Curriculum Vitae

by Bookish Delight

First published

Twilight Sparkle asks Starlight Glimmer to be the guidance counselor for the School of Friendship. Starlight, understandably, needs time to process this. And maybe a few strong drinks.

While drawing up the plans for the School of Friendship, Twilight Sparkle asks Starlight Glimmer to be its guidance counselor.

In hindsight, Starlight's reaction was perfectly understandable given the circumstances.

1: Job Opening

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Starlight Glimmer walked the halls of the Castle of Friendship in high spirits. The day had gone well so far—she'd spent some time with Maud, she'd sat in on one of Rarity's fashion design sessions, and she'd helped out at Fluttershy's animal reserve.

Who knew animals loved kites so much? Especially the bear. It was a good thing Starlight always had spares on hoof.

However, even with several shredded kites to the day's name, nothing had happened that Starlight could categorize as "having gone wrong." Starlight had known exactly what to do during everything that had come up. She'd been in complete control of every situation, in control of her emotions, and in control of her ability to solve problems that popped up around her.

All without falling to pieces even once. Without rushing straight to magic in order to try and fix everything.

For the first time in as long as she could remember—heck, possibly ever—she felt in control of her ability to just be... herself.

It was a good feeling.

She could get used to it.

She walked down the steps of the castle, to the ground floor. Maybe she'd take a look at the expanded Cutie Map while she was down there. Just looking at it always relaxed her. Especially the floating bits. The newly added pirate ship was always fun to just stare at as it sailed, seemingly randomly, around Equestria. Who knew what its crew was doing now that the Storm King was gone? Having nothing but fun via all that random sailing, no doubt. She didn't blame them one bit.

She cleared her mind, and opened the door to the main hall, only to discover that somepony had beaten her to her planned activity—to say nothing of having cluttered the whole map full of folders and parchments. Twilight Sparkle sat in her seat, poring over documents by floating them over to her line of sight with her magic, scanning through them with her record-setting reading speed, then grabbing another piece of parchment and doing it all over again.

"Hey, Twilight. Working hard?" Starlight pointed a hoof at Twilight and clicked her teeth. "'Cause if you are, you know you're doing it wrong."

"Oh! Hi, Starlight." Twilight looked over and giggled. "You're certainly in a good mood."

"Eh." Starlight shrugged, sitting in the chair next to Twilight. "I just feel good."

"Well, that's wonderful," Twilight said. "It's great to see you in high spirits. Any particular reason?"

Starlight smiled. "I just... feel good about myself, you know? And it's been happening more and more lately. Back when I was your student, you told me lots of times that eventually, I'd start feeling as good about myself as a pony as you did about me, the day you took me under your wing." Starlight sighed and laid back in her seat. "It was hard for me to believe back then, but I think it's finally happening. And it feels great."

Twilight giggled. "Well, look what you've done since then! You've learned about friendship, saved a world, saved a city in another dimension... I always told myself, 'Starlight Glimmer has the goods. She wants to be a good pony, and a good friend. She just needs to be shown the right path, since she was turned away from it as a filly.'"

Starlight nodded, and the two looked at each other with wide eye and mutual smiles. "And that's all I did," Twilight added. "Everything else... was you."

As Starlight felt her face flush, she cleared her throat and cast her gaze towards the cluttered Cutie Map. "So, uh, anyway, what's going on here? Why is the Cutie Map completely covered in parchments?" Starlight peered closer at select sheets and started reading words. "'School Curriculum Outline, Based on the Principles of the Elements of Harmony, Proposed Faculty—'" She stopped and gasped. "Twilight, is this what I think it is?"

"Yep!" Twilight beamed. "You were out today, so I didn't get to tell you, but I got provisional EEA approval to start the School of Friendship! So, I'm officially in construction mode. Well, pre-construction. Actual construction begins next week."

"Oh, Twilight, that's wonderful," Starlight said. "Congratulations!"

Twilight clapped her hooves and squealed. "Thank you! I've here all evening doing one last check through all my filed notes, to make sure this school fits my vision while staying within the EEA's guidelines." She floated a blue roll of parchment over to herself and Starlight, and unrolled it, revealing plans for a grand boarding schoolhouse, not much smaller than the Friendship Castle itself. "This is my blueprint for the campus."

"Wow." Starlight looked at it. "Waterfront property, rooms for all the students, huge classrooms..." She looked closer. "Wait, right across from the Castle? Won't it get noisy? And what about zoning laws and property values? I already know some ponies complaining about rent."

Twilight tilted her head. "Except for the Cakes with Pinkie, nopony charges rent in Ponyville."

"Exactly." Starlight grinned. "They're afraid other ponies might start."

Twilight chuckled and waved a dismissive hoof. "That's silly. Besides, even if that does happen, that's exactly why the school is here! I'll need paid staff to help me and my other girlfriends run the place." She gestured across the table. "Which is where these other documents come in. As you've already noticed, I've already drawn up my proposals for class subjects, staff ponies, and faculty."

Twilight turned to face her girlfriend. "And on that note, Starlight, I'd like to ask you an important question."

"What is it?" Starlight asked.

"Would you like to be Guidance Counselor for the School of Friendship?" Twilight asked with a wide, toothy smile.

Starlight sat in her chair, blinking.

Twilight's smile disappeared. "Starlight?"

"Oh, uh, sorry," Starlight said, as she came out of her thoughtful trance. "What was that, again?"

"Would you like to be the school's Guidance Counselor—"

Starlight disappeared in a turquoise flash and a shower of sparkles.

Starlight reappeared in the castle library.

It was vast, with huge shelves of countless books all around her—enough to intimidate a normal pony, but not Starlight, naturally. Much like Twilight, she already knew the layout and stock like the back of her hoof. She darted towards one of the shelves on the eastern side of the literary complex.

"Sailboarding, Salamanders, Schistosomiasis..." Starlight recoiled and stuck out her tongue, then lit up as she found what she was looking for. "Here we are: 'A Brief History of Equestrian Schooling'." She opened it up and riled through its pages. "Guidance Counselor, Guidance Counselor, Guidance—here we are. Aaaaand..."

She read the entry.

Her eyebrows shot up.

She teleported back out of the library.

Starlight reappeared back in front of Twilight. She held the book out to her girlfriend, opened to the entry she'd found.

"Let me get this straight," she said. "You want me to be... this?"

"That's right," Twilight said with a brand new wide smile, and a confident nod. "We think you'd be a great fit."

Starlight blinked again.


2: First Interview

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Thirty minutes later, Starlight Glimmer sat in a booth at Sugarcube Corner, holding a glass in one hand.

She eyed the liquid in the glass curiously, as a cat would eye potential prey—which, she'd been told beforehand, was pretty much what it was. But she'd cross that bridge when she came to it.

Starlight tilted the glass to one side. The viscous, colorful substance sloshed slowly to the right. She tilted the glass to the left. It moved slowly back to the left, like the Tank of drinks that it was.

She smiled, looking at the liquid, looking through the liquid, as if she could see into yet another alternate dimension through its morass. She moved the glass around and around, giggling at the miniature whirlpool that formed as she did so. She then took the straw which sat in the glass into her fingers, and stirred as hard as she could, making the whirlpool even deeper.

This was, hands down, much better than thinking about the question Twilight had asked her half an hour ago. All that was here, all that was now, was getting lost in the swirl, deeper and deeper, until—

An orange hand grasped her arm, settling the liquid, destroying the whirlpool, and bringing Starlight's fun to a screeching halt. Starlight looked up at Sunset Shimmer with a quiet, disappointed moan.

"Uh, Starlight?" Sunset Shimmer looked at her girlfriend concernedly. "You've... been playing with that for a while now, in between giving me blank stares. At least take a sip of your smoothie. Stirring it that hard will just make it get soupy."

Starlight didn't move.

Sunset sighed and placed the straw in Starlight's mouth. Starlight sipped. The strong, intense sugary flavoring hit her taste buds instantly. It was amazing. She really should have just tried drinking it in the first place. Who knew?

"Whoa, that is good," Starlight said. "Why is this dimension so great with sugary stuff? Seriously, with all this junk food, why isn't everyone in your world rolling around your streets like beach balls?"

Sunset snickered. "I asked Juniper that question once. She came back to me with a long document about the genre aesthetics of children's television shows. I can print it out and give it to you to take back if you want."

Starlight blinked. "What's a 'children's television show'?"

"Oh, yeah. Right." Sunset sighed again, sat back, and rolled her eyes with a sardonic grin. "Maybe you should finally just tell me why you're here."

"And then she said she wanted me to be the guidance counselor," Starlight was saying, after ten minutes of offscreen exposition and three smoothie refills. "I wasn't sure what that was at first, so I went to look it up, and—" She stopped. "Actually, wait! You do the school thing already, don't you?"

"I'm a student." Sunset shrugged, and smirked. "You're actually about to be promoted over me."

"We'll talk about that later. Possibly with roleplay. But for now, just so we're on the same page: in your world, what exactly is a 'guidance counselor'?"

"Oh. Well," Sunset said, putting her fingers to her chin in thought, "it's... someone who members of the student body can come to with their problems. Those problems can be social, personal, or just school-related life stuff. If the guidance counselor can't solve the problem themselves, they can point the way to others better suited, or at least provide emotional support." Sunset folded her hands. "Either way, it requires a great amount of love and empathy for other people, as well as a keen social awareness and intellect. At least, that's the impression I always got from watching Miss Cheerilee in action."

Starlight stared at Sunset again—then her forehead met the table with a muted thud. "Yeah. That's what Twilight's book said, too." She raised her head, looking back up at Sunset. "I can't do that! I can't do any of that."

Sunset looked back at Starlight, blinking in confusion. "Really? Because, I mean, from where I'm sitting, I don't see any problem. You took it upon yourself to learn about friendship, saved a world, and saved a city an entire dimension across from home from you, all without anyone asking you to."

"Yeah, after running a cult to rob ponies of their special callings in life while worshipping me in the process, trying to destroy the return of the Elements of Harmony, breaking all of time and space multiple times, mind-controlling ponies to try and to force them to be 'friends' I thought I could handle being around, wreaking havoc on Ponyville by storing anger mojo in a bottle, and causing untold amount of destruction with my magic in general!" Starlight counted on her fingers, deflating when she was done with her list. "I have the worst résumé for this gig."

Sunset's face scrunched. "So, there are things I could say, but before I do, I need full context. And I think you might as well. Did you ever ask Twilight why she thought you'd be a good fit for this guidance counselor position?"

Starlight sat in her seat, frozen, for a full ten seconds.

Then she bolted out of the diner and back to the portal, tripping over her own feet only twice in the process.

In the back of her mind, as she swirled through the portal, Starlight congratulated herself on her improved coordination.

In a flash of sparkles, Starlight once more reappeared in the main hall of the Castle of Friendship. Twilight stayed silent, simply looking at Starlight as the latter held out her hoof and caught her breath.

"Welcome back," Twilight eventually said with a small smile. "Did you manage to make a decision?"

"Not yet. Have a question," Starlight said, her breathing finally leveling off.

"Sure," Twilight said. "Fire away."

"Okay," Starlight said. "Why... why do you want me to be a guidance counselor?"

As Twilight's former student, Starlight had been privy to Twilight's lectures for months on end, so Starlight instantly recognized when her girlfriend closed her eyes, raised her hoof, and recited from the index cards in her mind.

"Because I think you'd be great for the job." Twilight's voice was confident and calm. "Being a guidance counselor requires a lot of love and empathy for other ponies, as well as a keen social awareness and intellect." She held up the book Starlight had brought into the room, opened to a page which showed a guidance counselor mare sitting at a desk, talking frankly with a younger pony. "Which you have in spades."

Starlight fixed Twilight with a blank, silent stare.

3: Second Interview

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"She thinks I have all that stuff we talked aboooooou-hou-hooouuuut!"

Starlight's wailing words echoed across Sunset's bedroom as the two of them sat on Sunset's bed. Starlight buried her head in her hands, sobbing, as Sunset patted her back.

"She seriously, without any second thoughts, thinks I'm cut out for this! This doesn't make any sense!" Starlight wiped her eyes, sniffling. "Is she making fun of me? Is that it? Is this all some kind of elaborate prank? Given everything I've been and done, I could almost respect that."

Sunset gave Starlight a tissue and wrapped her arm around her girlfriend's shoulder. "Come on, Starlight. You and I both know that Princess Twilight's idea of a 'prank' is to place a single book out of alphabetical order when organizing library shelves."

Starlight blew her nose, hiccupped, and nodded. "Except that usually backfires on her because leaving things that way for too long triggers her own neuroses, and she has to put it back. You're right," she said with a huge exhale. "Also, now that I think about it, she did use the Lecturing Face."

Sunset recoiled, and her eyebrows shot up. "Oh! Wow, okay, yeah, she's actually totes serious."

"But... none of that stuff is me!" Starlight said. "I can't do this job! What do I tell her? What do I say?"

Sunset sighed, sitting back on her palms. "Starlight, I want to help you, I really do. But I'm not sure I can."

"What? No, you totally can!"

"How?" Sunset asked.

"Duh!" Starlight threw up her hands. "You're this world's version of me!"

Sunset blinked. "What."

"Hear me out." Starlight took a deep breath, gestured to Sunset, and began reading off of her own mental index cards. "You know what it's like to have terrorized a whole bunch of ponies—well, people, purely out spite. You know what it's like to be really sad, really angry, for reasons that seem great to you at the time, but nobody else ever. You know what it's like for those reasons to make sense to no one but you, yet lash out anyway."

Starlight exhaled, looking at the floor. "You know what it's like to feel lost in life, and not know who you are, but still just want to do better, because someone believes in you—not to mention wanting to believe in yourself, even though you're not sure if you remember how to anymore. And you know what it's like to finally become the slightest bit sure of yourself, but only after weeks, months, of self-doubt and self-loathing." She looked over to Sunset, who was shifting back and forth, and rubbing her hands together. "Am I wrong?"

After a silence of several moments, Sunset sighed and shook her head. "No. But now I'm scared," she said in a low voice, looking at Starlight. "Because that is eerie."

Starlight nodded. "Uh huh. It freaked me out too once I looked at all the similarities." She looked into Sunset's eyes. "You've even magically mind-controlled people."

Sunset met Starlight's irises head on. The two of them stared at each other, seriously, studying one another... until, finally, Sunset fed Starlight a sly, slanted grin.

"I had a better reason," Sunset said.

Starlight burst out laughing. "Are you kidding? You were trying to take over the world! In what universe is that a good reason for anything?"

"Better than simply not being able to handle a baking session with Pinkie Pie!"

"Ohhhhhh, no you don't." Starlight shook her head. "We've been over this. You aren't able to handle baking sessions with Pinkie Pie, either."

"S-she uses whipped cream cannons!" Sunset sputtered. "Those things ruin outfits! Which, may I remind you, is something you don't have to worry about in Equestria, where clothes are optional!"

"I'm sorry, but I believe that means I win." Starlight raised her hands in the air. "Team Glimmer is triumphant! Woo-hoo! Take that, Shimmerists!" She flopped backwards onto the bed, cackling maniacally.

"Oh, please, at worst, this is a draw—" Sunset stopped. "Hang on a sec. 'Shimmerists'?"

"Oh!" Starlight propped herself up on her elbows. "Long story, I'll try to cliff. You remember that book I told you went viral across Equestria after Twilight released it? The one with all the friendship lessons in it, tales of her and her friends' adventures, all that stuff?"

Sunset nodded. "Yeah. Twilight said ponies went crazy over it." She chuckled. "Which I only partly saw coming."

"Well, that book actually goes up to, and through, your whole deal with the Sirens. Let's just say your story..." Starlight waved her wrist. "...inspired ponies."

"Oh," Sunset said. "Well, that's nice. Isn't it?"

A devilish grin crossed Starlight's face. "Oh, it always is. To a point."

Sunset's brow furrowed. "What's 'the point'? And—heaven help me—what's past it?"

"Let's just say that, as a former cult leader, I'm jealous of you." She flourished towards Sunset. "Because you, Sunset Shimmer, can officially do no wrong in the eyes of Equestrian readers, even though you and I walked very similar paths in life." She raised an eyebrow. "If you really want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes..."

Sunset's eyes widened. "I'm suddenly not sure I want to—"

"It did spark some fanzines," Starlight continued, her evil grin holding fast. She took a small magazine out of her vest pocket whose cover read Harmony Nights, and flipped through several pages. "Ah, here we go! "'Locker Room Confessions, Sunset Shimmer x Reader'..."

Sunset blanched outright. "They're writing fan fiction about me?" Sunset said, darting towards Starlight—but Starlight had already anticipated her girlfriend's reaction, and rolled out of the way.

"Oh, so you're familiar with the concept," Starlight said.

"Rarity got me into Power Ponies. But again, beside the point—"

"'Sunset pins you against the lockers, her palms slamming to either side of you, the alluring sneer on her face piercing the very depths of your heart,'" Starlight read from the parchment-bound magazine. "'She's just as dominant as you always heard she was towards helpless Canterlot High School students... as you always dreamed she would be towards you. Your legs quiver, and your body heats in waves as her angelic frame inches ever closer to you, and the leather of her coat brushes against your neck...'"

"I get the point, you can seriously stop now," Sunset said. She lunged across the bed, only for Starlight to dodge off of it. "Wait, actually, hang on," Sunset said, stopping in realization. "This stuff is released in Equestria?"

A giggling Starlight ran around, back to the other side of the bed. "Hey, turns out a lot of ponies are interested in what it's like to be a human. There's a market!" Shimmying down the ladder to the lower level of the loft, she continued to read from the floor below, in a mock-dramatic voice:

"'She stops to speak—and a soft, insecure voice unexpectedly betrays her confident position. I know you like bad girls, she says, pressing her chest to yours, and sliding her palm down your cheek. But what if I told you I wasn't like that anymore? That my past is not today? Would you... would you still like me?'"

"How are they directly quoting me from an entire universe away?" Sunset exclaimed, jumping from the top of the loft in one swift move, landing on the floor, and backing Starlight towards the couch, as the latter rushed to read as many lines as she could.

"'You nod, and Sunset instantly melts,'" Starlight said between guffaws. "'Thank you, she breathes, as she leans in for a kiss, the softest you've ever felt in your life, inconceivable from someone with a reputation for being so brusque'—gyah!"

Starlight's calves hit the couch, and she lost her balance, falling onto the cushions. The next thing she knew, the magazine was snatched from her hands, and Sunset was throwing it across the room. It impacted with a violent smack against Sunset's bedroom door before falling to the ground. Starlight barely heard it amidst her own laughing.

Sunset flopped onto the couch next to Starlight. "I take it back," she said, gasping for breath, her face buried her in hands. "I don't want to know anything, anymore, ever, and now I wish we hadn't destroyed the Memory Stone. Wow."

"Yeah, I feel your pain," Starlight said. "I thought I was safe, but Twilight put out a sequel to the book to help finance the school." She gestured to the fanzine, which lay frumpled near Sunset's door. "Most of the stories about me involve my cult leader life. Or mind control. Sometimes both."

"Sweet Celestia." Sunset shook her head as she stared at the ceiling. "Both of them."

"Page 56, last month's issue," Starlight said without missing a beat. "You want to make up with Princess Celestia, but you're scared, so Principal Celestia comes through the portal with you to back you up, but then when all three of you are alone in the same room—"

Sunset let out a cross between a whimper and a yell.

"Sorry, sorry." Starlight smiled and shrugged. "I just find it fascinating more than anything. Don't you like to know what goes on in peoples' heads? What possesses them to come up with this stuff?"

Sunset looked at Starlight and shook her head again. "Not really. I'm too busy trying to straighten out what goes on in my head."

"On that, I can totally relate. I mean, it's why I'm here." Starlight sidled next to Sunset, draping her arm over her girlfriend's shoulder, and pulling her close. "Look, sorry for destroying your innocence. But if it helps, you've gotten me to feel a little better. I came here crying, and now I'm laughing." She paused, then added, "Even if both of us are crying on the inside because self-insert romance fanfics about us are even a thing in the first place."

Sunset rolled her eyes and snickered. "Can't win 'em all, I guess."

"Yep. Hot Ex-Bad Girl Problems will always be our life." Both girls exchanged slanted smiles, relaxing against each other. "But yeah, this has been one crazy evening, which was not in my plans. I was supposed to be lying quietly in my room after a full, productive day, and then all this happens." Starlight sighed. "And it isn't even Twilight's fault. Well, not really. I mean, okay, maybe she needs to learn how to warn a girl before she pops big questions, but I know I made this bigger than it should be. Because, well..." Starlight shut her eyes. "I don't ever want to let her down. She's done so much for me."

"Neither of us want to, for the same reasons," Sunset said. "You could just respectfully decline. There's no shame in it. You've told Princess Twilight 'no' before."

"Yeah, but that was because everything in me was telling me to do it! You think that comes easy?"

"Oh, I'm deathly afraid to even think about ever doing that myself." Sunset chuckled and took a deep breath. "Wow, these parallels are getting crazy. But really, what it comes down to is: is this guidance counselor thing something you want to do, or not? Because if your heart isn't in it, then it'll show if you do attempt the position. And then it really will go badly."

"That makes sense." Starlight thought for a minute. "I... do want to help Twilight. And I also want to give back. Give back to the world that I already set some bad examples in. I just don't think I'm good enough of a pony to do that, yet. Let's just say my 'problem-solving' methods might not be the best thing for impressionable minds."

Sunset nodded. "Yeah. I've been there."

"And that's why I came to you. Because you've been through all this mess too. In a slightly different way, sure, but now you're an inspiration. A light of hope. I've saved the world, I suppose, but I'm sure not someone for others to look up to. I'm not a role model."

Starlight looked at the floor again, folding her hands.

"I'm still scared, Sunset," she whispered. "Of... of everything. Even if I am better equipped to handle life now than I was then, I'm scared of giving somepony, some filly, some colt, some young person who places their trust in me, bad advice, sending them down a bad path. Those are things I know I'm capable of doing because I've already done them. But if I ever did them again..." She shook her head. "I could never forgive myself."

Sunset held Starlight's hand. "I understand. I'm scared, too, for similar reasons. Unfortunately, it kind of never stops, and you never know just what new 'bad paths' you'll come across next. Remember, I just dealt with a girl who was so mad at my popularity at school, she tried to erase everyone's memories of me."

Starlight nodded. "Yeah. Stuff like that. You still have to introduce me to her, by the way."

"I'll set something up. But from everything I've heard about this new school, Princess Twilight's trying to stop friendship problems before they start." She looked to Starlight. "And, hey, who knows better about having problems with friendship, than someone who's had all of the problems with friendship?"

Starlight gasped as the full impact of Sunset's words hit her, but still afforded a smirk in Sunset's direction. "Well, you, but you're busy here."

Sunset smirked in kind. "Exactly."

"Still. Wow. Thanks, Sunset. I never thought about it that way. Teaching ponies how to not be me?" She giggled. "I think you're onto something here."

"There we go," Sunset said. "Glad I could help after all."

The glow and buzz of a book on the nightstand next to the couch interrupted the conversation. Sunset reached over and opened it. A new message from Princess Twilight Sparkle glowed inside it.

"Hi Sunset, is Starlight done yet? It's been a while, and I'm getting worried."

"Yeah," Starlight said. "Tell her I'm ready to come back."

"Will do." Sunset put pen to paper. After a short time, more glowing writing showed up. Sunset looked at it once the glow faded. "She wants to see both of us. Could be fun. I haven't been to Equestria in a little bit."

"Amazing how a little thing like finally making up with certain world leaders removes one's fear of casual travel," Starlight said.

Sunset bumped Starlight's shoulder. "Oh, hush." The two stood up, and Sunset gathered a few books and random knick-knacks into a saddlebag. "Starlight?" she said.

"Yes?" Starlight replied.

Sunset returned to the couch, clasped Starlight's hand with both of hers, and looked into her girlfriend's eyes.

"Now that I've got full context: that day you saved the mall, and possibly the city? You also helped me out. When I was really scared about what to do next in life while living here, with magic all around me? Even writing to Princess Twilight couldn't help—but you did."

Starlight gaped as she remembered her talk with Sunset on her first trip to the human world. There had been ice cream, there had been bonding, and there had been insight from her she hadn't believed she was capable of. But Starlight had to admit, until this moment, she'd filed it to the rear corners of her mind. "Wow. I'd totally forgotten about that."

"I'm not surprised. But I didn't. It's easy to forget whose hearts you touch. But no one whose heart you touch forgets it." Sunset picked up her saddlebag, and walked towards the door. "Let's go see what Twilight has to say, shall we?"

4: Professional References

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Sunset and Starlight walked back into the main room of the Castle of Friendship. The papers originally sitting atop the Cutie Map table were cleared now, tucked into several neat filing folders in a far corner. The stack of folders stood as high as the table itself.

Twilight Sparkle, however, was still there, sitting in her chair in waiting. The moment she noticed Sunset and Starlight, she gasped, and jumped out of her seat.

With a squeal, Twilight ran towards Sunset. Sunset did the same towards Twilight, and the two embraced. Starlight looked on, watching the two exchange high-pitched, babbling greetings and small talk.

Sunset had more than once told Starlight of the relationship she and Twilight shared, but this was the first time Starlight had gotten to see it up close. Starlight wondered if it was possible to die from cuteness overdose. If so, there were worse ways to go, she concluded.

Eventually, Sunset and Twilight calmed down, turning their attentions back to the full room proper. "Oh, yeah, hey, girlfriend," Sunset said, winking, and gesturing a hoof towards Starlight. "I brought your girlfriend."

"Thanks so much, girlfriend!" Twilight said, winking back. "How's your girlfriend doing?"

"Locked in her lab, alone, in the middle of some crazy science," Sunset said, shaking her head and rolling her eyes. "I know better these days than to interrupt her experiments unless she asks me to be around. Electrocutions have happened more than once."

"I know how that goes," Twilight said. "Well, magicutions over here. Do electrocutions hurt any less?"

"Nah, they just hurt different body parts," Sunset replied. Anyway, I'll tell her you said hi. For now, though..." The two parted and turned to Starlight, who had let her mind wander during the proceedings.

The moment she noticed them looking at her, Starlight tensed, her mind scrambling. She managed an awkward wave and went with the first pieces of words that came to mind. "Hey, there! I'm, um, sorry I've been acting weird tonight, you guys. Also, uh, sorry for using the mirror to go back and forth like it's a jog next door to borrow milk and sugar?" She put her hoof behind her head with a sheepish grin. "Though you know, it's pretty cool that we can do that. Just saying."

Twilight and Sunset stayed silent.

"R-right." Starlight cleared her throat, shifting back and forth on her hooves. "Well, I'm sure you're all totally wondering why I called this meeting. Twilight asked me a question, and I've made a decision."

Starlight took a deep breath. "Sunset clued me into something while she and I were talking. That being: guidance counselors help students with their problems. Social, life, scholastic—and those are all problems I've had in abundance ever since I turned over a new leaf and became Twilight's student.

"I was broken and needed to be fixed. Which Twilight and her girlfriends did. Which, in turn, also means that pretty much any problem someone can come to me with, I've already probably experienced an even worse version of. Which, also in turn, makes me perfect to be a guidance counselor."

Starlight looked away, kicking an imaginary rock on the floor. "Because I can guide and counsel people towards not living the life I did. Towards not making the bad choices I made. Towards... well, not being me." She looked back to Sunset and Twilight. "So, yes. I'll do it. If you still want me to."

Twilight and Sunset stayed silent for several moments... then smiled.

"Of course, we do," Twilight said, walking towards Starlight. "Though, nothing you just said was, in any way, what we were thinking when we considered you for the position."

Starlight recoiled. "It wasn't?"

Twilight shook her head.

"Then—" Starlight was going to inquire further, but Twilight's words had also jogged her memory, reminding her to finally ask a question that had been at the back of her mind all night. "Hold on a second: you've been saying 'we' this whole time. Who is this 'we'? Who else was with you on this?"

Twilight's smile widened. "Oh, you finally noticed." She used her magic to materialize a pink envelope in midair between herself and Starlight.

Starlight took the envelope with her own magic and turned it around in the air. "This envelope bears the royal seal of Canterlot!" she said.

"Sure does!" Twilight said. "Seeing how unsure you were about your qualifications tonight, I figured calling in a reminder or three might come in handy."

Starlight opened the envelope, unfolded the letter, and read what she recognized as Princess Celestia's hoofwriting.

"'Dearest Starlight Glimmer, it has taken us some time to figure out exactly how to word this, and for that we apologize. But, far more importantly, I must thank you for helping me and my sister, Princess Luna, with our friendship problem some months back. Getting us to walk a mile in our cutie marks was a stroke of genius as well as masterful magic, and in doing so, you taught us so much about each other, and brought us closer than words can ever say...'"

A quick skim of the letter revealed only more words of gratitude. Starlight got the gist, and appreciated it, but another fact came to mind more readily to her. She turned to face Twilight and Sunset.

"Would you believe I actually forgot about this too?" Starlight said. "I mean, I didn't forget forget, Daybreaker still pops into my head every now and then just to make me shiver out of my horseshoes, but... there hasn't been a lot of reason for me to think about it again."

"For you, maybe," Sunset singsonged. "But nooooooot them."

"Because for them, it was a life-changing event," Twilight said.

"And for me, it was the world's biggest dice roll which I don't like thinking about!" Starlight exclaimed. "You think I walked into Canterlot Castle knowing what to do? Or with any kind of patience? I switched their cutie marks because even after listening to their stories and offering what advice I could, nothing worked! I just wanted them to stop bickering at each other!"

Starlight sighed. "I get what the Princesses mean to say, I appreciate their gratitude, and I still accept this offer. But I don't know if I'll ever not be shaky about it, every day I'm on this job." She looked to Twilight. "So, this was all their idea, huh?"

"Oh, no," Twilight said. "They just agreed when we brought it up."

"Seriously!" On instinctual frustration, Starlight stamped a hoof. "Who is this 'we'?"

"Who do you think?" a triumphant voice crowed, echoing across the room, with laughter following afterwards.

It was a voice—and a laugh—that Starlight recognized immediately and was technically always happy to hear. Even if on some days—only some days—she could only take so much of it. Today was not one of those days, given that she hadn't at all expected this turn of events.

Her eyes and mouth instead widened in disbelief, and her ears flattened back in the same sentiment... as she watched the room rapidly fill with blue smoke.

"You have got to be kidding me," Starlight said—in the driest, flattest voice she could manage.

5: Final Offer

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The laughing, disembodied voice replied to Starlight's words.

"You think this to be a jest? You truly think such a creatively priceless idea could spring forth from the minds of mundane political bureaucracy?"

As the smoke came close to fully obscuring all three unicorns' fields of vision, it just as quickly dissipated, leaving a single new pony in the room. A blue unicorn wearing a purple cape and pointed wizard's hat stood on her hind legs atop the Cutie Map table, her forelegs raised in confidence. Fireworks went off behind her as she soaked in the attention of her new audience.

"Oh, yes! Behold as the Great and Powerful Trrrrrixieee orchestrates all of your fates! Good evening, girlfriends! And girlfriend," Trixie added, winking to Starlight.

"Trixie, get off the Cutie Map," Starlight scoffed. "We've talked about this no less than eighty times—also, wait. You're really the one who recommended me for the guidance counselor position?"

"Indeed!" Trixie said, hopping off the table. "No need to thank me, though the Great and Powerful Trixie does accept all forms of gratitude, regardless of reason. Or merit."

Trixie made her way around the Cutie Map, to Twilight's chair, and sat in it, propping her legs up on the table. "For you, Starlight Glimmer, there is so much that Trixie will do. Including taking time out of her busy schedule to break bread with Princess Twilight here," she said, gesturing a hoof to the pony she'd just mentioned.

Twilight walked over to her chair, and casually levitated Trixie out of it—then cancelled her magic with Trixie still in mid-air. A squeak, and dull thud, followed. "When drawing up the curriculum for the School of Friendship, it occurred to me that Trixie might be a good candidate to tap for drama and theater courses. Not to mention public speaking."

"Trixie figured she may as well," Trixie said, dusting herself off, then spying those exact plans in the corner of the room. With a single eyeblink, they were replaced with a simple tea set, complete with tray, kettle, and cups. "There are several social skills that Trixie possesses that many ponies simply do not." Ignoring Twilight's wide-eyed look of horror, Trixie simply pointed to the ceiling, where the plans balanced precariously on a single root of the room's tree-chandelier. "It only makes sense that Twilight would send for the best."

"Why did the rest of the world have to tell me?" Starlight said, watching Twilight visibly hiding an urge to hyperventilate as she brought the plans back down to the floor. "Why couldn't Trixie just tell me herself?"

"If it's anything like my school," Sunset said, "since Princess Twilight runs it, she has to be the one to micro-manage the big decisions."

Twilight nodded. "Exactly, Sunset. As headmare, the task of approaching candidates falls to me. Though I have to admit, I didn't think it would be this complicated a process. I mean, to all of us here, and even the Princesses, the reason for choosing you was completely obvious."

"I..." Starlight trailed off. What was she supposed to say? She'd already said all she could and accepted the position besides. Nothing anyone could say was going to change how she felt about the situation.

She blinked—and saw Trixie standing in front of her, muzzles nearly touching, when she re-opened her eyes. Starlight took a half-step back, though not out of surprise—she was simply used to Trixie doing this on a whim and had trained herself to react accordingly.

"Starlight." Trixie nudged Starlight's chin up with her hoof. "Do you remember when we met?"

Starlight tilted her head. "Well... yeah. I don't think I'd ever forget that," she said, completely meaning it.

Trixie nodded with a serene smile. "Nor ever will Trixie," she said softly.

Trixie faced the three ponies, raising her hoof in proclamation. "As Great and Powerful as she is, Trixie sometimes has had trouble... reminding herself of this immutable fact." That same hoof went to her heart. "Especially before she met her first, and best, friend."

She walked to a nearby window, clasping her cape close as she gazed at the stars outside. "As much as Trixie loves to deny it, she used to constantly look for approval in the eyes of others. Back then, it used to be not just a metric for whether she put on a good show, but... whether she was good enough as a pony."

She walked back to Starlight, placing her hoof on the other mare's shoulder.

"But you connected with me, Starlight, in a way nopony else ever has. You gave me a real second chance, when everypony else was too scared to. And you have always given Trixie the advice she has needed, the doses of truth she has needed, and the empathy and love she has needed, to make her feel that Trixie is still somepony worth being.

"Starlight," Trixie said with a bowing flourish, "your guidance has literally saved Trixie's life. Had you not taken so many chances on me, I..." Trixie sighed. "We might not be having this conversation. That is why I recommended you."

"I..." Starlight looked for words, but none came. There was only the rapid beating of her heart, the challenge to not choke on the lump rising in her throat. "Trixie, I—"

"It's true that I'm hard-pressed to think of somepony who's been through more emotional turmoil than you, in so many flavors, Starlight," Twilight said. "But, honestly, everyone in this room can speak to having similar problems."

Twilight walked to Trixie's side in front of Starlight. "Meanwhile, when the idea was brought to my attention, neither Trixie nor I could imagine anyone being a better fit, or anyone more deserving to be seen as a role model. We didn't think you were the best candidate because of the bad things you've done or been through. We thought you were the best candidate because of the goodness inside of you. It's that goodness that allowed you to push past all of those other things, to be who you are today."

"All across Equestria," Trixie said, "Trixie has seen the faces of sad foals that she can only distract with her magic shows. Foals that you can truly help, where Trixie cannot. No one wants you to be guidance counselor because of who you've been. They want you to because of who you are."

Starlight didn't bother wiping away her tears. More would have just replaced them in a matter of moments, anyway. Pesky things.

Sunset walked next to Starlight and placed her hoof around her. "Well," she said. "Now that you've heard everything... what do you say?"

Starlight thought for several seconds, then wiped her eyes and put on a smile—one large enough to radiate the pure joy and warmth in her heart. "Nope. Can't do it."

"What?" the other three said in unison.

Starlight's smile showed teeth. "Not without you girls as my counselors. I'm still a work in progress, just like you, and I'll always need ponies—" She looked at Sunset. "Or people, to be able to talk about being a work in progress with."

"Of course," Sunset said. "We're here for you. Just like we know you're here for us."

"Thanks, you guys," Starlight said, as all four unicorns shared beaming smiles. "Hmmm. So, I'm guessing this is where we do the group hug, huh?"

"Normally, yeah," Sunset said. "But, come on. We're all best girlfriends, and we haven't seen each other in weeks. There's got to be an ante we can up, somewhere."

Twilight gasped in excitement. "Want to make out on top of the Cutie Map?"

Trixie's eyes lit up. "Oooh! You've read this month's Harmony Nights, too?"

"Page 75," Twilight said. "I never miss an issue! Not gonna lie, a Cutie Map tryst never occurred to me until someone wrote about me and my girlfriend Rainbow Dash using the table to plan our next Daring Do convention trip." She blushed. "Since then, I've always wanted to try it."

"Ehhhhh, why not?" Sunset shrugged, then cast a lazy eye at Starlight. "Thanks to a certain somepony, I don't have any innocence anymore."

In sequence, Twilight, Trixie and Sunset teleported on top of the Cutie Map table, casting loving eyes towards each other... then looked at Starlight. "You in, Star?" Sunset asked.

Starlight looked at the others, weighing her options. Finally, she shrugged and chuckled. "Who am I to reject good guidance?" she said.

And those were the final words spoken before Twilight Sparkle, Trixie Lulamoon, Sunset Shimmer, and Starlight Glimmer fell atop each other, and made out on the Cutie Map together, like the best girlfriends that they were.