Sunset ran away from the Sun. Now she must find solace in the Moon.
Sunset Shimmer thought she burned too bright for the likes of the Princess of the Sun. When she ran away to the Mirror World, Sunset discovered the worst parts of humanity before starting her reign of terror at CHS. After Princess Twilight and her friends take her down with the Rainbow Wave, Sunset is forced to remember those years she locked away.
Vice-Principal Luna felt lost in her sister's shadow. The weight of a family secret and high school scandal live with her after more than a decade. Though she is in a better place, she sees her past in Sunset's present.
In the wake of the Fall formal, who better to help Sunset than someone who has seen rock bottom and lived?
This is my first fanfiction and draws from many amazing fanfics, but especially Full Circle by Sotharan! This one gets a lot darker and I might change to Mature about half way through (depending on how the story plays out and the reactions it receives). It will be a long fic because I can't write anything short. Will update weekly!
“And where do you think you all are going with Ms. Shimmer?”
Sunset winced as she heard the familiar voice of the Vice-Principal.
Applejack stepped towards the older woman, positioning her body slightly in front of Sunset’s as if guarding her. But that doesn’t make any sense, Sunset thought.
“With all due respect, Miss Luna, we’re taking Sunset to Fluttershy’s place for the night.”
Luna nodded with an exacerbated sigh. “I figured as much. Please hand her ove-”
“No!” All eyes turned to the broken girl. It was the first thing she had said since Twilight left, though she looked like she hadn’t meant for it to slip out. Luna raised an eyebrow at the girl which only seemed to make her cower more. Usually Luna felt a spark of joy at the fear she instilled in her more troubled students, but seeing Sunset so broken and vulnerable didn’t sit well with the blue woman.
Perhaps that is a sign.
“What do you mean no?” Luna questioned, crossing her arms as she waited for a response. Sunset floundered, her eyes darting all over the place.
Crap! I just told the Vice-Principal no! What the buck is wrong with me? Sunset glanced at the girls in desperation. How do I explain that I would rather die than let Celestia see me this weak? It doesn’t matter that this one isn’t my Celestia, I still can’t let her see me like this!
Rarity noticed the panic in Sunset’s eyes and decided to step in.
“Vice-Principal Luna,” she started, taking a few steps to stand next to Applejack, “Princess Twilight entrusted us with Sunset’s care.” Rainbow Dash took a step next, standing on the other side of Rarity. “Yeah, she asked us to take care of Sunset and that’s what we’re gonna do!” Luna raised her eyebrows at the teenagers before her.
“While I am impressed by your loyalty, you are all just children. My sister and I will-”
“Please don’t take me away,” Sunset whimpered in the most pathetic, broken voice any of them had ever heard. Fluttershy held Sunset even tighter, rubbing her lower back as the girl began to tremble violently. Pinkie Pie grabbed the girl’s hand, giving it a squeeze to show Sunset support.
“Ms. Shimmer, I have no intention of taking you away. I simply wish to ask you some questions.” Luna frowned at the way Sunset continued to tremble despite the softness she tried to speak with.
Rarity took another step closer to the adult. “Is now really the best time to interrogate her?” The fashionista gestured dramatically towards the cowering girl behind her. “The poor thing can hardly stand on her own!” It was then that Luna noticed how heavily Sunset was leaning on Ms. Forst and Ms. Pyman. From the looks of it, she needed medical attention— and soon.
How the gods test me.
“You are quite right, Ms. Abila. However, given the nature of Ms. Shimmer’s injuries, my sister and I feel it is best that she stay with one of us for the night to receive adequate medical attention.” Luna paused and pointedly made eye contact with the battered girl. “I am assuming you are lacking the proper documentation for health insurance?”
Sunset looked away, tears filling her vision once more. “I have all my papers, but…” She hesitated, trying to gather the will power to meet the Vice-Principal’s gaze. “I didn’t think I would be around long enough for that...” Sunset once again looked away, though this time in shame. It’s not like I expected to need it. It was either go back to Equestria or let nature take its course.
Luna pinched the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes and releasing a short sigh. “That settles it then,” she said, putting her hands on her hips. “If you would please hand over Ms. Shim-”
The blue woman abruptly stopped talking when she saw Fluttershy and Pinkie drop to the ground, evidently pulled down by the girl in question.
“Sunset?” Luna called out as she rushed over to the girls, pushing past an indignant Rainbow Dash and a cautious Applejack. “Hey!” both shouted out as they nearly fell.
“No no nonono no she can’t I can’t I--” “Sunset, breathe!” Fluttershy kneeled in front of the shaking girl, trying to calm her down.
“What is the matter with her, Ms. Forst?” Luna stood behind Fluttershy, looking over her at Sunset with worry. “I think she’s having a panic attack, Ms. Luna.” Rarity and Applejack rushed forward past Vice-Principal Luna, both knowing just how horrible panic attacks could be.
“Breathe, darling. You need to focus on your breathing.” Rarity stroked her hand through Sunset’s locks, horrified when her hands came away with a few drops of blood. “She’s bleeding!”
Fluttershy moved to Sunset’s side to look for the source of blood. Applejack took Fluttershy’s spot, squatting before the girl.
“Ya gotta breathe, Sunset,” the farm girl cooed before grabbing her hand. “Focus on mah hand now, ya hear?” Applejack squeezed Sunset’s hand repeatedly, counting each squeeze. The counting and Rarity playing with Sunset’s hair helped her to calm down in a matter of minutes. By that point, Fluttershy had found the source of the bleeding— a rock had apparently cut a gash in the poor girl’s head, though the blood was clotted enough that it didn’t require a bandage at the moment.
“I’m so sorry,” Sunset mumbled once she had calmed down enough, bringing her knees up to her chest and burying her head in her arms. Great, just great. Now they’re gonna think you’re weak. Just like King S did, Sunset thought bitterly to herself while she silently sobbed. Why did you have to go and freak out like that? Luna was just offering to take care of you. But why? It’s not like I deserve it, not after what I just did. Sunset stiffened when she felt a hand rubbing her back, which just caused her to cry even harder.
Why do they care? Why are they trying to comfort me? The hand rubbed over one of her shoulder blades, causing Sunset to flinch. Great, she thought to herself. I guess I'm injured there too. Sunset grimaced at the feeling of something sticky coating her back.
“Are you hurt, Sunset?”
The girl in question winced at the soft voice of Fluttershy. How can she even ask me that? I was the worst to her! Regardless, the flame haired girl nodded ever so slightly. No! Lie! You don’t deserve any help. You should suffer for everything you’ve done.
“Where are you hurt?” This time the voice belonged to the woman who had caused the panic attack: Vice Principal Luna.
“Please don’t take me away,” Sunset said instead, cowering and even leaning into Fluttershy who in turn wrapped her arms around the girl. I don’t deserve her kindness. Tartarus, I don’t deserve to live at all.
Luna was visibly shocked at the way Sunset was responding to her. You would think I was taking her to prison instead of Celestia’s condo.
“Sunset?” Luna said softly, moving to kneel before the visibly terrified girl. She waited until Sunset made eye contact before asking, “Why don’t you wish to come with me?”
Sunset blanched at the very direct question which did not go unnoticed by the rest of the girls.
“I think she’s afraid,” Pinkie stated, speaking for the first time in an hour. All eyes turned towards the cotton candy haired girl.
“What? She had a panic attack after Ms. Luna tried to take her from us! How else would you explain that?” Pinkie Pie glanced around at the girls and the blue woman, daring them to challenge her.
“Is it true, Ms. Shimmer? Are you afraid to go with me?” Sunset’s eyes widened at the softness in Luna’s voice.
Is that- hurt? Did I hurt her feelings? Sunset tried to formulate a response but her mind was spiraling again. I can’t tell her that I’m afraid of her and her sister! They’ve been nothing but fair to me! But then again, Sunset thought as she looked around at the girls surrounding her, do I really feel safe enough with these girls? I did nothing but torment them for years, and I ruined their friendship! Sunset furrowed her brows. But then why does the thought of being away from them hurt so bad?
“I…” Sunset began, her breathing speeding up as she saw the expectant looks she was getting from everyone except for Fluttershy. “You’re ok, Sunset,” Fluttershy whispered as she brushed a piece of Sunset’s mussed hair behind her ear. “Just be honest with us.”
“Yeah,” Applejack chimed in. “Ya just gotta be honest with us, Sunset. We can’t help ya if we don’t know what ya need.” The rest of the girls nodded along with the farm girl.
Sunset felt the panic begin to rise again, but Rarity’s hand on her shoulder and Fluttershy’s arms around her helped her to calm down enough to respond.
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly, her voice barely above a whisper. “I don’t know why but,” Sunset started, tilting her head to meet the eyes of her Vice-Principal, “I just feel… safe with these girls.” Sunset dropped her head back down onto her knees as sobs wracked her frame once more. I’m so pathetic. Just like always.
Luna’s heart broke at how vulnerable and helpless the once fierce girl sounded. She looked around at her students, taking in the way they seemed to naturally protect the fallen girl. With a deep breath, the woman stood up and looked around at the girls.
“If you wish to stay with them Ms. Shimmer, I will need to ask them a few questions first.” The girls looked around at each other in confusion and some hesitancy, each wondering what Vice Principal Luna would ask of them.
“Everyone but Fluttershy, may I speak with you over there?” Luna gestured towards the crumbling entrance a few yards away. “I think it best Ms. Shimmer have someone to watch her while we discuss a few things.” With that, she turned around and started walking to the destroyed entrance of the school. Sunset couldn’t help but think that the Vice-Principal didn’t exactly trust her to be alone. Not that I blame her.
Still, she was terrified about what the older woman could possibly discuss with them. The girls all looked at each other, most unsure if they should follow the Vice Principal.
“Come on guys!” Pinkie shouted suddenly, bounding over to the older woman. Rarity and Applejack looked at each other in confusion before looking over at Rainbow Dash, who just shrugged.
“Might as well. Ah don’t see any harm in’t,” AJ said with shrug of her own. The girls followed their energetic friend to the scene of the crime, as it were.
Sunset watched them leave in fear, her anxiety growing the further away they walked.
“Breathe, Sunset,” Fluttershy whispered, holding the shivering girl close and playing with her matted hair. “You’re going to be ok.”
Sunset leaned into the touch almost against her will. What’s wrong with me? It’s like I can’t control my own body! After rethinking the last few minutes, dread started to form in the pit of Sunset’s stomach. What if the Harmony Magic did this? What if I’m under some kind of magic mind control! The fallen girl started to panic at the feeling of Fluttershy’s arms around her. What once felt comforting now felt entirely too constricting. Fluttershy let out an “Eep!” when Sunset tore herself out of her embrace, fear filling her. What if this was all an act?
Fluttershy need not have worried, as Sunset turned and promptly vomited into the nearby bushes. The timid girl quickly rushed to Sunset’s side, pulling back her hair and rubbing her back. She was completely unaware that she was rubbing directly along one of Sunset's injuries on her shoulder blades, causing the former pony to collapse in pain.
Fuck! Sunset screamed in her mind, a groan pushing past her clenched teeth.
“Sunset?’ Fluttershy cried out in alarm before kneeling beside the girl as she curled into as small a ball as possible. Tears escaped her eyes and a sob wracked her body. Fluttershy didn’t know what to do. What’s wrong? Did I hurt her? That thought nearly crushed the poor girl with guilt, which surprised her. Just a little over an hour ago, Sunset had been a literal she-demon. Why was she so concerned about her? One look at the former queen bee gave her all the answers she needed. Time to go all out.
Fluttershy shifted near Sunset’s head and pulled her into her lap. Sunset tried to resist, but she was too weak to do more than groan and whine at the pain she was feeling. Celestia damn my own body!
Fluttershy used one hand to gently stroke Sunset’s red and gold hair–carefully avoiding the shallow gash– while the other lightly traced her neck and shoulders. Almost instantly, the crying girl relaxed. It was almost like the pain was leaving her body through the points of contact Fluttershy held with her skin. Soon Sunset was able to focus on the softness of Fluttershy’s dress, the slight tingling of the girl’s fingers tracing along her skin, and the bitter smell of bile coming from where she had emptied her stomach earlier.
This feels like heaven, Sunset thought to herself with more than a little shame and guilt. I don’t deserve any of this. Tears flowed freely as Sunset silently cried. This was the first time since before she came over through the portal that she had felt this comfortable and safe. How long has it been since She held me? Since anyone held me? More quiet sobs escaped her as the pain she had closed off suddenly started crashing over her in waves. Despite her best efforts, she was forced to remember all the moments that brought her to this one.
Miss Shimmer? I'm Doctor Hooves. Please step into my office.
Sunset Shimmer, I am removing you from the position of my pupil.
Just a few pictures and the rest will be taken care of.
If you wish to have protection, you must surrender yourself to the Hive.
Anyone is welcome to sign up to be the Fall Formal Princess!
The sound of someone singing brought Sunset out of her spiraling mind and overwhelming memories.
There's music in the treetops
And there's music in the vale
And all around the music fills the sky
There's music by the river
And there's music in the grass
And the music makes your heart soar in reply
Sunset stared up at the normally shy girl, mesmerized by her clear and soft voice. I didn’t know she could sing, she thought to herself. When Fluttershy noticed that the girl in her lap had stopped crying and shaking, she abruptly stopped, letting out a small “Eep!” before tilting her head to let her hair obscure her blushing face. Sunset was confused until she looked around and realized that everyone was back and staring at the two girls in awe.
“That was beautiful, darling” Rarity whispered as she discreetly wiped away a tear.
“Yeah, Shy. I haven’t heard you sing that since we were kids.” Rainbow wiped her nose with her pink gloves, pulling a gasp of horror from Rarity. “What?” the technicolor girl asked indignantly. “I was gonna wash them tomorrow anyway!”
“Well I suppose I can forgive you this one time, but I would hope you would treat my works of art with more respect than that!” Both girls glared at each other for a second before Pinkie Pie interrupted them.
“Ohmygosh, she’s smiling!”
All eyes turned to Sunset, whose smile was turned to a grimace at the sudden attention. Huh, I didn’t even realize I was smiling.
Before anyone could say anything, Vice-Principal Luna cleared her throat.
“Ms. Shimmer,” Luna started, waiting until the girl met her eyes. “I will let you stay with these girls so long as you agree to my conditions.” Sunset’s eyes widened at her words, but she nodded eagerly. Anything to stay away from Celestia.
It took a bit of negotiation, but Sunset managed to escape the school without Principal Celestia seeing her.
I can’t believe they have to text Luna updates.
The Vice-Principal only agreed to let Sunset go to Fluttershy’s house so long as the girls all texted her nearly hourly with updates, treated her wounds to the best of their ability, fed her, and made sure she wouldn’t die. Sunset blushed at the memory of Luna’s words.
“I expect her to be alive and well tomorrow. Treat her as you would a very delicate houseplant.”
The girls looked confused, though Rainbow and Pinkie shared a small laugh together.
“I’m not a houseplant,” Sunset mumbled under her breath.
Luna had smirked then, letting her facade fall away for a moment before telling Sunset that she would be taking the girl to a family doctor the next morning to have a look at her injuries.
“If you require surgery, my sister and I will cover the expenses.”
Sunset had flat-out refused to agree to that. After exchanging some heated words, she managed to get Luna to agree to pay for medication and nothing else. With more shame than she was willing to show, Sunset informed Luna of her stache of bits hidden in an abandoned building that she had taken when she had gone back to get the crown. Everyone had taken a few moments to process her words, all while Sunset’s face was heating up with guilt.
Celestia, I don’t deserve any kindness. I can’t believe any of them want to help me.
“Did you...acquire them by legal means, dear?” Rarity had asked, voicing the thought that was undoubtedly on everyone's mind.
All Sunset could do was shake her head and look away in defiant shame, tears stinging her eyes once more.
Gah! Why can’t I stop crying! This is the most I’ve cried since I first got here. Sunset had paused to think about that more. Well, since I was under King S’s thumb.
Thankfully, Fluttershy was able to get them all on another topic by asking the Vice-Principal if they could take Sunset home, as she was getting weaker by the moment. Only then had the blue woman relented.
Now Sunset found herself seated next to the lean soccer player in the back of the minivan Fluttershy was using while her parents were away visiting her brother. Every bump caused Sunset’s injured back to rub against the seats, so she ended up leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees to keep the pain at bay. Her head throbbed where the rock cut her, and muscles she didn’t know she had ached.
“You ok Sunny?” Pinkie asked from her perch in the passenger seat. Despite Fluttershy’s warnings, the girl was leaning precariously over the back of the seat without a seatbelt, constantly watching Sunset.
“Really now Pinkie Pie, I think we are quite capable of watching Sunset,” Rarity groaned as Pinkie leaned farther over the back of her seat, invading the fashionista’s space.
Sunset blinked slowly at the pink girl. “Sunny?” The flame haired girl couldn’t help but feel thrown off by the nickname.
“Yeah! You’re our friend now so you get a nickname!” Pinkie didn’t wait for Sunset to react but she did notice the way the girl balked at the word “friend.”
“Meet Rares, Dashie, AJ, Shy, Pinkie, and Sunny!” Pinkie Pie pointed to everyone as she said their names, even herself, before gesturing wildly when she got to the damaged girl who was struggling to keep up.
“Ohhhh-kaaayyy,” Sunset said. She suddenly felt like her body was lead and was too tired and in pain to focus on the party planner’s words.
Rainbow took note and waved her hand in front of the former queen bee’s dazed face. “Earth to Sunset.” Sunset took a full five seconds to turn to the athlete and focus her eyes enough to respond.
Rainbow just shook her head and put one of her hands on Sunset’s shoulder in what she hoped was a comforting way.
“We’re almost to Fluttershy’s place. Try not to pass out before we get there.” Sunset could only nod at the blue girl’s words, the pain coming back in waves and preventing her from doing more than the barest of movements.
Less than five minutes later, the minivan parked outside of the garage of a very ordinary two-story house. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie got out first so they could help the rest of the girls get Sunset out of the van. In the end, it was decided that Applejack would carry Sunset into the house, being the tallest and strongest of the group.
“H-hey, don’t I get a say in this?” Sunset protested with a blush as Applejack picked her up in a bridal carry. Her embarrassment was almost enough for her to forget the pain searing along her back.
“Ee-nope,” the farm girl responded with a smug smile, barely breaking a sweat as she carried Sunset into the modest house.
Almost immediately upon crossing the threshold, Applejack stumbled over Angel Bunny.
“Ahhhhhh!” Sunset cried out, holding onto the tall girl for dear life and burying her face into a very muscular shoulder.
“Awww, you guys are so cute!” Pinkie Pie said once both girls were sure they wouldn't fall or be dropped, respectively.
Applejack glared at her pink friend. “Oh hush,” she retorted, though her face was nearly as red as Sunset's mane from the trip.
“That was a rather adorable shriek, Sunset my dear,” Rarity said with a smile and a slight giggle.
“Way to almost drop her, AJ." Despite her small stature, Rainbow managed to bump the farmer's shoulder enough for Sunset to feel it. Both she and AJ refused to respond, though Sunset couldn't help but smile a bit at their banter.
Is this what friendship is? They tease but there's no malice behind their words. Sunset was entirely inexperienced with this sort of conversation. Everything in the castle was a competition, and everyone in the Hive just wanted to outlive each other. Sunset didn't even want to think of her time with King S.
Fluttershy, who had gone to her room unnoticed, popped her head out of the open door down the hall. “Over here, AJ.” The tall girl nodded and started walking towards Fluttershy.
“Pinkie and I are gonna set up the living room while you guys get her set up,” Rainbow called after the farmer.
“Sounds good tuh me,” she responded before following Fluttershy through the door and into her room.
“Oooooh, sleepover time!!”
Rainbow and Rarity both laughed at the pink blur that shot past them.
Rainbow was the firs to recover. “You gonna help?” She asked, nodding her head and pointing a thumb towards the direction Pinkie had taken off in.
Rarity shook her head. “No, I do believe my help is needed in the bedroom.” Almost immediately, a harsh yell could be heard coming from Sunset, followed immediately by a slew of curses from AJ. Both girls looked at each other in fear and concern.
“You go see what’s wrong. I’ll help Pinkie set things up.”
Rarity nodded and rushed over to the host’s bedroom.
“Is everything ok in here?”
“You tell me,” AJ grumbled as she held a rag to her nose, blood drops staining her dress. The fashionista let out the loudest gasp of horror that any of the girls had ever heard before rushing over to the farm girl.
“Give me!” Rarity yelled, making grabby hands at Applejack’s dress. “Before the blood sets!”
“Uh, Rarity?” Applejack mumbled, “Ah think we’ve got bigger fish tuh fry.” She gestured at her assailant with suspicious eyes, though deep in her heart she knew Sunset didn’t mean to wallop her.
Said girl winced at the sudden attention being paid to her. The first thing Rarity noticed was the way Sunset was holding her right wrist with her other hand as if it was an uncontrollable animal. The next thing she noticed was the now familiar panic beginning to rise. Fluttershy was standing between Sunset and the other girls, looking torn.
“Are you ok, Applejack?’ she asked, her eyes shifting between her and the terrified girl on the bed.
Who do I help? Sunset was wrong to hit her, but Applejack did try to pull off her jacket without consent. Fluttershy observed the way the girl refused to let her back touch anything. I wonder if she’s hurt more than she’s letting on. Fluttershy’s suspicion grew when she remembered how Sunset never actually answered when she and Luna asked about any further injuries.
“Ah’m fine, Shy. Ah don’t think she busted mah nose, just bruised it a bit is all.” Applejack pulled the rag away, smiling when no more blood gushed from her nostrils.
“Good, now will you puh-lease give me your dress so I can get that dreadful stain out?” Rarity was practically begging on her knees, her voice nearing hysterics.
“Hold yer horses, girl! Ah need tuh get mah clothes from Shy’s van first.”
Rarity grumbled something about modesty before straightening up.
“Fine,” she huffed,” But I am going with you!” With little more than an eye roll, Applejack left the room with Rarity in tow.
Fluttershy followed the girls and gently closed the door behind them, leaving it only slightly ajar. When she turned back around to face Sunset, the sight she found nearly shattered her heart.
Sunset sat on Fluttershy’s bed with her knees pulled up to her chest and her arms folded at the top to cradle her head. She was rocking back and forth, mumbling to herself softly and crying.
“Oh, Sunset,” Fluttershy whispered before slowly approaching the girls like she would an injured animal. Sunset didn't react at all, lost in her own mind.
I’m a monster. I deserve to rot in Tartarus. Now they’re never going to give me a chance. Why did you have to be so stupid! She was just trying to help! And I bucking decked her! No wonder she left, she probably couldn’t stand to be in the same room as me.
Sunset was lost to her rambling thoughts, completely unaware that she wasn’t alone until Fluttershy sat on the bed next to her. She let out a startled cry at the sudden appearance of the timid girl, pitching herself backwards and off of the bed.
“Sunset!” Fluttershy exclaimed, nearly tripping over herself in an attempt to get to the girl as fast as possible. She didn't even notice the red stains that were left on the spot Sunset threw herself from.
Sunset groaned in pain, her entire body tensing and curling in on itself. Tears forced their way out of her tightly shut eyes, adding to the general look of pain and misery.
“Sunset,” Fluttershy whispered as she kneeled as close to the trembling girl as possible without touching her. “Can I t-touch you?” The shy girl blushed at her words. Sunset only gave a small nod, curling onto her side and into the fetal position, her back facing away from Fluttershy.
“Thank you, Sunset,” she said softly, “I promise not to hurt you, but please tell me if I do.”
Sunset gave another nod, her body aching and throbbing in pain. I didn’t realize how much I hurt, she thought to herself. It's like my entire body is one huge bruise. Sunset shifted when she felt Fluttershy's fingers tracing over her arm and shoulder, sighing in relief when the pain started to abate. Neither noticed the pony ears glowing faintly before disappearing when a firm knock came from the other side of the door.
“Y’all ok?” Applejack called, opening the door enough to pop her head in a bit. “Uhhh, where’d y’all go?”
Fluttershy lifted her head up above the bed enough for the farm girl to see her. “Over here,” she called out with a slight wave.
Rarity pushed past Applejack to survey the room. “Are you two alright, darling?”
“And why’re y’all on the floor?”
Both girls froze at the pitiful whimper that came from somewhere near the bed.
Applejack looked at Fluttershy, concern in her eyes. “Was that Sunset?” Her heart broke at the small nod the pink-haired girl gave. Rarity left without a word, tears filling her eyes when she heard another sob before she managed to close the door. She needed a minute to collect herself.
“It hurts…” Sunset whined, her eyes screwed shut yet still allowing tears to flow out of them. This hurts worse than...Sunset had to pause in her comparison, having to muster up enough energy to think about the traumas of her past. Well, that hurt a lot too. Just in a different way.
Fluttershy noticed Sunset start to become agitated again, so she began to stroke Sunset’s hair a bit to calm her down. When her breathing evened out enough, Fluttershy looked up at Applejack with tears streaming down her face and a determined look in her eyes.
“We need to treat her wounds before she can sleep.”
Applejack merely nodded in response.
“Sunset?’ Fluttershy said softly, stopping her comforting ministrations. It took a few times, but eventually Sunset woke up with a groan.
Applejack knelt down next to Fluttershy. “Sunset, we gotta clean yer wounds 'fore they get infected,” she said firmly.
Sunset just groaned again. I don’t wanna move. Everything hurts when Fluttershy isn’t touching me.
“Here darling, I have a feeling you desperately need these.”
Sunset opened her eyes in surprise. When did Rarity get here? She looked at the girl who was standing above her, blushing when she noticed how the girl was bending over with her hand outstretched. Sunset ignored her blush and looked at what Rarity was holding.
“What’s that?” She asked, immediately suspicious of the white objects.
“It’s acetaminophen, of course,” Rarity responded with uncertainty and confusion. Her brows furrowed further at the lack of comprehension adorning Sunset’s face.
“Have you… never taken medication before?”
Sunset’s face lit up at the question. “That’s medication? What does it do?” For the first time that night, color seemed to return to Sunset’s face. Her excitement was contagious, bringing smiles to the other girls in the room.
She looks like Sweetie Belle when I first showed her my sewing machine.
“Why, it helps with the pain!” Rarity said as she knelt down besides Applejack. “I can't promise it will take away all of your pain, but it will certainly lessen it.”
“Really?” Sunset asked excitedly, trying to lift herself up off of Fluttershy’s lap only to wince and gasp in pain.
“Eeyup, you best take that sooner rather than later, sugarcube.” AJ helped Fluttershy maneuver Sunset into a sitting position so she could take the medication Rarity had so generously brought.
Fluttershy nodded as she handed Sunset a bottle of water she fetched from under her bed. “Especially if we want to get those wounds of yours cleaned.”
Ugh, Sunset thought as she popped the pills into her mouth. I just want to sleep. Sunset took the bottle of water and downed half of it with the pills, thankful for the cool liquid.
A sudden knock brought all eyes towards the door. Rainbow’s eyes widened at the unexpected scene she found.
“Uhh, why are you guys all on the floor?”
“Ooooh, is it a floor party?!” Pinkie Pie asked, popping her head inside of the room behind Rainbow. The chromatic girl rolled her eyes and stepped further into the room.
“Pinkie and I just wanted to let you guys know the pizza’s here.” Rainbow crossed her arms and leaned against the door frame. “Do you want us to bring it here?”
Pinkie bounded over to the group of girls sitting on the floor.
“Should we eat before or after you girls stop the bleeding?” Pinkie took note of the red blood stains that were on the bed and the floor, her hair deflating a bit.
“Bleeding?” Rarity asked, her expression turning to one of horror.
“Yeah! There's blood all over the place! I was wondering why you guys were taking so long to check it out.”
At that, all the girls turned to Sunset, who now looked ashamed and afraid.
“Uhhhh,” Sunset said, holding the bottle of water in a death grip.
“Sunset,” Fluttershy started, her voice firm. “Are you bleeding from somewhere we don't know about?”
The flame haired girl shrunk into herself, wincing at the way her clothes were sticking and pulling at her suspected wounds. I knew I was hurt, but even I don't know how bad it is. Sunset had her suspicions, and could definitely feel blood soaking her shirt and even clinging to her leather jacket. It's why she hit Applejack when she tried to take off said jacket.
“I uh..” Sunset sputtered, her eyes darting around and her breathing speeding up.
“Not again,” Applejack said under her breath, but without any real malice.
Fluttershy, Rarity, and Applejack took up what they all realized would be a regular position in the coming weeks. Fluttershy sat closest to Sunset, her arms wrapped loosely around the girl and her hand tracing over the girl’s shoulders. Rarity sat up on the bed so she could have better access to Sunset’s hair, though she was sure to avoid the sport where she found blood earlier. AJ, with only a little hesitation, knelt in front of the spiraling girl. Using the gentleness she learned from Fluttershy, the farm girl cradled Sunset’s face and tried her best to meet the flickering eyes.
“Sunset, ah need ya to breathe a mite, ya hear? Just breathe.” AJ stroked Sunset’s grimey cheeks, wiping away the tear tracks from earlier with the help of fresh tears.
“We ain’t gon’ hurt ya, ok? Yer in good hands now.”
Fluttershy squeezed the tiniest bit to show Sunset that they were all there for her.
“Just relax, darling. Think about how good it feels to have your gorgeous locks played with,” Rarity chimed in, blushing a bit at her own words. Really, the girl was stunning. And her hair was nothing short of radiant. Already, Rarity was envisioning the types of outfits that would enhance the girl’s already striking qualities. Now is not the time, Rarity, she scolded herself. Perhaps at a later date.
Everyone in the room was relieved to see Sunset start to calm down. Rainbow and Pinkie shared a look before quietly leaving the room.
“You get the ice cream, I got the pizza,” Rainbow whispered, ready and willing to help in any way she could. Even if that was just helping with food. Everyone knew that Rainbow wasn’t the best with emotions, but she promised herself to try for Sunset. What she had just seen was more than enough proof that Sunset needed help, and lots of it.
“Okey-dokey-lokey!” Pinkie whisper-yelled back, bounding over to the freezer to grab a tub of Unicorn Sherbet, snickering to herself at the irony.
By the time the girls returned to the room with the food and plates, Sunset had calmed down enough to breathe regularly, but she was now crying into Fluttershy’s shoulders.
Pinkie decided to take matters into her own hands and snuck around the girls like a ninja, popping out of unexpected places until she popped up right next to Sunset.
“Good heavens, Pinkie!” Rarity cried out, pulling her legs onto the bed. “Must you always sneak up on us?”
“Duh, that’s what makes surprises so great!”
Pinkie reached into her cotton-candy hair and pulled out the tub of sherbet, handing it to the still crying but now curious girl beside her.
“Do you like sherbet?” Pinkie whisper-yelled. Sunset nodded her head with a small smile. Not my first choice, but definitely not my last either.
“Good, now eat it!” The party planner pulled a spoon out of her hair and handing both to the now visibly amused girl.
“Uh, thanks Pinkie.” Sunset managed a soft smile and an even softer giggle at the theatrics of the very pink girl. A flicker of pony ears appeared on Pinkie’s head, but everyone was too absorbed with the feeling of joy that came from seeing the broken and battered girl smile and laugh, despite how small both were.
“Go ahead and eat a few bites, darling,” Rarity cooed softly from her perch on the bed. “You’ll need a bit of sugar before we get to those wounds you haven’t told us about.”
Sunset shrunk into herself a bit at Rarity’s words, feeling guilty for not telling any of them. But why would I? We’re not friends, not really. And what if they’re only doing this because Princess Twilight told them to? Suddenly she didn’t have much of an appetite. Fluttershy noticed the girl’s shift in mood and glared a tiny bit at Rarity, which looked more like a look of annoyance than anything. Still, it had the desired effect as Rarity offered a sheepish look in return. The shy girl turned her attention back towards Sunset.
“Please tell us where you’re hurt, Sunset. We only want to help you.”.
“Yeah!” Rainbow piped in from her seat at the foot of the bed. “And I for one don’t wanna know what Vice-Principal Luna will do to us if we don’t take care of you.” A shudder ran through her and Pinkie, both remembering the last time the Vice-Principal had caught them setting up a prank in Principal Celestia’s office.
Sunset didn’t feel any better at their words. Deep down, she was terrified that she was some sort of pet project. I don’t want to feel like that again, she thought to herself. Celestia was motherly sometimes, but I still wonder if I was some sort of charity case.
“Come on, Sunset. We need tuh get ya out of them clothes and into some nice ‘n comfy ones.” Applejack looked around the room and noticed that Sunset and Fluttershy were the last ones left to change. “Shy, you go get changed. We’ve got ‘er.” Sunset and Fluttershy both looked down at Fluttershy’s outfit, neither having realized that she was still dressed for the dance.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Fluttershy!” Sunset scooted away from the girl, ignoring the pain she felt everywhere at the movement. “I didn’t mean to keep you from changing…” she whispered, feeling guilty again. I don’t think I’ll even be able to make it up to these girls, and especially not Fluttershy. Sunset didn’t notice the other girls sharing a look of sadness. I can’t even bear to think about everything I did to her.
The girl flinched when she felt a hand on her shoulder, moving away from the gentle touch she was craving. Had she been looking up instead of at her lap, she would have felt even more guilty at the hurt in Fluttershy’s eyes.
“Sunset, you didn’t keep me from anything. I want to help you.”
Sunset continued to look down, tears running off of her nose and onto her scraped up hands. She heard a sigh and then some rustling. They’re probably leaving. Sunset’s eyes welled up with even more tears. I always push people away.
The tearful girl was not prepared for a yellow hand to pull her face up rather forcefully. What she found terrified her.
Fluttershy was kneeling in front of her, though she was positioned in a way that she was towering over the trembling girl. Her eyes were firm but not unkind, though her mouth was set in a hard line.
“Now you listen here, Sunset Shimmer.”
Sunset straightened up her back at that, her training commanding her to despite the pain it brought.
“We all want to help you. But we can’t help you unless you let us. So you are going to accept our help tonight, and you will not say any more sorries until tomorrow. Am I clear?”
The room was silent, everyone collectively holding their breath.
"Sister, I fear we have a daunting task ahead of us."
"I figured as much," Celestia sighed, rubbing her temples. "I'm assuming she wanted to be left with the girls?" She leaned back into her chair, eager to hear about their wayward student while also dreading the headache this whole ordeal would bring come morning.
Luna nodded, taking a seat across from her sister. Though the desk separated them, she no longer felt the gulf present in their youth. "She had a panic attack when I suggested otherwise." She crossed her arms over her chest as she leaned back into the chair. Ahh, it feels good to finally sit down.
In an instance, Celestia was on her feet and ready to fight an invisible enemy. Luna stood just as quickly and roughly pushed her sister back into her seat. "Calm yourself, Tia."
Celestia huffed in annoyance and indignation, crossing her arms and slouching down in her chair.
"No need to get physical, Lulu," she grumbled, blowing a wayward stand of hair out of her face. Luna smirked at her sister, letting herself feel the small amount of satisfaction before focusing on the topic at hand.
“She specifically did not want to come with us,” she stressed, resting her hands on the desk. The blue woman studied her sister, waiting for the spark or recognition she knew needed to happen.
"Is she… afraid of us?"
There it is.
“I fear the answer is yes, dear sister.” Luna plopped back down into her chair, her arms crossed again. She’s not going to like what I have to say, she thought as she prepared to give Celestia her feelings on the matter. Though their relationship was improving as the years went by, she still felt anxious at the prospect of confronting Tia with sensitive and difficult information. But she needs to know what we're getting ourselves into.
“In my years as a guidance counselor, and from my experience during my lost years,” Celestia flinched, “I have learned that children respond in fear to authority when they need something such as validation or support, or have been abused.” Luna paused for affect, hoping the Principal would connect the dots. Silence filled the space between them, adding to the tension.
Luna sighed, disappointed that she would need to spell it out for her sister.
“I believe Ms. Shimmer has suffered abuse, and perhaps did not have the support system she needed to cope with her trauma."
Celestia blinked at her sister, her eyes misty. “If she is so afraid, why did she do her best to wrap us around her finger?” The Principal knew she was playing devil’s advocate, but she had to put her mind at ease. Sunset has manipulated us for years. We could never pin anything on her, and yet Lulu believes she is a victim? She had a hard time wrapping her mind around the idea, especially the implications it brought to their inaction since Sunset enrolled. We don't even know when she came over. If what Luna says is true, how much did she endure before she came to us? Her brows furrowed further. Did the abuse ever stop?
Luna was prepared to assuage her fears. “It was a way to protect herself. She needed our approval, while she needed fear from her peers to maintain the image she carefully cultivated.” Not to mention all the violent students she helped me with. The Vice-Principal knew unhealthy relationships with authority when she saw it, and Sunset was on her radar from the moment she won the Spring Fling competition a year and a half ago.
Celestia nodded, her resolve crumbling a bit. “So what should we do?” She knew it was a loaded question. As administrators, they were in charge of keeping the school running. Sometimes children were the collateral of the red tape they had to maneuver around. It was why they didn't try to dig into Sunset's past too much.
“First and foremost, we must take the girl to Dr. Hu.” Luna slipped her phone from her pocket and pulled up a list she intended to send to her sister. “I suspect Sunset is more injured than she is letting on.”
“What makes you say that?” Celestia asked, her curiosity and motherly instincts kicking in.
“I noticed blood on the bottom of her blouse, and she flinched rather violently when Fluttershy rubbed along her shoulder blades.” The blue woman had her suspicions about Sunset’s injuries, but the little fact about its origins still boggled her mind. Luna chuckled.
Celestia was flabbergasted at the sudden sound. “What are you laughing at, Lulu?” This doesn’t seem like the time for mirth.
Luna shook her head before looking her sister dead in the eyes.
“We are harboring a magical fugitive from an alternate pony world who sought to use an ancient artifact to attack her home world with a bunch of teenagers.”
The two sisters stared at each other without blinking, each taking in what Luna had said.
Suddenly they broke down in a fit of giggles.
“Oh goodness, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would assume you were talking about some science fiction show,” Celestia laughed out, wiping a few stray tears from her eyes.
“Indeed,” Luna chuckled, glad for the broken tension. There is still much to do, but for now we can enjoy this flicker of light in the darkest of nights.
“I think I'm gonna puke,” Rainbow Dash muttered through clenched teeth as she and Fluttershy took in the sight before them. Both girls, having experience with moderate injuries, were completely unprepared for the extent of Sunset's wounds.
Before them sat the former queen bee on the edge of the empty tub, back facing them and her jacket hung over the ledge next to her. Her magenta shirt was stained red with blood that had been slowly but steadily soaking into it since they hit her with the Rainbow Wave. Sunset sat still, her hands gripping the tub with all her might.
Celestia, I didn’t realize how much my back hurt. Getting just her tattered jacket off had been painful, though Sunset had to wonder why. Maybe this is my punishment, she thought bitterly to herself.
“Sunset, why didn’t you tell us?” Fluttershy’s broken voice tore at Sunset’s heart, bringing her gaze to the girl back and to the left of her. Fluttershy looked horrified and absolutely heartbroken, tears streaking her cheeks. Sunset hung her head in shame.
“I… I didn’t think it was this bad,” she whispered, tears welling in her eyes once more.
“Dude, you gotta tell us when you’re hurt,” Rainbow scolded, taking a seat next to Sunset. “What if you bled out? We wouldn’t have known until it was too late!” The chromatic girl crossed her arms, staring at Sunset much like she would Scootaloo when the girl would try to practice a stunt on her scooter without her helmet.
“I’m sorry,” Sunset muttered despite her earlier warning, feeling a strange mix of guilt, annoyance, pain, and shame. Maybe it would be better if I bled out. The flame haired girl couldn’t help but think of the last time she had bled this much. This world would have been much better off if the Hive hadn’t saved me.
“Please don't apologize, Sunset.” Fluttershy sat on the other side of Sunset, gently picking up the soiled jacket and folding it on her lap, careful to keep any blood off of her. “I thought I told you that earlier,” she tried to joke, her hand reaching out and gently cupping the injured girl’s face. Sunset couldn’t help but lean into the soft touch.
By the Gods, why does it feel so nice to have her touch me? Sunset knew the answer, of course. I’m so pathetic…
“The next part will hurt, so we’ll go slow with it.”
Sunset nodded at Fluttershy’s words, her hands clenching even harder at the ledge. Fluttershy stood up and motioned for Rainbow to follow her lead.
“Ok, Sunny,” Rainbow started as she stood back up. “The blood is probably pretty sticky by now, so put this in your mouth.”
Sunset stared at the leather bracelet that was suddenly in her field of vision.
“Ummmm.” The former pony couldn’t help but feel like she was going to throw up. “There is no way I’m putting that in my mouth.”
Rainbow looked between the bracelet and the girl before her. “Uh, why?”
“She’s a vegetarian,” Fluttershy whispered in her ear, pausing from gathering supplies to inform her oblivious friend.
“Ohhhhhh,” Rainbow said, pulling back the bracelet and rubbing the back of her head awkwardly. “Sorry,”she offered sheepishly, though she was surprised that Fluttershy knew. Maybe all vegetarians know each other?
“It’s ok, it’s not something I advertise very much.” Sunset looked curiously at Fluttershy who had gone back to getting supplies. How did she know? I mean, I knew that she was a vegetarian but that’s only because I needed to get as much dirt on everyone as possible.
Sunset cringed at that and sighed quietly. Celestia, I have so much to do.
“How about this?”
Sunset looked back up at Rainbow. The chromatic girl was holding out a tongue depressor with a look of excitement and hope.
“I think I can work with that.”
Sunset took the wooden stick and placed it between her teeth. She clenched her teeth a little to test the give before looking up at Rainbow and giving her a thumbs up.
“Alright Shy, she's ready.” Fluttershy nodded from the sink and came over.
Sunset bit through the first tongue depressor after less than a minute. By the end of the ordeal, she had gone through 5 tongue depressors before Fluttershy suggested they roll up a hand towl for her to bite on instead. Both Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash had resorted to cotton balls stuffed in their ears to get through the groans and muffled screams each tug of her shirt brought.
The pony-turned-human had never experienced this level of pain before. Even King S was never this sadistic, Sunset thought to herself bitterly. She was used to temporary pain, be it frequent, but this prolonged suffering was another matter altogether.
Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash looked at each other once her clothes were completely removed, save for her underwear, haunted and disturbed at both the traumatic experience they had all gone through, and the source of the bleeding.
Two long and slender cuts ran down both of Sunset's shoulder blades, each almost an inch wide and very shallow. At the base of the girl's spine was a perfectly formed circle of peeled flesh that looked to be about the size of a palm. It took everything in Fluttershy's power to keep herself from fainting. More than a few times the timid girl found herself reaching for the smelling salts she kept on hand for herself and Rarity.
The wounds were still oozing blood, though not heavily and not profusely. The two friends decided to give Sunset some time to recover from the pain, and time for them to pull themselves together.
“Sunset?” Fluttershy called out, careful to keep herself from reaching out to the girl.
“Yeah?” Sunset responded weakly without looking, her arms shaking beside her.
“We're going to step outside for a bit before we clean the wounds, is that ok?”
Sunset nodded before curling into herself, her arms wrapping around her stomach. I don't want to be alone, she thought frantically. Rainbow noticed how the girl turned into a remarkable imitation of an armadillo.
“Don't worry, dude,” Rainbow tried to reassure, “we'll be right outside and the door's gonna be open and everything. If you need anything, just call for us.” The chromatic girl tried to give a confident smile, but the effort was lost on Sunset who still had yet to look at them. Instead, she simply nodded and crossed her arms over her chest.
With a concerned look and a shrug, both girls retreated back into Fluttershy's room. The rest of the group sat on the bed in various states of emotional agony. Pinkie sat at the headboard, her hair completely flat and the color leached from her skin. Rarity and Applejack sat next to each other at the foot of the bed, leaning heavily against one another. All eyes turned to Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, both hopeful and relieved.
“Is it o’er?” Applejack pleaded, her heart torn to bits at the suffering they heard coming from the bathroom. Despite all the harm the girl did at the school, no one deserved to go through that sort of pain. Not even Sunset Shimmer. Though none of the girls wanted to admit it, they all knew what had caused the poor girl’s injuries and it brought guilt and sadness to them all.
Both girls shook their heads.
“We got her clothes off but I need a breather.” Rainbow collapsed face first across the bed, separating Pinkie Pie from Rarity and Applejack. Fluttershy sat near Pinkie and wrapped her in a tight hug.
“It was so awful,” Fluttershy whispered before the tears and sobs came. Despite knowing that they needed to get Sunset undressed so they could stop the bleeding and clean the wounds, it still hurt to cause the former queen bee so much pain. I can’t get her screams out of my head, Fluttershy thought with a whimper.
Pinkie stroked her friend’s hair. “Shhh, Shy. It’s ok. Your auntie Pinkie’s got you.” Her hair deflated even more when Fluttershy didn’t react to the inside joke the two shared.
Applejack shook her head and stood up, taking Rarity with her. “Y’all stay here whilst me n’ Rarity clean the girl up.” Applejack looked at Rarity, ready to convince the fashionista to get her hands dirty. Her gaze turned to surprise when Rarity nodded without hesitation.
“Please find the dear some clothes to wear while we get her cleaned up some,” Rarity requested, tugging Applejack into the adjoining bathroom without another word.
Sunset, who had been lost in her mind since the other two left, was wholly unprepared for anyone else to enter the room. As such, she had pitched backwards and landed on the floor with a sickening thwack.
“Sunset!” Applejack shouted as she moved quickly to the girl, blushing when she realized the girl was nearly naked.
“Uhnnn,” Sunset groaned, the pain in her back turning from soreness back into a sting. "I really gotta stop doing that," she muttered to herself.
Rarity, who was much more accustomed to nudity than her companion, rushed to kneel next to Sunset.
"Give me your hand, darling," the fashionista said softly, her eyes cataloging the scars and features of the fallen girl's body against her will. She was strikingly beautiful, if one could ignore the multiple scars and bruises that littered her entire body. Rarity could tell that the scars were too old to have been caused by their magic.
What has life done to you, my sweet girl?
After a few minutes of struggle, Rarity managed to get Sunset into a sitting position. By that time, AJ was finally functional again and quickly moved to wipe up the blood stains on the floor.
"We're gonna have tuh bathe her," AJ whispered to Rarity after discarding the bloody towel. “There’s too much blood.”
Rarity nodded. "I agree." She stood up and walked right out the door. "I'll be right back!"
Applejack took the fashionista's spot and gently held onto Sunset's shoulders so she wouldn't fall backwards again.
Everything hurts, Sunset thought with a groan. This is worse than that time King S found out I was hiding books in my pillow case. Sunset found herself remembering that night and the many others that often plagued her in her sleep.
Meanwhile, AJ tried to keep her eyes from drifting too far down, as she didn't want to invade Sunset's privacy. She couldn't help but notice the scars on her neck and shoulder, though.
God goddess, what happened tuh you?
"Sunset?" Applejack called our softly. After a few seconds, Sunset managed to focus her eyes Applejack.
"Rarity n’ me are gonna help ya shower so ya don't end up hurtin' yerself."
Sunset nodded in reply, her eyes becoming distant again.
I just want to sleep, she thought. I want to stop hurting. A deep part of Sunset snorted at that thought. I’m always hurting...
"Are you ready, darling?" Rarity asked as she walked back through the door dressed in a sports bra and boy shorts, her hair tied in a ponytail.
Applejack turned but only blinked in response. "Huh."
"What?" Rarity said, looking down at herself and feeling self-conscious at the unusual response.
"Ah guess I never took ya fer a boy shorts kinda gal," Applejack responded quietly, turning back towards Sunset to conceal her burning cheeks.
"Why of course!"
Not bothering to respond, AJ reached for Sunset's face.
"We gotta wash ya now, if'n yer up for it."
Sunset nodded, her whole body aching.
Might as well get this torture over with, she silently grumbled. Every second she had to remain upright was a second closer she felt to passing out. I'd rather pass out in a bed than while two girls try to bathe me. Though part of her had to admit how amusing that would be.
With Applejack’s help, Sunset managed to stand up without passing out or throwing up. Score one for ponygirl! If she had the strength, Sunset would have tried to fist pump.
Rarity noticed that Sunset was still not completely naked yet. “Darling, would you prefer to leave your underwear on?” Her hand reached out to gently touch Sunset’s shoulder but despite the softness of the gesture, the damaged girl flinched away.
AJ and Rarity took turns holding Sunset steady while she slipped the last piece of clothing off.
With a grunt, Sunset turned to her helpers with expectation. Wasting no time, Rarity turned on the shower to the most gentle setting, which was nearly a mist given that Fluttershy used her shower to clean all sorts of animals. She made sure to invest in a shower head that could soothe even the most skittish of critters, a choice that would make this entire process much easier.
After some adjustments, Rarity nodded in satisfaction. “Right then, the shower is ready for you.”
Sunset blinked in response before stepping closer to the tub.
“One foot at’a time, sugarcube,” Applejack instructed, one hand on Sunset’s hip and the other between her shoulder blades to ensure her stability. Rarity got in with Sunset, shuddering at the feeling of the water soaking through her clothes. She was happy her past self had the forethought to pack old clothes for their sleep over. Heaven knows she wouldn't let any of her new creations be subjected to this kind of treatment.
“I will keep you steady while you wash,” Rarity explained from behind Sunset, her hands holding the girl’s hips. “Do you think you can wash your front?”
Sunset nodded, reaching for the body wash on the shower caddies. Though it took some time, Sunset managed to clean from her neck down to her knees. It feels good to be clean.
Rarity kept note of her progress, nodding when Sunset washed away the suds. She tried hard to not think about the red stains on her own clothing, nor the steady stream of red flowing down the drain.
“Applejack, darling,” Rarity called out, “Are you ready to hold Sunset while I clean her back?”
“Eeyup,” Applejack said, pushing aside the shower curtain to step in. Sunset barely registered her change of clothes before the farmer was twirling her to face away from the shower head.
Sunset hissed as the water touched her back.
“I do apologize dear, but this part will sting a bit.” Rarity rubbed Sunset’s arm in comfort as she grabbed the shower head off the holder. With a squeeze of Sunset’s hand, Rarity aimed the shower head at the girl’s shoulder blades.
“Nhhh,” Sunset whined, plopping her head down on Applejack’s firm shoulder. This sucks, she thought, closing her eyes at the sensation of the warm water cascading down her torn flesh. Despite the pain, it still felt nice under the warm water, especially when Rarity rinsed out her hair a bit. Hmm, the water at the factory definitely doesn't get this hot. It felt nice to be completely warm for the first time in years, and eventually Sunset began to relax.
After what seemed like seconds, the shower turned off.
“Huh?” Sunset muttered, lifting her head up to look at the other girls. “Wha’ happen’d to tha-water?”
Rarity giggled at the downright childish pout adorning Sunset’s face. She certainly could give Sweetie Belle a run for her money.
“I’m afraid shower time is over, sweetie,” Rarity cooed. She stepped out of the shower first, getting a few towels ready for herself and the other girls. Thankfully Fluttershy kept dark towels on hand in case of an emergency, otherwise the fashionista would have a conniption about ruining the fabric with blood stains.
Applejack nudged Sunset towards the edge of the tub. “Out yah go.”
Sunset was nearly asleep by this point but still managed to step out of the tub while only stumbling twice. Rarity tried wrapping the girl in a towel but was rebuffed.
“I can do’t,” she slurred, taking the towel from Rarity and trying her best to dry herself off.
Applejack and Rarity shared amused smiles at the way Sunset stuck her tongue out in concentration. How could someone so evil be this innocent and adorable? Rarity couldn’t help but wonder what had driven the girl to such drastic measures.
“Now you sit right down on the toilet whilst me’n Rares disinfect yer back,” AJ directed once everyone was dried off enough. Rarity wrapped Sunset's hair in a smaller towel before throwing another towel onto the toilet to give the girl some cushion. Sunset straddled the toilet, grateful for the comfort and rest.
Rarity brought over the supplies Fluttershy left on the counter over to the toilet. With a nod, Applejack took the disinfectant spray and prepared herself for the impending ordeal.
“Ya ready, Shimmer?”
“Go fer it,” the girl responded resolutely, her hands braced against the toilet lid.
“I was so wrong,” Sunset groaned. This is so, so much worse.
“Did you say something, dear?” Rarity asked, popping up to look over Sunset’s shoulder. The girl shook her head, groaning as Applejack taped down another gauze pad.
“Just a few mor’n then we’re done, sugarcube.”
Sunset grit her teeth and nodded through the pain. I know this is my punishment, but why on Celestia’s left buttcheek does it hurt so much? She’s not even pressing all that hard! Sunset groaned in frustration at the constant pain she was under. Celestia, what I wouldn’t give for some sleeping pills right about now. Tears pricked at the girl’s eyes, memories of another time flooding through her.
“What are you doing?” Sunset shifted away from the man, uncomfortable and scared at the look he was giving her. He simply smirked at her question, his eyes roaming her body. “Just be quiet and this will all be over soon,” he whispered, one hand running along Sunset’s exposed leg and the other unzipping his pants.
“That’s the last of it, I reckon.”
“What?” Sunset asked, shaking her head to clear away the flashbacks she was prone to.
Rarity rubbed the orange girl’s shoulder, frowning when Sunset flinched away.“We’ve finished with your back, darling.”
“All that's left to do is get them scratches cleaned and you’ll be right as rain,”Applejack explained, gently probing Sunset to turn around.
“Ok,” Sunset mumbled, her body and mind exhausted.
Applejack patted the girl’s hand in sympathy. “It’ll be over soon, sugar cube.”
Almost immediately, Sunset went completely rigid, her eyes wide and her arms wrapped protectively around her chest.
“No,” she muttered, her eyes darting every which way but not focusing on anything. AJ and Rarity shared a brief look of concern.
“You’re so sexy, the way you always walk around here without a bra. It’s like you’re begging for it.”
“Sunset? Are you ok darling?” Rarity tried to reach out to Sunset but the girl violently pulled away.
“No, please, don’t hurt me,” Sunset cried over and over again, backing away and curling in on herself.
“Just let it happen. I promise you’ll enjoy it.”
Rarity left to get Fluttershy, easily recognizing the signs of a panic attack.
Applejack knelt as close to Sunset as she dared, making sure not to touch her. She’d dealt with panic attacks of all varieties and knew this one would require a “hands off” approach.
“Sunset?” The girl in question didn’t register Applejack’s voice.
“Now don’t do anything stupid or else I’ll have to turn you over to the cops.”
The farmer tried to touch her hand, but Sunset ripped it away, nearly falling from her perch on the toilet.
“You little bitch! You won’t be able to move when I’m done with you.”
“No no no please stop, you’re hurting me,” Sunset pleaded, tears streaming down her clouded eyes.
“This is what you deserve. Sluts like you are pathetic. This’ll teach you your place.”
“We don’t want to hurt you Sunset, and we’re sorry we have.”
As if flipping a switch, Fluttershy’s voice drew Sunset’s eyes into focus enough for her to recognize the timid girl.
“Don’t leave me,” Sunset rasped out desperately, her hand reaching for Fluttershy.
Sobs wracked her body but the girl refused to look away, her eyes pleading for Fluttershy to save her.
“I won’t, I promise,” Fluttershy whispered, moving to kneel before the traumatized girl. Sunset snatched Fluttershy’s hand and pulled her closer, wrapping her arms around the yellow girl’s stomach and burying her face in Fluttershy’s pajama shirt. Her sobs grew louder when she felt Fluttershy take her hair out of the towel so she could play with it, while someone else grabbed and massaged her hand.
Fluttershy hugged Sunset’s head closer. “Shh, you’re safe now.”
Sunset cried even harder at those words.
“We’re not gonna hurtcha, sugar plum.”
Sunset didn’t even realize the farmer was still here. Someone squeezed her hand again.
“We promise, darling. You are in very good hands.” Rarity massaged Sunset’s fist, opening her palm up and tracing her nails along the skin. Hmm, she doesn’t seem to mind me touching her hands. I wonder why her shoulders and arms are different.
Eventually, Sunset’s sobs died down and her tears dried up. She sighed deeply, sniffling a bit. Despite the tightness in her throat, she prepared herself to speak—
“Don’t you dare apologize, Sunset Shimmer.”
The pony-turned-human flinched at the stern tone Fluttershy used. How did she know what I was gonna say?
Fluttershy caressed Sunset’s fiery mane while Rarity and Applejack quietly slipped out of the bathroom.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Fluttershy asked when she was sure the others were gone. Sunset shook her head, tightening her hold on the usually timid girl.
"That's ok," Fluttershy said softly, "but I want you to know that you can talk to any of us about it when you're ready."
Sunset looked up at the yellow girl in confusion. Fluttershy's heart broke at the hope and fear in her eyes.
"We've all gone through some hard times, and we understand how much it hurts to work through. You can ask Rarity and Applejack about that later. And while Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash say they're bad at emotions, you can always count on them to be there for you."
Sunset looked down in thought for a moment, chewing on her lip. Can I really trust these girls? In the deepest part of Sunset’s soul, she yearned for the safety and support these girls had shown her in the last few hours. Sweet Celestia, I am so weak. Sunset dropped her head against Fluttershy’s stomach. Though she felt weak for relying on them, she hated herself even more for wanting their care. It feels so good to have someone take care of me. But at the same time, I feel like I shouldn’t need anyone. Sunset sniffed, overwhelmed by her conflicting feelings.
Fluttershy, who had been watching Sunset’s internal struggle rather closely, knelt down before the fallen queen bee. She put her hands on Sunset’s, careful to be as gentle as possible.“It’s ok to need help, Sunset.”
Sunset looked down at their joined hands, her jaw clenching at the words.
“I help animals because no one helped me until I started therapy,” the timid girl continued, keeping her eyes low and her voice soft. Sunset looked up at Fluttershy with awe and guilt, her eyes welling up with a fresh set of tears.
“My therapist tells me that it’s ok to be vulnerable,” Fluttershy paused, playing with Sunset’s fingers. “Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak.” She looked up, her hair falling back to reveal her determined eyes. ”It actually makes you very strong.” Fluttershy stared into Sunset’s eyes, trying to convey her feelings.
“Being vulnerable is being true to yourself and having the courage to show that to others.”
Sunset nodded and sniffed, her smile a strange juxtaposition to her tears. Maybe Fluttershy is right. Have I ever been truly vulnerable? She couldn’t remember feeling this way before, but found that it wasn’t completely unpleasant. New, yes. And definitely scary. But it’s not so bad.
“Thank you,” Sunset whispered. She blew her nose with some toilet paper and nibbled on her lip in contemplation. Should I ask?
“Could..,” Sunset said, anxious at the question she wanted to ask and angry at herself for even wanting something. Fluttershy massaged Sunset's hand, distracting the girl from her spiraling thoughts.
"Could… I please have a hug?"
Fluttershy beamed before slowly learning forward to wrap her arms around the crying girl. Sunset latched on like a koala, taking in the sensations.
Faust, when was the last time someone hugged me? Sunset cried harder at that thought. Even when she was dating Flash, his gentle touches held no meaning for her. He was a means to gain popularity, and Sunset wasn’t willing to let him in. Not after what Max did. And besides, Flash just wasn’t her type when it came to boys. I don’t know if I’m strong enough, Sunset thought bitterly. I want to be my true self, but even I know there are some things humans can be very judgmental about.
Fluttershy held the fallen girl, careful to avoid her newly-bandaged injuries. Her fingers came up to play with Sunset's hair so as to give her some comfort, though she didn't know just how much it meant to the girl.
This feels like heaven. The last time Sunset could remember anyone treating her this lovingly was back in Equestria, years before she had been banished from the castle. She could still remember the soft down of her mentor's wings.
Nothing can hurt you so long as I am here, my little sun. You are safe.
Here in the arms of a virtual stranger, Sunset felt safer than she had in almost a decade.
Luna waited for her sister's response, adjusting her laptop bag and pulling out her car keys.
"Yes, I think it best we stay together until the bulk of this has been dealt with."
Luna nodded before unlocking her car and opening the door. "I shall meet you there. But first, I require sustenance."
Celestia laughed, leaning on her own open door. "Do you mean tacos?"
Luna gave an indignant huff. "You dare mock me, but I caught you eating two of them last time!"
Celestia stuck her tongue out, only for Luna to mirror her.
"I'll see you at home," Celestia eventually chuckled out.
Luna nodded again, waving goodbye before stepping into her car. Though she had agreed, her sister's implications didn't sit well with her.
Judging by what the princess told me, Sunset will not agree to her plan. At least I have experienced a similar downfall. I fear Celestia will not understand the poor girl enough to give her the support she needs.
Luna knew what she had to do, but by the gods was she dreading the fallout.
"C'mon Sunny, you gotta stay awake!" Pinkie whisper-yelled at the wilted girl.
Sunset sat on Fluttershy's bed in a fresh set of borrowed sweats, the girls sitting around the room save for Pinkie who claimed the spot next to the injured girl. Pinkie held a piece of reheated cheese pizza in her hand, waving it around like a toy.
"Here comes the choo-choo!" She whispered excitedly, moving it closer to Sunset's mouth. Sunset grimaced and turned her head away from the food.
"Darling, you really should eat before you fall asleep," Rarity chimed in from Fluttershy's vanity, looking between the gorgeous girl and her freshly polished fingernails. “Especially if you want to take more medication.”
Sunset grimaced, the ache in her back pushed to the forefront of her mind. With reluctance, she opened her mouth enough to allow Pinkie Pie to feed her.
Pinkie smiled maniacally, happy to help Sunset eat since her shoulders were too sore to let her lift her arms up. “Here comes the Pinkie Express!”
Sunset only just managed to stop herself from giggling at the ridiculousness that was Pinkie Pie. Wouldn’t want to choke after all the trouble they went through helping me tonight. It took a while, but with the party girl’s help, Sunset managed to eat almost two slices.
“Way to go Sunny!” Pinkie cheered, excited to see some color come back to her new friend's face. Fluttershy smiled at Pinkie’s antics before getting up from her spot by her TV. She disappeared into her bathroom, reappearing by Sunset and the party planner after a moment.
“Here are some more pain pills, Sunset.” Fluttershy held out two more white pills and a glass of water. Sunset reached out to take the glass, though not without wincing at the way the movement pulled at her bandages.
Fluttershy’s heart broke more when Sunset struggled to lift the glass to her lips, but the injured girl waved off any advances she made to help.
“I got this,” Sunset said determinedly. Using every ounce of strength left, she tossed the pills back and washed them down with the water Fluttershy gave her, making sure to gulp down as much as possible. That first time wasn’t pleasant, Sunset mused thinking back to earlier that night. Though she gave no indication, it felt like the pills had gotten stuck on their way down.
“Thank you,” Sunset whispered gratefully once the glass was empty. Fluttershy beamed and nodded, taking the glass from the former pony so she didn’t have to struggle lifting it. I do hope the pills help. I really don’t want her to be in pain tonight. She’s suffered enough as it is.
Fluttershy paused in thought. As she walked to the bathroom to place the glass on the counter, she couldn’t help but think back to the events of the night. It was hard for the timid girl to recall just how horrible and mean Sunset had been before the Rainbow Wave, as Dash had taken to calling it.
I suppose trauma does change people. Fluttershy had seen the tears in Sunset’s eyes before she transformed. She looked like she was in complete agony. Still, part of the animal lover worried that Sunset would revert back to her old ways once she was healed.
But she said thank you.
And there it was. Fluttershy couldn’t remember a single time where the former queen bee had said thank you for anything, even to a teacher. And the only time she had ever apologized was to Vice-Principal Luna that one time she spilled coffee on the woman’s shoes. And yet she had apologized nonstop over the last hour, and just now thanked her.
Maybe there’s hope for her.
Remembering their promises to the Vice-Principal, Fluttershy typed up a quick report before emailing it to the administrator.
I do hope Miss Luna takes Sunset to a doctor tomorrow.
With a hopeful smile, Fluttershy went back into her room with her friends.
"Lulu! What took you so long?" Celestia walked out from the kitchen, holding an empty mug. One look at Luna's puffy eyes and tear stained cheeks was enough to figure out what had kept her little sister.
"Oh Lulu, come sit with me on the couch," she cooed softly as she placed the cup down on the counter. Luna nodded, barely pulling off her coat and laptop bag before falling face first onto the couch. Celestia smirked a bit at her sister's antics but forced it away in favor of helping her deal with whatever had transpired.
"Would you like any tea?"
Luna shook her head, burying her face even further into a throw pillow.
Celestia frowned. Normally Luna would kill for a cup of the special blends the older woman had on hand. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Rather than respond, Luna fished out her phone and fiddled with it a bit, tossing it to her sister when she found what she was looking for. Celestia looked between the younger woman and the phone in confusion.
"Read it," Luna mumbled. Celestia nodded and began to scroll through the email on the screen.
With every movement of her thumb, Celestia's eyes became more and more cloudy. Her hand migrated to her mouth, shocked at what she was reading. When she was done she dropped the phone to her lap, looking at her sister in agony and guilt.
"While I admire Fluttershy's chosen profession," Luna chuckled mirthlessly as she sat up, "I would have preferred a less descriptive report about Sunset's injuries."
Both sisters took a few moments to compose themselves, the silence thick and heavy between them. Luna couldn’t help but roll her shoulders, remembering her own scars. First thing tomorrow I am taking her to Dr. Hu. He'll know just how to help her. She tensed her shoulder. He knew how to help me.
Celestia grabbed a tissue from the side table, wiping her eyes delicately. “Why wouldn't she tell anyone?" she wondered aloud, her voice gruff and full of tears.
Luna hugged her pillow tighter, shaking her head. "I think," she said, biting her lip as she debated sharing her suspicions. I don't want to make her feel guilty.
“You think what?” Celestia probed, desperate for any sort of meaning.
Luna looked into her sister’s eyes, studying them. She found no malice, only concern and hurt.
“I think,” Luna sighed as she looked down, “I think Sunset believes she deserves to suffer.”
Celestia gasped, though Luna knew she was right. It’s exactly how I felt. The blue woman stole a glance at her sister. Perhaps Sunset is more like me than I care to admit.
“No one deserves to suffer, regardless of the things they’ve done.” Celestia couldn’t understand that line of thinking, nor could she ignore the obvious parallels between Sunset and the woman before her. You should have never known that kind of suffering, Lulu. And it's my fault that you do.
“Sunset doesn’t believe that,” Luna whispered, bringing her knees up to wrap her arms around them. Both sisters knew they were no longer talking about their wayward student.
Celestia scooted closer to her sister, careful not to touch her yet. “Lulu?”
Luna remained curled up, blinking away her tears.
“Luna,” Celestia soothed, leaning over just enough for her arm to touch her sister’s leg. “You know none of what happened was your fault.” It was mine. “You didn’t deserve any of it.”
Luna shook her head violently. “I made my own choices sister, ones you were not privy to.” I gave my trust to those who would rather me die than live as I am. The blue woman sighed, unwilling to let the conversation drift even further from the original topic.
“I wish to continue this another time, Tia.”
Celestia nodded, though she was reluctant. She still blamed herself for the past. If I had been more aware, I could have saved her. Celestia was sure of it. Unwanted bitter thoughts filtered in. If it hadn’t been for me, she would have made friends, real ones that wouldn’t betray her. She wouldn’t have lost half a decade. Celestia shuddered.
She wouldn’t have tried to kill herself.
“Sister,” Luna called out when she noticed Celestia’s far-off look. “Now is not the time for blame.” She nudged Celestia with her knee. “We must focus on Sunset, not our own misdeeds.”
Celestia studied her sister’s eyes, searching for the forgiveness she craved. After a moment, she nodded. “You’re right, we need to help Sunset.” Though Celestia knew they needed to talk about their past, now was not the time. Will it ever be the right time? She bit her tongue in an effort to push away the bitter thought.
“Have you eaten?” Luna asked abruptly, pulling out a bag of tacos from her discarded bag. Celestia laughed at the sheepish look on her sister’s face.
“Yes, but I certainly won’t say no to a taco.”
With the tension broken, the sisters let themselves relax. Tomorrow the real work begins.
Rarity clapped her hands together quickly, calling the attention of the other girls in the room.
“Ahem,” she said, clasping her hands together, “While this night has certainly been an experience, I do believe we should all hit the hay, as it were.”
Almost as if planned, Pinkie and Sunset let out the biggest set of yawns any of the girls had ever seen. Fluttershy and Rarity shared a giggle, while AJ and Dash chuckled at the two girls on the bed.
“I rest my case,” Rarity pointed out once both girls were finished. Sunset had a small smile on her face, coupled with a slightly goofy expression that made her entirely too adorable for her own good.
Fluttershy moved over to her bed, sitting on the other side of Sunset.
“You’ll sleep on my bed,” the shy girl said, raising her hand when Sunset looked like she was going to argue. “No arguing, please. We just want to make sure you’re safe and comfortable.” Fluttershy placed a gentle hand on Sunset’s, staring at the girl. Sunset bit her lip, her tired mind racing.
They’ve already done so much for me. I can’t take her bed! Where will she sleep? And what if they all leave me alone? Sunset tensed at the thought, her hands clenching the throw blanket that was draped over her shoulders. What if I change back into that thing in my sleep? What if I hurt them? After everything they’ve done, I don’t think I could handle that.
Sunset started to tear up as she curled into herself. Fluttershy moved closer and softly called to the girl.
The flame-haired girl didn’t respond and only retreated further into herself. I don’t want to be alone. I’ve always been alone. I’m just so tired…
When she didn’t respond, Fluttershy gestured for Rarity to come over. The fashionista switched with Pinkie, making sure to give Sunset enough room should she react violently again.
Rarity gently rested her hand on Sunset’s own. “Sunset darling, you need to breathe.” Fluttershy in turn rested her hand on Sunset’s shoulder, careful to avoid the bandages.
I wish I could sleep and never wake up. Sunset abruptly slumped forward, pulling her hands up to cradle her face while she broke down in tears.
It would be so easy… just a few pills and I could escape this never ending nightmare.
Rarity glanced at Fluttershy, unsure about what to do. Her shy friend looked at Sunset before looking at the rest of their friends in the room. The fashionista nodded and set about ushering the others out into the hall.
“Ev’n me?” Applejack whispered, her heart set on helping Sunset through another one of her panic attacks.
“Yes, I’m afraid so,” Rarity whispered back. “Fluttershy and I have a plan we would like to try out.”
Applejack nodded and turned to leave with Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash.
“Good luck,” Dash threw back before the door closed.
Rarity went back to the bed, her shoulders squared and her determination set.
“I’m so tired,” Sunset muttered under her breath. Fluttershy held Sunset’s hand with one of her own, her other hand rubbing Sunset’s neck. Rarity took her spot on the other side of Sunset though she kept her hands to herself at the moment.
“Darling?” Rarity cooed, making sure she was angled to look at Sunset.
The broken girl looked up at Rarity with the saddest, most devastating eyes the fashionista had ever seen. Her heart broke for the girl, but she knew now was not the time to think about why.
Rarity laid a gentle hand on Sunset’s leg. “Can you please tell us what’s wrong?”
Sunset blinked back tears. How can I tell them I want to die when they’ve been trying their hardest to keep me alive? She lowered her cyan eyes to her lap, her free hand clenching at the blankets beneath her.
“Take your time,” Fluttershy reassured with a surprisingly firm squeeze of her hand. Sunset nodded before taking a deep breath to collect her thoughts.
Everything is so overwhelming right now, she whined to herself. I can’t even accept a bed without freaking out.
Sunset turned to look at Fluttershy with guilt heavy on her heart.
“I just feel like I don’t deserve any of this,” she said quietly, her voice gravely in a way neither girl had experiences. Before Fluttershy could respond, Rarity reached out and pulled Sunset’s chin so she was face-to-face with the alabaster young woman.
Oh wow, her eyes are really pretty. Before Sunset could ponder that line of thinking, Rarity decided to scold her.
“Now you listen here, Sunset Shimmer,” Rarity huffed, her hand leaving the girl’s chin to cradle the side of her face. “No one deserves anything. It is up to us to decide how generous we want to be.” She moved her hand from Sunset’s waves to her surprisingly muscular arm, squeezing it firmly.
“We are being generous and kind to you because we want to be.”
Sunset looked at the girl in shock, awed at her assertive attitude. I wonder where mine disappeared to?
Fluttershy nodded and squeezed Sunset’s hand. “We wouldn’t be helping you if we didn’t.” Both girls waited as Sunset processed their words.
Sunset stared at her hand, confused by her feelings. Why on Equus would they ever want to help me? I’ve been nothing but horrible, to both of them. She looked back up between the two girls, memories of her cruel actions playing on loop within her mind.
You worthless doormat.
I heard you were running for Spring Queen. Such a shame you chose to humiliate yourself this way.
Do you really think you’re helping any of those animals? I bet you only volunteer at the animal shelter because they’re your only friends.
Wow, I never thought anyone born so low could somehow manage to sink even lower.
Sunset couldn’t understand why anyone would help her. She deserved punishment. She deserved pain. Tarturus, she deserved to die for all of her crimes.
“Sunset?” Fluttershy gently cupped the girl’s face and turned it to look at her.
“Please let us help you. We just want to see you get better. And,” Fluttershy tucked a strand of fiery hair behind Sunset’s ear, “If you let us, we would like to become your friends.”
Sunset broke at that, launching herself into Fluttershy's shoulder. Has anyone ever wanted to be my friend? Sunset couldn't remember. I wasn't lying when I told Princess Twilight that I know nothing about friendship, but I didn't actually believe that these girls would want to be friends with me. When it came down to it, Sunset was convinced they would just teach her about friendship and then leaver her all alone once they were done. Why would anyone want to be friends with me? She continued to sob, letting out all of her feelings when she heard someone start to sing.*
Fluttershy locked eyes with Rarity and opened her mouth to sing along.
Sunset stopped crying and began listening to their words. She recognized the song from one of the video games Flash played. It also happened to be one of her favorites.
Fluttershy gently nudged Sunset to lay down while Rarity helped Sunset get under the covers, her face warming at the look of awe the exhausted girl was giving her. She made sure to lock eyes with Sunset, cupping her cheek to get the point across as she kept singing.
Sunset felt tears pricking her eyes, but was too captivated to acknowledge them. Fluttershy began stroking Sunset’s hair, smiling when the girl’s eyes flickered shut at the ministrations. Rarity stroked Sunset’s hand, helping to relieve all the tension and fear from the former pony’s mind.The girls kept singing but Sunset was too tired to focus on their words. Instead she focused on the way she felt. Safe.
There was no other word for it. She finally felt safe in this miserable world. Gone were her fears of starvation, whether it be by food or comfort. Right in this moment, Sunset knew that things would turn out better. Maybe things wouldn’t be perfect, but at least she could feel safe in assuming that her life would never be as bad as it had been.
As Sunset faded into unconsciousness, she heard the girls finish their song and smiled.
Once the girls were sure Sunset was asleep, Rarity and Fluttershy made their way out into the hall, exhaustion weighing heavily on their shoulders. Fluttershy carefully closed the door after herself, a deep sigh escaping her after she heard the click of the door shutting into place. Rarity rubbed Fluttershy’s back, comforting the girl until she was able to turn around and face the rest of her friends.
All six girls stood in tense silence out in the hall, each in varying states of weariness.
Applejack cleared her throat. "Has anyone texted Miss Luna yet?"
Rainbow Dash raised two fingers up. "I texted her when we got here but nothing after that."
"So that was," Pinkie looked at an imaginary watch, "almost two hours ago?"
"Oh my, has it not even been two hours?" Rarity asked, rubbing her hand along her face. The girls shared looks of disbelief. It seemed like an entire lifetime had gone by.
"I emailed her a report after Sunset ate,” Fluttershy mentioned, nervously wringing her hair.
AJ nodded her head, satisfied that someone was keeping the VP in the loop. “Ah’ll start a group chat so we can all text her updates and the like.”
The rest of the girls nodded, content to let the farm girl take the lead for now.
“What’s the plan for watch duty?” AJ asked as she typed away on her phone. While Rarity and Fluttershy were calming Sunset down, the other girls had decided that Sunset wouldn’t be alone at all during the night.
“What about me, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rarity, and then AJ. Does that sound good?” Rainbow Dash asked, looking at her friends.
The rest of the girls nodded, save for Pinkie who gave a very serious salute.
Dash tried not to snicker, seeing that things were serious, but she couldn’t help but love Pinkie even more for her antics.
I lost a whole year of Pinkie madness, she thought ruefully. While it would be easy for Rainbow to blame Sunset for everything, she had to admit that the whole thing had been their own doing. If we’d just talked to each other, things would’ve been different.
Pushing those thoughts to the side, Rainbow got into “captain mode,” as her teammates called it. Though there were plenty of rumors about Dash’s intelligence, she didn’t become captain for nothing.
“Ok, so we’ll each watch her for an hour and fifteen minutes before waking up the next one to watch her.”
“Why an hour and fifteen minutes?” Rarity piped up, confused. Dash held up a finger.
“For one, I’m pretty sure VP Luna is gonna wanna get Sunset to a doctor as soon as possible and the earliest ones open at nine tomorrow,” Dash raised another finger, “And for two, it’s-" Dash checked her phone, "one-fourty-five in the morning and if we all watch her for an hour and fifteen minutes exactly, that gets us to eight-thirty.” Dash smirked at the impressed look on her friends’ faces. “Hey, just because I’m awesome at sports doesn’t mean I can’t be awesome at basic math too.” AJ chuckled at the girl’s cocky attitude, punching her in the arm a bit.
“So what’s the rest of the plan?” the farmgirl asked, more than happy to leave the planning to someone else.
Rainbow picked up where she left off, not missing a beat. “If she has a nightmare, wake her up.” The girls nodded, though Fluttershy seemed unsure about it. Dash put a hand on the girl’s arm.
“It’s safer for everyone if we wake her up, Shy. We wouldn’t want her to hurt us or herself, right?”
Fluttershy nodded, her eyes becoming more resolved. Dash smiled and pulled away, wanting to clear up the plan as soon as possible.
“If she wakes up in pain, we get her pain pills,” Dash continued, “And if she has another panic attack, we make sure Shy, AJ, and Rarity are with her.” Though she felt bad about it, Dash knew that she wouldn’t be able to help Sunset the way her friends could. She just wasn’t good with emotions. Negative ones, anyway.
Rarity raised her hand.
“Yes Rarity?” Dash asked, curious as to what the fashionista had to say.
“What do we do after Vice-Principal Luna takes her?” Rarity didn’t even try to hide the fear and uncertainty in her voice.
Fluttershy anxiously pulled her hair in front of her face. “Oh my, do you think Miss Luna will take Sunset away forever?”
“Ah’m sure she won’t, sugar cube,” AJ tried to reassure, though she wasn’t very sure herself.
“What if Miss Luna adopts her!” Pinkie nearly yelled, her voice filled with excitement and nerves.
“Uh, why would she do that?” Dash asked, crossing her arms and leaning against the wall.
Pinkie shrugged. “I dunno, it’s just a hunch.”
“It would make sense,” Rarity muttered, looking deep in thought. “Sunset is an alien exile residing here with forged documents.” The rest of the girls nodded along. “I’m not sure Miss Luna will go so far as to adopt Sunset, but she could very well become her legal guardian.”
Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but play devil’s advocate. “Ok, but what if she doesn’t?” The girls looked at her in silent uncertainty.
“What do we do if Sunset doesn’t go to live with Luna? Do we even know where Sunset lives?”
Her friends muttered to each other, but not even Pinkie Pie knew where the former bully lived.
“She can stay with me for a little while,” Fluttershy offered. With her brother away at boarding school, and the overly generous nature of her parents, she was sure housing Sunset would be no problem.
“That’s mighty kind of yah Shy,” Applejack commended, crossing her arms. “But are ya sure ya can handle it?” Worry and concern tinged her voice. All the girls knew how cruel Sunset was to the animal lover.
Fluttershy nodded firmly, coming out from behind her hair. “Sunset won’t hurt me anymore,” she declared with certainty and authority, two traits rarely seen from her.
The girls looked around at each other, concern and worry evident on their faces. While they had all seen just how different the former queen bee was, there was still the fear that Sunset would revert back to her old ways once she was done healing.
“How can you be so sure, darling?” Rarity asked, one hand going to her necklace and the other gently grasping Fluttershy’s wrist.
“I’m sure Shy’s got a good reason,” Pinkie said, bouncing over to her friend and wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
Fluttershy nodded, easing into the physical contact she had been without for an entire year.
“Sunset isn’t the same person anymore.” Though Applejack had her reservations, she nodded along with her friends at Fluttershy’s words. Dash uncrossed her arms to put her hands on her hips.
“She did apologize like, nonstop since Twilight left.”
“And the poor dear keeps having panic attacks over any help we try to give her.” Rarity and Fluttershy shared a weary look, both emotionally drained from the most recent attack.
“Plus, Sunny doesn’t have that mean ol’ look in her eye anymore! And she’s not hurting anymore either!” Dash snickered at the way Pinkie bounced as she spoke.
Applejack frowned at the word choice. “What d’yah mean, Pinkie?” She leaned closer to the girl.
Pinkie deflated a bit, enough to startle her friends. “You can always tell when someone is hurting,” she said seriously. “Smiles never reach their eyes, and makeup can only go so far.” Pinkie gave a watery smile, her own memories of another surfacing.
Rarity gasped. “Pinkie Pie! Do you mean to suggest that Sunset was abused?”
Pinkie nodded ever so slightly, her hair deflating even more. As the unofficial official party planner at CHS, Pinkie had experience with makeup. Being a former pony, Sunset probably didn’t know that she had to use different types of makeup to cover everything. Pinkie remembered seeing multiple bruises and several black eyes that weren’t as covered towards her hair line. Having dedicated herself to studying all the likes and dislikes of every student at CHS, Pinkie was used to observing people on the down low. Which also meant that she knew almost all the students who were cutting, abused at home, or getting involved with drugs and gang violence.
I know I can’t help them all, but at least I can try to make them smile. Pinkie’s eyes briefly glanced at Dashie, but that was a conversation for another time.
AJ hummed in thought. "That explains the panic attack in the bathroom." Rarity and Fluttershy shared a look of understanding with the farmer, horror dawning on Fluttershy's face.
“Oh my, I hope she’s not in any danger now.” Are her abusers looking for her?
Pinkie nodded at Shy’s unasked question. “Sunny stopped showing up with bruises last semester around February.” Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that they wouldn’t have to deal with any potential threats. Rarity and Dash were equally thankful that they didn't have to suspect Flash Sentry. The two started dating in March, Rarity recalled. Though it was a close call, it was enough for her to feel assured that they wouldn't need to worry about Flash in the coming months.
Fluttershy raised her hand to get the group’s attention. “Um, should we tell Miss Luna about that?” No one answered right away, each contemplating what they should do.
“Perhaps...not until we know for sure,” Rarity suggested delicately. Although she believed Pinkie Pie, there was some benefit to gathering all of the facts before making an accusation. Shadow Spade always gathered empirical evidence until everything fell into place right at the very end. Rarity strove to be no different.
“Pinkie,” Dash said, waiting for the girl to acknowledge her. “You took a psychology class last year, right?”
“Yupperoonie!” Pinkie started bouncing again at the mention of her favorite non-baking elective class.
“Mrs. Norman was the absolutely-positutely best teacher ever!”
Dash chuckled along with her friends but quickly drew the conversation back to the topic at hand. “Did Mrs. Norman ever talk about abuse?”
Pinkie thought for a moment before bouncing as she remembered.
“She did! I even kept all of my notes!” Everyone expected the party planner to pull a notebook from her hair (as was the norm), but she instead pulled out her phone from her pajama pocket.
“Did you... take notes on your phone?”
“Don’t be silly Dashie,” Pinkie giggled, “I wrote them all down on my laptop and put it on Haystack Drive!”
The girls all realized in that moment that Pinkie was far more organized than her chaotic energy suggested.
Was she always like that, or was that something that happened after we stopped talking? Rainbow honestly couldn’t remember.
“Awesome! Can you send the notes on abuse to us so we can know how to help Sunset?”
Pinkie nodded and set about sending the document to all of her friends. “There!” Almost immediately, the rest of their phones went off with the notification that Pinkie’s email had been received. Dash and AJ scanned the document quickly while Fluttershy and Rarity took the moment to simply breathe.
“Great,” Dash commented as she pocketed her phone. “You guys ready?”
With collective nods, the group prepared themselves for a long night.
Sunset didn’t wake up during Rainbow’s shift. The star athlete sat on the floor next to the bed the entire time, conscious of Sunset’s breathing. She knew Sunset was having bad dreams, though she wished she didn’t.
Sunset could be heard mumbling in her sleep, even if she didn’t move much.
Don’t hurt me… Miss you It hurts.. Just wanna die
Rainbow wanted to throw up after that one. Yeah, Sunset was a huge bitch to all of them, but Dash would never wish those thoughts on anyone.
Dash wasn’t an idiot, despite what people said. She knew Sunset had gone through some real shit, the type of stuff that never really leaves you. I know what that’s like, she thought morosely to herself. Her hand drifted under her iconic rainbow bracelet, feeling for the scars underneath. There was a reason she always wore them, and why she made sure no one ever saw her left wrist. Thank god for Spitfire.
Dash just hoped they could help Sunset through everything. They all knew something was different about her. Gone was the queen bee who got everyone to do her bidding, even the teachers. In her place was a battered and broken girl, likely a product of abuse like so many other students at CHS.
Before Dash could sink even further into her depressing thoughts, Fluttershy quietly opened the door.
Fluttershy slipped into the room, resting a hand on her friend's shoulder. “You can go sleep now, Rainbow.”
“Thanks, Shy,” Rainbow responded, carefully getting up from her spot and stretching. “She didn’t wake up, but she was mumbling a lot.”
Fluttershy nodded and decided to record her time with Sunset. We can’t be too careful, especially after what Pinkie said.
“Goodnight Rainbow Dash.”
Fluttershy pulled her vanity chair next to the bed. It was a full-sized one, though Sunset seemed to be taking up less than half of the space on the bed. Has she ever slept on a full-sized bed before? Though they hadn’t talked much about it, Fluttershy wondered just how different Sunset’s world was from theirs.
Do they sleep in beds? Do they have stables?Twilight was a princess, so they must have castles for them to live in. Fluttershy couldn’t help but speculate.
A noise from the bed drew her attention. Sunset was trying to shift onto her back, but whimpered every time her wounds touched the bed.
Fluttershy’s heart broke for the girl. Here in the dim light, Sunset looked younger than she had ever seen her.
How old is she? When did she come to our world? Fluttershy had so many questions to ask Sunset, and couldn’t help but wish that she had asked Twilight all of them while they were getting ready for the dance.
Maybe we can get some answers once she’s all healed up.
Sunset didn’t wake up at all during the night, but each girl reported hearing her mumbling, whimpering, and crying in her sleep.
By the time AJ’s turn came around, Sunset started quieting down. Her mumbles seemed to be dream related because she didn’t cry after the first ten minutes the farm girl was in there.
The sun had been up for half an hour or so by then so AJ, well-accustomed to early mornings, used her time to study the befallen girl and think.
Ah’m not sure I trust her just yet. The farmgirl watched as Sunset tried shifting, only to whimper at the pain.
But ah’ll be darned if’n I let her suffer anymore. Applejack knew what it was like to take your pain and push it onto someone else. After her parents died, she looked for anyone and anything to blame. Best keep an eye on’er. Wouldn’t want her hurting herself or the others.
Before she could think more on it, Sunset’s eyes opened. Applejack was up and ready in an instant.
“Sunset?” she called, her hands up in what she hoped was a calming manner. The former pony looked at her in fear, her pupils as small as pinpricks.
“Yer safe, ya hear?” AJ took a tentative step forward, her heart sinking at the way Sunset flinched. “We ain’t gonna hurt’cha.” With as much care as possible, Applejack slowly walked up to the bed. Sunset seemed paralyzed, the only indication that she was alive being her increasingly rapid breathing.
Applejack knelt by the bed.“I need yah tah breathe, Sunset.” The scared girl turned her head to look at AJ, her breathing slowly starting to even out. Applejack whispered encouraging words to Sunset as she calmed down, her voice gentle and soft like Fluttershy taught her.
Eventually Sunset calmed down enough to move. First was her hand that reached out towards the farmgirl. AJ was surprised, but took the offered hand firmly between her own. Sunset marveled at how rough and firm her hands were. Still gentle, though.
AJ helped Sunset sit up once she was calm enough. “Do you know where you are?”
Sunset nodded, her eyes tearing up as she looked down at her lap in shame. Time’s up.
The farmer frowned at the obvious signs of fear Sunset was displaying; head down and to the side, eyes lowered, and a slight tremble in her hands. Course, that could be cuz’of her injuries.
Applejack sighed as she sat down next to Sunset, frowning even more when she flinched away. “Miss Luna’ll be here at eight-thirty, so you’ve got a little o’er an hour of sleep, if’n you want it.” Sunset looked up in surprise, fully anticipating the girls to have changed their minds since last night.
“We ain’t lookin’ tah hurt’cha, Sunset.” Applejack sat next to the quiet girl on the bed, making sure to keep some space between them lest Sunset get spooked. Sunset stared at her lap for a few moments, her thoughts racing loudly. AJ coulda sworn she heard them from her spot on the bed.
AJ blinked. “I beg yer pardon?”
Sunset looked up with tears and confused anger in her eyes. “Why don’t you want to hurt me? Why help me?” AJ opened and closed her mouth, not used to Sunset’s anger after seeing her so broken last night.
“Am I just a charity case for the Princess?” Sunset looked out the only window, glaring at the sun with all her might. Tears streamed down her face, though not from her idiotic choice to stare down the sun. “Is that all I am, all I ever was?” Applejack stood between Sunset and the window, though Sunset refused to acknowledge her.
Again, the former pony refused to look anywhere but through Applejack. The farmer took a deep breath, intent on giving Sunset a proper scolding. Sunset spoke before she got the chance.
“I should be dead.”
Applejack felt the wind get knocked out of her.
“Now you listen here, missy-”
“Did you know that I almost froze to death when I first came here?”
AJ was thrown for a loop at the sudden change in topic. She shut her trap, knowing that Sunset needed to get this out. Her voice was soft and her eyes distant and misty. The farm girl quietly sat next to Sunset; close enough for her to reach out yet not so close as to spook her.
“No ma’am, I didn’t.”
Sunset chuckled quietly at the formal address. She still refused to look away from the sun, though she wasn’t really staring into the flaming ball of gas. She was thinking about her Sun at home, the one who made her feel like she was almost worthy of being someone’s center of the universe. Almost.
“I didn’t come prepared, not really.” Sunset looked down at her chest and pulled on the cloth there. “You humans are incredibly weak and vulnerable, you know that?” AJ and Sunset shared a chuckle before Sunset’s eyes unfocused again, lost in her memories.
“I came here at the start of winter without anything but the clothes the portal gave me.”
‘What the hay?! Where in Celestia am I?’ Sunset looked around in fear. She knew the portal would take her to another dimension, but what on Equestria was wrong with these creatures? Everywhere she looked, these inhabitants were walking around like dragons. Sunset shivered as the wind picked up, noticing the distinct lack of mana in the atmosphere. Her eyes widened in fear and realization.
There’s no magic here.
“In Equestria, the weather is controlled by the pegasi,” Sunset chuckled, though there was no mirth in her eyes. “I’ve never been so cold in my life.”
Applejack’s heart broke at the shiver that went through Sunset. “How old were you?”
Sunset finally looked at the girl sitting next to her, surprised at the question yet still expecting it.
“I was 16 in my world, but I came over in the body of an 11 year old.” Sunset’s tone didn’t change but her eyes spoke plenty.
“Oh Sunset,” AJ whispered as she tried to move closer. Sunset flinched away, breaking the farm girl’s heart even more. Sunset stared down at her lap, wringing her hands. The two girls sat in silence for a moment before the former pony whispered out words that absolutely tore AJ’s soul to shreds.