Following a schizophrenic relapse, Sour Sweet has been committed to Canterlot Psychiatric Center in order to recuperate.
Following a schizophrenic relapse, Sour Sweet has been committed to Canterlot Psychiatric Center in order to recuperate. New friends will be made, old friends will come visit, and one new enemy will be faced: Tempest Shadow. Sour knows the road to recovery is long but will she decide that it's worth it?
(Contains mental health issues such as depression and suicidal tendencies, language, brief moments of very dark humor, and non-fetishistic peeing of pants)
Second Person sat in his car, waiting as he stared at the time on his phone. Only a minute to go.
He impatiently tapped his finger on the steering wheel. Come on... come on...
He smiled. Finally.
Second exited his car, locked it, and made his way towards Canterlot Psychiatric Center. Visiting hours had begun.
Upon entering, Second checked in with the receptionist at the front desk. "I'm here to visit my wife, Sour Sweet."
He presented his ID, signed a confidentiality form, and was given a visitor badge. Cellphones were not permitted, as pictures and video could compromise patient privacy. Second had to hand his over to the receptionist. A nurse came to escort him back to the cafeteria where the visits were held.
When Sour Sweet was committed, Second promised that he and their daughter, Bitter Honey would visit every day. Unfortunately, that promise was made before Second knew what the actual hospital rules were. Patients were only allowed two visitors per day and children under thirteen were not permitted.
Knowing group visitations were impossible, Second contacted Sour's parents and told them to have the first visit. It was only right. They had visited the day before. Now it was his turn to see how she was doing.
"The Storm King demands to watch The Weather Channel!"
"Ghost Adventures is having a marathon right now!"
"If I wanted to see spirits, I'd stop my medication! Put on Tosh.0!"
"How about Teen Titans Go?"
"Who the hell just said that?!"
Sour Sweet leaned back in a reclining chair, watching her fellow patients as they fought over the TV remote in the common room. For her, it was like your standard 'people watching'... only more depressing. Just to prove the point, Sour turned her head at the sound of pained crying. A woman was on her knees, facing the wall. Her hands were reaching up and clawing as she rubbed her face against it. A staff member went over to help her up.
Sour sighed. Despite the heaviness of mental health in the air, Canterlot Psychiatric Center had as much casualness as it could muster. Everyone was wearing their own clothes from home. However, there were no shoelaces, belts, or drawstrings to be found. The reason why should be obvious.
Sour's eyes drifted over to the window for a moment. Outside, some other patients were playing basketball. One was sitting with a doctor on a bench, having a private therapy session. Some fresh air sounded good right about then to Sour, but she wanted to see how the TV drama would play out first.
The guy who proclaimed himself "The Storm King" shot up and went over to the one currently with the remote. He tried the grab it out of his hand, but the other patient was resolute. A tug of war commenced, their fingers hitting the buttons and causing a rapid channel flip.
Suddenly, it halted upon a channel. Sour's eyes bugged. The gaze of everyone in the room was drawn to what was being shown. It was a famous horror movie and they were just in time for the scene where the two killers were taking turns stabbing each other with a large knife. Because that's what Hollywood thinks people with mental issues do to pass the time away, apparently.
"This is kind of violent," one guy commented dryly.
"It's a true story," an old lady claimed rather creepily.
"Whoa, whoa now!" A nurse with a nervous chuckle quickly went over, grabbed the remote, and switched the gorefest over to golf. "There we are. Much more... therapeutic."
The Storm King huffed and returned to his seat next to a woman whose right eye had a long scar streaked over it. There was also a smaller, circular scar in the middle of her forehead. She had her arms crossed, her hands tucked in so tightly that they couldn't be seen.
The nurse then walked over to Sour. "Miss Sweet? You have a visitor."
Sour nodded. "Thank you."
She got up and began her way to the cafeteria. As she passed the other patients, she couldn't help but to notice the woman with the scarred face giving her a dirty look. Sour didn't know what was up with that. Neither did she care, really.
Sour and Second embraced for what seemed like forever before they finally took a seat at one of the cafeteria tables. Lunch had just ended, so they had the whole place to themselves.
"So how are you doing, Sour? Are you comfortable here? How is it?"
"It's kind of like being back in college, actually. I even have a dormmate. Her name is Floor Bored. She doesn't like to talk. Or bathe. There's not that much privacy in the rooms, though. The doors have small Plexiglas windows so the staff can look in. They've got to check up on us every thirty freakin' minutes. You can set your watch by it."
Second nodded. "I see. And how did the visit from your parents go yesterday?"
Sour shrugged. "All I did was upset them."
"What do you mean?"
"When I first saw them, I threw out my arms and said, 'Welp, mom and dad, your little girl finally made it'. Mom couldn't stop crying. Not the best thing to say, huh?"
Second cringed. "Yeah, maybe not."
"And should I not expect a visit from your parents?"
Second cringed even more. "They're set in their ways, you know."
Sour crossed her arms. "So they still think schizophrenia is caused by demonic possession and that mental hospitals are MKUltra centers ran by the Jesuits?"
Second nodded with embarrassment.
"And I can't see Bitter?"
"Well, they told me that you can use the phone to talk to her."
Sour was silent for a moment. Her head then shook. "No. I've scarred her for life enough as it is."
Second reached over and held his wife's hand. "Sour, Bitter's fine. She talks about you nonstop. She loves you so much."
"We'll see as she grows up. She may just inherit your writing ability and put out a best-selling tell-all memoir. I can see the title now: Offspring of Loony: The Bitter Honey Story. She'll kill it on The View."
Second cracked a smile. "At least you seem to be keeping your sense of humor up."
Sour rolled her eyes. "With as high of a dose of medication they're giving me, I'm lucky to be joking at all. It's pretty much killed my libido. Otherwise, I would have already tackled and taken you right on top of this table by now."
Second chuckled. "There will be more than enough time for that when you get out of here." He then became a little more uncomfortable. "Sour? You're not angry with me for committing you, right?"
"You had to do what you had to do."
"You definitely seem better already."
Sour shook her head. "It may seem like it now, but I have flare ups."
"Well, just take it easy. Do what the doctors tell you to do. You know I'm only a phone call away when I'm not here with you. You'll get through this. I know you will. My Sour Sweetheart can do anything."
They talked for another hour before Sour began to feel a headache coming on.
Second smiled as he leaned in to kiss her forehead. "Did I excite you too much?"
Sour softly punched him in the shoulder. "Keep that up and one day I'll commit you for egomania."
They both got up and walked out of the cafeteria.
"Can you think of anything you want me to bring you?" Second asked.
Sour placed her finger on her chin. "Something to read would be nice. How about some novels by my favorite award-winning author?"
"Oh? And who would that be, I wonder?"
Sour smirked. "Anon."
Second laughed. "Just for that, you'll be getting some of mine."
"Oh honey, how cruel and unusual you can be," Sour joked. "You'll be bringing them tomorrow then?"
"Actually, someone else will."
Sour cocked her head. "Who?"
Second winked. "It's a surprise."
They shared a goodbye hug and kiss. Second went his way toward to the front entrance. Sour began her way back to the common room.
"Well, aren't we little miss popular?" a voice caused Sour to pause.
Sour turned to see the woman with the scarred face, leaning against the wall with her arms still folded.
"'Popular'?" Sour repeated.
"This makes two days in a row you've gotten visitors."
"Well, yeah. My parents and my husband. Why wouldn't they come to visit me?"
The woman chuckled. "Ah, newbies. Always good for a laugh. Listen, enjoy your little visits while they last. Eventually they'll become few and far between. Until finally, no more. Some patients here never even had a visit after they were committed. Not even once. Just dumped here to be forgotten. They think they're safe within these walls, but the truth of the matter is that this hospital could just be one government funding cut away from shutting down. And all of us? Tossed out onto the street to fend for ourselves. First abandoned by our families, then abandoned by so-called 'decent' society."
Sour lifted up an eyebrow. "Well, aren't you a little ray of sunshine?"
"Oh, and your husband? He'll move on. He'll find some bimbo to replace you."
If Sour wasn't heavily medicated right then, she would have likely hauled back and dropped this chick. Instead, she just asked in a calm-sounding tone, "You got something against me, Scarface?"
The woman narrowed her eyes. "My name is not 'Scarface'."
"What is it then?"
The woman opened her mouth, but hesitated. "Just call me Tempest Shadow."
Sour rolled her eyes and thought, Great. An edgelord mental patient.
"Look, I'm only trying to save you from inevitable heartache." Tempest suddenly put on a sarcastic smile and pointed to it with her left hand. Her right was still tightly tucked away from view. "See this? This is me being nice." The smile quickly dropped. "I don't do it often. Learn to take care of yourself. Humanity, society, friendship? It's all a lie. You're better off on your own."
Sour shook her head with annoyance. "Wow, five minutes in meeting you and I can already tell you're full of shit. If you think being alone is the bee's knees, then why do I see you always cozying up to that Storm King guy?"
"It's none of your business what I do."
"Look, even if it's just some casual hookup thing, that still counts as being social, emo."
Before Sour could react, her body was shoved hard against the wall. Tempest Shadow's sneering face went right up to hers, eyes locked. Her left hand was pressing into Sour's chest, shooting pain across her body and making it difficult for her to breath. Sour struggled and tried to pry Tempest's one hand away with both of hers. She couldn't.
"Most people learn that life isn't fair very early on, but those like you and me understand that on a whole other level, don't we?" Tempest then finally held up her right hand... or at least she would if she had a right hand. She brought up the stump and slowly stroked her facial scars with it. "We're damaged goods. Nobody truly knows the torture going on in our heads but us. There's nothing but loneliness to look forward to. Those around us now won't be forever. Open up your eyes."
Sour was then released. Her knees nearly buckled as she gripped her chest, heaving heavily for air. With that, Tempest Shadow turned and walked back toward the direction of the common room.
Sour couldn't help but to smile as she thought, First that Aria bitch from years ago and now Tempest Shadow. Are emos my kryptonite or something?
There was one thing Sour didn't want to smile about or even admit to, however. Tempest had successfully put some bad ideas into her head. And if there was one thing Sour didn't need in her current state, it was a head full of bad ideas...
Darkness encircled Sour Sweet's eyes as she sighed in frustration. Sleep had evaded her the previous night as she searched for answers to her problems. Her voices even bobbed up from the murky medicated waters to gasp suggestions before they were forced back down.
There is only loneliness, Sour's erratic thoughts droned. Tempest Shadow was right. Happiness is for others. Others like Second and Bitter. They deserve happiness. They don't deserve me. How can I give them happiness when I could be stuck in here for the rest of my life?
One idea kept nagging at her. Just an inkling of a solution. One that would require the help of someone else, though. But who? Who could she trust?
<Harvey Dent. Can we trust him?>
Sour rolled her eyes. Shut up, voice.
Sour's attention was then caught by another noise. Not only noise, but movement in the corner of her eye. She turned her head to see her roommate, Floor Bored. She had a blank stare with her mouth slightly agape, producing weird moans as her hands rapidly flapped close to her face.
Floor snapped out of her "trance". Her mouth sounds and hand movements instantly halted. She looked over at Sour, a blush coming over her face.
"Are you okay?" Sour pressed.
Floor's face tried to hide behind her greasy hair. "S-sure."
Sour was about to press further, until a knock came at their door. A nurse opened up and poked her head in.
"Miss Sweet? A visitor's here to see you."
Sour Sweet headed straight to the cafeteria. She remembered Second saying that someone would be visiting as well as dropping off copies of his books for her. Someone he wanted to be a surprise. She entered and laid eyes on who it was. Her face lit up with utter elation.
"Sunny Flare!" Sour cheered as she ran to her friend.
"Sour Sweet!" Sunny cheered with equal enthusiasm as she held out her arms.
The two old and dear friends embraced tightly.
Sour fought back tears. "Sunny, I can't believe you're here!"
"Yes, dearie," Sunny agreed, giving Sour's head a loving stroke. "It's been far too long."
Sunny did indeed feel guilty over that it took the present situation to finally have a reunion. Work and long distances often have other plans, though. She was dressed very casually, which was what set Sunny apart from other fashionistas such as Rarity. Instead of dressing up for every single occasion, Sunny preferred to save her outfits. She preferred to present herself down-to-earth most of the time, not just to visit friends in mental hospitals. The tote bag she was carrying, however, was unmistakably designer.
Sour broke the hug and pulled Sunny over to sit down. "So how's Paris been?"
Sunny gave a small wave. "Oh, we don't need to talk about me, Sour."
"Don't throw me a pity party, Sunny," Sour snapped, giving her a look. "I haven't seen you in, what, seven years?"
Sunny smiled politely. "Well, if you insist. Paris has been absolutely wonderful. Ever since Rarity and I joined fashion forces, business has shot through the roof."
Sour nodded. "Yeah, we've seen you guys on the runway on TV. That lingerie show last year was something." She suddenly got a strange glint in her eye. "Second especially liked it, I think."
Sunny chuckled. "We do try our best to stay in shape."
Sour leaned in a little closer toward Sunny. "Are you, uh, seeing anybody these days?"
"Not at the moment."
Sour leaned in just a bit closer. "I'm sure Second would love to be with a runway model like you."
With that, Sunny noticed the eerie tone in Sour's voice. An uneasiness began to creep up within her. "I'm sure a lot of men would. No one could make Second happier than you, of course, Sour."
"I don't have the money of a runway model, though. You're the rich one. Always have been." Sour put a finger up to her chin. "Tell me, Sunny. Do you think you have enough to send, oh I don't know, a daughter to any university in the world she would want to go, perhaps?"
Sunny frowned. "Uh, Sour? Are you, um, trying to hint at something here?"
Sour took a deep breath and took Sunny's hands into hers. "Sunny, I need to ask a favor of you. I mean, a huge favor."
"You know I'll do anything for you, Sour," Sunny assured, though still unsure where exactly this was going.
Sour nodded slowly. "Good. Good. I'm glad to hear that, Sunny. You don't know how glad I am that you're the one who stopped by today. I can't think of anyone that I could trust, anyone more qualified than you."
"Qualified for what exactly?"
Sour stared her best friend dead straight in the eyes. "Sunny, I want you to marry Second for me."
If Sunny's expression right then could be summed up in meme form, it would be "SunnyFlare.exe has stopped working". Her eyes darted around and she rubbed her hands together to make sure she wasn't having an out of body experience. She breathed in and out slowly to help collect her thoughts.
Finally, Sunny produced the only two words which would squeak out, "Beg pardon?"
"When you leave here, I want you to go to Second and tell him to divorce me and to marry you. Please be Second's new wife and Bitter's new mother."
"Sour Sweet, that's cr – " Sunny stopped herself and looked around. A mental hospital was probably not the most appropriate place to throw around that particular 'c' word.
"What's the matter?" Sour appeared genuinely offended. "I thought you would jump at the chance to jump Second!"
Sunny threw her hands up. "What would EVER make you think that?!"
A small smile crept across Sour's face. "I know about the pictures, Sunny."
Sunny froze. Her eyes instantly averted from her friend's gaze. Sour knew. She had hoped she would never find out. It was a moment of weakness. That's all it was. Being famous in Paris isn't as ideal as some would think. Long hours and shallow men can take a toll. Sunny began to become lonely. She started to drink.
It happened one night, two years prior. Sunny was sipping on red wine, looking out from her penthouse balcony as her slurred thoughts drifted toward her love life. She wasn't naïve. She knew the majority of her dates were just a result of her fame. She never truly felt a connection. Then, Second popped into her mind. She had developed feelings for him during their Crystal Prep days. Of course, his heart belonged to her best friend. She admitted these feelings to him once during prom, assuring him that she would move on. She tried. She really did. However, the longing for him always had a way of creeping back.
With each sip of wine, her thoughts of Second had become more and more... well, heated. She wished he could have been there right then. Second wouldn't care how famous she was, she felt. He would love her for her. That's just the way he was. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. She had to express her feelings in some way.
Sunny took her cellphone, removed some clothing, and snapped away. The pictures were e-mailed to Second with the subject labelled, "Pour toujours et à jamais". Satisfied, Sunny had another glass before falling asleep. The next morning, it hit the hungover Sunny what she had done. She immediately texted a sincere apology and explanation, to which Second responded back, "It's okay, Sunny. I deleted the pictures. It must be tough to be under such pressure all the time."
Sunny had stared at that reply for the longest time. No slut-shaming. No sleazy request for more pictures. He was a gentlemen. Exactly the reason why she felt so strongly for Second.
Sunny eventually found the courage to glance back up to meet her friend's eyes. "How did you find out?"
"Second doesn't like to keep anything from me," Sour replied softly. "Especially when it involves our marriage, our friends, or both in a way that I would never had expected."
"S-Sour..." Sunny uttered, tears welling up. "... I'm so, so sorry."
An unsettlingly cheery smile suddenly grew on Sour's face. "What are you apologizing for? It works out perfectly how we're in love with the same man! It'll make it way easier for you to replace me!"
Sunny's head swelled with the bewilderment, shame, and frustration swirling inside all at once. She banged the table. "Sour, NO ONE is going to replace you! I've made my mistakes, but I am NOT a homewrecker!"
"Oh Sunny-bunny-honey," Sour cooed in her sickly-sweet tone. "You're not homewrecking. You're doing me a favor, remember?" Her expression and tone shifted back to serious. "What if I'm stuck in this hospital for years, huh? How can I expect Second and Bitter to wait that long? What a terrible wife and mother I would be if I didn't make sure they would be well taken care of. Bitter needs someone there to raise her to be a proud, confident, independent woman, and Second needs someone there to tell him how shitty his jokes are!"
Sunny shook her head. "Sour, you were only hospitalized to recover from a relapse. As I understand it, you're likely going to be here for just a couple – "
Sunny was cut off as Sour abruptly seized her by the shoulders. Pain and fear shot through her.
"WHAT'S WITH YOU!?!" Sour screamed into Sunny's face. "CAN'T YOU JUST DO WHAT I'M ASKING YOU TO DO!?! WHAT KIND OF A FRIEND ARE YOU!?!"
As to be expected, Sour's screaming attracted a nurse. One glance into the cafeteria and she immediately called in a Code One. Sour's head whipped over to see five staffers bursting through the cafeteria doors. She let go of Sunny and turned her rage towards them. Her already raised anxiety levels caused her to see them as hideous monstrosities. As they came at her, Sour let out a war cry and began swinging.
Petrified, Sunny could only stare at the alarming scene with a hand over her mouth. After dodging Sour's blows, one of the staffers finally slipped behind and grabbed her. From there, the rest were able to take hold of her hands and feet. They hauled Sour up and carried her off as she shrieked in protest.
"Are you alright, ma'am?" the nurse asked Sunny. Receiving a shaky nod, she added, "It's very uncommon for the patients to get violent, you know."
Sunny sighed. "Well, Sour's always been a maverick in everything she does." It was then that she remembered something. She reached into her designer tote bag and pulled out four books. Each had Second's name on their covers. "Nurse, would you please make sure Sour gets these when she feels better?"
The nurse took them and nodded. "Of course."
Sour Sweet was lying on a bed, staring up at the ceiling of the ER. Her hands and feet were tightly held down with cuffs, which were referred to as leathers. They were supposed to be strong enough that the patients couldn't chew through them.
A syringe full of Ativan had just been injected into her. She closed her eyes and waited for it to take effect. Despite everything, she was grateful for the break in her insomnia. If she had to be honest, though, she was just about at the point of wishing she could close her eyes for good and never wake up.
"Poor, poor Sour Sweet."
Sour's eyes popped open to see the smirking face of Tempest Shadow hovering above her.
"Isn't it just awful when friends see you at your worst?" she taunted. "Guess we won't be seeing that one around here again."
Tempest let out a heckling laugh which pierced Sour's soul.
"Hey, how'd you get in here?!"
A staffer came over and sternly guided Tempest out of the ER. The door was closed behind them. Tempest was gone, but the damage was done.
Sour Sweet's eyes opened. She glanced around the ER, memories of what happened before falling asleep slowly coming back to her groggy mind. She sat up to see the leathers strapped to her wrists and ankles. She tugged at them to test their strength.
"Hello?" Sour called. "I'm awake!" She sighed and mumbled, "Unfortunately."
A few moments later, in walked one of the doctors flanked by a security officer. Doctor Dia Gnostic was short and plus sized with light green hair and turquoise skin. Sour understood that she was good friends with Doctor Chrysalis. It made sense with the bit of sass she brought to her work.
"How are we feeling?" Doctor Gnostic asked.
"We feel like we were drugged and slept while strapped to a table," Sour deadpanned. "What time is it?"
"11:36. You slept through morning therapy."
"You mean I've been asleep since noon yesterday?"
"Well, you were having sleep problems, weren't you?" Doctor Gnostic lifted up a clipboard and began to skim through Sour's information. "Sour Sweet, diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 16. Hallucinations, delusions, bizarre mood swings which conveniently match your name. You know, based on how all this looks, I would have diagnosed you with schizoaffective disorder, but I wasn't the one who examined you first, was I?" She shook her head in mock disappointment. "Too many amateurs in this field, I tell ya."
"At this point, I really don't care what it's labelled," Sour sighed with frustration. "So what now, huh? What kind of punishments do you guys dish out around here?"
"This isn't a prison, Sour. Your staff checks will only be upped from every thirty minutes to every ten minutes to keep a better eye on you."
Sour rolled her eyes. "Oh, so you guys annoy us to death then."
Doctor Gnostic smirked. "Well, we can assign a staffer to be within ten feet of you at all times, if you prefer. You won't have a choice in the matter if there's another incident, though."
"Fine, can I get out of here now?"
Doctor Gnostic eyed Sour for a moment, weighing the options. There was a difference between being a smart mouth and being a danger to themselves and others, of course. She turned and gave the security officer a nod. The officer released Sour from the leathers. She hopped down from the table to stretch and crack her back.
"By the way, Sour," Doctor Gnostic began, folding her arms. "I hear you haven't been cooperating much during the therapy sessions so far. Been a bit tight-lipped, have we?"
Sour shrugged. "Not much of a talker."
Doctor Gnostic suppressed the urge to shoot her a "Yeah right" look. "Just please try to be more open with the doctors from now on, okay? And I would also recommend getting some fresh air now."
Sour sarcastically saluted as she walked by. "Aye, aye."
The sun felt good on Sour's face. A slight breeze passed through. Birds chirped as they perched upon the high fence which surrounded the hospital courtyard. The peaceful mood severely clashed with the crappy one within Sour's head.
She sat down on a bench. Her elbows hit her knees as she bent down to plant her face into her hands.
"You look troubled," she heard a female voice state. "May I read to you from the bible? I'm a pastor."
Sour wanted to groan. Patients of Canterlot Psychiatric Center, like any hospital, had the right to have their particular clergy members visit them at any time of day. Sour, last time she checked, did not attend any place of worship, which meant that this random pastor had decided to bug a random patient. Part of her wanted to get up and tell the woman of God off, but the other part was too exhausted for that.
The pastor sat next to her, softly cleared her throat, and began, "From Psalm 143 - 'Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee'."
As the pastor read, a strange, creeping feeling rose from within Sour. That voice. She had heard that voice before, hadn't she? But from where? It was so familiar.
"'Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me. Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness'."
Finally, Sour couldn't stand not being able to place who the voice belonged to. She rose up and looked over. Her eyed widened. There, sitting besides her with a black pocket bible open, was someone she hadn't seen in years. Not since the graduation ceremony of Crystal Prep Academy, to be precise.
Starlight Glimmer gave Sour a warm smile as she finished, "'Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble'. That's one of my favorite passages."
"Starlight?" Sour said, still in disbelief. "You're a pastor now? I would have figured you'd be wrecking college campuses with Antifa these days."
"What makes you think that?" Starlight giggled.
Sour gave her a look. "Uh, all the times you used to say that you were going to lead a bloody revolution to take over the country, maybe?"
Starlight waved dismissively. "Oh, come on. You didn't actually take me seriously, did you?"
Sour cringed. "We kind of all did, Glimmy."
Starlight frowned. "Oh. Oh wow." She laughed nervously. "I just said all that stuff back then because I thought it made me sound badass. I guess not. Boy, if only you could turn back time, huh?"
"Yeah, if only," Sour uttered, her depression coming back a little. "So you replaced Che with Christ, huh? Always thought they looked a lot alike."
Starlight grinned. "Even better than that. I got both!"
"What do you mean by that?"
"What I mean is that I believe in Christian communism now."
Sour cocked her head. "Christian communism? That's a thing?"
Starlight nodded. "Yep. Or if the name is too triggering, you can say 'liberation theology' instead." She shrugged. "Basically the same thing and possibly invented by the KGB."
"So wait, what about the whole 'religion is the opium of the masses' deal?"
Starlight lifted up an educational finger. "Contrary to popular belief, communists don't always agree with each other on everything like soulless robots. You do have some that have the 'atheistic utopia' ideal, but then there are those who embrace leftist Christians, the ones who don't cherry pick the anti-materialism parts out from the gospel, as great allies in the struggle against the capitalists." Starlight rolled her eyes in annoyance. "Come on, you really got to be blind to read Acts, chapter four and not see that the apostles are running a redistribution of wealth system."
Sour nodded along with both surprise and amusement. You truly do learn new things every day. She imagined how interesting it would be if her mother-in-law, Niban Person could meet Starlight. Niban always was one to thump her bible and quote chapter and verse in the name of the far right. What would happen if someone thumped and quoted back at her for the far left? Niban's head would probably explode. Just thinking about it made Sour start craving popcorn.
Blockbuster entertainment aside, Sour could see that Starlight had a deep conviction. It honestly made her envious. There she was, in a mental hospital, wallowing in self-pity and depression while others were out and about doing what they felt were important things with their lives. They had a purpose. A driving force. Something which made life worth living. They were nowhere near rock bottom as she was.
"Must be nice having something to believe in..." Sour muttered.
"Well, you know, God and politics are just my things," Starlight clarified. "Everybody has their things. What is it that you have faith in, Sour?"
Sour paused to think, despite the fact that she knew that it was futile. She knew the answer to that. Tears welled up in Sour's eyes.
"Nothing," Sour uttered weakly. "I have absolutely nothing anymore. God? I've never met Him. Politics? This country belongs to the Twitter trolls now. Career? What parents would want their child examined by a pediatrician who's a freakin' psycho? Friends and family? I've ruined everything with them just in the last week. What the hell is there left to have faith in?"
Starlight reached over and placed her hand on Sour's shoulder. "Yourself."
Sour wiped a tear from her cheek. "Funny. Real funny."
"I'm serious, Sour."
Sour sighed in annoyance. "Wait a moment, Starlight." Sour looked over at the entrance of the hospital where a staffer was looking at her through the Plexiglas window. Sour gave a big, sarcastic smile and thumbs up at him. It seemed to satisfy and he walked off. "See that, Starlight? My best days are over. My future is nothing but staff checks every ten minutes."
"I'm sorry, Sour, but I don't believe that."
Sour shook her head and stood up. "Believe it." She began walking toward the entrance. "Look, it's been good talking to you, Starlight, but I think I'm going to go back to my room now."
Starlight stood up. "Sour, one more thing."
Sour stopped and looked back. "What?"
Starlight stared straight into Sour's eyes. "Romans 8:18 - 'For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us'. Take care of yourself, Sour."
Sour forced a polite smile and nodded. Despite everything, Starlight was okay in her book. She wasn't a Nazi, at least. Sour just wasn't in any mood for optimism right then.
She was just about to open the door when a nurse came through first.
"Oh, here you are, Miss Sweet!" the elderly woman cheerfully declared. "Your husband and your friend from yesterday are waiting in the cafeteria for you."
Sour stared at her in disbelief. "Are... are you sure it's them?"
The nurse smirked and put her hands on her hips. "Hey, I may have lost my teeth and two husbands of my own, but my eyes ain't gone nowhere yet!"
Sour quickly reached the cafeteria. She swung open the doors. Indeed, there was Second Person and Sunny Flare, waiting solemnly for her.
"S-Second? S-Sunny?" Sour uttered as if questioning whether or not these were hallucinations in front of her. "What are you doing here?" A smile abruptly broke out as she slapped her forehead. "Oh, of course! Silly me. You need me to sign the divorce papers, right?"
"I'm not going to divorce you, Sour," Second stated firmly.
"But, you need – "
Second put a finger to her lips. "Just listen to me for a moment. All these years, I've tried my best to take care of you. I've given you my time, my shoulder to cry on, my full support, my everything. But, at the end of the day, I can only do so much. To get through this, it all depends on you, Sour. You."
"So, you're telling me to have faith in myself, too."
"That's a easy thing for everybody else to say," Sour said sharply. "You don't have to go through this."
"Sour, where's that fighter I fell in love with?" Second asked as he wrapped his arms around his wife. "When I first met you, I knew you were special. You were so full of confidence, had such a determined attitude, that I couldn't help but to be attracted to you."
Sour rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I hid my weaknesses pretty well, didn't I? Face it, you got together with me for all the wrong reasons, Second."
"That is not true. You've always proven yourself. No matter what. You became an internet sensation, made friends with your enemies, got your education, became a doctor to help countless kids, and had a beautiful daughter together with me. Now, be honest, did you ever think you were going to accomplish all that all those years ago?"
Sour was silent for a moment, before admitting, "No."
Second nodded. "Exactly! This is life, Sour. Life is a battle of the mind. Everyone goes through it. It may be more severe for some than for others, yeah, but everyone has to fight. Fight this, Sour!"
"We're here for you, dearie," Sunny chimed in. "Everyone is."
Sour felt a sudden surge of anger. "Yeah, you say that NOW, but you'll all just end up forgetting about me! And you're not even supposed to BE here, Sunny! You weren't supposed to come back after what I did yesterday!"
Sunny shook her head. "Sour, no matter what you do, I won't abandon you. Where are you even getting these ideas from?"
By sheer coincidence, it was that very moment when Sour noticed Tempest Shadow's sneering face behind the cafeteria door window, spying on them. Sour's face became red with both embarrassment and rage. Her fists clenched.
Oh, little miss edgy, Sour seethingly thought. Be glad I really don't want a staffer hovering over me all day, or I'd rip that precious OTHER hand of yours right off.
Sour's glance returned to Second and Sunny. Her anger melted away. Tears streaked down her face. She shot forward and caught them both in a hug.
"I-I-I'm s-sorry," Sour managed through the sobs. "I'll get better. I pr-promise."
"It's okay, Sour," Sunny assured, holding her tight.
"Just do your best," Second said as he stroked her hair. "That's all we ask."
With her husband and best friend in her arms, Sour nearly felt complete. She just wished her daughter could be there...
The living room of Gilda's house was filled with the laughter of children. Well, one child at least. On the TV, the Discord the Happy Draconequus show was playing. Usually it was the favorite of both Bitter Honey and Gretchen, but Bitter just sat there, staring at the floor with a frown on her face.
"Chocolate rain!" Gretchen howled. "That's funny isn't it, Bitter?" Not receiving a response, she glanced over. "Bitter?"
"Huh?" Bitter asked, snapping out of her thoughts and looking up. "Oh, yeah. Funny."
Gretchen grew a frown to match her friend's. It was obvious what was going through Bitter's mind. "You're missing your mama?"
Bitter's glance went back down as she nodded.
"Hey, would it cheer you up if I told you the new bad word I learned?"
Bitter shook her head. "Maybe later."
Gretchen slipped off the couch. "Do you want some juice? I'll go get us some."
Bitter looked back over at her friend and smiled. Gretchen actually being nice was a rare treat indeed. It was something Bitter liked to encourage as much as she could. "Yes. I would like some juice, please."
"Be right back!" Gretchen said as she raced toward the kitchen.
Now alone, Bitter sighed. She desperately wanted to know if her mother was going to be alright. Her father kept assuring her that she would. However, Bitter was beginning to grow wise enough to question whether the adults always told the truth or not. She needed an adult who she trusted would tell her exactly what was happening.
With that, she looked over to the blonde man in the fine, tailored suit who was standing off in the corner. "Mister Carpathia, can you go see if my mama is okay for me?"
The satanic dictator grinned at her. "Certainly, my little one. I am sure Sour Sweet would be delighted to see me again..."
"Alright, let's go around the circle and each share what our daily goals will be," the doctor said. "Floor?"
Floor Bored flinched.
Group therapy wasn't the favorite for those who were dealing with anxiety issues. About a dozen patients were sitting on folding chairs in a circle. That, of course, meant when each person had to speak, they were surrounded by eyes. From a therapeutic standpoint, it was an attempt to get those who had that problem more used to people.
"Um, well, I could... well..."
"Taking shower for once would be nice," Tempest Shadow muttered.
"Hey, shut your mouth!" Sour Sweet snapped.
Tempest's eyes narrowed. "Make me."
"Ladies, ladies," the doctor urged. "Let's calm down."
Tempest's glare went back to Floor. "You do at least wash your hands, right, greasy?"
Floor nodded slightly as she slumped in her chair.
"At least she has TWO hands to wash, STUMPY," Sour sneered.
Tempest shot up from her seat, followed immediately by Sour. The doctor quickly rushed over in between them to try block an impending fistfight. Instead, a shouting match broke out. After a while, the more sensitive patients were growing distressed with the aggressive atmosphere. Some simply decided to get up and leave. Including Floor.
The doctor noticed and sighed. "Alright, alright. We're done for the day."
The others began to leave. Sour and Tempest gave each other one last expletive before going their separate ways.
Damn Tempest, Sour thought as she began her way back to her room. I didn't even get to share my daily goal.
Sour's goal was to try to read at least a good portion of one of Second's novels. The medication she was on was good for the most part, but she was still having trouble concentrating when it came to words. Then again, perhaps it was for the best that she didn't get to share that. Tempest would have likely made an insult such as, "Maybe it's not you, but your husband's crappy writing". Things would have definitely gone down if that was said.
Sour shook her head angrily. At some point, Sour decided, Tempest would get hers.
Sour's vengeful musings were then interrupted by a odd noise. She looked over to see another patient in the hallway. One who she hadn't seen before then. The young girl was wearing purple pajamas with an orange and yellow propeller beanie. Her back was on the floor with her feet propped up on a chair. Her lips were being strummed up and down with a finger, making a motorboat sound.
Sour glared at the sight with a rising disgust. "Excuse me?"
The swirled eyes of the girl directed over to Sour, but continued to make the irritating noise rather than a response.
"Please tell me you're some undercover reporter or a murderer trying to avoid the chair who's trying way too hard to act crazy," Sour said, pointedly.
The girl finally stopped the stereotypical action to give Sour a smile. "Nopers. I'm just being my au naturel self. And I'm not coo coo ca choo like you." She followed that last statement by resuming the motorboat.
"What are you in for then?"
The girl shrugged. "You hoo-mans don't like me, I guess. Keep throwing me into these places. You get used to it after a thousand years."
Sour raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean, 'a thousand years'?"
After a blur of motion which made Sour flinch, the girl was suddenly on top of the chair, her legs and arms positioned as that of a frog. "Story time, ribbit!"
Sour just stared, blinking her eyes in confusion.
"One thousand years ago, me and my daddy came here to scope out your pathetic, little, magic-less world with the intent to conquer it in the name of chaos. At first, we did consider the Gen 5 universe, but we were not so sure if we could trust the leaks or not. We were ready and raring to go, until my daddy suddenly said he was going to go out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back. I've been hanging out here ever since."
"What's your daddy's name?"
"Discord. He's a draconequus."
Sour winced. Was she talking about Discord the Happy Draconequus? The show that Bitter always wanted to watch with her? Sour shook her head with pity. Poor girl thought her deadbeat dad was a cartoon character.
"What's your name?" Sour asked.
"Nice to meet you, Screwball," Sour said, extending her hand. "My name's Sour Sweet."
Screwball grinned as she shook Sour's hand. "Saluton, Acida Dolĉa! Kiel vi fartas?"
"Uh, sure." Sour turned and began to walk off. "Hope your daddy comes back."
"Don't worry. I know my daddy loves me. He'll come get me some day. I'm having fun here in the meantime."
Sour turned to glance back, only to see the chair now empty. Sour frantically looked around. A little disturbed, she decided to continue on her way back to her room. That was until she passed the entrance to the common room.
"Who wants to play ball?" a familiar voice shouted.
Sour whipped her head. Screwball was on top of a coffee table. She was now dressed up in a baseball uniform with a bat in her hands, which was being swung around wildly, yet playfully. Some of the staffers ran over to try to get it away from her.
Sour began to rub her eyes as she walked off.
"Kick in fully, damn meds, kick in..." she muttered.
As she finally made it to her room, she was looking forward to some peace and quiet reading time. After all, her roommate barely said anything.
Not today, apparently.
Sour was about to enter as a great commotion caught her attention. She peered in through the Plexiglas window of the door. There was Floor Bored, quickly moving around. Her arms waved and her hands flapped rapidly, sometimes stopping to slap her bed. From her mouth came small grunts, moans, and the occasional, seemingly random sentence.
Sour opened the door. That very moment, Floor's behavior suddenly came to an abrupt halt. She stood rigid, her face lighting up bright red as she breathed heavily from her exhaustive activity.
Sour gave her an understanding smile. "Let me guess. Maladaptive daydreaming disorder?"
"Y-you know what that is?" Floor asked, surprised.
Sour nodded. "You get so lost in a daydream that it's like a trance where you can even lose control of your body. I'm a pediatrician. The mother of one of my patients once told me how he was sometimes doing what you were just doing. She was worried so I tried looking up information on it. I came across the disorder and suggested that she do as well. There's no treatment for it, so I wouldn't think that that would be the reason why you're here."
Floor's head lowered. "N-no. It just helps to cope..."
"Floor? May I ask what the real reason is?"
"I... I tried to hang myself."
Sour nodded understandingly. "I tried to drown myself twice. Maybe I'll try hanging next time. Third times the charm, right?"
Floor looked back up and just stared at her.
Sour cleared her throat awkwardly. "That was a joke. Dark humor is how I cope."
"Oh." Floor sat down on her bed. "Well, I can't daydream with someone else here. Guess I have to find another way to pass the time..."
Floor then proceeded to shove her right hand down her pants.
Sour's hands immediately shot up. "Whoa, whoa! No need to do THAT! I don't care if you daydream! Yell, jump around, whatever you want!"
Floor shrugged and pulled her hand out. "If you're sure."
Sour wiped her forehead with a sigh of relief. Bullet dodged. She then picked up one of Second's novels and lay down on her bed. Sour tried to read, but kept glancing over at Floor. She was staring off with her hands rubbing together frantically.
Sour took one more look at her husband's words upon the page, then back to her roommate. "Floor?"
Once again, Floor snapped out of her fantasy world.
"Have you ever tried writing down what's going on in your head?"
Floor gave her weird look. "Why would I do that?"
"Well, your happy place obviously entertains you. Maybe it'll entertain others."
"I doubt that," Floor sighed. "I don't have anything to offer anybody. All I am is NEET."
"You never know if you don't try."
Floor scoffed. "You sound like one of these doctors, Sour."
Sour chuckled. "Years of therapy will cause one to start talking like a therapist, I guess."
To that, Floor cracked a smile, which caused Sour to as well. Helping her roommate inch out of her shell may have not been a daily goal she had set, but it was one which Sour was proud to have accomplished anyway.
Sour Sweet was sound asleep. It was the first good night sleep that wasn't drugged induced she had had in a month. Which, naturally, meant that it was about to be interrupted. A bright light shone directly on her. Her eyes opened, only to shut back up from the intensity. She sat up.
"Wh-what's going on?"
Trying her best to shield her eyes, Sour looked over at Floor. Through the brightness, she could see her roommate sleeping unfazed. Her perverted smile was a sure sign of her commitment to stay in dreamland.
"Sour...!" she heard a sexy Romanian accent coo. "Sour Sweet...!"
Sour narrowed her eyes. A figure of a man finally came into focus, despite the glow emanating from him. She sighed in annoyance the moment she realized who it was.
"Sour Sweet, come to the 'Other Light'," Nicolae Carpathia tempted. "We have cookies!"
Sour started to slap the side of her head, muttering, "Damn meds, I told you to work!"
"What is the matter?" Nicolae asked in mock-innocence. "I thought you would be happy to receive a visitor."
"Nicolae, get out of here before I get Starlight Glimmer to come in and exorcise you!"
At that moment, the light from Nicolae died down which gave Sour a better view of his smug face. "Do not be so mean, Sour. I care for you deeply, my dear. I love all citizens of the Global Community as if they were my own children."
Sour rolled her eyes. "Yeah, you consider us your children because you poison your own in their wombs."
Nicolae held up a finger to his lips. "Spoilers, Sour! Not everyone has read the books!" He chuckled. "Speaking of children, I have been keeping an eye on Bitter Honey for you."
"Yeah, sure you have."
"No, really!" Nicolae asserted as he sat on the end of her bed. "We have played everyday since you were put in here. She is a very good child that you should be proud of."
Sour crossed her arms. "Proud I am, but you couldn't play with her because you don't exist."
"How do you know I do not exist?"
"You're Nicolae Carpathia, a fictional character."
"What if I told you that I am not Nicolae Carpathia?"
"Then who am I hallucinating then?"
"What if I was not a hallucination, either?"
Sour gave him an annoyed look. "Oh, yeah? Prove it."
Nicolae grinned. "Call Bitter."
"What?" Sour asked, not expecting that answer.
"In the morning, call Bitter at home." Nicolae's grin grew wider. "Ask her just who has been playing with her for the last few days."
Something about Nicolae's confidence made Sour feel uneasy. "If you were not a hallucination, what would you be then?"
"A friend, that is all," Nicolae said simply as he stood up again. "And do not worry. I will not be around to bother you for much longer. I am only passing through. I have other unfinished business to take care of."
All of a sudden, an expression of genuine guilt and sadness washed over Nicolae. To Sour, it was as if he had become another person.
"Something I should have done a very long time ago," Nicolae sighed.
Sour opened her mouth to ask what he meant by that, but was cut off by the return of the blinding light. Sour covered her eyes.
"One last thing, Sour," Nicolae's voice echoed. "Get better quickly, would you? Bitter misses you terribly."
Just as the light suddenly came, it suddenly went. Nicolae was no where to be seen in the room. Sour let out a frustrated grunt, lay back down, and pulled the covers over her head. She was so over this whole hallucination thing. Getting back to sleep was all she wanted.
Predictably, that was not to be.
A loud alarm suddenly filled her ears, causing her whole body to jump out of bed. Her head frantically went side to side. On the other side of the room, Floor Bored was up, doing the same thing with panicked, wide eyes.
Sour rushed over and tried to open the door. It wouldn't budge. She peered out the window to see the night shift staffers running up and down the halls.
"Sour, what's going on?" Floor asked.
"Something's happening," Sour said, trying to remain calm. "The hospital's on lockdown."
Sleep after all that was difficult, but Sour somehow managed it. After waking up, the first thing she did was to walk over to the door to try the handle. It opened. Whatever happened last night, it was apparently over.
Sour got cleaned up, dressed, and went out. She headed straight to Doctor Gnostic's office. If anyone had answers, it was her. As she walked up, a couple of police officers had just finished talking with her.
"Doctor Gnostic, what happened?" Sour asked as the officers left.
"Well, you know that Screwball girl that came in yesterday?" Doctor Gnostic began.
Sour nodded. "Yeah."
"Yep. Vamoosed. There was an alarm tripped and when we were investigating, we found that she was missing."
Sour began to worry. "Screwball isn't dangerous, is she?"
"No, no, we don't think so. We consider her more a threat to herself than anything." Doctor Gnostic's eyes darted side-to-side before leaning in and continued in a low voice, "Frankly, Sour Sweet, the whole thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. We went through the security footage and can't find a single glimpse of her leaving the building, much less her room. It's like she was raptured or something."
The word "raptured" sent a shiver up Sour's spine.
"You wouldn't have any clue about this, would you?"
Sour smiled nervously as she slipped into her sweet tone, "Who, me? No, no, no. Not a clue to be had. Heh, heh..."
"Well, if you hear anything, please let me know."
"Will do," Sour promised, before walking away as fast as she could.
Her head raced with nothing but thoughts of last night. Did Nicolae...? Sour shook her head. No. That wasn't possible...
'I know my daddy loves me. He'll come get me some day.'
Her feet halted. Could Nicolae be Screwball's...
"No way!" Sour spat out loud to herself. "Stop thinking such crap!"
'I have other unfinished business to take care of. Something I should have done a very long time ago.'
Sour lightly smacked her cheek. She wanted these thoughts to stop. There was no way Nicolae was real...
'Call Bitter. Ask her just who has been playing with her for the last few days.'
Sour's glance drifted over to a phone on the wall. It was one of those reserved for patient use. Her heart raced. She reached her hand out. She froze, then pulled her hand away.
No, she decided. Sour wanted to push any and all weirdness from her mind. There were more important things to focus on. Things like getting better and being released from Canterlot Psychiatric Center. To get back to her normal life where normal things went on. That was her top priority. Besides, if Screwball really was reunited with her Daddy Discord, then there wasn't anything to be concerned about. Sour was happy for her.
With that, Sour began her way to the cafeteria to get breakfast.
As Sour ordered herself some scrambled eggs, at the other end of the cafeteria, another woman sat with her own food going untouched and growing cold. Tempest Shadow was completely still as she stared out the window. It was a nice day. A very nice day. Her thoughts had been on Screwball as well. Envy rose up from deep within her and spread throughout her entire being.
It was approaching two full weeks since Sour Sweet had to be committed. Sour was in the common room, leaning back in a comfy chair as she watched a nature documentary playing on the TV. Her mind felt so clear now. Clear and relieved. Doctor Dia Gnostic had told her that all she needed to do was pass a final evaluation and she would be permitted to leave. It was scheduled for tomorrow.
Part of her was sad to go. She grew to like the place and some of her fellow patients. Especially Floor Bored. The two of them shared a lot of time together, their daily conversations becoming longer and longer as Floor opened up. Sour liked the younger girl, despite how bad she smelled and not to the mention that she preferred to read Anon's novels over Second's.
Floor had even seemed to take Sour's advice on writing herself. In the common room, there were a few computers along with a printer. Internet browsing was heavily monitored, of course, but it still offered some recreation. Sour had spotted Floor sitting and typing in Google Docs from time to time. Right then, she could hear the copier running. Perhaps Floor had finished something.
Sour hoped Floor would continue to get better with her gone. Still, there would be certain other patients she wouldn't miss at all.
"Let go of me!"
Sour rolled her eyes. Speak of the edgelord...
A couple of staffers pulled Tempest Shadow into the common room, sitting her down on the couch opposite of Sour. Tempest had been attempting frequent escape attempts, so many in fact that it was decided that she needed two staffers at her side at all times. Regardless, she still made runs for it.
"Now, please settle down," one of the staffers urged. "Breath and relax. Enjoy some TV."
"Tried to jump the fence again, eh, Tempest?" Sour asked with a small smirk.
Tempest glared at her and growled, "Shut. It."
"You know, not being such a grumpy face would go a long way," Sour pressed. "I would think someone with one hand should know how to be content with what they got. How the heck did you even lose that one anyway?"
Tempest scowled as she crossed her arms to conceal her stump. "Let's just say I got too good at cutting my wrist."
Sour gave her a long, dubious stare before deadpanning, "Really? That's the best edge you could come up with? My old feminist blog received threats of rape that were more clever than that."
Tempest began to roll her eyes. Suddenly, as the roll was about make its completion, her eyes caught themselves on the TV screen. A blood-curdling scream shot out of Tempest's mouth. Everyone in the common room jumped at the sudden noise.
"CHANGE IT! CHANGE IT! FUCKING CHANGE IT!" Tempest begged as her eyes shut tight.
Sour looked at the TV. The only thing that was showing was a grizzly bear sitting in a field. Sour didn't dwell on it as she obliged to Tempest's abrupt and desperate wish. She switched the channel. Tempest slowly opened her eyes to check if it was indeed changed. Satisfied and relieved, she tried to regain her composure. A tear running down her cheek was quickly wiped as her face scowled.
"What's going on?" Floor Bored asked as she walked up, holding a small stack of freshly printed paper.
"Nothing!" Tempest snapped before repeating more quietly, "Nothing."
Sour and Floor stared at the scarred woman, before mutually deciding to drop it. Their attention turned to each other.
"So, is that what I think it is?" Sour asked, pointing at the stack.
Floor nodded with a slight blush. "I was hoping that maybe Second could take a look at it? Maybe see if my writing's any good?"
Tempest shot up from the couch. "You're really going to trust a professional author to take a look at your story?" Her entire demeanor was as if she hadn't just been screaming bloody murder not a full minute ago. "How do you know he's not going to steal your work and pass it off as his own?"
Uncertainty filled Floor's face as she glanced over to Sour. "Y-your husband wouldn't do that, would he?"
"Of course not!" Sour said, glaring at Tempest.
"Perhaps you're right for once, Sour," Tempest said as she strolled over to Floor. "What value could anything from this one possibly have? Her writing likely stinks worse than her BO."
As if throwing insults wasn't enough for her, Tempest followed up by swatting her left hand at the stack of paper. Her story scattered below her, Floor's eyes began to water. An enraged Sour gripped her fists and stepped over toward Tempest before the staffers got in-between them.
"We'll take care of her," one of them assured Sour.
"Let's go to your room," the other said as he pushed Tempest out of the common room.
Tempest's eyes were locked with Sour's as she left. The two of them were the most difficult patients of the entire center. One would think the staff would figure out they didn't need to be in the same room together. Of course, that wouldn't be necessary for much longer, Sour was sure. She was about to be out of there. Free as a bird. Tempest could rot for all she cared.
Sour glanced over to the pitiful sight of Floor picking up the pages of her story, one by one. Sour bent down to help. She frowned as she noticed Floor had forgotten to number her pages.
"Floor, get your story back in order and I'll make sure Second gets it," Sour promised.
"Th-thanks..." Floor managed.
Frustrated, Sour shook her head. This psychiatric center had way too much in common with a high school. A building where everyone needed to gather, be taught, get monitored, and receive food. Unfortunately, it even had the bullies. Sour knew this all too well having came from Crystal Prep Academy. Sour was a bully as well back then. Heck, everyone was.
Floor collected all the pages within her hands and began the process of sorting them back in order. Sour watched with her temper rising once more. Tomorrow was going to be her last day. However, she didn't want to leave without putting Tempest in her place first. For that, perhaps it was time for the bully Sour Sweet to make a grand return.
Sour's attention shifted back to the TV. She picked up the remote and changed the channel back to the nature documentary. The grizzlies were catching salmon now. Sour then looked back at the common room's computer and printer.
An evil smirk came across Sour's face.
Tempest Shadow walked down the hall. She had a permanent scowl thanks to the two staffers glued to her sides. She hated company. It never worked out to have people around her. Something always went wrong. Mostly her temper.
Tempest grew to hate that word. Patience was the word that Doctor Gnostic used every time she was told that she couldn't leave just yet. This had been going on for about three years. Most patients didn't stay that long, but Tempest rarely ever followed the doctors' advice, which in turn caused to her fail her evaluations every time. Tempest didn't have patience. She couldn't take it anymore. She wanted out of there.
Then again, it wasn't like she actually had anywhere else to go to. Her family had abandoned her long ago. Or had she abandoned them? Tempest couldn't remember which anymore. She didn't really want to, anyway. As far as she was concerned, she didn't belong to that family. She stopped being the person born to them after that day...
"Go in already!"
"It's kinda dark in there..."
"What are you? A scaredy cat?"
"Of course not!"
"Well, go get the ball then."
"Okay, be right back..."
Tempest winced and shivered. She wanted her stupid brain to stop replaying it. It never went well for her to think back to that day. It wasn't good to come into contact with anything which reminded her of it, either. It made her feel like some "whiny liberal" stereotype. As much as she hated to admit it, she needed trigger warnings.
Her life had been completely stolen by PTSD.
Tempest stopped at the door of the women's restroom.
She lifted an eyebrow at the staffers. "You don't mind, do you?"
The two nodded and took some steps away, but not too far. Their diligent gaze lingered on Tempest until they made sure she entered instead of running again. The public restrooms were like any other, except that the mirrors were safety glass and that the stalls had both inside and outside locks. The outside locks were in the event that a patient had an episode within the stall. A staffers had keys to quickly open them and give aid.
Tempest headed for one of the stalls. She was about to push the door open, when suddenly somebody shot out of it. Tempest couldn't see who it was. All she could see was a bear with its teeth showing. Her eyes popped. Her purple face paled. Her body trembled. Her bladder released.
I just wanted to get the ball back...
A single second didn't even pass before Sour Sweet regretted what she had just done. All it took was one look at Tempest's face. Tempest staggered back from the printed picture. She fell to the floor. Her body began writhing as she screamed. Both her eyes and pants were soaking wet.
"STOP!!! HELP ME!!! GOD HELP ME!!! IT HURTS!!! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!!! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!!!!!"
As the restroom door swung open, Sour shot back into the stall out of sight. She hastily stuffed the picture into her pocket as she listened to the staffers try to calm Tempest down. She waited until she heard them pick her up and carry her out. Sour stepped out as she heard the door close and Tempest's screaming and sobbing fade.
Sour's own eyes teared up. "What have I done...?"
"We're here, sweetie."
"What's going on? Where are we?"
"We're at the hospital. Don't try to move too much."
"Where's the ball?"
"Where's the ball? I got to go get it. I thought I had it. I had it in my... wait. W-w-where's my hand...?"
"Listen, it's going to be okay."
"Where's my hand?"
"WHERE'S MY HAND!?!?!?"
Tempest's eyes opened. Another hospital ceiling. She lifted her right arm to see a stump. Still gone.
She raised up to see her left hand and feet wrapped in leathers. Her mind was still a little groggy from the Ativan. She glanced around the ER until she saw someone sitting in the chair next to her.
"Hey, Tempest," Sour greeted meekly.
"You're not supposed to be in the ER," Tempest muttered with a hint of irony.
Sour smiled. "Edgelords aren't the only sneaky ones, you know. Us two-faced bitches can get around, too."
Tempest smiled a bit. Sour wasn't sure if that was due to the drugs or not.
"Tempest, I'm sorry."
"I did this to you." Sour hesitated to swallow her shame before continuing, "I printed off a picture of, well, you-know-what and shoved it in your face..."
Tempest stared with an unreadable expression.
"There's no excuse, Tempest."
Tempest sighed and looked off. "I deserved it."
"The hell you did!" Sour suddenly snapped. "I used your condition against you! You didn't deserve that! Nobody deserves that!" Sour hugged herself. "I feel so disgusting. I'm so, so sorry, Tempest." Tears ran down Sour's cheeks as she shook her head. "I'm sorry for triggering you. I'm sorry for making fun of your hand. I'm sorry for being such a shit person."
Confusion filled Tempest. She wasn't used to people apologizing to her. She never felt that anyone ever cared about her feelings. The psychiatrists just listened to her for a paycheck, she always assumed. But Sour, as far as she knew, got nothing from caring about her.
"When I saw you on the floor, Tempest," Sour continued. "When I saw you screaming in terror, I saw myself. I've had hallucinations that made me cry for my life like that. When we first met, there was one thing you said to me that was completely true: 'Nobody truly knows the torture going on in our heads but us'. We shouldn't be hurting each other."
Tempest tried to search for something to say. This situation was new to her. Part of her wanted to tell Sour that it was alright, but the other part, her pride, wasn't about to waver. Tempest finally lied back down onto the bed, her head turned away from Sour. Sour took the gesture at face value and sighed.
"Sorry, again," Sour said as she got up from the chair.
Sour was about to walk out before she heard a small voice say, "I'm not going to tell the doctors, Sour."
Sour paused and, after a thoughtful moment, replied, "You won't need to, Tempest."
Sour Sweet was having flashbacks to Crystal Prep Academy yet again. Doctor Gnostic sat there in a silent, contemplative state as Sour wrung her hands. She had just confessed what she had done to Tempest Shadow. It was like a visit to the principal's office. Gnostic was no Cinch, but it was practically the same situation. Sour did wrong and was awaiting her punishment to be dealt.
Sour's throat cleared. "So, what I did is going to effect my final mental evaluation tomorrow, isn't it?"
"Oh, I definitely think it shall," Doctor Gnostic finally said, nodding.
Sour sighed. "Okay. I'll own up it."
"Trying to harm another patient is a significant step back, Sour Sweet. Of course..."
Sour perked up. "Of course...?"
Gnostic stroked her chin thoughtfully. "Of course, you did immediately regret it, sincerely apologized, voluntarily admitted what you had done, and are now willing to accept the consequences. Those seem to be significant steps forward in my professional opinion."
Gnostic rested her elbows on her desk and assumed what Sour would describe as the 'Gendo Pose'. "Sour, this is going to cause some debate among the doctors. Don't think the antagonism between you and the edgy one haven't been noted into both of your records. I can't promise anything."
Sour put on a brave face. "I didn't expect you could, doctor."
THE NEXT DAY...
Tempest Shadow hated the cafeteria food at Canterlot Psychiatric Center. She hated the staffers who worked there, especially the two who were flanking her at the table. She hated that one said staffer was currently munching a little too loudly on a bag of chips. Tempest groaned and covered her face with her left hand in frustration. She tried to think of something she didn't hate at the moment.
The sound of a chair scraping back in front of her made her snap out of her thoughts and glance up. Taking her seat was Sour Sweet.
"Sour?" Tempest said in surprise. "I figured you'd already be gone by now."
Sour shrugged. "Well, I would if my final evaluation went as well as I wanted it to. The doctors recommended that I stay for another week." Her eyes drifted downwards. "I was really hoping that I could hold my daughter today."
Tempest winced. "Sorry."
"Well, there is one way that they said I could get out earlier," Sour said with faint optimism.
Tempest raised an eyebrow. "What's that?"
Sour gave her a warm smile. "Maybe, perhaps, if the doctors see you and I getting along?" She looked at the staffers. "You guys could vouch for us, right?"
The staffers both smiled and gave a thumb's up. Tempest's head whipped side to side. Perhaps she didn't have to hate the staffers, after all.
"Let's start this over, shall we?" Sour leaned in and extended her left hand. "Nice to meet you, I'm Sour Sweet."
Tempest leaned in and extended her left hand. "I'm Tem –" She hesitated for a moment before giving a sheepish smile. "I'm Fizzlepop Berrytwist."
Sour Sweet zipped up her suitcase and made one last look around for anything she may have forgotten. She finally nodded. That was everything.
Floor Bored sat at the edge of her bed. Her head was hung down, staring at her feet. She hated that Sour was leaving. She and Sour had only known each other for a few weeks, but this had been the longest friendship she had ever experienced. She wasn't sure that she could have another one like that again.
Floor perked up and saw Sour smiling down at her.
"I wanted to thank you before I leave, Floor."
Floor cocked her head. "Thank me? For what?"
Sour chuckled. "Well, you made this place pretty sufferable. It was fun being your roommate. You're an interesting person."
Floor shook her head. "You're just saying that, Sour."
Her eyes suddenly popped as she felt the touch of another person. Sour had gently wrapped her arms around her. It was a feeling Floor wasn't used to. Usually people completely avoided her vincinity because of her body odor. Yet here was Sour giving her not only physical contact, but affection without hesitation.
"Floor, you have worth," Sour whispered into her ear. "Treasure yourself."
Sour parted to see the tears streaming down the young NEET's face. Of course, that only made Sour give her another hug.
A few minutes later, Sour was heading down the hallway. She stopped when she reached a woman with a scarred face. She was leaning up against the wall with her arms crossed, her hands tucked in so tightly that they couldn't be seen.
"Little miss popular," Fizzlepop Berrytwist greeted in her own special way. "You have a lot of people waiting for you, don't you?"
Sour nodded. "I do."
"I wouldn't know anything about that."
"Well, you could start. If you really wanted to." Sour reached into her pocket, pulled out a card, and handed it to Fizzlepop. "Here."
"The business card for my husband's publisher. I forgot to give it to Floor." Sour had smirked when she said the word, 'forgot'. "Perhaps you could give it to her for me? Maybe get to know her while you're at it? She's a good writer."
Fizzlepop smiled. "She'll get it. See you, Sour."
Sour finally stepped through the front doors of Canterlot Pychiatric Center. Her sight immediantly went straight across the parking lot toward a man holding a little girl. Sour's pace quickened with every step. Her resolve not to cry broke down as she got closer and closer. By the time Sour reached her family, she was sobbing with a big smile. Second Person knew what his wife wanted the most, so he held out their daughter to her.
Sour took hold of Bitter Honey. She beheld that little face. There was not a trance of fear of her own mother. Just joy. Pure joy. Just the way she liked it. Sour began smothering it with kisses.
Bitter grinned. "I knew you would get out soon, mama!"
Bitter nodded. "Yep! Mister Carpathia and Screwball told me so!"
"Oh, Bitter," Sour chuckled through her tears. "I'm going to pretend you never said that, baby..."
Second went over and placed his hands on his wife's shoulders. "Let's go home, Sour."
As the three of them loaded into the car, Fizzlepop and Floor peared out from a window inside the building.
"How are we ever going to have a scene like that?" Fizzlepop asked thoughtfully.
Floor allowed herself a small smile. "Through the power of –"
Suddenly, the Storm King shot over and wrapped his arms around the two women's shoulders and spouted in mock-cheeriness, "Yeah, yeah. Patience and therapy and medication, and –" He snuck his tongue out in disgust. "– blegh!"
Niban Person took a break from the preperation of her husband's sandwich. She quickly went to answer the front door, only pausing a moment to check the condition of her graying beehive in the hallway mirror. She opened the door to see a couple of ladies standing there, one of which being her own daughter-in-law.
"Why, Sour Sweet!" Niban gasped excitedly. "How lovely! Those awful Jesuits finally let you out!"
"Hi, Niban," Sour said politely. "I'd like you to meet Starlight Glimmer."
"Nice to meet you, Niban," Starlight greeted cheerfully. "I'm the founder and head pastor of Our Church: The Peoples Organization for the Expansion of Christian Communism. Care for me to explain how the Book of Isaiah teaches that Republicans will burn in Hell forever?"
Niban stared at Starlight, expressionless except for a slight eye twitch.
Sour grinned trollishly. "Starlight's gonna be your new best friend, Niban..."