Scar Tissue

by RadiantBeam

Chapter 1: Scar Tissue

“We are ridiculously awesome.”

No one bothered to argue with Rainbow’s triumphant statement; with the way the crowd was roaring, calling for more even though the Rainbooms had finished performing for the night, there was absolutely no reason to. The students of Canterlot High loved their music, and the band was doing better than ever. Grins and congratulatory nudges were shared between the friends as they settled backstage, preparing to relax after a long and exciting performance.

“Ah propose,” Applejack drawled as she carefully tucked her instrument back into its case, “apple cider. Free at the farm and the best you’ll taste in the whole city.”

“Oh! Oh, oh!” Pinkie bounced excitedly, waving a hand in the air like a kid in class. “On the way back, can we get some donuts from Joe’s? Tonight calls for some celebratory sugar!”

“Sounds good to me.” Fluttershy smiled, something quiet and warm. “I don’t have to be home until late anyway.”

Rarity pretended to think about it, tapping her finger against her lips, before she chuckled at the combined pouts she got from Pinkie and Rainbow. “Oh, of course, that sounds absolutely marvelous. And tomorrow’s Saturday! We can have as much fun as we want.”

“Score!” Rainbow cheered, pumping a fist in the air. “And I don’t know about you guys, but Fluttershy and I wrote some great stuff together that I’d like to go over with all of you. It’s not important, obviously, but…”

“All good things, Rainbow,” Sunset laughed, clicking the locks on her guitar case and getting to her feet. She felt around for the zipper to her performance outfit, grimacing when she couldn’t quite reach it. “Uh, Rare, could you…”

“Yes, yes, no need to say another word.” Quick as a flash Rarity was at her friend’s back, gripping the zipper easily and drawing it down. “Thank you again for wearing this for me tonight, by the way. I do appreciate it. I just didn’t know how it’d look until I put it on someone, and no one else was willing to try it.”

Applejack suddenly doubled over from a mysterious coughing fit, which quickly morphed into wheezing when Pinkie unhelpfully slapped her on the back.

The redhead smiled, breathing out slightly as the outfit peeled off of her, rolling her shoulders as she grabbed her shirt. “It’s not a problem, Rarity. It was nice to wear.”

“Mmm, much too hard to get out of, though. I’ll have to make some adjustments, I hope you won’t mind being my—“

It was only for a moment, but as Rarity had helped ease the outfit off, Sunset had paused, gripping her shirt in her hands as she waited patiently for her friend to finish. She hadn’t put her shirt on immediately after, and Rarity’s chatter abruptly cut off as she got a good look at her friend’s back, briefly bared of her signature red and gold hair.

“… What?” Sunset squirmed, suddenly aware of the silence that had fallen over her friends. “What is it?”

“Sunset.” Rarity’s voice had softened considerably, and the silence was so thick that her voice sounded far louder than it should have. “What are these?”

Sunset blanked out completely until she felt Rarity’s hand settle between her shoulder blades, right over two very sensitive points of flesh. She flinched instinctively and pulled away, hurriedly pulling her shirt on. “Scars,” she mumbled.

“I can see that, yes. I may have asked the wrong question. How did you get them?”

She was dearly tempted to not answer; to just pick up her guitar case, grab her jacket, and walk right out then and there. It would have ruined the rest of the night and would have undoubtedly made the whole weekend awkward until she was forced to see her friends again at school on Monday, but it didn’t change the fact that she considered it.

But she turned around as she picked her jacket up, and froze at the expressions she saw. Fluttershy looked near tears, a hand pressed to her mouth, and even Pinkie looked concerned.

Well. It would have come up eventually, anyway. She sighed heavily as her shoulders slumped, tossing her jacket over her shoulder. “From the Fall Formal,” she said. “After I was made human again thanks to the blast.”

“Your wings,” Rainbow realized. “Those are from when you…”

“When I was a raging she-demon, yeah.” Sunset lightened her tone. “I’ve got another one at the base of my spine, too. From the tail, I think.”

It didn’t quite have the effect she’d hoped it would. Rarity had scooped up her forgotten costume, so that was one small victory, but her friends still looked torn somewhere between shock and unhappiness.

“Come on, girls.” She rubbed the back of her neck. “You all saw my back when we were fighting the sirens.”

“None o’ us were exactly lookin’ at yer back at the time,” Applejack muttered, adjusting her hat so she’d have something to do with her hands. “Other things were goin’ on.”

“I don’t get it.” Pinkie approached Sunset tentatively, as if afraid the girl would bolt the minute she got too close. “I didn’t think magic would… hurt, like that. It’s never hurt any of us, and… you seemed really happy when you transformed with us.”

Sunset sighed again, shifting so she could lean against the wall. “It didn’t hurt then,” she said, accepting that she would need to give her friends a short magical lesson. “When I transformed during the Battle of the Bands with all of you, the magic we used was… I guess the best word would be pure. It was doing exactly what it was supposed to do, from a dependable source. You all saw my transformation during the Fall Formal.”

“It looked painful,” Fluttershy whispered.

Sunset smiled sheepishly. “Because it was painful. The magic that transformed me was being drawn from a corrupted source, and I was changed against my will—I didn’t think that would happen when I put the crown on my head.” She shifted a bit to pat her back, as best she could. “Using corrupted magic like that has consequences. I’m frankly lucky it only left some scarring.”

The unspoken implication was enough to have her friends’ eyes widening, all of them sharing slightly horrified looks. Sunset waved a hand, desperately trying to get them all off of this topic. “Look, consider it a lesson in magic,” she said. “You can all look to me as an example of what not to do with magical items—“

“You were hurt,” Fluttershy cut her off, voice wavering. “You were bleeding so badly that the wounds left scars. And you never told us? Any of us?”

… Oh.

Sunset swallowed, pressing back against the wall and ignoring the slight sting from between her shoulders. Her fingers dug briefly into the material of her jacket, trying to find something to hold onto. “I’m not saying I was right,” she muttered defensively. “I just… it was right after the Fall Formal, I was still getting to know all of you, and I…”

She couldn’t avoid it, could she. Sunset looked away, unable to meet the eyes of any of her friends.

“… And I thought I deserved it,” she admitted. “I wasn’t exactly in a healthy mindset right after the Fall Formal. A little pain and some blood seemed like a small thing after everything I’d done.”

The silence that followed her words lingered, until she heard the soft sound of footsteps approaching her. She felt a warm hand settle on her shoulder and squeeze gently, if a touch uncertainly; she looked up, and Rainbow managed a weak, nervous smile. “You know we would have helped you,” she said. “Any of us would have helped you.”

Sunset smiled back, swallowing. “Yeah, well. I know that now. I wasn’t so sure back then.”

“Dummy.” Rainbow pulled her into a hug, ruffling her hair affectionately, and just like that the tension broke. Pinkie launched herself at them like a rocket, swooping the pair up into a tight hug that had both of them yelping and squirming, lifting them right off the ground.

“Pinkie!” Rainbow wheezed. “Air! I need air! We both need air!”

“Oh! Sorry!” Sounding like the least sorry person in the world, Pinkie cheerfully dropped them back onto their feet. “I just figured, y’know, you really needed a hug after that, and according to my sister I’m a great hug giver, so I thought I’d help!”

Sunset laughed, a breathless sound. “That was a great hug, Pinkie. Thanks.”

“No problem! Though after this, I gotta say, I think we need a jumbo sized box of donuts from Joe’s! I’m sure the extra sugar will help!” She paused. “… I’m not sure how, but I’m still sure!”

“Sounds like a mighty fine plan ta me.” Applejack rubbed Sunset’s back lightly before pulling her hand away. “I’ll get the cider ready at the farm. Y'all can meet me there after goin’ to Joe’s.”

Pinkie gave a quick salute before bouncing off of the stage, taking the stairs two at a time. Fluttershy hurried after her to help her with the donuts, but not before giving Sunset’s hand a supportive squeeze as she passed by. Sunset smiled and slid her jacket on, blinking when Rarity came to her side with a pained sigh.

“… Do I even want to ask?” the redhead wondered.

Rarity sighed again. “Oh, it’s nothing. I’m just wondering what happened to your shirt, you see, I notice you didn’t mention what became of it.”

Sunset winced. “I… kind of bled through it. I had to throw it out when the stain wouldn’t come off.” Thankfully the blood had never damaged her jacket; she might have actually cried if she’d had to get rid of her favorite piece of clothing, on top of everything else that had happened to her at the Formal.

Rarity sighed a third time, somehow sounding more pained than before. “I suspected as much, yes. Nothing to be done for it, I suppose. I must buy you a new shirt.”

“Rarity, you don’t need—“

“I insist, Sunset. It’s the least I can do to make up for not knowing you were bleeding in the first place.”

Sunset laughed again, at that. “Okay. I’m free this weekend.”

“That sounds absolutely perfect.”

Rarity looped their arms together as they started off after Applejack, and nothing in the world could have wiped the smile off of Sunset’s face in that moment.

Author's Notes:

I'm experiencing a bit of a block/burnout on the next chapter of Now You Need Us and the SunLight one-shot I'm currently working on (I'm honestly not sure which), so I decided to post something short and sweet. This idea's been knocking around in my head all day, so I figured it worked as well as anything else.

Due to the traumatic nature of Sunset's transformation in the first movie, I've always headcanoned she sustained scars from the incident (a pair of them between her shoulder blades from the wings, and one at the base of her spine from the tail). It's probably a bit too morbid for MLP to get into, but it's always been an idea I liked, and hence this piece was born.

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