A Is For...

by shallow15

First published

Following the Fall Formal, Sunset Shimmer has a a week of sleepovers where she learns new things about her new friends.

Two weeks have passed since the Fall Formal, and Sunset Shimmer finds herself plagued with nightmares and self-loathing. In an effort to break the cycle and try to show her what it means to be friends, a week long series of sleepovers happens where Sunset will learn things she never suspected about each of her newfound friends.

Sunset Shimmer

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An “Equestria Girls” fanfic

by Erin Mills

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls”

©2017 Hasbro/DHX Media

Sunset Shimmer awoke with a start. Her heart was pounding in her chest, and she could feel sweat in her hair. She swallowed heavily, then took several deep breaths, allowing her heartbeat to slow down. She let out a huge sigh and rubbed her face.

The damn nightmare again. The same one that had come night after night for the last two weeks, ever since the night of the Fall Formal. Dark magic, demon wings, giant rainbow laser to the face, followed by the revelation of just what a horrible person she was. An endless parade of the pain and misery she caused marching across her brain on a nightly basis, culminating in the demon version of herself clawing out her heart and tearing her limb from limb for her “failure.”

She flopped back down onto the bed and threw an arm across her eyes. She groaned loudly, before rolling over and looking at the battered alarm clock on her nightstand. It was almost six in the morning. She groaned again.

Might as well get up. No point in trying to go back to sleep.

She rolled out of bed and walked down the steps leading from the loft that served as her bedroom to the main area of her small studio apartment. She walked under the loft where her microwave and mini-fridge sat next to her desk. She opened the fridge and pulled out a half gallon of milk. She walked across the room to where her sink and cupboards were, pulled out a box of cereal and a bowl, and made breakfast.

She took the bowl over to the couch and sat down. She picked up the TV remote from the battered coffee table and clicked it on. She flipped through the channels until she found something that would serve as background noise. She stared at the screen without actually seeing what was on it and mechanically munched on her cereal. After a few moments, she looked around the apartment.

Wow. I really don't have anything to show for all of that, do I?

Sunset frowned and got up from the couch. She walked over to a nearby closet, stopping to put her bowl in the sink. She opened the closet door and knelt down. She pushed a couple of plastic storage tubs aside, before pulling one out and opening it.

She pulled out a large cloth bag, cinched with a draw string. She opened the bag and dumped the contents out. About fifty gold coins and a few gemstones bounced and clattered across the hardwood floor. Sunset frowned, did some quick mathematics in her head, and sighed.

I'm gonna have to get a job soon. Part-time, at least, to make ends meet until graduation.

Graduation. The thought hit her hard enough to cause her to sit back. She only had a couple of years before she was going to be expected to leave Canterlot High, and she had no idea what she was going to do with the rest of her life. Her entire life's plan had gone up in a blast of multicolored magic, leaving her with nothing.

Sunset swallowed and began gathering up her remaining funds back in the bag, forcing her worries about the future to the back of her mind. They'd come back eventually, but for now she didn't want to think about it. She dropped the bag into the bin and put everything back the way it had been. She closed the closet and went into the bathroom, stripping off her pajamas and starting the shower.

She spent the next twenty minutes under the hot water, scrubbing, washing, and doing everything she could to keep the litany of self-loathing that had been running through her head every waking moment she wasn't at school at bay. Eventually, the water started cooling off and she was forced to get out.

She toweled off, dried her hair, and went back up to the loft to get dressed. She pulled on her magenta t-shirt with her cutie mark on the front and her favorite orange skirt. She skipped her jacket and boots. It was Sunday and she didn't have anywhere in particular to be. She trudged down the stairs to the main room and slumped onto the couch.

She sighed again, grabbed the video game controller off the coffee table and switched the TV feed to her console. She loaded a fighting game and began playing, trying to lose herself in the bright colors, catchy music, and the assorted mayhem.

She lasted one match before she turned the game off. It wasn't helping. She got up off the couch and walked over to the small kitchen table that was against one wall. Normally, the table was covered with papers and notes on the portal, her plans to deal with Celestia's guards if they proved to be a problem when she stole the crown, and assorted notes on Twilight Sparkle and the Elements of Harmony she had gathered the last time the portal had opened and she'd gone through for reconnaissance.

Every moment of her free time for the last few years had been spent plotting her return to Equestria and eventual takeover of her homeland. After the Fall Formal, she had come home after a night of punitive bricklaying, saw all her plans scattered across the table, then gathered them all up and burned them in a bucket behind the apartment building.

Now the table was empty except for her already finished homework. The textbooks were stacked neatly, her notebook next to them. The rest of the table was just as empty and barren as she felt.

Sunset slumped into one of the chairs and picked up a pencil. She flipped the notebook open to a blank page, rested her chin on one hand and idly began doodling with the other. As the pencil moved, she thought about what she was going to do with herself, now that she knew revenge and conquest, even if they had worked, wouldn't have made her happy. The magic had made that clear to her.

She could remember it all. The feelings of helplessness as the magic overtook her, amplifying her worse traits and turning her into a demon. Pain as the wings and tail ripped through her back. And then, after Twilight Sparkle and her friends managed to channel the magic correctly, she felt all that power getting scoured out of her, followed by being shown every rotten thing she had done since coming to this world, and then for an encore, it showed her every rotten thing she had done in Equestria.

That was painful, but what came afterwards was devastating. It showed her who she used to be before ambition had become her primary motivator. She saw early days as Princess Celestia's student. Private lessons, picnics, hours long study sessions together in the library. She saw happy days as a filly with her parents, before the accident that had taken them from her. She saw what she could have had if she hadn't lost her way. She felt a little piece of herself die as the truth of her life was laid bare.

She had nothing. No friends, no family, no place where she belonged anymore. All sacrificed for the sake of a poorly thought out revenge that ultimately would have amounted to less than nothing. The truth was simple and plain.

She was broken. Broken, alone, and forgotten.

There was a loud cracking sound as the pencil snapped and scraped across the paper, breaking her train of thought. She looked at the nub, then put the pencil down and got up from the table. She sighed and went looking for her jacket and boots. She needed to get out of the house.

The notebook page had been filled with a meticulous, highly detailed sketch of a barren desert landscape. The ground was cracked and shattered. A dead tree was in the foreground, its limbs and branches empty. Fragments of dead wood laid on the ground at the base. Far off in the background, the silhouette of a small unicorn with a limp mane walked off into the distance. The entire picture told a story of loneliness, loss, and despair. It would have won awards in any regional art competition it had been entered into.

Sunset didn't give it a second glance as she left the apartment.


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“Sunset Shimmer!”

Sunset looked up and internally groaned. Pinkie Pie was waving at her from across the street. Fluttershy and Applejack were with her. All three were smiling and gesturing for her to come over to them.

Sunset plastered a smile on her face and waved back. Please, not them. Not now. I don't know if I can take it.

Her wish was not granted as Pinkie dashed across the street and grabbed her arm.

“I'm so glad to see you! Me and Fluttershy and Applejack were just heading out to get some breakfast. Fluttershy asked us to come help to do some trash cleanup over by the highway, but we had to be out really really early and all they had was some bagles and juice and we got hungry afterward and we were thinking about calling the other girls, but they're all busy this morning so it's totally awesome that we ran into you!”

“Um... yeah.” Sunset gave the pink girl a wary look. “Thanks for the offer, Pinkie, but I was just out for a walk. I've already had breakfast.”

Pinkie looked downcast for a moment, but quickly perked up again. “Well, that's okay. You can still come hang out with us while we eat!”

“I kinda have some stuff to do soon.”

“It won't take long!”

Sunset looked at the eager expression on Pinkie's face, thought of fifteen other excuses, and lost her nerve.

“Well, maybe just for a few minutes.”


The rest was a blur of color and motion as Sunset was dragged back across the street.

Soon, the four girls were sitting in a booth at a local diner. Applejack had ordered a breakfast burrito, while Fluttershy went with a veggie omlette. Pinkie's plate held a towering stack of pancakes slathered in butter, syrup, strawberries, and whipped cream. Sunset had coffee.

More accurately, Sunset was on her third cup of coffee. This had not gone unnoticed.

“Hittin' the caffeine a little hard this mornin', ain't ya, Sunset?” Applejack asked.

Sunset looked at her. “A little, I guess. Kinda tired this morning.”

“Is there anything wrong?” Fluttershy asked form her seat next to her.

“None of your – “ Sunset began, before stopping herself. “Sorry. Old habits. I haven't been sleeping well lately.”

“Have you tried tea?” Fluttershy asked. “That usually helps me when I can't sleep.”

“Getting to sleep is easy. It's staying asleep that's the problem.”

“I hate that,” said Applejack, gesturing with her fork. “Especially when your tuckered out when you go to bed, then boom, up at two in the mornin' wide awake and no idea why.”

Sunset smiled briefly. “I hate that too, but that's also not the problem.”

“Oh! Oh!” Pinkie waved her hand back and forth so fast it was a blur. “You're having majorly scary recurring nightmares about what an awful person you were and you keep seeing that demon version of yourself appearing and rending you limb from limb because your entire plan to conquer Equestria fell apart and now you have no idea who you are or what you're supposed to do with the rest of your life?”

Sunset stared as Pinkie finished speaking and downed a giant forkful of pancakes. The other two girls carried on eating. Sunset looked at all three girls and sighed.

I guess, if I'm gonna make friends, I should confide in them. This is gonna bite me in the ass, I know it.

“Yeah, actually, that's pretty close,” she admitted. The other three girls looked at her.

“Oh, Sunset,” Fluttershy gasped. Under the table, Sunset felt the pink haired girl grab her hand. “I'm so sorry.”

“How long's this been goin' on?” asked Applejack.

Sunset hesitated, but sighed again. “Pretty much every night since the Fall Formal.”

“No wonder you've been such a grumpy-grump at school!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Nightmares are no fun at all!”

“Yeah.” Sunset stuck a spoon in her coffee and swirled it around. “Too bad there isn't anything I can really do about them except hope they go away eventually.”

Pinkie blinked then sat up. “Yes, there is!”

The other three girls looked at her.

“You wanna elaborate on that, sugarcube?” Applejack asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Well, back before I moved in with Maud, my sister Marble had about a month of nightmares and we didn't know what to do about it. But one night, I decided to go into her room and stay with her and it seemed to help. I kept doing it and she was okay by the end of the week. Maybe it would work for you!”

“I dunno,” Sunset said. “I... I'm kinda private.”

“But you've stayed over at other people's houses or had them stay with you before, right?” Fluttershy asked.

Sunset didn't answer. She just looked down into her coffee. Pinkie's eyes widened and she let out a huge gasp.

“You've never had a sleep-over?! How have we not fixed this yet?!”

Sunset looked up. “Look, you don't have to go to any trouble on my account. I'm sure they'll stop on their own eventually.”

Fluttershy put a hand on Sunset's shoulder. “But you're our friend now. And friends help friends when they're having problems.”

Sunset looked at her, trying to find any trace of guile. Fluttershy's face was open and heart-breakingly sincere. She looked around at the other two. Pinkie was practically vibrating with excitement and nodded rapidly at her. Sunset turned her attention to Applejack.

The farm girl's face was inscrutable. She returned Sunset's gaze with a calm, steady one of her own. There was no judgment or anger, and that just seemed to make it worse. Sunset couldn't get a read on her. She couldn't remember the last time she was unable to figure out what someone was thinking.

“Okay,” she began. “How would this work? I mean, I can't expect all of you to spend every night this week at my place. We've got school.”

“Well, we don't send everyone to your place, silly!” Pinkie reached into her hair and pulled out a notepad and pen. She scribbled down her name, along with Applejack's, Fluttershy's, Rarity's, and Rainbow Dash's. “One of us spends the night with you tonight, then each of us take a different night this week. Some nights we come to your house, other nights you come to one of ours. And then on Friday, we hold a big sleepover with all of us and hopefully that helps get rid of the nightmares for good! Plus, you get a chance to get to know all of us and we get to know you better and the next thing you know, we're all super-close besties!”

Sunset cringed at the use of “super-close besties,” but considered. She wasn't overly thrilled about having anyone come over to her apartment, but she was equally unthrilled about having to go to any of the other girls' houses either. That meant parents, which most likely meant questions she didn't want to answer.

On the other hand, the nightmares had been getting steadily worse. Her heart pounded harder and harder every time she woke up. Having someone around just in case she wound up having a heart attack or something would be a lot better than being alone and unable to call for help.

Plus, it might actually work... maybe.

Sunset sighed again. “Okay, I guess we can give it a shot if all of you can spare the time.”

“Wheee!” Pinkie cheered. “I'll call Rainbow and Rarity later and set things up. I know both of them won't be available tonight. So I guess that just leaves the three of us to – oh, darn it! I can't come over tonight. Maud and I have karaoke at the University. Classic rock night.”

“I would, but my parents and me are going to one of Zephyr's stupid art installations.” Fluttershy slumped in her seat and folded her arms. “It's probably more soup cans tied to trees again.”

Fluttershy continued muttering to herself. The other three girls looked at her for a moment. Sunset looked back up and realized that there was only one girl left. The one girl she had hoped she'd have time to prepare for.

“Well, I reckon I can convince Granny to let me come over,” Applejack said. “Gotta do some chores, first, naturally, but I could be over to your place around six tonight. Would that be okay, Sunset?”

Sunset swallowed and looked at Applejack. Once again, the farm girl was unreadable. Sunset tried to put a grin on her face.

“Yeah, sure. That'll be great, Applejack. I'll text you my address.”

“Sounds good.” Applejack turned her attention back to her burrito. Pinkie got out her phone and started texting Rarity and Rainbow. Fluttershy looked over at Sunset and put a hand on her shoulder.

“It'll be all right. And it could be a lot of fun.”

“Yeah,” Sunset said. She stirred her coffee again. “Fun.”

Sweet Celestia, this is a really bad idea.

Sunset double checked her apartment for the sixth time then looked at the clock. Applejack was due to arrive any minute. She had spent the afternoon cleaning and trying to make the place look presentable. The dishes were done, all the surfaces were dusted, clean towels were in the bathroom, and she had even put clean sheets on the bed, even though Applejack would be crashing on the couch.

She sighed. Why did Applejack have to be the first one to sleep over? Out of all five of the girls, the farm girl was the only one Sunset was truly intimidated by. Fluttershy and Rarity were approachable, Pinkie Pie was disturbing, and she had figured out that Rainbow Dash was more bark than bite.

Applejack was a different story. Applejack was brutally honest, and had no problem telling anyone what she thought of them. It was why Sunset had taken extra care when ruining her friendship with Rainbow Dash to make sure her trail had been covered. Applejack had a long fuse, but Sunset had seen what could happen if it was allowed to burn down.

She's going to hate me. What am I saying? She still hates me. And she's going to tell me exactly what she thinks of me and this whole situation without the other girls around to hold her back.

She flopped down on the couch and put her head in her hands.

“This is such a bad idea.”

There was a knock at the door. Sunset looked up and sighed before going to answer it.

Applejack stood there, a bag slung over one shoulder, sleeping bag under one arm. She smiled as Sunset appeared in the doorway.

“Howdy, Sunset.”

“Er, hi, Applejack. Come on in.”

Sunset stood aside, allowing her new friend to enter. Applejack put her bags down by the door. She looked around the apartment, and pushed her hat back. Sunset swallowed as she saw one of Applejack's eyebrows raise, a sure sign she was thinking something.

“Gotta say, Sunset, yer place is real nice.”

Sunset blinked and let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. “Um.. thanks.”

Applejack took a few steps forward and looked around approvingly. “I mean it. Looks right cozy. I love the loft. Ya sleep up there?”

“Yeah,” Sunset answered. She stepped next to the farm girl and began gesturing. “That was part of what attracted me to the place. That and the windows.”

Applejack looked up at the large picture windows that dominated the east wall. She whistled. “Bet ya got a fantastic view.”

Sunset smiled and put a hand on Applejack's shoulder. Applejack looked at her, then down at her hand. Sunset blinked and took her hand back. “Sorry. You wanna see the view?”


Sunset nodded and led Applejack up the stairs to the loft. They walked around the bed and faced the windows. While the windows faced east, the shadows of the setting sun flooded across the hills and peaks of the valley the city occupied. The day was clear, and the sky was slowly turning from the bright blue of day to the muted purple of twilight.

“I like to come up here and watch the sky change sometimes,” Sunset said quietly. She grabbed her left elbow. “It makes me feel better.”

Applejack nodded. She looked over at Sunset. “Listen, I know this is awkward for you. Hell, it's awkward for me too. So how's about we just both say what's on our minds and get it outta the way?”

Sunset swallowed again. “I... guess we could do that?”

She turned and sat down on the end of the bed. She looked up at Applejack, who looked at her with concern. The farm girl folded her arms.

“You think I'm gonna hurt you,” she said quietly.

Sunset looked at the floor. “Yes. And I wouldn't blame you if you did. I know you don't like me, and I know you're only doing this because Princess Twilight asked you to.”

Applejack sighed. “Sunset, I wouldn't even be here if I thought it was a waste of time. And I sure as hell ain't gonna do anything to hurt you.”

She sat down next to Sunset. “I ain't gonna lie to you and say I think we're gonna be friends right away. But I've seen how you've been since the Formal.”

“Miserable and pathetic?”

Applejack smirked. “Well, yeah.”

Sunset looked up, and blinked. “What?”

“Told ya I ain't gonna lie to you. And yeah, you've been lookin' mighty low. But, since you can even muster up the gumption to be sarcastic shows me you're still fightin' in there. Now we just gotta turn that fight toward somethin' other than rippin' people apart.”

Sunset frowned. “You really suck at pep talks, you know that?”

Applejack shrugged. “Maybe, or maybe yer just too bull headed and self-absorbed to see when people are legitimately tryin' to help you.”


“Speakin' the truth. You've been a horrible, hateful, egotistical bitch, Sunset Shimmer. An' frankly, if we were in this situation before the dance, I'd probably beat your ass six ways from Sunday. But now, well, ain't no justice in kicking a wounded dog.”

Sunset stood up, her face a mask of rage. “How dare you, you backwoods, shit kicking twit?! Do you know who you're talking to?!”

Applejack got her her feet and stared Sunset down. Her expression was calm. “I'm talkin' to a spoiled brat who wanted everything without earnin' it. Who didn't care who she hurt as long as her goals and her needs were met in the end. Who has basically had her entire life amount to less than nothin'.”

“I was the personal student of the most powerful pony in Equestria! I was on the path to my destiny and if she had just given me what I wanted, I would be by her side instead of that pathetic, nerdy purple twerp!”

“Oh, so it's the princess's fault, huh?” Applejack folded her arms again. “Everything that's happened to you is because of her?”

“Damn right it is! I wasn't even gone five minutes before she replaced me! Before I was forgotten and left alone again! She never even TRIED to look for me! Sixty moons I was gone before I went back for the crown! She could have come through herself and found me if she wanted! But she didn't! She threw me out of her school, out of her castle, and out of her life! And now, here I am, stuck with five girls who I know are only trying to be friends with me because her new favorite kicked my ass and asked them to teach me about friendship! She doesn't care about me! She never did!”

Sunset stood there, fists and teeth clenched, breathing heavily. Applejack stared at her, eyes wide. She held up one finger.

“Yer not talkin' about Princess Twilight, are you?”

Sunset blinked. Her expression changed to one of embarrassment and horror as she realized what she had said. She slumped back onto the bed and put her face in her hands.

“Oh god, Applejack, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it! I swear!”

Applejack sat back down on the bed and put a hand on Sunset's back. “Yeah, you did.”

Sunset looked up. Her eyes were red. “What?”

“I know ya meant what ya said, and that's okay. I meant what I said too. But, I also mean it when I say I know yer tryin'. You ain't there yet, but you still got that fight, and you just apologized. The old Sunset Shimmer would never do that.

“And yer right about me at least. I wasn't too thrilled about this idea of Pinkie's either. And yeah, maybe I did only try bein' your friend because Twilight asked us. But y'know, over the last couple weeks, I saw somethin' I didn't expect. I saw your potential.”

“Potential?” Sunset frowned. “Potential for what?”

“To be great.” Applejack smiled. “To be someone better than she was. Someone who can get her life back on track... with a little help from her friends.”

“Are we friends?” Sunset asked.

“Well, we won't know unless we make a start. And there's no time like the present. I saw a game console down there.” She jerked a thumb toward the stairs. “And I wouldn't mind a chance to play against someone other than Rainbow Dash for a change. Ya got any fighting games?"

Sunset wiped her eyes and sniffled. “You like Bonegals?”

Applejack's smile grew into a wide grin. “Who doesn't? Come on! Lemme show ya what I can do with Harvester!”

“Harvester?” Sunset got up and gave Applejack a look. “Harvester's just a button mash character for those with no skill. Nekromentia is for real players!”

“If'n ya mean players who think power's a good substitute for speed, then yer right. Only people who play with Nekromentia are those who only like OP characters.”

“Oh, that's it.” Sunset pointed down the stairs. “Get your redneck ass down there. We're settling this once and for all.”

Applejack grinned and got up. “Yer on.”

The two girls waked to the stairs. Sunset started down, but Applejack grabbed her arm.

“Hey, I know ya didn't mean nothin' by it, but lay off the redneck jokes, okay? 'Tain't funny to me, and I've heard 'em all.”

“Oh.” Sunset felt her cheeks heat up as she blushed. “Sorry.”

“It's okay. You can let me be player one to make up for it.”

Sunset blinked, then gave the farm girl an evil grin. “Only if you beat me to the couch!”

The two girls dashed down the stairs.

With the ice broken, the evening passed pleasantly for both of them. Several multiplayer video games were tried out, followed by pizza and movies. Now, Sunset was lounging on the couch, waiting for Applejack to come out of the bathroom while she changed into her pajamas. Sunset had changed into her own pair already.

She heard the bathroom door open and called over her shoulder. “So, we have time for one more movie before we need to crash to go to school tomorrow. What sounds good? Chick flick or horror movie?”

“Actually, I was hopin' we could chat a bit before turnin' in.” Applejack flopped onto the couch and Sunset burst out laughing. “What?”

“I'm sorry, I'm sorry!” Sunset gasped, trying to get herself under control. “But... are you wearing a onesie?”

Applejack looked down at the one piece blue flannel pajama she was wearing. “What? It's comfy!”

“Oh, I'm sure it is! AH!” Sunset let out a shriek of surprise as Applejack's pillow hit her in the face. “Okay, okay! I'll lay off! I'll lay off!”

“I thought so.” Applejack leaned back against the arm rest and grinned. Sunset returned it.

“So, what do you wanna talk about?”

“Tell me about Equestria?”

Sunset blinked. She looked at the floor and grabbed her left elbow again. “I don't know if I'm ready to talk about my past right now.”

“Ain't askin' you to.” Applejack prodded Sunset with her foot. “I just wanna know what Equestria's like. Sounds like an interestin' place if everyone's a pony.”

“Well, not everyone's a pony. There's griffins, dragons, yaks, all sorts of other creatures.”

“Dragons? Honest fire-breathin' dragons? It ain't just Spike?” Applejack leaned forward, hugging her pillow to her chest, eyes wide.

“Yeah, but honestly, most of the ones I've met are jerks. Spike's kind of an exception to the rule.”

“Huh. Tell me more. What kind of holidays y'all got over there?”

“Well, the big ones are Nightmare Night and Hearth's Warming. In fact, Hearth's Warming is connected to how Equestria was founded...”

A couple of hours later, Sunset leaned back and sighed. “Wow. I remembered more about Equestria than I thought.”

“Sounds like a mighty nice place. Wish we could visit.”

Sunset sighed. “Well, that won't happen for at least another couple of years now that the portal's closed again.” She shook her head. “But enough about where I'm from. I wanna know about you. Seeing any cute guys?”

Applejack blushed and brought her knees up in front of her. “Not really,” she said quietly.

Sunset frowned and then smiled as she reached a conclusion. “Oh, okay! I get it. Cute girls, then?”

Applejack frowned. “Somebody's been listening to too much locker room talk.”

“Look, it's no big deal to me. Equestria's ratio of mares to stallions is almost four to one. Same sex relationships are commonplace where I'm from. I honestly don't know why humans make such a fuss about it.”

“I ain't gonna speculate on that. But I ain't attracted to girls.”

“Oh, okay. Sorry. I just assumed since you didn't really seem to go for guys – “

“It's fine. Honestly, I don't really go for... anyone.”

Sunset blinked. “Really? I mean, I gotta say, ever since coming here, I've found myself attracted to a few people, and I was born a unicorn.”

Applejack shrugged. “I dunno. I mean, I know girls my age should start bein' interested in somebody, but I've never really felt it for anybody.”

“No one? Not even a 'hey, they're kinda hot?'”

Applejack shook her head. “Nope. I mean, don't get me wrong. I know when somebody's attractive or lookin' nice. I'm pretty sure if the right somebody came along, I think I could fall in love with 'em. But as far as, y'know, sex is concerned, I don't really feel what yer supposed to feel in that regard.”

The farm girl sighed, took off her hat, and ran a hand through her hair. “I dunno why I told ya all this. Even the other girls don't know about it. I just kinda drop out of the conversation when this kinda stuff comes up. Got real embarassin' when Rainbow Dash decided to make us confess what kinda porn we liked.”

Sunset stared at Applejack in shock. “When did this happen?”

“The night after the Fall Formal. We decided to have a sleepover to get reacquainted after Twilight left. The usual stupid sleepover stuff. Truth or Dare started it, but after Pinkie frankly told us way too much about what she likes – seriously, don't ever ask – everybody else started sharin'. I had to fake goin' to the bathroom and pray Pinkie or somebody managed to change the topic by the time I got back.”

“So why not tell them?” Sunset asked. “I don't think they'd think you were weird or anything.”

“Mostly cause I just don't feel ready to answer a lot of questions about it yet.” Applejack put her hat back on and fixed Sunset with a serious expression. “I'd appreciate it if you kept this to yourself for now. I'm still tryin' to figure this whole thing out for myself.”

“You trust me with this? After everything I've done?”

Applejack shrugged. “Way I see it, you can't really be friends with someone if you ain't willin' to trust 'em. I figure this is a good way for us to start. If you want, I won't say anythin' about what you told me durin' your little... um... outburst earlier.”

Sunset smiled. “Thank you, Applejack. I appreciate this.”

Applejack nodded in reply and picked up her phone. “Oh wow. We've been talkin' up a storm and we still have school in the mornin'.”

Sunset picked up her own phone and blinked when she saw the clock. “You're right. We need to get to bed. Are you okay with sleeping here on the couch?”

“Yep.” Both girls got up from the couch. Applejack rolled out her sleeping bag and opened it, climbing inside as Sunset began climbing the stairs to the loft.

“If you need anything in the night, help yourself,” Sunset said. Applejack's hand appeared above the back of the couch and waved. Sunset saw more motion and smiled as she realized Applejack was pulling her hat down over her eyes.

“Thanks a bunch,” said the farm girl.

“Good night, Applejack.”

“Night, sugarcube.”

Sunset climbed up to the loft and flipped the switches at the top of the stairs, putting the apartment into darkness. The Christmas lights she had strung along the safety rail surrounding the loft cast soft white light onto the ceiling. Sunset got into bed and rolled onto her side. As she closed her eyes, she realized something.

Applejack had called her “sugarcube.” She had never done that before. The only other people Sunset knew Applejack had used that nickname for were... her friends.

Sunset smiled to herself and snuggled down under the blanket. Despite the rocky start, this had turned out to be a pretty good night after all.

“No! Stop!”

Applejack rolled over in her sleeping bag, her hat falling off her head onto the floor. She grabbed her pillow and wrapped it around her head.

“Please, stop!”

Applejack's eyes opened. She sat up on the couch and looked up toward the loft. She heard whimpering coming from Sunset's sleeping area.

“Sunset?” she called. “You all right?”

No answer came. Just more whimpers. Applejack unzipped her sleeping bag and got up. She climbed the stairs to the loft. By the glow of the Christmas lights, she could see Sunset sprawled out on the bed, the covers twisted around her body. Her head moved violently from side to side.

“I don't want this! Stop,” she cried out. It wasn't a loud scream, but a quiet pathetic whisper. She began tossing on the bed, entangling herself further. “Let go! I didn't fail! I didn't! No!”

Applejack frowned and sat down on the bed. She reached out a hand and touched Sunset's shoulder. Instantly, Sunset sat bolt upright in bed and let out an ear-splitting scream. Applejack grabbed her and pulled her into a hug.

“It's okay, Sunset. It's okay. I'm here.” She reached up and began stroking Sunset's hair. Sunset blinked, realized where she was, and threw her arms around Applejack. She trembled in the strong arms of the farm girl.

“I'm sorry,” Sunset sobbed, burying her face in Applejack's shoulder. “I'm so sorry. I try to fight it and I can't. I'm sorry.”

“Shhhh,” Applejack soothed. “You don't have anything to be sorry about. It's why I'm here. Just breathe. It's over.”

Sunset's breathing slowed and her grip loosened. She leaned back and wiped her eyes. “I'm sorry, Applejack.”

“It's okay, sugarcube. Here.” Applejack got up and helped Sunset disentangle herself from the covers. After getting Sunset to lay back down, she covered her with the sheet and blankets. “There. All set. You gonna be okay?”

Sunset nodded. “Thanks.”

Applejack smiled. “'Tweren't nothin'. I'll see ya in the mornin'.”

She turned to head back down to the living area when Sunset's voice stopped her.

“Applejack? I know this is kinda silly but... would you stay with me for the rest of the night?”

Applejack looked back at her. Sunset's eyes were huge and worried. She huddled under the blankets which made her look small and vulnerable. She saw Applejack hesitate and nodded.

“Right. Sorry. Never mind.” Sunset rolled over and laid her head on the pillow. She closed her eyes, then opened them again as she felt a weight on the bed and the blankets being pulled up.

“Slide over, will you? I'm fallin' off the edge here.”

Sunset smiled and slid across the bed, making room for her friend. She heard Applejack sigh as she laid her head on the pillow. “Mmm... these are good pillows. Tell me where ya got 'em in the mornin' will ya? I need to convince Granny to get a couple.”

“Sure thing,” Sunset murmured. She felt sleep begin to overtake her. She rolled onto her side, facing away from Applejack and snuggled down into the covers. As she drifted off, she felt Applejack move, and her smile returned as she felt the other girl's arm drape over her.

“I'm right here if you need me,” Applejack whispered. Sunset reached up and took Applejack's wrist, feeling safe for the first time in a long while.

The nightmares stayed away for the rest of the night.


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“All right, darling,” Rarity said, putting her lunch tray down opposite Applejack. “How did it really go last night?”

Applejack looked at Rarity in confusion, then swallowed the mouthful of sandwich she was working on. “Pardon?”

“You and Sunset. The rest of us drew straws earlier and she'll be coming over to my place tonight. I want to know what I can expect. Do I need to lock up the silverware? Hide Mother's heirloom jewelry? Get Sweetie Belle rabies shots?”

Applejack quirked an eyebrow. “What in the hell is wrong with you?”

Rarity blinked at the scorn in her friend's voice. “Well, I just assumed that – “

“That Sunset was just as much of a pain in the patoot she was a couple of weeks ago.” Applejack finished. “Actually, she wasn't. Things were rocky to start with, but we hashed things out. After that, everything was fine... sort of.”

“Sort of? What do you mean 'sort of?'” Rarity asked.

Applejack sighed. “She ain't kiddin' about the nightmares. I had to spend the rest of the night in the bed with her.”

“Really?” Rarity's eyes sparkled with the promise of juicy gossip,

“Get yer head outta the gutter,” Applejack snapped. She put her sandwich down and fixed Rarity with a serious expression. “These nightmares are bad. Real bad. She looked like a scared little kid when she woke up. When was the last time you saw Sunset Shimmer scared of anything?”

Rarity considered and her eyebrows raised. “Never. She was distraught at the Formal, but I don't recall her ever being frightened.”

“She's tryin', Rares. I can tell. But she's got a ways to go before she's gonna fully make up for everything she did. Give her a chance. Don't assume the worst, don't shut her out, and most of all, don't get all... you tonight when she comes over.”

Rarity looked at the farm girl. “Pfft-tsk-tch! I shall make sure that she is welcomed with open arms and the utmost hospitality!”

“What are you doing here?” Sweetie Belle hissed when she opened the door and found Sunset standing on the stoop. Sunset's face fell and her shoulders slumped.

“Um... Rarity invited me over tonight,” she offered weakly . Sweetie Belle folded her arms.

“Uh-huh.” Not taking her suspicious gaze off the redhead, Sweetie tilted her head back and yelled for her sister. “Rarity!”

The two girls stared at each other for a long while. When Rarity failed to arrived, Sweetie Belle gave Sunset a superior smile.

“Yeah, I thought so. I don't know what you're up to, Sunset Shimmer, but you're not doing it here. Get lost!”

The younger girl slammed the door shut. Sunset blinked, then looked at the ground, before hitching up the backpack on her shoulder and grabbing her sleeping bag from where it lay next to her.

I should have known this would happen.

She turned around and began walking toward the street. She blinked in surprise as she felt a tear roll down her cheek. She wiped it away and sniffed.

“It's fine. It's fine,” she murmured. “She might have just forgotten. Or her parents said no. Or... something.”

“Sunset? What on earth are you doing, darling?”

Sunset turned to see Rarity standing on the front stoop. The fashionista dashed down the walk and took Sunset's arm with one hand, while picking up her sleeping bag with the other.

“Let me get your sleeping bag. Where were you going?”

“Home,” Sunset muttered.

“Home? Why?” Rarity blinked and smiled. “Oh! Cold feet? Darling, you were invited. I'm delighted to have you spend the night.”

“Oh... okay.” Sunset swallowed. “Um, does the rest of your family know I'm coming?”

“Of course they do,” Rarity answered. She let go of Sunset's arm and grabbed the door latch. “Mother's been in the kitchen all afternoon preparing a lovely meal for dinner.”

“Oh... great.” Sunset looked at her feet. Rarity noticed and put a hand on Sunset's shoulder.

“Don't worry, darling, I told Mother you're a vegetarian and she promised to take that into account.”

Sunset looked up, surprised. “Really?”

Rarity nodded and opened the front door. “Sunset, you are my guest, and as such, it is my responsibility to ensure that your visit is as pleasant as possible.”

“Wish someone had told that to your sister,” Sunset muttered under her breath. Rarity's head turned sharply toward her.

“What was that?”

“Nothing,” Sunset said, grabbing her left elbow. “Never mind.”

“Did Sweetie Belle say something that upset you?” Rarity frowned when she saw Sunset's expression. “She did! Well, this is completely unacceptable! Sweetie Belle!”

Rarity dropped the sleeping bag and stalked off into the living room. Sunset blinked and stood in the foyer, unsure of what to do.

“Oh, you must be Sunset Shimmer!”

Sunset jumped at the new voice and turned to the other door in the foyer, which apparently led to the dining room. The woman who came in had a bright smile and a large purple bouffant hairdo. Sunset guessed this was Rarity's mother.

“Um, yes. Hello,” Sunset said quietly.

“I'm Cookie Crumbles, Rarity's mom. But you probably already figured that out!”

“Uh.. yeah, I guess so.”

Cookie's grin widened. “Well, I hope you're hungry. Rarity said you're vegetarian, so I made Eggplant Parmesan for dinner.”

“That sounds great, Mrs. Crumbles,” Sunset said quietly. “Thank you.”

“Well, I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to get to know you.”

Sunset blinked and looked up. “Know me?”

“Oh, Rarity's told us all about you!” Cookie's smile didn't move but Sunset noticed her tone of voice shifted. It became harder, more accusatory.

“She did?” Sunset felt her stomach sinking. Cookie leaned forward and lowered her voice.

“Oh yes, everything. Especially about last spring.”

Sunset's eyes widened as Cookie's eyebrows lowered into a frown. She put a hand on Sunset's shoulder and leaned in close.

“That's right, I know exactly what you did to my daughter last spring,” she whispered, her voice hard and cold. “And she may have forgiven you, but don't think either of us have forgotten it. Now, Rarity says you've changed, so I'm willing to give you a chance, but I've talked to the other parents in town, and I've heard things about you. So if this is one of your little schemes so you can hurt her again – “

“It isn't! I promise!” Sunset blurted out, her voice panicked and frightened. “No schemes! No plans! Please don't send me away!”

Cookie blinked and leaned back. She blushed and cleared her throat. “Um... okay. Uh. Well, dinner will be ready in about an hour. Rarity's room is upstairs, third on the right. The bathroom is right next door. Why don't you go on up and I'll find Rarity and let her know you're up there.”

“Um, okay. Thanks, Mrs. Crumbles.” Sunset picked up her sleeping bag and started up the stairs. Neither of them made eye contact as she ascended. Sunset found Rarity's room, closed the door, leaned up against it and sighed.

Gonna be a long night.

Dinner was awkward and uncomfortable. Rarity had apparently had it out with Sweetie Belle, so the younger girl didn't do much except eat and shoot Sunset the occasional dirty look. Cookie Crumbles was also subdued, although she made the occasional attempt at conversation.

Rarity's father, Hondo Flanks, was much more personable. He greeted Sunset warmly when he arrived home from work but he quickly disappeared into the den and wasn't seen until dinner, where Sunset learned why it was Rarity didn't really talk about her father: he made jokes. Bad jokes. A LOT of bad jokes.

“I gotta quit smoking ziggurats before it kills me!” Hondo finished his latest atrocity with a large grin. Cookie and Sweetie Belle laughed appreciatively. Rarity rolled her eyes and leaned over to Sunset.

“I am so sorry you have to endure this, darling,” she whispered. “Father has an... odd sense of humor.”

Sunset smirked and whispered back. “It's fine. Trust me, after hanging out with Snips and Snails for so long, I'm used to corny jokes like that.”

“Now, if you thought that was funny, listen to this!” Hondo wiped his mouth with his napkin and leaned back in his chair. “A horse walks into a bar...”

“I am SO sorry, Sunset!” Rarity said for the sixth time as the two girls came into her bedroom. “He didn't know any better.”

Sunset took a deep breath and let it out through clenched teeth. “How would he feel if I came down there and told an endless series of jokes about gorillas acting like morons in public?!”

“Honestly, he'd find it hilarious,” Rarity muttered. She put a hand on Sunset's shoulder. “He didn't mean any harm by it, Sunset. Well, no more than he usually does by telling those terrible jokes.”

Sunset took another deep breath and relaxed. “Okay, okay. It's not like he had any idea I come from a world of magic talking ponies.” Sunset blinked and shot Rarity a suspicious look. “Does he?”

“No, Sunset, darling,” Rarity grinned. “It's not my place to tell anyone where you come from.”

Sunset flopped down on the bed. “Okay. I'll let it go then. So now what do you want to do?”

Rarity placed her phone in the charging station on her nightstand. She touched an icon and music began playing from the speakers built into the charger. “I hope some soft jazz is all right?”

“Sure.” Sunset looked down and saw the corner of a sketchbook sticking out from under the bed. She reached down and picked the book up. “Hey, do you mind if I look at your designs?”

“Hm?” Rarity turned her head and saw Sunset with the sketchbook. “Oh, that? Those are just designs that didn't work out. They're embarrassing, really.”

“Oh, okay.” Sunset put the sketchbook down and looked at the floor again. Rarity saw her dejected expression, came over and sat down, picking up the sketchbook and opening it.

“Well, maybe a second opinion wouldn't hurt too badly.”

Sunset looked down at the dress on the page. “What's wrong with this one?”

“Well, the lines and the colors were right, but I never felt like it flowed as well as it could. It didn't seem to matter what sort of extensions or accessories I put on it, it never looked right.”

Sunset frowned at the sketch for a moment, then her expression brightened. “Do you have a pencil?”

Rarity quirked an eyebrow, but went over to her desk and came back with a mechanical pencil. Sunset took it and clicked it a couple of times before flipping it around and erasing a few lines. She flipped the pencil again and began sketching.

“I think the problem is you made the skirt too long,” she began. “If you shorten it here, but add a sash that hangs from the waist and can be looped around the arms, it might give you the look you want.”

She handed the sketchbook to Rarity, who looked it over. Her eyes widened and a grin spread across her face. “Yes! Yes, Sunset, darling, it's absolutely divine! The perfect blend of skirt and accessory!”

Sunset grinned. “Glad you like it.”

“I LOVE IT!” Rarity reached over to her nightstand and produced her colored pencils. “You simply must assist me further!”

“You want my help?”

“Absolutely! With your eye, I could have a whole new line for next season! I might even be able to get a job at Prim Hemline's boutique!"

Sunset grinned at her friend's enthusiasm. She picked up one of the colored pencils. “Well, if it means you'll get your dream job...”

Rarity's shriek of delight was inaudible to the human ear. Several neighborhood dogs howled in response.

Sunset looked down at the swirls of red and gold on her toenails and smiled. “That's really cool. Thanks, Rarity.”

“My pleasure, darling.” Rarity closed the bottle of nail polish. She glanced over at her alarm clock. “ Oh my, it's later than I thought. If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'm going to change for bed.”

“Sure thing.”

“Back in a bit!” Rarity grabbed a nightie from her closet and left the room. Sunset changed into her own pajamas and rolled out her sleeping bag. As soon as she was done, Rarity came back into the room.

“Sunset? What are you doing?”

Sunset looked up from where she had finished setting up her sleeping bag. “Just setting up where I'm going to sleep.”

“Oh, no no no no, darling!” Rarity grabbed Sunset's pillow and tossed it onto the bed. “You are my guest, so you get the bed. I insist.”

“Rarity, you don't have to do that,” Sunset protested. “I'm fine on the floor.”

“Never!” Rarity thrust a finger into the air. “You shall have the bed and there will be no further argument on the matter!”

Sunset tried to keep it together, but soon burst out in laughter. Rarity soon followed. After a few minutes the two managed to calm down. Sunset wiped the tears from her eyes and pointed back at Rarity.

“How about we share the bed, that way nobody has to sleep on the floor?”

“Agreed.” Rarity pulled back the covers and gestured. “After you.”

Sunset climbed into bed. Rarity turned off the lights and followed suit. The two of them lay in the dark for a while. Sunset looked over at her friend.

“You're sure you're okay with this? I don't mind sleeping on the floor if it bothers you.”

“It's perfectly fine,” Rarity answered. “Remind me to tell you about the first sleepover Applejack and I had with Fluttershy back in junior high. We had to share a bed then too.”

“Why do I get the feeling that did not go well?” Sunset smirked.

“Let's just say the two of us spent a lot of weekends doing yard work at the Shy house afterwards.”

The two giggled and got comfortable. Sunset rolled on her side and yawned. Another rocky start, but the night had wound up going well once again. She closed her eyes allowing sleep to over take her.

Rarity had only a split second's warning before Sunset shot upright in bed and screamed. The fashionista let out a scream of her own and panicked when she opened her eyes and couldn't see anything.

“Good lord, I've gone blind!” Rarity flailed her arms, then calmed down when she felt the sleep mask still on her face. She quickly took it off and turned to Sunset, who was hunched over her knees. Rarity could hear the redheaded girl sobbing quietly. She leaned over and gently rubbed Sunset's back.

“Sunset, darling, are you all right?”

Sunset's voice came out choked and harsh. “They're getting worse.”

“How so?” Rarity's voice was quiet and supportive.

Sunset looked up, her eyes red from crying and exhaustion. She sniffled, then shot over and hugged Rarity tightly. “I killed you.”

Rarity's eyes widened, her brain uncertain how to comprehend what she had just heard. “Pardon?”

Sunset wiped her eyes. “I turned into the demon again, and you were there and I killed you. I – I tore you apart. And I couldn't stop myself. I wanted to, I tried to, but I couldn't stop. And the blood...”

“Yes, I think I get the idea, darling.” Rarity held her friend and rubbed her back, trying to keep her own shock at Sunset's dream from overwhelming her. Sunset began crying again.

“I'm sorry,” she sobbed. She broke away from Rarity and began pulling the covers back. “I shouldn't be here. I'll go home.”

Rarity grabbed Sunset's arm as she tried to get off the bed. “You will do no such thing, Sunset Shimmer. You came here for my help with these nightmares, and that is exactly what you are going to receive.”

Rarity held Sunset close until her friend's sobs had ended and her breathing returned to normal. Sunset sniffled one more time then leaned back. “Thanks, Rarity.”

“Think nothing of it, darling. Are you all right to go back to sleep?”

“I think so.” Sunset sighed and began moving to get back under the covers. The two girls adjusted themselves and soon got settled. Rarity looked over at Sunset.

“Go ahead and close your eyes, darling. I'll stay awake until you're asleep.”

Sunset didn't answer. Rarity frowned and saw the outline of Sunset still lying on her back, her posture stiff and tense. Sunset's head turned toward her and when she spoke, her voice was quiet and frightened.

“Rarity? Am I a good person?”

Rarity swallowed, unprepared for the question. She considered for a moment, then replied.

“Well, darling, I don't know if I can answer that.”

“Oh.” The dejection in Sunset's voice was evident.

“No, no, don't misunderstand me,” Rarity quickly added. “I only say that because we're just now only getting to know each other. You must admit, we haven't exactly been close while you've been at school.”

“Yeah,” Sunset rolled onto her side, facing Rarity. She reached out and took Rarity's hand. “I'm sorry for what I did to you last spring. It was horrible and rotten and you didn't deserve it.”

“Thank you for that, Sunset. I accept your apology and I forgive you.”

“Applejack said I had the potential to be a good person.” Sunset's voice was wistful.

“If she said that, then she undoubtedly thinks it's true. And Applejack's word on that is good enough for me.”


“Darling, you've made mistakes, but you're trying to make up for them. And you want to be a better person, don't you?”


“Then there's hope for you. And I will be there to help you every step of the way. It's what we all should be doing for each other. We're all we have, when it's all said and done.”

Sunset frowned in confusion. “What? I don't think I understand.”

“Well, I just meant that since this life is all we get, I believe we should help those who need it to the best of our abilities. We only get a scant seventy to maybe a hundred years, if we're lucky, barring illness or disaster. Then we go in the ground and that's all. And I think we should be using that time to try to make things better for ourselves and each other.”

Sunset blinked as she thought about some of the things she had researched when she had first arrived in the human world. “You don't believe there's an afterlife?”

Rarity let out the exhausted sigh of someone who had been asked the question far too many times. When she answered it was rote and mechanical.

“No, I don't believe there is life after death. I don't believe there is a blissful plane of existence that awaits us if we've been good people. Likewise, I also don't believe there is a realm of pain and torment for the evil and horrible people when they die either.”

Sunset scrunched down into the covers. “Sorry. Didn't mean to offend you.”

Rarity squeezed Sunset's hand. “No, I'm sorry. I'm just so used to having to argue the point when this comes up. I forgot you wouldn't have the same views on it that others do.”

Rarity blinked as a thought occurred to her. “What exactly do the inhabitants of Equestria believe in?”


“Well, do you believe in one god? Multiple gods? Is there, I don't know, some eternal elysian pasture where good ponies go when they die?”

Sunset thought for a moment. “Honestly, I never really thought about it. Most ponies don't. I guess, the closest thing we have to a god is – “ Sunset trailed off and sighed. “ – Princess Celestia. But even then, I don't think of her like that. She's long lived and has the power to raise the sun and the moon, but she never really seemed to want to be worshipped for it.”

“Then who do the ponies pray to?” Rarity asked.

“No one, really.” Sunset sat up in the bed. “All the stuff humans tend to pray for, ponies do themselves. Aside from a few places where wild magic overrides pony magic, ponies control the weather and the seasons. They take care of the animals. Earth ponies tend to the land and the plants. So, yeah, religion is something that really doesn't exist over there.”

“And when they die?”

“Ponies tend to live in the moment. Some of the older ponies have various ideas, but there's really no one defining belief in what happens after death.”

“What about you?”

Sunset frowned. “What about me?”

Rarity smiled gently. “What do you believe in, Sunset?”

Sunset considered. “I... don't know. I thought I had everything figured out, but now...”

She trailed off and hugged her knees. Rarity sat up and put a hand on her friend's shoulder.

“Do you want to know what I truly believe in?”

Sunset looked up. Rarity brushed some of Sunset's hair from her face.

“I believe in you.”

Sunset blinked and looked incredulous. Rarity giggled.

“I know it sounds terribly corny, but it's true, darling. I believe that you will fully turn yourself around and soon everyone will see you for the intelligent, beautiful, and yes, kind girl you are.” Rarity leaned forward and touched her head to Sunset's. “That's what I believe in.”

Sunset smiled and threw an arm around Rarity's shoulders. “Thanks, Rarity.”

Rarity returned the hug. “Any time, darling. Now, I think we need to get back to sleep. School, sadly, waits for no one.”

Sunset nodded and laid back in the bed. Rarity grabbed her sleep mask and put it on, resting it on her forehead. She grabbed the blankets and pulled them up over the two of them. “And if those nasty dreams come back, don't hesitate to awaken me, all right?”

“All right.” Sunset yawned and rolled over onto her side. “G'night Rarity.”

Rarity reached over and stroked Sunset's hair again. “Good night, darling.”

She dropped the sleep mask over her eyes and slid under the covers. Sunset felt her friend bump up against her as Rarity got comfortable. Within moments, she was sound asleep, a smile on her face.


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Sunset hesitated as she and Rarity exited the lunch line. Rarity looked over at her.

“Something wrong, darling?”

“I... don't know about this,” Sunset said.

Rarity smiled gently. “Sunset, it's okay. The girls are fine with you joining us for lunch. You don't need to worry.”

Sunset looked around the cafeteria. Whenever she made eye contact with someone, they gave her a look ranging from mistrust to outright hatred. She shrunk down into her jacket, trying to make herself smaller.

“I don't want to make things worse for you,” she muttered.

“What on earth do you mean, darling?” Rarity asked.

“You know, guilt by association.”

Rarity sputtered. “Pfft-tsk-tch! Nonsense! If anyone has a problem with you spending lunch with us, it's entirely that. Their problem. You are a student here, and as such, you have just as much of a right to use the facilities here as anyone else. You can't keep hiding in the library every lunch period.”

Sunset sighed and followed the fashionista to the table where the other girls were waiting.

“Hey, Sunset,” Applejack greeted as they sat down.

“Hey,” Sunset said quietly.

“Sleepin' okay?”

“Kind of. Nightmares are still happening.”

“That sucks,” said Rainbow Dash. Sunset looked up in surprise.

“What?” Rainbow asked. “Nightmares are the worst.” She gave Sunset a wink. Sunset blinked and then gave a small smile.

“Yeah,” she said. “They are. But the sleepovers seem to be helping. Thanks for suggesting it, Pinkie.”

“Anytime! Oh, speaking of!” Pinkie reached into her hair, extracting a notebook. She flipped it open. “According to the straws we drew, it's Fluttershy's turn tonight!”

There was a squeak from the end of the table. The girls turned to see Fluttershy hiding behind her hair. Sunset's face fell, all the times she had bullied and yelled at Fluttershy coming to her mind.

“It's okay, Fluttershy,” she said. “If you don't want to do this, you don't have to.” Much to her surprise, Sunset actually felt disappointed by Fluttershy's reaction, although it was completely understandable.

Fluttershy brushed her hair back and looked up. “No, it's okay, Sunset. It's my turn. It's just...”


“Well, we had planned for me to go over to your place tonight, but I forgot that it's game night with my family.”

“Game night?” Sunset asked.

Pinkie let out one of her trademark three second gasps. “You mean you've never been to a game night? A night filled with playing all kinds of games with people you love and care about and participate in good-natured ribbing that's all in fun and bonding?”

Sunset gave Pinkie a look. “Exiled former villainous pony with no friends or family until two weeks ago, remember?”

“Then you need to go to Fluttershy's house tonight!” Pinkie insisted. “You need to play games and bond!”

“I don't think I need to intrude on her family's – “

Pinkie shoved her face directly at Sunset's. “BONDING, SUNSET! DO IT!”

“GAH!” Sunset jumped back in her seat so hard it began to tilt. Sunset let out a yelp as she fell backward and crashed on the floor. Applejack and Rarity let out a gasp themselves and helped her back up, while Rainbow pulled Pinkie back to her own seat.

“Are you all right, sugarcube?” Applejack asked as Sunset got herself situated. Sunset tried to ignore the stares she was getting from the students at the other tables.

“I'm fine,” she muttered, huddling in her jacket again.

“You can come over.” Fluttershy smiled at Sunset. Sunset looked up.


“If you want to, you can come over to my house tonight. Mom and Dad won't mind.”

“Are you sure?” Sunset asked, remembering her encounter with Rarity's mom the night before.

Fluttershy nodded. “It seems a shame you've never had a game night before. This could be a lot of fun... well, maybe.”


Fluttershy looked down at the table, her expression dark. “You'll meet my brother.”

“Zephyr's home?” Rainbow asked. “I thought he was in military school?”

“He got kicked out. Came home yesterday.” Fluttershy folded her arms and frowned.

“Great.” Rainbow leaned back and blew her bangs out of her eyes.

“Who's Zephyr?” Sunset asked.

“Zephyr Breeze, Fluttershy's younger brother,” Rainbow explained. “He's a loser.”

Applejack piped up. “Boy never finishes anything he starts. Takes advantage of his family, especially Flutters' parents.”

“His jokes are terrible,” said Pinkie, who rarely had an unkind word to say about anyone.

“He's also an egomaniacal, sexist pig,” Rarity added. “And don't even get me started on his sense of style. Fluttershy, dear, is he still on his whole 'shirts are evil' phase?”

“It's gotten worse since he got home,” Fluttershy asked. “Mom and Dad had to bribe him to wear pants around the house.”

The girls all shivered, except Sunset, who looked over at Fluttershy.

“Is he really that bad?”she asked.

Fluttershy sighed. “Maybe not that bad, but he's still a pain.” She looked up and gave Sunset a gentle smile. “You know what? Please come over, Sunset. We have plenty of room and it'll be a lot of fun to do game night with a friend.”

Sunset considered then gave Fluttershy a smile of her own. “Yeah... I think I'd like that.”

Fluttershy clapped her hands. “Great! Let me text you my address.” She turned and pulled out her phone. “And we will destroy my brother,” she whispered.

“What did you say?”


Sunset knocked on the front door of the Shy house, a nicely kept ranch-style home not too far from Rarity's house. An attractive flower garden was next to the front stoop. If Sunset had to pick a word to describe the house on first glance, she would say “cozy.” It seemed to fit Fluttershy to a tee.

The door opened, revealing a yellow woman with red hair and glasses. She had sunflower shaped earrings and a slightly nervous smile.

Sunset gave a nervous smile of her own. “Hi, Mrs. Shy? I'm Sunset Shimmer. Fluttershy's friend?”

“Oh, yes, Sunset Shimmer,” Mrs. Shy's voice was high and soft. Not much different from her daughter's. “Fluttershy told us you'd be spending the night.”

Sunset swallowed. While she was perfectly polite, Mrs. Shy didn't seem all that enthused about Sunset being here. Sunset couldn't blame her. She had picked on Fluttershy mercilessly in the past, and in all likelihood, her parents knew about it all. Sunset's heart sank and she looked at her feet.

“I don't want to impose,” she said quietly. “And I don't want to make you uncomfortable. I'll go if you want.”

Mrs. Shy blinked. “No! No, no! I'm so sorry! Come in, come in!”

She stepped aside, allowing Sunset to enter the house. The coziness continued. Overstuffed couches and chairs. Carved wood tables and cabinets. Family pictures covering nearly every wall.

Sunset felt a lump rise in her throat as she looked at a picture of an elementary school age Fluttershy smiling with her parents. Mr. Shy was a thin green man, with a pink mustache and a hairstyle that resembled soft serve strawberry ice cream. All three were smiling widely, even Fluttershy, which Sunset had never seen before. They all looked happy.

We used to look that happy once. Sunset thought.

“I'm sorry about that,” said Mrs. Shy, bringing Sunset out of her memories. “I didn't mean to make you feel unwelcome, dear.”

“I'd understand if you did,” Sunset confessed. “I've been terrible to your daughter in the past.”

“Fluttershy says you've changed and she wants us to give you a chance.” Mrs. Shy gave Sunset a small smile. “And we believe in forgiveness in this house. If she says you're welcome here, then you're welcome here.”

Sunset returned the smile. “Thank you. I appreciate you giving me a chance.”

“Fluttershy is in the backyard feeding her squirrel friends. Here, let me take your bag up to her room and you can go say hello to her.”

Sunset let her friend's mother take the bag with another thank you and walked down the hall to the kitchen, where she let herself out onto the back porch through the sliding glass door. Fluttershy was sitting at a patio table, humming idly, as she watched a pair of squirrels root through the nearby feeder. She looked up when she heard the door open.

“Oh, hello, Sunset!” she said brightly. She stood up and walked over. “I'm glad you could come.”

“I'm glad too. Your house is lovely.”

“Oh, thank you. Although you can thank Mom for that. She's the decorator in the family.”

Sunset sat in one of the other deck chairs. She watched in amazement as one of the squirrels dashed over and up onto the table. Fluttershy giggled and reached into a baggie of granola she had in front of her. She handed some to the squirrel, who chittered and began gnawing on it.

Fluttershy smiled at Sunset. “This is Rocky. He's a little bit of a mooch, but he so adorable I can't help spoiling him a little.”

Sunset smiled. “He is cute.”

“Hey, big sis! How's it goin'?” came a new male voice. Instantly, Rocky dashed off the table and Fluttershy's expression darkened.

“And here's something that isn't,” she hissed. Sunset looked up to see a tall boy the same shade of green as Fluttershy's father stepping out onto the patio. He had close cropped blond hair, and was wearing frayed jeans and a woven vest. Sunset noted with some distress that he had forgone a shirt, and judging from the way her nostrils were reacting, probably deodorant as well.

“What do you want, Zephyr?” Fluttershy asked coldly.

“Mom said you had a new friend visiting, so I thought I'd introduce myself.” Zephyr turned to Sunset and gave a grin that he probably thought was charming, but to Sunset, made him look like he was having a particularly painful bowel movement.

“Zephyr Breeze, pretty lady,” he said, sleazing his way into the deck chair next to Sunset. He picke dup her hand, causing Sunset to make a disgusted expression. “En-chant-tay.”

He bent his head to kiss the back of her hand, but Sunset pulled it away at the last second. “It's enchante,” she corrected, pronouncing the word correctly.

“Well, whatever it is, it describes a fiery headed lovely like you to a tee.” Zephyr gave his constipated grin again, bouncing his eyebrows up and down.

“Yeek,” Sunset grimaced. Fluttershy rolled her eyes.

“Sunset, this is my brother, Zephyr Breeze. Zephyr, this is my friend Sunset Shimmer. There, you've met her. Now would you please leave us alone so we can talk?”

“Actually, Mom asked if you could set the table for dinner. Don't worry, sis, I'll keep your guest entertained.” Another eyebrow bounce.

“You know what?” Sunset said, standing up. Her fist was clenched at her side. “I think I'll help set the table too. I don't want to seem like I'm freeloading and all.”

Fluttershy blinked then smiled brightly. “Yes, good idea, Sunset! Let's go!”

Fluttershy stood up and the two headed for the sliding glass door to the house. Sunset looked over her shoulder, where Zephyr was muttering to himself. She thought she heard the words “probably gay anyway.” Her eyes flashed and she looked over at Fluttershy.

“I know he's your brother, and I know I'm trying to turn over a new leaf, but if he touches me again, I swear I'll kill him.”

“I know where Dad hides the lye in the garden shed,” Fluttershy answered. “And I have a large metal washtub I use to give the neighborhood dogs baths. It shouldn't take too long to get rid of the body.”

Sunset stared at Fluttershy in shock, before Fluttershy herself giggled and gently pushed Sunset's shoulder. Sunset stared at her for another second then smiled and giggled herself.

“Come on,” Fluttershy said. “Dad will be home soon, and you'll like him a lot more than Zephyr. Let's go set the table. Mom's making tortellini tonight. You'll love it.”

“That does sound pretty good,” Sunset said.

The two entered the kitchen, where Mrs. Shy was working on the sauce for the pasta. She blinked when Fluttershy began pulling plates from the cabinet.

“Fluttershy, dear, what are you doing?”

“Sunset and I are going to set the table.”

“Oh!” Mrs. Shy's voice held a note of surprise. “That's very nice of you, girls. I asked Zephyr to do it, but he seems to have disappeared.”

“WHAT?!” Fluttershy and Sunset's voices echoed around the tiny kitchen.

After dinner, Sunset helped Fluttershy clear the table, noting with some disgust that Zephyr disappeared as soon as actual work became involved. As she helped Fluttershy load the dishwasher, Mrs. Shy placed a large chocolate cream pie on the counter and grabbed a knife.

“Go ahead and sit down, girls. I'll handle dessert. Thank you for your help, Sunset.”

“It's no problem, Mrs. Shy.”

“Does anyone need refills on drinks?” Fluttershy asked.

Glasses were refilled and the two of them sat down at the table. Sunset watched as Fluttershy frowned and counted down from three on her fingers. When she reached zero, Zephyr slid back into the room.

“Okay, prepare yourselves, ladies, the Game Master has arrived!”

Fluttershy sighed through her teeth. Sunset looked at her and decided to take a chance. She reached down and gently squeezed Fluttershy's hand. Fluttershy looked up.

“We're gonna annihilate him,” Sunset whispered, her face curling up into an evil grin. Fluttershy put a hand over her mouth and giggled.

“All right, everyone,” said Mr. Shy, placing a game box on the table. “Since we have a guest, I figured tonight's first game should be a new one. It's called Life Stinks.

Life Stinks?” Sunset asked. “That's kind of weird. What's the object?”

“Well,” Mr. Shy said, looking at the instructions. “It's a card game where each card has some kind of unpleasant thing that can happen in day to day life. Each one has an 'Anguish Rating.' Everybody starts off with three cards, and you guess where each card we draw falls among the cards in front of you. If you get it wrong, the next person gets to guess and so on. First one to get ten cards in their line wins!”

“I don't get it,” Sunset said.

“We usually find the best way to understand a game is to just jump in and play,” said Mrs. Shy, placing a small plate with a slice of pie and a fork in front of each girl. “Makes it more fun that way.”

“Okay,” Sunset said. “I'll give it a whirl. What's the worst that could happen?”

“Okay, Sunset,” said Mr. Shy. “The card is... oh, dear... 'Having a Cactus Jabbed Into Your Urethra.'”

Sunset winced, as did everyone around the table. She looked down at her cards. She had five on the table in front of her: Finding a Pubic Hair in Your Food: 25, Walking in On Your Parents Having Sex: 35, Putting Your Fist Through a Plate Glass Window: 49, Getting Stung in the Genitals by Angry Bees: 57, and Having a Root Canal Without Anesthetic: 75.

“Wow, that's... yeah,” Sunset thought. She looked around the table. Mr. Shy had seven cards in front of him, but since he read the card this round, he was disqualified from playing. Mrs. Shy had six, and Fluttershy had nine. Zephyr, she was pleased to note, still only had the three cards he was dealt at the beginning of the game.

Sunset considered. If she guessed incorrectly, Fluttershy would get a chance to guess, and if she guessed right, she'd win. She bit her lip as she thought it over.

“Anytime, Sunny,” said Zephyr, smirking at her. “From what I've heard, you should know all about this kind of stuff.”

Sunset's head snapped up sharply. Mr. and Mrs. Shy looked uncomfortable, and Fluttershy glared at her brother.

“What?” Sunset said quietly.

Zephyr, apparently oblivious to his own impending demise, continued. “Well, from what I've heard, you know all about how much stuff hurts.”

“Zephyr, honey, maybe you shouldn't – “ Mrs. Shy began.

“It's fine,” Sunset interrupted, her voice tight. Under the table, Fluttershy grabbed Sunset's hand and squeezed. Sunset turned to Mr. Shy. “I'm gonna say that's worse than the plate glass window, but not as bad as the bees.”

Mr. Shy blinked and looked down at the card. “Um.. that's right. It's rated at 56. Good job, Sunset.”

He handed the card to Sunset, who placed it in her line. She looked over at Zephyr, her expression dark. “Well, I am an expert on pain.”

Fluttershy leaned over. “Are you okay, Sunset?”

Sunset turned her head to look at her. “Now, it's personal.”

At the count of three, all five pointed their guns at each other. Fluttershy and Sunset pointed at Zephyr, while Zephyr pointed at his mother. Mr. and Mrs. Shy were pointing at each other. Sunset looked the situation over. It was the third round of Bank 'n' Bullets, and she was pretty sure Zephyr was in the lead. But, if she played this right, and was reading Fluttershy's parents correctly, that was going to come to an end. Because this round, Sunset was the Godfather and that came with one very powerful privilege.

“Mrs. Shy, would you please point your gun at Zephyr?”

“What? Oh, come on, Sunny!” Zephyr protested. Mrs. Shy moved her foam gun to point at her son. “Mom!”

“Sorry, honey, but it's the rules.” Mrs. Shy gave Zephyr an apologetic smile.

Sunset grinned. “You can always drop out, Zephyr.”

Zephyr frowned. “Not a chance. You think I'm gonna back down while I'm on top? No way all three of you have live rounds.”

“You really wanna take that gamble?”

“Try me, Sunnybun!”

Sunset grit her teeth in response to the nickname. She swallowed the torrent of profanity that came to mind, and forced a smile. “Okay. Everybody reveal your cards on three. One... two... three!”

Everyone flipped the cards in front of them over. Two of them featured the word “Click” while three others all had a picture of a bullet and the word “Bang!” The three “Bang” cards all belonged to Sunset, Fluttershy, and Mrs. Shy. Zephyr stared in astonishment as Fluttershy pulled three cartoon band-aids out of the game box and tossed them in front of him.

“Awww, looks like we weren't bluffing after all,” said Sunset. “That's three hits and that means you're dead, Zephyr. No more cash for you for the rest of the game.”

“You... I...” Zephyr sputtered, looking from Sunset to the band-aids in front of him and back again. “I... phthbuththth...”

“Zephyr, honey, you've stopped using words again,” said Mrs. Shy. She stood up and walked over, placing an hand on his shoulder. “Maybe you should turn in for the night. You'll feel more coherent in the morning.”

Zephyr sputtered some more but got up from the table and wandered out of the kitchen. Mrs. Shy returned to her seat. “He'll be fine. He always gets so upset when he doesn't win.”

“I'm sorry if I caused a problem,” Sunset said.

“Oh, it's fine, Sunset.” Mr. Shy smiled at her. “This always happens.”

“Except when he wins, then he's even worse,” Fluttershy muttered.

“Well, as long as he's okay,” Sunset said brightly. “Should we go on with the game?”

“There are still five rounds left,” Fluttershy added, causing Sunset to look at her in surprise. Fluttershy looked up and smiled. Sunset returned it, a genuine one this time.

“If you girls still want to play, we can finish,” said Mr. Shy. “Now, let's see. All of us were still in and since Sunset was the Godfather this round that means you get first pick!”

Sunset reached forward and grabbed one of the loot cards in the middle of the table. Even if neither of them wound up with the most loot at the end of the game, she knew she and Fluttershy had already won.

Later, in Fluttershy's room, Sunset changed into her pajamas. Fluttershy had gone to brush her teeth, leaving her alone for a few minutes. She rolled out her sleeping bag and sat on it. She reached into her overnight bag and pulled out a hairbrush. As she brushed out the snags in her hair, she glanced around the room.

There were the usual things she expected. Cute animal posters on the walls, butterfly themed bedding, more butterfly stencils on the wall. There were also other things Sunset hadn't expected to see.

There was a stereo in one corner of the room that looked like it came from the late-80s, complete with record turntable, dual cassette deck, and a CD player. It sat on a cabinet filled with vinyl records. A pair of oversized headphones sat on top of the stereo.

An overstuffed bookshelf was on the wall opposite the bed. Sunset put her brush down and crawled over to look at it. There were a variety of types of books. Everything from pet care books (and an actual zoology textbook) to quite a few fantasty novels. Some of the fantasy novels were thick enough to successfully bludgeon a burglar to death.

Sunset looked closer at a series of thin volumes that were crammed together on the bottom shelf. She pulled one out and blinked. It was a kids picture book, one from a series she had seen on the bestseller racks at the bookstore she visited. Miranda the Magic Bunny. The series had been a hit from day one and each new book seemed to outperform the last, judging by how many kids Sunset had seen at the various release parties over the years.

“Oh,” came a voice behind her. Sunset turned to see Fluttershy standing in the doorway. She was looking at the floor, her hair draping over her face. She fidgeted as Sunset looked at her. “You found those.”

Sunset stood up. “Um... yeah. Don't worry, I'm not gonna make fun of you for liking these books. I always thought they were actually kinda cute.”

“Oh.” Fluttershy's voice held a note of surprise. “Well... I don't have those because I like them. I mean, I do like them, but it's not because I'm a fan of them.”

Sunset frowned in confusion. “I'm not following you.”

“Well, I –“ Fluttershy's voice trailed off into a mumble.

“Sorry, didn't catch that,” said Sunset.

“Oh, sorry... um... I have those books because... I write them.”

“What?” Sunset looked at the cover of the book she was holding. “You're Summer Spring?”

Fluttershy nodded.

“Best selling kids author Summer Spring?”

Fluttershy nodded again, and turned red.

“You write the Miranda the Magic Bunny books?” Sunset held the book up. “These books?”

Fluttershy squeaked in affirmation. Sunset looked back at the cover of the book, then up again.

“Fluttershy, that's so cool!” She grinned widely and came over. “Why didn't you say anything before?”

Fluttershy didn't answer, looking down at the floor instead. Sunset took the hint and backed off.

“Sorry. I get it now. But wow, that's just really awesome, Fluttershy.”

“Thank you.”

Sunset put the book back on the shelf. “Just curious, though. Do you do the art too?”

Fluttershy looked up. “Oh no. When the first one was accepted, the publisher found someone to illustrate it. My first manuscript was just a bunch of stick figures I drew. Paint Spatter's great. She sends me preliminary sketches, I send her notes, and we work back and forth until we settle on something we both like.”

Sunset smiled. Fluttershy may not have enjoyed talking about herself, but when she was gushing about someone else, she was all smiles and energy. “That's great. Um... I hope you don't mind me asking, but how are sales? I've always been curious about how that works.”

“Well, I don't really like to talk about the money, but I will say that I don't have to worry about getting student loans or anything when I go to college.”

“Wow,” Sunset said.

Fluttershy suddenly rushed forward and took Sunset's hands. “Please don't tell anyone!”

“What?” Sunset blinked, confused.

“I know you think it's a great thing, but I just don't want anyone to know right now,” Fzluttershy explained. “If people knew, then they'd want me to talk about it all the time. Do signings, interviews, and I just... no. I have a hard enough time with my publishers trying to get me to do all that. Mom and Dad and my agent manage to block them when they get insistent, but if anyone in town found out I'd never hear the end of it.”

Sunset shook her head and smiled again. “My lips are sealed. Do the other girls know?”

“No. At least I don't think so,” Fluttershy answered. “Pinkie Pie might suspect, but she hasn't said anything.”

Sunset's face fell as a thought came to her. “Then why did you tell me?”

Fluttershy didn't answer right away. She came forward and Sunset found herself in a hug. Fluttershy leaned forward and whispered in her ear.

“Because I want you to trust me.”

Sunset's eyes widened and she leaned back. Fluttershy smiled.

“I know what this all must seem like to you,” she said. “That maybe we're all just being friends with you because Twilight asked us to look after you. But, over the last two weeks, I've watched you and I can see the changes. And I don't want you to think you're a burden. I want you to know that I do want to be your friend, and I know you probably have some doubts about all this.”

“I don't – “

Fluttershy held up a finger, the smile never leaving her face. “Yes, you do. I know you do. The nightmares are proof of that. You think this is all too good to be true. But you deserve friends, Sunset, and I want you to trust me. So I'm trusting you with one of my biggest secrets, because I know you won't say anything until I'm ready to tell everyone myself.”

Sunset swallowed. “How can you know that? I bullied you worse than any of the other girls. I don't understand any of this. You go along with Twilight's plan, you invite me over to play games with your family, you just told me this, but I've never given you a reason to trust me. How can you trust me with something this big?”

“Because I'm starting to see the real you. A lonely, bright girl who had something missing for so long, she thought she didn't need or deserve it and decided to fill that void with ambition instead. That was the girl who bullied me. You aren't her anymore, and I want to help you find out who the real Sunset Shimmer is. And trust is something that any true friendship needs to be founded on. I trust you, Sunset. Can you trust me?”

Sunset swallowed again, feeling her eyes water. Fluttershy looked back at her with nothing but compassion and warmth. Sunset felt her lips curl up in a smile and she nodded.

“I trust you, Fluttershy. Thank you for trusting me.”

Fluttershy hugged Sunset again. Sunset closed her eyes and allowed her tears of joy to flow down her cheeks.

It was almost three in the morning when Fluttershy was awakened. She peered around blearily. The room was dark, with the sickly green of her digital alarm clock display providing the only illumination. Fluttershy frowned and moved to go back to sleep when she heard it.

The whimpering.

Her eyes adjusting to the darkness, she looked down and saw Sunset huddled in her sleeping bag. She was trembling and she let out more whimpers of distress. Fluttershy reached down and gently touched her shoulder.

“Sunset? Are you okay?”

Sunset didn't answer. She pulled away from Fluttershy's hand, curling into a smaller ball and trembling harder. Fluttershy slid out of bed and knelt down. She leaned over and whispered into Sunset's ear.

“Sunset? It's me. It's Fluttershy.”

Sunset's trembling slowed. She made another noise, and Fluttershy strained to make out the words.

“Help me.”

Fluttershy nodded, reached up and pulled down a pillow and her comforter from the bed. She pulled the comforter over both of them and laid down, spooning Sunset. She reached an arm over her friend and pulled her close. Sunset's trembling stopped.

“Hush now, quiet now,” Fluttershy sang softly. “It's time to lay your sleepy head. Hush now, quiet now, it's time to go to bed...”

Sunset reached up and took Futtershy's hand. Fluttershy smiled and continued the lullaby until Sunset's breathing became slow and regular. She settled down and snuggled closer to Sunset, letting sleep overtake her.

Sunset slept soundly for the rest of the night.