the Everfree Forest. When they arrived they talked about the different outcomes they were worried about and how they would handle each one. This seemed to put Twilight at ease, she liked having a plan to focus on. They tossed rocks and pebbles into the lake from their vantage point, seeing who could throw them the farthest until it was time to go to Twilight's house.

They were mostly silent on the drive back. Sunset held Twilight's hand the whole way there, gently stroking her hand with her thumb. After they parked, they sat in the car for a few minutes so Twilight could regain her composure before going inside.

"Ready?" Sunset asked.

"Ready." She squeezed her girlfriend's hand.

Dinner was tense for the two of them. They picked at their plates, though Sunset was able to eat more than Twilight. Her parents took notice.

"Are you alright kiddo?" Her dad asked.

"Yeah, sorry, I just have a lot on my mind." She responded

"Do you want to talk about it?" Velvet asked.

"Umm yeah, but it can wait until after dinner." She said while looking at her plate.

"Okay, if you're sure." Velvet said.

After dinner had been cleared and the dishes rinsed off, they all retired to the living room. Velvet and Nightlight sat on one side of the couch, Sunset and Twilight sat opposite them, an uncomfortable silence hovered in the room. Nightlight started the conversation.

"So what did you want to talk to us about kiddo." He asked

"Umm, this is something I've wanted to tell you for a while, but I didn't know how to. I guess I still don't, I'm really just making this up as I go. Now I'm rambling, I'm sorry, I'm really nervous right now." Twilight said while making many hand gestures.

"Sweetie, calm down." Velvet chuckled. "Take a sec, and think about what you want to say.

Twilight exhaled, Sunset squeezed her shoulder reassuringly.

"Mom... Dad... I'm gay, and I'm in a relationship with Sunset. We've been together since the night of the concert. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before now, I couldn't think of how or what to say. I'm telling you now though, because I can't keep this secret from you anymore, it's been killing me not being able to talk to you about this." Twilight took a long breath. "So... there it is."

Nightlight sat back against the cushion, a hand over his mouth, obviously deep in thought. Velvet's expression hadn't changed since Twilight started talking. No one said anything for several minutes. Twilight could feel her stomach tying itself in knots in the silence. Sunset simply sat next to Twilight, trying to be a source of comfort for her.

Just as twilight was about to speak, her mother let out a small laugh. The laugh grew a little louder, going on for a little too long.

"You two had me going." she said once she composed herself. "This was a clever joke girls, a little inappropriate, but clever."

The two girls looked at each other nervously. "Mom, this isn't a joke. I'm telling you the truth. I'm gay."

"No you're not,” she responded, confused. “you've been on dates with boys, I know you're not gay."

"I only went on those dates because I wasn't ready to be out yet, and I'm a nice person. Mom, I need to know that you understand-"

"Stop it!" Velvet suddenly snapped. "This isn't funny anymore. So stop saying these things, the joke is over."

Tears started to form in Twilight's eyes, she wiped at them under her glasses. Sunset couldn't stay quiet any longer.

"Mrs. Sparkle, I know this is a lot to take in, but if you'll just listen, I think you'll understand." she started.

"This is your fault." She glowered at Sunset. "It all makes sense now, that's why you wanted to spend so much time with her, so you could confuse her. Well not anymore. I want you out of my house, and I don't want you around my daughter anymore."

"That's not-" Twilight started.

"I don't want to hear it." Velvet said, her voice eerily level. "I just want her to leave."

"O-ok, I'll go." Sunset said, not wanting to escalate the situation any further.

As she turned to leave she felt a hand clasp onto hers.

"If you're kicking her out, I-I'm leaving too." Twilight said in a shakily stern voice.

"No you're not, you're staying here and I forbid you from seeing her."

"That's enough Velvet." Nightlight said as he stood from his spot on the couch. "Go into the kitchen and we will discuss this."

"But Nightlight..." she trailed off, then quietly said. "Fine."

"As for you two, take a drive and I'll call you when I've finished talking with her." He told them.

"Okay." Twilight sniffled. "I'm sorry Dad."

He embraced his daughter. "You never have to apologize for who you are. That was very brave and I'm proud of you." He smiled reassuringly. "Mom will be fine, she just needs a minute to process. Now go, I'll call you when you can come back."

Twilight kept a straight face up until five minutes into the drive. Sunset saw Twilight bring her knees to her chest out of the corner of her eye. Minutes later she heard the sobs coming from her girlfriend starting small, but quickly growing to body shaking shudders. She reached across the center console, lightly touching the back of Twilight's hand. As soon as contact was made Twilight gripped her hand like it was her last refuge in a hurricane.

"I'm so sorry, I wish I knew what to say." Sunset said, squeezing Twilight's hand. "I'll do whatever you need me to."

It was then that Sunset felt Twilight's hand shaking. She looked at her, Twilight had uncurled and was now leaning forward, trying to catch her breath. Sunset pulled off to the side of the road and ran to the passenger side. She gently rubbed Twilight's back.

"Hey, you're gonna be ok, just breathe." She said.

"I-I can't..." Twilight gasped.

"Yes you can, you're having a panic attack, just follow my lead. You can do this babe." She encouraged.

Sunset helped guide her breathing, allowing her to start regaining some control. After several minutes her breathing was becoming more stable. Sunset kissed the side of her head.

"You're doing great babe, I'm so proud of you." She kissed her again.

Twilight took a few more minutes to calm down before speaking.

"What have I done? What if my mom can't face me anymore? What if-" her voice broke into more sobs before she hugged Sunset.

Sunset held her close, speaking softly. "Hey hey, calm down, you'll be okay."

"How do you know?" She asked, her face buried in Sunset's chest.

"Because if there's one thing I know for a fact, it's that your mom loves you. I can't say it will be ok soon, but eventually you'll be ok." She rested her chin on top of her head. "And hey, it could have gone worse."

"How?" Twilight asked incredulously.

"At least she didn't try to stab me." She said looking into Twilight's eyes.

Twilight laughed in spite of everything.

"There's that laugh I love to hear." She hugged Twilight tightly. "What do you want to do while we wait?"

"I want to get the biggest messiest ice cream I can make." She said with a little smile.

"If that's what m'lady wants, that's what m'lady gets. My treat." She said with a flourish.

When they arrived at Sugarcube corner, Mrs. Cake noticed immediately that something was wrong with Twilight. After catching her up on what had just happened Mrs. Cake stepped out from behind the counter and gave Twilight a hug, causing more tears to leak from her already red eyes.

Twilight got herself a large frozen yogurt with every sweet topping that was available. Sunset's own fro-yo looked tiny in comparison. To keep the conversation light, the two discussed the upcoming dance and what they thought sounded fun for a day activity.

"We could check out that fun zone, it's got laser tag, mini golf, an arcade. I heard it even has a go kart track." Sunset suggested as she helped Twilight finish her treat.

"Yeah, that sounds like it would be really fun!" She agreed.

"By the way, how did you know what to do back there?" Twilight asked.

"My mom used to get panic attacks every so often, so I learned how to talk her through it." She said.

Twilight's phone started to ring. She hesitated before answering.

"Hello? Ok, we'll be there in a bit." She hung up and looked nervously at Sunset. "My dad says they're ready for us." She paused. "Sunset I'm scared."

She reached across the table, placing a comforting hand over her girlfriend's. "I'll be right by your side, I'm not going anywhere."

They drove back to Twilight's house and entered the living room. Velvet was sitting with her hands in her lap next to Nightlight. The girls retook their spots on the opposite side of the couch, this time holding hands.

It was silent for a time until Velvet cleared her throat.

"First of all I would like to apologize for the way I reacted. Admittedly I did not handle the news very well. So I truly am sorry."

"It's ok Mom, I know it was a lot to process. Thank you for the apology." Twilight said.

She nodded. "Secondly, Sunset, I didn't mean what I said. I don't blame you, and I of course don't want you to stop being Twilight's friend."

"Thank you Mrs. Sparkle." She responded.

"Lastly, I want you to know that I will always love you." She took Twilight's hand, her voice cracking on her next words. "You're my daughter and nothing will ever change that. It's just going to take some time for me to get used to this new information. So, please be patient with me."

Twilight's voice wavered too. "I love you Mom."

"I love you too." They embraced, sniffling and smiling.

They separated, Twilight removed her glasses to wipe her eyes. "You're taking this really well now. What changed?"

Velvet took her husband's hand in her own. "It was something your father said that really put it in perspective for me."

"All I did was remind her that you are the same amazing, intelligent girl we raised. Then I asked her if she was going to let this new detail about you destroy the close relationship she has with you." He looked at his wife and smiled. "That seemed to let her rethink how she felt."

"I'm glad we can actually talk about this now." Twilight said. "Do you have any questions for me?"

"Well, how long have you known you like girls?" Velvet asked after a brief pause.

"I think I've always kinda known. I never really had boys that I liked, but there were some girls I had little crushes on. But because of how I was raised and growing up hearing from different people that it's wrong, I never acted on it." She squeezed Sunset's hand. "Until I met Sunset."

"I'm sorry if we ever made you feel like you couldn't talk to us." Nightlight said.

"You don't have to apologize. I was in denial for the most part, so I wouldn't have regardless." Twilight admitted.

They talked for a couple hours, Twilight answering all her parent's questions the best she could. They asked Sunset some questions as well, the biggest ones being about her intentions with their daughter. She assured them that her intentions were pure and that she cared very much about Twilight.

After their conversation had veered away from the original topic the parents invited the girls to watch a movie with them. Since it was the weekend Sunset wholeheartedly agreed.

After the movie, Sunset was all but falling asleep. Velvet offered to let Sunset sleep over, an offer Sunset graciously accepted. They offered her the guest room, but she declined, too tired to move from her spot on the couch. Nightlight got a spare pillow and blanket for Sunset to use on the couch. They all said their good nights and went to bed.

Sunset was about to fall asleep when she heard a quiet voice call out to her.

"Sunset, are you still awake?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah," she said, groggily sitting up and rubbing her eyes. "What's up buttercup?" She patted the spot next to her.

She chuckled and held Sunset's hand. "Sorry, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for standing by me, and for helping me when I was freaking out. I never could have done this without you."

"Any time. I'm glad I could be here to help." She responded, trying her hardest to keep her eyes open."

Twilight smiled. "Well, anyway I'll let you get back to sleep."

Drowsily she responded. "Thanks babe, I'll see you in the morning." Eyes closed she puckered her lips for a kiss.

They kissed a few times before Sunset lay back down. Twilight looked back before heading up the stairs. A big smile on her face, she thought to herself.

I love her.

Home Game

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The group was sitting together on the bleachers watching Rainbow Dash tear it up on the basketball court. She was giving it her all, dashing and spinning around the opposing team to make herself open to take shots. It was obvious that she had put the work in to be the best on the team, and she wasn't a stranger to boasting. While her strong personality had gotten her into trouble with the team, she had gotten better, only after the coach had talked to her multiple times about hogging the ball.

Applejack was loudly supporting the team, shouting whenever someone made a basket, chanting every cheesy cheer whenever the school band played a musical sting. She was loudest whenever Rainbow had anything to do with the play. She stood and cupped her hands over her mouth to cheer her by name.

"Yeah Rainbow! You show 'em who's boss baby!" Applejack yelled.

Fluttershy laughed. "Applejack, you almost become a different person at sporting events."

Applejack sat down. "What d'ya mean?"

"Well, I guess you're normally more mellow, but you get really rowdy whenever we come to Rainbow's games." Fluttershy explained.

"You're one to talk." Rarity said slyly. "Don't you remember the last time we watched a basketball game with my family."

Fluttershy's cheeks flushed with color. "Anyway, I love watching you get really excited about supporting Rainbow Dash."

"So do I. It's really sweet how into these games you get." Sunset agreed.

"Well shucks, y'all're gonna make me blush." Applejack smiled. "Ah love her and ah love supportin’ her. She works hard, so anything ah can do to show her it's all worth it ah'll gladly do it. 'Sides no matter how loud ah am at these games it'll never beat her parents." She gestured a few seats toward the front.

Rainbow's parents were cheering practically nonstop. They were standing and pumping their arms while calling out that she was number one. This was mild compared to how they were before Rainbow had asked them to dial it back.

Twilight smiled and addressed AJ. "You two really are so good for each other and are what I think most couples strive to be."

"Alright that's enough fawnin' over me and Rainbow." She said. "How's it going with you two?"

"We're great! We've never been closer." Sunset answered, placing her arm around Twilight's shoulders.

"I could have told you that, you've been very affectionate with each other since you talked to your parents." Rarity said.

Twilight felt some color rise to her cheeks. "Yeah, now that my parents know, I'm not worried about someone seeing us together and it somehow getting back to them. Now that that's gone I'm much more open in public."

"Which I am just fine with!" Sunset hugged Twilight. "Things seem to be going well with you two as well." She remarked.

"Oh they really are." Rarity said, leaning back into Fluttershy's lap. "Fluttershy and my parents get along swimmingly, and she's so good with Sweetie Belle. She's so patient with her when she gets rambunctious, even when her friends are over and it's three on two."

"Your family makes it easy to get along with. They're so sweet and caring, and Sweetie Belle is just delightful." Fluttershy said while wrapping her arms around Rarity.

"I don't deserve you." Rarity said tilting her head back toward Fluttershy.

"Nope." She said with a smile and a wink and leaned down to meet her lips.

Another musical sting brought forth another cheer from Applejack.

"The band is in good form tonight." Rarity remarked. Her gaze focused. "I don't know how they do it."

"Well they practice a lot Rare." Twilight said.

"No, not the band as a whole, I mean Pinkie and Cheese." Rarity clarified. "I've been watching them, and they go immediately from talking to each other to playing with the rest of the band and back seamlessly. Watch next time, it's fascinating."

The game went on, they watched Cheese with his trombone sitting next to Pinkie, her hair like a pink cloud in the center of the sousaphone she played. They were talking and laughing animatedly, when they quickly raised their instruments to their lips and played the next musical sting, and just like Rarity said it was like nothing had happened to interrupt their conversation.

"They must have crazy awareness." Sunset said. "That's the only thing that makes sense. They must notice the other members moving their instruments."

"Maybe," Twilight said. "Regardless it's very impressive."

"Agreed. What do you think darli-waah!"

Rarity said this while leaning back to once again be in Fluttershy's lap. Only to find she had stood up while they had been watching their musical friends.

"Come on Wondercolts! You can do it! Woooooo!" Fluttershy cheered in an uncharacteristically loud voice.

"See what I mean." Rarity said with a chuckle as Twilight helped her up.

While they were distracted the game had become close. It was the last play of the final quarter, the opposing team had the ball and was up by two points. Rainbow stole the ball away and was able to get to the two-point line before being blocked. She had a choice to make, take the guaranteed shot from here and send the game into overtime or pass the ball to Cloud Chaser and trust her to make the three.

Rainbow quickly weighed her options. She squatted, getting ready to jump. At the last second she turned and passed the ball to her teammate. Cloud Chaser caught the ball and took the shot. The ball sailed through the air, seemingly in slow motion. It hit the back rim, bounced to the front before finally dropping in. The buzzer chimed before the ball hit the ground.

The Canterlot High bleachers erupted in cheers and shouts. Rainbow could have sworn she heard a "yew-haw" come from the direction of her friends which made her smile from ear to ear. She ran up to Cloud Chaser and gave her a huge hug. They were joined by the rest of the team shortly after. After the celebrating was done, both teams met to congratulate each other on a good game.

After the game, Rainbow quickly rinsed off in the locker room and met up with her friends. They all decided to head to Sugarcube Corner to celebrate. Once there, they bought pastries and hot chocolate and took a table outside.

"Rainbow Dash you were so awesome!" Pinkie cheered as they sat down.

"I know, but it wasn't just me. Cloud Chaser was amazing with that three point shot. A bunch of the girls are taking her out to celebrate."

"Good for her, she deserves it." Twilight said before digging into her pastry.

"Yeah, she's come a long way." Rainbow agreed.

Pinkie and Cheese were sharing a huge sundae between them. Pinkie took a scoop and was about to feed Cheese before booping his nose with it and taking the bite herself, giggling the whole time.

"Hey now." Cheese said, reaching over and tickling her side.

Pinkie let out a snorting laugh of surprise before grabbing his hand and holding it. Color rose to both of their cheeks, but their hands stayed as they were. Pinkie got another scoop and fed Cheese properly.

"Eew you two are so sweet, we're all going to get cavities just from being near you two." Rainbow joked. "How can you eat ice cream right now? It's December, we're due for snow any day now."

After swallowing a huge bite, Cheese responded.

"Oh Rainbow, ice cream is a year round treat, regardless of temperature. If anything it's actually better right now because you don't have to worry about it melting." Hey took another bite.

"Preach it sister!" Pinkie agreed.

"I'll never understand you two." Rainbow shook her head.

"That's how we like it!" Pinkie said with a wink. "So are you girls ready for the dance on Saturday? Cheese and I have our outfits ready and can't wait to show them off!"

"I'm going dress shopping with my mom tomorrow." Twilight said. "I'm a little nervous since this will be the first time my mom and I will be spending time alone together since I came out."

"I'm sure it'll be fine. It'll be good for you two to spend some time together." Fluttershy said.

"You're probably right. I'm probably just overthinking... again." Twilight agreed.

"Well, I've got you scheduled to come in at five o'clock, so I expect to see you then." Rarity chimed in.

"Thanks Rarity!"

"But of course darling, what good is working at a fashion boutique if you can't treat your friends on occasion?" She beamed.

They all had a good laugh at that. They continued talking for a while more about the dance and their dresses when a stiff breeze rushed over them. The new chill caused Twilight to shudder in her hoodie.

"Here you go babe." Sunset said while putting her own jacket around Twilight's shoulders.

"Thanks, but won't you get cold?" She asked.

"Nah, I'll be fine. I run warm." She winked.

"That's true." Twilight said. "She's like a living electric blanket."

She chuckled and wrapped her arms around Twilight. "I'll be your electric blanket any day."

Applejack stifled a yawn. "Ah think it's almost time to call it a night."

"What time is it?" Twilight wondered aloud while pulling out her phone. "Oh, yeah it's almost nine."

"We've definitely gotta go then." Rainbow said, standing up. "My parents are gonna want to stay up for a bit and congratulate me on the game tonight."

"Alright, let's start heading for the car." Sunset said.

After taking care of their garbage, the group piled into Sunset's SUV. She made the rounds, dropping all of her friends off at their houses until it was just her and Twilight. Sunset parked the car on the road in front of Twilight's house.

"Here we are." Sunset said.

"Yep, here we are." Twilight said, her hands in her lap. "Today was fun, I'm glad we won that game, they worked so hard."

"They really did." She agreed.

After a moment she motioned for Twilight to come closer. Twilight leaned across the center console and was wrapped in sunset's arms. They sat like that for another couple minutes before they kissed goodnight. The kiss lasted several minutes before Sunset broke it.

"You should probably get inside. We wouldn't want your parents to worry."

"I can wait a few more minutes." She kissed Sunset again, deeper this time.

She didn't protest. Sunset pulled her girlfriend closer, moving her hand to interlace with Twilight's silky hair. Twilight rested her hand gently on Sunset's cheek, sinking deeper into the kiss. Twilight's phone buzzed in her pocket. She kissed Sunset a few more times before answering.


"Are you coming in any time soon? You've been out there for fifteen minutes." Velvet said.

Color rushed to Twilight's face. "Y-yeah I'll be right in."

"See you in a sec hon, don't be too long you've got school in the morning and dress shopping afterworlds ."

"I know, I can't wait! I'll see you in a minute, love you." Twilight hung up. "Well I guess I can't hold off any longer. Walk me to the door?"

"Absolutely." Sunset responded as she opened her door.

She opened Twilight's door and they walked hand in hand to the doorstep. On the landing Sunset took Twilight in her arms and held her. Twilight took in the scent of Sunset's perfume, the same one from the first time they spent time alone together. She closed her eyes, wanting to stay in the warmth of Sunset's arms. They shared several more kisses before parting. Twilight was about to open the door when she realized she was still wearing Sunset's jacket. She moved to take it off.

"Keep it." Sunset said. "I've got more at home."

"Are you sure? Won't you need it for the ride home?" She protested.

"That's what heaters are for. Besides, I run warm remember?" She said.

Twilight gave Sunset another hug and kiss.

"Thank you. I'll see you tomorrow." She said before going into the house.

As the door locked into place she couldn't help but smile broadly.

"Good night I take it?" Velvet said from her place on the couch.

"Yeah! CHS won the game! Then we all went to Sugarcube Corner for post-victory hot chocolate." She sat next to her mom.

She chuckled. "Sounds like you had a good time. Next time you see Rainbow congratulate her for me."

"I will." Twilight told her.

They talked about their days for a bit longer before Twilight hugged her mom and went to bed. Twilight changed into her pajamas and was about to climb into bed when she grabbed Sunset's jacket and put it on. As sleep was overtaking her she lifted the jacket to her face and inhaled the wonderfully familiar scent.

Dress Shopping

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The bell rang for school to end the next day, and Twilight was hit by the sense of unease she had felt the night before. She and Sunset exited the front doors and were greeted by her mom. Twilight walked with Sunset out of the building when velvet called out to them.

"Hey girls, how was school?"

"It was fine, how has your day been Mrs. Sparkle?" Sunset asked.

"It's been good so far. I've been looking forward to going dress shopping." She said.

"Me too!" Twilight agreed, putting her bag in the back seat. "I'll see you tomorrow Sunset." She gave her a quick peck on the lips before climbing in the passenger seat.

"See ya Twi. Bye Mrs. Sparkle!" She said before turning and walking in the direction of her car.

"Have a good day, and drive safe!" She called after the girl before climbing behind the wheel. "Shall we get started?"

"Make it so." She said.

"I'll never know what you and your father like about that show." Velvet started the car. "The original series was so much better."

"Oh, that's how we're gonna start this adventure?" Twilight said with mock seriousness.

"Looks like it." Velvet smiled.

They had a lively discussion about the differences between the original Star Trek and Next Generation and why their favorite was better. This debate went on until they arrived at a sandwich shop where they got a quick lunch before their appointment at Carousel Boutique, and lasted right up to when they actually arrived.

"Next Generation had Commander Data, his story of personal growth and learning human emotion was one of the best parts of the show!" Twilight said as she exited the car.

"Oh please, Data was just a paler robotic version of Spock. They totally just re-skinned the character." Velvet retorted.

"Welcome to Carousel Boutique. I'll be with you in just a moment." A nicely dressed middle-aged woman said from her position in front of a gorgeous gown she was pinning on a mannequin.

"Not to worry mother, I've got them." Rarity said, putting down her homework and coming around the counter and giving Twilight a hug. "Hello darling. Mrs Sparkle. How are you two today? Can I offer you some lemon water?"

"We're good, we just had lunch and are ready to shop for a gown. I've been waiting for this since she started high school." Velvet gushed.

"Well, we will do our best to give you two a memorable experience." Rarity told them.

"Thank you." Velvet smiled.

The next couple hours were spent in a parade of different gowns of varying colors and styles. Twilight asked Rarity and her mother to choose a couple dresses each that they thought would look good on her.

They had it narrowed down to three dresses. Twilight chose a simple yet elegant dress in a shade of purple that would complement Sunset's turquoise dress fairly well. Rarity's choice was billowy and a bit more extravagant. Velvet was still browsing the store for a dress when Twilight opened the door to the dressing room.

"I'm going to try these on." She called to her mom.

"Alright sweetheart, just let me know when you're coming out so I can see it." She responded while perusing a rack of dresses.

Twilight resisted the urge to make a coming out joke, Sunset's wit was starting to rub off on her, and entered the changing room. She decided to go with Rarity's first. It fit comfortably, and looked nice, but it didn't really feel like her style. She decided to get a second opinion, so she exited the room and showed the pair waiting outside.

"Oh, you look marvelous darling." Rarity beamed. "How does it fit?"

Twilight moved around a bit. "It fits fine, I just don't know if it's... me."

"What do you mean?" Rarity asked.

"Well, its a little too..." she trailed off, not wanting to offend her friend.

"Too showy?" Velvet offered.

"Yeah, just a bit for my taste." Twilight added.

"Not to worry. We still have more dresses to try on. I'm sure we'll find one that's to your liking." She assured her.

She tried on the one she had chosen, it hugged her figure a little too snugly. The design was simple, with no pattern or rhinestones. She liked it well enough, so she stepped out to show Rarity and her mom.

"Ooh I love it." Velvet said. "You look gorgeous!"

"I have to agree with your mother. It looks wonderful on you." Rarity added.

"I like it too. It's a little snug, but I think I can deal with it." Twilight said. "Did you find one you liked Mom?"

"I did. Here you go sweetheart." Velvet handed the dress she had found to her daughter.

"Alright, I'll be out in a sec." Twilight said as she closed the door behind her.

It was beautiful, the color would perfectly complement Sunset's dress, the rhinestone and bead design on the bodice was just right for Twilight, it flowed elegantly when she moved. Twilight made up her mind then and there. She stepped out with a huge grin on her face.

"What do you think?" She gave a little twirl.

"You look absolutely beautiful." Velvet said. "And I think, based on your attitude, that we've found the dress?" She chuckled.

"I think so." Twilight said, looking down at herself. "Should we check out?"

"I'll take care of that while you change." Velvet said, walking with Rarity to the checkout counter.

Twilight looked herself over once more in the mirror before changing outfits.

I can't wait for Sunset to see me in my dress. She thought with a smile.

"You ready to go?" Velvet asked as she returned her wallet to her purse.

"Yep!" She said cheerfully, holding her new dress.

"Thank you for all your help Rarity." Velvet said.

"It was my pleasure. Anything to help a friend." She responded.

"Thanks Rarity!" Twilight called as they exited the building.

They continued their previous discussion when they got back in the car. Both making compelling arguments for their sides. This argument ended the same way it always did.

"I don't see either of us changing our stance. I suggest we agree to disagree." Velvet said.

"I think this is probably the best course of action." She extended a hand to her mother, who took it. "Until next time then."

The two laughed. Twilight loved that she no longer felt nervous about being alone with her mother, which made her happier than she could say. They talked some more before stopping at the grocery store to get what they needed for dinner. Once they got back to the car Twilight started a new topic.

"So how is book club going?" She asked.

"Oh, I um... actually quit the book club." Velvet responded.

"Really? Why'd you do that?" She asked. "Did something happen?"

Velvet hesitated as she remembered the last conversation she had with the book club.

"You could say that..."

Velvet walked into the Sentry household, still feeling rocked from her daughter's confession a week and a half previous. She had talked to them all about it at the last meeting, because she needed to talk to someone about it. They hadn't known quite what to say to her so they had hugged and given advice and support before going into the final discussion for the book they were reading.

"Welcome welcome," Mrs. Sentry greeted her. "How are you doing this week?"

"I'm alright, still reeling a bit, but it's getting easier to accept." Velvet told her.

"Glad to hear it." Midnight hugged Velvet.

The two had become close friends since the Sparkles had moved to town. She was open minded, level headed and very supportive of Velvet and Twilight. Velvet had talked to Midnight more about the situation as she had only given the simplest details to the others. Talking with Midnight had been helping her to accept everything.

"Have you talked to her any more about it?" Midnight asked

"A bit, but we haven't spent any real quality time together since that day. That's partly my fault though, I don't know how to approach her anymore, I get all up in my head, worrying that I might say something offensive or upset her."

"Well did you say offensive or mean spirited things about the gay community before she came out to you?" Midnight asked.

"Never intentionally," Velvet said defensively. "I think the worst thing was asserting that it was a choice that could be changed whenever they wanted. I've talked to Twilight more on the subject which helped me understand that's not the case. I don't know, I just wish it could be easy like it used to be."

"Well if I can give you my two cents," Midnight offered. "I think you're overthinking this. I think that if you just interact and talk to her and not worry about saying the wrong thing, you'll fall into it and it won't be so bad."

"Maybe you're right. We're going dress shopping next week, I think I'll take your advice and try to relax around her." She hugged Midnight. "Thank you. Thank you for being so supportive and letting me talk your ear off for the last little while."

"Hey, what are friends for." She responded with a grin.

Velvet Nodded. "Do you know what book we'll be reading next?"

"Not sure, it's Spoiled Rich's turn to choose." She told velvet.

"Oh joy." They both chuckled.

Spoiled Rich had a tendency to choose the more religiously heavy books. Velvet and Midnight had tried suggesting more mainstream titles but had been met with resistance. Everyone else had ended up enjoying the books, but Spoiled had been scrutinizing them ever since. The two had agreed to choose books that they thought wouldn’t ruffle her feathers as much, while still introducing some variety since it technically was her book club.

Velvet liked to show up early when they met at Midnight’s house. It gave them a chance to catch up and shoot the breeze before the others arrived. Midnight often offered her house as the meeting place since it was a central location for everyone. They switched it up regularly so she wasn't stuck hosting every time.

"I wonder what she'll choose for us." Midnight wondered aloud.

"Who knows with her." Velvet remarked.

“A little wine before the others get here?” Midnight offered.

“I never say no to wine with a friend. Besides it’ll help me to get out of my head.”

The two women used the time to make up snacks and talk about their children and how excited they were for the upcoming dance. Flash had apparently asked someone he’s had a crush on for quite some time. The first knock came just as she was telling Velvet about the activity Flash and his friends had planned.

Spoiled Rich, ever punctual, was there right on time. She helped them set out the finger sandwiches and beverages. The rest of the women trickled in over the next fifteen minutes and soon it was time to start.

"Welcome everyone, shall we begin?" Spoiled Rich addressed the women. "Velvet, I think you'll find my choice particularly helpful."

What does she mean by that? Velvet thought.

She held up the book. "Its about a young man who has chosen to live the homosexual lifestyle and the journey he goes on to fix himself. I think it will be a good book for us to read, especially these days when more and more people are saying they're gay. It will help us to help those in our lives who have also chosen that lifestyle. What do you all think?"

The room was silent, all eyes were on Velvet, waiting for her response.

Velvet cleared her throat. "It sounds like an interesting choice. Though I'm not sure why you thought I would take particular interest."

"Why, because of your daughter of course." She continued, not picking up on Velvet's tone. "I thought of this book as soon as you told us. I prayed for her that night in hopes she might take the steps to change."

"My daughter doesn't need to change." Velvet said suddenly. "She doesn't need to be fixed, because she isn't broken. She likes girls, and that's fine. It's not what I was expecting would happen, but that's life, sometimes it throws you a curveball."

Velvet didn't know where this courage was coming from, she just knew she had to defend her daughter and make her feelings known.

"I'm sure you had the best of intentions, and didn't mean anything malicious by choosing this book, but I don't think I can read it. So, to make it easier on everyone so you won't have to change it, I'm going to remove myself from the book club at this time."

"Velvet, be reasonable, you don't have to leave. I really think that if you read this book you'll understand and change your mind." Spoiled Rich protested.

"No, I don't think I will. I love my daughter how she is, it doesn't matter who she's attracted to. She doesn't need to change, so I will say thank you for helping me realize that, but I think I just need to take a break for this book. We'll see how I feel on the next one." Velvet finished and made her way to the door.

Midnight Followed her friend.

"Hey are you ok?" She asked

"I really am. I think this will be good for me." She hugged her friend. "While I'm gone see if we can't get any better books."

Midnight chuckled. "I'll see what I can do. I'll miss having you here, are we still on for lunch tomorrow?

"Of course, I'll see you there." Velvet said cheerfully.

She left then, unsure if or when she would be back for the book club. She was surprisingly ok with not knowing for sure.

"I haven't been back since. I've been reading books I want to read, Midnight and I are still good friends, so it's been good." Velvet finished.

With tears threatening to fall, Twilight leaned over and gave her mother as big of a hug as she could given their positions in the car.

"Thank you." She said. "I love you Mom."

Velvet returned the hug as she was able to and kissed the top of her daughter's head. "I love you too sweetheart."

Day Activity

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Finally, the day had come. Twilight could barely contain her excitement as she rushed through the usual steps to get ready for the day. She was in the middle of brushing her teeth when her phone alerted her that she had a new message.

"Hey Twilight! I'm just making sure of the time we're meeting at your house." Pinkie's message read.

"Around noon." She replied.

"Okie dokie lokie, see you then! I'm so excited!"

"Me too!"

She finished getting ready sooner than she thought, so she decided to continue reading the fantasy novel she had recently started. It was the first in a series that Sunset had told her about. She had just reached the beginning of the main character's training when her phone started ringing. With a smile, she answered.

"Hey sugar lips."

"Sugar lips? Are you feeling ok?" Sunset asked, holding back laughter.

"Not doing it for ya?" She asked.

"Not especially. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I'm on my way. I should be there in about ten minutes."

"Ok, see you when you get here. Drive safe."

"I will. See you in a few... sugar lips."

Twilight laughed and continued reading her book until Sunset arrived. Sure enough, ten minutes later there was a knock at the door. She opened the door to let Sunset in and was greeted by a colorful bouquet of flowers.

"For you, m'lady." Sunset said from behind the blooms.

"Thank you," Twilight accepted the flowers and inhaled. "They're beautiful."

"Not as beautiful as you." She kissed Twilight's cheek as she walked in. "So everyone's meeting us here at noon right?"

"Yep, I was thinking we could set out stuff for sandwiches for anyone who hasn't eaten yet." Twilight said. She filled a vase with water and put her flowers in.

"How long do you think that'll take?" Sunset asked while wrapping her arms around Twilight's waist.

She fell into the embrace. "About fifteen minutes. Why do you ask?" She asked, her tone playful.

Sunset planted a small kiss on Twilight's neck, which sent an excited shiver down her spine.

"No reason." She said softly.

Twilight turned to face the person she cared so deeply for. She looked into her gorgeous aquamarine eyes and her heart swooned. Their lips met, it was soft at first, but grew steadily in intensity. Twilight became lost in the moment, loving the feeling of being held so closely. Her lips parted slightly, allowing the tip of her tongue to timidly explore. Sunset's tongue met hers, the sensation new and exciting to Twilight. They pulled apart slowly, Sunset slowly coming into focus through Twilight's lenses. They both smiled and chuckled.

"So what should we do to kill time?" Sunset asked, biting her bottom lip.

"Well... my mom's gone for a little while..." she said flirtatiously.

"Dad's still here!" Nightlight called from upstairs causing them both to jump.

"Jesus!" Sunset said while laughing. "You scared the crap out of us!"

"Good, someone's gotta keep you two in check." He joked as he came down the stairs. "Good to see you Sunset."

"Hey Mr. Sparkle." She greeted him, cheeks still flush with color.

"So uh Dad, what are you doing home? I thought you had a class today." She asked, her cheeks redder than Sunset's hair.

"Nope, we did a review for the final in the previous class, so I gave my students the day off today to prepare how they saw fit." He told them. "So what are your plans for today?"

The two sat at the table with Twilight's dad as he sipped on a mug of coffee.

"After everyone gets here we're going to go to the Canterlot Fun Zone and play some games, mini golf, laser tag, then we'll come back here to do our hair and make up. By the way, thank you for offering to let everyone come here for that part."

"It's no problem, it'll be nice to get to know them." He said cheerfully.

"Then we'll put on our gowns and go to dinner before the dance." She finished.

"Sounds like a good day." Nightlight lifted the morning paper.

"Yeah! Now we just need to kill some time until noon." Twilight thought for a moment.

"Wanna go for a walk?" Sunset offered.

"Sure, let me just go grab a jacket." Twilight went to her room and came back wearing the jacket Sunset had given her.

"Looks good on you." Sunset hugged Twilight.

They made their way around the neighborhood, arms around each other. They talked easily about whatever came to mind. They discussed what they wanted to do over winter break and what classes they were excited for next semester. They stopped at the park near Twilight's house and took a seat on top of one of the tables.

"It's cold out already, I wonder if we'll get snow soon." Twilight thought out loud as she nuzzled into Sunset.

"I hope so, I want to go snowboarding!" She said.

"I've never been before." Twilight admitted.

"We'll have to go, and I can teach you!" Sunset said excitedly.

"I think I'd really like that." She closed her eyes, sliding closer to Sunset.

They sat that way a few minutes longer before deciding to hop on the swings. Twilight's alarm went off, alerting them that they needed to return to meet the others. So they headed back. As they rounded the corner to Twilight's block they saw Rainbow and Applejack climbing out of Big Mac's truck and head to the front door.

As quietly as they could the two girls snuck up on their friends.

"Hey Applejack!"

"Hey Rainbow Dash!" They said simultaneously.

Applejack jumped in surprise. Rainbow screamed and latched onto her girlfriend's arm.

"What the hell!" Rainbow yelled at her friends who were on the ground laughing.

"Sorry Rainbow, we couldn't help it. When we saw you two show up, we just had to scare you." Sunset said through her laughter.

"I wasn't scared!" She protested.

"The marks you're leavin' on mah arm would say otherwise." Applejack teased.

Rainbow released Applejack and cleared her throat. "Alright, you might have startled me, a bit."

AJ smiled at her stubbornness and kissed her cheek. "Awe don't worry, they got me pretty good too."

The others arrived shortly after. They ate a quick lunch and headed to the Canterlot Fun Zone. Everyone was in high spirits on the drive over despite the cramped travel conditions. When they arrived Applejack was the first out on her side of the car. Rainbow hopped out and moved the seat forward for those in the very back. Once everyone was out Rainbow gave a running leap onto Applejack's back, who caught her under the legs.

"Giddy up li'l dogie!" Rainbow cried from atop her lovely steed.

"Rainbow, what have ah told you about jumping on mah back without warnin'!" Applejack protested.

"To always do it." Rainbow said cheekily.

She scowled. "You're lucky ah love you."

"I love you too." She kissed Applejack's cheek and placed her cowboy hat on her own head. "Now onward my noble stallion!"

Applejack laughed and readjusted her passenger as the others caught up with them.

"Applejack I must say I love your outfit, it's very Southern Chic." Rarity said. Appraising her apparel.

Applejack was wearing cowboy boots that went over the bottom of her jeans, a light grey tank-top covered by a tied up flannel over shirt, which accentuated her ample chest.

"Thank you Rarity, I chose this for two reasons. One, it's comfortable and easy to move around in, so I'll be able to dominate y'all at laser tag. And two, this one really likes it when ah show off mah southern roots."

"What can I say, the cowgirl look does it for me." Rainbow said while hugging AJ from behind.

The group entered the fun zone and were immediately bombarded by the sounds of arcade games and laughing children. They loaded their fun zone cards with money for the attractions, and went straight for the mini golf course.

The theme was kind of a mixed bag of nuts without much of a throughline to connect each hole. The first two holes were prehistoric themed, but the third hole was a moonscape for some reason.

A few holes in, Applejack and Twilight were last in the order. Applejack made her shot, the ball traveled along the green and under a papier-mâché version of "The Thinker". Twilight lined up her shot.

"You and Sunset are a real cute couple." Applejack commented.

"Thanks!" Twilight said as she took the shot. "You and Rainbow are really adorable too."

They started walking to join the group.

"So have you said the "L-word" yet?" AJ asked.

Twilight blushed. "Not yet."

"Sorry, ah didn't mean to get too personal." She said, embarrassed.

"No, it's ok. I want to say it to her, but I don't know if she feels the same. I don't want to scare her away by coming on too strong."

"Ah understand," She said. "but if you ask me I think you're safe."

"What do you mean?" Twilight asked.

"Ah'm just guessing, but going by the way she looks at you and acts around you, I think she feels the same way. Don't feel pressured though, do it when you feel comfortable Sugarcube."

Twilight smiled. "Thanks AJ."

"Applejack, your girlfriend's cheating!" Sunset called from the end of the current hole.

"I am not! I tripped and accidentally kicked your ball." Rainbow retorted.

"I don't know, that was quite a wind up for an accident." Fluttershy said with a smile.

Rainbow chuckled. "Hey, whose side are you on?"

"... Rarity's" she responded and took her hand.

Everyone laughed at her deadpan delivery. Cheese and Pinkie quickly pulled ahead of everyone, causing Rainbow and Sunset to become even more competitive. This was a side Twilight hadn't seen before, and she realized she kind of liked it. Whenever Sunset would get flustered when she fell behind and got even more focused, Twilight got little butterflies.

Around the middle of the course the hole themes took a weird turn. The hole they were on appeared to be themed after the ancient Aztecs, complete with a temple and figures at the top clearly simulating a sacrifice, but without the gore. The next hole appeared to be taken from a Halloween haunted house. There was a giant vampire archway that would deliver a scary laugh when you passed under it. The next hole had a werewolf statue.

"I've never liked this part of the course." Fluttershy said, shrinking a bit.

"Why's that?" Twilight asked.

"When I was little we came here for my birthday. When we got to that hole the laugh caught me by surprise and scared me so badly that the next few holes seemed scarier too." She looked down feeling embarrassed. "I just never really got over it."

Rarity hugged her from behind and kissed her on the cheek. "There's no need to look so glum darling. I'll keep you safe." She winked.

Fluttershy smiled. "Thanks Rarity."

They finished the rest of the course. Cheese ended up winning without realizing it since he and Pinkie were flirting the whole game. This caused Twilight and AJ to have to nearly restrain their dates from demanding a rematch.

"Who designed that golf course?" Twilight asked. "Nothing made sense!"

"Nobody knows, but it gives it a weird charm that keeps people coming back." Pinkie said

The group moved on to the go cart track next. This went a little better for Sunset, she kept a healthy lead on the others, with Rainbow close on her tail. Sunset ended up winning the race by a hair, she was a gracious winner and didn't rub it in too much.

After the race everyone signed up for a couple rounds of laser tag. There was a pretty long wait time for their turn, so while they waited for their first round to come up they bought a pizza to split. Twilight and Sunset waited for the pizza and beverages while the others went to find a table big enough to fit all of them. Once they found a suitable spot Applejack went to get a stack of napkins while Rainbow went to use the restroom. While the remaining couples were talking, Pinkie's hand tentatively found its way to Cheese's and laced their fingers together on the table.

"You two seem to be getting on well." Rarity remarked.

Both pairs of cheeks became rosy simultaneously as they looked sheepishly at each other. Fluttershy had never seen Pinkie embarrassed before which caused her to stifle a chuckle.

"Are we that obvious?" Pinkie asked.

"Well your hand holding helped me to come to that conclusion." Rarity said.

Cheese let out a laugh and gave Pinkie's hand a small squeeze.

"Yeah, we get along way better than I could have hoped." Cheese said.

"That makes me so happy to hear." Fluttershy said. "Is this your first date?"

They glanced at each either. "No, we kind of cheated. We went out last week too. I was getting nervous about the dance since it would be our first date and my first dance. Cheese offered to go on a mini date so we could get more comfortable with each other." A smile broke across her face as she remembered that night. "We ended up cuddling and talking until two in the morning."

Rarity let out a squeal. "Oh you two are just the cutest!"

Pinkie turned red again and buried her face in Cheese's arm with a smile.

"Stop it, you're embarrassing us." She said.

"Just you." Cheese said with a sly wink.

The others had rejoined them at that point.

"Well I think you two are really good together." Twilight said. "So tell us a bit more about yourself Cheese. I feel like I don't know you too well."

"What do you wanna know?" He said cheerfully.

Cheese told them about his interest in practicing comedy and music. He told them about how he was close with his family, but they moved a lot, due to his dad being a career military man. He never made close friends before moving to Canterlot last year, but he was hoping to change that now that his Dad was retired and had opened an auto body shop in town. When he got to when he met Pinkie there were smiles all around.

"I knew I wanted to ask her out, but I think I was just so used to not making connections. That's why I held off for so long, that is until Sunset encouraged me to go for it."

"You're welcome." she said while raising her glass.

Twilight tickled her side. "So I think we've grilled you enough. Do you have any questions for us?"

"Id just like to know a bit more about you all. How you all met and came to date each other. I'm sure there's some good stories there." Cheese said.

Twilight went first, she went through her previous years at Crystal Prep. Telling how she only had a few friends there because she put most of her focus into her studies. When she got to meeting the rest and especially Sunset she couldn't help but smile the whole time.

Sunset went next. She was quick, touching briefly on her less than ideal past as a bully and how grateful she was to the others for allowing her into the group. She and Twilight told the story of their romantic beginning. Twilight looked lovingly at Sunset the whole time, which caused her to get flustered at times.

The others, excluding Applejack had all grown up together, though it took some time for them all to come together as a group. Rainbow and Fluttershy were the only kids the same age on the block and had become friends by proximity. Rarity was always a girly girl, especially in elementary school, so she was constantly at odds with Rainbow's tomboy attitude. One fateful day the teacher had assigned groups for a project, pairing the four of them together. Pinkie eventually brought them together with her infectious friendliness.

"I knew pretty early on that I liked Rarity, but my shy disposition kept me from ever saying anything." Fluttershy said. "Also the fact that there was only a small window of opportunity before someone else would ask her out. She was very popular with the boys. And for the longest time I didn't know if she liked girls until she dated Blueberry Curls."

"It's true, i liked being in a couple and I'd had several boyfriends before Blueberry, but I've been attracted to boys and girls as long as I can remember." Rarity told them. "It never bothered me or my parents so I never made a big to do about it. After Blueberry I had one other girlfriend before I started dating Blueblood."

A scowl crossed her face. Fluttershy ran her fingers along her back comfortingly which returned Rarity's smile. She took Fluttershy's other hand before continuing.

"That was a toxic relationship that I couldn't see because I was too close to it. I didn't want to listen to my friends who could see it either. Fluttershy rescued me from that perilous situation and I've never been happier." She gave Fluttershy a kiss.

"Ah suppose ah'll go next. Ah'm a transplant too, my siblings and I came here to live with our Granny after our parents passed away. I must've been about eleven. Ah was angry for the longest time, 'til this'n came along."

"We didn't really cross paths the first couple years she lived here," Rainbow explained. "but the minute I saw her I knew I needed her in my life. I came on pretty strong."

"She really did. Even when ah told her ah didn't want ta make friends, she was relentless." She kissed Rainbows hand. "Ah'm glad she didn't give up."

Cheese took in each story and couldn't help but feel happy for all of them. He hoped to be around this group of close friends for a long time.

Their turn for laser tag came up. The first round they split up into teams of four. Twilight had a hard time focusing because Sunset was too much fun to watch. She was ducking and weaving around the course with a serious look on her face. It was hard fought, but team Appledash/ Cheesepie beat out team Sunlight/ Rarishy by just a few points. Though Sunset and Rainbow were the MVP's for each team. The next round they decided to play free for all.

Sunset took Twilight's hands in her own and locked eyes.

"Babe, you know I care about you right?" She said.

"Of course." Twilight said, trying to match her seriousness.

"Good, because for the next five minutes we are enemies on the field of battle. I can't promise I won't shoot you for points." Sunset said solemnly.

Resisting the urge to laugh, Twilight cleared her throat and replied. "I'm sure I can find it in my heart to forgive you."

The next round was even more intense. There was nowhere to hide for long, everywhere they went shortly after their vest would light up with a hit. Twilight got in a few good shots in a row before getting lit up from two sides. She felt a competitive spirit she had never felt before start to build in her chest. She made a valiant effort, but ultimately came in fifth place. Rainbow and Sunset rushed to the leaderboard to see how well they did. When they saw the final scores their jaws fell open.

"What? But how!" Rainbow cried.

"I have no idea." Sunset remarked scratching her head.

From behind them a soft voice said. "No one suspects the quiet ones."

They looked behind them to see Fluttershy with Rarity clinging to her arm, practically swooning. She made a finger gun and blew on the tip.

"Where were you? I don't think I saw you that entire round!" Rainbow asked with a smile.

"I found a good sniper vantage point and the fact that I'm pretty non threatening helped as well so no one thought to keep me in their sights."

"She really took charge of the game." Rarity said from her place on Fluttershy's arm. "It was very... exciting."

Fluttershy blushed, releasing some of her bravado. "Want to go play some games?"

They all split up to the arcade games they wanted to play with the remaining funds on their cards. Rainbow and Sunset played some competitive games to determine who was the official winner of the day activity. Twilight chose to win tickets to get Sunset a prize. Applejack was playing a big game hunting shooter while Pinkie and Cheese played Skee Ball.

Just as Twilight was tearing a line of tickets she felt arms wrap around her waist.

"So who won?" She asked.

"We ended in a tie. We decided to hangout with our girlfriends instead." Sunset told her.

They played several co-op games before their cards ran out of cash. Those who had tickets cashed out for prizes. Twilight still had a decent amount left over after she retrieved a colorful yarn bracelet for Sunset.

"What else are you gonna get babe?" Sunset asked as she tied the bracelet around her wrist.

"I'm not sure. There's not really anything else I want, I might just give them to one of the kids here." She started surveying the children running around.

"What are you doing?" Sunset laughed.

"I'm trying to decide who to give these to. I don't want to give them to someone who already has a lot."

"My girlfriends's a creep." She joked, but helped her regardless.

Twilight gave them to a young girl who didn't have very many tickets of her own. Afterwards everyone piled into Sunset's SUV and headed back to Twilight's house.

Getting Ready

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Back at the house the moms were helping the girls with their hair and makeup, while the dads got to know each other outside by the grill. Even though the weather was getting colder, Nightlight was a year-round griller. Twilight had even seen him grill in a downpour.

The women had set up shop in the family room. After moving the furniture around they had made enough space to bring in chairs for the girls to sit on. They set up the seats like a salon, the chairs next to each other in a line. Velvet and Rarity's mother, Cookie Crumbles, had even made lemon water for them to sip on while they got their hair done. Velvet was making sure to engage each woman equally, so no one felt left out.

Cloudy Quartz was fighting with the curly mane of her daughter's hair when Nightlight came in from the backyard with a hearty laugh.

"Cloudy, your husband is a funny man." He said.

"Aye, he takes a minute to get comfortable but when he does, he's very witty." She agreed.

Twilight tried to picture it, but was having a difficult time of it.

Nightlight grabbed the bottle of barbecue sauce he came in to grab in the first place.

"Igneous, remind me to talk to you about what rocks would look best in a waterfall display for our front yard." He said as he closed the door behind him.

Sunset watched as each mom helped their daughter with their hair. She couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness as she wished her own mother was here to help. She broke away to the bathroom to put on her makeup. She was nervous because she never really used makeup, other than foundation and eyeliner. She set about applying the different products Rarity had helped her pick out.

After a few minutes and several accidental jabs in the eye with the mascara stick, Sunset finished and took a look at herself in the mirror. She didn't recognize the girl she saw, she had used too much blush, her mascara was clumpy and she overdid it with eyeshadow. She laughed quietly to herself. Sunset decided to share her face art with the others.

"I think I may need some assistance." She said to the room.

Rarity's eyes widened. "Oh no, it looks... fine?" She said as politely as she could.

"It's ok Rarity, I was planning on starting over." Sunset said, smiling as her friend exhaled with relief.

"How are you going to do your hair?" Fluttershy asked.

"I dunno, I thought about maybe just wearing it down." She shrugged.

"Well if you'd like I can help you." Velvet said. "I just finished Twilight's hair."

"Are you sure? I don't want to be a bother." Sunset hesitated.

"Of course! Take a seat." She motioned to the chair in front of her.

Twilight passed her on the way up to the bathroom so she could apply her own make up.

"She won't bite, I promise." Twilight winked and kissed Sunset on the cheek.

"Thanks. I love your hair." Sunset told her:

"Wait 'til you see my dress." Twilight said as she mounted the stairs.

Sunset sat down in the chair. She handed the makeup she brought with her to Velvet, who handed her a damp rag to wipe away what was already there.

"So what kind of look did you want?" She asked.

"I guess something kinda subtle? Subtle but fancy?" She said, unsure. "I don't really use a lot of makeup."

Velvet smiled. "I think I know what you mean."

Velvet went straight to work. She applied a layer of foundation and started on her eyes.

"So are you excited for the dance?" Velvet asked.

"Yeah, this will be my first one. I'm glad I'm going with Twilight." Sunset told her.

"I'm glad she's going with you, you've been really good to her. I couldn't ask for a better date for my daughter."

This made Sunset smile. "Thanks Mrs. Sparkle."

"Oh, you can call me Velvet." After a brief pause, she asked. "So how come your mother couldn't make it. I hope it's okay if I ask."

"No it's fine. She actually doesn't live anywhere near here anymore."

"Oh, I didn't realize..." she trailed off.

"She moved to be closer to her college." She said.

"Oh, well good for her." Velvet said, dabbing blush onto Sunset's cheeks. "When does she start?"

"She starts next spring, but wanted to establish herself there so she moved out so she could get a job and a place to live." She continued. "Shortly after I moved out, my parents decided to take a break to work on themselves. My mom got a scholarship to a college a few states over. It was her dream college, so she had to go." She blinked back the moisture building in her eyes. "I miss her, but we stay in contact. She really wants to meet Twilight."

"We'll have to have her over some time. It sounds like she's doing what she wanted to." Velvet said.

"Yeah, I'm happy for her." She smiled.

"How about your father?"

"Last I heard he was doing alright. I was never as close with him as I was with my mom, so I haven't kept up with him like I should, but we talk on occasion."

"Well I'm glad to hear they're doing alright, but more importantly that you're doing so well." Velvet grabbed a mirror from a side table. "What do you think?"

Sunset looked at herself. "Thank you! It looks great! This is exactly what I was thinking."

She hugged Velvet, surprising both of them. She was about to pull away, worried she had overstepped her boundaries, when Velvet hugged her back. Sunset sat back in the chair.

"Now, if you're not set on wearing it down, I had an idea for your hair." Velvet said.

"I'll leave it to your discretion." Sunset said.

She sat patiently as Velvet styled her hair. She glanced sideways at the only two girls left on either side of her. Applejack and Rainbow Dash had gone home after the fun zone and arrived later than the rest, so they were still getting their hair done too. Granny Smith was doing a great job with AJ's hair. Sunset had never seen her hair styled more than a braid or ponytail, it looked really good.

Rainbow's mom, Windy Whistles, was fussing over her daughter's hair. Rainbow was getting antsy, obviously not used to sitting still for as long as she had while her hair was getting done.

"Are you almost done?" She asked impatiently.

"Just give me a little bit longer, I don't get to do this very often. Even when you were little you didn't like dressing up. Let me have this." She said with a grin.

"Ugh, fine!" Rainbow said exaggeratedly.

Sunset laughed. "It can't be that bad Rainbow."

"Says you! I don't do this girly stuff very often. The only reason I'm doing as much as I am is because it's important to Applejack." Rainbow said.

"And ah appreciate it sugarcube. Ah can't wait to see you dressed all nice, an' ah can't wait to show off my hair and dress to you. Ah hope you'll like 'em."

"I'm sure you're gonna look great." Rainbow assured her.

"Aaaand you're done. Go take a look and tell me what you think." Windy said.

Rainbow exited the room for a moment and came back, giving her mom a big hug.

"It looks awesome. Thanks mom!" She said.

"You're welcome, now go get dressed, I'm sure the others are almost done. Sometimes I wish she wasn't such a tomboy, but she is who she is." Windy exhaled.

"I hear ya. This'n never let me dress her up, even when she was just knee high to a sunflower. She's always been one ta play rough, never afraid ta get dirty."

"Granny, that ain't true I've let you doll me up plenty of times."

"Now I ain't sayin' it's a bad thing." She continued. "You're one of the hardest workin' young women I've ever met. I'm just sayin' it's nice to see you show yer feminine side from time to time. You're such a beautiful girl. Spittin' image of yer momma too. She was quite the looker, no surprise why yer pappy fell head over heels for her."

"Granny you're embarrassin' me." Applejack said while partially hiding her face, though you could hear the smile in her voice.

"I'm just speakin' the truth. Now let me take a look atcha."

Applejack uncovered her face. She had done her make up at home and Granny Smith was astonished at just how much she really did look like her mother.

"You're prettier 'n mornin' dew at sunrise." Granny Smith said, emotion breaking into her voice.

Applejack squeezed her granny in a warm embrace. "Thanks Granny Smith. I love you."

"I love you too. Now finish gettin' ready, don't want these girls t'be waitin' on ya."

Applejack grinned broadly as she left the room. Windy and Granny Smith joined the other moms in the kitchen while Velvet finished up on Sunset's hair. The two of them talked more about Sunset's parents and Velvet told her a little about her siblings.

"My Brother and I used to get in all kinds of trouble. He was always convincing me to explore places we had no business exploring." She told her.

"Like where?" Sunset asked.

"Let'sh shee." Velvet said around the bobby pins she was holding in her teeth for easy access. "One time we went into an abandoned factory. We found some old products the factory made... we also found some old rusty nails. One scolding and a round of tetanus shots later we were exploring a house that was still being built up the street."

Sunset laughed Velvet's story, which caused Velvet to laugh along with her. After they regained their composure Sunset addressed Velvet.

"Your Brother seems like someone I would get along with. I'd like to meet him."

"Careful what you wish for, he can be a bit much to handle."

"I think I can take it." Sunset said confidently.

"Well that will have to wait. In the meantime..." she held up a mirror so Sunset could see her hair. "You're finished. What do you think? Is it alright?"

"I love it!" She said, turning her head to see it from different angles.

Velvet had swept and pinned Sunset's hair to one side and given it some volume. The natural wave of Sunset's hair caused it to cascade down in a waterfall of red and yellow.

"I absolutely love it!" She repeated.

"Go put your gown on so you can knock Twilight's socks off." Velvet smiled.

After Sunset was dressed she went to join the others in the living room. As she passed by one of the rooms she heard someone whisper her name.

"Sunset, could you help me a sec?" Applejack asked.

"Sure AJ, what do you need my help with?"

She stepped into the room to see Applejack turned away from her.

"Ah can't get this darn zipper." She said while reaching behind her.

"Hold on, I've got it." She chuckled.

Applejack turned around, her hair was up and her make up was beautifully done. Her dress was a dark green shoulder-less mermaid style with splashes of sparkles throughout.

"Applejack you look beautiful." Sunset hugged her.

"Thanks, ah've been frettin' up a storm wonderin' if Rainbow will like it. Ah don't get gussied up too often an' ah never know how she'll react to it."

"I don't think you need to worry, I'm sure she'll love it." She assured her. "I'm gonna head down."

"Alright, ah'll be down in a sec, just gonna put in mah earrings."

Sunset walked down the stairs, taking in each of her friends. Rarity's sleek blue gown made her eyes shine. Next to her, Fluttershy was wearing a pale green ball gown with elegant floral embroidery along the bottom of the skirt and a sparkling butterfly hair clip.

Cheese had arrived while Sunset was upstairs. His parents had taken pictures of the two of them before they had to leave. He was now sitting on the couch next to his date in a perfectly tailored tuxedo, his vest and tie matching the vibrant yellow of her dress. Pinkie was nervously playing with the hem of the skirt on her knee length dress.

They look so cute. Sunset thought.

Then her eyes fell on Twilight. She looked absolutely stunning in her dress and makeup. Her glasses magnified her brilliant beautiful eyes, eyes Sunset could get happily lost in. Sunset walked awestruck down the rest of the stairs until she was in front of her girlfriend.

"Aren't you going to say anything?" Twilight asked with a smile.

"You look gorgeous." She kissed her on the cheek.

Next to them they heard Rainbow gasp slightly. Applejack came down the stairs she looked uncomfortable with everyone looking at her. She stifled a giggle and seemed more at ease when she saw the look on Rainbows face.

She was staring, mouth agape in her tuxedo, at the girl she loved. She had never seen her look so radiant. She went to meet her on the last step.

"Wow! You look incredible AJ." She planted a kiss on her lips.

They all gathered in the room and posed for pictures for their parents. Sunset's Uncle Silver took a few pictures. In between pictures he hugged his niece.

"I'm so proud of you, you've come a long way from where you were a year ago."

She hugged him back. "Thanks Uncle Silver, for everything."

"Have fun tonight, I want to hear about it when you get home."

After the parents were satisfied, they all got ready to leave.

"I just want to apologize in advance for how crowded it's going to be." Sunset said as she opened the door.

"I don't think it will be a problem." Velvet said.

Confused, she opened the door fully and saw a stretched limo waiting for them on the curb in front of the house. They all turned and stared wide-eyed at the adults. They were hit with the flash of several cameras.

"Surprised?" Cloudy quartz asked.

"A little!" Pinkie responded before hugging her.

"We all decided to pool together and get you a limo for the night." Mr. Shy said.

"That's right, you're going to the dance in style!" Cookie Crumbles cheered.

Hugs were given all around and the girls hurriedly made their way to the limo.

The parents looked after the girls running giddily to the car, reality dawning on each of them that they were growing into beautiful young women.

Nightlight sniffed, sneakily catching a forming tear. "Should we get started on dinner?"

The Winter Formal

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The eight of them were in awe as they piled in. The inside of the limo was spacious enough for all of them to stretch out and still have room between them. The lights inside were cycling through different colors. Pinkie synced her phone to the car's speakers and played her get psyched mix in the background.

"This is awesome!" Rainbow exclaimed. "I can't believe our parents did this."

"Look what else they provided." Rarity was holding a bottle and glasses.

"They got us champagne?" She said excitedly.

"Well, no. But it's the next best thing." She turned the label to face the others. "Sweet Apple Acre's Sparkling Apple Cider!"

"That's even better!" Rainbow exclaimed.

The girls laughed and talked excitedly the whole ride to the restaurant sipping flutes of sparkling cider. They had made reservations at a family owned, Italian restaurant that was very popular. The inside was decorated with beautiful paintings and pictures of Italy. The lighting inside set the mood for a romantic evening.

The food was incredible, and the owner made it a point to stop by every table to greet the guests and see how everything tasted. When he got to their table, Twilight couldn't help but ask a few questions.

"How long has your family owned the restaurant?"

"About forty years. All they had to start was a handful of family recipes, but they were determined to make it work. They handed it off to me when my dad 'retired'." He told them.

"Why the air quotes?" Pinkie asked.

"Well on paper he's officially retired, but that doesn't stop him from coming in on occasion to cook. The man can't stand to not be working."

The table smiled and chuckled.

"Thank you for checking in on us, the food is delicious!" Twilight said.

"Thank you." He looked around the table. "Mind if I ask what the occasion is?"

"It's our winter formal." Rarity chimed in. "We're heading there after dinner."

"What school do you all attend?" He asked.

"Canterlot High." Applejack offered.

"Go Wondercolts!" Rainbow cheered.

The man smiled. "That's my alma mater. Anyway, I'll get out of your hair. Enjoy your evening."

They finished their meals, savoring each bite. Each couple ordered a dessert to split before requesting their checks. Once the checks were settled, they left a generous tip and made their way out to the limo. On the way, the owner gave them a final nod and wave, wishing them a good night.

"That was a fantastic dinner." Fluttershy said.

"I know, this night just keeps getting better and better." Sunset said. "I'm on a date with my beautiful girlfriend, my friends are all around me, and I'm going to my first dance! Can it get any better?"

"I think I can help." Twilight said before pulling her into a kiss.

This was met with a chorus of "awes" followed by laughter as Sunset stared in stunned silence.

"Where did that come from?" She asked after she regained her composure. "Normally I'm the one who takes action."

"I'm just really happy tonight. It's given me some extra courage I guess." Twilight responded a little sheepishly.

"I like it." She kissed Twilight, then addressed the others. "So what should I expect? I've never been to one of these before."

"Don't worry darling, just have fun.” Rarity chimes in. “They'll play a mixture of slow and fast songs, we'll get our group and couples pictures taken. Then we'll dance the night away. We all had a grand time at the fall formal."

"Maybe you did. I kept tripping over my dress! It was so embarrassing! That's why I went with a tux this time." Rainbow said.

"Aww ah thought it was cute seein' you outta your element. But ah have to admit, you clean up real nice." She hugged Rainbow's arm and laid her head on her shoulder.

They arrived at the school, the driver opened the door to allow them out. They thanked him and walked through the door. After a short walk they were in the gymnasium, which had been decorated to look like a winter wonderland.

"It's gorgeous!" Rarity gushed. "I can't believe this is the same place we have gym class!"

"It really is incredible what they were able to do." Fluttershy agreed.

"How do you all feel about getting our picture now while there's not a whole lot of people here?" Cheese asked.

They all voiced their agreement and made their way back to the hall where the photographers were set up. They got their couples pictures taken first, taking turns posing romantically for the camera. After the last couple was finished they got in the short line for the group photo.

Sunset was spacing out, looking around the hall at the different trophies and pictures that lined the walls when she saw Sonata walk through the door with Flash Sentry. Sonata seemed to be genuinely enjoying herself, the two were holding hands and smiling.

Sunset was about to wave to them, when she saw Aria and Adagio walk in behind them. Their dates looked considerably less thrilled to be there. Aria was accompanied by Rarity's ex boyfriend. Blue Blood seemed very timid as Aria was leading him by his tie, and not in a playful way.

What did she do to him? Sunset thought.

Adagio's date just looked miserable, and for good reason. Sunset recognized her instantly with a pang of guilt, remembering how she used to bully the poor girl with Adagio and the others. Trixie looked completely downtrodden and uncomfortable. She obviously didn't want to be there. Sunset's heart went out to her. She was brought back to the present by Twilight tugging on her hand.

"Come on, it's our turn." She said.

"Right." She stole one last glance at Trixie.

After their group pictures they all headed to the dance floor. There weren't a lot of people yet as it was still early. On either side of the DJ table, projected on screens, was a slideshow of the pictures the students had given to the yearbook club. The eight of them danced their hearts out during the fast songs that played. Sunset felt herself falling for Twilight even more as she watched her completely uncoordinated dance moves, not caring who saw her. After several fast songs the first slow song started, Sunset held Twilight close, pressing their foreheads together, swaying to the music playing over the speakers.

"Thank you Twilight." Sunset said.

"For what?" She responded with a smile.

"For giving me a chance, even after everything in my past."

"You don't have to thank me. I'll always stand by you." She kissed Sunset. "For as long as you'll have me."

They held each other and shared another kiss as the song faded out. The first few notes of the next song played, causing Fluttershy to cry out.

"I love this song!"

She took Rarity by both hands and walked backwards, rolling her shoulders playfully. The other couples watched this display with a mix of confusion and laughter.

"Where did this come from?" Sunset asked.

"I don't know." Rainbow chuckled. "I mean she came out of her shell a little at the last dance, but nothing like this."

"Ah think it's 'cause she and Rarity are a lot closer now, so she's more comfortable and outgoing."

"That must be it." Twilight agreed, watching Fluttershy dance on Rarity.

The others quickly fell into the groove of the music dancing along with their friends. As the song was drawing to a close Sunset saw Trixie sitting alone, head resting on her hands. She thought for a moment before turning to Twilight.

"Hey, I'll be right back babe."

"Okay." She responded.

Sunset approached Trixie, her nervousness growing with each step.

"Hey, long time no see..." she said awkwardly.

Trixie drew back when she saw who the voice came from. "Y-Yeah..."

They looked away from each other awkwardly. "So um, where's Adagio?"

Trixie looked at her quizzically.

"I saw the two of you come in to get your pictures taken."

"Oh. Well I have no idea, I turned away for a second and she was gone. So, here I am, dateless at a dance I didn't even want to come to."

"Im sorry… How did you wind up coming with her anyways?"

"She told me we were coming together, and that I didn't have-" Trixie stopped mid sentence. "wait, what do you care? You were just as cruel as she was."

"That's one reason why I came over to talk to you." She paused, gingerly taking a seat beside Trixie. "I'm so sorry for everything I did. I was stupid and cruel. I never should have been so mean to you. You did nothing wrong. I was going through some stuff, and I know that's no excuse, but I just wanted you to know how truly sorry I am."

Trixie was taken by surprise at how sincere she seemed, though she still had her reservations.

"You said that was one reason?" She asked.

"Yes, I also wanted to see if you wanted to come hang out with me and my friends. I'm sure they'd welcome you with open arms."

"Really? There's no ulterior motive? You're not going to lure me over there just to humiliate me?"

"Absolutely not, just extending a friendly gesture to start trying to making amends. What do you say?" She extended her hand.

Trixie hesitated before taking it with a slight smile. "Sure, why not?"

The two made their way to the group that was in full swing dancing along to the music. Before they reached the group Sunset turned to Trixie.

"Do you still practice your magic?" She asked. "I hope I didn't discourage you when I was bullying you. You were really talented, I was actually pretty jealous."

This made Trixie smile a little more. "You could never stop the Grrrreat and Powerful Trixie from perfecting her craft!"

Sunset chuckled. "I'm glad. Let me introduce you to everyone."

She went around the circle introducing everyone to Trixie finishing with Twilight.

"-and this is my girlfriend Twilight. Everyone, this is Trixie Lulamoon."

"You may also know me as the-"

"The Great and Powerful Trixie!" Rainbow said excitedly. "We've seen you perform around the Meadow Lane park! Once you even made the card I chose appear lodged in the tree behind us! How did you do that?"

Blushing, Trixie folded her arms confidently. "A good magician never reveals her secrets."

"So who's your date tonight?" Fluttershy asked, hugging Rarity from behind, swaying to the music.

"Are we sure that cider wasn't alcoholic?" Pinkie joked.

"Positive, I'm just excited to be out with everyone." Fluttershy said, kissing Rarity's cheek.

"I don't mind it one bit." Rarity said, returning the kiss. "Sorry dear, we interrupted you."

"No, you're good. I came with Adagio Dazzle."

Everyone tensed up at the delivery of that news, because Sunset had told them about her previous involvement with the trio of bullies.

"Don't worry, she abandoned me shortly after we got here... that sounded super depressing. It's really fine that she did, I didn't want to come with her in the first place."

"Then why did you?" Pinkie asked.

"Well... honestly, she scares the crap out of me. She told me we were going together and I didn't argue."

She told them about her past interactions with Adagio and the others, including the fact that it was how she met Sunset.

"Well yer more than welcome to hang out with us." Applejack said.

"Thank you. I think I'll take you up on that offer." Trixie agreed.

Trixie was a welcome addition to their group that night. She meshed really well with everyone, telling them about new tricks she was working on, and her own little group of friends, all while dancing just as hard as the rest. She was very well versed in the different line dances that played, much to the delight of everyone else. When the next slow song started, Pinkie and Cheese let her dance with them, making sure she kept feeling included.

"I'm going to go get some punch, do you want any?" Sunset asked Twilight as the next song started up.

"Yes, thank you." She responded.

Twilight sat next to Trixie on one of the bleachers at the edge of the gym.

"I'm glad Sunset invited you to hang out with us." Twilight told her.

"So am I." Trixie told her. "She even apologized for everything before she did so. She really has turned over a new leaf since I last saw her. It's nice to see her being nice to people. I don't know what you did to make her change, but keep it up."

"I haven't done much. She made the change before I met her, but I like to think I've helped a bit." She smiled.

"What are you two talking about?" Sunset said, seeing the two talking she had poured a third glass for Trixie.

"Just about how you've changed," Twilight said honestly. "and whether or not I had anything to do with it."

"You absolutely did." She handed the glasses out. "You really make me want to be a better person, to be someone you could be proud to be with."

"You are someone I'm proud to be with." She kissed Sunset tenderly.

The two gazed into each other's eyes before remembering Trixie was still sitting next to them. Both girl's cheeks became hot.

"Sorry, we're normally not this lovey-dovey in public." Twilight apologized.

Trixie laughed. "Don't worry about it, I think it's cute."

Just then the familiar notes of Sunset and Twilight's song played over the speakers. Twilight beamed at Sunset, who was already standing with an extended hand.

"We'll be right back Trixie." Twilight said as she walked with her date.

"Take your time. I'm a little danced out for a minute." She watched them go, still blown away by the difference in Sunset's personality.

Sunset guided Twilight to an open space on the dance floor.

"I can't believe they're playing our song." Twilight mused.

"I may or may not have requested it when I was getting punch." She winked as she guided Twilight into a twirl.

"I thought you were gone a little too long." She said as she returned back to Sunset's waiting arms.

"I couldn't let the opportunity to dance with you to our song slip by. It's the perfect topper to a perfect night with a perfect girl."

Twilight blushed profusely as she felt butterflies flit around her stomach. "Sunset Shimmer, I think I'm falling for you."

Sunset dipped Twilight gracefully. "I've already fallen for you."

More butterflies joined the others when they locked eyes as Sunset raised her back up.

"Sunset... I lo-"

"Look at me when I'm talking to you!" Sunset yelled, her voice seeming to come from all around.

"What?" Twilight said out loud.

She looked at Sunset, who was standing rigid, her eyes wide.

"I am!" Said a voice on the verge of tears.

"With both eyes!" The other Sunset said.

Twilight looked in the direction of the screens and saw projected on them was a video of a blonde girl, whose eyes were crossed, unable to make both of them focus on the girl in front of her. The second girl was turned away from the camera, but had a familiar head of yellow and red hair. That clip along with a few others of her bullying that same girl played on a loop as the principals and other faculty frantically tried to get the video feed cut.

The room was deathly silent. As the video cycled angry whispers began to crop up in the crowd. Sunset stood frozen in place, feeling every angry eye on her. Unable to take it anymore she turned to leave the area but was stopped by Trixie standing in her way.

"It was you? You're the reason she left school?" Trixie said with rising anger. "I should have realized it, but she never told me. Did you threaten her if she told anyone?"

"Trixie, it wasn't just-" her words were cut short by a sharp slap across her cheek.

Trixie stormed off. Sunset couldn't blame her for being angry. Her ear was ringing from the strike, she was vaguely aware of what was going on around her. Her mind was racing, imagining her friends abandoning her, being ostracized by the school. What she was worried most about though, was losing Twilight.

The teachers were able to cut the video, the voice of Principal Celestia over the speakers snapped Sunset back to reality.

"Students, we are sorry for the interruption to your evening we will have the music back up soon. In the meantime talk amongst yourselves, enjoy the refreshments and rest assured, we will find whoever was responsible and they will be punished."

Twilight squeezed Sunset's hand. Sunset pulled away, fighting back tears as she walked toward the exit. Just before she was going to cross the threshold of the gym Adagio and Aria stepped in front of her.

"You should have accepted my offer. I warned you. I told you I would ruin you." She said with a truly wicked sneer.

Sunset brushed past her, resisting the urge to sock her in the face.

Twilight observed the interaction between the two as she was following Sunset out of the gym. She glared at Adagio as she passed.

"Have fun with her. She's used goods anyway." Adagio said coldly.

Twilight stopped in her tracks. She turned on her heel and faced Adagio.

"Don't come near Sunset ever again. She's done with you."

Adagio leaned in close. "You think that tough talk scares me? Run along little mouse."

"She may not scare you but how about us." Rainbow said from right behind her.

The other six were standing with their arms crossed, wearing various looks of anger.

"Stay away from our friend!" Rainbow said more sternly.

Adagio swallowed hard, but kept her face stern. "Whatever, picking on Sunny isn't even fun anymore. Come on Aria, let's go dance."

She tried to shoulder check Applejack, but AJ stood strong and was unphased. They followed after Twilight. She had caught up with Sunset, who was now sitting against the wall, her knees held to her chest.

Twilight sat next to her and rubbed her back. At her touch Sunset broke down into quiet sobs. Twilight wrapped her in her arms.

"I'm so sorry." Twilight said after a few minutes.

"Don't apologize." She responded after she was calmer. "I was the one who did those terrible things."

"She didn't have to show your past mistakes to the whole school though." Twilight clenched her fist. "She's just such... she's a... what a bitch!"

Sunset couldn't help but laugh.

"What?" Twilight said, dealing with her own laughter.

"It's just weird to hear you curse." She wiped her eyes. "Thank you."

"She has a point dear, it's very unbecoming of you." Rarity said, alerting the couple to their presence. "Such language is more suited for someone like Rainbow Dash."

"Hey!" She started. "No, that's fair."

The eight of them laughed as Twilight helped Sunset to her feet.

"How you doin' sugarcube?" Applejack asked, wrapping her in a hug.

"Better now. Thank you all for coming to check on me." She lowered her eyes. "I'm sorry I ruined the night."

"You didn't ruin anything." Pinkie Assured her. "We can still have a good time."

"What should we do now?" Fluttershy asked hesitantly.

Sunset hesitated, thinking about all those angry judging eyes staring at her. "I don't know. If you all want to go back in you can, I think I'll just hang back out here. I don't want to stop you from having fun."

Fluttershy exchanged a look with the others.

"Let's go do something fun together." She suggested. "Besides, there's only about an hour left before they shut it down."

"Plus, it wouldn't be as fun without all of us there." Cheese said.

Sunset felt new, happy tears prickling at her eyes. Twilight wiped them away.

"What would you like to do?" She asked.

"Well, if you're all okay with it, I'd kind of like to stop by Sugarcube Corner to show Mrs. Cake my dress."

Before anyone could respond, Pinkie was leading the charge with a triumphant cheer.

"To Sugarcbe Corner!"

They were all smiling as they climbed into the back of the limousine. They were the only ones at the store when they arrived. Mrs. Cake fawned over how lovely and handsome they all looked. She gave each couple a holiday pastry they were introducing to split.

They decided to call it a night shortly after that. They started by dropping off Cheese since he lived closest. Pinkie walked with him to the door, holding his hand the whole way. When they reached the door they looked into each other's eyes.

"I had a lot of fun tonight." Pinkie said. "Thank you for asking me."

"So did I. I was happy you said yes. It was nice to get to know you and your friends a little better."

They both stood there awkwardly. Pinkie rocked back and forth on her heels.

"Well, goodnight." Cheese hugged her.

"Yeah, goodnight."

Pinkie turned to walk back to the car.

You know what, I'm tired of waiting. I'm going to take action this time. She thought.

She turned around and pulled Cheese close, planting a kiss on his lips.

The occupants of the limo erupted in cheers. Overjoyed for their friend.

Cheese opened his eyes. "So I guess that means you'd like to go out again." He said with a chuckle.

"A-as long as you'd like to." She said a little nervous.

"How does next week sound?"

"It sounds great!" She gave him another little peck before turning to go. "I should probably go, don't want to keep the others waiting."

He smiled. "I'll see you later Pinkie. Let me know when you get home."

"I will." She called back.

The driver held the door open for her. She climbed in with a goofy smile plastered on her face. The others were smiling, waiting for her to say something.

"So, I kissed him." She said sheepishly.

"We know, we saw the whole thing!" Fluttershy said, grabbing her hands. "It was so cute!"

"So how was it?" Rainbow asked.

What was next for the two was the only topic of conversation until Pinkie was dropped off in front of her house. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were next when they reached Sweet Apple Acres. The two girls made their way to the house as the Limo pulled away. Fluttershy received a call and was dropped off at Rarity's house with her. Sunset and Twilight sat cuddled together as the car pulled up in front of the Sparkle residence.

"Last stop. Hope you girls had a good night." The driver said as he opened the door.

"We did. Thank you for driving us tonight." Twilight thanked the young man.

"My pleasure."

"Looks like my uncle's still here." Sunset said, seeing the truck parked in the driveway. "Before we go in, I just want to thank you again for helping me feel better. It really meant a lot to me."

Twilight kissed her. "Of course. Wanna head in."

"Sure, but do you mind if we don't mention the video? I don't want to worry my uncle. I'll tell him later." Sunset said.

Twilight hesitated. "I guess so, if you think that's what's best."

The couple entered the house and told the adults about their night. After they were finished talking Twilight walked Sunset to her car as the first light snowfall of the season lazily floated down. After their goodnight kiss, Twilight went inside to wait for Sunset's text letting her know she got home safely.

A/N Hey everyone, I really hope you liked this chapter. What will happen next now that everyone knows about Sunset's past? I guess you'll have to keep reading. Okay, now with that awful attempt at a cliff hanger tease is over, I just want you all to know I'm working on drawing the girl's dance photos :) I'll be posting them on my Deviantart profile: Invaderody. I have a few other MLP fan-art pieces there if you want to have a look. Alright, shameless self-promotion over. Happy reading everyone! :)

Winter Break

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Sunset spent Sunday evening with the Sparkles, doing her best not to show how worried she was for the coming school day. After dinner the two of them were hanging out in Twilight's room, door open as per her parent's request. A movie was playing on the television set as they cuddled on her bed.

Sunset was miles away. Her mind coming up with endless scenarios for the next day. She imagined being pushed around and tripped. She imagined the rumors that would be spread behind her back. She didn't feel like she could say anything either. In her mind, everyone would just see it as a bully dishing it out but not able to take it. A bully getting what she deserved. She couldn't blame them for thinking that either.

Twilight's hand waved in front of her face.

"What? Sorry, I spaced out there for a minute." She reset her arms around Twilight's waist.

"I was just wondering what you thought of the movie." Twilight said.

Sunset looked at the screen where the hero was scaling the outside of a dizzyingly tall hotel with some kind of spy gloves that allowed him to stick to the glass.

"Yeah, it's pretty good." She replied.

Twilight turned to face Sunset, narrowing her eyes.

"Are you okay? You've seemed a little off tonight." Twilight said.

Sunset only looked away.

"Are you thinking about what happened at the dance?"

"N-no, I'm just getting tired." She lied.

Twilight gently placed a hand on Sunset's cheek.

"Hey, you know you can talk to me right? If something's bothering you or you're worried about something, please do talk to me."

Sunset put her hand over Twilight's. "I'm fine, really. I'm just tired."

Twilight looked at her uncertainly.

She sighed. "Alright, but just remember what I said okay? I'm here for you whenever you need me."

Sunset hugged Twilight to her again. "I know."

After the movie Sunset drove home, her mind still conjuring possible scenes she could walk into tomorrow. When she got back to her room she threw herself onto the bed and grabbed a pillow before curled into a ball, falling into an uneasy sleep.

She awoke to her alarm on her nightstand the next morning still wracked with worry. She looked at her phone only to stare at a blank screen. After a moment she realized she had fallen asleep before plugging it in. She attached it to the charger before going through her morning routine, still just as stressed as the night before. As she was showering her stomach flopped unpleasantly.

She checked her phone after she got dressed.

"Shit." She said flatly.

On her phone were two unread messages from Twilight and a missed call.

"Hey, just making sure you got home safely."


She cursed herself. She always texted her when she got home. She should have let Twilight know she made it, it was snowing and the roads weren't the greatest. Luckily she had bought new tires so it wasn't a problem, but she knew Twilight would worry until she heard from her.

"Hey Twi, sorry I didn't text you last night. I passed out as soon as I got home and my phone died at some point so I didn't get your texts or call." She texted.

"You're good, I was worried when I didn't hear from you. I'll see you at school :)"

Sunset's stomach flopped again when she read the text. She resumed getting ready, feeling more nauseous the whole time. She was unable to eat much, each bite made her stomach turn. She finished getting ready and went to walk out the door.

Her hand wouldn't turn the knob, she thought about walking into the school to face everyone. All the anger and judgement. Kneeling in front of the toilet she made the decision to stay home.

"Hey babe, I won't be making it in today. I just got really sick and almost threw up." She sent the message.

"I'm sorry hon :( I hope you feel better." Twilight responded.

She smiled. "I like hon much better than sugar lips ;)"

"I'll keep that in mind. Get some rest, and I'll talk to you later."

Sunset changed back into her pajamas and crawled back under the covers. Luckily there was only three days in this week before winter break started. The only important thing she had was to turn in an extra credit assignment in her science class tomorrow. She hadn't missed a single day this year, so she wasn't too worried about missing one day.

Sunset took it easy, napping and watching TV, waiting for her stomach to stop turning circles. She started to feel better as the day went on, coming to the conclusion that she worried herself sick. She passed the rest of the day messaging Twilight and reading a new horror comedy book Twilight had bought for her the other week.

"This book is really good!" She texted.

"I'm glad you like it! I thought of you as soon as I read the synopsis." Twilight responded.

"I'm halfway through it already."

"Sounds like you're enjoying it. How are you feeling?"

"I'm starting to feel better. I think I just got too inside my own head about what happened and made myself sick."

"I'm sorry hon. Is there anything I can do to help? Do you want me to stop by?"

She thought for a minute.

"No, just in case this is something more serious I don't want to run the risk of getting you sick too."

"Ok, if you're sure. I hope to see you tomorrow."

"I'll let you know how I'm feeling. How's class going?"

Twilight was in gym class with Fluttershy, Rainbow and Applejack. She had opted to sit out since it was optional today. She sent a picture to Sunset of herself with Rainbow and AJ asleep leaned against each other in the background. Sunset laughed and requested a picture of just Twilight, citing that her smile had healing properties. Twilight happily obliged. They continued talking until Sunset went to bed. As she started drifting to sleep she was hopeful that tomorrow would be better.

Unfortunately, no such luck was to be had for her. She didn't get as nauseous as she did the day before, but she still couldn't make herself open the door to go to school. She sat on her couch, frustrated with herself.

What is wrong with me? She thought. This shouldn't be such a big deal!

She messaged Twilight again, telling her that her stomach had acted up again. She felt bad about not telling her the real reason she was skipping again, but she didn't want to burden her with her problems. She was worried about not turning in her assignment since it would have taken her final grade to a "B-" rather than a "C".

"C's get degrees." She quoted the old adage with a smirk and a shrug.

She decided to be more productive today and get some grocery shopping done. While she was out she received another picture message from Twilight. This one had all of her friends clumped together to fit everyone in frame. There was a short message that accompanied the picture.

"We hope you feel better soon." It read.

"You guys are the best!" She responded.

She finished her shopping and made her way back to the hotel. She stopped by her uncle's office to see about picking up an extra shift so she could afford Twilight's Christmas present.

"Sure, that should be just fine." He checked his watch. "Shouldn't you be in school though?"

"You know how it is the last week of the semester. Most of the teachers don't even take attendance."

He narrowed his eyes at her. "Okay, but no more missing school after the break. You've been working too hard to stop going."

"I know. I promise, no more after the break." She crossed her heart. "What floors do you want me to clean?"

He gave her the list of rooms on the third and fourth floors that needed to be turned down. She immediately went to work, passing quickly between rooms. Luckily the guests were mostly tidy, so cleaning was a breeze. With a few exceptions she was able to finish her work by two-thirty. She retired back to her room, took a quick shower and settled in to read her book.

Her phone pinged with a new message a couple hours later.

"Knock knock." Twilight's message read.

Two quick raps at her door made her jump. She rose off the couch to open the door. Standing in the door frame was Twilight. She was holding a twenty ounce bottle of ginger ale and a bag with aromatic smells coming from within.

Sunset smiled. "What are you doing here?" She embraced Twilight warmly.

"I got worried since you missed two days so I brought you something to help your stomach."

"Thank you Twilight." She took her hand and guided her in. "You didn't have to do this."

"I know. I wanted to." She said simply.

Sunset cleared off the couch to make room for both of them. Twilight joined her with the drink and bag, bringing a glass of ice water for herself. Twilight lifted the bag's contents out, revealing a styrofoam bowl of chicken soup and two turkey sandwiches.

"You're too good to me." Sunset told her.

They ate their food, talking about Twilight's day at school. Twilight cleaned up the meal, rejoining Sunset on the couch.

"So are you ready to talk about what's bothering you?" Twilight said bluntly.

"What? What are you talking about? I'm fine, I just got sick." She said, flustered.

"I ran into Silver Dollar on my way up. He told me you decided to skip today since it's the last couple days before winter break."

Sunset looked away awkwardly. "Okay, Yes, I skipped school."

"Why though?" Twilight pressed.

"Because... because I'm scared." She admitted. "Scared of facing everyone, scared of what they'll do when I go to school again. I know I can't let worry get the better of me, but I'm so scared Twilight."

Twilight hugged her and rubbed her back the whole time she talked. She listened to her girlfriend's concerns and did her best to comfort her.

"I understand why you skipped these last two days. I don't blame you at all, I'd probably do the same thing. Just know, that you have six friends and one girlfriend who are going to be there for you."

"I know, it's just so scary. I'm worried that I'll be the target of bullying. Which is ridiculous coming from me. I mean, I'd deserve it for what I've done."

"No!" Twilight said suddenly. "You can't think that way. If someone starts bullying you I want you to tell someone. Just because you made mistakes, doesn't mean you deserve the same treatment."

Sunset looked into Twilight's eyes. "How was I so lucky to find you?"

Twilight wiped the tear from the corner of Sunset's eye. "I could ask the same question."

The rest of the day was spent cuddling under a blanket and watching movies together. On the drive home Twilight told Sunset about the plans the others had made for tomorrow.

"So we were all thinking about skipping tomorrow and going to the park for some sledding. Big Mac was going to take us, along with Applebloom and her friends."

"Twilight Sparkle, what have I done to you?" Sunset placed the back of her hand to her forehead. "You're skipping school tomorrow? What would your parents think?"

Twilight laughed at the dramatic display.

"It's a less than half day tomorrow, most of my teachers encouraged us to take the day off. It's my one small rebellious thing, let me have this please."

"You already ran it by them didn't you?" Sunset cocked her eyebrow.

"As soon as I got home, yep."

Sunset chuckled. "That sounds like a lot of fun. I'll be there!"

They made plans for Sunset to pick Twilight up before heading to the Apple family farm. Sunset drove home in the falling snow, excited for the next morning.

The night had brought a fresh layer of fine powder. With Twilight in the passenger seat Sunset rounded the bend and went up the road toward the Apple property. As they pulled up to the house they saw a car they had never seen before.

Applejack and Big Mac were talking next to it when he handed her a set of keys. Sunset parked and the two exited the car.

"Is that for you?" Twilight asked.

"Yep, Granny Smith got it for me as an early christmas present. I've been practicing with Big Mac in his truck. He thinks I'm ready to drive it out."

"You've got this sis." He saw the uncertainty on her face. "Wanna take a quick drive before the others get here?"

"If ya don't mind." She said. "You two alright waitin'."

They agreed and saw her off with words of encouragement. Applebloom came out shortly after to hang out. They helped her dig out the sleds from the barn and load them in Sunset's car. Applebloom disappeared for a moment and came back with a snowball. The three of them had a snowball fight until pinkie arrived with Cheese and the others. Pinkie had recently received her license and bought her first car, an older, used blue four door sedan.

Pinkie immediately scooped up a handful of snow and joined in. Cheese was quick to join in as well. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle sprinted from the back seat to tackle Applebloom into the snow with a hug. They were followed closely by Fluttershy, Rarity and Rainbow.

"Were you all in the back seat?" Twilight asked incredulously.

"Yeah, Pinkie insisted on picking everyone up at once so we could get started sooner." Fluttershy told her.

"Weren't you worried about being pulled over?" Twilight asked her eccentric friend.

"Nah, it's all about confidence. If you act like nothing's out of the ordinary, no one will think otherwise."

Applejack returned with her brother, looking much more comfortable.

"Hey babe! You ready to go?" Rainbow asked as she pulled AJ into a warm embrace.

"Ah think so. Big Mac showed me how to handle winter driving a little easier."

They loaded more sleds into the back of Applejack's car. Big Mac came out of the barn with two plywood ramps, one steeper than the other.

"Mind taking these with you?" He asked Sunset.

"This trip just got a lot more interesting." She said, opening the back hatch.

The next few hours were spent sledding. They all pitched in to cover the ramps, to great success. Everyone, including the younger girls went off them. Fluttershy was hesitant at first, but after Rarity convinced her to go tandem off of it she was much more willing to go by herself. After several trips down the hill, Rainbow's eyes glinted.

"What are you thin-"

Before Applejack could finish her question, Rainbow dashed forward. She hopped onto one of the sleds and rode it down the hill standing. She hit the steeper ramp, sailing through the air she let out a victorious cheer. The cheer, however, was cut short when the sled flew out from under her as she hit the ground.

Applejack was already half way down the hill with Scootaloo hot on her heels. The others made their way down the hill. Rainbow was lying facedown on the ground, not moving.

"Rainbow, baby are you okay?" Applejack said with worry.

"Rainbow Dash! Are you hurt?" Scootaloo cried.

Applejack heard what sounded like crying.

"Where does it hurt?" She started to turn her onto her back.

Rainbow turned the rest of the way. What AJ had taken for crying was actually laughter.

"Oh man! Did that look as awesome as I thought it did?" She said after she regained control.

"Dammit Rainbow Dash you scared me half to death!" Applejack rubbed snow in her face before falling on top of her and planting a kiss.

"Oof, I may have bruised something. Other than that I'm fine." She assured them.

Applejack and Scootaloo helped her to her feet. She rubbed the younger girl's head.

"Thanks for checking on me kid."

Everyone was getting tired after another hour of sledding so they packed up their sleds and the steep ramp.

"Do you want us to grab the other one?" Twilight asked the eldest Apple.

"Nah, I'll leave it for anyone else who wants to use it." He said. "I can make another one if I want to, they're pretty easy."

They drove back to Sweet Apple Acres, where Granny Smith had hot cider and cocoa ready and waiting. The spiced cider warmed them all to their core and was the more popular of the two beverages. They fell into conversation, which eventually veered to where Sunset had been the last two days. She decided to be honest with them. She told them how she had worried herself sick and shared her fears of going back to school.

"Don't worry too much, we'll have your back." Fluttershy said encouragingly.

"Yeah, you'll always have us behind you." Rarity agreed.

"Besides, ah'm sure most people will have moved on by time we start back up."

"You really think so?" Sunset asked.

"Yeah, and like Fluttershy said, if anyone gives you a hard time, we've got your back." Rainbow said.

"Thanks you guys, I really appreciate it." She said with a smile.

They hung out for a few more hours before calling it a night. They hugged and split up to go home. After Sunset dropped Twilight off she couldn't help but feel hopeful for her return to school. She felt truly blessed to have the friends she did, hoping AJ was correct and the others will have moved on by then.

Maybe it won't be so bad. She thought as she drifted off to sleep.

Christmas Party

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The break was going well for Sunset. She was able to spend more time with her friends and go out on more dates with Twilight. She rarely thought about the upcoming semester with all the distractions the holidays provided. This night in fact, she was with the Sparkles walking through the Christmas Village the city set up. Local businesses had displays built inside sheds with large windows for viewing. Scenes of Christmas and winter delighted children and adults alike.

They were approaching the display belonging to the police department. Inside a jail cell was a stuffed Grinch plush reaching for the keys attached to a sleeping elf guard's belt. On the walls were wanted posters with the mugshots of other fictional villains. Some Christmas themed others from kids shows and movies.

"They'll never catch Maleficent. She's too crafty for them." Sunset remarked.

"You think so? I'd put money on them catching her before getting near the Joker." Twilight said.

"Pffft! He gets caught by Batman all the time." Sunset scoffed.

"True, but that's Batman. When's the last time you saw the police catch him unless he had a plan that involved getting caught?"

"You're both wrong, the obvious choice of last to be caught is Him." Shining Armor interjected.

"Who?" Twilight looked at the mugshots trying to figure out who he was talking about.

"Him! You know, from Powerpuff Girls."

They looked at him.

"I don't have to defend myself to you, it was a good show." He crossed his arms.

They walked around, taking in the lights and displays, keeping an eye out for the displays for Sweet Apple Acres and Carousel Boutique. The former showed elves picking apples from a snow covered apple tree with a bucket filled with apples at the base. While the latter depicted a woman in an elegant dress and a snowman in a gown on a catwalk with a few elf photographers pointing cameras at them. They laughed at the comedic displays and took pictures of them.

"Oh look at this one." Cadence said, pulling Shining Armor to the display of a local wedding planner. "I like what they did."

Inside was a Nightmare Before Christmas wedding between Jack and Sally with the other residents of Halloween town in attendance.

"Yeah, it's really creative." Shining agreed.

"Subtle." Sunset said just loud enough for Twilight to hear.

She elbowed her playfully. "I think it's sweet."

"Do you think he picked up on it?"

Twilight squinted at her brother. "Hard to say, he can be a little oblivious. I hope he did though, I would love it if Cadence became my sister in law!"

"That would be pretty great. I like Cadence." She mused.

Sunset reflected back to the conversation she'd had with Velvet and Cadence earlier that evening.

Velvet asked her to join her in the master bedroom so they could talk. That already put Sunset on edge, she started going through everything she could want to talk to her about. She and Twilight hadn't done anything past making out so it couldn't be "the talk". She entered the room and turned to see both Velvet and Cadence.

Confused, she asked. "Am I in trouble?"

"Flash's mom told me about what happened at the dance the other day at lunch."

Dammit, I didn't think about that. Sunset thought. She's going to ask me to stop dating Twilight.

"Oh, she did?" Her heart started beating faster.

The two women enveloped her between them.

"We're so sorry that happened to you." Cadence told her.

"How do you know about it?" Sunset asked.

"I joined Velvet and her friend. She wanted to meet me."

"Midnight feels just awful for you. And wanted me to tell you she's sorry those girls did that to you."

"Did you go to the principal?" Cadence asked.

"No, I didn't go the last few days of the semester. I was afraid to go back."

"Do you want me to come and put the fear into some kids. I think I can still pass as a high schooler so I shouldn't raise too much suspicion." Cadence offered.

Sunset felt she was serious. "No, I think I can handle it. Besides, we can't have you getting sent away. Who knows what Shining Armor would do without you." Sunset teased.

"You've got a point. Just know I was serious. Nobody messes with my girl Sunset and gets away with it."

Sunset understood then why Twilight was so fond of Cadence. She had a way of naturally stepping into the roll of a loving older sister.

"I would like to ask you about what was in the video." Velvet said sternly. "I understand essentially what was there. I just need a guarantee that that is all behind you."

"It is. You don't have to worry about that."

She smiled. "Good. I hope you understand I'm just looking out for my daughter."

"I understand. I'd be doing the same if I was in your shoes."

"Let's get back out there. I'm sure Twilight is worrying up a storm." Cadence said before putting an arm around Sunset's shoulders.

Back in the present the family was passing by "Santa's Castle". The castle was relatively small with a red and white paint job. The jolly "Ho Ho Ho" of Santa Claus traveled out of the festive structure.

"Do you remember the first time we brought Twilight to see Santa?" Velvet said, leaning against her husband as they passed the building.

"How could I forget, she was so scared. The first picture we got of her with Santa and she has a look of terror on her little face." Nightlight laughed.

"I have to see that picture!" Sunset beamed.

"Remind me when we get back. I have a lot of pictures I think you'd enjoy." Velvet said

"No, I don't think Sunset would want to see my baby pictures." Twilight said.

Sunset stopped in her tracks. She turned Twilight toward her and took her hands in her own.

"Twilight, sweetie, there is nothing I want to see more."

The others laughed heartily as Twilight protested in vain. They continued their journey through the holiday displays. Sunset marveled at the work that went into all of them. She hadn't been to Christmas Village since she was little. She was discussing her favorite Christmas movies with Twilight when the next display came into view.

"I love that movie too! I want a leg lamp of my own one day. I wonder if you can buy those anywhere." Sunset stopped and stared at the scene held within.

After Sunset's brain processed what she was seeing she let out a bizarre sound that was a mix between a shocked gasp and a laugh. The sound startled Twilight who turned to see what she was laughing at.

"Oh no." She said attempting to stifle her own laughter.

The display was commissioned by the local library. It depicted who she assumed to be Ebenezer Scrooge reading a book with Tiny Tim perched upon his lap. There appeared to be a mechanism that allowed the chair to slowly rock back and forth. It would have been a touching scene were it not for the fact that Scrooge's head was laying behind the chair. Apparently the head had not been properly secured and had come loose at some point.

"I think I found my favorite display." Sunset said after getting herself under control.

Shortly after the headless Scrooge it was time to go home. Back at the house Velvet was ready with photo albums of Twilight. Sunset loved the picture with Santa and made Twilight hold it up next to her pouty face so she could get a picture of her own. Shining Armor had a good laugh at his sister's expense until Velvet revealed his own photo album to show Cadence.

Once the embarrassment session ended, Twilight walked Sunset out to her car. Twilight climbed into the passenger seat so they could say goodnight. After a minute or two Twilight pulled herself away from Sunset's lips and detangled her fingers from her hair.

"By the way, I've been meaning to ask. What are your plans for Christmas?" She asked.

"My uncle and I are going to see my mom actually. We're leaving early Christmas Day." She admitted.

"Oh, how about Christmas Eve?" Twilight asked.

"Free as a bird! Why? What's up?"

"I was hoping you'd be able to come to our Christmas party."

"Consider me there." She said cheerfully.

"Great! I'll text you the details later."

They said goodnight a little longer, up until Velvet texted her daughter.

"Wrap it up sweetheart. Tell Sunset it was lovely to have her join us tonight."

They laughed, but obeyed. Sunset watched her significant other enter the house before turning her key.

A few days later, Sunset was anxiously driving to Twilight's house on Christmas Eve. The weight of getting to meet more of Twilight's family was setting in. Twilight had informed her to bring a silly gift for her family's gift exchange. She had stopped at the local thrift store and bought a small plush bear with a haunting porcelain human child's face. She hoped it would make people laugh.

When she arrived there were already several cars in the driveway. She grabbed her bizarre gift and made her way inside. She was greeted warmly by Shining Armor.

"Hey Sunset, welcome to the party. Just set your gift with the others in the family room. Twily's in there waiting for you."

"Thanks!" She smiled.

She waved at Velvet who was scooping orange sherbet into a punch bowl. Velvet beckoned her over and gave her a hug.

"Merry Christmas Sunset! I'm happy you could join us tonight." Velvet said cheerfully.

"Merry Christmas! Thanks for inviting me." She glanced at the bowl of liquid. "What's that?"

"It's called Christmas punch. We make it every year. It's cherry seven-up, orange-pineapple juice and orange sherbet. Here, have a glass." She ladled some into a plastic cup.

"That's really good! I might drink this all by myself." She joked.

She went to the family room and scanned the room of faces. There was a stern looking woman sitting in a chair against the wall. Sunset deduced this was Twilight's aunt Pearl Blossom. There was a boy about her age who Sunset assumed was pearl's son Swift Spark. Sitting in an overstuffed chair was Twilight's grandmother, Scarlet Harmony her face covered in laugh lines. She saw the large family of Twilight's other aunt Gem sitting next to her husband. All six kids were neatly dressed, the oldest looking no older than ten.

She saw Twilight playing with a little girl on the couch. She walked over and took her spot next to her girlfriend. She resisted the urge to kiss her since she didn't know how the rest of her family was about gay people.

"Glad you could make it!" Twilight said while giving her a hug.

Sunset looked at the child playing with a dinosaur toy at their feet.

"Who's this?" She said.

"This is my little cousin Lemon Drop." Twilight ruffled the girl's hair.

Lemon's cheeks puffed defiantly.

"I'm not that little, I'm five! Plus, also I'm in kindergarten! I got a star on my drawing." She folded her arms proudly.

"Did you? That's awesome!" Sunset praised.

She held out her hand for a high five. Which Lemon joyously responded to.

"Are you going to introduce us to your friend?" Scarlet asked with a smile.

"Oh sorry." She stood and motioned to Sunset. "Everyone, this is Sunset."

She introduced everyone in the room.

"Where's uncle Onyx?" She asked after realizing he was absent.

"Sorry, nature called, didn't mean to keep everyone waiting." A jovial voice said from the kitchen landing. "The party can recommence!"

"There he is. Onyx, this is Sunset." Twilight said.

"And how do you know my niece?" He asked, shaking her hand.

"Oh, um we're friends from school. I didn't have any plans tonight so she invited me to join you all."

"Well we're happy to have you." The mustache above his lip shaping with his smile.

"Nice porn-stache." She joked.

Sunset immediately went rigid, realizing what she had said. Out of the corner of her eye she saw his wife visibly bristle. There were several seconds where the room went silent. Those seconds gave Sunset just enough time to panic.

Just then Onyx burst out in laughter.

"This one's quick witted. I like her."

She breathed a sigh of relief. "So you're Velvet's brother? She's told me a couple stories from your childhood."

"Well I hope I didn't come out looking too terrible." He grinned.

Sunset and Onyx talked for a little bit. They got along instantly, their personalities meshing easily. She asked how he had met his wife, and he shared the story of how Pearl had been one of Velvet's closest friends in high school. He eventually worked up the courage to ask her out and they've been together ever since. He told her about his profession as a police officer, stating it was mostly issuing speeding tickets and kicking out young couples from parking lots.

"I actually grew the mustache as a joke. But I got enough compliments on it that I decided to keep it around." He told her.

"Well it works. A mustache is a hard thing to pull off." She said.

"Eh, enough wax and I think I can get it in one." He joked

Twilight was so happy to see them getting along. Onyx was one of her favorite family members. She loved hearing the stories of his wild child past. Sunset even managed to cause her normally serious aunt Pearl to crack a smile.

The evening wore on, drawing nearer to the white elephant gift exchange. Sunset was returning from the kitchen with a glass of eggnog for herself and Twilight. Waiting at the threshold to the family room was Twilight's cousin Swift Spark.

The two of them had gotten to know each other throughout the night. He was on his school's football team. A bit of a bro, but not in a bad way. He made eye contact with her as she carefully made her way toward the room, making sure not to spill the holiday drink.

"Hey," He said smoothly. "Notice anything?"

He glanced up at the ceiling. Sunset followed his gaze. Hanging there was the cause of so many awkward holiday interactions, mistletoe.

"Whadaya say?" He arched an eyebrow at her.

"I say, I'm flattered, but no thank you." She told him. Hoping to shut down any further advances.

"You sure? I've been told I'm a great kisser." He persisted.

"I'm good." She smirked, moving past him.

"Oof, my ego." He joked. "But I had to give it a try. You're really cute."

Sunset couldn't help but smile at his persistence. "Flattery will get you nowhere with me. Good try though."

She handed the eggnog to Twilight, sitting down next to her. Twilight was playing with Lemon, who had a handful of toys in front of her. Sunset joined in their game, she liked Lemon Drop. Her feisty attitude reminded her of herself.

"You could do a lot worse than him." Onyx said clapping his son on the shoulder.

"He is very handsome." Pearl added. She had taken a liking to Sunset and wouldn't mind if she dated her boy.

"I'm seeing someone already." She told them

Twilight perked up, wondering what Sunset would say next.

"Are you actually? Or are you just letting me down easy?" Swift Spark asked.

"I really am. And before you come up with some new line. I'm very happy with them. They're the greatest thing to come into my life."

"Looks like you better set your sights on someone else." Onyx said. "She's well and truly smitten."

The family of three started talking amongst themselves. Sunset took this time while they were distracted to shoot Twilight a wink which caused her to blush.

"What about you Twilight? Anyone special in your life?" Pearl asked.

"Yeah, there's someone I like. I met them when I started school and developed a huge crush."

"Well I hope he sees you for how great you are soon." Onyx said encouragingly

"Maybe." She glanced toward Sunset who flashed a quick grin.

Her cousin went back to sweet talking Sunset. While Twilight knew he had no chance, she still couldn't help but feel pangs of jealousy at how she smiled at his flirting.

"Alright, stop hitting on my friend you creep." She said jokingly.

"Hey, don't hate the player, hate the game."

The pair rolled their eyes at him. Twilight stood.

"Hey Sunset, come with me, there's something I want to show you." She said.

"Can I come too?" Lemon asked.

"Wait here for us." Twilight responded. "We'll be right back."

They exited the room and went up the stairs to Twilight's room. Twilight carefully shut the door behind them.

"What did y-"

Sunset's words were cut short by Twilight's lips meeting hers.

"Hi." Sunset said once the kiss was broken.

"Hi." Twilight giggled. "Sorry, it's been killing me not being able to kiss you all night. Not being able to hold your hand." She kissed Sunset's hand as she said this. "I wish my family wasn't so traditional and wouldn't make a big thing of it."

Sunset hugged her. "I know, but I don't want to make things uncomfortable for your family. Not the first time I meet them. Besides, I think I'm winning them over."

Twilight smiled and gave her a quick peck.

"I do actually have something to show you though." Twilight said.

She guided Sunset to her bed, and went about rummaging through her backpack. She pulled out their pictures from the dance.

"I meant to give you these a while ago, but I kept forgetting." She told Sunset.

"We look so good!" Sunset said excitedly. "Thank you babe."

The couple embraced once more. Just then there was a knock at the door. It was Velvet telling them to come back down for the white elephant exchange.

White Elephant

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Twilight and Sunset followed Velvet down the stairs, releasing each other's hands just before the last step. They resumed their places on the loveseat and played with Lemon a bit more before Velvet asked for everyone's attention.

"Alright, we'll have Grandma give her gifts to the little ones first, then we'll start the white elephant. Sunset have you ever done one of these?" She asked.

"I don't think I have." She admitted

"That's alright, I'll go over it before we start."

Grandma Scarlet gave lemon and the other little kids their gifts. They were pretty standard little kid toys, dolls, dinosaurs, toy cars. Lemon was polite, but Sunset could tell she wanted a dinosaur instead of the doll she held.

Velvet went into the description of how a white elephant worked. She explained that starting with the youngest person they would go around the circle choosing gifts from the pile. On your turn you could either take from the pile or steal from someone else. Once everyone had a gift, starting from the youngest again everyone would open the presents.

The process went fairly quickly. Sunset had her small box stolen by Twilight's aunt Gem, so she went for one of the bigger boxes. After all the gifts were dispersed the opening portion began. The rotation started with Swift Spark who had picked the one Sunset brought. He opened the top and dug through the crumpled papers she had used to stuff the box.

"Nope!" He exclaimed when he saw what was inside.

"What is it?" Velvet asked.

He lifted the doll gingerly. "I'm not sure, but I hate it."

He showed the dead-eyed face around the room. Sunset couldn't help but laugh. She admitted to bringing it and was happy with the reception her bizarre item received. Next was Twilight, she unboxed the assortment of candy inside and immediately opened one. Next was Sunset who made a show of shaking it and pressing her ear to the side before tearing into the paper.

Inside was a fairly large plastic purple horse. It had a very cartoony look to it. After a moment she recognized it from a kids show from the eighty's, 'My Tiny Horse' or something like that. There was something strange she noticed about the horse however. There were signatures and years written randomly on its body.

"What is this thing?" She chuckled.

"You have to sign it!" Twilight said excitedly. "It's tradition, whoever gets the pony has to sign it and put what year they got it. Someone brought it years ago, and it kept making its way back every Christmas."

Sunset signed on the bottom of one of the hooves. The other gifts were fairly standard. A bag of candy here, an ornament there, a couple weird little items. The other big stand out item was a calendar that Onyx brought. It was a combination of beautiful sceneries and glamour shots with the connecting theme of a clown being somewhere in each shot.

"Where did you get that thing?" Sunset asked after all the gifts were open.

"I found it online." He chuckled. "Some novelty website. I've got it written down somewhere. I'll send the link to Twilight."

Twilight and Sunset continued playing with Lemon. The girl had rounded up a few more toys that Twilight's parents kept around specifically for the younger cousins. Among her bounty were more dinosaurs and a few super hero action figures. Sitting dejectedly next to her was the cloth doll she had received from her grandma. Lemon was instructing Twilight how to properly make the dinos surround the super heroes when Sunset picked up the doll.

"Muahahaha! My plan is finally coming together!" She said in a high falsetto voice.

"What plan?" Lemon asked.

"To stop those goody goodies once and for all with my Dinosaur minions."

With a smile Twilight voiced one of the heroes.

"Oh no, whatever will we do?"

Lemon Drop grinned broadly.

"Don't worry, we're on your side." She made the T-Rex whisper.

"What's that?" The doll asked.

Just then the dinosaurs turned on their former leader.

"Nooooo! I created you. Why are you doing this?"

"You're bad and mean. We don't wanna be like you."

"You're right. What was I thinking? I'm sorry, can you ever forgive me?" Sunset conjured up her most innocent voice

"Okay! Do you promise to stop being evil?"

After a dramatic pause the doll scurried away. "Never! Muahahaha!

"Oh no! Get her Terry!" Twilight's character cried.

A small pterodactyl came flying from Lemon's hand toward the back of the doll's head. Sunset made it tumble forward animatedly. Once it was lying prostrate on its back, Sunset delivered the final monologue.

"I have been defeated... your power was too much for me. Now I go to that great beyond." Sunset raised a tiny cloth hand skyward. "Momma, I'm coming home." She let out a long exaggerated final breath before lifting the other hand. "Alright take me in."

Lemon Drop laughed and clapped at the performance. Which caused the two older girls to join in. Once their laughter reduced to giggles Lemon looked To Sunset.

"I like you. I'm glad you're friends with Twilight, you're funny." She said with a grin.

Sunset mussed the girl's bright yellow hair. "I like you too. You're pretty cool."

Lemon beamed and ran to her mother. "Mommy! Mommy! Sunset says I'm cool!"

With a smile, Sunset retreated to the kitchen to get more Christmas punch. When she returned she realized she hadn't talked to Gem yet, so she took a seat next to her. Try as she might though, she couldn't find any common ground.

"So have you and your family done anything fun over the break?" Gem asked.

"Oh, I'm actually living on my own." Sunset admitted.

"I don't understand. You're still in high-school aren't you?"

"Yeah, sorry. I should explain. Simply put, my mom is going to college in another state and my dad took a job elsewhere. I didn't want to move so I stayed here. My uncle lets me rent a room at the hotel he owns and I work housekeeping to make a living."

"Oh, that's... interesting." Gem said.

Sunset shifted uncomfortably. "What about your family?"

"Oh, we've been keeping busy. All my children are in the church choir. They performed at the retelling of the savior's birth just the other day actually."

"Oh, cool." Was all she could think of to say.

"We've also been doing many church activities. Our church has so many this time of year that are great for children. Which church do you attend?" Gem asked enthusiastically

"Oh I um... don't?" She said. "My parents were never really active so it's just never been important to me. I just do my best to be a good person."

Gem looked at her uncertainty.

Great job Sunset, you could have said anything but that. She scolded herself

"I suppose that's admirable. Though, I think it would do you well to attend a regular service. Someone your age, with all these temptations around and easily accessed without parental guidance. It makes me nervous for you."

Gem continued on this topic while Sunset attempted to communicate telepathically with Twilight. She focused all her attention on the top of her head as she played with Lemon Drop. It must have worked, because Twilight looked up to see Sunset's wide-eyed stare.

"Help me!" The look seemed to convey.

Twilight took pity on her. Once Gem started talking church there was little anyone could do to stop her. Twilight had been given the same speech a few years ago, when she made the mistake of mentioning that she wasn't actively attending meetings. She approached just as Gem was about to move into the next part of her sales pitch.

"-and you'd meet young men your age with good morals."

"Sorry aunt Gem, could I steal her away for a minute? Sunset mentioned she wanted to know how to make Christmas punch and we need to make more."

"That's right, I did want to know that." Sunset played along.

"Of course, I was just telling her about the benefits of attending church."

"I'll keep that in mind." Sunset said as she stood.

"Good, maybe you can convince this one too. No matter how hard I try it doesn't seem to stick." She half-joked. "Maybe she'll listen to you."

"Maybe." Sunset agreed which made Gem smile.

I'm chalking that up as a win. Sunset thought

"Thank you." Sunset whispered

"Sorry about her. I should have warned you." Twilight whispered back.

Twilight made good on her little fib and actually did teach Sunset how to make the delicious holiday beverage. Grandma Scarlet and Gem's family left shortly afterward. Onyx's family stayed behind to visit a while longer. Velvet invited the adults into the living room for some wine. Swift Spark decided to sit in with the adults, while Lemon Drop dozed off on the floor. Twilight and Sunset made their way up to Twilight's room. Sunset briefly left to grab Twilight's gift from her car. When she returned she made her way upstairs.

"Door open!" Velvet called after her.

"I know mom!" Twilight called back.

When Sunset entered the room she immediately embraced Twilight. After another kiss she held out the gift she had retrieved.

"Merry Christmas! I hope you like it."

They sat on the bed as Twilight peeled the wrapping off to reveal the collectors edition box set of her favorite book series. Twilight had missed her chance to get it when it was released. Resting on top was a mix CD she had made. Sunset still loved making them for her.

Twilight hugged her girlfriend.

"Thank you! I love it! Where did you find it?" She asked.

"I have my sources." She winked.

Twilight rolled her eyes playfully. "Open yours now."

Sunset tore off the wrapping and stared lovingly at the present she had revealed. Twilight had framed the picture of their arms side-by-side with the tattoos they got at the concert. Inside the frame was a matte border she had decorated with different things that had meaning to their relationship. Some of the items included a wallet size version of their dance picture, the ticket stub from the concert, and written beautifully along the top was a line from their song.

"Do you like it?" Twilight asked nervously.

In lieu of a response Sunset tenderly kissed her. She placed a hand on her cheek, leaving it there after she pulled away.

"I love it so much. This is the most meaningful, thoughtful gift anyone's ever given me. Thank you Twilight."

Their lips met once more. They became lost in the moment, holding each other closely, savoring each other's presence.

Just then a small voice asked from the doorway.

"What are you doing?"

They separated as quickly as they could. Eyes wide, Twilight tried to salvage the situation.

"L-Lemon, hey, it's not what it looks like." She stammered.

With a big toothy grin Lemon Drop ran down stairs chanting about Twilight and Sunset sitting in a tree with childish glee. The couple looked worriedly at each other as they heard Pearl try to shush her daughter to no avail.

"Lemon! That's very rude to say something like that. I'm so sorry Velvet, she heard some kids at school singing that and hasn't stopped since."

"But they were! I saw them kissing on the mouth!" She protested.

Twilight and Sunset entered the hallway and made their way toward the living room. Sunset tried to pull her hand back, hoping they could still play it off. Twilight held it in place however. She was tired of hiding their relationship just to appease a few family members. In that moment she realized she didn't care what they thought.

Lemon saw them and started running in their direction.

"See! They're holding hands too!" She giggled, arms wide waiting for a hug.

"Lemon Drop, come back here." Pearl said sharply.

Twilight met her aunt's eyes. She saw a mixture of confusion and disdain. Lemon turned away as her mother commanded, but looked sadly back at her older cousin. Her mother held an arm around her defensively.

"Well? Aren't you going to say anything?" Pearl addressed the parents.

Twilight's parents glanced at each other.

Velvet sighed heavily. "We're sorry for not telling you ahead of time."

"You knew? You knew about this?" Pearl gestured toward the young couple.

"The only reason we didn't tell anyone was because we were excited to have the family over to the new place." Nightlight said a little awkwardly. "It's not because we're ashamed of her, we just didn't want anyone to not come because of their personal objections

Pearl huffed. "Well I think it's time we left. Get your coat on Lemon Drop."

"Hold on." Onyx interrupted. "Say goodbye to your cousin sweetie."

"But..." She started to protest, but was silenced with a stern look from her husband.

"It would be rude otherwise, and I'm not raising a little girl with bad manners." He said, his usual chipper attitude returning.

Lemon gave a leaping hug to Twilight.

"Bye Twilight!" She said happily.

The young girl hugged Sunset's legs and smiled up at her. She saw Pearl tense up, which made her feel worse than she already did. She didn't mean to stir up drama with Twilight's family. That was the last thing she wanted.

"Bye Sunset."

Sunset bent over and gave an awkward pat on the girl's back.

"See you around Lemon." She said.

She released her legs and took her mom's hand.

Lemon regarded the couple for a moment before happily asking; "If you two get married will Sunset be my cousin? I hope so! She's really cool!"

Sunset choked out a laugh despite herself. Twilight held hers in better. Twilight's parents did their best to hide their smiles as Pearl ushered her daughter towards the door. Swift Spark gave an awkward goodbye as he followed his family. Onyx stayed behind to wrap up his farewells.

"You know how she gets. She'll get over it soon enough." He told Velvet.

"I know, I still feel bad about not mentioning it beforehand." Velvet admitted.

"No, you made the right call. Our sister would have made it a point to 'save them' the whole time, and Mom would have been really passive aggressive all night."

"Yeah, Gem can be a little intense." She chuckled.

The siblings embraced.

"Thanks for having us over."

"Anytime. Don't be a stranger, feel free to come by anytime. You know where we live now."

He made the rounds, until he finally reached Twilight and Sunset. He looked sternly at his niece before breaking into a big smile. "You did good with this one. I hope you'll keep her around."

Twilight smiled and hugged him. "Thanks Uncle Onyx. I don't think she's going anywhere."

He shook Sunset's hand. "It was really good to meet you. You've got a good young woman here. Take care of her."

Sunset smiled. "I will."

"I hope you do. Because planting evidence is a big hassle and I'd really like to avoid it if I can."

The room lit up with laughter. Onyx waved his final goodbyes and left to join his family. The Sparkles breathed a collective sigh of relief, glad that the situation was handled fairly well. Velvet noticed Sunset's face scrunched up in worry. She moved to take a seat next to her on the couch.

"Don't worry about Pearl. She's always been like that, even when we were young. She doesn't do well with big changes in her life. I'd say finding out your niece has a girlfriend constitutes a pretty big change."

Sunset chuckled at the joke. "I think that's fair"

She'll come around." Velvet gave Sunset's shoulder a comforting squeeze.

"Thanks Velvet." She gave her a hug. "I should probably head out too. I've got an early day tomorrow."

"I'll walk you out." Twilight stood to put on her jacket.

After collecting her things and saying goodnight to Twilight, Sunset drove home. She processed the events of the night and couldn't stop the feelings of guilt from what happened with Pearl. This was compounded with her worry over seeing her mom for the first time in months. Sunset slept uneasily that night.

What’s In Her Heart

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Sunset woke up at four in the morning to her alarm.

"Shut up!" She said groggily, slapping the snooze button.

After two more rounds of this she made herself get out of bed so she could shower before the flight. As the hot water ran down her face and hair she tried to calm her nerves. Reminding herself that it was just her mother, and that the visit would be fine. After toweling off and blow drying her hair she picked out a cute outfit and warm jacket for the ride to the airport.

She sat on the couch and waited for her uncle to knock on the door, glad that she had finished packing before going to Twilight's. Just as she was about to doze off again two quick raps on her door snapped her back to consciousness.

"Coming." She said with a hoarse voice.

She grabbed the scarf Twilight had given her on one of their outings before meeting her uncle in the hall.

"You ready to go?" He asked.

"As I can be at," she checked her phone. "Ugh five o'clock in the morning."

Silver Dollar chuckled. "Don't worry, once we get outside you'll wake up. It's colder than Satan's tits at there."

Her uncle's nonsensical phrases never failed to make her laugh. The journey to the airport was a blur to Sunset. She vaguely recalled making benign small talk with the Uber driver and checking her one piece of luggage. She was lazily playing a game on her phone when the unmistakable aroma of freshly brewed coffee convinced her she needed a pick-me-up.

She followed the scent to a coffee shop a little ways away. She ordered a mocha latte with whipped cream and extra chocolate. Sunset enjoyed the warmth and energy coffee provided, but had yet to acquire a taste for its naturally bitter taste. So she had to add enough sweet flavor or sugar to the point that it was more dessert than coffee.

She sipped her beverage and nibbled on the hot breakfast sandwich she ordered at the last minute. She decided to take a photo with the caption 'breakfast of champions' underneath it to send to Twilight. After it was sent it dawned on her how early it was and she hoped it wouldn't wake her.

She was surprised when her phone buzzed a minute later. Twilight had also sent her a picture message of her laying on her side with the comforter wrapped around her head. Her smiling face was the only partially visible.

"Jealous! That sounds really good right now. I won't get breakfast for a few hours."
"Haha well aren't you the cutest little cocoon ;) I didn't wake you did I?" Sunset typed.

"Cocoons are for moths, I'm a chrysalis. I will emerge a beautiful butterfly!"

A second message arrived moments later.

"I'm sorry I haven't slept at all, I may be a bit loopy."
"Why haven't you slept?" Sunset asked.
"If I tell you, you can't laugh at me."
"Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye. Now you know I'm serious about this."
"Alright... I still get really excited for Christmas. To the point that I can't sleep at all on Christmas Eve. If I had my way we'd be opening presents already."
Sunset smiled goofily at how cute Twilight was.

"You're too cute for your own good sometimes, you know that? What time are you all getting up?"
"Not until 7."

Sunset heard the call for her flight to board over the PA system.

"I'm sorry babe. Stay strong! They just called my flight so I gotta go. Tell everyone hi for me."
"Will do! Be safe and let me know when you land okay?"
"I will. Try to get some sleep."
"No promises."

Sunset chuckled before pocketing her phone and gathering her things. Even though the terminal and plane were warm she never removed the Scarf she received from Twilight. She always got pre-flight jitters and the faint aroma of Twilight's perfume helped to calm her nerves. She took her seat by the window and awaited takeoff.

After the safety demonstration Sunset plugged in her headphones and loaded up one of her many podcasts. She let her head loll towards the window as the wheels left the ground. As the plane climbed higher, the lights from the ground became almost a mirror of the night sky. Sunset's eyes grew heavy as the plane continued toward its destination and she let sleep overcome her.

Twilight smiled at the haul she received. New books and CDs were stacked next to her on the floor. She looked up from the book she was currently reading at her brother leaned back on the couch, snoring softly. She checked her phone again for the umpteenth time.

"I'm pretty sure she's still in the air." Cadence said, coming from the kitchen with a hot mug of coffee.

She smiled sheepishly. "I know. I'm just getting anxious. My mind keeps creating these scenarios that are starting to get to me."

"Like what?" She asked.

"Mostly the plane going down in some way. I know it's silly, but the thought of never getting to see her again..." she trailed off.

Cadence put a comforting hand on Twilight's knee.

"She'll be fine. I think it's sweet that you're worried about that. I feel the same way about your brother."

The two glanced over at Shining Armor whose head had lolled back. A line of drool was creeping from the corner of his mouth now.

"He's so charming." Cadence joked.

They laughed as silently as they could. The noise roused Twilight's brother from his slumber. He wiped the saliva away, blushing slightly.

"What are you two gossiping about?" He yawned.

"Just girl stuff." Cadence answered.

"That's nice." He readjusted and was out once more.

Cadence shook her head. "I'll never understand how he does that. Once I'm up, I'm up."

"I don't know, I'm jealous though." Twilight said, before checking her phone again.

Cadence smiled and took a sip of her coffee. "You really care about her don't you? Have you said the L-word yet?"

Twilight's face flushed with color. "N-no, not yet."

"What's holding you back?" She asked.

"I've been waiting for the right time. I was about to tell her at the dance before that horrible video started. It was perfect, we were dancing to our song and we were standing so close..." Twilight looked at the ground.

"I never knew you were such a hopeless romantic." Cadence chuckled.

"I didn't either. Maybe it's because this is my first relationship, but I want the first time I tell her I love her to be perfect."

"Can I tell you something?" Cadence asked.

"Of course."

"You can wait for the perfect moment all you want, but if you put all your stock in finding it, it might never come. Sometimes you just have to say it when it feels right."

"When did you two say it to each other?" Twilight asked

"I was a lot like you. I wanted to have this big romantic moment happen just before I said it. But nothing ever felt big enough. Then one day I was sick with the flu. I told him to keep his distance because I didn't want to get him sick too. The next thing I know he's at my door with soup. He stayed by my side, rubbed my back when the nausea kicked in. He was so sweet and caring. I knew for sure in that moment that I loved him, but I still wanted my big romantic moment. We watched a movie later that night, the nausea had mostly passed. I was laying in his lap, he was stroking my hair. Then he leaned down and kissed my cheek."

"And that's when she told me she loved me." Shining Armor said, moving to take a spot next to her. "I said it right back to her."

"How long have you been awake?" Twilight asked.

"Just a few minutes, I didn't want to interrupt." He admitted. "Cadence is right though, if you love Sunset tell her next time the feeling comes over you."

Twilight cocked an eyebrow at her brother.

"Alright, maybe I've been awake longer than a few minutes, but I stand by what I said."

"It's not just the timing..." Twilight started. "What if she doesn't feel the same way and she breaks up with me?"

"Then you and I will eat ice cream and sing break up songs, or whatever will make you feel better." Cadence rested a hand over Twilight's. "I don't think you have to worry about that though. You can tell by the way she looks at you and how she acts when you two are together that she feels the same way."

Twilight smiled at that. Just then The intoxicating bouquet of breakfast wafted into the living room. While they were talking, Velvet had silently walked into the kitchen to start cooking. Not wanting to interrupt, she had kept quiet. Twilight and the others offered their help, which helped expedite the process.

"Will one of you go wake up your father?" Velvet asked. "The poor man couldn't sleep last night. He was so excited for you all to open your presents."

"Now I know where I get it!" Twilight said.

The Sparkle family savored the meal and the opportunity they had to spend time together as a family. Twilight helped with the clean up while the others decided which of the many new games they all wanted to play. Twilight put the final dish away and was heading toward the living room.

"Cadence is right you know." Velvet said.

Twilight looked at her mom who gave her a knowing smile as she made her way to the other room. Twilight smiled and followed her.

Sunset awoke with a start. A combination of a small bout of turbulence and a dream conjured by the horror fiction podcast she was listening to roused her from her sleep. She steadied her breathing and looked to her uncle who had sunk into his travel pillow and was snoring softly. Sunset leaned back into her seat.

I won't be doing that again. She thought as she switched over to her music.

The overhead speakers announced the plane's descent soon after. Once they were in the terminal Sunset typed out a quick message to Twilight letting her know they had landed safely. A short time later, uncle and niece were greeted by Sunset's mom, Shimmering Dawn.

Sunset took after her mom as far as looks go. They looked similar enough that they had on more than one occasion been mistaken for sisters, given how young Sunset's mother was. They shared the same hair color, though Dawn's was more yellow than red. Their complexions were nearly identical with a natural tan to them. The biggest way they differed was the one thing Sunset wished she had inherited from her. Dawn's ample chest bounced in time with her messy ponytail as she ran toward them.

"There's my baby girl!" She cried.

"Hey mo-." Her words were cut short as her face was crammed into her mother's chest.

"Oh I've missed you so much!" She stroked her daughter's red and gold hair. "How have you been? How's school going? Omigod Silver! It's been way too long!"

Dawn turned her attention to her brother, allowing Sunset to breathe properly. She couldn't help but smile at her eccentric mother. She had always had a big personality and had a tendency to let it show in public which normally embarrassed Sunset to no end. Right now she didn't care though, she was just happy to see her.

After the quick reunion they piled into Dawn's car. She talked excitedly the whole way about what she had planned for them during their visit. The car pulled up in front of a decently sized apartment complex. The three of them helped each other take the bags to Dawn's apartment in one trip.

Dawn lived in a two bedroom apartment with a fairly spacious kitchen. This was the selling point for her because she loved to cook. Dawn flitted about the apartment, fussing over her guests all the while. She wanted to make sure they were comfortable before starting their late breakfast.

Sunset thought back to the last time she had seen her mom. She had been a tightly wound ball of stress and worry. She saw the path her daughter was going down with Adagio but didn't know how to approach the topic without having a blowout between the two of them and pushing her farther away. Sunset felt guilty for her part in their strained relationship, but since she had moved out they had become closer than before.

"How does Eggs Benedict sound to everyone?" Dawn asked.

The question called Sunset back to the present.

"Fantastic!" She cheered. Sunset thought for a moment. "Hey, can I give you a hand? Unfortunately I did not inherit your natural cooking skills and it would be nice to be able to make something other than 'cup-o-soup'."
Plus I could make it for Twilight some time. She thought to herself.

"Of course! I'd be happy to teach you. You can take the sauce."

Breakfast was delicious. The hollandaise sauce was a little runny, but still good. Once everyone was finished eating they began to catch up. Dawn told them about her sales job she landed and how they were willing to work her around her school schedule. She was doing pretty well for herself, which made Sunset happy to hear.

"So what classes are you most excited for?" Sunset asked.

"Oh that's easy. I took an intro to broadcasting, and I'm so excited!"

"Broadcasting? I didn't know you were interested in that." Sunset said.

"Oh sure, Dawn used to talk my ear off all the time about how she was going to be a famous news anchor." Silver said cheerfully.

She playfully hit her brother's arm. "Oh I did not 'talk your ear off'. It's always been my dream to be an anchor."

"I had no idea. I think you would make a great anchor!"

"Thanks sweetheart. So how is school for you?"

Sunset was dreading this question.

"It's going fine." She said flatly.

Dawn sensed some hesitation in her response. "Is everything alright? Did something happen?"

"Well... I had a little trouble with Adagio." Sunset admitted.

Dawn thought for a moment. "Adagio... Oh, your ex?"

"The very same. Don't worry, it wasn't anything major, she's just been picking on me a bit." She decided to downplay the severity.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Silver asked. "I could have done something to help."

"It's fine, I can handle it." She saw the concern on both of their faces. "You guys, seriously, I'm fine."

"Alright, but if it gets worse tell Silver and let him help you." Dawn told her.

The conversation was much lighter after that. Dawn made them open their Christmas presents shortly thereafter. She bought Sunset a few new games for her console back home, the next book in the series she was reading, and a new hoodie. For Silver, she had a vintage poster of one of his favorite movies as well as the blu-ray of the same movie.

"Thank you Dawn. You didn't have to do this." Silver hugged her.

"Well if you don't want it, I can always hold onto it." She joked.

"Don't you dare!" He held the poster defensively. "Sunset, do you want to do the honors?"

Sunset pulled an envelope from her bag and presented it to her mother.

"This is from both of us." She said as Dawn tore it open.

Her eyes grew wide as she read what was inside. A cheer bubbled up from her throat.

"Oh Silver, Sunnybuns! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" She scooped them into a tight embrace.

With a laugh Sunset continued. "We figured you'll need a nice relaxing spa day at some point during the semester."

"You know me so well!" She cheered.

They spent the next few hours playing games, cards and watching videos. Silver started to get drowsy after a while and retired to the guest room to take a nap. Dawn and Sunset played a few more rounds of Mario Kart before deciding to take a break. They talked a bit more while sipping mugs of hot chocolate. Sunset smiled at the message she just received.

"How's Twilight?" Dawn asked, breaking the silence.

"That obvious? She's good. I just met a bunch of her family last night actually. They seemed to like me. Mom, she's just so amazing, I'm so happy with her."

Dawn saw a look cross her daughter's face as she talked about her girlfriend.

"Ooh my baby's in love!"

"What? What are you talking about?" Sunset protested, her face nearly as red as her hair.

"Oh please, it's so obvious! How did she react when you told her?"

"I haven't." She looked away.

"Why not? Are you worried she won't feel the same way?"

"It's not that. I'm sure she'd say it right back to me. I'm pretty sure she's almost said it on more than one occasion. The problem is me."

"What do you mean sweetheart?" Dawn asked with concern.

"Adagio, she... when we were dating I fell for her pretty hard. She was adventurous and dangerous. Well one day I decided I was going to tell her how I really felt. I mustered up what courage I could and said those three words." Her voice broke slightly. "Do you know what she said? She pinched my cheek, like I was some toddler. Then with a smirk she said 'that's cute'. That's what I got in return for putting myself out there. I think that's why I became who I was, I wanted to earn her love and thought that's how I thought I could do it."

Dawn hugged the girl in front of her whose eyes were shiny with tears. She lightly rubbed her back.

"Oh sweetie. That girl really did a number on you didn't she?"

Sunset continued. "I want to tell Twilight I love her, I do, but I can't get over the fear that she'll do the same thing. Even though I know she would never do anything like that."

Dawn stroked her daughter's hair until she was able to calm herself. Once the flow of tears was down to a trickle, she spoke.

"I know it's scary to put yourself out there, and your experience was very negative. But you can't let that moment control you or your relationship. Don't let her win.”

“Thanks mom.” She hugged her tightly. “I’ll remember that.”

“Now that you’re no longer with her I feel I can tell you how I really felt about her.” She paused. “I never liked her, you were too good for her and she didn’t deserve you. I’m not just saying that because you’re my daughter either... though that is a major part of it. My girl deserves only the best.”

This made Sunset smile broadly. She needed this visit, she didn’t realize just how much she missed her mother.

Those Three Words

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A couple days after Christmas, Twilight was at Sugarcube Corner with her friends. They were all enjoying the time off from school, though Twilight couldn't help but feel slightly out of place amongst the other couples without Sunset next to her. She absentmindedly checked her phone. Upon seeing no new messages, she replaced it in her pocket. A gentle hand on her arm made her jump.

"How's she doing?" Fluttershy asked.

"Last I heard she was going to a movie with her mom and uncle. I was just checking to see if they were out yet."

"And?" The shy girl pressed.

"No dice." Twilight said glumly.

"Dice? I thought you were waiting on a text!" Pinkie said from a few seats over.

"No Pinkie, it's just a... you're joking. Sorry, my mind’s not right at the moment. I guess I miss her more than I thought I would."

"Come on Twilight, it's only been a couple days. You'll be fine without her till she gets back." Rainbow slapped her back jovially.

"You're one to talk, remember a couple years ago when Applejack went to that family reunion and you-" Pinkie's mouth was stuffed with a cupcake before she could finish her sentence.

With a hearty laugh Applejack pressed the issue.

"Ah didn't know about this. What'd you do sugarcube?"

"Nothing! It doesn't matter." Her cheeks were flush with color at this point.

"Now, ah know you wanna tell me." A sly smile spread across her lips as she started tickling Rainbow's sides.

"Hey, stop that! Come on, this isn't fair." She said between laughs.

"You know how to make this stop." AJ teased.

"Alright, alright. Just stop tickling me!" She cried once she could catch her breath, "I had a hard time when you went to see your family a few years ago. I missed you, and there was other stuff going on that compounded the whole thing." She looked away embarrassed.

Applejack squeezed her tightly. "Ah missed you too baby. It's nice to hear that you had a rough go of it. When ah came back you didn't look especially bothered."

"I don't wanna talk about it anymore." She huffed.

"Oh don't be like that." Rarity chided. "It's nice to see you being vulnerable. You're always so brash and overly confident."

"Stop developing my character!" She buried her face in her hands. "I'm awesome and that's all anyone needs to know!"

The table erupted in laughter. This all helped to brighten Twilight's mood considerably. She looked around at the smiling faces of her friends and thought back to when she first started at CHS. She had prepared to go through this whole year friendless and alone. Now, she had a group of the best friends she could ask for and a girlfriend she cared for so deeply.

She felt her phone vibrate in her pocket and smiled.

"Just finished the movie! Babe, when I get back we're going to see it! I know you're not big on musicals but The Greatest Showman was amazing!"

"Alright, but I get to choose a movie you might not be crazy about!"

"Deal! How's everyone else? Tell them hi for me! I miss all of you! But I miss you the most ;)"

"Sunset says hi!" Twilight said with a smile.

"Hi Sunset!" The group said in unison
"They say hi back! When are you coming back? I miss you."

"I should be back in time for New Year's Eve. Keep me informed where and if the group is having a party :) gotta go, we're going out to dinner now. I'll talk to you when we're done."

"Alright, tell your mom hi for me. Talk to you later."

"Sorry, didn't mean to ignore you all." Twilight apologized.

"It's alright, we understand." Cheese chuckled as he wiped a bit of frosting from Pinkie's nose.

"Thanks everyone." She smiled.

They took the next few hours to talk about their individual Christmases and their favorite gifts they received from their parents and significant other.

"I just adore my new winter coat!" Rarity beamed when it was her turn.

"How come you didn't wear it?" Pinkie asked.

"That's easy darling, I knew I was going to order a jelly donut and there was no way I was going to risk sullying the lovely coat Fluttershy gifted me." She took a bite of her treat.

Fluttershy kissed her cheek which caused Rarity to blush.

"What was your favorite gift Pinkie?" Fluttershy asked through her giggling.

Pinkie told them about the anime series she received from her parents and how she was excited to watch them with Cheese. He explained that he hadn't ever really gotten into anime, but was willing to give it a shot.

"I trust Pinkie's taste, so we'll see how it goes."

The conversation wound down until Applejack spoke up.

"Alright y'all, Granny Smith asked that we find a different location for this party. She's still finding decorations from Halloween." She arched an eyebrow at Pinkie, who rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly.

"I guess I did go a little overboard." She said.

"Luckily, I asked my parents if we could use our house and they gave me permission to host our New Years soirée." Rarity said happily. "They will be at a party of their own so the only stipulation is that we don't burn the house down." She turned her gaze toward Pinkie.

"What?" She said, her mouth full of cookie.

The group talked about who would bring what to the party. Rarity pushed for a semi-formal dress code.

"I want to see skirts or dresses. No pants." She said sternly. "Oh, except for you Cheese."

"Darn, now I have to find a whole new outfit." He joked.

They cleaned up their area shortly after that and parted ways for the day. Twilight wandered the town for a bit, stopping at the shopping center to browse one of the multiple stores she had gift cards to. Not finding anything she wanted she made her way back home, catching a bus just in time. On the ride home, she thought more about what Cadence had said.

Sunset's time with her mother was coming to a close. The last six days had been so much fun. The three of them were taking it easy after a massive homemade lunch. Dawn had convinced Sunset to let her paint her toenails. An episode of Friends was playing in the background as they reminisced about the past week.

"What was your favorite thing we did Sunnybuns?" Dawn asked.

"I think it's been playing games with you guys. I forgot how fun card and board games can be." She smirked. "Especially when I win."

"I still say you cheat at Monopoly." Silver huffed.

Sunset stuck her tongue out at him.

"Lord help us, you are just like your mom." He chuckled.

"That was my plan all along!" Dawn let out an exaggerated evil laugh.

Sunset looked down at her toes, one foot already finished. Dawn had gone with a purple color that reminded Sunset of Twilight's violet hair. She felt her heart ache at the thought. She was starting to miss Twilight more than she thought. She pulled out her phone.

"Whatcha doin'?" Dawn looked up from what she was doing.

"Calling Twilight. Hey babe!" Sunset said looking at Twilight's smiling face on her screen.

Dawn smiled at her daughter and returned to the task at hand. She dipped the brush into the bottle when she heard Twilight's voice over the phone speaker. She liked hearing the excitement in the girl's voice while talking to Sunset. The two girls talked for several minutes when Sunset said something that piqued Dawn's interest.

"Hey, want to meet my mom?" She asked.

"Sure! I'd love to." Twilight said.

"Alright, here she is!" Sunset began turning the phone toward her mom.

"Gah! Sunset, let me at least put my hair up so I look presentable!" Twilight protested.

The girl on the screen was fussing over putting her hair in a bun when it faced Dawn. Dawn chuckled to herself.

"Hi, Twilight! So you're the one responsible for making my Sunnybuns so happy." Dawn said. "I'm Sunset's mom, Shimmering Dawn, but you can just call me Dawn.

"Hello Ma'am, I'm happy I get to meet you." She rubbed the back of her neck shyly. "She shares the same responsibility though. I'm very happy with her."

"Ooh I like you." Dawn smiled. "So, tell me a bit about yourself."

"There's not much to tell really."

"Oh I'm sure that's not true." Dawn encouraged.

"Well, I'm going to Canterlot High, and I love science!"

Twilight went on to explain her relationship with her parents and brother. She talked about her hobbies and most importantly how Sunset had impacted her life.

"She's really helped to bring me out of my shell. I used to be really timid, especially before we moved. It helped that I decided to try to be more outgoing when I started CHS. Sorry, I'm rambling. I've never met a girlfriend's parents before."

"That's right, Sunset mentioned that this is your first relationship. I think you chose a good first." She turned her attention to her daughter. "And you're done. What do you think?"

Sunset looked at her painted digits and smiled. "They look so good, thanks Mom!" She wiggled her toes slightly.

"Careful sweetie, you don't want to smudge them." She said.

"Smudge what?" Twilight asked.

"My mom painted my toes." She adjusted the phone to face her feet.

"Oh they look so cute!" Twilight mused. "Don't let Rarity find out, she's been trying to convince you to let her give you a pedicure for a long time."

"I know, it took a lot of convincing and a little light motherly guilt to get her to concede." Dawn said.

"Hey, it's not like I fought you." Sunset protested. "I just don't like my feet being touched."

A mischievous smile appeared on Dawn's face. "And why is that Sunnybuns?"

Sunset frowned exaggeratedly and gave her mom a wide eyed glare. "Don't you dare." She said slowly.

"Dare? Dare to do what?" Dawn asked innocently. She looked at Twilight on the screen. "By the way, did you know Sunset has really ticklish feet?"

As she was saying this, she trapped one of her daughter's feet and tickled the sole with her other hand. Sunset immediately started laughing and squirming, trying to get away.

"Nooo! Think of the polish, you worked so hard!" She tried to reason between laughs.

"I can redo it."

Dawn released her daughter shortly after. She had actually managed to not ruin the nail polish at all. Sunset picked up the phone she had dropped in the assault to see her girlfriend laughing.

"Why do you laugh at my suffering?" She said dramatically placing her arm to her forehead.

"Because it's funny." She winked. "I'm definitely keeping that in mind though."

"Twilight's super ticklish behind her knees!" Velvet called from somewhere behind Twilight.

"Mom!" Twilight said incredulously.

"What? I think the playing field should be even." She approached the screen. "You're welcome Sunset."

Sunset recovered from her laughter. "Thanks Velvet!"

"How's the visit going?"

"Great! My mom's right here if you want to say hi." She offered.


Sunset passed the phone to her mom so the two could get acquainted. After a minute or two Dawn passed the device back to her daughter.

"Alright, I'm going to the guest room where I can feel safe." Sunset joked with her mom.

After closing the door Sunset laid down on the bed and positioned a pillow to rest her chin on while she talked to Twilight.

"It's so good to see your face, Twi. I miss you."

"I miss you too. Just a few hours before I get to see you in person again." Twilight said.

"What do you miss most about me?" She asked with a grin.

"Hmm, let me think." She said as she made her way to her room. "I miss your hugs."

Sunset's smile grew wider. "I miss your kisses."

"I miss cuddling with you."

"Hey, you took mine." Sunset laughed.

"Should have been faster." Twilight winked.

The young couple talked for another hour. Sunset asked how the others were doing and what they had all done over the break. Twilight told her about snowball fights and more sledding. Twilight had even tried her hand at ice hockey using supplies Rainbow Dash provided. They made plans to go ice skating together before winter ended.

"Well, I should probably let you go. I've got to get packed, we're heading to the airport in a little bit."

"Alright." She said glumly. "Thanks for calling. I can't wait to see you. My mom and I will be there to pick you guys up around five."

"You don't need to worry about it we can get an Uber." Sunset protested.

Twilight tut-tutted. "I don't want to hear it missy, we're picking you up and that's final."

"Alright, I'll see you in a bit." Sunset blew a kiss and winked. "Bye."

"Bye." She said with blushing cheeks.

Sunset rolled off the bed and made her way back to the living room to begin packing her things.

The drive to the airport was lively as ever. The three of them were singing along to an eighties power ballad as Dawn pulled up to the gate. They all exited the car to unload the bags. Dawn gave her brother a tight hug.

"Don't be a stranger. Come and visit again, okay?" She looked into his eyes, tears building up.

Silver scooped her into another hug. "Don't worry, we'll make our way here again."

Once she was released from the embrace she looked at her daughter. She carried herself with a maturity that made her proud.

"Mom don't cry, you'll start me up." Sunset sniffled.

"I can't help it, you're so grown up." She pulled Sunset close. "I'm so proud of the woman you're becoming."

Sunset's eyes brimmed with fresh tears. She hadn't realized she needed to hear that from her mom, but it meant the world to her.

"Next time bring Twilight. I'd like to get to know her better."

"I'd like that too." She hugged her mom again. "We'd better get going. I love you mom, kick school's butt."

"I love you too. You do the same Sunnybuns." Dawn watced her two favorite people in the world enter the terminal and immediately started thinking of things to do for their next visit.

Twilight was flipping through her wardrobe trying to find an outfit for the party that evening. She wanted to choose something that would really 'wow' Sunset. She wanted to look good for her first New Year's kiss. After the fifth time through, she still couldn't find an outfit she liked. With a frustrated groan she flopped onto her bed.

There was a knock on her door. "Everything alright sweetheart?"

Another groan. "Yeah, I just can't decide what to wear tonight. Which by the way is a problem I never thought I'd have. I never used to care too much about what I wore."

Velvet sat next to her with a chuckle. "Yeah, that'll happen when you find someone you love. You start caring more about how you look in front of them. Have you narrowed it down to anything?"

"I thought about a skirt with a button down shirt, but it's a little too 'schoolgirl uniform'." She sighed heavily. "Why can't I have an eye for fashion like Rarity?"

Velvet smiled down at Twilight. "I think I have an idea. Come with me."

Velvet guided her to her own closet and after moving several items to the side pulled out a black cocktail dress.

"Try this on, it should fit you."

Twilight did as she was asked. After changing and looking over herself in the mirror she was stunned by how well the dress fit her. It hugged her form, accentuating her curves

"I look hot!" She blurted out before she could stop herself.

Velvet stifled a laugh. "I'm sure Sunset will love it. What time is she getting in?"

Twilight hugged her mother. "Thank you! I promise I'll take good care of it. I think their flight leaves at four and lands at six-thirty."

An alert sounded from her phone. Twilight retrieved it from her pants pocket on the floor.

"Oh no."

"What's wrong?" Velvet questioned.

"Sunset's flight is delayed."

"Did she say for how long?"

"She's not sure. It sounds like there was an issue with the plane."

"I wouldn't worry too much about it, most delays aren't much longer than an hour or two. She should still have enough time to get back."

It was four hours after the announcement of the delay and Sunset was stringing an array of expletives together in her mind. They had to change gates for their flight and were now just waiting for the previous passengers to depart and the plane to refuel. The one good thing to come from the situation was they were bumped up to premium seating. She was rereading the last few messages she had sent to Twilight.

"We're still grounded :("

"Do you want me to wait for you to go to the party?"

"No, you go ahead without me. I'll get there when I can. I'm so sorry Twi.

"It’s okay. I'll see you when you get in."

She hated feeling like she was letting Twilight down. As soon as the last arrival was off the plane Sunset was gathering her things and standing in line to be let on. Once the plane was in the air Sunset played a movie on the provided screen, but barely paid attention to it. She kept doing mental math in her head to map out whether or not she would be there before midnight.

"If I run inside to change and don't shower, as long as the driver agrees to wait for me I should get there just in time." She said under her breath.

Those thoughts became her mantra to keep herself sane during the flight home. She was preplanning her outfit for the night when the plane finally landed. The second she had reception she pulled up Uber on her phone. She was glad she did because they were only waiting for a minute or two when their driver pulled up.

"Thank you, so much. The faster we can get there the better your tip." Sunset said as she buckled in.

"But safely please!" Silver said.

The party had been fun so far. Rarity had some games to play and music to dance to. Rarity invited a few more people from school that she was able to get to know better. She had received many compliments on her dress which made her feel great. As the clock ticked closer to midnight Twilight couldn't stop the longing from creeping back in. Twilight began pulling away as the night went on, not wanting to feel like a bummer for the others. She sat on a chair against the wall anxiously tapping on the side of her glass of sparkling cider.

"You alright sugarcube?" Applejack asked, sitting next to her.

"Yeah, I just wish Sunset was here. I haven't heard from her since she took off."

Applejack placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Ah'm sure she's doing everythin' she can to get here."

"I know, it just sucks that she was delayed."

"Ah know sugarcube, but try to have fun till she gets here."

"You're right AJ." She smiled. "Thanks."

Twilight took her friend's advice and took part in more games and activities. She talked music with Vinyl and Octavia. She got the recipe from Sweetie Drops for her homemade sweets. As she was talking with her classmate she noticed another classmate watching them from the corner of her eye. After her conversation with Sweetie Drops wound down she approached the girl she'd seen earlier.

"Hey Lyra, how's it going?" She asked.

"Oh, I'm doing alright. What were you and Sweetie Drops talking about?"

"She gave me the recipe for the candy she brought. They were really good and I wanted to try making them."

"Isn't she just an amazing confectioner?" Lyra said excitedly.

"She really is. I bet she could give Pinkie Pie a run for her money."

"We should set that up some day. I don't know if I could be unbiased though."

A dreamy look came over her face as she watched Sweetie from across the room. Sweetie noticed her stare and smiled and waved at her dear friend. Lyra waved back, blushing at being caught.

Twilight smiled at the two. "So do you have any resolutions in mind?"

"I dunno, haven't really thought about it. You?"

"Same, I never really put too much stock in resolutions though, but I've always liked the idea behind celebrating the start of a new year. It can mean a lot of things you know? A new you, if you want to change something about yourself, maybe a new relationship..." She gave a smile.

"That obvious, huh?" Lyra asked.

"I don't know about obvious, but you two remind me of Sunset and myself in the beginning."

"How did you two figure it out?"

"I took a chance and it worked out." She told her. "Just because that worked for us doesn't mean it will every time."

"Thanks, Twilight." Lyra smiled and stood to join her friend on the dance floor.

Twilight checked the time to see that it was five minutes to midnight and still no sign of or word from Sunset. Twilight felt tears prick at the corner of her eyes. Rarity saw her friend and chose to investigate why she looked so upset.

"What's wrong darling?" She kneeled down to look her in the eye.

"Nothing, it's stupid." She said, dabbing at her eyes.

"Is it Sunset?" She asked.

"Yes, I don't know why I'm so upset. I know she would be here if she could. I guess I put too much onto this New Years kiss." She bit the inside of her cheek, hoping to stop any more tears.

Rarity considered for a moment before offering a solution. "If you won't have a New Years kiss, none of us will. It's a silly tradition anyway." She said.

She smiled at her friend's attempt to cheer her up. "No, don't do that. I'll be okay, I just need a minute. Go to Fluttershy, it's almost time."

She squeezed Twilight's hand. "Alright, as long as you're sure."

"I am."

She watched as her friend made her way to her significant other and they exchanged some words. The countdown started moments later and Twilight stepped outside onto the patio. She closed the door as the cheers of 'Happy New Year!' rang out in the room.

Breathing in the cold night air, she watched her breath form a cloud in front of her. She wrapped her arms around herself, wishing she had remembered to bring her coat. She was calmer about missing her New Year's kiss than she thought.

This will still be a great new year. She thought to herself.

"Hey gorgeous."

Twilight's heart skipped a beat at the sound of Sunset's voice. She turned and smiled at the girl in front of her. She was frozen in place for a moment in surprise. Twilight had accepted that she wouldn't see her tonight so to have her here was a wonderful surprise. She leaped into Sunset's arms. Sunset wrapped her coat around Twilight's back and zipped it up, sealing them both in the warmth it provided.

"I'm so sorry I'm so late." Sunset apologized.

"It's fine, I'm just so happy you're here. Why didn't you tell me you landed or were on your way?"

"I was in a hurry and didn't think to text you until I was in the car over here and by that time my phone was dead." She said. "By the way, I ran into Lyra on my way in. She said to tell you 'thank you' before walking off with Sweetie Drops. What did you do?" She smiled.

"I just gave a little helpful advice. I'm glad it worked out."

Sunset grinned at the bespectacled beauty in her arms. "Well look at you miss matchmaker. Also, you look incredible in that dress."

Twilight giggled and sunk into Sunset's arms. She closed her eyes as they swayed together to the music which could faintly be heard coming from inside.

"I want to just stay here forever." Twilight said.

"So do I." She rubbed Twilight's back. "I missed you so much. I don't want to let you go. I'm sorry we didn't get our New Year's kiss."

"Don't worry about it." She snuggled into Sunset's neck.

She kissed the top of Twilight's head. "You know, I'm technically an hour behind. We can still have our kiss."

Twilight chuckled. "Yeah? You think it'd count?"

"I say it does." Sunset said.

Sunset pulled her into a loving embrace and rested her chin on Twilight's head. Sunset thought back to the first time she met Twilight. She was so sure Twilight had been sent by Adagio to mess with her. After talking with her that first day Sunset was smitten by this violet haired beauty. She had gone home and called her mom after their first kiss. It was different with Twilight, she didn’t feel like she needed to be someone else around her, she felt supported in anything she tried, which was something she’d never felt with Adagio.

Her heart started beating faster as she came to a decision.

"I love you." She said quietly.

Twilight raised her head to meet Sunset's eyes. "What did you say?"

"I-I love you." She stammered

Twilight kissed her then, holding onto her tightly not wanting to let her go. When the kiss ended she looked at the fiery haired girl in front of her.

"I love you too."

They were the happiest they had ever been in that moment. They held each other in the chilly night air, barely noticing the cold. Fireworks lit up the night sky as they basked in this one perfect moment.

"Happy New Year, Twilight."

"Happy New Year, Sunset."

Date Night

View Online

"Good morning beautiful. I love you."

Twilight smiled broadly at the message that greeted her as she woke up.

"Good morning! I love you too! :)"

This was the perfect way to start the day. She and Sunset had made plans to spend the last day before the break ended together. Twilight hurriedly got ready and waited for Sunset in the living room. She was fidgeting with the sleeve of her jacket when a knock sounded at the door.

"I'll get it!" She leapt from her seat and yanked the door open.

"Hey babe, you ready to go?" Sunset asked.

"Mhmm! Bye mom, I'll see you later tonight!" Twilight called back before taking Sunset's hand and heading toward the car.

"Be safe you two!" Velvet called from the doorway. She shook her head in amusement as the old SUV pulled away. "Oh to be young and in love."

The young couple drove to the mall to see a movie and partake in the food court cuisine. Twilight ordered some Chinese food while Sunset got a burger. They wandered the stores, hand in hand, walking out of several with new purchases. Sunset eyed one store in particular as they passed by.

"You want to go to Hot Topic don't you?" Twilight smirked.

"I can't help it, it has merch for some of my favorite stuff!" She defended herself. "Besides it's where all the edgy kids go."

"Sunset, you're about as edgy as a pillow." She laughed, pulling her in the direction of the store.

"I can be edgy." She sulked.

Twilight laughed and kissed her cheek. "I'm sure you can."

After scouring the store both girls left with new items. Sunset had a few shirts with bands she enjoyed and a couple blind box figures of Disney characters. While Twilight had bought all four vinyl figures from the upcoming Daring Do movie.

"See? I told you it was a good store!" Sunset smiled.

"I never said it wasn't. I've never been in one before today actually. I can see myself making a return trip though."

It was almost time for their movie, so they ran out to Sunset's car to drop off their purchases. In the line for concessions Sunset couldn't take her eyes off Twilight. She loved the way she rested a finger on her chin and scrunched her eyebrows as she studied the menu. She wrapped her arms round the girl's waist and kissed her cheek.

"What are you craving?" Sunset asked. "Get what you want, it's my treat."

"No, you've paid for the last few dates. I'm getting this one."

"You can try." Sunset said playfully.

"-ext." said the bored looking young man at the register.

"What was that?" Twilight asked.

"I said I can help who's next." He said in that same bored tone.

Twilight realized he meant them. "Whoops, sorry. We'll take a number two and and an order of nachos please."

"Could we get an extra side of cheese too?"

"What's the extra cheese for?" Twilight asked.

"For dipping popcorn!"

Twilight gave her an odd look.

"Trust me you'll like it." Sunset smiled.

"Your total is eighteen fifty. Would you like to upgrade to our refillable mugs?"

"We're good." Twilight said as she reached for her wallet.

It was then that Sunset struck. She gave a quick tickle to the back of Twilight's knee which distracted her just long enough for Sunset to hand her card over.

"Hey, you cheated!" Twilight laughed.

"All's fair in love and war." She smirked.

"Fine, but I'm getting dinner!"

The boy behind the counter rolled his eyes and slid their concessions toward them. They collected their treats and made their way to their theater. They were able to get seats in the middle of the auditorium, which Sunset assured were the best seats in the house. The armrest between their seats went up immediately and the two got comfortable. Sunset took the lid off the extra nacho cheese and dipped a kernel of popcorn. Twilight eventually tried the combination herself and wound up eating more than Sunset.

After the movie was over the two walked hand in hand toward the parking lot.

"See, I told you it was a great movie!" Sunset said.

"It really was! I enjoyed it way more than I thought." She smiled. "Though I did miss a little bit in the middle. The making out distracted me a little bit."

Sunset turned bright red. "Sorry, I don't know what came over me." She rubbed her neck nervously.

Twilight laughed and reveled in the moment, she didn't get Sunset to blush that badly very often. So when she did she made sure to savor it. She hugged Sunset's arm and planted a kiss on her cheek.

"It's alright, I didn't mind."

"Twilight?" Said a voice from behind them.

"Yes?" She said as she turned to face the inquisitive speaker. "Sour Sweet! Oh my gosh, how are you?" Twilight greeted her old friend from Crystal Prep.

"I'm doing well. How about yourself?" She eyed Sunset curiously.

"I'm doing great. Sunset and I just saw a movie and are on our way out." Twilight realized she hadn't made introductions yet. "Sorry. Sunset, this is my friend from my old school, Sour Sweet. Sour Sweet this is my girlfriend Sunset Shimmer."

The girls shook hands. "Girlfriend huh? Can't say I saw it coming." Sour Sweet chuckled.

"Yeah I didn't either until I met her." She entwined her fingers with Sunset's.

"Well as long as you're happy that's all that matters."

"How are the others?" Twilight asked.

"They're around here somewhere, we're supposed to meet here for a movie of our own."

The three of them heard loud slightly off key singing coming their way. Lemon Zest leapt on top of a bench to play a riff on an air guitar before jumping down to meet the others.

"God I love this song!" She said loudly.

Sour Sweet pulled one of the headphones away from the girl's ear. "You're talking too loud, turn it down!" She said over the music. "Geez, you're going to blow your eardrums one of these days

"Oops, sorry. Hey Twilight, long time no see." She placed the headphones around her neck, the music still audible.

"How have you been Lemon?" She asked.

"Can't complain. I see you're doing pretty well for yourself." She winked and pointed finger guns at Sunset.

Twilight's grip on Sunset's hand tightened a bit.

"So how long has this been happening?" She asked.

"Since mid November." Twilight told her.

Lemon Zest snapped her finger. "Darn looks like I've missed my chance."

"What?" Twilight said, feeling confused.

"Yeah, I had the biggest crush on you when you were at CP. I'm surprised you didn't pick up on it."

This time it was Sunset's turn to hold Twilight's hand tighter.

"I'm glad she didn't." She said a little too harshly. "Hi, I'm Sunset Shimmer."

"Lemon Zest, nice to meet you." She said un-phased. "You don't need to worry, I've moved on."

"Oh, are you dating someone?" Twilight asked.

"I'm working on it." She said, her gaze falling over Twilight's shoulder.

Twilight glanced over her shoulder to see Sugarcoat rounding the corner followed closely by Sunny Flare and Indigo Zap. A sultry smile spread over Lemon Zest's face.

"Sugarcoat? Really?" Twilight said.

"What can I say, I like a girl in glasses. Intellectuals are sexy." She gave a wink and a little salute before heading off to meet the others.

Sour Sweet shook her head. "What am I gonna do with her?"

Twilight chuckled. "She hasn't changed one bit has she?"

"Oh she's much more flirty these days, any pretense of subtlety is gone." She said.

The other girls from Twilight's old school approached and made their greetings. Indigo reminded Sunset of Rainbow Dash with her energetic attitude. Sunny Flare was a bit standoffish, but Sunset brushed it off easily enough. Then there was Sugarcoat, she didn't say much but when she did it was very blunt and to the point.

"Hi Twilight, haven't talked to you since you moved to Canterlot High. It's like you wanted to cut out your past when you moved." Sugarcoat said.

"Im so sorry about that." She said with sincerity. "I feel really bad about not talking to you all. I swear I wasn't trying to cut you out of my life. I just got busy and-"

"Twilight it's fine." Sour Sweet interrupted. "We aren't exactly free of blame either. We could have just as easily reached out."

"How about we do better going forward about staying in touch?" Indigo suggested.

They all agreed and made sure they had each other's number before the Crystal Prep girls headed toward the movie theater.

"It was great to meet you." Sour Sweet said to Sunset.

"Likewise, enjoy your movie." She said.

"Dibs sitting by Sugarcoat!" Lemon Zest shouted before linking arms with the surprised girl.

"See what I mean?" Sour Sweet chuckled before joining the rest of her group.

Twilight and Sunset made their way to the next destination. They pulled into the parking lot of the Canterlot Ice Rink. Sunset's confidence in her skating abilities began to falter as she laced up her skates. It had been a few years since she had last been on the ice.

Shakily, she got to her feet. The feeling of perilously balancing on the blades was odd.

"Could you help me up?" Twilight asked from the bench.

The two wobbled their way to the entrance to the ice sheet. Sunset watched the people out on the ice as some spun with Olympic skill and grace, mothers and fathers helped their children with smiles on their faces. The majority skated the perimeter, the pair waited for an opening and made their way on. Once Sunset was moving it came back to her and she was able to stay upright almost the entire time.

Twilight and Sunset circled the rink for the next little while, hand in hand. A young boy zipped by them and fell forward, sliding on his hands. Twilight skated over to him and tried to soothe him. She said something to make him laugh right before his mother arrived to collect him.

"I told you to wait for us!" She said sternly while holding a younger girl.

"Sorry mom." He said.

"Are you alright?" She asked a little softer.

"Yeah, just a scratch." He showed his mom his palm.

"That's why we wear gloves." She said, handing him a pair. "Thank you for checking on him. He can get a little too excited sometimes."

"It was no problem." Twilight smiled.

"He's a tough little kid." Sunset said. "Didn't cry or anything."

The boy smiled broadly. "Nope, I'm too strong!" He flexed.

His mom ruffled his hair. "Alright, stop flirting with the poor girls."

"Mom!" He protested.

She laughed and thanked them again before skating off with her kids. The two made a few more laps around the rink before returning their skates. Sunset rubbed her ankles.

"Ow, I forgot how rough this was on these."

Twilight kissed her fingertips and gently pressed them to Sunset's ankle. "Better?"

She smiled broadly and kissed her. "Much."

Sunset couldn't help smiling at Twilight as they made their way to the car. She loved how kind she was to everyone. The conversation never lacked as they drove to the restaurant. They placed their orders shortly after being seated and tried to remain composed since it was a nicer establishment.

Their food arrived piping hot, the aromatic scents wafting up to them from their plates. Their waiter took the empty soup bowls, and bid them a pleasant meal.

"Oh and be careful of those plates, they are very hot."

"Thank you." Sunset said.

The food was amazing. Sunset had ordered a shrimp and pasta dish while Twilight went for a lasagna with a side of baked zucchini. Sunset was dealing with a particularly long noodle when Twilight scooped the other end up with her fork and met Sunset in the middle. Sunset laughed as she wiped her mouth with her napkin.

"You're such a dork." She smiled.

"Oh come on, you know you've always wanted to do that since the day you saw that movie." Twilight defended herself.

"Just because you're right doesn't make you any less of a lovable dork." She teased.

"I have no comeback for that." She took a bite of her food.

Sufficiently full from their meal, the two gathered their things and headed out into the chilly night air to their next destination. Twilight closed her eyes as she listened to Sunset sing along to the song on the stereo. She loved when Sunset sang, her voice was so beautiful and caused her heart to flutter.

"Hey, don't go falling asleep on me." Sunset said as she playfully pinched Twilight's side.

Twilight laughed. "I'm not, I'm just enjoying your voice."

Sunset blushed. "You're sweet."

They pulled up to the entrance of the Everfree Forest and retrieved the extra jackets they had brought with them. Their feet crunched on the thin layer of powder from the night before as they made their way down the trail, Twilight hugging Sunset's arm.

"When did you first realize you liked me?" She asked as they neared their spot.

"Hmm, let me think about that." Sunset raised a finger to her chin. "I think it was after the first week of classes. After our first couple lunches together where we just talked. I was finally convinced that Adagio didn't send you, and l felt comfortable enough to let my guard down a bit. You didn't try to tear down the walls I put up, you were really patient with me and let me bring them down on my own. The same can’t be said for Pinkie."

Twilight laughed. "Yeah, she can be a little intense."

"It's part of her charm though." She chuckled. "That was just the beginning though, what really cinched it for me was that first time you came to my place and we watched 'Silence of the Lambs'. The way you reacted to everything made me smile the whole time. I thought you were so cute, and that was the first time I thought about what it would be like to date you. It was really hard not to put an arm around you when you got scared."

"You watched me watch the movie?" Twilight playfully bumped Sunset with her hip and said with a wink. "Creep."

Sunset bumped her back. "What does that say about your taste in girls if I'm a creep and you still date me?" She laughed. "What about you?"

"It actually started for me at your house." She said. "I don't know if you remember that moment while we were listening to music on your computer. When our song came on I got this overwhelming urge to kiss you."

"Are you kidding! I think about that all the time. I had the same urge."

Twilight smiled. "I couldn't deny having at least a crush on you after that."

"Just a crush?" She asked.

"Hey, I was still in denial about myself. Anyway, what made me realize I wanted to be with you was after we hung out at my house the first time. After seeing how well you got along with my parents and then later that night I listened to that CD you made and our song played there too. I thought back to your place and all the times my heart fluttered when I was around you and I knew I wanted to be with you."

Sunset looked at her girlfriend with a dreamy smile. "You're such a romantic." She gave her a warm kiss.

They walked farther into the forest. It was silent except for their footfalls. Twilight couldn't imagine being anywhere else with anyone else. She was taking in the serenity of their surroundings when she felt Sunset suddenly stop. Twilight looked around, wondering what caused this sudden halt. She looked at Sunset who was looking out into the woods.

"Do you see that?" She asked, pointing out into the trees.

"See what?" She squinted.

"Right there, between those trees. I thought I saw a deer or something."

Twilight focused her gaze on where Sunset was pointing. "I don't see anyth-aaaah!"

Her words transformed into a surprised scream as the cold chill of snow falling over her and down the back of her shirt washed over her. She ran forward a few paces and began clearing the powder from her hair and neck. She laughed and ran at Sunset who was also laughing and still standing under the now snowless branch.

"You brat!" She laughed and tried to grab at her.

Sunset dodged the attack. "I'm sorry, I couldn't resist."

"I'm going to get you back!"

She grabbed a handful of Sunset's coat and pulled herself close enough to wrap her arms around her waist. The two stumbled and fell to the snowy floor. Twilight rolled on top of Sunset and looked into her smiling eyes. Twilight pulled the scarf that covered Sunset's mouth down and kissed her. Their lips were cold from the winter air, but felt warm together. Sunset wrapped her arms around Twilight, pulling her closer as the kiss deepened. After a few minutes had passed Twilight pulled back and placed a hand on Sunset's cheek.

"Brat." She repeated

"Yeah, but you know you love me still." She winked.

"I do. Do you know what else I love?"

"Hmm, what's that?"

"How easy you are to distract!"

In one fluid motion the hand on Sunset's cheek was lifting the layers Sunset was wearing while the other stuffed a small handful of snow down her shirt. Twilight stood and ran up the path a few paces to escape retaliation.

"Aaaaaah, that's cold! You sneaky devil! I can't believe you used your kisses to bait me into a trap!" She said as she shoveled the invading ice crystals out of her shirt.

"All's fair in love and war." She teased.

Sunset continued pulling snow out. "Alright, I deserved that. But babe, what of I lose my boobs to frostbite! I demand you warm them up!" She said with mock ferocity.

"Alright, come here." She laughed.

Sunset played up her stomping and fell into Twilight's arms. The two stood there for several minutes. Twilight was unable to hold back her chuckles which caused Sunset to retaliate by pinching Twilight's sides.

"Much better. Thank you my dear." Sunset said when she was sufficiently warmed.

"You're welcome." She she smiled. "Shall we continue?"

"We shall."

Sunset grabbed Twilight's hand and they walked the rest of the way to the rocky overlook Sunset had brought Twilight to in the spring. Twilight gasped when she saw the lake. It had completely frozen over, the fresh snow sparkled and shimmered with the light from the moon and stars above.

"It's beautiful." Twilight said in awe.

"It really is. I've never been out here in the winter."

"Aren't you glad I suggested this?" Twilight smiled. "I love the way everything looks in the winter. It all looks so serene."

Sunset hugged her from behind and planted a kiss on her cheek as Twilight stared out at the lake.

"Sunset look!" Twilight whispered sharply.

She looked where Twilight was pointing. Sunset froze in place as she saw the family of deer walking gracefully across the frozen lake. The two of them lowered themselves slowly to a squat and inched closer to the edge. The buck walked confidently toward the other side of the lake. A few steps behind him was a small fawn who struggled to stay upright on the slick surface. The baby deer fell suddenly, it's legs splayed out beneath. The mother deer used her muzzle to raise its child back onto its hooves, staying close by as they continued their trek.

Twilight let out an involuntary sound when she saw the display of motherly affection. The buck stopped suddenly its ear twitching as he tried to place the sound's origin. His head turned in their direction. Twilight and Sunset froze, not wanting to startle them. After a few tense moments the buck called back to his family and mounted the shore on the other side, disappearing into the forest.

The couple sprang their feet and clasped hands.

"Oh my gosh Twi, that was so cool!" Sunset said.

"I know! They were so beautiful and graceful!" She responded just as excited.

"I'm so glad we did this!" Sunset scooped Twilight in a hug.

They made their way back to the car shortly afterward, talking animatedly the whole time. The experience brought up memories of other run-ins with animals. They shared stories back and forth right up until they pulled up outside Twilight's house.

"And that's why birds are the worst." Sunset finished her story.

"I think that's an unfair judgement call for an entire species, because one chicken got uppity when you were five." She laughed.

"You weren't there! It was traumatizing!"

Twilight sat back in her seat and looked at Sunset. "This was a perfect way to wrap up the break."

"I one-hundred percent agree." She said, meeting Twilight's loving gaze.

"So are you ready for school tomorrow?"

Sunset shrugged. "I guess so."

"Still nervous?"

"A little. I'm worried that I'll reap what I sowed and I'll get bullied. Not like I wouldn't deserve it." She said under her breath.

"Hey, don't start thinking like that again. If anyone starts bullying you I want you to tell someone."

"Alright." She said unconvincingly.

"I'm serious Sunset. Promise me."

She mumbled a promise.

"What was that? I didn't quite hear you." Twilight tickled her side.

She grumbled a little louder. "... promise"

"I still couldn't hear that." She moved so that she could get both sides at once.

Despite her best efforts Sunset couldn't hold back the laugh. "Alright, alright!"

She grabbed both of Twilight's hands to stop the assault. She smiled and closed the distance between them with a kiss.

"I promise."

"Thank you." She smiled and kissed her. "I love you."

"I love you too."

After a pause, Twilight sighed. "I should probably head in." She moved to open the door.

"Mmm, It's still early." Sunset said before pulling her into another kiss.

Back to School

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Sunset awoke the next morning with a knot in her stomach. She fought through it and readied herself for school. She left earlier than usual to pick up Twilight. They had agreed to go in early and help each other find their classrooms.

"Hey babe." Sunset said as Twilight sleepily buckled her seatbelt.

"Morning." She said, taking her girlfriend's hand. "How are you doing?"

"Still nervous, but I'll get through it."

"I'm here for you if you need me." She stroked Sunset's hand with her thumb.

She squeezed Twilight's hand. "I know. Thank you Twi, you're too good to me."

Twilight kissed her cheek in response.

They pulled into a parking spot and made their way to the nearest entrance. Once inside they went to the Principal's office so Sunset could get a new printout of her schedule.Twilight had kept her original printout in her folder. They looked over their second semester schedules and were pleasantly surprised to find that they had several classes together.

"Look at that, we have two classes in a row together!" Twilight said excitedly.

"I don't know if a study period counts as a class, but I'm glad we have it together. I'm excited for our psych class though." Sunset smiled.

"I didn't know you were interested in writing." Twilight said when she noticed the creative writing course on her schedule.

"Oh yeah, I almost forgot that I took that. It's not like it's a huge interest of mine, but I thought it might be fun to try it out."

"You have to let me read whatever you write for your class!" Twilight said.

"Ok, but if I ask for your honest opinion I don't want you to hold back just because you love me."

"I'll do my best." She squeezed her hand affectionately. "Looks like I'll be getting in a small workout every other day." She said as they mounted the stairs to the history hall.

"No kidding, why are these stairs so steep?"

"Because the designer of the building hated teenagers." She groaned.

They found Twilight's political sciences class then went to the lower level where Twilight and Rainbow's lockers were. Two of Sunset's classes were located in the area as well. They were looking for her food and nutrition class when they heard feet rapidly approaching. They turned just in time to see a cloud of pink curls leaping at them, wrapping an arm around each of their necks.

"Hey girls!" Pinkie Pie said, tightening the hug.

"Hey Pinkie!" They said in unison.

Pinkie spoke at breakneck speed. "Are you excited to be back, Cuz I'm excited, I can't wait to start all my classes and make new friends. I wonder if I'll have any classes with people I know. Other than you girls obviously. I know all of you! What classes do you have?" She snatched Sunset's schedule from her hand. "Yes! Sunset, we have creative writing class together! We're gonna write the best stories and everyone will be jealous and want to be friends with us!"

"I hope so." Sunset said, shaking her head at the girl's enthusiasm.

"Omigosh we have art together too!" Pinkie said excitedly.

"Alright calm down sugarcube. No one should be this energized this early the first day back to school." Applejack said drowsily, approaching them with Rainbow Dash seemingly sleepwalking next to her.

"Morning Applejack, Rainbow." Sunset said before hugging the southern belle.

"Merfnin." Rainbow Dash mumbled before resting her head on Applejack's Shoulder.

"Why's she so tired?" Twilight asked.

"New game, couldn't stop." Rainbow said.

"Ah told ya this'd happen, but did ya listen to me? No."

"Shh shh shh, too sleepy to be lectured." Rainbow slid her head along Applejack's shoulder to her chest. A smile spread across her face. "Mmmm much comfier."

Applejack smiled despite herself. "Alright, Ah'm gonna get this'n to her locker. See ya in English Twilight."

"See ya later AJ!" Twilight called after her friends.

"So do you girls have a good schedule?" Pinkie asked.

"Yeah, I'm pretty happy with my classes." Sunset told her. "I'm glad I have classes with friends."

"Me too!" Pinkie beamed.

The three of them wandered the halls, stopping briefly at the cafeteria to grab breakfast where they met up with Cheese. They were all able to locate all of their classes with time to spare. Cheese and Pinkie left to meet up with some of Cheese's friends while the other two made their way back to the usual meeting spot and joined Applejack with a sleeping Rainbow Dash on her lap.

"Howdy y'all, find everything alright?" She asked as she combed her fingers through Rainbow's multicolored hair.

"Yeah, we tracked them all down. Is she gonna be okay today? Did she get any sleep?" Twilight asked.

"Nope, She was still playin' when I picked her up this morning. I don't think she got a wink of sleep."

"I kinda get that though. When you find a great game you just don't wanna stop!" Sunset said.

"Thank you!" Rainbow said from her position on AJ's lap.

"Mornin' sleepy head." She bent forward and kissed Rainbow's nose.

"So what game kept you enthralled all night?" Twilight asked.

"Bloodborne. I know it's an older game but I just got it and it's so awesome!" She said with a little more pep.

"I love that game!" Sunset said. "If you ever need help with a boss let me know and I'll jump on and help you out!"

"Awesome! Do you have a gaming headset?"

Twilight smiled and rolled her eyes at Applejack. "We've lost them. Once Sunset gets talking videos games she's hard to stop."

"Rainbow's the same way. Ah don't see the appeal if ah'm bein' honest. Sure they're fun and all, but ah just don't think ah could stay up all night playin' one."

"We just haven't found you the right game." Rainbow said, breaking momentarily from her conversation with Sunset.

"Ah don't think you ever will." Applejack said confidently.

"That won't stop her from trying though.” Twilight chuckled.

"You got that right." She smirked.

"Hey, you know what I just realized. We haven't doubled in a while. We should do that again some time."

"How 'bout this weekend?" Applejack offered.

"I'll talk to Sunset and get back to you when I know if that works. What do you think we should do?" She said with a smile.

Twilight and Applejack hashed out the details while Sunset and Rainbow continued talking games. A few minutes later Rarity and Fluttershy rounded the corner. Rarity was beaming as Fluttershy giddily walked next to her.

"What's got you so smiley, Rare?" Applejack asked when the newcomers sat down.

"Oh nothing. Just Photo Finish asking me to be a model and give an interview for the school paper!" She squealed.

"That's awesome Rarity!" Rainbow praised her.

They all congratulated her with hugs.

"Oh pish posh, it's not that big of a deal... I'm joking of course, this is huge for me! It will give me a chance to share my knowledge of fashion as well as promote Carousel Boutique."

"But isn't Carousel Boutique like the only dress store around?" Rainbow asked with confusion.

"No darling, there are two others that we compete with for business. So if I can do anything to help my mother's store I will!"

"That's great Rarity! Would someone clear something up for me first?” Sunset questioned. “How long have we had a school paper?"

The others looked at her, unable to tell whether or not she was joking.

"They publish twice a month. It's called 'Wondercolt News'. They make an announcement about it every other week." Fluttershy pressed.

"I don't really pay attention to morning announcements." Sunset admitted.

"Did you never notice everyone reading it in the halls?" Rarity asked.

"Not really. I mean I half noticed an increase in newspapers sometimes, but didn't really pay it any mind."

Twilight placed a hand on Sunset's shoulder. "We need to work on your perception hon."

Sunset blushed, much to the enjoyment of the others. "So when is the interview?" She asked, trying to divert attention away from her.

"Two weeks, they want to publish it in the first issue of February."

They continued hanging out until the morning bell rang. What little burst of energy Rainbow received from being around her friends seemed to drain immediately. The others waved as she and Applejack made their way up the stairs. Twilight stood and helped Sunset to her feet before getting into her locker.

"I suppose we'd better be off, our classes are in the computer sciences hall. We've got a small trek ahead of us." Fluttershy took Rarity's hand in her own.

Rarity groaned. "I don't know why I took web development so early in the day."

"You'll be fine." She kissed Rarity's cheek. "Besides, I'll be right across the hall."

"That is a small comfort. See you later girls." With that they were off.

Twilight shut her locker and turned to Sunset. "You ready?"

"As I can be." She sighed.

The couple walked to Twilight's English class before Sunset backtracked to the main hall where the art room was located. She was hesitating outside the door when she heard her name being called.

"Sunset! What are you waiting for silly? The bell's about to ring!" Pinkie pie clapped her on the back cheerfully.

"Sorry, I guess I'm just nervous."

"I'm sure everything will be fine." Cheese walked to catch up to them.

The trio made their way into the art room. "Thanks, I hope so. So do you have art with us?"

"Kind of." He gestured to a wide staircase leading down into another room. "I have pottery first period, so I'll be down there."

"I thought about taking pottery. You'll have to let me know how it is." Sunset smiled.

"Will do! Well I'd better head down." He leaned in and kissed Pinkie on the nose. "See you after class."

Pinkie giggled until they set their stuff down at drawing desks at the front of the room.

"You two are so sweet together." Sunset remarked as she pulled out her sketchbook.

Pinkie pulled out her own and opened it up to the page she was working on. Sunset caught a glimpse of the intricate detail of the picture. The flowers surrounded by looping, spiraling lines that looked almost like vines wrapping over and under each other that was simultaneously chaotic yet serene.

"Wow Pinkie, that's really good!"

"Thanks! It's just something I like to do in my spare time."

"Can I see some more?" She asked.


Sunset flipped through the pages, a variety of different works were held within. Several more in the abstract style Pinkie was working on caught her eye. One in particular was finished and filled in with bright and vivid color with several focal points scattered in the tangled mass. Another had much sharper and angular lines and was colored in messy monochrome. As she thumbed through the pages she recognized characters from a popular kids show that had gained a following of older audience members. One picture featured two of the characters in a romantic embrace.

She grinned mischievously. "I didn't know you watched that show."

"What sh-" Pinkie's eyes widened when she saw the picture Sunset had stopped on. "I forgot that was in there!" She quickly closed the sketchbook and switched it with another one.

Sunset chuckled and pulled out her own sketchbook. "I ship them too!" She said quietly before opening to a drawing of her own.

They excitedly talked about the show together until the final bell rang for class to start. The announcements started soon after. Sunset decided to actually listen today. The voice of a fellow student came over the intercom.

“Good morning Wondercolts! Welcome back after the holiday break. I hope everyone had a good time, but it’s time for education once again. Some of you may have noticed the giant screen in the lunchroom. That’s the newest addition to the school. We’re happy to have it, but we need your help to figure out what we should do with it. So Wondercolts, swing by the main office and give us your input.”

From there they touched on everyday things and some back to school activities before passing the time over to the principal.

“Good morning students. Just a quick announcement before I let you begin your day. First of all, welcome back to school. Secondly, after your final class make your way to the auditorium for an assembly. That’s all from me, I’ll let you get your day started.”

Sunset smiled at the fact that classes would be shorter by ten minutes. Maybe today won’t be all bad. She thought.

Their teacher, Acrylic Beauty, called for everyone's attention. She walked them through the various drawing techniques they would be covering throughout the semester. She touched on the small sketchbooks that would be provided in class that would be used for daily warm ups.

As the teacher informed them about different drawing utensils and techniques Sunset's gaze drifted to the surrounding desks. It was then that she noticed that there was at least one desk between her and anyone else. There were a couple desks with multiple students crammed around them.

Whatever, if they want to make drawing harder on themselves rather than sit near me, that's their call. Sunset thought to herself.

Class ended, leaving Sunset excited for the next class. She and Pinkie waited at the staircase for Cheese. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek before they all made their way to the next class.

"So how was pottery?" Pinkie asked.

"It was good. I'm pretty jazzed to actually start working with the clay. How was your class?"

"It was alright. Just covered the basics. I was hoping to meet some new people, but I think we sat too close to the front, cuz nobody sat next to us."

Sunset felt guilt settle in the pit of her stomach.

"Oh well, it was only the first day. Sunset and I will make new friends in no time!" She said with renewed glee.

Sunset still felt bad about class and hoped it would pass soon. She didn't want to be the reason Pinkie missed out on making new friends. She knew how much she loved meeting people.

Like she said, it's only the first day, I'm sure things will even out as the days go on.

She entered her math class where Twilight was already seated with paper and pencil at the ready. She smiled and took the desk beside her girlfriend. She opted to not tell Twilight about the other students avoiding her in her first class.
No need to worry her if it turns out to just be a fluke. She reasoned.
Math dragged on for what felt like an eternity to the fiery haired girl. Twilight however was taking vigorous notes which Sunset would use to help her later. Sunset was always able to pick up on math rather easily, but never wanted to test out to higher levels. She was happy to learn the math she needed to graduate and would test out when she got to college.

Once class ended they made their way to the dining hall. They found a table inhabited by their friends and sat down with their lunch. Sunset noticed some dirty looks being thrown her way. Most of them were from people she'd never met. She looked around the hall at the glaring faces surrounding her. She felt a little claustrophobic from it all.

"Sunset. Sunset, are you feeling alright?" Twilight's gentle concern brought her out of her thoughts.

"Uh, yeah. Why do you ask?"

"You're sweating." She said, her brow scrunched in concern.

Sunset wiped her brow. "Oh, it must be that questionable banana I ate before I picked you up."

"Are you feeling ill?" Rarity asked.

"No, I'll be alright. My stomach is just a little sour."

Twilight squinted at her. “As long as you’re sure.”

The group talked about their schedules and which classes they were most excited about. When lunch ended Sunset walked Twilight to her locker.

“I’ll see you at the assembly. Save me a seat.”

“Of course! Have fun in your guitar class.” Twilight smiled.

“I will. It’s actually the class I’m most excited for. It will be nice to learn actual techniques instead of winging it.” She chuckled.

“I’m excited for you. How’s your song coming along?”

“It’s coming along alright. I actually thought of another song I’d like to sing with you.”

“Me? B-but I can’t sing!”

“Twi, I think we both know that’s not true. You have an incredible voice. But if you don’t want to I understand.” She said a little sadly. “Will you at least think about it?

Twilight sighed and checked the time. “Alright, I’ll think about it. You’d better be on your way. Love you.” She gave sunset a kiss.

“Love you too. You don’t have to worry too much, the song is still in really rough draft mode.” She blew Twilight a kiss before turning to go to her own locker.

When she opened her locker she noticed a small folded note at the bottom of it. She picked it up with a smile, thinking it must have been from Twilight. Her smile immediately fell when she read the single word held within.


Rekindled Past

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Sunset stared at the note. Who wrote this?

She didn't recognize the handwriting, which negated her initial thought of Adagio or her two lackeys. She folded the note back up and stuffed it in her pocket, intent on throwing it away when she saw a garbage can. Her mind was working to figure out who she knew that would have slipped that note into her locker. It came to her suddenly.

It must have been Trixie! I can't say that I blame her.

She sullenly made her way to the music room where her guitar class was held. She was the first to arrive. Wanting to avoid any uncomfortable interactions she took a spot close to the wall.

More dirty looks were shot her way as her classmates started to file in. Sunset tried to make herself as small as she could. She was returning back to her discovery of the note when she felt a light punch on her arm that made her jump. She turned quickly to see who her attacker was only to stare into the reflective magenta lenses of Vinyl Scratch's glasses.

Vinyl held her hands up defensively. "Whoa! Cool your jets, Sunset."

Sunset groaned. "Sorry, it's been kind of a weird day. What's up?"

"Just came to say hi, and ask why you're all the way over here."

"Like I said, it's been kind of a weird day. I wanted to be away from other people." She made eye contact with someone who grimaced at her as they entered the room. She looked down at her feet.

Vinyl noticed the exchange and clapped her on the back reassuringly. "Want some company?"

With a grin, Sunset accepted the offer.
Just then, something occurred to her. "Wait, I thought you made EDM and techno. What are you doing in a guitar class?" Vinyl had shared some of her original works with Sunset before. She was very talented.

Vinyl smirked. "I'm always looking for ways to make my music different and unique. Figured guitar might be interesting, but I don't know how to play."

"I can't wait to see what you come up with." She smiled. "So how was your break?"

"It was pretty good. Tavi and I spent the holidays with her folks. It was a little awkward. I don't think her parents like me that much."

"What makes you say that?"

"They've always been standoffish with me. They're very proper, and well..." She gestured to herself with her colorfully loud T-shirt and ripped jeans.

Sunset snickered. "I see your point."

"I also get the feeling that they think Tavi's just going through a phase, and since they love her they begrudgingly let me tag along."

"I'm sorry, that sounds rough."

"It doesn't bother me. I don't let other people's opinions get to me." She smiled confidently.

"I wish I could be like you." Sunset mused.

The bell rang, signaling the start of class. Sunset enjoyed the personality of the teacher. He was laidback and seemed to really care about what he was teaching.

"I feel like I need to stress that you won't be shredding sick riffs with Metallica by the end of the year. We're really only covering basics and getting you comfortable with playing. Too often I get students with grand expectations who leave unsatisfied. So keep that in mind and let's have fun!"

The rest of class was spent playing the "two truths, one lie" game. This was one of the better games in Sunset's opinion. She thanked Vinyl for keeping her company and slung her back pack over her shoulder.

Her science class, which she hated, carried over from last semester and rounded out her A-Day. Twilight had tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to get her interested in it as it was her favorite subject. Sunset really did try, but just couldn't find what was so cool about it. She was very grateful for the help Twilight provided though. She tentatively walked into the room, nervous to face her classmates she had gotten to know. She braced herself for the sneers and glares she would receive.

To her surprise no one paid her any extra attention except one or two disapproving looks. She pulled out her supplies and settled in to continue learning about plant and animal cells. After the ‘fascinating’ lesson about cell walls, Sunset went about gathering her things.

"See ya Sunset."

Sunset zipped her bag. "Later Lyra."

She made her way to the vending machines. She had been craving a Sprite since the middle of class. A slip of paper fell to the floor as she retrieved her wallet from her back pocket. She didn't notice it until she turned with her drink in hand to head to her locker. She unfolded the paper once more to read the single biting word.


She clenched her teeth and hurriedly walked to her locker. Twilight was waiting for her with a smile. Seeing her brightened Sunset's mood considerably.

Having seen the worried look on Sunset's face Twilight asked, "Is everything ok?"

"Yeah. I'm just tired. You ready to go?"

"Yeah!" She slipped her hand into Sunset's. "How was your first day back?"

"It was alright. I got lucky and have guitar with Vinyl."

"Really? I didn't expect her to take guitar."

"That's what I thought." She chuckled.

"Hmm, interesting." She shook her head. "Are you ready for the assembly?"

"I guess so. It'll probably just be 'welcome back students! Let's have a great last half!'." As she said this, she gave an exaggerated thumbs up with a cheesy grin.

Twilight couldn't help but laugh. "Probably. But at least we'll get to see the drum line beforehand."

"True, I do enjoy that they open up all the assemblies. I heard Pinkie wants to join them next year."

"Does she have any drumming experience?" Twilight asked, amused at the thought.

"I'm not sure actually, but if anyone is a drummer in our group it'd definitely be her."

They laughed at the truth of the statement as they entered the auditorium. Pinkie stood on the chairs waving her arms wildly to get their attention. They took their seats and waited for the assembly to start.

The lights above the stage came on and from the back of the room the members of the drum line made their way down the two aisles segmenting the room. Moved by the beat of the drums, groups of students were getting to their feet and dancing. Pinkie and Cheese did their best to get the others to stand with them, but the others opted to remain seated.

"We'll Break you eventually." Pinkie pointed two fingers at her eyes then back at each of her friends.

The assembly started exactly as Sunset predicted. They were welcomed back for the second semester and the student body officers put on their cringey, yet entertaining sketches. After a sketch about being to class on time, Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna took to the stage.

"Let's have another round of applause for your student body officers." She waited for the cheers to subside. "Welcome back students. We just wanted to talk about one more thing before we let you go. I'm sure you all remember the video that played during the Winter formal."

Sunset felt her stomach drop. She slipped down in her chair, attempting to become invisible.

"We felt it necessary to go over the policy concerning bullying at this school." Celestia motioned for her sister to take over.

"There will be no tolerance for such actions at Canterlot High School. If anyone is caught bullying another student you will be given three day detention immediately. Repeat offenders will be suspended."

We want to create a safe environment for all our students." Luna continued. "So if you see someone being treated unkindly report it to Principal Celestia or myself. Our doors are always open."

Luna turned the time over to her sister. "Now with that out of the way. We would once again like to welcome you all back. Have a wonderful day Wondercolts!"

With that the student body began clamoring to get out to the bus circle. Twilight moved with the crowd, but stopped when she realized her hand was empty. She turned around to see Sunset, arms folded and slumped down in her chair. Twilight returned to her spot next to the girl.

"You don't have to wait for me, Twi." She said solemnly.

"I know, but I want to." After a pause. "It still eats at you doesn't it?"

Sunset chewed the inside of her cheek. "Yeah. I guess it does." She paused. "It's just... I was just getting to a point where I felt everyone who knew me back then had moved on from it, you know? Now my past has been shoved right into everyone's face! Not only is it refreshed in everyone that I went to junior high with, but now everyone who went to Canterlot Junior has seen me at my worst!"

Sunset was clenching her fists tighter with each word until she felt Twilight's hand gently placed on top of hers.

"Hey, no matter what, I'm here. I'm not going anywhere." She hugged Sunset tightly. "I know the real you, and she is wonderful."

"Thanks, Twi." She returned Twilight's hug and nestled into her neck.

The young couple was enveloped in another set of arms. "Why didn't you tell me we were giving hugs!" Pinkie said indignantly.

They laughed as more pairs of arms joined in. After a moment of quiet Rainbow spoke up.

"We should probably get outta here. We're the only people in here and I don't really want to get locked in here overnight."

"What's the matter? Scared of the Canterlot High ghost boy?" Applejack teased.

Rainbow scoffed. "No, in case you forgot, I have a town of disease ridden monsters to eliminate."

Applejack rolled her eyes. "C'mon let's do something together today."

"Alright, how about a compromise. An hour of gaming, then we'll go out."

"Ah guess that's fair." She suddenly took off like a shot. "First one there gets to play first!"

"I knew you were interested!" She shouted after her girlfriend. "Wait up, you're my ride home!"

They shouted their goodbyes back to their friends. They laughed at the display of competitive affection they had come to expect from the duo.

"It's always a competition between those two. I'll never understand it." Rarity mused.

"Oh come on, it's fun to compete sometimes." Pinkie draped her arms around Rarity and Sunset. "Cheese and I play Trivial Pursuit with my family sometimes and it gets pretty heated but it's still fun. I whoop him every time." She giggled.

"Hey I wouldn't say you ‘whoop’ me, it's pretty close every time." Cheese lowered his voice and whispered to Fluttershy and Twilight. "I'm actually pretty good at it I'm just terrified of what might happen to me if I won. Her family gets pretty intense when it comes to trivia games."

"Even Maud?" Fluttershy questioned.

"Especially Maud!"

A chorus of laughter caught Pinkie's attention. "Hey, what are you all laughing at?"

"Nothing." Cheese rested an arm around Pinkie's shoulders.

The six of them made it to the bus circle where they said their goodbyes. Pinkie and Cheese went to his car, leaving the four girls. Fluttershy gave Rarity a tender kiss.

"Congratulations again on getting the interview."

"Thank you darling. I simply cannot wait!" She hugged Fluttershy tightly. "I'll see you all tomorrow morning." She stepped onto her bus.

"See you later girls." She made her way to her own bus.

Sunset and Twilight walked to the student parking lot making benign conversation. Once they were on the road Twilight had an idea to lift Sunset's spirits.

"Want to come over and have dinner with us tonight?"

"Hmm? Oh uh, sure."

"You don't sound too excited about it." Twilight half teased.

She sighed. "I'm sorry. I'm up in my head again. Maybe I shouldn't come over, I'll just be a bummer."

"That's why you should come over. Get out of your head for a while."

"I dunno..."

Uncomfortable silence fell between them. "Did something happen today?"

She sighed again. "Nothing you need to worry about. Just some dirty looks. It got to me more than I thought it would."

Twilight took her hand. "I'm sorry hon. Is there anything I can do?"

She gave Twilights hand an affectionate squeeze. "This is helping." She smiled faintly.

Twilight lifted the back of Sunset's hand to her lips. "I wonder what my mom is making us for dinner tonight."

"I don't think I officially agreed to coming over." She arched an eyebrow in her direction.

"Well that's too bad isn't it? Cause now I've got you trapped!" Her grip tightened as she let out a cartoonish evil laugh.

"Oh no, whatever will I do?" She played along. "I have no choice but to feast with my captor and her family."

"That's right!" She stuck her tongue out.

Sunset freed her hand and attempted to tickle behind Twilight's knee. Twilight squealed and regained purchase of the offending hand.

"Don't tickle your passenger!" She protested.

Sunset wagged a finger at her. "Correction, you don't tickle the driver."

"Just you wait until I get my license." She huffed.

"How's that coming by the way?"

"Slowly but surely. I want to wait until the weather's better before I start driving a lot."

"That makes sense. If you ever want my help I'd be happy to go driving with you."

"Thanks, I think I'll take you up on that."

The car pulled into the driveway and the two entered the Sparkle household. Sunset was greeted warmly by Twilight's parents. They talked briefly about their first day back before the younger girls retired to Twilight's room for retro video games. After seeing her characters meet their ends by fatalities several rounds in a row, Sunset crossed her arms in defiance.

"I call faulty equipment." She grumbled.

Twilight gasped. "I'll have you know I take excellent care of my controllers! You're just salty because I won for once."

She huffed in response.

"Come on, don't be like that." She pinched Sunset's sides who jumped in response.

"Stop that, I'm mad at you." She pouted unconvincingly.

"Hard to be mad when you're laughing." She switched targets to Sunset's feet.

Before she knew it Sunset was on her back trying to squirm away. She was eventually able to pin Twilight's hands and scramble on top of her. With a comedically over-pronounced glare she burst into a smile and leaned down to kiss her captive.

"Thank you, Twilight. I needed this."

Sunset relaxed her body and laid right on top of the girl below her linking her arms behind her neck. Twilight chuckled, then wrapped her arms around her back. She gently rubbed Sunset's back, feeling her relax even more. Twilight was surprised at how little she was panicking. This was the first time something this intimate had happened, but it felt right. Twilight stared up at her ceiling with a smile, the red and gold hair that had fallen over her glasses gave the overhead light a warmer hue.

Twilight gave Sunset an affectionate squeeze. "Alright hon, we should probably sit up."

She received a noncommittal groan in response.

"We wouldn't want my parents to catch us in a compromising position would we?"

Sunset nestled into Twilight's neck and gave it a kiss.

She giggled. "Hey, don't make me tickle you again."

"Fine." She griped before kissing her girlfriend and leaning against the bed. She helped Twilight sit upright as well.

"I love you." Twilight said as she entwined their fingers.

"I love you too. Even though you spam the freezing moves."

"The skills are there for a reason. I can't be blamed for making use of them."

"I mean you could use other moves." She teased as the two leaned against each other.

"Let it go, I'm sure you'll be back on top with that bladed hat next time we play."

"I guess we'll see. What should we do now?"

They decided to watch a ghost hunting show on a streaming site on her laptop. While they were cuddling on her bed, fully engrossed in a third episode, there was a slam on Twilight's door. Her door, which had been cracked, flew open with a shout following it. Twilight's knees shot to her torso, sending her laptop rolling forward on the bed. The two girls shrieked in surprise. Sunset clutched Twilight from her spot behind her. They looked to the doorway at the surprise guest.

"Dad! What the heck!" Twilight yelled.

Nightlight was doubled over in laughter. After he regained his composure he told them. "Mom wanted me to come get you for dinner. I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. Whatever you were watching sounded like it could use some real-world help."

"That wasn't funny!" Twilight slapped his arm repeatedly.

"Then why am I laughing? You thought it was funny right, Sunset?"

"Absolutely, I didn't almost pee my pants out of fear." She said shakily.

They joined Velvet in the dining room. "I heard your shrieks of terror. Your dad got you pretty good I take it?"

"Yes." Twilight huffed, trying to keep her grumpy demeanor.

"You know that's the risk of watching scary things when he's around."

"And yet I continue to to watch them." She said, finally breaking.

"What was it this time?"

"A ghost hunting show." Sunset chimed in. "It was pretty intense too. Lots of creepy dolls." She shuddered.

"Well let's eat and forget about the ghosts and ghouls."

Velvet had prepared a delicious cheesy baked eggplant with a mushroom spaghetti sauce with a salad and garlic bread on the side. Sunset wasn't sure she'd like it, she had never been great about new food, but was pleasantly surprised by the dish. The four of them talked as they ate the meal, while Spike begged for table scraps.

"I don't think you'll like this buddy, no meat." Nightlight said as he cleared the table. "But I'll get you a treat in a minute."

Spike yipped and spun in a circle at the mention of his favorite word.

Sunset patted her stomach, satisfied. "That was so good, Velvet! Thank you." She stood to help with clean up.

"You are so welcome, would you like to take a little home with you?"

"Sure, I won't refuse home cooking." She wiped the table.

They retired to the living room to indulge in some reality television. Sunset played with Spike the whole time. He had gotten considerably bigger since the first time Sunset had met him. After an hour or so Sunset made to leave, Twilight walked with her to the car.

"Thank you again for today. I needed this more than you know."

"Of course. Any time you need me or to get your mind off of something you're always welcome here."

"I love you, Twilight." She pulled her into a kiss.

"I love you too. I'll see you in the morning. Same time?"

"Sounds good." She climbed into the driver seat. "I'll text you when I'm home." They kissed one more time before Sunset hit the road.

She reflected on the rollercoaster of a day she had. As she rode the elevator to her floor she ran through the events of the day until she got to the note she found in her locker. She reached into her back pocket and glanced down at the crumpled paper in her hand. When she entered her room she threw the note toward the trash without a backward glance.

Come on Sunset, don't let this bog you down, you're not a bully.

This thought repeated in her mind as she drifted off to sleep.

New Schedule Blues

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The next morning was just like the previous day. She picked up Twilight and they met with their friends before classes. She woke up feeling more assured than the previous morning so, she was in high spirits the entire morning and paid extra attention to her friends’ conversations.

"I'm just saying you had to have played it before yesterday." Rainbow said.

Applejack crossed her heart and raised a hand. "Ah swear on Granny Smith's cider recipe, that was the first time ah've ever played."

"Then how the hell did you go so long without dying! I died like fifteen times before I got to the first boss!"

"Beginner's luck?" She shrugged.

"Some luck." Rainbow huffed. "It was really impressive though." She grinned, "Plus, you more than made up for it on the second boss."

"He cheats ah tell ya!" She said with a laugh.

"I take it AJ took to Bloodborne pretty well?" Sunset grinned.

"Yeah, ah see why Rainbow stayed up all night... ah mighta stayed out past curfew playin' it."

Twilight laughed. "She did say she'd find a game you'd like. Sounds like she delivered."

Rainbow put an arm around Applejack's shoulder. "And you doubted me." She smirked.

Applejack blushed slightly. "Alright, that's enough raggin' on me. Y'all ready for day two?"

They talked for the next little while. The other two couples meeting up with them later. As the first bell drew nearer Sunset became more anxious, but was able to hide it from her friends. She walked with Twilight to their psychology class hands clasped together.

"So why'd you decide on Psychology?" Twilight asked.

"I don’t know really. It seemed like it could be an interesting class. What about you?"

"I've had a growing interest in the subject for a few years now. I was actually really glad when I saw CHS had a psych course."

"I'm just glad we have it together." She squeezed Twilight's hand affectionately.

The pair found seats at one of the desk clusters that were set up in the room. The seating arrangements made Sunset feel uneasy being in groups of six. She had hoped there would be some more people she knew in the class with them, but unfortunately that was not the case. The room filled with students and the few times she caught someone's eye she was met with a frown. Their little island was the last to fill up.

Twilight tried to be friendly with the two other students that sat with them, but they didn't respond to her attempts to connect. She turned back in her seat looking downtrodden.

"It's okay Twi, I'm sure they'll come around." She gave her hand a squeeze.

Just then the teacher entered. The short woman greeted them cheerfully, her long scarf flowing behind her as she made her way to the desk. After grabbing a few papers she stood at the front of the class and took attendance.

"Well, looks like I've scared off some of you and the day hasn't even started." She joked, remarking on the few absent students. "Good morning everyone."

She was met with a couple half-hearted responses.

"Once more. Good morning everyone!" She said louder, with a wide grin.

The sudden volume change took the class by surprise and more people answered.

The teacher gave a small chuckle. "I love doing that. Welcome back everyone, in this class I like to start off with some positivity so get used to this." She laughed. "How was everyone's break?"

A few people said 'good' or 'it was fine' under their breath. The teacher looked around and spread her arms wide. "One more from the top. How was everybody's break?" She punctuated each word with a tap of her foot.

The woman's energy was infectious and caused several of the students to laugh. She was greeted with more and louder 'good's.

She laughed briefly before introducing herself. "My name is Cherry Bellum and I will be your guide through the fascinating world of psychology. Do you have any questions before we get started?"

One of the students at Sunset's cluster raised his hand. "Do we have to sit in these groups permanently?"

"No, feel free to sit wherever you want to. But the desks will stay as they are. I've found that setting them up this way encourages teamwork and allows students to break the ice with each other easier."

The boy that asked the question shot a quick sneer in Sunset's direction. She rolled her eyes in response.

"Alright class lets get to know each other a little better."

The rest of class was passed by introductions and free time afterward. Sunset and Twilight tried to establish a rapport with their desk mates. The boy was aloof and didn't seem to take any interest in speaking with them. The girl was a little more talkative though. Her name was Berry Punch and she warmed up to Twilight fairly quickly. Sunset noticed a look of what she believed was concern when her gaze would land on the fiery haired girl.

What's she so worried about? It's not like I've given her reason to be afraid of me. She thought with irritation.

Sunset tried not to let the glances affect her mood. Though, it was hard since they meant that not only did she get the anger and resentment of her peers but that she also inspired fear in some. That fact stung more than the glares and hurtful comments. She didn't want people to be afraid of her again.

Sunset was deep in thought when Twilight tapped her shoulder. "Hey, didn't you hear the bell?" She asked with a smile.

"Sorry, I spaced out." She gathered her things and took Twilight's hand.

"What were you contemplating so thoroughly?"

"Why we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway." She said stoically.

Twilight stared and shook her head. "Have you been talking to my dad? He's asked that exact thing before!" She chuckled.

"Brilliant minds think alike my dear. We're asking the hard questions that cut to the heart of the matter." Twilight cut her off by pinching her side with a laugh.

They decided to spend their free period in the library. Twilight was able to quickly find a book she was interested in, while Sunset pulled out the assignment she'd been given in science. She felt good because she was actually understanding the material and only had to ask Twilight for help on a couple things.

Once she finished the assignment she brought out her sketchbook and doodled on the next free page.

"What are you drawing?" Twilight asked while resting on Sunset's arm.

"I'm not sure yet." Her hand moved deftly across the page. The image became more clear as the time passed. They sat in a comfortable silence as the image of a Phoenix emerged from her pencil.

The bell rang as Sunset was finishing the rough outline of the mythical bird. "I can't wait to see the final product." Twilight told her as she gathered her things.

"I'll be sure to show you when it's finished." She smiled and took Twilight's hand. "Where are you off to next?"

"Chemistry, are you sure you want to walk me to class? You'll have to wait forever for your lunch."

"Of course I do. I have to make sure the phantom hall monitor doesn't snatch you up!"

"Okay, I have to figure out what stories you all talk about are real and which ones are made up to mess with me!"

Sunset laughed and kissed her cheek. "Good luck." The duo rounded the corner to the science hall. "I can't believe you have four different science classes this semester. Didn't you take anything fun?" Sunset teased.

"That's what Chemistry is for! Chemistry is a lot of fun I'll have you know! Besides it's technically only three. There's an ongoing debate as to whether or not political science is an actual science. Both sides have their own valid arguments. I tend to lean more toward no."

Sunset couldn't help but smile at how excited the purple haired girl she loved got while talking science. She listened to her explain why she took the side she did before moving onto why chemistry was the funnest science.

"Plus there's nothing more exciting than getting a mixture just right and watching the chemical reaction happen! I hope we get to do a lot of those!" She squealed.

"I can't believe I fell in love with such a nerd." She said with a smile as they neared Twilight's class. "Though I will concede that chemistry sounds alright."

"Hey it's cool to be a nerd these days! Pop culture says so." She hugged Sunset tightly. "I'll see you after school."

"I wish we had more classes together."

"I know. But we didn't know each other beforehand so we couldn't plan our schedules. We'll do better next year." She kissed Sunset's cheek. "Alright, go get some lunch."

They kissed and Sunset was on her way. She got in line for pizza and did her best to ignore the gap between herself and the people behind her. After paying, she looked out over the sea of students and felt a knot form in her stomach once again. She ran her eyes over the faces again but couldn't see any of her friends.

Suddenly, a hand clapped Sunset on the back.

"Hey, you're holdin' up traffic Sunset!" Rainbow sad jovially.

Relief washed over Sunset at the sound of her athletically inclined friend. "Sorry, I was looking for anyone I knew."

"Well you know me!" She grinned. "Now let's sit down, I'm starving!"

The duo took a table against the wall. They were starting to eat when a voice called for Rainbow Dash from the table next to them.

"Rainbow Dash, come sit with us!"

Sunset recognized some of the members from the girls basketball team along with a few guys she didn't recognize. She shrugged when Rainbow looked at her for confirmation. So they switched tables, Sunset awkwardly eating her lunch while Rainbow talked easily with her teammates. Sunset finished her lunch quickly in relative silence. One of the girls looked like she wanted to engage with her but never quite made the connection.

With her tray empty, Sunset let Rainbow know she was heading to her locker. She gave a polite nod to the others and made to leave.

"Why were you sitting with her?" She heard one of the boys ask.

She picked up her pace before she could hear Rainbow's response. Sunset opened her locker to leave the books she didn't need for her other classes. She immediately noticed several folded slips of paper resting on the bottom of her locker. She picked them up, unfolding the first one.



"Get out!"

The last few weren't any kinder. Her fist clenched around the scraps in her hand as she held back the tears and anger that threatened to roll over her. The handwriting on each note were different from each other which made her even more upset.

Why can't they just leave me alone!

"Hey Sunset."

She whipped around and stuffed her hand in her jacket pocket. Rainbow Dash stood there, tray in hand.

"Mind if I sit with you?"

"Uhh sure. How come you didn't just finish your lunch at the table?"

"Eh, they were being jerks. I didn't feel like sitting with people who talked bad about my friends."

Rainbow's candidness took Sunset by surprise, but in a weird way it brought some relief. Now she no longer had to wonder what they thought of her.

I wonder if any of them wrote these notes. She thought angrily.

Rainbow caught the hardened expression on her friend's face. "Anyway, forget those guys. How's your schedule treating you?"

"Pretty well, I start the day off with two classes with Twilight, then next I have a class with Pinkie."

"That's lucky. I've only got one class with AJ."

"How are you two doing?"

"We're awesome! I'm pretty stoked for the double date on Friday." The rainbow haired girl beamed.

"Me too! Has Applejack given you any indication as to what we're doing?

"Nope! She's insisting on keeping it a secret and not knowing is killing me!"

The two spent the next little while theorizing what their significant others could have in store for them. The theories ranged from the reasonable, dinner and a movie, to the wishful.

"But what if that's what it is!" Rainbow mused.

"I just don't think they found a treasure map and we're going to have a Daring Do style adventure. For one, I'm almost positive Twilight would have insisted they give it to the proper experts for study."

"Dammit, Twilight, why couldn't you just let this one slide. We could have had an awesome adventure and become rich and famous!"

Sunset laughed heartily and gave her friend a comforting pat on the back. "I know, I'll talk to her, but would Applejack have been any better?"

She sighed in defeat. "You're right. She would have done the same thing. Why couldn't we have found the treasure map?"

"I dunno, it just wasn't in the cards I guess." She chuckled.

The bell rang, sentencing them to return to classes.

"See ya Sunset!" Rainbow called back as she jogged off to her next class.

"Bye Rainbow Dash!"

When her friend was around the corner Sunset retrieved the handful of notes from her pocket. She reread them once more, anger building inside her again.

What the hell! Who's leaving all these notes? More importantly how do they all know where my locker is?

These questions and more paced around her mind all the way to her next class. She sat down in a huff and put her head on the desk. She was talking herself down from being angry when Pinkie Pie took her spot in the desk to Sunset’s left.

"Trying to absorb the memories of people who sat there before you? Trust me, that is not how you do it."

Sunset smirked. "Spoken like you've tried it before."

"Well duh! Who better to get study notes from than students who already took the tests?"

"So what is the correct way to absorb the memories of past students?" She asked, curious how the eccentric girl would respond.

Pinkie leaned across the aisle and placed one arm around Sunset's shoulders. "Secret rituals." She whispered.

"Oh?" Sunset played along. "Tell me more."

Pinkie continued, her voice a conspiratorial whisper. "First you'll need chalk, a black candle and a cupcake. You draw the ancient symbol, light the candle and say the eldritch prayer. Then fifteen minutes later the memories come flooding into you like a chaotic symphony of madness!"

The room around them was quiet in response to Pinkie's apparent outburst. The two friends tried and failed to hold back their laughter.

"What was the cupcake for?" Sunset said wiping a tear from her eye.

"In case you get hungry of course!"

"I think you'll do just fine in this class." She smiled.

Sunset was glad she had another class with Pinkie, she seemed to be able to find a way to make her smile.

"I hope so. I'm really excited to write. I'm hoping to get practice writing short stories. What about you?"

"Poetry maybe? I don't know, it will be fun to write anything honestly." She smiled.

After class started Sunset became more excited about the class the more the teacher told them about what they would be learning. She also noticed that the dirty looks were far fewer in this class. She was even able to get to know Lyra's girlfriend Sweetie Drops a little better.

"So do you have any ideas for stories?" Sunset asked when the teacher gave the class free time.

"Well... I have one idea I've been mulling over. But you can't laugh!"

"Cross my heart." Sunset promised.

Sweetie Drops exhaled. "Okay, so it's about a high school girl who is also a spy, and she has to try to balance being a secret agent and a regular girl." She looked to Sunset for a reaction.

"That sounds really interesting. I'd definitely read it." She said with a smile.

Sweetie Drops sighed with relief. "Do you have any stories?"

"No stories, but I've been working on a song for a while. I wonder if songwriting will be a part of the class."

"Maybe. Hey you should ask the teacher."

"I think I will next class period."

Lyra met Sweetie Drops at the door when the bell rang.

"There's my Bon-Bon!" She said, taking Sweetie's hand in her own.

"Bob-bon? Like the candy?" Sunset asked.

"Yep! Cuz she's as sweet as candy!" She nuzzled the heavily blushing cheek of her girlfriend.

"I thought I told you not to call me that in public." She groaned.

"Oh you know it's cute."

Sunset tried her best to hold back a chuckle. "I see you've dived right into being in a relationship Lyra."

"Yeah, she's intense, but she's right, I do like it." She booped Lyra's nose.

"Ugh, get out of here you two, I'm afraid of getting a cavity." She playfully pushed the couple up the hall. "See you tomorrow, Lyra!"

"Later, Sunset!"

Sunset bid Pinkie farewell and made her way to her final class, 'Food and Nutrition'. She didn't care that, once again, her classmates migrated away from her leaving the desk next to her one of the only vacant seats in the room. She almost preferred it, it would make it so she could learn the recipes herself and wouldn't have to give half the work to a partner when it came time to actually cook.

The teacher was taking roll, Sunset half listening for her name to be called. Once roll was taken care of, the teacher was about to get into what the class would be covering when the door flew open to reveal a panting girl that caused Sunset's muscles to tense up.

"Sorry! I'm so sorry I'm late!"

"That's alright." The teacher, Raspberry Tart, assured her. "Just take your seat. Name?"

"Sonata Dusk, ma'am."


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Sunset didn't say a word to Sonata the first class period. She kept her focus dead ahead during class, ignoring the girl next to her.

The next time that class rolled around, Sunset was on alert, looking for her former friend. She waited anxiously as her classmates filed in, filling in every seat but the one next to her. She waited for the inevitable as Sonata walked in just before the bell rang.

Sonata gave Sunset a shy, tentative wave. Sunset scowled and leaned forward on her desk. She cursed internally as Sonata set her things down. The tension was palpable around them. Sonata fidgeted uncomfortably before clearing her throat.

"H-hey Suns-"

"Class is starting." She hissed sharply.

Sonata hunched her shoulders and focused her attention on the teacher. During the rest of the class period Sunset noticed Sonata attempt, several times, to talk to her before closing her mouth. She took notes and did her best to ignore the girl next to her.

The bell rang to end the day.

Sunset quickly gathered her things and slung her bag over her shoulder.

"Hey Sunset can we talk?" Sonata asked before she realized Sunset was already walking away.

Sunset briskly walked out the door, pretending she hadn't heard Sonata's question.

Whatever. She thought as she made her way toward her locker. I can deal with her if I have to, but for now, I have a date to get ready for.

She went alone to her locker and collected the day's bunch of notes. It had become an expected part of her day, but it didn't take away the sting from the words held within.

Sunset noticed that the sheer amount of notes had been increasing. She frustratedly slammed her locker and discarded the cruel slips of paper in the nearest trash can. This, plus having a class with Sonata had put her in a foul mood. She stomped down the hall trying to figure out who could be leaving the notes for her. Other than a couple outliers, none of the handwriting matched each other.

"How do they even know where my locker is?" She muttered under her breath.

Sunset was so lost in thought that she nearly bumped right into Rarity who was trying to get her attention. She stopped just in time and apologized.

"It's quite alright, darling. I was wondering, could you help me with something?"

"Well, I'm kind of on my way somewhere."

"Oh please it will only take a moment."

"Sure." She sighed.

"I was wondering which outfit you thought I should wear for the interview. They're going to take a picture and I want to look my best."

Sunset looked between the two pictures on Rarity's phone. She didn't know anything about fashion so she was slightly confused as to why Rarity came to her.

"Wouldn't Fluttershy have been better to ask? She knows this stuff better than I do."

"I did ask her, but she just said I'd look beautiful in either one. Which is sweet but hardly helpful." She joked.

Sunset looked over the pictures once more and chose the one she thought she might wear herself.

"Thank you darling, you have impeccable taste."

"If you say so." She shrugged.

"Is everything alright dear?"

"Yeah. I'm just ready to go home." She said pointedly.

"Well I won't keep you any longer." She said with a look of hurt. "Thank you for your help."

Sunset pinched the bridge of her nose, mentally kicking herself for snapping at her friend. "I'm sorry. I'm having an off day. Walk with me."

"It's quite alright, I don't want to keep you from where you were going."

Sunset hooked an arm through Rarity's. "I insist." She smiled. "So how was your day?"

Rarity smiled at the change in Sunset's mood. "Oh it was lovely. I had my sewing class today and I cannot wait to get on the machines!"

"Sewing? Aren't you like, already great at it?"

"I don't know about great, but I believe I'm pretty good. Really though, it's just a prerequisite for the AP design class I want to take."

"Oh, cool! And this class will be really easy since you already know how to sew."

"That's the plan." Rarity said with a wink.

The two continued on their way when Rarity rushed ahead. "I'll be right back dear, I just need to speak with Photo Finish."

Sunset smiled and followed her at a walking speed. She watched the two fashionistas with a wry smile which faded when she saw Rarity's shoulders slump. Photo Finish looked her way and put a comforting hand on Rarity's shoulder. Her friend nodded sadly and walked back the way she came. She put on as convincing a smile as she could when she saw the look on Sunset's face.

"What happened?" Sunset asked.

"It's nothing. Photo Finish just informed me that the paper is going to interview Suri Polomare instead." She said through gritted teeth.

"Why? That's so unfair!" She said indignantly.

"Apparently, the editor says it's because she doesn't have any unsavory frie-" she caught herself and averted her gaze. "fashion choices that will affect readership."

Sunset avoided clenching her fists. "I'm sorry Rarity. Maybe next time."

She nodded sadly. "Perhaps. I must be going. Fluttershy will be waiting for me."

Before Sunset could respond or protest, Rarity was off, leaving her to grapple with what she had just learned. She left the school tense and riled up, completely ignoring the students around her.

Her phone buzzed just before she got to her car.

"Can't wait for our date! I'll see you in a little while! Love you!"

Sunset smiled. "Love you too. I'll call you when I'm on my way."
The engine growled when she turned the key. She took a moment to choose one of the more aggressive bands that helped get out her frustrations when she was angry. The guitars screeched and the vocalist roared in an almost primal way that Sunset did her best to mimic as she drove to the hotel. By the time she pulled into a spot she was feeling calmer.

"Hey Sunset. How was school?" Silver Dollar asked when he saw her walk through the lobby.

"It was fine. I don't have time to talk right now though. I've gotta go get changed and meet Twilight for our date."

"Alright, be safe out there. It's supposed to storm so drive carefully please."

"I will!" She called as she hit the elevator call button.

After choosing an outfit and tidying her room up a bit Sunset hit the road once more to pick up her sweetheart. Snow was lightly falling as she entered Twilight's neighborhood. Night Light was out laying a fresh layer of ice melt when she pulled up to the curb.

"Hey Mr. Sparkle!"

"Hey there Sunset! Mind giving me a hand?" He tossed a second scoop in her direction.


Nightlight straightened his back and groaned. "I tell you what, don't get old if you can avoid it."

She laughed and scooped a heap of ice melt. "Noted. So can you give me any indication as to what Twilight's got planned for us today?"

"Oh sure, I actually helped her put it together."

"Really? What's the plan?"

He dipped for another scoop. "I said I could, that doesn't mean I will."

She kicked some snow in his direction and scowled. Having quickly covered the driveway and path leading to the front door, they made their way inside. They entered and stomped the snow off their shoes. Velvet waved at them from the couch where she was wrapped in a blanket reading a book.

"Hello Sunset. Twilight should be down soon."

"Hey Velvet." She walked over and gave the comfortable matron a light hug.

"That oughta keep the walk way safe, don't want anyone to slip." Nightlight commented before walking into the kitchen to grab two mugs from the cupboard. "Cocoa?" He asked.

"Yes please." She smiled.

"Could you bring me some tea please?" Velvet called from her spot on the couch.

"Sure thing hon."

A minute later Night Light returned with three steaming mugs. The three chatted about how school was going. Sunset decided to focus on the positive aspects. She still hadn't told Twilight about Sonata so she was careful with her words when she talked about her foods class.

"I can't wait to actually get to preparing food!" She said before taking a sizable swig from her mug.

"If you ever want to help me with dinner I wouldn't turn down the extra set of hands." Velvet offered.

"I'd love to help." She grinned.

"So..." Velvet paused. "How have the other kids been since you started back up?"

Sunset's stomach dropped slightly. "Twilight told you, huh?"

"Yes, but please don't be upset with her. We could tell something was bothering her and we practically dragged it out of her."

"I'm not upset. I kinda figured she'd let you two know what happened. To answer your question it's been a little uncomfortable. Some dirty looks and stares now and then. Nothing I can't handle though."

"It's true, she's pretty amazing." Twilight said, coming down the stairs.

Sunset rose to greet her. "Hey babe, you ready to go?"

"Yep!" She gave her a quick peck. "We're meeting AJ and Rainbow at the park."

"The park? Are we doing a snowball fight?"

"Nope, you'll have to do better than that."

"I know this is a long shot, and bear with me, but you didn't happen to find a secret treasure map did you?"

"What? No, I would have told you as soon as I did if that was the case." She laughed.

"I thought as much, just figured I'd get that out of the way."

"Have fun you two, and be safe." Velvet said as they were closing the door.

"We will! Love you!" Twilight smiled.

"Shall we m'lady?" Sunset offered her arm to Twilight who took it happily.

"We shall.”

Double Date

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The young couple drove the short distance to the park and saw their friends in the covered eating area. They took a moment to catch up before Rainbow asked what they were doing.

Applejack chuckled. "Well for starters we're gonna play some snow soccer. Would ya mind helpin' me unpack the trunk?"

The four girls retrieved the collapsible soccer goals and soccer ball from the trunk. The park was a flat blanket of white. At one end of the park some young children were building a snowman. Another group of slightly older boys and girls were using the small hill for sledding. They walked to the middle of the park and set up their goal a good distance apart. After stamping out a rough outline for the "field" the two couples faced one another. They decided who started with the ball with a best two of three "rock, paper, scissors" tournament.

"Our ball!" Twilight cheered after crushing Rainbow's scissors with her rock.

The game started to a lot of laughter as they all struggled to run and kick properly. Rainbow stumbled and fell several times trying to sprint through the snow. As the game pressed on it became easier to maneuver with more snow getting compressed. Their movements were still hindered by their winter clothing. Soon they started removing layers as it became stuffy in their coats.

"Who'd've thought we'd work up a sweat in the snow." Twilight chuckled after adding her coat to the pile on the table.

The snow of their playing area was mostly stomped flat, making maneuvering easier. The scores had been pretty close throughout the game. Rainbow saw a chance to make a goal and brought up her leg behind her to deliver a powerful kick. Unfortunately the momentum caused her grounded foot to shift in the snow. So when she brought her leg down the ball went wild and rocketed toward a group of teens their age that had been having a snowball fight.

"I'll get it!" Sunset yelled, already making her way over.

As she approached the group she recognized a few of them from school. One boy stood out because he had been seated in the cluster of desks on her first day of psychology. Sunset bent over to retrieve the ball when a snowball hit her side. She stood straight and saw the boy, Quick Wit, she recalled, laughing with his friends. He looked at her with a sneer.

"Oops, sorry." He said unconvincingly.

"Don't worry about it." She responded flatly.

She was turning to leave when Quick Wit said something that stopped her dead.

"You know she only sticks around because she's scared right?" seeing he had caught her attention, he continued. "Sure she seems fine being with you but, just by watching her in class I can tell she wants out."

"Shut up." Sunset hissed through clenched teeth and fists.

"You may not remember me, but I remember you. You and your crew were tough shit to select groups. Which was smart, you kept yourselves under the radar. But you made the mistake of picking on my friend." He cocked a thumb over his shoulder at a scowling boy. "Which can't be forgiven so easily."

"I'm sorry for what I did to you and for who I was." She said as sincerely as she could muster through the rising anger. "If I could go back and change I would. But I've changed now."

"That video said otherwise. No one is going to stick around for long. You know that right?" He approached Sunset. "First your girlfriend will bail. Your friends will follow her lead. Then you'll be all by yourself."

"Shut up!" Sunset whipped around and gave Quick Wit a rough shove that caused him to stumble backward.

"What the hell?" Quick Wit growled. He clenched his fist ready to take a swing but stopped when he saw the shriveling glare coming from the girl in front of him.

"Go ahead, hit me. It will only work against you. You're wrong by the way, I do remember you." Before Sunset realized it, she was using her old techniques. She hated it, but this had been the last straw. "You had a bit of a temper that showed itself through hitting your fellow classmates. So, who do you think the people who matter will side with? Me, a girl with no official record, or you a boy with a violent streak?"

Quick Wit swallowed hard keeping his eyes locked with the girl in front of him. He saw only a fierce determination burning behind the eyes staring through him. He was first to break the stare down. Sunset's friends were making their way over to the scene.

Quick Wit scoffed. "Whatever, lets go guys."

The group of boys were nearly out of the park when the other three arrived.

"What was that about? Are you okay?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine. He was being a jerk and said some things that set me off."

"So, you shoved him?" Applejack asked.

"I don't blame her. Sometimes a good shove is what's needed with some people." Rainbow said. "Especially, people like him."

"I don't know..." Twilight trailed off.

Sunset thought she saw a look of worry cross her face. Quick Wit's words repeated in her mind. "Let's get back to the game. They're gone now, we don't have to worry about them."

Starting back up was a little slow since the energy was uncomfortable since Sunset's outburst. When the game didn't build any momentum Applejack suggested building a snowman. They gathered their coats, smiles spreading over the girls faces as they got to work.

"It's been forever since I've done this." Sunset commented as she and Twilight rolled the base.

"I built one last year. Not to brag or anything, but it was pretty impressive."

"Did you build it with your Crystal Prep friends?"

"Yep! It was taller than all of us. I actually had to get on Lemon Zest's shoulders to put the head on."

"I bet she enjoyed that." Sunset half teased.

Twilight bumped her with her hip. "Oh stop it you."

After they got the pieces rolled up, they set about trying to get the middle portion off the ground.

"Why did you make it so big?" Sunset said while straining to lift the massive ball of snow.

"We were just followin' your lead. If y'all hadn't gotten distracted by your flirtin' we'd have it built already."

Rainbow was crouched and pushing with her back against the torso. "Less talking, more heaving. I won't be beaten by frozen water!"

"It's actually crystallized water droplets. So, while it's technically frozen, it's not as heavy as it could be." Twilight chimed in.

"Twilight, babe, you know I love it when you talk science. I'm going to have to side with Rainbow on this though."

With a final push they rolled the midsection into place. With cheers and whoops of triumph they slumped to the ground, leaning against their nearly finished creation. Rainbow had her head in Applejack's lap, while Twilight and Sunset leaned against each other.

"We did it. I was worried we'd have to give up; but we did it." Twilight mused.

"I knew we'd get it done. Wanna know why? Because we're awesome." Rainbow said matter of factly.

"Sure... awesome." Sunset huffed, still catching her breath.

Twilight was silent. Sunset peered down to see her girlfriend's eyes fixed on the rise and fall of her chest.

"Enjoying the view?" Sunset teased.

"Mmhmm." She sat up straight. "I mean, I wasn't staring at anything!"

The other three girls laughed at her flustered state. Sunset pulled Twilight back to her shoulder and kissed the top of her head. The four of them sat in the snow as more snow flakes, or according to Twilight ‘crystalized water’ fluttered down to meet its grounded companions.

Applejack patted Rainbows side. "A'right ah gotta get up now. Mah butt's nearly frozen."

The others followed the southern girl's lead. Applejack was walking toward the tables when Rainbow shoved her hands into the rear pockets of Applejack's jeans.

"Here, let me help warm them up!"

Applejack turned around with an un-amused look, which Rainbow met by raising and lowering her eyebrows in quick succession. They stared at each other to see who would break first. That title went to Twilight who couldn't hold back when Rainbow added a big cheesy grin. The others followed shortly after.

After topping off the snowman with the head, they moved to the tables to get out of the falling snow.

"Do we have anything to give him a face?" Twilight asked.

"Nah, we'll let someone else finish him off." Applejack sighed.

"What's all this he talk?" Rainbow said.

"Well it is called a snowman." Sunset offered.

"Well I'm gonna change that!" Rainbow stood and trudged toward their faceless snow homunculus. She scooped some snow and went around to where they couldn't see her. Realizing what she was doing the three shared a look and made their way to the rainbow haired girl. Just before they got there Rainbow placed her hands on her hips and gave a satisfied nod.

The three girls laughed at their now very busty snow-woman.

"I think you two might be related." Rainbow winked at her girlfriend.

She took off running as a very red-faced Applejack gave chase. Twilight and Sunset held hands and watched as Applejack finally pinned Rainbow and planted a forceful kiss on her lips.

"Ah don't know why ah put up with you."

"It's because you love me."

"Oh yeah. Remind me why again." She laughed.

Rainbow rolled on top and kissed Applejack deeply. "Oh yeah." Applejack smirked and returned the kiss.

Sunset and Twilight walked to where they were laying in the snow.

"Get a room you two!" Sunset chided them.

They broke the kiss. Rainbow helped a very flushed Applejack to her feet.

"So, what's next?" Rainbow asked.

"We're headin' over to my house." Applejack announced

Applejack lead the way back to the vehicles and the two couples drove to Sweet Apple Acres. Inside the house, the smell of pasta and marinara hit their cold noses as a welcome surprise. They inhaled the delicious scent as they deposited their wet coats and shoes on the landing.

"We're back Granny Smith!" Applejack called in the direction of the kitchen.

"Come on back! Food's just about done!"

"It smells delicious!" Twilight said as they entered the kitchen. "Thanks Granny Smith."

"Oh, weren't nothin' dearie. Ah'll get outta yer hair." She turned to Applejack. "Don't make too much of a mess of my kitchen."

Applejack hugged her grandma, "Thanks Granny. Ah promise we'll clean up."

"See that ya do." She waved kindly to the other three. "Y'all have fun. If ya need me ah'll be in my room watchin' my stories."

They all wished her a good night and Rainbow eyed the food hungrily. "Alright, let's eat!"

Applejack grabbed her arm before she could get to the food. "Not so fast there darlin'. There's a twist to dinner tonight."

Twilight stepped forward. "That's right, we're going to feed you. Catch number two, we'll be blindfolded as well as acting as your arms." Twilight continued.

Sunset and Rainbow looked at each other confused. "You'll see." Applejack chuckled.

Two plates with a small serving were dished up for Sunset and Rainbow and set across from one another. Their girlfriends brought out two bandanas and folded them into blindfolds, which they helped to tie in place.

"You know AJ, when I said I was thinking about including blindfolds into our relationship this isn't what I had in mind." Rainbow teased, as she secured the cloth. A deep blush invaded Applejack's cheeks once more.

"Is it too tight?" Sunset asked after carefully setting Twilight's glasses aside.

The girl shook her head with a grin.

"And you can't see anything?" Another shake in the negative.

"Good." Sunset planted a surprise kiss on Twilight before taking her seat across from Rainbow Dash.

Twilight and Applejack slid their arms under their girlfriend's armpits. Sunset and Rainbow used their voices to guide the hands to the napkins and silverware. It was made especially hard because everyone was laughing. Either at how ridiculous it looked or the difficulty of finding anything on the table.

Once the plates were cleared of food and marinara coated kisses given, the two couples switched roles. Twilight giggled at Rainbow trying to get a rise out of Applejack. The Rainbow haired girl was trying to pick Applejack's nose and ears, waving her arms around animatedly as Applejack talked. She couldn't help but blush when Rainbow's hands made their way to Applejack's chest.

Twilight briefly wondered what Sunset's hands would feel like but shook her head. She knew she wasn't quite ready for that level of intimacy yet, but was happy to see her friends comfortably in that spot.

With the second round of assisted eating finished the couple's dished up second helpings to fill up on.

"I'm impressed that we didn't make a bigger mess." Sunset mused.

"Especially with this one goofin around the whole time." AJ hooked a thumb in Rainbow's direction.

"Hey I was careful!" She protested.

"I got really nervous when Sunset asked for a drink. I was sure I'd knock it over." Twilight chuckled. "Sorry about spilling on you by the way."

She smiled. "I'm just glad we used water instead of something that could stain." She took Twilight's hand. "So, what's the plan now date masters?"

"Now we wind down with a nice peaceful movie." Applejack grabbed two movies from next to the television. "What sounds better, 'The Conjuring' or 'It Follows'?"

They decided on the former since three of the four hadn't seen it and Sunset gave it a glowing review. Popcorn was popped and blankets were retrieved. They all got comfortable on the couch and started the movie.

The tense atmosphere on the screen was interrupted by Rainbow Dash early on, "Are you kidding me? There's a doll in this movie!"

"You're afraid of dolls?" Twilight asked.

"Who isn't? With their glassy dead eyes and emotionless faces." Rainbow shuddered slightly. "They're so creepy!"

Applejack chuckled and pulled Rainbow closer. Twilight smiled at Sunset who was doing her best to hide the uneasiness she felt. Although she had already seen the movie, the look of the Annabelle doll still made her skin crawl. As the movie progressed, the blankets were raised nearly to their chins so they could easily hide from the frightening images.

As the credits started rolling Applejack and Rainbow were holding each other under the blanket with wide eyes. Twilight had her head pressed into Sunset's neck, side-eyeing the screen.

"Welp, looks like I'm staying here tonight." Rainbow said to break the silence.

This garnered some laughs from the others which lightened the tension. They discussed the movie and school as the tendrils of sleep crept over them.

Sunset yawned. "We'd better hit the road. Thank you for having us over. This was a ton of fun." She hugged her two friends.

"Ah'm glad you enjoyed yourselves. We'll have to do it again soon."

“That was so much fun!” Sunset said when they were in the car.

“You mean it?” Twilight smiled. “I was worried it would be too childish.”

“Luckily we’re still young so we can get away with it.” She winked. “How did you think of the dinner part?”

“I was watching TV with my dad and this improv show came on. That was one of the games they played and it just looked so fun.”

“Well you and AJ did an excellent job. You’ve really set the bar for me and Rainbow.”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something.” She grabbed Sunset’s hand and gave it a squeeze.

Twilight and Sunset drove in tired silence for the next leg of the trip home. Sunset was making sure to stay alert since there was a layer of slush covering the roads from the snowfall. She glanced over at Twilight who had her brow furrowed in thought.

Before Sunset could ask, Twilight spoke. "So... about what happened today."

Sunset's grip tightened around the wheel.

She continued. "Is everything o-"

"Can we not talk about it right now?" Sunset interrupted.

Surprised, Twilight mumbled, "Oh, um sure." Twilight placed her hands in her lap and looked down at the floor.

With a sigh, Sunset placed a gentle hand over her girlfriend's. "I'm sorry. It's just we had such a good day I don't want to end it on an unpleasant note."

Twilight nodded. "Okay, but Sunset, if something or someone is bothering you I want you to talk to me."

"I know." She squeezed Twilight's hand and fell silent.

They started talking again shortly after and continued until Sunset parked in front of Twilight's house. They took a few minutes to say goodnight before Sunset made her way home.

Getting Through

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Twilight entered the living room after Sunset dropped her off. Her parents were sitting on the couch watching TV. She waved to them with a grin.

"Hey hon, how was your night?" Velvet asked.

"It was great! We had so much fun!" She sat in the arm chair to talk with her parents.

Spike came bounding in from the other room at the sound of her voice. The pup yipped and tried to hop onto her lap before Twilight picked him up and was assaulted with puppy kisses.

"Did everyone enjoy the snow soccer idea?" Her father smiled.

Twilight was brought back to Sunset's outburst. "Yeah, it was definitely a hit. Everyone had a lot of fun."

"I told you everyone would love it." He said returning his attention to the screen as he recounted the creation of the idea.

Velvet thought she saw a look she recognized cross her daughter's face. She focused her attention on Twilight to see her already looking in her direction. Velvet and Twilight proceeded to have a silent conversation that only a parent and child can have.

Velvet raised her eyebrows. "Is everything alright hon?"

Twilight gave a weak shrug and twitched the corner her mouth. "I dunno, something weird kinda happened."

Velvet's brow furrowed. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Twilight nodded.

Velvet looked from the television to Nightlight. "Once the show ends we'll talk."

Twilight nodded again with a slight smile. She stroked Spike’s head, who yawned. It had been a while since she'd had a one-on-one talk with her mom. She was happy with the way she and her mother had grown closer in the last few months. It was funny to think that this time last year she wouldn't have believed she'd be asking her mother for relationship advice about her girlfriend.

The show ended a few minutes later. Before Nightlight could start another episode Velvet placed a hand on his knee.

"Twilight and I are going to step out for a bit."

"Is everything alright?" He looked between the two women in front of him.

"Yeah, just some girl talk." She said reassuringly.

"Alright, I'll be out here if you need me."

Velvet walked with Twilight to the master bedroom. Once inside they both sat on the bed.

"So tell me what happened."

Twilight hesitated, trying to figure out where to start. She told her mom about the date leading up to when Sunset went to retrieve the ball.

"When she had the ball, the guy from our Psych class started saying something to her. I couldn't make it out because we were too far away. I could tell she was getting upset though." Twilight paused, remembering how shocked she'd been for the next part. "Then all of a sudden she turned and shoved him."

Velvet's eyes widened at this revelation. It seemed very out of character for the Sunset she'd come to know.

"He and his friends left by time the rest of us got over there. She said he was being a jerk, but I don't know." She trailed off. "That might have been what happened, but I just feel like something else is going on."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, like she said, she's been getting dirty looks and the occasional comment, but it just seems like something bigger is going on. I try to talk to her, but whenever I bring it up she shuts the conversation down or changes the subject. I'm worried that she is being bullied by that Adagio girl, but she won't talk to me. What should I do?"

Velvet smiled knowingly at her daughter. "Be patient with her. I've found that usually if something is bothering someone, they want to talk about it. Sometimes it takes time for them to be comfortable enough to bring it up. I know it can be hard to watch them hurt from what they're keeping to themselves. Sometimes the best thing to do is just be there for them and let them know you're there if they want to talk."

Twilight chewed her nail in thought. "But what if it gets really bad and they still won't talk to you or anyone else that can help?”

"That's something different altogether. Sometimes you have to make them talk. I've had to basically lock your father in a room until he talks to me. He's pretty good most of the time, but there are times that he keeps something bottled up inside because he doesn't think I need to be bothered with his problems."

"Sunset does the same thing. But I want to hear her problems! I might not be able to help but she won't have to deal with them alone."

Velvet chuckled. "You're a lot like me, you want to share your feelings and Sunset seems like the 'go it alone' type. It can be frustrating when someone you love won't let you in or help, but everyone is different. You'll find the right way for you both to communicate with each other. You're both still young and figuring these things out though."

Twilight took this all in and was silent for a moment. After some time passed Velvet spoke up.

"Did any of this help?"

Twilight hugged her mother tightly. "It did. Thank you, Mom."

Velvet returned the hug. "You're welcome sweetie." She kissed the top of her daughter's head.

Twilight thanked her mom again and wished her a good night. She left the room to do the same with her father. She went to sleep feeling calmer about the events of the day.

The next couple weeks of school passed at a snails pace for Sunset Shimmer. The notes had been building in number steadily every day. Sunset got so sick of seeing the pile at the bottom of her locker that she stopped using it. Opting instead to carry all of her books and folders in her backpack. She didn't have a lot, but the weight was still substantial.

The day after this choice, Sunset found her friends gathered around Rainbow's locker. Her backpack hit the floor with a heavy thud, startling Fluttershy bad enough that she momentarily latched onto Rarity's arm. She stretched her back with a groan before sitting next to Twilight. Her friends exchanged worried glances.

"You alright sugarcube?" Applejack asked.

"Yeah, fine." Sunset replied.

"Um, why is your bag so... heavy? It looks like you have your whole life in there." Rarity pressed.

"You're not far off actually." Sunset rubbed her shoulder where the straps rested.

"Wait do you have all of your supplies in there?" Twilight asked.

"Yep, my classes are so spread out that this just made sense. Now I don't have to go to my locker between classes." She lied. "Before you ask, everything's fine. I just thought I'd give this a try for convenience's sake."

Sunset gave a quick glance toward Twilight. She knew she just wanted to help and that's why she'd been trying to figure out what was going on. Sunset just didn't want to burden her with her own problems. She was dealing with it, this would die down eventually and no one would be the wiser. She just had to hold out a bit longer.

The group of girls talked about their weekends and how their classes were going. Rarity would finally be getting on the machines today while Fluttershy was starting to really enjoy her yoga class.

"It's nice learning something new and staying healthy all at once." The shy girl smiled.

"I still can't believe they offered yoga as a phys ed alternative." Twilight said.

"I know, and since I took an extra PE credit I'll be able to skip it my senior year."

"Well all I know is that i'm officially ready for summer break." Rainbow groaned.

"Yeah, but you were ready for summer break after the first day of the school year." Applejack chided.

"Can I help it if school is super boring?"

Twilight gasped. "You take that back. School is not boring! You learn so much while you're in school, plus you get to see your friends every day."

"I'll agree with you on that last part, but it's hard to be excited about school when there's way more fun things I could be doing."

Sunset smiled at the back and forth unfolding in front of her. Each one trying to convince the other of their side. The bell rang and Sunset's stomach dropped. She said goodbye to Twilight and walked to class with Pinkie. After the first day of class the teacher didn’t allow more than one person per drawing table. Since it was a full class there was always a new person sitting next to her and Pinkie. While most of them had been cold and uninterested, Pinkie was able to break down some of their walls and start making some friends in the class. Though she had noticed none had sat with them twice in a row.

The teacher was giving a brief lecture on the next art style they would be practicing. Sunset seized this opportunity to check the handwriting of the girl sitting next to Pinkie. Sunset had been doing this for the last week or so in each of her classes, hoping to figure out who was leaving the notes.

As she walked behind the girl, she studied the loops and tilt of the letters being scrawled onto the page. The handwriting looked a little familiar so she read over the page hoping to find a word used in one of the notes.

"Can I help you?"

The annoyed girl's question brought Sunset back to the present. She stammered something close to an apology and continued to the pencil sharpener.

"What a freak." She grumbled just loud enough for Sunset to hear.

She was acutely aware of several pairs of eyes following her every move. She returned to her seat and put her hood up to hide herself.

"You alright there, Sunset?" Pinkie asked her gloomy friend.

"Yeah, just kinda tired."

Pinkie rummaged in her bag. "Chocolate covered coffee bean?" She said while opening the bag and grabbing a few.

Sunset couldn't help but smile at her friend's cheerfulness. "No thanks, I appreciate the offer though."

"Suit yourself." She tossed the small handful into her mouth.

"Are you sure you should be eating that many?"

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"Never mind." She chuckled.

Once the lecture ended, the class was given time to work on the current projects. Sunset took the basket from the cubby she'd been assigned and brought out the paper with the Phoenix she had been working on. The mythical creature was floating above a pile of ash, having just been reborn. She worked on the final outline of the wings before moving on to choosing the colors she wanted to use.

"That's going to look amazing!" Pinkie said from next to her.

"Thanks! I'm really excited for this drawing. I kind of see myself in it."

Pinkie looked over the drawing. "Where? I don't see you."

Sunset smiled at her friend. "Not literally, just as a metaphor. I'm kind of rising from the ashes of my past and being reborn as who I'm trying to be now."

"Whoa, that's deep."

Sunset blushed. "That sounded way cheesier out loud."

"I think it's great that you have a way to express yourself!" Pinkie beamed. "Keep it up."

"Thanks Pinkie." Sunset smiled broadly.

Sunset was feeling in higher spirits when the bell rang. That is until she picked up her over-full bag. She grunted as she hefted the full weight onto her back. The rest of the day passed with the usual amount of grimaces and whispers as she walked by. Her guitar class was a welcome respite. Everyone was preoccupied with learning chords and reading music that they hardly gave her a second thought. She was fine with this arrangement since it meant she was able to focus on her songwriting and talking with Vinyl some more.

The end of day bell mercifully rang just as Sunset's brain felt fit to burst with new science facts. Her bag seemed to grow heavier throughout the day. As she hefted the bag she thought she heard threads giving out. She reached behind her reflexively but didn't notice anything with the quick blind inspection.

I'll have to check on that when I get home. She thought to herself.

She walked Twilight to her bus stop, doing her best to hide the aches she felt in her back and shoulders.

Twilight was unconvinced. "Sunset, if you need to, you can use my locker. It's a little more central so you wouldn't have to go so far between classes."

She kissed Twilight's cheek. "Thanks babe, I'll think about it."

Twilight nodded and entered the bus as Sunset walked to her car.

Sunset's back was screaming at her when she finally threw herself onto her bed.

"I might need to come up with a new idea. Maybe I’ll take Twilight up in her offer." She said to the empty room. She pinched the bridge of her nose. "This will pass, and you'll be able to be a regular high schooler."

She repeated this mantra in her mind several more times, attempting to make herself believe it. Her eyes pricked with tears as she drifted into an uneasy nap.

Falling Out

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After a few days of carrying everything in her backpack Sunset found the pain to be no more tolerable. She did her best not to let on how uncomfortable she was and joked about it making her stronger. Saying that maybe she'd keep it up and try out for track next year.

"You totally should!" Rainbow encouraged. "We need more people to join up for next year."

"We'll see." She chuckled. "I've never really been much for sports, but it could be something fun to try."

"I'll train with you! We'll be the number one girls on the team!" She pressed.

"I think you should do it." Twilight hugged Sunset's arm. "You'd do really well. Besides it will look good on a college application."

"You just wanna look at my butt in track shorts." She nudged her bespectacled girlfriend playfully.

"I'm not denying that it will certainly be an added perk." She winked and squirmed away as Sunset tickled her side. "I'm serious though, I think you should at least try out."

"I'll think about it." She smiled.

The bell rang then, Sunset still dreaded going to her classes. The treatment she received from classmates hadn't slowed. It was really starting to weigh on her.

Twilight and Sunset made their way to their psychology class, sitting in their seats just before the announcements. The morning announcements were the usual fare. Overly cheerful announcer, bad puns, and updates on upcoming events like the school's production of 'The Music Man'.

The one thing that wasn't old-hat was the reminder about the screen in the dining hall. The school had installed a screen and projector during the break. It had similar information to the morning announcements cycling on a loop in a slideshow interlaced with candid shots taken by the photography club. Occasionally there would be video from sporting events. Rainbow had been featured several times in a highlight reel of last semester's sports footage accompanied by a popular song.

Berry Punch had remained sitting at their table and had even become a good acquaintance to both of them. The other students that had to sit with them generally were silent and only talked among themselves.

Quick Wit had taken to sitting at the table on the opposite side of the room. She could feel his scowl boring a hole in the back of her head, but she paid him no mind. The good thing was that he kept the same distance outside of class as well. However this didn't stop him from making cruel remarks during class. He never called her out by name, but Sunset knew the jabs were directed at her.

Once psychology ended, the pair went to the library for their free period as they usually did since the semester started. Sunset retrieved the collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories she had been working on while Twilight grabbed the next book in the Harry Potter series. They got comfortable on one of the couches provided in the library.

Sunset had her legs draped over one arm as she lounged against Twilight. Stretching out felt nice, it relieved the tension in her back and shoulders. Today was especially bad since her bag had been resting on a nerve she'd pinched the other day. Which did nothing to help her mood. As she got comfortable she felt the stress of everything building up start melting away.

"How's your book coming?" Twilight asked after finishing another chapter of her own book.

"Oh you know, unknowable horrors, madness inducing elder gods, the usual."

Twilight chuckled and closed her book. She ran her fingers through Sunset's hair.

Sunset sighed contently and closed her eyes. "How about yours?"

"It's so good! Harry and the gang just escaped the womping willow!" She smiled.

"How many times have you read that series?" Sunset asked with genuine curiosity.

"After this time it will be... five I think?"

Sunset shook her head. "I'll never understand how people can do that. After I've finished a book it's hard to reread it."

"Really? I love rereading books. It lets you pick up on things you missed before."

"But you already know what's going to happen, the suspense is gone."

"Not necessarily. When you reread you can find details that expand on the world. Then you can put the details you've discovered together and get a bigger, clearer picture of- why are you looking at me like that?"

Sunset held her look of suspicion. "Where's the cork board Sparkle?"

"Cork board?"

"Yeah, the one with your conspiracy theories connected by threads showing how your favorite books are all connected to each other."

"What? Conspiracy theories, that's just... I mean, definitely don't look behind my dresser."

Sunset laughed and kissed Twilight's nose. She returned her attention to her book. Twilight absent-mindedly traced shapes and swirls on her girlfriend's hand. It was then that she noticed that they were the only students in the library. She decided to try once more to talk to Sunset. She was nervous, because the last few times they had nearly gotten into an argument.

"So... can we talk about what's been bothering you lately?"

Sunset tensed up again. "I don't know what you're talking about." She said flatly.

"Sunset, come on I'm not stupid. I can tell something's going on. You think I can't tell when your fists clench when that boy makes a comment in class? Or how you've gotten mad at little things that never used to bother you before?"

"It's just the stress of school." Sunset's pulse quickened. "Plus in case you didn't notice I have an extra thirty pounds in my bag. Excuse me for being a little grouchy." She said, refusing to meet Twilight's eyes.

"You don't have to though! I told you that you can use my locker." She said, feeling frustrated.

"It's just easier this way."

"I know that's not true." Twilight grumbled.

"So I'm a liar now?" She said sharply.

"That's not what I'm saying Sunset. But I know there's more than what you're telling me. I just want to help if I can."

"So what if there is?" She sat up and faced Twilight. "I don't have to tell you everything. I can deal with my own problems, you don't have to babysit me. I've dealt with stuff on my own for a long time before I met you."

"You don't have to. Why won't you let me help you?"

The bell rang to end the class period. Sunset quickly grabbed her bag. It slammed painfully into her lower back. She started briskly walking out of the library.

"Sunset wait." Twilight called after her.

"I have to get something from my locker." She said without looking back.

Twilight slumped down onto the couch as her girlfriend left her behind.


Sunset quickly walked toward the direction of her locker. When she arrived she made to open the door but couldn't make herself open it. She imagined the door swinging open and a flood of folded papers, each with increasing malice, falling at her feet.

She kicked her locker several times in frustration. "Dammit!"

Someone behind her cleared their throat. Sunset turned on her heel. She was in no mood to deal with any snarky comments or passive-aggressive remarks. To her surprise she saw Rainbow Dash carrying a tray of food.

"Hey Sunset." She said a little awkwardly.

Sunset sighed heavily. "Hi Rainbow."

"Is everything alright?" She asked.

The question set her off again. "Why does everyone assume something's wrong? I'm fine!"

"The dent in your locker would beg to differ." Rainbow pointed to the fresh damage. "I'm all about hitting stuff to relieve stress, but you had to know it's a pretty obvious sign something's up."

Sunset slipped down her locker and smiled begrudgingly. "You might have a point."

Rainbow took a seat next to her friend. "Wanna talk about it?"

"No." She snapped.

Rainbow held her hands up defensively. "Hey, don't bite my head off, I was just trying to be friendly."

She pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry... Twilight and I just had a fight."

Rainbow's eyes widened in surprise. "What happened?"

"I don't know, she keeps trying to fix me and get involved with my troubles. That coupled with this pain in my back and my over stuffed backpack caused me to lose my temper with her."

Rainbow looked at her incredulously. "Do you hear yourself?"


"You got mad at your girlfriend, who you love, for trying to be a good girlfriend."

"That's not the point. I don't need her to try to help me solve my problems!" Sunset felt her temper threatening to boil over again. "There's no point in getting her involved and making her life more stressful with my issues!"

Rainbow shook her head. "Sunset, I respect this whole 'Miss Independent, I can do everything myself' thing you've got going for you. I do, but that's one of the great parts of being in a couple. You don't have to deal with your issues alone. I can't tell you how many times AJ has helped me through some crap I've been dealing with. And it works both ways, I've helped her through her own problems."

Sunset was silent, realizing her friend had a point.

Rainbow put a comforting hand on Sunset's shoulder. "I don't mean to undermine you or what you've been through. I can only imagine how hard it was for you. I just thought a new perspective might help."

Sunset smiled at her friend. "Thanks Rainbow. And you're right, I should apologize and finally talk to her." She had a sudden realization. "You know, this was a surprisingly serious talk. I wouldn't have thought I'd have one of those with you." She teased.

"Yep, I'm full of surprises." She took a big bite of the ravioli the school served and immediately dropped most of it back in the styrofoam bowl. "Jeez, that's like lava!"

Sunset chuckled. "That's more like it."

Rainbow playfully shoved Sunset's shoulder. "Yeah yeah, laugh it up. Hey, where's your food?"

"Oh, I was too upset after the fight to have an appetite. Now that I've calmed down I'm regretting not waiting in line."

Rainbow stood, balancing her tray as she did so. "Well let's go get you some vending machine food. Get you prepared for the college years." She joked and extended a hand.

Sunset took the offered help. "Ugh, I don't even want to think about that."

Rainbow laughed as the two made their way to the snack machines. As they walked and talked they passed Vice Principal Luna, who gave them a polite nod when they greeted her. The two friends were deep in conversation when Sunset saw an all too familiar smirk coming toward them.

Adagio Dazzle strode in their direction, taking the girls by surprise. They were so distracted by the appearance of the girl that Rainbow didn't see Aria, who was walking with the hood of her jacket obscuring her face, slide her leg to the side. Rainbow tripped forward, sending some of her food straight at the girl in front of her.

"Vice Principal Luna! Come quick!" Aria shouted as she rounded the corner Luna had gone down.

Adagio reached forward and gave Sunset a shove which set Rainbow off. She shouted and moved to shove her back when, before she could, Aria returned with the vice principal in tow. Everything happened in such quick succession that Sunset didn't have time to react.

"What is going on here?" Luna demanded.

"Vice Principal Luna, I'm so glad you showed up when you did. Rainbow Dash was bullying Sunset Shimmer." Adagio really put on a show.

"What the hell are you talking about!"

"Miss Dash, I will not have such language spoken at this school." Luna said sharply. "Now, I'm confused. Why would Rainbow Dash pick on Miss Shimmer? I thought you two were friends?"

"I think I can shed some light on that." Adagio said with a pathetic lilt in her voice. "I've heard some of the girls on the basketball team are ignoring her. Some of them even refuse to practice with her because she's friends with Sunset."

Sunset looked at Rainbow who averted her gaze.

"She must have finally snapped." Adagio continued. "I was trying to defend poor Sunset when Rainbow dumped her food on me." She motioned to the food on her shirt.

"You liar! Your damn lackey tripped me and you put yourself right where you'd get spilled on!" Rainbow was getting increasingly annoyed.

"I won't warn you again. One more and I'll have no choice but to give you detention.

"Tell her Sunset, she started it!" Rainbow yelled, frustrated.

Sunset looked from her friend to the vice-principal. It was then that she noticed from behind Luna, the sinister smile Adagio had fixed on her face.

What else does she have on me? Sunset thought in a panic. Could she really have something that would make my life worse?

"I... uh, I don't know." She focused her gaze onto the floor.

"Sunset, come on! Tell her what happened, get her back for everything she's done to you."

"Done to her? You mean be her friend in this difficult time?" Adagio wined.

"Oh please, that's the biggest load of horse..." a look from Luna made Rainbow change course. "Horse shoes.

The two went back and forth until Luna had had enough. "Quiet, both of you! It seems the only one who can give the full story is Miss Shimmer." She turned her attention to the girl who had yet to speak. "Sunset, please tell me what happened."

Adagio's voice dropped to a tone Sunset was all to familiar with. "Yes Sunset, explain what happened."

Sunset looked between the three sets of eyes on her. "I... uh. I'm not feeling well."

Before anyone could say anything Sunset took off. She went to the nearest restroom and locked herself in one of the stalls. A wave of nausea rolled over her, brought on by the events that had taken place over the day. She was able to keep everything down until her stomach settled. She sat on the toilet seat to recompose herself. She was absentmindedly looking over the various graffiti on the walls when one in particular caught her eye.

Someone had drawn a cartoon version of her. Only they had added a cartoonishly evil expression complete with jagged teeth and horns. Tears suddenly pricked Sunset's eyes and began rolling down her cheeks. The sight of how people perceive her was too much. She hated how negatively everyone thought of her.

"I'm a good person." She sobbed, bringing her knees to her chest.

She stayed like that until the bell rang for lunch to end. Unable to stop the tears and sobs she stayed where she was instead of going to class. Sometime later the restroom door opened. Sunset did her best to remain quiet, but a sniffle caught the attention of whoever had entered.

"Hello? Is someone there?" The voice sounded oddly familiar. "The great and powerful Trixie demands an answer."

Sunset was reminded of the last time she'd seen Trixie. The memory of the look of hurt and betrayal on her face. The slap she knew she deserved. Fresh tears made their way down her face as she let out an involuntary sob.

Much softer this time, Trixie addressed the girl in the stall. "Hey, is everything ok? I was just messing around, I’m not actually mad."

Sunset sniffled in response. The last thing she needed right now was to confront Trixie.

Trixie spoke again. "I might not know what's going on, but it will get better. I should know, I've had my share of crummy days. The good thing is they always end and the next day is a new chance for a better one."

The room fell silent for a minute and Sunset wondered what she should do next. Just then Trixie's hand appeared below the door. With a flick of her wrist a cheap paper flower appeared between her fingers.

Sunset smiled slightly and gently plucked the flower from the girl's hand. Written on the two leaves were the words "cheer up".

Trixie made her way to the door.

"Thank you." Sunset whispered.

Trixie grinned and glanced back at the stall before opening the door to leave.

"I'm sorry." Came another whisper.

"So am I." Trixie said under her breath.


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Sunset left the restroom shortly after Trixie. Not quite feeling up to going to class, she found a spot outside to sequester herself until her next class began. The air was brisk, but felt refreshing to Sunset's stressed out body. Since there was still snow on the ground she didn't have to worry too much about running into other students.

She sat on a bench and played on her phone, checking her favorite apps for any updates. After opening and closing them all, unable to feel enthusiastic about them, she decided to walk the perimeter of the track field. The black of the asphalt poking through where others had walked already. She wondered if she would actually join the team next year.

Will Rainbow even want me on the team after I just left her there? She thought bitterly.

She circled the track several times, getting more lost in her thoughts. By the time the bell rang for the final class Sunset was still in a bad mood, but no longer felt like crying. So she headed for the foods class and mentally braced herself to see Sonata again.

They had, of course, been paired together when it came time to choose partners while cooking. Nobody wanted to work with her, Sonata had even been offered by another group to be a third. This would have been fine with Sunset, but Sonata had declined the offer. So since then Sunset was on high alert for any type of trick or prank. As of yet there were no signs of any such thing, Sonata was actually friendly and helpful in the kitchen.

Should I just move on and get along with her? She thought.

Of course not! She's Adagios friend. She's probably been told to mess with me somehow! She argued with herself.

While Sunset was lost in thought, Sonata was sheepishly trying to get the next ingredient for the recipe.

"-eed the sugar."

"What?" Sunset asked as she returned from her internal argument.

"I need to get the sugar." She gestured to the container behind Sunset.

Sunset narrowed her eyes and wordlessly stepped aside. The rest of the class was spent in wordless, awkward semi-silence. Broken only by Sonata trying to initiate conversation from time to time. As class drew to a close, Sunset noticed a group of classmates sitting near her desk eating their finished pastries. She continued washing the mixing bowl as her and Sonata’s cupcakes finished baking. Sonata dried the dishes and snuck fingertip-fulls of frosting.

"Mmmm this is really good. I hope we learn to make frosting in class."

Sunset grunted in response and wiped out the sink.

Sonata dipped a spoon into the container and held it toward her former friend.

"It's cho-col-ate, your fa-vor-ite." She said in a sing-song voice.

"I'm not hungry." She mumbled as her stomach made a growling noise.

Sonata continued in that same voice. "Your tummy says otherwise."

Sunset smirked. Sonata had always been able to cause a smile when she'd been a part of the group.

"Alright, I'll take a spoonful, but you're cleaning the spoon." Sunset said curtly, refusing to give too much.

"Deal." Sonata handed over the chocolatey utensil.

The frosting tasted incredible. The sweet flavor of the chocolate covering her taste buds. Having not eaten since breakfast her stomach turned slightly at the rush of sugar it had been given. Sunset grimaced briefly before taking one more scoop.

"See, told you you'd like it." Sonata grinned.

Maybe she really doesn't mean any ill will towards me. She thought.

The cupcakes came out a little crumbly, but the teacher seemed to like them. Sonata and Sunset stayed a couple minutes after the bell rang to finish frosting the rest of the cupcakes. During the course of the frosting Sunset relented and asked how Sonata's day was.

"It was good." She responded tentatively.

"That's good." Sunset responded.

The conversation ended there as they divided the treats between them. They were the last ones in the class as they went to gather their belongings. Sunset saw something resting on top of her bag. She didn't realize what it was until she was standing next to it.

She retrieved the upturned confection off of her bag. Any benefit of the doubt she'd been willing to entertain was immediately dismissed when she saw the smear of frosting across the top of her bag. Sunset angrily stomped over to the trash bin and spiked the cupcake into it.

"Is everything alright Sunset?" Mrs. Tart asked.

Without a word, Sunset hastily wiped the frosting off with a napkin and wrenched her bag off the ground, causing more threads to pop. Her books now sat at an awkward angle and the corner of one dug into her lower back.

"Sunset! Wait up!" Sonata called after her.

Sunset's pace quickened. She marched headlong towards the student parking lot. She just wanted to get to her car and get home as quickly as she could. Keeping her focus dead ahead she didn't notice the burly shape of a fellow classmate to her side.

Their shoulders collided and Sunset spun on her heel. The bottom of her bag gave out and her supplies dropped to the floor, hitting her calf painfully on their way down. She cursed loudly in the middle of the hallway. Dozens of judgemental stares were on her.

"What! What are you all looking at! Isn't this what you wanted?" She screamed at all the students surrounding her. "Sunset Shimmer's finally lost it!"

She knelt down and started trying to shovel her things into the ruined bottom of her backpack. In her rush and anger, papers and books slid away from her and she snatched at them. Not a single person offered to help. A gentle hand on her shoulder caused her to whip her head around.

"Sunset calm down. What happened?" Twilight asked her.

"Not now Twilight!" She continued scooping. "I don't want to talk about it."

Twilight felt her face flush. "You never do!" She snapped, surprising herself. "Whenever I try to help you shoot me down. Whenever I try to get you to talk to me you change the subject!" Twilight couldn't stop, her bottled up frustrations bubbling over.

"You have no idea what I'm dealing with." Sunset spat and stood upright.

"You're right, because you never talk to me!"

"It's not your problem Twilight!"

"I just want to help you, but I can't if you don't tell me what's going on! How can we make this work if you never let me in?"

Sunset clenched her fists. "Maybe we can't." She said flatly, shoving the last of her things into her bag.

The fight left Twilight immediately. "Sunset, you don't mean that."

Sunset held her bag upside down, tears welling in her eyes. She yelled at the surrounding crowd to move and headed in the direction of the parking lot.

Twilight stared after her and let the tears fall freely.

Sunset shoved the doors to the parking lot open roughly. She wiped at her eyes, but they refilled immediately. The cold air stung her cheeks where the tears left their salty tracks.

"Sunset! Hold on!" Sonata came through the doors behind her.

"Haven't you done enough?" She said, venom dripping from every word.

"That's what I wan-"

"Shut up! You ruined everything!" She turned to face Sonata. "Why couldn't you three just leave me alone? Why did you have to bring my past mistakes back? I was finally happy!"

She shoved Sonata. Not hard, but enough to make her stumble. Tears were streaming down Sunset's cheeks now.

"Now everybody knows what a monster I used to be and won't look past it! You've turned everybody against me!"

Sonata scooped her into a hug. "I'm so sorry."

Sunset froze, taken completely by surprise.

"I'm so sorry." She repeated, her voice trembling. She pulled back to look Sunset in the eyes. "I need you to know I had nothing to do with that video. I had no idea they were doing anything like that."

"Why should I believe you?" Sunset glared.

"You're right, you have no reason to. Trust me though, I have nothing to do with either of them anymore."

She leered skeptically at Sonata, but remained where she was.

Seeing that Sunset wasn't leaving, she continued. "After you told Adagio off before the formal, I realized I didn't have to take her bossing me around anymore. It took a few days, but I finally worked up the courage to follow your lead and cut ties with her and Aria."

Sunset continued listening, keeping her guard up.

"The next day is when Flash asked me to the dance. I was so happy, because I didn't know he even knew I existed!" Sonata cleared her throat awkwardly. "A conversation for another time. Anyway I didn't see or talk to them until Flash and I got to the dance. We ran into them outside the school and she 'apologized' for everything and asked if we could hang out again for old time's sake."

Sonata's face hardened. "And like an idiot I believed her. She must have wanted it to look like we were all still friends so you'd hate me as much as them."

Sunset cocked an eyebrow. "Do you really think she put that much thought into this?"

"This is Adagio we're talking about. She prides herself on her manipulation."

"You have a point." She agreed. "Why tell me all this?"

"Because... because I was hoping we could be friends again." Sonata said quickly. "I miss hanging out with you. You were the only one who didn't order me around. You treated me like an actual person, and I always had fun with you."

Sunset took a moment before responding."I... I can't deal with this right now."

"I understand." Sonata said meekly.

Sunset turned to walk back to her car. She paused mid-step and looked over her shoulder.

"Thank you for apologizing... I've missed you too." She continued her trek to the parking lot.

Sonata smiled hopefully after her.
Sunset drove home gripping the steering wheel hard. She gathered her bag and rushed inside. She was glad to see that her uncle wasn't in today. She gave a slight nod to the guy behind the check-in counter on her way to the elevators. When she got inside her room she tossed her ruined bag onto the couch. Some papers and one of her books slid out onto the floor.

She aggressively pulled out a cup and some orange juice and gulped the citrusy drink down quickly. Realizing she still hadn't eaten she decided to make some dinner. She was feeling like Chinese food so she got the fixings for a sweet and sour chicken meal out. As she cooked up the rice and microwaved popcorn chicken, her mind was focused on the task at hand and no longer racing with everything that happened.

When the cooking was done, she drizzled the store-bought sauce over the rice and chicken. As she ate her meal she started to hone in on one specific part of the day. When the memory was at the forefront she pushed the remaining food away from her as her stomach knotted uncomfortably. She slapped the table top and rose to her feet.

"How could I have said that!" She yelled at the empty room. "You idiot! She was the best thing you had and you threw it away!"

Sunset kicked out at the couch in frustration, grateful she was still wearing her boots. Groaning loudly, she slumped to the ground. She picked at a loose thread on her pants as thoughts raced through her head. A voice deep within whispered through the cacophony in her brain.

"This is for the best. There's no point in dragging it out any longer."

"I should just talk to her." She said quietly to herself.

"Then what? You drag her into your world full of problems and make them hers? You know she'll get tired of dealing with your garbage and leave eventually." The voice of doubt continued. "Better to call it now."

"Maybe she'll be understanding."
"She's not as strong as you. She can't deal like you can with negativity. It would be selfish to drag her into this. Better to just cut her loose, free her from you and your issues."

"Maybe she will be better off without me." She mumbled as tears trickled down her cheeks.


Twilight stood in the hallway in a daze. She slowly sank to her knees as her mind raced with what just happened. Her classmates surrounding her began to whisper.

"She finally lost it."

"Serves her right."

"I kind of feel bad for her girlfriend."

Twilight heard these and more, but couldn't make herself say anything. She was stuck, unable to move. Applejack and Fluttershy caught the tail end of the scene and tried to comfort her.

"Don't worry sugar cube, just give her some space." Applejack squeezed her shoulder reassuringly.

"I'm sure she'll cool off and be right as rain tomorrow." She extended a hand and helped her friend to her feet.

Twilight simply nodded. Her lip quivered as she replayed the fight in her head. She barely registered anything that happened between her fight with Sunset and walking through the front door.

Velvet was writing at the kitchen table. "How was school sweetheart?" She asked, still typing.

When Twilight didn't say anything Velvet looked up from her computer. Twilight stood in the entryway with tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Twilight! What's wrong?" She stood and enveloped her daughter.

"S-Sunset and I... we had a f-fight." She managed to get out.

"Shh, oh honey, it's okay, every couple has arguments." She guided Twilight to the kitchen and poured a glass of water.

Twilight sniffled and took a slow drink from the glass. "This was really bad though."

"Tell me what happened sweetheart."

Velvet listened intently as her sweet girl relayed everything that happened throughout the day. She frowned slightly when she heard how Sunset reacted in the library. Her brow furrowed when the story reached its peak in the hallway.

"What should I do?" Twilight sniffled and wiped her eyes. "I don't want to lose her. I love her, mom."

Velvet wrapped her in another hug. "I know you do. Give her at least the night to cool off. I’m sure she’s not feeling too good either."

"You’re probably right.” She paused. “What if she doesn't want to talk to me? What if she really does want to break up?"

"Hopefully we won’t have to cross that bridge." She stroked Twilight’s hair.

Fresh tears began to fall. Mother and daughter embraced each other, giving and receiving comfort as best they could. Twilight felt spike rub against her leg. She remained where she was until the pup whined and rubbed his head into her calf more aggressively.

Twilight let out a small chuckle and picked up her furry friend. As soon as he was on her lap he licked her cheek before settling in as best he could given his size. Twilight pet Spike's head and began feeling a little calmer.

"Are you going to be okay hon?"

"I don't know." She sniffed. "I just hope Sunset will talk to me soon."

"I'm sure she will." She gave Twilight's hand a gentle squeeze.

Twilight smiled weakly and stood to go to her room. Spike yipped and followed after her. When she reached the bed she flopped onto it and curled up with one of her pillows. Spike hopped onto the bed behind her and tried to hop over. Twilight chuckled lightly when the pup got stuck.

"Coming to check up on me?" She said as she picked Spike up and pulled him in to cuddle.

Spike licked her nose in response.

"I'll be okay. Thanks Spike."

The two got comfortable and stayed that way until they fell asleep.

Nightlight came home a few hours later. After talking to his wife about their days he knocked quietly on Twilight's half open door. When she didn't answer he popped his head inside. Spike yawned and wagged his tail before hopping off the bed to get attention from Nightlight. The movements roused Twilight from her sleep.

"Hey dad." She said, rubbing the sleep from
Her eyes.

"Your Mom told me what happened. I'm so sorry kiddo, you want to talk about it?"

Twilight sat up and readjusted her glasses. "Not especially. I just calmed down from earlier."

Nightlight chuckled. "I understand. Just know if you ever need to talk about anything, I'm always here for you."

Twilight hugged her father. "I know. Thanks Dad."

He kissed the side of her head. "Dinner's just about ready if you want to come down."

She nodded. "I'll be down in a sec."

Nightlight left the room leaving Twilight alone with Spike. She scratched him behind the ear and grabbed her phone. She looked at it, not really knowing what to do with it. She opened up her text messages and typed out a quick message to Sunset.

"I love you."

She locked her phone and left it on her bed. Dinner was a welcome distraction. Velvet gave an update on her book, which was coming along nicely. She hoped to have it finished within the month. Her father told the story of a student that tried to bribe him for a better grade with a personalized song about him.

"What did you do?" Twilight asked after laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

"I didn't know what to do! I thanked him for the song and told him what he could do to improve his grade." He chuckled. "He seemed a little downtrodden, but if it got out that I was improving grades for songs, my office would be a never ending concert."

"That might not be so bad. What if you discovered the next big thing?" Velvet suggested.

"I'm sure I wouldn't know how to tell. My musical taste is still soundly rooted in seventies and eighties rock." He raised a fist with two fingers extended in the universal rock and roll gesture.

Velvet and Twilight exchanged a look before bursting with laughter. Nightlight did his best to look grumpy but was unable to keep up the act.

After dinner was finished and the table cleared, the Sparkles gathered in the living room to watch some television. It didn't take long for Twilight to start dozing off. The toll that the entire day took on her finally caught up. She bid her parents goodnight and went to her room. She got comfortable under the blankets when her arm bumped into her phone.

There were no new messages.


View Online

Twilight arrived at school fully intending to sit down with Sunset and really talk this out. The only problem was Sunset was nowhere to be seen. She hadn't met up with them before classes started and she still wasn't answering Twilight's texts.

"I'm sure she just overslept." Pinkie assured her. "I'll let her know you're looking for her when I see her in class."

"Thanks Pinkie." Twilight said, biting the inside of her cheek to prevent tears from forming.

The group fell quiet, no one quite knowing what to say. They were all worried about their friend. All of them had noticed Sunset's change in behavior and now wished they'd done something sooner.

"I hope she doesn't think I'm still upset with her." Rainbow said suddenly.

"Why were you upset with her?" Twilight asked.

Rainbow conveyed the story of running into Adagio and Aria during lunch. A clearer picture was starting to form in Twilight's mind. It was a picture that made her feel sick with worry and sadness for Sunset.

"I was a little mad at first, but I totally understand why she did what she did." Rainbow finished.

"I knew that girl had something to do with this." Twilight gritted her teeth.

"How do they even know each other?" Rarity asked.

"I think... I think she's Sunset's ex-girlfriend." Twilight said. "She's never told me her ex's name, but from what she's told me about her it makes sense that It's Adagio."

"Wow... that's intense." Rainbow muttered. "Must have been some bad breakup."

The others silently nodded their agreement when the bell rang to call them away. Twilight hugged each of them and they gave their words of support and comfort before going to their classes. Twilight walked sullenly to her first class of the day.

Sunset arrived at school just as the bell rang. She silently congratulated herself for her timing. Now she just had to wait another minute before going to art. She didn't want to face her friends yet. She knew she wasn't ready for the questions they would inevitably ask, and she still didn't know what to do about Twilight. She still loved her, but she didn't want to be a burden to her. It wasn't fair to her.

"I love you."

She reread the text from the previous night. It brought up the shame and anger she felt for her actions.

"How is she still with me? I don't deserve someone as good as her." She wondered aloud.

She hit her steering wheel out of frustration and exited her car. The announcements were still going, reminding students of the various activities coming up.

"- next week we will be having career day! More information will be given on Monday. And don't forget to turn in your profiles for the Student Spotlight! Those can be picked up and turned in at the main office. That's everything for today Wondercolts! Have a fun and safe weekend!"

The Student Spotlight, Sunset recalled, was one of the many things the school was trying out to add to the slide show in the cafeteria. They had tried listing upcoming movies, allowing students whose families had businesses to put up ads, and top five most popular lists for books and music. Some were bigger hits than others and it was nice knowing what entertainment was available.

Sunset entered the classroom and took a spot at the back of the room, silently taking notes. She avoided the constant looks of concern Pinkie shot her way. She was glad to see she had other friends around her, but it still felt odd to not be sitting with her. Pinkie mouthed, 'are you okay?', at one point and Sunset simply gave her a quick smile and nodded.

The lecture ended and the class was given the opportunity to work on projects. Sunset went to her cubby with a smile. She just had to put the finishing touches on her phoenix before turning it in. She slid the plastic box holding her supplies and art. Something wet sloshed up to her fingers.

She peered inside the box to see the corner of her drawing poking up from a black/brown sludge of used paint water. Wordlessly she slid the box out and dumped the offending liquid down the sink. She looked at her ruined art and felt... nothing.

She heard a few snickers and whispers and couldn't even muster the energy to be angry at them. She was tired. Tired of being angry, tired of being the target of so much abuse, tired of looking over her shoulder for potential ridicule.

Miss Acrylic Beauty approached Sunset. "Oh! Sunset are you okay?" She turned to face the class. "Who is responsible for this!" She said angrily.

"It's fine." Sunset muttered.

"It is not fine!"

The teacher went into a lecture about respect and how she expects everyone in her class to treat each other kindly. Sunset stood there numbly, only half-listening. She turned toward the teacher.

"May I be excused?"

"Of course, Sunset. I know it's not much, but I'll be giving you an 'A' on the project." She turned back to her students. "If any of you know who did this speak up, this will not-"

The teacher's voice faded as Sunset wandered down the hall. She heard footsteps rapidly approaching behind her.

"Sunset! I'm so sorry your picture got ruined!" Pinkie pie hugged her. "I can't believe someone would be so mean! Are you ok?"

"I'm fine." She said flatly. "I appreciate you coming after me, but I think I just want to be alone right now."

Pinkie looked uncertain. "Okay... are you sure? I can keep you company if you want."

Sunset forced a smile. "Thanks Pinkie, but I'm sure. I'll see you all at lunch."

Pinkie Pie gave her one last hug before returning to class. Sunset wandered the halls without a destination in mind. She rounded a corner and saw the last two people she ever wanted to see.

Aria and Adagio were leaning against a row of lockers. They were skipping class as they regularly did. Aria was first to notice Sunset. She nudged Adagio who smirked.

"What are you doing here Sunset? Finally come to your senses?" She smiled wickedly. "Or has everyone finally abandoned you?"

Sunset stared silently at her ex-girlfriend and wondered what she ever saw in her. She was so hateful and cruel. She only kept people around if they could be of use in some way to benefit her.

"Why?" She finally asked. "Why did you make that video? Why are you turning everyone against me?"

"Because it was fun." She smiled cruelly.

"Was it you who left those notes in my locker?"

"Oh Sunset I'm hurt that you would think I'd do something so small-time." She feigned offense. "Convincing some rube in my class was simple enough though. All it took was talking just loud enough to Aria about how funny it would be if people started leaving mean notes in your locker."

Aria snickered behind her friend at the memory.

"It sounds like it caught on faster than I could have hoped."

"And yesterday? How did you know where Rainbow and I would be?"

"We didn't. That was just a lucky happenstance, everything lined up perfectly. Your friend didn't look too happy after you abandoned her to take all the blame."

Sunset knew that would be the case, but it hurt to hear nonetheless. "Why are you doing this? Why couldn't you just leave me alone?"

"Because you dumped me!" She yelled. "I thought I found someone who understood me and you just left! You gave me some crock of crap about me bringing out the worst parts of you when we both know you enjoyed the feeling of superiority and respect as much as I did."

Sunset averted her gaze knowing there was some truth to her words. "You're right, at the time I did. But I came to my senses and realized that what we were doing was wrong. No one should have to be afraid every day they come to school. That's what it was, fear, not respect. I don't want to be remembered as someone to be feared."

"Oh save me the self-righteous prattle. You're no better than I am." Adagio huffed.

"You're right, and you've made sure everybody knows it." Sunset sighed heavily. "Adagio, I'm sorry I hurt you back then. And I hope you find some way to be happy and move past it." She turned to walk away.

"That's it? That's all you have to say to me?" Adagio said indignantly.

"What else do you want from me? Do you want me to blow up at you? Fight you? I'm not going to give you the satisfaction. I can't deal with this anymore, I'm exhausted. I've already said my piece. Accept it or don't, either way I'm done."

With that Sunset walked away, hoping to not have another interaction with Adagio for a long time. She walked to her car and headed home.

The lunch bell rang and the girls all met at one of their usual tables. While the others were talking, Twilight was looking around the cafeteria for Sunset. The more time passed the more nervous she got.

"Pinkie, did Sunset show up in class?" She finally asked.

"Yeah, But she left part way through. Some big jerk poured old paint water on her art so the teacher excused her from class." Pinkie said sadly. "I didn't see her before class ended so I assumed she went to her next class at some point. I hope she's okay."

"Oh, I see." Twilight shifted the food around her tray before standing up.

"Did she not come to math?" Pinkie asked.

Twilight shook her head glumly.

"You alright Sugarcube?" Applejack asked.

"Yeah, I'm just worried about her. I'm going to walk around and see if I can find her. I'll meet up with you all in a bit."

"Would you like some company?" Fluttershy offered.

Twilight considered it momentarily. "No, you all finish your lunch. I'll be okay by myself."

She walked away, searching the usual places she knew Sunset hung out. Starting with the usual meeting spot she went to the stairwell that led to the history hall, then the library last. When those yielded no results she decided to double back and check the different hallways.

As she passed another classroom she got the urge to check by Sunset's locker. She turned down several more halls until she reached the hallway her locker was in. She saw two boys a ways ahead of her and caught some of what they were saying.

"Wait til she reads this one." The one on the left laughed.

"Yeah, if she even comes back to school." The right kid scoffed.

"You've got a point. Well, if she does, she'll have a little present."

The two boys stopped in front of Sunset's locker and slid something into one of the slots near the top of the door.

"Hey! What are you doing?" Twilight called after them.

They briefly faced her before taking off and disappearing around the corner. Twilight decided against giving chase and stopped at the locker. It took her a moment to remember Sunset's combination, but when she got it open she wasn't prepared for what was inside.

A large pile of papers and wrappers slid out of the bottom of the locker and piled around Twilight's feet. She stepped out of the rubbish and knelt to inspect it. She grimaced when her fingers grazed a wad of gum that had been shoved through the vent in the locker and fallen to the floor. She started unfolding papers to read what was on them and was filled with revulsion at what she read.


These were among the tamer of the insults she read. She was appalled at the language some people used. She kept sifting through the food wrappers and other papers reading a few here and there.

"Get out of our school!"
"No one likes you!"
"I wish you were dead!"

These troubled Twilight more than the insults. Some of these notes were so cruel and demeaning they caused Twilight to feel ill. She wondered how many of these Sunset had read. Twilight pulled her phone out and sent a message to her friends.

Within moments they all rounded the corner to see Twilight kneeling among a pile of paper and trash. They all read a handful of the hurtful slips of paper and felt just as upset as Twilight.

"I guess we found the reason she stopped using her locker." Rarity said.

Rainbow slammed the side of her fist against a locker. "Why didn't she tell us! We could have helped her!"

Applejack placed a reassuring hand on her girlfriend's shoulder. "We know now. And we're gonna help her whether she wants us to or not."

"But what can we do? How can we figure out who's doing this?" Pinkie asked.

Without a word Fluttershy locked eyes with Twilight. The pair nodded and knelt to pick up as many papers as they could. The others shared looks of confusion but followed their friends lead. When they finished gathering the offending slips Twilight lead the march to the principal's office.

The group of concerned friends walked past the receptionist and knocked on Principal Celestia's office. The principal opened the door to greet them.

"Oh, hello girls. Can I help you? What do you have there?"

She opened the door to let them in.

"Principal Celestia we have to talk to you. We're worried about our friend." Fluttershy spoke up first.

Celestia's expression grew serious. "Tell me what's happened."

They told the principal about Sunset's behavior change and showed her the notes that had been left in her locker. When Rainbow told the story of the interaction with Adagio, Celestia called her sister Luna in to corroborate.

"I did think it was strange that you would act as miss Dazzle described, Rainbow Dash. That's why I didn't deliver punishment."

"As soon as we found these we knew we had to do something." Twilight interjected.

Celestia was silent for a moment. "This is serious. As soon as I find out who is involved swift punishments will be enforced. I will not have any student under my watch feel ostracized or persecuted."

Celestia picked up her office phone and switched it to the intercom speakers. "Sunset Shimmer, please come to the office."

Twilight felt her stomach knot nervously. She hoped Sunset wouldn't feel pressured or ganged up on because of this. They all waited for ten anxious minutes. Twilight messaged Sunset several times, asking if she was okay and where she was. Principal Celestia called her over the intercom again, but she didn't ever show up.

They were given signed tardy slips when the late bell rang for their classes to begin. Celestia placed a gentle hand on Twilight's shoulder before she left. Twilight faced the school principal.

"Please keep me informed. I hope she knows how much you all care for her."

Twilight nodded and went to class.


View Online

Sunset parked her car in her usual spot at the hotel and leaned against her seat. Silent tears began leaking from the corners of her eyes. She let them trace tracks down her cheeks for a while before exiting her car. She was silent as she entered the hotel and made her way to the elevators. She didn't want her uncle to know she was skipping school.

When she finally made it to her room she collapsed onto the couch.

Maybe I should just disappear, make it easier for everyone. She thought as she grabbed a throw pillow and curled up around it. I do have somewhere I can go. Maybe I can jump into the school out where Mom lives if I move in with her.

The thought made her pause. Maybe that was the best option. She could get a new start with people who had no idea who she was or what she'd done. The one thing that was keeping her back was Twilight. She loved her so much and didn't want to leave her behind.

Over the next half hour she convinced herself that this was for the best. She picked up her phone and dialed her mother. In the middle of the phone ringing, that nagging inner voice from the night before re-emerged with questions she hadn't considered.

"Really? You're going to live with your mom? You're going to make her change her life for you because of your issues? Do you really think that's fair? How long before you two start fighting again?"

How could she do that to her mom? She had finally gotten settled in her new life at college and had even gotten an internship at the news station. Now Sunset was going to make her take care of her again?

"Hey Sunnybuns! How are you sweetheart?" The cheery voice of her mother said from the other end. "You caught me between classes."

Sunset blinked back the tears building up before answering. "I'm good mom. I just wanted to hear your voice."

There was a pause. "Is everything alright honey? Do you need to talk?"

Sunset could no longer hold them back. She sobbed and let the tears come.

"Sweetheart talk to me. What happened? Did Adagio do something to you!" She asked sharply.

Sunset sniffled and recomposed herself. "No... Twilight and I had a fight. It was really bad, I said some hurtful things and I'm worried she won't want to be with me anymore."

"Oh, sweetheart, I'm so sorry you two had a fight. But I'm sure she doesn't want to stop being with you. From what you've told me that girl loves you very much. And you know what, couples fight, it's a part of the process. I'm sure a sincere apology and some flowers will go a long way towards patching things up."

Sunset smiled and let out a phlegmy chuckle. "You're probably right. Thanks Mom."

"Of course I'm right! Moms know these things." Another pause. "Is there anything else you wanted to talk about sweetie?"

Sunset thought hard for a minute, she seriously considered telling her everything. She knew it would just cause her mother to worry more than she already did and kept it to herself.

"No, I'll be okay, thanks Mom."

"You're welcome Sunset. Let me know how it goes, and tell Twilight I say hi. You have to bring her out here, I'd love to meet her!"

"I will mom, I love you."

"Love you too Sunnybuns."

Sunset slumped back on the couch. She felt stuck. She didn't want to trouble her friends or family with her problems, but her problems were becoming too much to handle on her own. These thoughts circled around each other continuously in Sunset's stressed, irrational mind. Her heart raced and her head ached until a solid thought formed in her mind.

Twilight was a nervous ball of energy the rest of the day. She was unable to focus on any of her classes and found herself checking her phone far more frequently than normal. She messaged Sunset several more times, but still didn't receive an answer. Not even science could distract the worried girl.

Her phone wasn't silent though. The rest of her friends were texting her throughout class, asking if Sunset had gotten ahold of her. The vibrating phone was noticed one too many times by her last teacher of the day and her phone was confiscated. Although it was only out of her hands for forty-five minutes it felt much longer. Twilight's mind raced even faster when she heard her phone buzz in the teacher's desk drawer.

When the last bell rang to end school she retrieved the phone and after a brief guilt trip about silencing her phone in class, Twilight exited and unlocked it. Along with app notifications she saw that she had four unread texts.

"Has she said anything?" Rainbow asked.

"I can't concentrate, I'm so worried about her. How are you doing darling?" From Rarity.

"Goodbye Twilight." Sunset's message read.

"I was thinking enchiladas for dinner." Velvet said.

Sunset's message had come in only a few minutes ago. Twilight had never made a call faster in her life. She called Sunset's phone, but it rang through to voicemail.

"Hey! You've reached Sunset Shimmer, and I have missed your call. Leave a message and I'll call you back!"

The chipper voice on the other end seemed so strange. She hadn’t been that energetic in a while, and Twilight realized then how much she missed that side of her. She gritted her teeth and started running toward Applejack's locker.

"Sunset, it's Twilight! I'm coming to see you, please don't do anything stupid!"

She hung up the phone and picked up the pace until she saw Applejack and Rainbow Dash by the locker. She stopped next to them and struggled to catch her breath.

"Hold on now Sugarcube. What's the rush? Did Sunset get ahold of you?"

Twilight handed over her phone and said, "We have to get to Sunset's now!"

Applejack and Rainbow nodded with determination and followed quickly after her. Rainbow pulled out her phone and called Fluttershy as they made their way to Applejack's car. Pinkie Pie was walking toward the front doors when Rainbow called her name and without question fell in line behind them. Twilight filled Pinkie in as they ran to the parking lot. Applejack unlocked the car as soon as they arrived.

"Did you get ahold of them?" Pinkie Pie asked as they piled into the car.

"Yeah, they said they'll meet us there."

The drive to the hotel was quiet and tense. Each girl was lost in their own thoughts and worries about what they would find when they arrived. Twilight's leg wouldn't stop bouncing and she had to hold back repeatedly asking Applejack to drive faster. She knew any chance of seeing Sunset again would be gone if they were pulled over or crashed.

Twilight’s phone rang, showing her mom’s contact photo. She answered and did her best to keep her voice level.

“Hey Mom.”

“Hey sweetheart. I hadn’t heard back from you about dinner so decided to call since I’m at the store now.”

“I don’t know if I’ll be home for dinner.” Her voice shook slightly.

“What happened?” She asked, picking up on her daughter’s distress.

“Sunset’s missing. She was here this morning, but someone destroyed her art project and she left. Then we found all of these awful notes in her locker. Mom they were so cruel, I didn’t know she was dealing with so much.” Her breathing increased and she could feel panic rising in the pit of her stomach. “I didn’t know, and now she’s not answering any texts or calls and the only thing she’s sent me said goodbye. Mom what if she’s…” she couldn’t finish the thought.

Pinkie placed a gentle hand on her knee and gave Twilight a sympathetic look, her eyes shining with barely contained tears. The look said she wasn’t alone in her worry.

“Don't think like that hon. Until we know for sure, think positively."

"I'll try."

"Please keep me up to date. If your Father and I can help in any way please let us know."

"I will... I'm scared mom.

“I know honey. Let me know as soon as you know anything.”

“I will. Thanks Mom.”

She hung up and they pulled in front of the hotel and scrambled out a short time later. Rarity and Fluttershy were waiting for them outside and followed them into the lobby. Silver Dollar looked shocked to see them so suddenly.

"Girls, what's wrong?" He asked.

"Mr. Dollar have you seen Sunset?" Fluttershy asked, barely holding back the quiver in her voice.

"Uh, no. Should I have?" The question took him by surprise.

"We have to go to her room now!" Rainbow said suddenly.

"What is going on? Why are you looking for Sunset?" He asked, coming around the front desk.

Twilight lead the charge to the elevator, pressing the call button until the door opened. The ride up was tense and silent except for the impatient tapping of Twilight's foot. She was out the doors as soon as there was room enough to squeeze through. She rapped her knuckles on the door.

"Sunset! Are you in there?" She called into the closed door. She knocked again. "Sunset please open up. We're worried about you."

Silver Dollar stepped up next to her and knocked. "Sunset, I'm coming in."

He unlocked the door and swung it inward. Twilight pushed into the room and turned on the light. The room looked as Twilight had seen it so many times before. The blanket draped on the couch, a jacket left on the back of a chair, dishes drying next to the sink.

That stuck out to Twilight. Every time she'd come over there had been at least a cup in the sink waiting to be washed. Twilight took another look around the room and noticed some more weird details. The gaming system that had been a permanent part of the living room since she'd known Sunset was missing. She walked farther into the room.

"Sunset!" She called out as she went into the bedroom.

The bedroom was a mess. Clothes were strewn around the room and the bedding lay haphazardly on the mattress. Twilight looked around the room and saw the bookshelf had a large number of the books removed from it. She heard the others looking around the living room as she inspected the closet to see it nearly bare. The reality of what it all meant hit her and she had to sit down on the bed.

She's really gone. She actually left. Twilight thought as tears pricked her eyes. Why couldn't I do more?
More questions passed through her mind as she stared forward. She looked around the room the two of them had spent so much time in, the hours of cuddling and watching tv shows. The countless kisses they'd shared as they lay on the bed watching a movie. The picture she'd given Sunset for Christmas sitting on the nightstand.

"Where's the picture?" She said aloud.

"What's that Sugarcube?" Applejack poked her head in.

"I think I know where she is!" Twilight jumped up from the bed. "AJ, Rainbow come with me. I think we can still catch her."

Her two friends nodded and headed out the door.

"Can you all wait here in case she comes back?" She addressed the others.

"No problem Twilight!" Pinkie said.

Twilight saw Silver Dollar sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. She approached him and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"I'll bring her back." She told him.

"I failed her.” He said as though he hadn’t heard her. “I was supposed to watch over her, and I failed. Dawn will never speak to me again."

"You didn't fail her. Sunset didn't tell anyone what was going on." She squeezed his shoulder and repeated her affirmation. "I'll bring her back. I'll let you all know what happens."

With that she was out the door and riding the elevator with Rainbow and Applejack.

"Where are we headin'?" Applejack asked as she started the engine.

"Everfree Forest." She said.

The three of them made their way quickly to the entrance to the forest. When they arrived they saw Sunset's old SUV parked nearby. Twilight told the other two to wait for her and took off into the woods. Sunset's footsteps were easy to follow since there weren't many people taking hikes in the winter. The woods were silent except for the crunch of her shoes in the snow. She saw the tracks break away into the woods.

Twilight picked up her pace, her mind racing with all the things she wanted to say to Sunset. She pushed through the snow covered bush and saw her there. Her back was to Twilight as she stared out over the still frozen lake. She turned around and saw Twilight, and it was then that she saw the deep sadness in Sunset's eyes. Twilight marched right up to her and threw her arms around her neck.

"What are you doing here?" Sunset asked, taken by surprise.

"I'm coming to take you back home." Twilight said into her girlfriend's shoulder, refusing to loosen her hug.

"I can't go back." Sunset said quietly.

"What are you talking about?" Twilight pulled back to look her in the eyes. Those same eyes that used to light up when she saw Twilight seemed so dim now. "Of course you can come back! Everyone's waiting for you."

"No! You don't understand!"

"Then help me understand!" Twilight shouted. Her words echoing across the silent forest. "Please, help me understand what's going on. Is it the notes? We know about them and we’ve taken steps to take care of them. Adagio? What? What is it? Please, I want to help you!" Her voice broke.

Sunset's heart hurt seeing Twilight this upset. "I can't stand it..."

"What can't you stand?" She pressed.

"I can't stand being a burden." She finally said. "That's what I've become to everyone. I'm just a burden."

"No you're not! No one who cares about you thinks you're a burden."

"Tell that to Rarity! She didn't get her spot in the paper because she's friends with me! Or Rainbow Dash, who got in trouble because I couldn't say anything when Adagio showed up!" She sniffled and wiped her eyes. "Or you. I've put you through so much. I've made your life so much harder than it needs to be. That's why I'm leaving, so no one will have to be inconvenienced by my problems anymore."

"That's bull." Twilight said with a scowl. "That’s bull and you know it. You don't get to do that. You don't get to decide what we can and can't deal with and you don't get to make me fall in love with you and disappear without telling me why!" She took a moment to steady herself. "We have never seen you as a burden. You have always been someone we care about. That spot in the paper? Sure Rarity was upset, but she doesn't hold you responsible, she never has. And Rainbow has already forgiven you. As for me, the only reason my life is harder is because you weren't talking to me." She playfully kicked her shin. "I had to chase you through the woods but at least we're talking now."

Sunset let out a choked laugh followed by an exhausted sigh and sat on a downed tree. "I really messed up didn't I?"

Twilight sat next to her. "A little, but it's not too late to patch things up. We were all so worried about you."

Sunset leaned into Twilight's shoulder. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything, for keeping so many secrets from everybody and pushing you all away. For trying to do everything myself when I knew I needed help." She looked Twilight in the eyes. "For not trusting you. Can you ever forgive me?"

Twilight planted a gentle kiss on her lips. "I think I can find a way."

Sunset smiled and leaned once more on Twilight's shoulder. They sat there for a short while as the sun started dipping down lower in the sky, bathing the area in a soft orange glow. Sunset laced her fingers with Twilight's and sighed.

"How'd you know I'd be here?" She asked.

Twilight smiled. "You took the picture. The one I gave you for Christmas."

"Explain." Sunset pushed.

She chuckled. "You could have left it behind. Why didn't you?"

"Because it was a gift from you. It's important to me." Sunset responded.

"Exactly. Taking the picture told me you wanted something to remind you of home, something important. I knew this place was special to you and hoped it would be important enough to take one last look at before you left." She squeezed Sunset tighter. "I'm glad I was right."

Sunset nestled into Twilight's neck. "So am I."

The two sat a bit longer, keeping each other warm before Twilight stood and helped Sunset to her feet.

"We should probably get back. AJ and Rainbow are probably getting impatient."

"They're here?" Sunset stopped.

"They're the ones that gave me a ride." She saw the panic rising in Sunset's face and squeezed her hand. "Hey, I'll be right beside you. I promise I won't let them lay into you too hard." She teased.

"Real helpful Twi." She smiled.

The couple made the return trip easily enough. As the entrance to the forest neared, Sunset's grip on Twilight tightened. Twilight squeezed her hand reassuringly and waved at her friends in the car. The doors opened up immediately and their friends bounded towards them and stopped just short of running into them. Rainbow had a fierce look in her eyes, everyone was still, waiting for what would happen next. Rainbow threw her arms around Sunset.

"Welcome back." She said with a smile after releasing her fiery haired friend.

"I'm so sorry, I don't know what I was thinking. I just didn't want to bother you guys with my problems."

"Sunset, ya never have to worry about that with us. We'll always be there for you." She scooped Sunset in a hug of her own. "Now let's get ya home, there's some people who will be very excited to see you're safe."

"We'll meet you girls there." Twilight said. "I'm going to ride with Sunset. Gotta make sure she gets there."

"I deserved that." She smirked.

Twilight called her mom and let her know that they found her and were bringing her back home. The relief in Velvet’s voice was audible and she asked Twilight to let Sunset know she was glad she’s ok and to never scare them like that again. The drive to the hotel wasn't nearly as tense as Twilight feared. They were able to talk more about the last few weeks, Sunset told Twilight just how bad the bullying was getting and Twilight told her about going to the principal about the notes. Sunset was thankful to them all for everything they'd done, because she knew she would never have done that herself.

"Now you can stop destroying your back and use your locker again." Twilight joked.

"I dunno, I'm getting used to it." She glanced at Twilight who had fixed her with a stern glare. "Only kidding. It will actually be nice to use my locker without worrying what my peers left for me."

Sunset chewed her cheek. "I'm scared Twi. What if I've ruined my relationship with my uncle? What if he doesn't trust me anymore."

"I'm sure he'll just be happy that you're back." She squeezed her hand. "Let's get there and let everyone know you're okay."

They parked at the hotel a few minutes later. Sunset took another minute to ready herself before nodding to Twilight and opening the door. They walked together to the elevators, when they got to Sunset's floor they saw the door was open.

"Sunset!" Came a chorus of voices.

Three sets of arms enveloped Sunset before she could react.

"Don't scare us like that again darling!" Rarity scolded her.

"Oh, we're just so glad you're back Sunset. We were so worried about you." Fluttershy whimpered.

"Now we can have a welcome back party!" Pinkie cheered.

The others laughed at the ever-cheerful nature of their friend. Sunset apologized once more to her friends, her eyes brimming with tears the whole time. She scolded herself for ever doubting the loyalty and forgiveness of her friends. These girls that had accepted her warmly even after learning about her regrettable past actions. She was amazed at the patience they all had with her when she would have probably given up on herself a while ago.

It was then that she glanced up and saw her uncle sitting in her living room. Her spine tensed up as she realized what she had to do next. She looked to Twilight who nodded.

"Alright girls, let's get out of here. Sunset needs to get some rest." She said to the group.

There was some protests to Twilight's suggestion, but a few minutes later they were filing their way toward the elevator. Sunset said her final goodbyes to her friends and gave Twilight a kiss.

"Good luck." Twilight said and gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

When she turned to enter the elevator, however, she found her hand was held in place. Sunset pulled her close and held Twilight's face in her hands.

"Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me." She kissed Twilight and held it for a long time. Twilight was blushing a bright red when they finally pulled apart. "I love you."

"I love you too."

Twilight joined the others in the elevator car. As the doors closed Sunset heard one of them give a long drawn out 'awe'. She chuckled before turning toward her room, her breath quickening the closer she got. She sighed before pushing the door open.

Silver raised his head and gave an acknowledging nod. He rose from the couch and walked forward to meet her. The two of them faced each other, neither one quite knowing how to start.

"Uncle Silver I-"

"I'm so sorry Sunset." Silver interrupted.

"Why are you sorry? I'm the one who ran away."

"Because I wasn't a good enough guardian. You should have been able to talk to me about what was going on. You act so much older than your age I forget that you're still a kid. And I'm sorry you didn't feel like you could come to me."

"I did though, I wanted to talk to you, and mom, so many times, but I didn't want to trouble you. You have enough going on running the hotel and mom with her schooling and job that my problems didn't seem that important."

He placed his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. "You're family, any problem you’re going through or anything you need to talk about is important. You are one of the most important people in my life, never forget that."

She hugged him tightly, and scolded herself again for being so foolish. "Thanks Uncle Silver."

"You're more than welcome niece Sunset." They laughed at his dumb joke before he let out a long sigh. "What are we going to do about Dawn?"

She stiffened. "You didn't tell her I ran away did you?"

"No, I wanted to see if you'd come back before I told her."

"Do you mind if we keep that part a secret?" She asked sheepishly. "I'll tell her about everything else, but she has enough on her plate without worrying about her teenage daughter making a break for it."

He chuckled and turned to leave. "Sure sweetheart. And Sunset... welcome home."

She smiled, pulled out her phone and called her mom.

Time Together

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The phone call with her mom went about how she thought it would. She told her everything about the bullying and the awful notes. Tears were shed on both ends and apologies were made. Sunset wound up telling her mother about running away in the end. She didn't feel right about keeping it from her after everything that had happened. After a healthy helping of parental guilt Dawn asked a question that took Sunset by surprise.

"How are things with you and Twilight? Did you make up? You'd better buy her flowers."

"Whoa whoa Mom, that's it? A little guilt trip after I nearly ran away, never to be seen again?"

"Of course. Listen, you know what you did was the wrong way to handle the situation, I talked to you and you listened and understood what I, and everyone else was saying. I don't know that there's much more to say on the subject. Besides, I ran away when I was your age too. Though my reasons were far less justifiable."

"Wait, you did? Why did you run away? How long were you gone?"

"I went to my boyfriend's house after a fight with my dad about one thing or another. I was gone for two whole days before I got homesick. And it turns out she knew the whole time because his mom told her. None of that matters though, because you still haven't told me how you and Twilight are."

"We're fine Mom." She laughed. "She really is amazing, and I'm so lucky to be with her."

"I'm so glad you realize that and you were able to work things out. So other than what you've already told me, how is school going? Keeping your grades up?"

"Well, some of them have taken a hit, but I'm going to meet with all my teachers to see what I can do to bring them back up. What about you?"

"My grades are fantastic, I only have one 'C'! The internship is going well too! I've made a few friends and I'm learning a lot."

"That's great Mom! I'm so proud of you for chasing your dream job. You're going to be so great."

"I feel like our roles have been reversed. Aren't I supposed to say that to you?"

The two of them laughed heartily. They talked for a while longer before Sunset yawned heavily.

"Sounds like someone needs to go to bed." Dawn smiled.

"It has been a long day." She said, rubbing her eyes.

"Get some sleep Sunnybuns. And don't forget to buy those flowers."

"I'll remember Mom." She chuckled. "Goodnight Mom, love you."

"I love you too Sunset. Sleep well."

The call ended and Sunset went about with her nightly routine. After her shower she looked around her disheveled room and to her nearly empty bookshelf. She sighed, threw on some sweats and a hoodie and quickly made her way downstairs to grab her hastily packed bags. She knew if she didn't do it now it would be a couple days before she mustered up the energy to clean.

The frigid air of the parking garage stung her still wet hair.

"Cold, cold, cold, cold! Why didn't I at least put on sandals!" She yelped as she skip-ran toward her car on the cold cement ground.

She quickly gathered her things and returned to the warmth of her room as quick as humanly possible. She slipped into a pair of well-worn slippers for her cold feet before setting about to put her room back together. It was slow going at first and several times she debated leaving it for tomorrow, especially when she looked at her bed which looked so inviting. She pushed through those thoughts each time, however, and had her bookshelf and closet organized in no time. She looked around her hotel room with satisfaction and something else.

She tidied up the last of the mess and crawled between the sheets. As sleep began to overtake her exhausted body she couldn't help but reflect on the day she had. As the events made their way through her mind she smiled as a happy tear dropped to her pillow.

Sunset awoke the next morning in higher spirits than she had felt in some time, she got ready to work her usual Saturday shift at the hotel. After her shower she checked her phone and saw a few text messages from Twilight.

The first message read, "Good morning Sunset! I hope you slept well. Just wanted to say I love you."

Then a few minutes later. "Do you want to do something tonight or tomorrow? My treat. I feel like it's been a while since we've been on a date."

She was right, it had been a while since they'd been on a proper date. She'd been so caught up with her troubles that she'd neglected their relationship. She'd even stopped hanging out with her as frequently.

"Sounds great! I get off at 5 so I'll pick you up around 5;30."

Twilight sent a picture of herself blowing a kiss at the screen with the caption, "See you then."

She chuckled and put on her uniform, ready to attack the day. The hotel wasn't too busy this time of year as winter was drawing to a close, so there weren't many rooms to clean up. All the same, she deep cleaned the newly empty rooms and refreshed others.

The shift moved along pretty quickly and when five o'clock rolled around Sunset quickly took a shower to rinse off the work sweat and changed into more comfortable clothes. She let Twilight know she was on her way and eagerly drove toward the Sparkle house, making a quick stop to buy a bouquet of flowers. When she knocked on the door she was greeted by Velvet who immediately scooped her into a warm hug.

"It's so good to see you again Sunset, we've missed having you around." She released her after a final squeeze.

"Yeah, sorry about that." She rubbed the back of her neck. "I missed you too."

Velvet let her inside and offered her a mug of hot cider. "Twilight and I just made it. Now, it is our first batch ever so i hope you don't mind being our guinea pig."

Sunset chuckled as Twilight came around the corner with her father, each with two steaming mugs of the hot beverage. Twilight handed a mug to Sunset, who clasped it in both hands, the warm ceramic driving away the cold. The drink smelled deliciously of apple and cinnamon and filled her with thoughts of cuddling next to a fire. The four of them clinked mugs and drank. They each let out a satisfied sigh as the beverage warmed their stomachs.

"Great work you two." Nightlight beamed.

"Yeah, this is delicious!" Sunset praised and gave Twilight a kiss on her cheek. "Also, these are for you."

"Oh, Sunset they're beautiful!" She inhaled the floral aroma. "What's the occasion?"

"A wise woman told me that a great way to apologize to someone you love is a bouquet of flowers, and I have a lot to apologize for. So expect at least a few more."

Twilight kissed Sunset again. "I won't object."

She smiled and left to place her flowers in a vase. When she returned Velvet motioned toward the living room where they all took a seat. After some light conversation Sunset decided to get the Sparkles caught up on everything that happened in her own words. They had protested, not wanting her to feel like she had to relive it all again.

"No, it's ok. I wanted to tell you, because you're important to me and you've been so good to me so you deserve the whole story."

Velvet rose and hugged her tightly. She was touched that she thought so highly of them and she realized then that she would do anything for this girl that had become another member of the family. Velvet returned to her spot and asked what their plan was for their date.

"I think we decided on going bowling." Sunset smiled. "Something fun and light."

"Any dinner plans?" Nightlight asked.

"Probably really bad for us bowling alley food that we will almost surely regret eating later." Twilight joked.

"You can't beat those messy nachos though." Sunset said wistfully.

Twilight playfully rolled her eyes. "We'll probably come back here and watch a movie afterwards."

"Sounds like you two have a good evening ahead of you." Nightlight smiled. "We'll see you when you get back."

They wished the young couple well and sent them on their way. Twilight didn't let go of Sunset's hand the whole drive. She held it lovingly and absentmindedly traced their interlocked fingers as Sunset drove. She suddenly leaned across the center column and wrapped her arms around Sunset's non-busy arm, leaning on her shoulder.

Sunset leaned over and kissed Twilight's head. "What's that for?"

"I'm just happy to have you back." She blushed.

"You might not think so pretty soon. Not to brag or anything, but I'm pretty okay at bowling."

"Pretty okay huh? Well I'm going to be giving you a run for your money with my acceptably adequate bowling skills." Twilight retorted.

"We are going to put on quite the average show for the other bowlers."

They arrived at Spare Time, Canterlot's most popular bowling alley-indoor miniature golf combo. Twilight paid for the game and shoe rental and after they set their stuff down at their lane they went to the concession stand to get some food.

"Hi, what can I get for you today?" The girl at the register asked.

"Could we get a pepperoni pizza, two large drinks and a pitcher to refill them. Anything else?" Twilight asked.

"I'll get myself a nacho." She offered.

"Add a nacho as well please." Twilight smiled.

"Babe, I said I'd get it." Sunset protested.

"And I told you that tonight was my treat. I've got this."

The girl gave them the total and as Twilight was handing over her card Sunset thrust her own forward. Since Twilight was expecting this she grabbed Sunset's arm and almost threw her card at the poor confused cashier. Before she could take the card, Sunset was wrapped around Twilight's waist and trying to pull her down while inching closer with her arm outstretched. Twilight lost her balance and fell on top of Sunset. Taking advantage of the situation she grabbed Sunset's card and slapped her own onto the counter.

"Hurry and swipe it! I've got her trapped!" Twilight cried out through her laughing.

"Woman! Let me pay for something!" Sunset kicked her feet like a toddler under Twilight.

"You always pay, it's my turn!"

The cashier smiled and shook her head as she finished the transaction and slid the card to the edge of the counter. "What lane are you on?"

"We're on lane fifteen." Twilight answered, straightening her glasses.

"Have a good night, we'll bring your food to your lane when it's ready." She chuckled.

Twilight thanked her and helped Sunset to her feet. She kissed her lips and smiled victoriously at her girlfriend. Sunset resisted the urge to smile and kiss her back, determined to hold her exaggerated pout. Twilight saw her efforts and knew just how to counter.

"Aww Sunset don't be mad." She clasped her hands in front of herself and jutted out her bottom lip. "Pwease fowgive me."

Sunset's face broke into a smile when she couldn't contain her laughter. "Ew stop that! You know baby talk creeps me out."

Twilight followed Sunset to their lane, continuing her baby talk the whole time. "Sowwy Sunset, I cant hewp mysewf, I don't want you to be mad at m-"

Her words were cut short as Sunset planted a kiss on her. "I'm not mad anymore. Now please stop." She pleaded.

"Okay! Now let's see who is more mediocre at bowling!"

The two found bowling balls they liked and set up the board. After each bowl the one waiting would give an encouraging cheer and a hug regardless of whether or not pins were knocked over. Sunset noticed a few annoyed looks shot their way but ignored them. Around frame four their food was brought out to them in all its greasy glory.

"Oh, we are definitely going to regret this." Sunset said before taking a big bite from her slice of pizza.

Twilight couldn't help but laugh as she dabbed her pizza with a napkin.

They continued their game, dancing and cheering each other on. When the food was eaten and the game finished, they decided to play a quick game of mini golf. Sunset resisted the urge to argue over who paid for the game and was rewarded with a kiss.

"I know how hard that was for you." Twilight teased her.

Sunset collected the clubs and neon colored golf balls. "So difficult. I think I should get something else since I didn't say a word."

"Oh, is that so?" She smirked. "And what is it you'd like?"

Sunset made a show of pondering her prize. "Hmm... surprise me."

"Alright, now come on I've got to whoop your butt at mini golf."

Twilight extended her hand and took Sunsets. They walked toward the course and as they drew closer Twilight pulled Sunset closer and slid her girlfriend's hand into her back pocket. It took Sunset a moment to realize where her hand was, and when she did she glanced at Twilight who was staring headlong with a deep blush on her face. She smiled at her adorable concentrated expression and put Twilight's hand in her own p back pocket. This seemed to put her at ease. She smiled sheepishly at Sunset who gave her a playful wink. They walked together into the black light lit mini golf course, hands on each other's backsides.

Twilight set up her ball on the first hole and prepared to take the shot.

"I can feel you staring at my butt." She teased.

"It can't be helped, I have been given a glimpse of something wonderful." Sunset responded.

Twilight laughed and her ball ricocheted off the bumpers, failing to get anywhere near the hole. She frowned and shrugged before making room for Sunset to set up. Sunset was eyeing the path she wanted to hit her ball when she heard rapid steps approaching her and just before her club connected with the ball Twilight smacked her butt. The ball arched up and over the designated green, bounced twice and rolled into the corner of the room.

"Hey, I call cheating!" Sunset protested.

"Let's ask the judges." Twilight looked around the empty area. "They say everything looks good."

Sunset retrieved her ball. "So that's how we're gonna play it?"

Twilight winked and stuck out her tongue. "I guess so."

"Let's do this."

The two found new and creative ways to distract each other at first. Their tactics ranged from loud fake coughs to strange little dances in the path of the ball. The game eventually devolved into them trying to hit the balls into each other. They had been keeping score and laughed at how not once did they get under par on any hole. After Twilight's ball sent Sunset's to bounce off the snout of the tiger statue guarding the current hole Sunset called a time out.

"Alright, this is getting nowhere fast." Sunset laughed. "How about we call a truce?"

Twilight eyed Sunset suspiciously. "Okay, but no funny business."

The two clasped hands and Sunset kicked Twilight's ball. "All the funny business! Never trust your enemy!" Sunset yelled theatrically.

The ball left the course and bounced off the wall toward the next hole. It hit the Alligator, ricocheting into the bumper and rolling into the hole.

Twilight doubled over in laughter as Sunset let her club fall to the ground in disbelief.

"How! How does that even happen? I mean seriously, what are the odds?" Sunset threw her arms up.

Through fits of laughter Twilight answered. "I could give you a statistic, but I just want to take in this victory."

"Victory? What are you talking about?"

"The hole in one you just gave me. Thanks for that by the way." She gave Sunset a peck on the cheek.

"I would argue that I get the points since I was the one who did the kicking."

"My ball, my points." Twilight crossed her arms and smirked. "I can't help it if you didn't decide to kick your own ball."

"Yeah, cuz I could have totally predicted that that was going to happen." She argued.

"Not my problem." She shrugged.

Sunset wrapped her arms around Twilight's waist and rested her chin on her shoulder. "You're such a brat. I think my attitude is rubbing off on you."

Twilight placed her arms over Sunset's and leaned into her. "Maybe, but seeing as this will never get resolved with just us I vote we take it to our panel of judges."

Sunset rolled her eyes but agreed. They drafted a group message to all their friends explaining what had happened. After a few more holes the responses started to come in.

"I have to side with Sunset. She's the one who actually "made the shot"." Rainbow wrote.

"I dunno, seems like it should go to the one that wasn't cheatin'." Applejack weighed in.

"Apparently AJ and I have different ideas of cheating and creative gameplay ;P"

A few minutes later they got texts from the others and the score was still split down the middle.

"Well that didn't solve anything." Twilight chuckled.

"I guess we'll never know who was right or wrong. Even though it was clearly me." She quickly muttered.

"I suppose I agree with you. You were wrong."

Twilight tried to walk ahead, but Sunset pulled her back. "You're not getting away that easily. I saw what you did there." She laughed.

"Shucks, and I thought I'd be able to sneak it past you."

Just then their phones buzzed. "So I've changed my stance. AJ used "creative gameplay" to beat me in a race in Mario Kart... sorry Sunset."

"Traitor!" Sunset responded.

"Do we even want to know?" Rarity joked.

"She kissed me and kept an eye on the screen! I've never felt so betrayed!"

Applejack simply sent an emoji with a big cheesy grin.

Twilight shook her head. "Those two are too much."

"Aren't they though?" Sunset grinned.

"So it would seem that I won this debate." Twilight smirked.

Sunset rolled her eyes with a smile. "Fine, I concede defeat to you m'lady." Sunset bowed dramatically.

Playing along, Twilight tapped her club on the ground as though it were a scepter. "By royal decree I hereby sentence you to carry me as a knight would carry a fair maiden to the last two holes."

There was an impatient cough from behind them. A lanky boy and his friends were looking at them.

"Can we play this hole?" He sneered.

Twilight blushed and began stammering a response. Sunset gathered their things and scooped her up in her arms.

In a bad English accent she responded. "My sincerest apologies squire. M'lady and I shall galavant over yonder post haste!"

The boy rolled his eyes. "Whatever."

Twilight laughed as Sunset carried her the ten feet to the next hole.

"Thank you my valiant knight." She held out her hand to be kissed like a proper fair maiden.

Sunset bowed and gently kissed it. "'Twas nothing. Shall we continue this game of miniature golf?"

"We shall." She curtsied.

They finished up their game and returned the equipment. When they got situated in the car, Twilight leaned across the center column and kissed Sunset's cheek as she started the engine.

"Thank you." Twilight smiled.

"For what?"

"For being my knight and rescuing me from that awkward situation."

"Of course, I will always rescue you from awkwardness."

"I mean it. It's a little thing but it meant a lot to me."

Sunset took Twilight's hand and gave it a little kiss. "Of course m'lady."

When they arrived back at Twilight's house, Nightlight was climbing out of his car with a Sugarcube Corner box and a large styrofoam cup.

"Hey Girls! How was bowling?"

"It was good, I won by five points." Twilight responded.

"Good job Twilight. What was your final score?" Nightlight asked knowingly.


"Oh good, you did better than last time." He chuckled.

"Har har dad, it's hard to aim with those balls!"

"How many games did you play?"'

"Just one game of bowling and one round of mini golf." Sunset told him. "What's in the box?"

"Oh, Velvet was craving sweets so I went out and got some donuts and a mint shake."

"If some of those donuts go missing it wasn't me."

Nightlight chuckled. "I've got my eye on you Sunset."

The four of them split the donuts and drank cocoa as the young couple recounted their evening. Velvet and Nightlight bid them goodnight while they tried to figure out what movie to watch.

"What about this one?" Sunset asked while holding out a movie that caught her eye.

"Sure, I've caught bits and pieces when my parents are watching it. It looks pretty good."

They set up the movie and got comfortable on the couch. Twilight grabbed a blanket and snuggled into Sunset. As the movie played they found their eyelids getting heavier. Twilight slid down lower until her head was in Sunset's lap and drifted off while Sunset stroked her hair. Sunset shifted so that they were spooning each other and soon followed Twilight's lead.

After hearing the menu's music repeat for the twentieth time, Twilight's parents came down the stairs to check on them.

"Mystery solved." Nightlight chuckled. "They're both sound asleep."

He moved to wake them so Twilight could go to her room when Velvet placed a hand on his arm.

"Let them sleep, they look so comfortable I'd hate to disturb them."

They turned off the tv and repositioned the blanket to cover them both before they went to bed. After the living room light was flipped off Sunset pulled Twilight closer and snored softly.

Lazy Sunday

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Sunset awoke the next morning with a start. She immediately realized she wasn't at home. The first thing she saw was the still sleeping face of Twilight.

I could get used to this. She thought with a smile.

She planted a small kiss on Twilight's lips and her eyes fluttered open. When she saw Sunset she smiled and stretched before hugging her close.

"Good morning." She said in a raspy voice. "How did you sleep?"

"Very well." She responded with a twinkle in her eye. "I should probably switch to a different spot before your parents learn we 'slept together'." She made swishes with her fingers.

"We already know." Velvet said, coming down the stairs. "Morning girls, French toast sound good for breakfast?"

Velvet entered the kitchen. Twilight and Sunset smiled at each other and got off the couch. Sunset let out a snort as she attempted to suppress a laugh.

"What's so funny?" Twilight asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Your hair is perfectly split down the middle."

Twilight raised a hand to her head. The right side was a little tangled but fell straight as it usually did. The left side was bunched up on the side and had strands that seemed to defy gravity. She blushed and tried to straighten out her hair as best she could.

"You're not much better." She motioned to the mess of red and gold hair.

Sunset flattened it before embracing her. "You're just jealous because I make this look good."

Twilight swatted her butt playfully and headed toward the kitchen. "What can we help with Mom?"

"Could you two start scrambling eggs? There should be a new carton on the top shelf."

The two of them took turns cracking eggs, Sunset even tried her hand at cracking one-handed. After five minutes of picking shell fragments out of the eggs they separated enough for the toast and gave the rest to Velvet to be cooked. They added the other ingredients to the mix and Velvet instructed them on how to make french toast while she cooked the eggs. A few minutes later, Nightlight walked down the stairs and inhaled deeply.

"Mmm something smells delicious."

"Convenient of you to join us now when there's not much left to do." Velvet chided him.

"You know I'm useless in the kitchen. The grill is where I shine." He hugged his wife from behind and kissed her cheek. "Good morning my dear."

She chuckled. "Good morning to you too, but you're not getting out of helping that easy. You're setting the table."

He smiled and grabbed the necessary dishes for four people. The kitchen smelled heavily of delicious breakfast. On more than one occasion Sunset's stomach audibly growled. Both Twilight and Velvet teased her when they heard it.

"That's not fair, I don't have a teammate." She dipped the last slice of bread into the egg mix and put it on the skillet. "I can't help it if my stomach isn't afraid of public speaking."

Velvet returned from placing the pan of eggs on the table. "It's okay Sunset, I think it just means we did everything right."

"I'll say." She inhaled the sweet aroma of the French toast before placing it on the plate with the others.

The four of them ate the meal and talked excitedly. Twilight noticed, with a smile, the way Sunset would occasionally take a forkful of eggs and lightly dip it in the excess syrup. She logged it away with the other endearing quirks she loved about her. Like the way she twirled a strand of hair around her finger when she was deep in thought, and how she rubs her eyebrow with her thumb when she gets tired. She was looking dreamily at Sunset while thinking about this when she heard her dad saying her name.

"About time you heard me." He teased.

"Sorry, what were you saying? I was-"

"Distracted?" He raised an eyebrow.

Twilight scrunched her face at him which Sunset found adorable.

"I was asking if you'd like to go driving today."

"Sure, would you like to join us?" She asked Sunset.

"I'd love to! I've been curious how your driving is coming along."

"It's... coming." She said nervously.

"Oh don't listen to her." Nightlight interjected. "She's been doing great."

They helped Velvet clean up and wash the dishes before loading up into the car. Sunset took the seat behind Twilight. She gripped the wheel and pulled onto the road. Sunset was impressed at how comfortable she seemed already. Other than a few rough stops she seemed to be getting the hang of it.

"Alright, now turn left up here." Nightlight instructed. "We're going on the highway."

Twilight tensed up. "I don't know if I'm ready."

"You've got this kiddo. It's the last place you need practice on."

"Do I though? I can just stay in town my whole life." She joked with a waver in her voice.

"You can do this babe." Sunset gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

Twilight exhaled as the car drove onto the entrance. She sat rigidly in her seat with both hands on the wheel. She saw an opening and turned the wheel a little roughly to merge onto the highway.


"It's ok. Next time, take your time, you want to slide into traffic like you're sliding into DMs."

Twilight let out a shaky laugh. "Gross Dad."

"What? Did I not use that correctly?" He chuckled. "Okay, now I want you to try merging. Turn on your blinker, check your mirrors and blind spot, then turn the wheel gradually."

It took a minute for another driver to give her the room she needed, but when she was able to she moved into the next lane. Her father congratulated her and she felt good, but she was still really nervous to be on the highway. Her heart was beating quickly when she felt a cool hand gently press against the base of her neck. She felt herself relax as Sunset gently massaged the area. She hazarded a quick look back and gave her a grateful smile. She drove on the highway a little longer before Nightlight had her turn off onto an exit that allowed them to get back home.

"How'd it go?" Velvet asked when they walked in the door.

"It was good. Dad took me to the highway and it wasn't as scary as I thought it'd be."

"Glad to hear it hon." She moved over on the couch to make room for her husband. "So what is your plan miss Sunset? Do you work today?"

"Nope, I'm free as a bird." She opened her arms wide and flapped.

"Would you like to hang around and join us for dinner? Shining Armor and Cadence are coming over tonight."

"Absolutely! I haven't seen them in so long!"

Velvet smiled. "I hope you like pork roast."

After visiting with the parents for a while Twilight and Sunset broke away and walked to the park. The weather was starting to warm up and melt the snow. The park already had several areas that were showing grass. They chose a bench and huddled together on the seat. Twilight leaned her head on Sunset's shoulder and watched a group of children making the most of the snow they had left and building a snowman. She smiled at the memory of their snow-woman and let out a little chuckle.

"What are you laughing at?" Sunset playfully nudged Twilight.

"I'm just thinking about everything that's happened this year."

"It has been a wild ride." She wrapped an arm around Twilight's shoulders and kissed the side of her head. "I'm sorry I've been so distant the last while."

"Hey, it's fine. You had a lot of stuff you were dealing with."

"I know I did, but I still shouldn't have neglected you like that. I'm sorry."

She gently shoved Sunset's shoulder. "I thought we agreed that there were enough apologies already?"

"Alright, alright, no need to resort to violence."

Twilight hugged her. "Hush you. So what should we do now? We've got the whole day ahead of us."

"If I tell you you can't laugh."

"I promise nothing." Twilight smirked.

"I really want to go down that slide." She pointed to the tall twisty slide on the playground.

Twilight stood and held out her hand. "Then that's what we'll do."

Sunset smiled and took her hand. Before Twilight could react Sunset was pulling her toward the playground and up the steps. When they arrived at the top Sunset grabbed the bar over the entrance to the slide and used it to swing herself onto the plastic spiral. She landed hard, causing the slide to shake momentarily. Twilight laughed as she saw her disappear around the first curve. She followed after and slid into Sunset's back, wrapping her arms and legs around her from behind.

"Was it all you hoped it would be?" Twilight asked.

"Hmm, not quite." She said while looking around.

"What are you thinking?"

"You'll see."

Sunset stood up and grabbed a handful of snow from the grass. She quickly made her way back to the top of the slide. Twilight followed and shook her head, getting an idea of what her plan was. Sunset placed the snow on the platform and rubbed the soles of her shoes in it. She turned and gave Twilight a mischievous grin.

"You're crazy, you know that?"

"And yet you love me." She winked. "Think of it as an experiment. I'm testing the slipperiness of wet rubber on cold plastic and how fast the reaction will shoot a human down a twisty structure. My prediction, real fast.

Twilight laughed. "A few more scientific words and you've almost got a hypothesis."

"Care to help me on my scientific quest?"

"Please don't hurt yourself."

Sunset smiled and squatted down before scooting forward. She slid down considerably slower with her shoes squeaking the whole time. When she reached the bottom she stepped out and looked up at Twilight with a frown.

"That did not go as planned."

"I'm sorry babe."

"That's alright. On to the next test!"

"There's more?"

"Of course there's more, I'm a scientist. I just left my lab coat at home."

Twilight felt her cheeks grow warm as an image of Sunset in a lab coat entered her mind.

"Alright, what is your next test?"

Sunset tried a few more ways to increase her speed while sliding and found the best was to sit on some snow and keep her feet off the slide. After the third time she tried to convince Twilight to try.

"I dunno. I don't really want to push my luck and break my arm or something."

"I promise I'll catch you." Sunset called from the bottom of the slide.

Twilight rolled her eyes and held out her hands. Sunset tossed up a decent amount of snow and excitedly bounced on the balls of her feet. Twilight nervously readied herself and pushed off. She felt butterflies as she picked up speed and before she knew it she was shooting down the slide and into the waiting form of her girlfriend. Sunset wrapped her arms around her and cushioned her fall as they both laughed on the cold ground.

"Hey there sexy." Sunset winked. "See, that wasn't so bad."

Twilight straddled Sunset and planted her hands on the ground to look in her eyes. Her long hair falling on either side of them. "Only because you were there to catch me."

"And I always will be."

Twilight smiled and lowered herself to meet Sunset's lips. They kissed, their faces hidden in the comfort of Twilight's violet hair. After several moments Sunset attempted to break the kiss. Twilight shook her head with a smirk and kissed her again.

"Mm, Twilight, babe." Sunset gasped when she was able to break free.

"Hmm." She responded.

"I'm all for p.d.a.," She said between kisses. "but we are at a park with kids around. This might be a bit much. Also my butt is frozen."

Twilight sat up, face flushed with color. She stood and held out a hand for Sunset. One rowdy boy who looked around thirteen called out after them with a well worded, 'ow ow!'.

Twilight pulled her hood over her head and pulled the strings to hide herself more, her cheeks burning. Sunset chuckled and draped an arm around her shoulder before turning back toward the group of younger kids and sticking her tongue out at them. Once they were a block away from the park, Twilight finally broke down and laughed about the situation.

"I can't believe we were just making out in public! I used to turn my nose up at couples that did that." She chuckled. "And I was the one that started it!"

"I know! I would have expected that sort of behavior from me. I think your girlfriend is a bad influence on you babe."

"Nah, she's just irresistible." She winked.

This time it was Sunset's cheeks that reddened. She smiled and scooped her into a hug before kissing her.

"You're pretty irresistible too."

They walked the rest of the way back to Twilight's, hands clasped together not caring about the cold. As they approached they noticed a second car that wasn't there when they left. Twilight gasped excitedly when she recognized her brother's car.

"Shining and Cadence are here!"

Sunset nearly slipped on the lawn as Twilight dragged her toward the front door. Twilight burst through the door and pushed past her brother to throw her arms around Cadence.

"I see where your loyalties lie!" Shining Armor called with mock hurt in his voice.

"Don't take it too hard, I'm sure I would have gotten the same treatment." Sunset joked as they watched the two perform their usual greeting.

"How have you been Sunset?"

"Can't complain. I was going through a bit of a rough patch, but I think it's behind me for the most part now."

"I'm glad things are looking up."

"Me too." She smiled and took a seat on the couch. "So how have you been? It's been a while."

Shining Armor sat in the slightly over stuffed chair his dad always sat in. "I've been good. Though I may have over stretched myself this semester. I decided to take an extra class and I'm really feeling the mental drain right now."

"At least it's one less class you'll have to take later right?" She smiled.

"That's true. If I keep it up maybe I can graduate a semester early."

"There you go, motivation! What are you majoring in?"

"I've made myself a pariah by going into communications instead of education." He made a show of looking ashamed of his life choice. "What about you? Any idea what you want to go into after you graduate?"

"I dunno, maybe an english major?"

"Oh, do you have an interest in writing?"

"It's kind of new, but I took a creative writing class and I've really enjoyed it so far." She smiled.

"What have you written?"

"We've had to write a couple poems, a short story and I have a couple fan fiction ideas I've started on my own time."

Shining armor chuckled. "My sister's dating a nerd." He said playfully.

"So is Cadence. Twilight's told me about your weekly Dungeons and Dragons games you go to."

"Hey, what about you? She's told me you both want to start playing."

"I never said I wasn't a nerd, I just had to humble you." She smirked.

"I'm telling my sister you're picking on me."

They both started laughing which caught the attention of their partners.

"What's so funny over here?" Cadence asked as she leaned against Shining Armor.

"Just putting your boyfriend in his place."

"Oh good, he needs that from time to time." Cadence kissed his cheek.

"I'm feeling so attacked right now."

"Leave my boy alone, he's sensitive!" Velvet said with mock seriousness as she and her husband entered the room.

"Yeah, you tell 'em Mom!"

After the room settled down Velvet announced that dinner would be done in a couple hours. While the others loaded up Mario Kart, Sunset and Velvet talked about writing.

"So I overheard you talking to Shining. I didn't know you were that interested in writing." She said with a smile.

"Yeah, I took the class as a filler and realized I was really loving it."

"I'm glad to hear that. What do you want to write?"

"I don't know yet, fantasy maybe? I really like horror movies so maybe I'll try my hand at that. Or maybe I'll write a memoir about this year." She joked.

"That may not be a bad idea." She placed a finger to her chin. "People love a redemption story." She smiled.

Sunset smiled back. "Maybe I will. Do you really think people would read it?"

Velvet nodded. "You have a way with telling personal stories. Whenever you tell us stories from your past I'm captivated."

Sunset welled with a sense of pride at her words. It was then that Spike came bounding in from the other room. He yipped and leapt onto Sunset's lap. She was barely able to pet his head before the beagle pup hopped to the floor to make the rounds for other people's attention.

"He's gotten big." Sunset observed.

"Yeah," Velvet agreed, leaning forward to scratch the dog behind the ear. "but luckily he's pretty much done growing so he can still be a lap dog."

"He would probably still think he’s a lap dog regardless of how big he got."

"You're probably right." She chuckled.

"How is your book coming along?"

"I'm nearly done actually. I just need to finish the last two chapters before sending it off to my editor for a final proofread, then it's off to get published."

"That's so exciting! I'll have to get a copy and have you sign it!"

This caused Velvet to smile broadly. "Of course, I'd love to sign your copy!"

"You know, I don't know that I've ever asked about your writing and I'm sorry about that. Anything I would have read?"

"It's fine." She chuckled. "Probably not, so far it's been easy reader mystery stories for grade schoolers. They did pretty well, this will be my first full length novel. It's a little intimidating, but my publisher seems to think it will sell."

"Awesome, I'll have to track them down. So will this be a mystery too?"

"Mhmm." She nodded.

"Can I hear a bit about it?" She asked, leaning in.

The two talked for a while about Velvet's story. She was careful to not give too much away so Sunset would be able to fully enjoy it when it was released. Eventually the others wrangled them into playing video games. Despite Velvet's assurance that she wasn't any good, she held her own pretty well. She excused herself to finish dinner and soon they were all seated around the dinner table. The food was delicious. Sunset had a heaping pile of mashed potatoes with gravy drizzled over them and the meat.

She looked around the table at the smiling family that had taken her in, damaged as she is. She couldn't help but smile as she looked at each member.

"Are you okay Sunset?" Cadence asked. "You've been smiling for a long time."

"I'm just really happy. Happy and grateful for all of you. You give me hope that I can have a normal life."

Twilight gave her hand a squeeze as the others smiled back at her. They finished dinner and went back to the living room to play card games and visit with each other. Cadence talked about the courses she was taking and how excited she was to go into her career as a psychologist. Sunset and Shining exchanged playful barbs about being nerds when they started talking about video games and their favorite tv shows. All the while Twilight was winning games back to back. After the third game in a row of Apples-to-Apples Sunset tossed her cards onto the floor in front of her and turned to glare at Twilight, who met her sour gaze with a smile.

"How? How are you so good at these games?"

Twilight giggled and wrapped her in the blanket she had been using to stay warm. "It's all about strategy and knowing the judge my dear."

Sunset grabbed her side of the blanket and scooted closer to Twilight. "Well, I call shenanigans! You've gotten to know them since you were born. I'm a newcomer."

"Don't worry Sunset, you've got plenty of time to get to know us." Nightlight smiled.

"Then I'll finally crush your adorable face at these games." She squeezed Twilight's cheeks and kissed her nose.

After a few more games it was time for Sunset to go home. She made the rounds, hugging each member of the family. She and Twilight walked to her car and said their goodbyes. They held each other against the breeze that picked up around them.

"Do you have to go?" Twilight pouted.

"Unfortunately, yes. I've got to get ready for school tomorrow. You'll be fine without me for a few hours." She teased.

"I guess so."

"Come on, don't be like that." She tickled Twilight's sides. "I'll see you at your locker bright and early, I promise."

That proved acceptable to Twilight and she gave Sunset one last long kiss before going back inside. Sunset drove home with a smile on her face. However, as the prospect of returning to school loomed ever closer, worry started to build in the pit of her stomach. She pushed the feeling down, telling herself that everything would be fine.

Back To School... Again

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Twilight waited at her locker for Sunset. There was still plenty of time for her to get there, but she still couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't going to show up. She didn't like these thoughts entering her head, but she couldn't shake them. She was tapping her feet with nervous energy when she heard Sunset's voice call her name.

"Hey Twi! Sorry for running a little late, there was a fender bender that held me up for a bit. Were you waiting long?"

"Not long at all. That's an interesting way to carry your backpack." She pointed at the upside down bag slung in front of her chest.

"Yeah, I didn't get a chance to buy a new one since somebody kept me busy all weekend."

"Oh you poor thing." She teased back. "I do feel bad that you have to carry your things like that though."

"Don't worry about it. I'll just drop them off and stop at my locker between classes. I'll buy a new one after school."

She smiled brightly and took Sunset's hand. "Sounds like a plan. Let's unload your stuff and find the others!"

The search didn't take long as everyone was sitting at a table in the cafeteria enjoying breakfast. They waved as they passed to get in line for their own meals. Sunset glanced at the screen in the cafeteria and noticed that the Student Spotlight was Vynil. It had a list of fun facts about her including her stage name, 'DJ Pon3'. She smiled, happy to see she had used the silly feature to spread more awareness of her music. Sunset leaned against the wall and gently pulled Twilight against her so she could hold her from behind.

Twilight sighed contentedly, feeling protected in her arms while they waited for the crowded line to move ahead. The girl in front of them glanced back at Sunset with a sneer and put some more space between them. Twilight rolled her eyes, but looked back at Sunset regardless. She noticed that she had a fixed gaze on the floor which told her she'd seen the look. Twilight soothingly rubbed the back of her hand with her thumb and gave her a kiss on the cheek. This seemed to change her mood.

They talked about the classes they had that day and which ones they were excited for while the line steadily moved forward. With trays in hand they made their way to their table. They were deep in conversation and didn't see the boy approaching them from the side with a look of mischief in his eyes. They were only alerted to his presence when Rainbow Dash nonchalantly walked into him, the force of it threw him off balance. He turned to see who had ruined his fun and she fixed him with a serious look that froze whatever he was going to say in his throat.

"Whoa, sorry about that. I should have watched where I was going." The steely glint in her eye betrayed her smile and cheery apology.

"Uh, it's cool, whatever." He plunged his hands in his pockets and walked back to his table.

"Hey you two, how was your weekend?"

When they got to the table they all shared what they did over the weekend. They all fell easily into conversation as though the events of the previous Friday hadn't happened. This put Sunset at ease. She had been worried things would be uncomfortable when she returned to school.

Fluttershy and Rarity had spent Saturday at the animal shelter, which inspired Rarity to design a line of couture pet clothes starting with a winter line. Applejack and Rainbow had a marathon gaming session at Rainbow's house. She had been getting more into them recently, due in no small part to Rainbow. Cheese had taken Pinkie out on a romantic date to her favorite restaurant followed by dancing.

When they had all finished their food, the group went to their usual spot in front of Rainbow and Twilight's lockers. They continued their conversations, all of them happy to have the sense of normalcy back in their little group. When the bell finally rang to call the students to class Twilight noticed Sunset stiffen up.

The two of them stopped at Sunset's locker so she could get the necessary supplies for her class. They walked hand in hand to their Psychology class. She noticed Sunset still seemed tense the whole time, with worry resting behind her eyes. Just before they arrived Twilight stopped and gently placed her hands on Sunset's cheeks, looking deeply in her eyes.

"What are you doing?" Sunset smiled.

"You can do this. Just take it one class at a time." She kissed her lovingly.

Sunset's smile widened and she took one of Twilight's hands and kissed the palm. "Thank you."

Twilight replaced her hand and gently smushed Sunset's cheeks together before kissing her again. "I love you."

She gave Sunset's hand a squeeze before walking into class together. She smiled at Miss Cherry Bellum before taking their usual seats. It was fifteen minutes into class before the first subtle insult was muttered in their direction from Quick Wit. They had learned to tune him out and kept their attention on the lesson. When he saw no reaction from either of them he kept making rude remarks and trying to get a rise out of them until the teacher caught him and warned him if he didn't stop she'd send him to the office. He apologized and sulked for the remainder of the period.

During the last part of class they took the opportunity to catch up with Berry Punch. They smiled when she told them about her date she had with Party Favor. She was telling them how good a time she had and how she hopes he asks her out again when the bell rang to excuse them from class.

"I'm sure he'll ask you out again!" Twilight said excitedly. "How could he not? It sounds like you two had a great time, plus you're a total catch!"

Berry Punch blushed. "Oh come on, you're being too nice."

Sunset smiled as she collected her things. "You are though. If he doesn't see it, it's his loss."

"Well we've been texting a lot so I think he sees it." Berry Punch giggled.

They wished their friend a good day and made their way toward the library. Twilight felt Sunset hesitate as they entered the room. Twilight went to one of the tables while Sunset retrieved a book before joining her. Twilight was finishing up her homework when she noticed Sunset's leg was bouncing anxiously and she was chewing her thumb nail.

Twilight placed a gentle hand on her knee. "Is everything alright?"

She jumped in surprise. "Yeah... sort of. I guess I'm a little uncomfortable being here since last time we were, we had a fight." She paused. "Is that dumb?"

"No, I see what you mean." She smiled. "There is a little bit of weirdness left over. Where would you like to go instead?"

"Want to go to the computer lab? We can take the scenic route and stop by my locker."

"Sounds wonderful." She said while gathering her things. "I just have to grab a book real quick."

Twilight approached the librarian's desk. "Good morning Mr. Decimal."

"Good morning to you too." Dewey Decimal said cheerfully. "Now is this for fun or work?"

"It's for one of my classes so work, but reading is always fun. So, both?" She chuckled as she put the thick book in her bag.

"That's what I like to hear. Have a good day you two."

After stopping at Sunset's locker, the pair trekked through the school toward the computer lab. The room was mostly empty with a few people taking practice tests or writing essays. One person was blatantly watching YouTube videos with a set of headphones on. The teacher in charge of the room seemed to be pretty lax about what the students did during a study hour. They took a computer toward the back. Sunset pulled out her earbuds.

"You've got to see this video. It's so funny!"

Twilight smiled and put in one of the ear buds.

The video was indeed very funny. A collaboration of animators took small portions of a gaming video and animated it in their own style. After it was over the girls fell into a spiral of watching videos until the bell rang. Twilight closed out of the 'top ten creepiest voicemails' video she thought looked interesting and slung her bag over her shoulders.

"Thanks Twi, I sure hope I never get any important news as a voicemail because I'm never checking mine again!"

Twilight couldn't help but laugh, though she felt similarly. "I promise to never leave a voicemail, if I need to get ahold of you I'll just keep calling."

"I think that's an excellent plan." She chuckled.

Sunset walked with Twilight to her next class. Twilight relished the little extra time it gave them, holding Sunset's arm and leaning against her girlfriend as they walked. They talked about dates they could go on when the weather was nicer. They both agreed that a picnic was in order as soon as possible. They continued on until they were standing in front of Twilight's next class.

"Here's my stop." Twilight said as she held Sunset close. The two girls parted ways with a kiss. "Tell Rainbow hi for me."

"I will. See you after school." Sunset smiled and went to lunch.

Twilight entered the room with a bit more pep. She was glad to see Sunset having a good day. She had the feeling she was, understandably, nervous about returning to school. So it made her happy to see some of her old confidence return. She took her usual spot, and before she knew it the girl behind her started her usual jabs at her relationship.

"Still dating that loser I see." She said with a cocky sneer. "Why not drop her and get with a real woman?"

"First off Gilda, she's not a loser." Twilight said without turning to face her overly confident classmate. She turned slightly to half face her so that hopefully the next part stuck. "Secondly, while I'm flattered by your interest, I will have to adamantly decline your offer. Partly because this really pushy approach you're using just doesn't really work on me. Mostly though, it's because as you pointed out, I'm still happily in a loving relationship."

Twilight was surprised at her own words. She wouldn't have thought she could just come out and say something like that. She knew she had Sunset to thank for helping her confidence and assertiveness grow.

"Come on, what's she got that I don't?" Gilda persisted. "I know she's not as popular as I am. I'm on the basketball team for Pete's sake! You're really hurting your social standing by staying with her."

Twilight didn't justify that with a response. She simply rolled her eyes and turned to face the front of the room. Gilda had apparently been in the hall when she'd had her fight with Sunset and seen it as an opportunity to try and steal her away. Gilda had been critical of her relationship with Sunset since the semester had started, but after seeing the fight she'd changed tactics to include being obnoxiously flirty. She made her first attempt last Friday in their English class and was just as cocky and straight-forward as today's attempt. Since she had a class with her each day, she was hoping the attempts would be short lived if she kept turning her down.

Gilda made a few more passes at her throughout class, but stopped when the teacher fixed her with an icy stare. When they were sent into the lab Gilda kept trying to distract her with flirty talk when she passed by Twilight's work station and subtle lewd gestures from across the room. Which annoyed her but the latter still caused her to blush. Gilda's final attempt of the day was to shoot her a wink as she exited the class room.

Twilight groaned when she was sure Gilda was out of earshot.

"What's wrong Sugarcube?" Applejack asked when the two met up down the hall.

"Nothing." She paused. "It's Gilda, she really doubled down on her efforts to 'seduce' me today. What's her deal?" Twilight asked.

"Ah guess she's always been like that. Rainbow grew up with her and accordin' to her she's always talked a big game."

"Well I wish she'd stop trying to use her game on me." She huffed.

Applejack chuckled. "Yeah she can be a bit much. She'll get bored eventually, she just really likes flirtin'. Stand your ground and she'll back off. Trust me, ah know how annoyin' it can be. When Rainbow and I first got together Gilda got it in her head that she would be better suited for Rainbow so she really put on the charm." She made air quotes. "Luckily, Rainbow set her straight before it got too outta hand."

"Maybe I'll ask her nicely to stop and if it doesn't stop after that, maybe I'll have Rainbow talk to her."

"Ah'm sure she'd be happy to help. Here's mah exit, see ya Twilight." She waved and turned down a side hall.

Twilight smiled and walked on to political science. She greeted her desk mates with a friendly smile and pulled out her supplies for class. She took copious notes all throughout the teacher's lecture and got a jump start on the assignment once the lecture wrapped up.

"You know homework can be done at home right?" Lyra teased her good-naturedly. "Do you do that for every class? Or just this one?"

"I like to be prepared." Twilight said matter of factly. "Though I do find myself needing to spend more time on these assignments."

"Same. Sweetie Drops tried to help me a few times, but we end up getting... distracted, if I'm not careful. Admittedly it's mostly my fault, I'm very distractible. Especially when it comes to her." She smiled.

Twilight chuckled. "I know how that is. Sunset has helped me with math homework before, but more often than not it turns into kisses and cuddling."

"By the way, how's Sunset doing? I know she was having a a rough time for a while."

"She's doing well. She was in a good mood today." Twilight decided not to bring up her running away.

"That's good. I felt so bad for her. Luckily she has such good friends and a great girlfriend to be there for her."

"We do our best." Twilight said modestly. "How are you and Sweetie Drops?"

"Fantastic! We told my dad that we're dating over the weekend and he took it well. He's always liked Sweetie Drops and they've gotten along really well since we first became friends."

"I'm so happy to hear that! Do you have any classes with her?"

Lyra nodded. "I have two classes with her tomorrow"

"That's awesome! I'm glad you two get to spend time together during school."

The two talked a little more before working on the assignment. Twilight was so focused that she almost missed the bell ringing to dismiss school for the day.

"See ya later Twilight." Lyra called as she exited the room.

Twilight waved and packed up her things. She walked happily to the main hallway where she usually met up with her friends. Pinkie waved excitedly when she saw her and ran forward to give her a hug. They found the others shortly after, Sunset was the last to join the group.

After saying goodbye to their friends at the bus circle. Sunset and Twilight walked to student parking. Twilight offered to go backpack shopping with Sunset. An offer she accepted happily. When they hit the road Twilight decided to brooch the subject she'd been worried about all day.

"So how was it today? Did you have any more problems?"

"No more than usual. Whatever insults or negative things were thrown my way, my friends made it easier to ignore. Honestly though, it doesn't bother me so much anymore." She reached over and gave Twilight's hand an affectionate squeeze. "Knowing I have you and the girls on my side makes it all so much easier to deal with. I'm sorry I didn't realize that sooner.

"I'm just glad you realize it now." Twilight smiled.

They continued the journey to the local superstore, Twilight happily telling her about her day. Sunset laughed when she got to the part about Gilda, but Twilight noticed her girlfriend's grip on her hand tighten slightly all the same. Twilight smiled at Sunset's misplaced jealousy and assured her that Gilda wasn't her type. After a short time, however, Twilight got the sense that Sunset wasn't fully paying attention to their conversation.

"So how was your day?" She asked.

Sunset continued staring forward. "Mmhmm."

"I got into a fight with a dog, he insulted science so I had to take him out.

"That sucks."

"Sunset... I'm pregnant. And the baby's yours!"

"Oh yeah? Wait what?" Sunset glanced over at her. "That's impossible for multiple reasons."

"I know, but I had to say something to get your attention. Is everything ok? Did something happen?

"Not exactly." She nervously chewed her bottom lip. "Twilight, there's something I need to do, and I need your help."

"Of course, I'm happy to help with whatever you need."

"I need you to help me get in touch with Trixie."

An Important Meeting

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The next few days were tough for Sunset. Each day she would anxiously wait to hear from Twilight about Trixie. They had told the others about their plans, but they had all agreed that it would just be her and Twilight that would talk to her. She didn't want Trixie to feel pressured or ganged up on by having all seven of them there.

Not helping to calm her was the persistence of several classmates intentionally bumping into her and throwing insults her way. On top of that she still had a few unkind notes find their way into her locker, though definitely not as many as before. She thought she noticed one of the security guards patrolling the area around her locker. She didn't give much thought to it as she went through her day, but was glad it seemed to have decreased the amount of papers being left for her.

She was anxiously tapping her pencil's eraser tip on her desk when Sonata spoke up.

"You know the other side usually works better for digging holes in desks."

"Sorry." Sunset blushed, feeling embarrassed.

"What's got you all up in a tizzy?"

"I'm waiting to hear back from Twilight." She hesitated. "I'm trying to set up a meeting with Trixie."

"Trixie? Wait, wasn't she the girl that slapped you at the dance?" Sonata asked bluntly.

Sunset felt her cheeks flush. "The very same. I'm nervous to meet with her for that exact reason."

"What do you want to meet with her for?"

Before she could answer, the teacher instructed the class to go to their cooking stations. Today's assignment was to make chicken alfredo from scratch and it wasn't going well. Sunset had offered to make the sauce while Sonata cooked chicken. Unfortunately Sunset kept checking her phone and burned the sauce twice.

Sonata placed a friendly hand on Sunset's shoulder. "Why don't you get the noodles started I'll take over on the sauce for a bit."

"Sorry." Sunset groaned. "I'm not being a very good partner am I?"

Sonata chuckled. "It's okay, if you want to drop those noodles in and keep an eye on them we'll work on the sauce together. That way we're both learning how to make it right."

"Thanks Sonata. I'll turn my phone off so I won't be tempted to look at it."

It was smooth sailing from then on. The sauce came out a little thick, but it was still delicious. Sunset made sure to get a copy of the recipe for home. After loading her things into her new backpack she said goodbye to Sonata who wished her luck. It was then she remembered that her phone was off and powered it up. She made her way toward the main hall when her phone buzzed and chimed in her pocket several times. Her heart picked up a few extra beats as she raised the phone to see what the alerts were.

"Aerial Magic and 9 other series have just updated."
Battle Girls Saga

"We miss you senpai! Come play with us!"

"Trixie said she's willing to meet with us."

Sunset stopped momentarily when she saw the message from Twilight. After recomposing herself she responded.


"Today if we can make it work."

"I can do that. Where should I meet you?"

"Go to the soccer field. See you in a few! Love you!"

"Love you too! Thank you Twilight."

Sunset walked quickly to the designated spot. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Trixie and Twilight near the goal net. She took a moment to compose herself before striding in their direction. Nerves began creeping in the closer she got until she was right in front of them.

An awkward silence settled in as the two girls took one another in. Trixie had her arms crossed in front of her and was tapping the toe of her shoe into the ground. Sunset had her hands dug into her pockets and kept her eyes anywhere but directed at Trixie. They would occasionally make eye contact until one or both quickly looked away. Twilight waited patiently, but was about to say something to get the conversation started until Sunset spoke up.

"So... it's been a while." Sunset began nervously.

"I guess it has been." Trixie said.

"How have you been?" Sunset asked.

"Alright I guess." Trixie responded.

"Good. Um, it's good to hear that." She trailed off.

Trixie cleared her throat. "I uh, want to say sorry."

"For what?"

"For slapping you at the dance. I shouldn't have done that. I was just so upset."

"Oh, it's- it's okay, I kind of deserved it."

"No you didn't. I should have kept a cooler head and just verbally ripped you a new one."

Trixie shot her a look. Sunset stiffened up, bracing herself for an onslaught of verbal abuse. To her surprise Trixie let out an uncomfortable chuckle.

"Sorry, that was supposed to be a joke. It was too tense." She smiled slightly.

Sunset relaxed and let out a small chuckle of her own. "I thought you were going to lay into me right here."

"Not with your girlfriend standing right there. She looks ready for a fight."

Twilight jumped when she realized she was being talked about. She looked down at her clenched hands and blushed.

"Sorry, I guess I'm a little tense."

Sunset took Twilight's hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze. "I think we all are."

The conversation dropped momentarily.

"So what did you need to talk to me about?"

"It's a little awkward, but would you be able to convince Ditsy Doo to meet with me?"

Trixie's eyes widened in surprise. "Possibly. I really don't know how open she'll be to the idea though. You really hurt her."

"I know. That's why I want to talk to her so I can apologize. She deserves to hear it in person."

Trixie nodded. "I'll talk to her. In the meantime you should really think about what you want to say. Make it really good because I'm putting my friendship on the line for this."

"She hates me that much, huh?"

Trixie cocked an eyebrow at her.

"That's fair." She rubbed her neck. "Don't worry I'll make it count. Thank you for doing this Trixie."

The following week found Twilight, Trixie and Sunset driving through a quiet neighborhood. The three of them were silent except when Trixie spoke up to give directions. No one knew what to say, but they each knew the pressure was on.

"Take a right up here, then just drive straight for a couple blocks and we'll be there."

"Thanks Trixie." Sunset said after a brief pause.

The young magician nodded and went back to fiddling with a tear in the knee if her jeans. Sunset's grip tightened on the wheel as they passed through the final four-way stop before their destination. The car slowed to a stop. Sunset took several deep breaths, trying to get her heart rate to settle down. Twilight placed a soothing hand on her knee and locked eyes with Sunset.

Are you sure you're ready? The look said.

Sunset nodded and turned off the vehicle. Trixie told them to wait on the sidewalk while she let her friend know they were here. While they waited Sunset absentmindedly laced her fingers with Twilight's. The door reopened and Sunset's grip on Twilight's hand tightened when the second girl came out after Trixie.

Ditsy Doo followed Trixie onto the patio, clearly uncomfortable. The two had a quick whispered conversation before she looked out and motioned for the couple to join them at the table that was set up. When the four of them were in front of each other nobody spoke for several moments. Sunset was the first to break the silence.

"How, uh, how have you been?" She said, not knowing how else to start.

Ditsy shrugged, not quite meeting Sunset's eyes. "Okay, I guess."

Sunset cleared her throat. "Your eyes look good."

She hated how clumsily it came out, but she meant it. Ditsy Doo's eyes seemed to not drift apart as much as she remembered.

"Yeah, um, my doctor showed me some exercises to help correct them. I have specialized glasses too."

"Oh, cool. That's... cool."

The conversation died again. Ditsy Doo picked at her cudicle while Sunset chewed the inside of her cheek.

Ditsy Doo cleared her throat. "Trixie said you wanted to talk to me."

"I did, yeah."

"What did you need to say?" She asked curtly.

"I just... I want to apologize. I'm so sorry for singling you out. For saying cruel, hurtful things to you every day. I'm sorry for being so despicable that you felt like you had to transfer out of school to feel safe. And I'm sorry it took me so long to say this to you. I know I can never give you back the time and redo everything, but I hope this helps even a little bit."

A long pause followed Sunset's words. Several moments passed before Ditsy Doo broke the quiet.

"I appreciate that Sunset. I also appreciate that it took a lot to come here today. But, what you did and said were really cruel and hurtful. Do you remember the nickname you gave me?"

"Derpy." Sunset responded before looking to the ground.

"That name caught on with a lot of people at our old school. I couldn't get away from it until I started homeschool. Luckily, my therapist helped me find ways to take the power away from the name. Even so, those things can't just be forgotten with an apology."

Sunset didn't respond. She couldn't think of anything meaningful to add.

Ditsy sighed. "What I guess I'm trying to say is, thank you for coming and apologizing to me in person. It really does mean more than you know. I... I just don't think I'm at a place where I'm ready to fully forgive you. Maybe, one day I will, but it's all still really fresh.

Sunset nodded. "I understand. I didn't expect you to immediately forgive me, but I'm glad I came here."

"So am I." Ditsy gave a slight smile.

Silence hung in the air before Sunset spoke. "I guess we'll head out. Thank you for agreeing to this. I know it probably wasn't easy."

"Not especially, but it's nice to have some closure." She paused. "Maybe we'll see each other around."

Sunset grinned. "Maybe we will. Goodbye, Ditsy Doo."

"Goodbye, Sunset."

Trixie told them to leave without her, since she was going to hang out with Ditsy Doo. Twilight and Sunset walked back to the car. They drove in silence for the first part of the trip. Twilight was the one to speak first.

"I think that went pretty well." She said.

"So do I." Sunset agreed. "Better than I expected it to. It was good to see that she's doing well."

Twilight held Sunset's hand and smiled at her. She could already see a difference in how she carried herself. Like a great weight had been removed from her shoulders.

The two parked in front of Twilight's house. Twilight made to exit the car when she felt Sunset gently grab her cheek and pull her into a kiss. Twilight recovered from the suddenness and fell into it. Sunset gave her three little kisses before pulling away.

"Someone's in a good mood." Twilight said after catching her breath.

"I am, but that wasn't the only reason." Sunset smiled.

"What do you mean?"

Sunset cupped her cheek. "Thank you for being so amazing. I never would have been able to do that if it wasn't for you."

Twilight blushed at the earnestness in her voice. She readjusted her glasses before speaking.

"Come on, I'm sure you would have gotten there by yourself."

"No, by myself, I would have been in another state by now." She said matter-of-factual. "You've helped me keep a level head throughout this whole ordeal. Well, level-er." She smirked.

Twilight laughed. "Alright, fair enough, but don't sell yourself short. You're stronger than you give yourself credit for."

Sunset smiled and kissed her again. "Thanks Twilight. Should we go in?"

Twilight nodded and they walked up the walkway together. Velvet noticed the change in Sunset's attitude almost immediately. She was walking a little taller and with more purpose and engaging with them more. It was a breath of fresh air from the sullen, stressed out girl that she had been.

Sunset and Twilight gave Velvet a brief description of the events of the day when Velvet asked about their days. She listened intently, feeling proud of the two of them as they spoke.

"Sounds like it went well." Velvet said.

"I think so too." Sunset smiled.

"I'm very happy to hear that." She smiled. "So what are your plans for the rest of the day?"

"I dunno." Twilight shrugged. "Probably some video games and internet videos."

"Sounds like fun. I won't keep you any longer."

"What's for dinner?" Twilight asked as she stood.

"Grilled ham and cheese with tomato soup."

"What can I do to help?" Sunset asked.

"I think I can handle it, but if I think of something, I'll call you down."

"Okay, sounds like a plan." She smiled.

The duo disappeared into Twilight's room. Velvet smiled as she heard the door re-open without her having to remind them. Velvet sat down to add the finishing touches on her final chapter. The sounds of good natured banter and video game sound effects providing the perfect ambience.
I've missed this. She thought with a smile as she opened her laptop.

One Last Confrontation

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In the weeks following the meeting with Ditsy Doo, Sunset felt much lighter. She walked around with a smile more often at school and felt more inclined to talk with other classmates. She had even felt comfortable enough to help a few people who had dropped papers or books in the hallways. They were wary when she had first approached them, but by the time they parted ways they were put at ease by her demeanor. She was doing much better at not letting the comments or the few stray notes she still received get to her. It seemed as though the activity of harassing her was starting to die off.

The others were enjoying their friend's improved attitude as well. They joked around with each other before classes, and talked easily without the looming grey cloud that had hung over Sunset.

The seven of them were walking toward the entrance after the final bell. Twilight was talking to Fluttershy about ways to teach Spike some new tricks while Sunset was listening to Rainbow Dash tell a story about what happened at the last practice.

"Then, Windchill kicked the ball into the goal, but it hit the post and came back toward her! She barely dodged in time." She laughed.

Sunset laughed along with her. "I'm glad she's okay, but that is pretty funny."

"Yeah, I wish someone had been recording it! It was a pretty epic dodge!"

Sunset smiled at her sporty friend before addressing the rest of the group. "Is everyone still up for going hiking this weekend?"

They all answered in the affirmative.

"I bought new hiking boots just for the occasion!" Rarity squealed. "They're so comfortable, but more importantly they're cute!"

"I've seen them and can confirm that they are indeed cute." Fluttershy added with a smile.

Rainbow rolled her eyes. "As long as you don't call it quits a quarter of the way up. The snow has finally melted away and it's warm enough that we can do this hike. I haven't hiked the waterfall canyon trail in forever and I wanna make it to the end."

"I actually haven't done any of the Mount Sombra trails." Twilight admitted sheepishly. "Is this one difficult?"

"A bit at first. It starts out kind of steep, but levels out and becomes more gradual as you go higher." Sunset placed a comforting arm around Twilight. "And don't worry, if we have to take some breaks along the way we can."

They finished ironing out the details before parting ways. Twilight blew a kiss in Sunset's direction before climbing on her bus. Sunset caught the kiss and winked in return before walking to the parking lot. When she saw who was waiting on her car, her stomach dropped.

Adagio was sitting on the hood of Sunset's SUV with a self-satisfied smile on her face. Aria was leaning against the passenger door smoking a cigarette. She thought she had seen the last of them since there had been no attempts at contact since she'd run into them in the halls several weeks back.

"Get off my car." Sunset said flatly.

"Someone's in a mood." Adagio said as she hopped down. The old hood popped back into place behind her.

"I'd say it's understandable since you two aren't exactly in my top one hundred people I want to see." She tossed her bag into her car and turned to face the duo. "I seem to recall telling you I was done."

"You might be, but I'm not." Adagio smirked.

"What do you want Adagio?"

"Oh, I've just noticed your popularity around the school seems to be dwindling and I think I can give it another kickstart."

"Is that a threat?" Sunset said through rising anger.

"Maybe it is. Maybe it's just a reminder that you can say you're done all you want, but we have too much history for it to be true. And you'll never know when I'll feel like reminding you of that fact." She patted Sunset's cheek. "Come on Aria, let's go get something to eat."

Aria pushed herself off the passenger door and flicked the spent butt at the headlight. Sunset crushed it with the heel of her shoe before climbing into her car. She took several deep breaths and gripped the steering wheel. She knew Adagio was right. They did have too much history, too many acts of cruelty together. Who knew how many other videos they had recorded while bullying a classmate.

She sat upright. She knew a way she might be able to stop Adagio, though she would need some help to pull it off. Sunset started the car and headed home, ironing out her plan the whole time.

"I don't know about this." Twilight voiced her concern.

"Trust me, if this works we won't have to worry about Adagio again."

"And if it doesn't?" Twilight asked.

"Then I'll just have to deal with everyone's hatred for the rest of high school. No biggie."

Twilight raised a skeptical eyebrow.

"I promise, if it goes south I'll go to the principal."

"Fine." Twilight sighed. "I still don't know if I agree with this plan though."

"Don't worry, this time she'll have all of us." Rainbow said while throwing an arm over Twilight's shoulders.

"That does make me feel a bit better." She looked to Sunset. "You're sure about this?"

Sunset nodded and hit send on the message she'd typed out.

"Meet me on the football field."

The seven of them waited for Adagio and Aria to arrive. Rainbow was feeling antsy so she started running the stairs on the bleachers to get some of her energy out. The others were distracting themselves on their phones or having quiet conversations. Sunset and Twilight were keeping an eye out for Adagio and Aria.

"Do you think she'll come?" Twilight asked.

"She'll be here. The curiosity will be too much to pass up."

As if on cue, Adagio and Aria rounded the entrance by the bleachers on the opposite side of the field. Sunset and the others walked toward the center of the field. As the two groups got closer to one another, everyone but Twilight stayed back a bit, but still within earshot. Sunset and Adagio stared each other down until Adagio broke the silence.

"You needed a whole army just to talk with me?" She said mockingly. "I must have really gotten under your skin. If they try anything funny everything goes public and you'll have to leave town."

"I was ready to face you alone, but they insisted on being here for support because they're amazing friends." Sunset told her.

Adagio rolled her eyes. "I have to admit I was surprised to hear from you so soon."

"Glad to know I can still keep you on your toes."

Adagio smirked. "What is it you want Sunset. I haven't got all day."

"I've been thinking about that video you played at the Winter Formal. Something didn't seem right about it. I remembered the video differently." She crossed her arms. "I remember it having you and Sonata in it as well, being just as cruel as me. Aria loved recording our bullying and watching them later so she didn't show up in many of them. So, it was weird that only I showed up on screen. That's when I realized the video had been doctored to only show me while you and Sonata were cropped out."

"It took you this long to figure that out?" Adagio cocked an eyebrow. "Maybe I gave you too much credit for being clever."

"Well, I had a lot to deal with thanks to you!" Sunset snapped, then took a deep breath. "But that got me thinking more. What if I did the same thing to you?"

Adagio blanched at the fierce look in Sunset's eyes, but held her ground.

"Unfortunately I deleted the copies Aria sent to me a long time ago."

"What's the point of all this?" Adagio said, growing impatient.

"That's when I remembered Sonata." Sunset continued. "She probably had her copies still and she had a score to settle with you two as well."

"What are you talking about?" Adagio feigned ignorance.

"I guess you wouldn't know that Sonata and I reconnected because we have class together. She told me all about how she left you two and how you manipulated me into thinking she was part of the plan at the dance. So I asked her, and well..."

She pulled out her phone and played the original version of the video shown at the dance. There was Sonata and Adagio hurling insults at Ditsy Doo along with Sunset. Twilight tensed at the malice in the past Sunset's voice.

"I have a lot more where that came from too." Sunset said before pocketing her phone.

Adagio's fists were clenched. "So, what? You're going to release these and get everyone in the school to hate you again? You already have the reputation. I behave well enough In public that I could deny it, maybe even convince everyone that those are the doctored videos. What about Sonata? She'll get caught in the fallout too. That doesn't sound like something a friend would do." She sneered.

"Sonata's the one who told me to just release them. She's fine with dealing with the consequences. I've already been through it and learned how to deal with it better this time." She looked back at her friends, and held Twilight's hand.

Adagio was silent for several moments, the urge to lash out grew inside her. How could Sunset do this? Where did she get the spine to defy me?

These questions and more flashed inside her mind. She looked to Aria, but she looked just as perplexed. Adagio clenched her fists then let out a frustrated groan.

"What do you want?" Adagio growled. "Do you want an apology?".

Sunset shook her head. "I know any apology won't be sincere under these circumstances. Maybe when you mean it I'd like an apology. Until then, what I want is for you to leave me alone. My friends too. You stay out of our business and we'll stay out of yours."

Adagio fumed internally. This feeling of being cornered made her furious and uncomfortable. She began scheming ways that she could turn the table in her favor, convinced that Sunset would never go through with her side of the threat. That was until she locked eyes with her ex. Adagio saw determination behind her gaze that told her she was serious.

"Fine." She spat. "You won't hear from me anymore. Let's go Aria!"

The two walked away, bickering the whole time until they were out of sight. Sunset let out a breath she didn't realize she was holding and felt lightheaded. Twilight caught her under her arm as she stumbled.

"Are you alright?" Twilight asked.

"I'm fine." Sunset smiled. "I was bracing myself for the worst, but I think it's over now."

"What makes you so sure darling?" Rarity asked as the others approached.

"Because, I know Adagio and how she operates. The idea of mutually assured destruction will keep her from doing anything rash."

Sunset took out her phone and selected all the videos Sonata sent her, then hit the delete button.

"What are you doing!" Rainbow cried. "What if she decides to go through with it? Now you have nothing to retaliate with!"

"That's fine, I don't want them. If she does, we'll bring Sonata with us and go to the principal. I won't sink to her level."

"So what you said was an empty threat?" Rainbow said quizzically.

Sunset smirked. "One of the very few perks of my time with her. We've seen each other's techniques and she's probably just as suspicious of me as I am of her."

"What should we do if she starts bullying someone else?" Fluttershy asked.

"We can't police her every action or stop her from being a jerk, but if we see or hear about her singling someone out like she did to me, we'll get the principal involved." She paused and looked around at all of her friends. "Thank you all. I really appreciate you being here."

"Of course." Applejack clapped her on the back cheerfully. "No way we were gonna let you face this'n on your own."

Everyone nodded and started making their way to the parking lot. Twilight stopped and tugged Sunset back by her hand. When she turned around, Twilight kissed her lips.

"I'm proud of you." She smiled after releasing Sunset.

"For what?" She put her hands on Twilight's waist.

"You could have handled that whole thing on your own and never told any of us. Maybe it would have happened exactly the same way, but you still chose to include us."

"I guess you showed me that it's better this way. It was nice knowing I had all of you in my corner."

"We'll always be in your corner. Just like you'll always be in ours." She smiled.

Sunset returned the smile and took her girlfriend's hand. The two went to Sunset's car where their friends were waiting for them.

"Is anyone else hungry?" Pinkie Pie asked.

"I'm starving!" Sunset admitted. "I didn't eat much today because I was so nervous about this meeting."

"Let's go get some lunch and head to the bowling alley!" Twilight said excitedly.

"I think sushi sounds divine." Rarity suggested.

"Raw fish and seaweed? No thank you, ah vote we get a nice juicy cheeseburger over at Burger Bar!" Applejack countered.

"As long as there's a dessert option, I don't care where we go." Pinkie Pie chimed in.

Sunset watched and smiled as her friends bickered about where to go. She felt good again. Without the weight of worry on her shoulders she felt like she could actually relax for once.

"I have an idea." Sunset offered after a few minutes. "Why don't I take Rarity and Fluttershy with me and Twilight, and we'll pick up our food. Then you three grab yours and we'll meet at the park. It's a nice day, why not eat outside."

"I think that sounds delightful. Fluttershy said, stepping forward.

The two groups went their separate ways. Rarity called in their order to the restaurant and the four of them caught up with each other. Things were apparently going very well with Fluttershy and Rarity. Rarity's parents even invited Fluttershy to go with them when the family went to their lake house in the summer.

After picking up their sushi rolls and Szechuan chicken they met the others at a park near the bowling alley. They ate their meals and talked excitedly about whatever came up. When all the food was gone they played several rounds of bowling. No one but Applejack and Rainbow took it very seriously. They all were too busy having fun laughing and teasing one another to play very well. It was the worst game of bowling Sunset had ever played, but it was also her favorite.

Waterfall Canyon

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Well, here it is. Mount Sombra. Twilight swallowed hard as she took in the mountain before her.

"That's supposed to be easy?" She questioned the others in the car with her. "I think you all are giving me too much credit."

The four of them climbed out. Sunset pulled Twilight to her as she leaned against the car. While Pinkie and Cheese grabbed their bags.

"Don't worry Twilight, you've got this!" Pinkie exclaimed. "If you get tired along the way I brought my super special trail mix." She rummaged inside her backpack.

"Oh? What makes it so special?" Twilight asked.

Pinkie walked closer and leaned in, whispering conspiratorially. "It's mostly M&M's."

Twilight looked at the bag of what appeared to be a variety of different M&M types with a smattering of peanuts. Twilight reached into the offered bag and took a small handful with a chuckle.

"Thank you Pinkie. This certainly will give me a boost in energy from the sugar if I need it."

"Just looking out for my friends." Pinkie winked and tossed a blue candy into the air, only to have it snatched mid-fall by Cheese.

She glowered at him, but the look soon broke into a smile. Sunset hugged Twilight's waist as her girlfriend waved at the car filled with the rest of their friends. The first sound that came from the car was Rainbow shouting about fashion not mattering.

"What does the way my shoes look have to do with getting up the mountain?" Rainbow asked.

"Very little, but don't you want to look good in any pictures we take? It's not just the shoes, it's about the entire ensemble, darling."

Rainbow groaned. "I don't care about looking good, I care about getting to the waterfall! These shoes are perfectly broken in and not that old. Why wouldn't I wear them?"

"Because they don't match your outfit!" Rarity said. "That's what I've been trying to tell you. The shoes are fine, but you should have paired your outfit better."

"How long has this been going on?" Sunset asked Applejack.

"Since they've known each other I'd reckon." She chuckled. "Oh, you mean today? Since Rainbow got in the car and Rarity got a good look at her shoes."

They all laughed at the two old friends argument before they came to an agreement and the tension melted away.

"Nobody forgot anything right? We don't need to run any last minute errands?" Rainbow asked as she joined the others.

"Ah don't think so sugarcube." She pulled Rainbow close and kissed her cheek. "Y'all ready to get started? Ah think this'n is fit to burst if we don't leave soon."

"Let's get to it!" Cheese cheered.

After collecting their backpacks the group started their trek. Sunset wasn't lying when she said the beginning of the hike was tough. They were only fifteen minutes in and Twilight already felt her leg muscles strain with every step of the steep incline. She did her best to keep up with everyone, but found herself continually falling behind. Sunset slowed her pace whenever she felt Twilight slowing down. After Twilight caught her breath this most recent time, Sunset gave Twilight's hand an encouraging squeeze and told her she was doing great. This helped, but Twilight couldn't help but feel like she was holding everyone back.

On a particularly steep part of the trail, Sunset noticed Twilight was breathing a little heavy. She called ahead to the others to wait for a second. She handed Twilight a water bottle and ran ahead, returning shortly after.

"What's up?" Twilight asked when Sunset sat next to her on the rock she'd selected.

"I told them to go ahead and we'll meet them at this little bridge up the path a bit."

Twilight chewed her cheek. "I'm sorry. This was supposed to be a fun activity that we could all do together, but I'm too slow."

Sunset pulled her to her and kissed the top of her head. "It's fine babe. We're all out here doing this and I want you to be able to enjoy yourself too. That's why I sent them ahead. So you can take it at your own pace without feeling pressured."

"But what if Rainbow gets mad? This was really important to her."

"Rainbow will be fine. She just wants to get to the waterfall quickly. I'm more in the mindset of taking in the scenery." She motioned to the area around them and the view of the city below.

Twilight pulled Sunset into a kiss. "Thank you."

Sunset waved the comment away with a smile and stood up. "Wanna start again?"

Twilight pondered for a moment. "How long is the hike?"

"If I remember correctly it's two and a half, to three hours round trip. Depending on breaks

Twilight nodded and took her extended hand. "I think I can manage that."

"Look on the bright side. Coming down will be so much easier." She smiled.

"You make good points." Twilight chuckled.

The two of them walked forward with newfound vigor. Upon rounding the next bend they found Rarity and Fluttershy in a shaded spot.

"What are you two doing here?" Twilight asked.

"Oh, Rainbow Dash found a spot she wanted to climb up to, which sparked a contest between her and Applejack." Rarity told them. "Then, Pinkie and Cheese decided to join in. I was not about to chip my nails climbing up there."

"I stayed because I didn't want to fall." Fluttershy chimed in.

Just then, Twilight felt something wet drop onto her head from above. She yelped and looked up at the rocky outcropping above them. Rainbow Dash was smiling and laughing down at them with a water bottle in one hand.

"You looked like you needed to cool off!" She called down good-naturedly.

"Jokes on you! I actually did need that!" Twilight called back with a smile. "Are you almost done up there?"

"Yeah, we just wanna get a few more pictures. We'll meet you at the bridge." Pinkie Pie said.

"See you there!" Fluttershy responded.

The four of them made their way up the trail. As they did, Twilight took note of the more gradual incline. She breathed a sigh of relief. A few minutes later and they were waiting on a bridge over a rapidly moving stream.

"It's beautiful up here." Twilight said as she sipped her water and took in the trees and the expanse of green below.

"It's even prettier at night." Fluttershy mused. "The city lights look like little stars."

"You took this trail at night?" Twilight asked incredulously.

"Only once. My parents are big into outdoor activities and took me and my brother on a night hike with them a few years back. It was scary but fun! Even Zephyr didn't complain... too much."

They laughed at Fluttershy's joke and continued talking while they waited for the others. A few minutes later, Pinkie Pie was jogging in their direction with a wide grin on her face. Her three companions followed shortly behind her. After a short break to rehydrate the group pressed onward.

Twilight held Sunset's hand as they walked the trail up the mountain. The incline wasn't as steep and Twilight found her mind wandering now that she wasn't as focused on the discomfort of her legs. She reflected on where she was at the beginning of the school year. A new school with no friends, convinced she would be spending the year by herself.

She glanced around at her friends until her gaze landed on Sunset, who smiled widely at her.

"What's up?" Sunset asked.

Twilight hugged Sunset's arm and laid her head on her shoulder with a smile. "Nothing, just thinking."

Sunset kissed Twilight's forehead. "You're cute when you think."

As they walked, a shady grotto of trees loomed ahead. At this point they had been walking for nearly an hour. Rainbow cheerily announced that they were halfway to the top. Another bridge over a stream greeted the group as they entered the wooded area. They decided to break for lunch and unpacked the food they had brought with them.

Twilight removed her shoes and socks and sat down on the bridge. She let her feet dangle down into the stream and sighed as the cool water ran over them. Sunset soon joined her and let her own bare feet join Twilight's in the water.

"Mind if I sit here?" Sunset asked.

"By all means." Twilight smiled. "This has been really fun!"

"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself. I was worried after that first stretch that you were miserable."

"I won't say I didn't consider turning back and waiting for you all at the car." Twilight admitted. "I'm glad I pressed on though. This has been a great experience!"

Sunset kissed Twilight's cheek before trying to splash her by kicking her feet in the water. Twilight giggled and retaliated with a bigger splash before they called a truce in order to finish lunch. While they ate, a couple with a dog passed through on their way back down the mountain. Fluttershy immediately asked to pet the rowdy pup, and was soon followed by the rest.

With their energy refreshed with food and pure unfiltered dog cuteness, the eight of them started back up the trail. They stayed close together this time, helping each other when it was needed. Twilight was helping Pinkie up over a rocky patch when she heard Rarity yell.

"Oh no! No, no, no! This is just dreadful!"

Applejack jogged back to meet with her. "What happened! Is anybody hurt?"

"I scuffed my nail! Fluttershy and I spent so much time on them." Rarity whined.

Applejack ran her hand over her face. "At least nobody's hurt. Why'd you paint 'em in the first place? You knew we'd be usin' our hands to climb."

"Did you not hear my debate with your girlfriend? For pictures darling! My entire ensemble was precisely picked for optimal picture taking."

"Rarity, ah don't think anyone will know you scuffed your nail in the photos." Applejack sighed.

"I'll know." Rarity pouted.

"It's okay Rarity, I understand what you're saying." Fluttershy interjected. "We worked hard on these nails. I'm sorry yours got scuffed."

Fluttershy kissed Rarity's fingertips which caused her to smile. She then ran her nail over a nearby rock, scratching the same nail on her own hand that Rarity had scuffed. Rarity looked about ready to faint before Fluttershy kissed her cheek.

"There, now we match." Fluttershy smiled.

"But darling, why would you..." Rarity trailed off.

"Because the nails themselves weren't important to me silly. I loved spending time with you and doing something you love to do."

Rarity beamed at her, then took Fluttershy's hand in her own and trekked forward. "Well, are the rest of you coming? We haven't got all day."

Her friends followed after, rolling their eyes playfully after their dramatic friend. The trees grew more dense as they hiked higher, providing plenty of shade. Sunset helped Twilight up and over a boulder on the path.

"Just a little more. You can kinda see the waterfall from here." Sunset pointed up the mountain, where the cascading water could be seen through a gap between two pine trees.

Seeing the end goal renewed Twilight's energy and she excitedly pulled Sunset ahead by the hand. The rest of the hike became more rocky, with large rocks needing to be scaled to make progress. A few minutes later they came upon the landing where the waterfall splashed down.

Twilight let out a whoop and raised her arms above her head. "We did it! It's so pretty up here!"

"And chilly! Good call on telling us to bring jackets Sunset!" Pinkie Pie said.

Sunset smiled at her curly haired friend. "Can't have my friends catching colds so close to the end of school."

Pinkie giggled and took her phone out to snap a picture with Cheese. The others followed suit before finding rocks to sit in and take a breather. Twilight held Sunset's hand and looked around at her surroundings. The waterfall was raining down heavily due to the melting snow higher up. Twilight congratulated herself for making it to the top, pride filling her chest at the accomplishment.

Soon they all gathered around a boulder and situated themselves on and around it while Rarity set her phone on a rock to take group pictures. Once they took enough to satisfy Rarity, they all milled about the rocky area. Twilight picked up a handful of small stones and stood near the pool formed by the waterfall. She tossed a few into the center and watched the water splash up. Memories rising up of going to the lake when she was younger, Shining Armor tricking her into believing the splashes were fish and she just missed them jumping out of the water.

"What'cha doin' sugarcube?" Applejack's southern drawl brought Twilight back.

"Hey AJ, not much, just tossing stones."

"Mind if ah join ya?"

"Not at all!"

The two friends continued throwing stones, eventually trying to skip them over the quickly flowing water. Twilight glanced sideways at her friend. The blonde haired girl let out a cheer when she got a stone to skip three times.

"Good one Applejack!"

"Thanks sugarcube. Mah siblings and I go to the lake and skip stones durin' the summer. So not to brag or nothin' but ah'm pretty good." She smirked good naturedly.

"My brother and I used to do the same thing. I never really got the hang of it though. I remember one time he got one almost all the way across. Granted, it was the thinnest part of the lake, but it was still impressive."

Applejack chuckled. "Big Mac always liked tryin' to skip bigger and bigger rocks. Mostly they just made bigger splashes though."

Twilight chuckled. "Speaking of summer, do you have any big plans for over the break?"

"Other than a family reunion in the middle, not much. Ah'm just excited for the break. How 'bout yourself?"

"My parents have talked about a little road trip, and Sunset wants to try to take me to meet her mom too."

"Sounds like those'll be fun for ya."

"I think so too." Twilight smiled. After a brief lull in conversation Twilight turned to face her friend. "Hey AJ... thanks for being there for me this year."

"What do ya mean?"

"Just that I really appreciate you being so supportive while I was figuring out my feelings for Sunset. You lending an ear meant more than you'll ever know."

Applejack blushed at the earnestness of her friend's gratitude. "No need to thank me Twilight. I was happy I could be there for ya. I remember going through what you were an' I wish I woulda had someone to talk to. Woulda made it a whole lot easier to tell Rainbow how I felt. Speakin' of, where is that girl?"

They were looking around the area when some movement caught Twilight's eye. She looked up to see rainbow colored hair scaling the side of the cliff up toward the waterfall.

"Rainbow Dash! What in tarnation d'you think you're doin'!" Applejack shouted.

This got everyone else's attention. They all stared up at their friend. Fluttershy gasped and covered her mouth, Pinkie and Cheese looked on in awe while the others watched with concern. Applejack made her way toward the wall Rainbow was climbing.

"Get down here before you hurt yourself!"

"I'll be fine!" Rainbow called down. "Now stop distracting me or I won't be!"

Sunset walked up behind Twilight and held her waist. "I didn't even know she snuck up there. She's a dang ninja when she wants to be."

"I know, it's crazy since she's usually so loud!" Twilight joked uneasily.

They all watched her climb. She was methodical and took her time before each move. Sunset hugged Twilight a little closer.

"You want to climb up too don't you?" Twilight asked.

"Yeah, but I'm not nearly as sure of myself without gear as our rainbow-haired friend." Sunset chuckled.

"I don't think anyone is as sure of themselves as our rainbow-haired friend." Twilight replied.

A couple minutes later, Rainbow was cheering from the top of the cliff next to the waterfall. They all took the opportunity to snap a picture of their adventurous friend. Applejack couldn't help but smile, even though it was clear she was upset with her.

Rainbow eventually carefully made her way down, and was greeted by a quick whack to her backside.

"Ow! Hey, not so rough, we didn't come up with a safe word." She joked, trying to ease the anger in her girlfriend.

Applejack looked at Rainbow. "That was real dumb. What if you'd fallen and hurt yourself? Or worse!"

"Come on Applejack, I was fine. I climb stuff all the time." She boasted.

Applejack glared sternly at Rainbow Dash before letting out an exasperated sigh. "Could you at least give me a heads up next time you're gonna scare me half to death?"


The two embraced and laughed, letting the others know the tension was over. Shortly after, they decided to start packing it in and heading back down. Twilight wanted to get one last look at the view from their vantage point and stood atop a particularly large flat rock. She felt hands wrap around her waist and a chin rest on her shoulder. She smiled and turned her head to kiss Sunset's lips. The two stood like that for a moment before Sunset broke the silence.

"It sure is beautiful up here."

"It really is. Thank you for putting this outing together. I really enjoyed myself."

"I did too."

"Time to add this to the list of firsts you've been a part of."

"I'm more than happy to be a part of that list." Sunset smiled.

Twilight sighed happily. "What a year."

"You can say that again."

"Do you think next year will be the same?"

"I'll try to add in some more twists and turns for you. Maybe I'll get framed for murder."

"You better think of something. Everybody knows that's the reason I started dating you. I'm all about that drama." Twilight played along.

"That's why I hired Adagio to bully me. I had to keep your interest somehow."

"I would be so angry if that was true!" Twilight said.

"Way to break the bit babe." Sunset laughed. "That would be insane if that's what was going on."

"It would make for a good story for a crappy movie though."

"I'd watch it." The two locked eyes. "Seriously though Twilight, this year was a roller coaster, and not always in a good way, but you made it easier. Thank you."

Twilight pulled Sunset in for a kiss. "I'm glad I could take that ride with you. What do you think next year has in store for us?

"I don't know, but as long as I have you and the girls I'm sure we can handle it."

They kissed once more, letting the world disappear around them as they fell deeper into it. They were brought back when Rainbow Dash called out to them from down the path.

"Hey! You two coming? You can make out later where it's warm!"

"Yeah, we're coming!" Sunset called back, blushing profusely. "You ready?"

Twilight nodded and took Sunset's hand. She talked excitedly with her friends as they made their way down the mountain. She didn't know what the future held, but she knew as long as she had her friends, she was ready for anything.