Role of a Lifetime

by Princess Platinum Blonde

First published

After years of waiting, Juniper's finally been offered her big break – a starring role... that Sunset's not sure she should take.

After years of waiting, Juniper's finally been offered her big break – a starring role... but Sunset's not convinced it's the same kind of film Juniper has in mind.


My submission for the Sunset Shipping Contest.
Proofread by Best Bitch :heart:
Cover art by dieart77.

Coffee and an Offer

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The fifth date. Nothing fancy, just a coffee shop. Informal, but special if you were sharing it with a special person.

Sunset wasn’t sharing it with anyone at that moment, though, because Juniper was late. And had she texted ahead to say she was running behind? Sunset took a breath and glanced at her phone again. No new messages.

Sitting on her own on a date she’d only said yes to out of obligation wasn’t Sunset’s idea of a good time. But when you offered friendship to talk someone down from a magical rampage, even one that only did a few hundred dollars’ worth of damage to the local mall, you had to make sure you were on-hand to supply that friendship as often as they needed it.

And you had to be patient and understanding when they weren’t very good at it. When they didn’t call ahead about being late, when they did call in the middle of the night, or when they accepted drinks without ever offering to buy any in return. Most awkwardly, when they got their hopes up that positive, friendly overtures, after so long alone, showed romantic interest.

It should have been Starlight, of course, but she’d had to return to Equestria, which meant Sunset taking the lead with Juniper. Stopping villains, Sunset was learning, frequently came with a cleanup operation. Maybe she ought to send flowers to Gloriosa, who had been so grown up and easy to deal with.

Cut flowers, though, when her magic had been nature-based? That sounded kind of tasteless.

So there she was, on a date with Juniper. Or on a date without Juniper, at least. Because self-esteem was a fragile thing, and when you’d all been working hard to build it up for someone, it was tough to have to crush it with rejection.

Obviously Sunset would have to break it off sooner or later. Sooner, really – that would be best for Juniper, and for herself too. It was just hard, planning how to do that in the gentlest way she could.

But the bottom line was unavoidable. She didn’t have those kinds of feelings for Juniper, and agreeing to more dates indefinitely would ultimately just be leading her on.

A ringing from the bell above the shop door made Sunset look up, and she made sure she was wearing a kind smile when she saw Juniper standing in the doorway. Sunset waved, and Juniper rushed over. She was clutching a letter in her hands in front of her, and practically hopped from foot to foot when she reached Sunset’s table.

“Sunset! Sunset, look! I got a letter from a casting director!” Juniper waved the letter in Sunset’s face. “All my work sending in audition tapes paid off; they saw how good I was, they want me in a movie! I’m gonna be famous, and…”

Never having mastered the art of concentrating on two things at once, Sunset nodded as Juniper gushed on, but focused on speed reading the letter she’d been handed. Just as she’d said, it was an offer for a role in a movie.

A starring role, in fact.

Sunset went back and read that bit more carefully. An offer of a starring role. Not an invitation to come in and audition for one in person, but an outright offer of the part. She’d seen a couple of Juniper’s audition tapes, and… maybe it was a student film project?

But the letter looked very official, with a business logo and a street address.

“That’s such great news,” she said, looking up from the letter and hoping her smile didn’t look too strained, “I’m so happy for you!”

She waved Juniper to sit, and would have asked polite questions like how she was doing, but the answer was obviously ‘too excited to think about anything else right now,’ and Sunset couldn’t blame her for that.

If the offer was genuine, of course. If it wasn’t, Juniper would be crushed.

Setting the letter down on the table between them, Sunset asked, “Have you seen much of that director’s work before?”

That was a fairly safe first step towards investigating authenticity, right?

“Not seen them, no. The internet said he’d made five or six movies already. But even if they’re terrible, other casting agents will see my talent on screen and get in touch!”

Not the worst start to be off to, Sunset had to concede. Maybe he was one of those filmmakers who went out of his way to offer a leg-up into the industry for newcomers? Or disliked working with established actors? But the whole thing still smelled distinctly off. “I wonder if I’ve heard of any,” she said, pulling out her phone and typing the director’s name listed on the letter into the search bar.

The first thing to come up was a nondescript movie title, with a cast list below it. Sunset copied the lead actress’ name into a new search. Had she come from a background like Juniper?

Up came the results, and… that couldn’t be right. Missing person reports?!

Frowning down at her phone, Sunset searched the name of the lead actress from the film before that one.

More police reports. Sunset went cold.

“What’s wrong?” Juniper asked.

“Nothing!” Sunset sought to un-widen her eyes, but they seemed stuck like that. It was important to appear unconcerned – Juniper was overjoyed, and Sunset didn’t want to do anything to upset that without being sure she was correct. “Nothing’s wrong, just, uh, checking out the budget of some of these previous movies.”

She gave that grin Twilight did when trying to be convincing. Sunset hoped she did a better job of it.

Hurriedly, she searched the lead actress for every previous movie listed. Every last one brought reports of them never being seen again. Those kinds of movies were a myth, weren’t they? But what other explanation could there be? Six actresses out of six missing, some presumed dead.

Despite her best efforts to appear calm, Sunset could feel herself starting to hyperventilate.

“Is it porn?” Juniper asked quietly. “I had a feeling it might be. I’ve heard of aspiring actresses getting offers for that sort of thing.”

In a split-second, Sunset made a decision. Juniper might still be emotionally fragile after the whole magic mirror thing, and here was a slightly less terrifying way out of her predicament, one not involving her finding out that her first attempt at chasing her dream nearly got her dismembered in a basement somewhere.

“I’m afraid it is, yeah,” Sunset said, reaching out to touch Juniper’s arm in consolation.

“You really think so?”

Sunset nodded, with a sad smile.

Juniper let out a long breath, then took a deep one in. “Thank Celestia!” Her face lit up, grinning even more than she had been when she arrived. “I had a feeling, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up!” She sighed contentedly. “Nothing guarantees fame like a sex tape. I want it more than anything, and it feels so close now.”

Surprise after surprise got the better of Sunset, and, try though she might, she couldn’t keep her lip from curling. “What would you want to be famous for, off the back of a sex tape? It’s not like people would respect your acting more after that.”

With a laugh, Juniper waved it away. “Just famous. I don’t think I really need to be famous for anything. Just a celebrity, someone important everyone pays attention to. Like those famous donkeys on Snapgab, Kendall and Kylie Jennet.” Juniper looked off into the distance, her hand resting over her heart. “I’ll get invited to all the hottest parties, and everyone will want to read my interviews in magazines to hear what I have to say about things, I’ll get all the gossip, the fashion treatments, the beauty product endorsements, and oh, it’ll be unbelievable…”

All Sunset could do was stare, mouth hanging a little way open. She hadn’t kidded herself that Juniper was the most virtuous girl on the planet, but sweet Celestia Sunset had misjudged her!

Breathlessly, Juniper looked at her across the table. “I should definitely go for it, right?” Her eyes sparkled. “I’d be mad not to!”

Still transfixed, Sunset stared for a while longer. Sabotaging the Daring Do movie, using Equestrian magic to seal away those who tried to stop her, and throwing tables at Starlight when pressed; it all fit with someone obsessed with fame for the sake of fame. And Sunset was, technically, dating that person!

“Yes,” she said at last, even now still locked into her stare. “Yes, you should absolutely go for it, this role seems perfect for someone like you. In fact,” she finally managed to tear her gaze away from nothing and focus on Juniper, “I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.”

Juniper beamed. “Thanks, Sunset, I totally agree.” She picked up the letter from the table, folded it up and clutched it to her chest. “I’m gonna go prepare!”

And, with that, Juniper darted in, gave Sunset the briefest and loosest of hugs, then turned and almost sprinted for the door.

Sunset watched her go, as if slowly waking from a dream. It felt like the cafe grew brighter as Juniper left, too – probably just a cloud passing outside, but it made Sunset think of a petri dish of smallpox after a few drops of penicillin.

Had she just broken up with Juniper? She wasn’t sure if it properly counted or not.

But it didn’t really matter, in the long run. Someone would be dumping Juniper in the next few weeks, on her behalf.

Probably into landfill.