Sunset Isn't Your Color

by Oroboro

Chapter 1: But It Sure Beats Green

“Excuse me, sir—how do you feel about dogs?”

“Dogs? They’re uh, alright I guess. Why?”

Sunset grinned, then whipped out a photograph of a sad-looking puppy with a cone on its head. “We represent a non-profit organization that helps pay for the veterinary bills of families in need. Pets are just as much a part of our families as anyone else, and people shouldn’t be forced to choose between putting food on the table or letting Sparky die.” She paused for a moment, and just as the guy was about to mumble something, she whipped out another photo of the same dog happily playing with some children. “Thanks to our assistance, Sparky here is living happy and healthy once again.”

The guy pursed his lips, looking Sunset up and down with an air of suspicion. “That all sounds very wonderful, but what do you want from me?”

Sunset shrugged, then leaned in close and whispered, “Hey man, between you and me, I’m just doing volunteer work that’ll look better on my college application, you know? Still, the animals are cute, it’s for a good cause, and we’re selling pastries and stuff too, so it’s not like you’re walking away empty handed. Win-win, right?”

“Eh… yeah, alright, I guess I could eat.” The man pulled out his wallet. “You take credit cards?”

“Yes, actually! Just go talk to the girl over there and tell her what you want, she’ll get you all taken care of.”

The guy nodded, wandering towards the bake sale they had set up on the lawn in front of the veterinary clinic.

“I still think you come on a little strong,” Fluttershy said from behind her.

“Hey, it’s my technique, and it worked, didn’t it?” Sunset smiled and turned to face Fluttershy. Volunteering for this event was Fluttershy’s idea, and Sunset was just glad to help out. “I can’t quite bat my eyelashes like you do to bring in customers. Who even needs the pictures of cute puppies when you’re around?”

Fluttershy’s cheeks reddened and she lowered her eyes to the ground. “I don’t bat my eyelashes at people, Sunset. I really care about these animals, and I'm trying my best here.”

Sunset blinked. Fluttershy sounded offended. “Wait, I didn’t mean it like that. Er, sorry. I know how much this means to you, I’m just teasing.”

“It’s okay,” Fluttershy mumbled, shaking her head. “I don’t know, maybe you’re right. Maybe everyone’s just helping me out because they think I’m pretty, not because they care about the animals.”

“Fluttershy, come on. You know that’s not true.”


Sunset sighed, then shook her head. “Look, can you take over for a bit? I need to use the bathroom.”

Fluttershy took the papers from Sunset and took a deep breath. “Sure, I can handle it.”

Once Sunset was alone, she cursed, kicking a stone into a nearby bush. With any of her other friends, Sunset could quip and banter and tease, and be reasonably sure that they'd give back as good as they got. But with Fluttershy, even Sunset’s mildest efforts seemed to cross the line, seemed to push too hard against something too delicate.

Of course, there was probably a reason for that.

Sunset pushed her way into the clinic and entered the bathroom. Her reflection stared back at her from the mirror, lips twisted in a sour-looking pout. She splashed some cold water on her face.

She could remember it all clearly. Years of torment, a relentless campaign to bully and ruin the life of a girl who had never done her any real wrong. Fluttershy had forgiven Sunset, of course. She’d been the first to truly accept Sunset as a friend, when they were still all working through those first awkward stages of redemption.

Sunset couldn't understand it. Even now, when she thought back to some of the ponies who had bullied her as a filly, a part of her still seethed with anger. What Sunset had done to Fluttershy deserved hatred, and no second chances.

“Come on, Sunset,” she said out loud, meeting her gaze in the mirror. “You've been over this already. Fluttershy is your friend now, and it's as simple as that. There's nothing to get all worked up about.”

After a few minutes and some controlled breathing, she felt better. Well, there was still work to be done. She’d just have to tone it down even more when it came to Fluttershy.

Just how many times had she already vowed to do so, anyway?

As Sunset made her way back outside and felt the sun on her face, she caught sight of Fluttershy standing in the shade of a nearby tree. The light of the setting sun filtered through the leaves, casting patterned shadows across her face. Sunset started to reach for her pocket, to take out her phone and capture that ephemeral beauty.

Until she stepped forward, and the smarmy guy leaning over Fluttershy came into view.

Fluttershy shrunk back into the hollow of the tree. Her eyes darted back and forth, and when she saw Sunset, a wave of relief washed over her face.

Something started to boil in Sunset: an anger, not just at anyone who dared to harass Fluttershy, but for shattering that perfect picture as well. Even as she strode forward, fists clenched, some part of her smiled. This was something she was a lot more comfortable dealing with.

“—come on, babe. You're looking hotter now than you ever were before. And you're eighteen now, right? Time to take the world by storm.”

Fluttershy let out a soft whimper. “I'm, uh, not really sure.”

Sunset placed a hand on the man’s shoulder and squeezed. “Excuse me, is there a problem here?”

The man stood up straight, turned to Sunset, and lowered his shades. “Who’re you, her agent?”

“I'm her friend,” Sunset said. She crossed her arms over her chest. It was a little hard to be intimidating when your targets were taller and older than you, but Sunset knew this guy's type. A slick, smooth talker. He radiated sleaze, but would avoid direct confrontation whenever possible; a rat that would scurry back into an alleyway away from a loud noise.

The man rolled his eyes. “Then please. I've got a business opportunity for Miss Fluttershy here, and would prefer to discuss it in private.”

Fluttershy glanced at Sunset and shook her head.

“Yeah, no,” Sunset said, her voice low. She rolled her shoulders, stepping forward, her stance loose. Her heartbeat accelerated, ready to fight. Everything about her demeanor spoke of a willingness to inflict violence, or at least she hoped it did.

“Freaking teenagers,” the guy muttered. “Alright, alright, relax lady. I didn't mean nobody no harm. Look, just take my card, alright? She reconsiders, give me a call. Not many girls get opportunities like this. Hell, maybe give us a call yourself. I think they're wanting to demo a new line of Bad Girl duds.”

Sunset accepted the card, not breaking eye contact until the sleazebag finally left.

Fluttershy took a deep breath, her hand resting over her heart. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Sunset said. She tried to let herself relax too, but the adrenaline was still flowing. She glanced down at the card in her hand. “A modeling agency? What exactly did he want, Fluttershy?”

“I used to work with him, kind of,” Fluttershy mumbled. She shifted back and forth, twiddling her fingers together. “Don't you remember, back in my sophomore year, when I was a teen fashion model for like a month?”

Oh. Sunset felt her heart sink in her chest. Fluttershy had been a model alright. For a brief moment in their school’s history, Fluttershy’s magazine cover had been all anyone talked about. Fluttershy was hardly the type to seek the spotlight, of course, but the photoshoot captured her inner beauty perfectly. On those pages she became a radiant goddess, instead of a normal, shy teenage girl who loved animals.

Unfortunately for her, the whole debacle happened to come right before the Fall Formal.

Fluttershy was kind. Fluttershy was good. Fluttershy was sweet, and innocent, and earnest, and beautiful, and everyone adored her for her inner light.

Back then, it was like holding up a mirror into the ugliest parts of Sunset’s soul. A harsh reminder of how hollow and empty the power she sought really was.

So Sunset did what she always did to someone she considered a threat: destroyed them.

It had been so easy. She took Fluttershy's contact info, brought it to the seedier parts of the Internet, made up a story about how this sweet innocent girl was actually a manipulative bitch, and laughed as a storm of anonymous harassment drove Fluttershy out of the industry before her career had really even started.

“Sunset? Are you okay?”

Celestia, Fluttershy probably didn't even know Sunset was the one who did it. It was a sin she had never gotten around to confessing.

“Sunset?” Fluttershy asked again. She placed a hand on Sunset’s shoulder, her eyes wide with worry.

Sunset snapped out of her reverie and cursed under her breath. “I'm fine. Sorry, I guess dealing with that jerk took a little more out of me than I thought. Look, I’m the one who should be worrying about you.”

Fluttershy smiled and shook her head. “I'm fine too. He is kind of scary, but I received an email about it a few days ago, so it wasn't completely out of the blue.”

“Right, that makes sense.” A thought occurred to Sunset, and she cautiously added, “The last time you modeled, did you have to work with creeps like that?”

“Oh no no no, it was actually quite, um, nice. I mostly worked with Photo Finish. I think he was just a recruiter.”

“I see.” Sunset stretched, resting her arms behind her head and staring up at the sky. Two years ago she had destroyed Fluttershy’s future. Could this be a chance to make things right? “If that's the case, do you have any interest in modeling again? I'd be happy to help you out. As an agent or whatever.”

Fluttershy blushed and twirled her fingers through her hair. “Oh, I don't know about that. It was all very intense, and it involves being in the center of attention a lot. I don't think I was ever a very good model.”

“That's nonsense,” Sunset said. She grabbed Fluttershy by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes. “You're beautiful, Fluttershy. Take it from someone who was a jealous and spiteful bitch back when you modeled the first time. You've only gotten prettier since.”

“I, um, thank you,” Fluttershy stammered as she turned an even deeper shade of crimson. “But you really don't have to—”

“Hey, you two, stop making out and get back to work! Just because you're volunteering doesn't mean you get to slack off!”

Sunset grinned sheepishly and turned back to the bake sale. “Guess we'd better get back to it then. I'll talk to Rarity, see what she has to say, then make some phone calls. I'm sure we can find you a gig that's just a private photoshoot, no catwalks. And if we do the online thing, I'll screen everything so no jerks bother you.”

“Oh. That, um, sounds nice, I guess…”

Sunset raised her hand and knocked on Fluttershy’s door. According to Princess Twilight, Fluttershy’s pony counterpart lived in a quaint little cottage on the edge of the forest. The human Fluttershy would probably prefer an arrangement like that, as opposed to this off-the-rack home in the heart of suburbia.

“Just a minute!” Fluttershy called out from inside. After much thumping, then the undoing of locks, Fluttershy opened the door, her smile wide. “Hi, Sunset! Perfect timing, I just pulled the cookies out of the oven.”

Sunset could smell the heavenly aroma of fresh baked goods, and her stomach rumbled. “Jeez, Fluttershy. You didn’t have to do that. I just wanted to go over some things with you in person.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “Baking helps me relax when I'm stressed out. Well, so does knitting, or taking care of animals most of the time, but I was also hungry.”

“Fair enough,” Sunset said with a chuckle. “Is something bothering you? Also, you've got some flour on your cheek.”

“I'm baking, Sunset. I haven't had the chance to clean up yet.” Fluttershy’s cheeks were red, but she still smiled, and didn't seem annoyed by the comment. “Just a second, I need to check on something,” she said, scurrying back to the kitchen.

Sunset frowned when she realized Fluttershy hadn't answered the question.

A breeze tickled Sunset’s face, and she turned to see a pair of lacy curtains flapping in front of an open window. The weather was beautiful today, so it seemed appropriate.

The wind picked up a little, and a stack of papers on the nearby dining table fluttered down to the floor.

As Sunset knelt down to gather up the scattered papers, one in particular stood out. It was a torn open envelope addressed to Fluttershy, from the University of Fillydelphia. Something about veterinary medicine?

Sunset’s fingers itched with curiosity, but she resisted the urge to peek. It wouldn't be right to intrude on Fluttershy’s privacy. Plus, she could hear footsteps coming from the kitchen anyway.

“Here you go!” Fluttershy said, looking rather maternal as she leaned over and set the cookies on the table. “I, um, hope you like them. I tried out a new recipe.”

Sunset picked up a cookie and stuffed it into her mouth. Still gooey and warm. “Mmmf, that's not peanut butter, is it? You know what happens to me when I eat peanut butter.”

“Um…” Fluttershy pursed her lips together. “You eat a ton of it because you really like it?”

“‘Atta girl.” Sunset grabbed a second cookie.

Fluttershy giggled, then handed Sunset a napkin and a glass of milk.

Sunset let out a sigh of content as she washed the cookies down, then wiped at her mouth. “Those were really good, Fluttershy. Thanks.”

Fluttershy beamed as she nibbled on a cookie of her own.

“So,” Sunset said, leaning forward. “I looked into it some more, made some calls. Pretended to be your agent. If modeling is actually something you want to do again, they're really interested. And it's good money.”

“Oh. Right.” Fluttershy straightened her posture, then clasped her hands together in front of her. “I still don't think I have the necessary… presence, as Rarity calls it, to be a model. I'm always blending into the background, and I'm pretty okay with that.”

Sunset couldn't help but smile. Fluttershy always hovered at the edge of the group, but personally Sunset found that isolation all the more striking. “I'm sure you thought the same things two years ago, but everyone loved you anyway.”

Fluttershy's expression turned sour. “Not everyone. Some people can be really nasty.”

“Like me?” Sunset asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Well… yes, kind of. I mean the old you, Sunset.” Fluttershy lowered her eyes towards the floor. “But even though you're a good person now, there are plenty of others out there that are as bad as you ever were. Or worse.”

Sunset winced. “The world can be harsh, I get that. But that's what I'm saying. If you want to do this, I'll protect you. I promise. You don't have to worry.”

Fluttershy blushed a deep crimson, and hid her face even further behind her hair. “I, um. Thank you. I always feel better when I know my friends are supporting me. But…” Fluttershy took a deep breath, then started walking around the table. “I just don't know if this is something I really want, or can even handle.”

“Hey, I don't want to push you or anything,” Sunset said. She leaned back in her chair, balancing on two legs. “I just think it seems like a good deal. You're a lot stronger than anyone else thinks, Fluttershy. I know you can handle it. And if not, well, it's one opportunity, not the rest of your life. Worst case scenario, you quit.”

“Mmm. You're probably right. You usually are…” Fluttershy stared out the open window, eyes distant, her long skirt swaying in the gentle breeze. Her hand came to rest on the letter Sunset had seen earlier, and she closed her eyes.

“I'll do it,” Fluttershy whispered.

Sunset felt a wave of relief wash over her. She wasn't entirely sure if this was the right path, but she had to atone somehow. Fluttershy deserved to be happy. She made her way over to where Fluttershy was standing and put a hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently.

Fluttershy smiled and nodded to Sunset. “We've all changed a lot since then. Grown up. Things will be different this time.”

Sunset smiled back. “We sure have, huh? Come on, there's some stuff I want to go over with you.”

“I'm kind of surprised, Rarity,” Sunset said as she glanced over at the table next to her own. “I figured you'd be all over something like this. Fashion and all.”

“Mmm. Well, I'm not sure about that, darling, I—ooh.” Rarity cooed softly as Aloe massaged her shoulders. “Sorry. But I think it's better if I keep my distance, after what happened last time.”

Sunset glanced down at Lotus, who was working on her feet, and shivered. She had only gotten spa treatments as a pony maybe once or twice, but as a human it still felt super weird. “What happened?”

“It wasn't anything serious, mind you. But the whole reason Fluttershy started to model was because I wanted to show off some new designs of mine. Rather than falling in love with my work, however, they quickly fell in love with Fluttershy's natural beauty and wanted nothing to do with my creations.”

“Yikes. That must have been rough.”

Rarity let out a long sigh and buried her face in her pillow. “It certainly was. Jealousy is quite the ugly emotion. I'm not proud of the way I felt back then. I was even happy when Fluttershy got bullied out of it. Goodness, I'm a terrible person, aren't I?”

Sunset shook her head. “We're all p—humans, here. It's okay to feel anger or jealousy every once in a while. You just can't let it control you, or interfere with your friendships. Besides, if you want to talk about being terrible, I…” Sunset took a deep breath and tugged at a one of the curlers in her hair. “I orchestrated the bullying that drove Fluttershy out of it. You may have felt jealous, but I acted on my envy and hurt her in the process.”

“I see.” Rarity twisted her head to regard Sunset, one eye peeking out from behind her hair. “Well, that's one mystery solved, I guess. Everyone kind of suspected you had something to do with it, but you covered your tracks well.”

“I'm sorry,” Sunset mumbled, lowering her eyes.

Rarity sat up, then lay back down on her back as Aloe began to work on her legs. “Come now, Sunset. You've already apologized more than enough. And even if you hadn't, I’m not the one who needs to hear it.”

“I guess you have a point.” Sunset sighed, shook her head, then cursed under her breath as Lotus prodded her in a particularly tender area. “That's kind of why I'm trying to do this. As an apology.”

“Is that your reason? Drat.” Rarity scowled and pursed her lips together.

Sunset blinked. “Were you expecting something else?”

“Well, you know—ah, a little lower—I was starting to think that this was all stemming from a romantic infatuation on your part.”

“What?” Sunset stammered, her face turning red and her eyes going wide. “What would give you that idea?”

Aloe and Lotus glanced at each other, then started giggling.

“I…” Rarity frowned, then rubbed at her chin. “I don't know. Just an odd feeling I've had about you recently. Like déjà vu. Either way, your reaction now tells me enough as is.”

Sunset grimaced and looked away. “It's not like that. Sure, Fluttershy is beautiful, and kind and smart and I love spending time with her, but that doesn't mean I want to stick my tongue down her throat.”

Rarity held a hand in front of her mouth, concealing a catlike grin. “Really? That's a pity. She told me how much she'd love for you to do just that.”

“Seriously?” Sunset sat up straight, to the annoyance of Lotus. “Crap, I'm not sure if I can…”

Rarity burst out laughing.

Sunset blinked, then sighed and shook her head. “Stop toying with me.”

“I'm sorry, I'm sorry,” Rarity said, her eyes still full of mirth. “You walked right into that one. But I'll stop teasing, I promise. Look, do you want to have a serious talk? Your crush is obvious to everyone here, there's no more denying it.”

“Yeah, fine, whatever.” Sunset huffed and leaned back in her chair. “So maybe I have a bit of a crush. It's not a big deal. She's cute, and I like her. Doesn't mean I actually want to upset the status quo and ask her out. Even assuming she swings that way, with our history, I'm sure she wants nothing to do with me.”

Rarity rolled her eyes. “Look at you, so melodramatic. How many times do you have to be told that you're forgiven? How long are you going to hold onto that guilt?”

“That's just it. I feel guilty. That's not a healthy place to try starting a relationship from. For now, all I want is to help Fluttershy, not burden her with my own issues.”

“Just be careful you don't end up doing that anyway.”

Their spa day continued in silence for several more minutes until Rarity’s massage ended and she stood up, stretching.

“That was absolutely delightful. Shall we hit the sauna?”

Sunset stood up as well, glancing down at her fingernails. She could practically see her own reflection. “Yeah, sure.”

As they made their way through the spa, Rarity leaned in and whispered, “One last thing: I suspect you'll find Fluttershy quite amenable to those of the feminine persuasion, so however you sort yourself out, that won't be an issue.”

Sunset swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. “Right. Uh, thanks, I guess. I'll keep that in mind.”

“There, just like that. Hold that pose, and... perfect! Excellent, darling, we’re really feeling this one. Keep it coming.”

Lights flashed, people barked orders, and Fluttershy sat demurely in the center of it all.

Sunset sat off to the side, carefully taking in everything at once. A photo shoot was apparently a complicated event with a lot of moving parts. If Sunset was going to be an agent, she'd need to understand it all.

“Good! Alright, take five for now. I want to try something different with the lighting.”

“You doing alright?” Sunset asked as she made her way over and handed Fluttershy a bottle of water.

Fluttershy drank half the bottle greedily, then poured some into her cupped hand and offered it to Angel Bunny, who was curled up in her lap. “It's, um, not so bad, I guess. It all seemed so much more intimidating when I was younger.”

Sunset wiped the sweat off of Fluttershy's brow with a handkerchief, careful not to smudge any of her makeup. When she was done, she stepped back to take in the bigger picture. Fluttershy wore a dress of forest greens, expertly ruffled and shaped in a way that implied she was a natural part of the babbling brook she sat next to. She even had a crown of flowers.

It was a photoshoot that played to Fluttershy’s strengths rather than accentuating her weaknesses. And it worked like a charm.

“You look absolutely beautiful like this,” Sunset murmured. She felt her cheeks heat up and mentally cursed herself. Ever since her talk with Rarity all sorts of uncomfortable thoughts were bouncing around in her head.

Fluttershy pursed her lips together. “Everyone keeps telling me that, so I guess it must be true. I don't feel like it is, though. Shouldn't it be Rarity up here instead of me? She puts so much more effort into her appearance than I do.”

Sunset frowned, thinking it through. She kicked off her sandals, sat next to Fluttershy, and dipped her feet in the stream. The water was cool between her toes, and she could see tiny fish swimming about. “It's not like attractiveness can be measured in a way that directly correlates to the effort put in. And different aesthetics have different appeals, none of them better or worse than the others. Rarity cultivates a specific image for herself, one she wants to show to the world. You don't, instead trying to hide from it. Different things work for different people.” She paused.“Of course, I'm not even human, so take that with a bushel of hay.”

Silence. They both sat side by side, staring into the water until Fluttershy sighed. “Maybe you're right. You always explain things in a way that sounds like you must be right. If people like the way I look so much that they want to pay money to take pictures of me holding a bunny, what right do I have to argue otherwise? It's honest work, right? If nothing else, I should at least be able to handle this.”

“What I said earlier still stands, you know,” Sunset said, placing a hand on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “I'm not trying to push you into doing anything you're uncomfortable with.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “Maybe you should be. Almost everything makes me at least a little uncomfortable, Sunset. And hiding from it all hasn't exactly gotten me anywhere I want to go.”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Where exactly is it you want to go?”


“Places everyone! Break time's over, time to make more magic! You there, off the set!”

“Sorry…” Fluttershy mumbled.

Sunset grinned as she stood up, stretching. “Bad place for a talk, anyway. Sleepover at your place tonight? To ‘celebrate your success.’ Or, you know, just hang out like normal?”

Fluttershy giggled, then flashed Sunset a radiant smile. “Sure. I'm looking forward to it.”

“Hey, Fluttershy,” Sunset called out as she stuck her head into the bedroom. “Do you have a spare toothbrush? I forgot mine at home.”

Nobody answered her. Sunset blinked, and pushed the door open a little further. Water dropped from Sunset’s hair onto the carpet. Fluttershy wasn't in her room.

“Fluttershy?” Sunset called, louder this time. No answer, but it wasn't anything particularly noteworthy. Fluttershy had probably just snuck downstairs to the kitchen, or to the other bathroom while Sunset was taking a shower.

After searching both of those locations and finding nothing, a twinge of worry began to worm its way into Sunset’s heart until she felt a slight breeze on her face. The back door was open.

She found Fluttershy outside, sitting on one of those wooden porch swings.

“Hey,” Sunset said. She sat down next to Fluttershy, the old wood groaning in protest. “Two bits for a thought?”

Fluttershy turned to her, smiled softly, then went back to staring up at the sky. Light pollution from the city left the view a little washed out, but the stars were still visible. “It's nothing, really. I'm just a bit tired. It was a long day.”

Sunset nodded. A faint whiff of perfume tickled her nose, whatever they had put on Fluttershy for the photoshoot. She had no idea why a model needed to smell nice for a picture, but whatever. “This is a sleepover, you know. If you’re tired you don't have to hold back on the sleeping part for my sake.”

Fluttershy giggled. “Okay, um, if you say so!” She closed her eyes and promptly fell over with her head resting on Sunset’s shoulder. She began making exaggerated snoring sounds, interspersed with snorts of laughter.

Sunset chuckled, even as her heart sped up. Fluttershy had no idea how much of an effect she had on Sunset. But it wasn't fair to blame Fluttershy, of course. Sunset had let her emotions get all twisted up, and had no one to blame but herself… and maybe Rarity, a little.

After a minute, Fluttershy’s faux snores died down with a soft sigh, and she snuggled a little closer. “You're a good friend, Sunset.”

It felt right, somehow. Just sitting here with Fluttershy. Was this really the kind of thing Sunset wanted? Would she risk an intimate friendship for the sake of a deeper intimacy? “I'm not too sure about that, sometimes.”

Fluttershy peered up at Sunset, her eyes glittering with disapproval. “I know I don't have much of a right to say this, but you shouldn't be down on yourself like that, Sunset. Whether I think you're a good friend or not is up to me, isn't it?”

Sunset swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. She couldn't keep avoiding the issue forever. “It was me,” she croaked, her voice barely a whisper. “I was the one who bullied you out of being a model the first time, or at least arranged for it to happen.”

“Oh.” Fluttershy pulled back and clasped her hands together in her lap. “Um, thanks for telling me. You've been carrying that for a while, huh?”

“I…” Sunset grimaced and looked away. “Is that really it? What I did to you was absolutely horrible.”

Fluttershy raised an eyebrow. “Would you prefer I got angry and yelled at you, or if we stopped being friends?”

“I can hardly think of anything I want less than that,” Sunset said, clenching the fabric of her jeans. “But a part of me still feels like I deserve it anyway.”

“Hmm.” Fluttershy held a finger to her lips, brow furrowed in thought. After several moments, her eyes lit up. “Oh, um, maybe this will help? At the time I actually hated being a model, and I only stuck with it because I didn't want to disappoint Rarity. But when the harassment started, I seized on that excuse to quit and was happy for it.”

“You mean…”

“Though it would have been a lot nicer if I could have done it without all the threatening phone calls and emails and feeling scared and missing classes,” Fluttershy said with a bitter smile.

“Sorry.” Sunset frowned, then turned towards Fluttershy. “If you really hated it back then, is that the case now? I really don't want to push you into anything.”

Fluttershy's expression darkened, and she shook her head. “It's not like that. Things are different now. I can handle it better. And I've got, um, other reasons.”

Sunset leaned closer. “Such as?”


A soft chime interrupted the night air. Fluttershy stiffened, then pulled out her phone and began scrolling through something. Her eyes darted back and forth as she read whatever message she had received. After a few moments, Fluttershy went limp, slumping back into the bench like a puppet with its strings cut. “Reasons like that,” she whispered, and pushed the phone towards Sunset.

Sunset picked up the phone and skimmed the email on it. A few key words quickly jumped out at her like application, veterinary school, and rejected.

“Come on, this is just one school, right? Not the end of the world.”

Fluttershy sniffed and wrapped her arms around her stomach. Her bottom lip trembled as she spoke. “I think that's the fifth. Not even one of the good ones.”

“But that doesn't make any sense,” Sunset blurted out. “Animals are your thing, Fluttershy. Your cutie mark. Your raison d’être. How could anyone ever reject you?”

“Well, they did,” Fluttershy spat. She clenched her fists, trembling. “It turns out you need more than a love for animals to be a vet. Competition is fierce, and they require good grades in math and science, which I'm okay at but not great.” Fluttershy pulled her legs up onto the bench, wrapping her arms around them. “I want to do more for animals than just volunteering at a shelter, but I guess I'm not cut out for it.”

Sunset hesitated briefly, then scooted in close and threw an arm around Fluttershy's shoulders. “Sorry. I had no idea. But if this is your dream, you can't give up that easily, right? Maybe you just really need to knuckle down and study. I'd be happy to help, and I'm sure the rest of the girls would too.”

Fluttershy sobbed, and buried her face into Sunset’s shoulder. “All I'm good for is being a pretty face!”

Sunset pulled Fluttershy into a deeper embrace and let her cry it out. She absently stroked Fluttershy's hair, murmuring, “Hush. You know as well as I do that that's not true.”

A cool nighttime breeze flowed across them. Sunset shivered briefly, but clung a little tighter to the warmth in her arms. Her own guilt was easily forgotten when comforting a friend.

They sat like there for several minutes longer until Fluttershy’s tears finally dried up, her face red and puffy.

“I'm sorry,” Fluttershy mumbled into Sunset’s shirt. “I guess I've been holding onto that for a while now, too.”

Sunset chuckled, then took a deep breath. Her fingers were still intertwined in Fluttershy's hair. It was probably a bit bold on her part, but Fluttershy had yet to pull away. “Feeling any better?”

“A little.”

“Glad to hear it. Do you want to talk about possible solutions?”

“Mmm.” Fluttershy squeezed a little harder. “I'm scared, Sunset. I always thought it'd be easy. What if I try even harder and still fail? At least with modeling I'm good for something.”

A part of Sunset wanted to just keep holding Fluttershy, to let her know that everything was going to be alright. But this seemed like the time for honesty.

“I don't know what it takes to become a vet.” Sunset reached down, cupped Fluttershy’s chin, and lifted, their eyes meeting. “I do know that I promise to help you study or apply or threaten admissions officers, whatever it takes. But you're right. It might not be enough. Life is hard, and sometimes our dreams just don't come true. But you have to try anyway. And you don't have to do it alone.”

Fluttershy sniffed, and reached up a finger to wipe at her eyes. “Maybe don't threaten anyone, okay?”

Sunset bared her teeth in a wicked grin. “I'm not ruling anything out just yet.”

There was a brief pause, then they both burst into a fit of giggles.

“Thank you, Sunset,” Fluttershy said, smiling.


Fluttershy stood up and yawned. She stretched, leaning back and forth before heading towards the door. “Well, I guess I don’t have an answer, but I feel better. Do you want to get back to our sleepover? Or do we have even more things to get off our chests?” She turned with a mischievous grin and stuck her tongue out.

“Well, actually…” Sunset grumbled under her breath. She looked up, then realized Fluttershy had heard her comment. Crap. It'd be easy enough to play off as a joke but… Screw it. She might as well take one final leap.

Sunset stood up and faced Fluttershy head in. She clenched her fists, her arms stiff against her sides. “Hey, Fluttershy. You know I'll stand by you as a friend, right?”

Fluttershy cocked her head to the side. “Um, yes? I think we've covered that pretty thoroughly.”

“Well, I want you to know that what I'm about to ask won't change that at all, I promise.” Sunset squeezed her eyes shut, took a deep breath, then opened them again. “But I was wondering if maybe you'd like to stand together as more than that—as girlfriends instead.”

Fluttershy blinked several times, then her eyes got wide, and she clasped her hands over her mouth. “I, um…” Her cheeks grew a deep scarlet, and she stumbled over her words a few more times before she managed to stammer, “Are you, um, asking me out?”

Sunset shrugged and rubbed at the back of her head. “Yeah, I am. Sorry to put you on the spot like that; you just mentioned things left unsaid, and well... If you want to say no, that's fine. I'll live.”

“I, um. I don't know.” Fluttershy fidgeted and drew in on herself. She twiddled her fingers together and peeked out at Sunset from behind her bangs. “I don't think I'd make a very good girlfriend to anyone, especially to you, Sunset.”

“Maybe, maybe not. I think it's worth trying. Whether I think you’re a good girlfriend or not is up to me, isn’t it?”

Fluttershy managed a brief smile before she returned to her fidgeting.

The silence seemed almost deafening, even though the noise of the suburbs hadn't gone away. A breeze kicked up some fallen leaves around their feet. Sunset half expected a tumbleweed to blow by.

“When I said maybe I needed a little push out of my comfort zone, this isn't exactly what I had in mind.”

Sunset grimaced. Well, she'd given it her best. They were strong enough that it wouldn't ruin their friendship. She just had to—

“But, sure. Okay,” Fluttershy whispered, her voice a barely audible squeak. “I guess I can try that too.”

Sunset blinked. “Wait, really?”

Fluttershy nodded, and looked up, a spark of determination behind her eyes. “You make me want to be a better person, Sunset. I, um, don't know anything about being in a relationship, but if it's anything like being your friend, I think I’d like that.”

“I…” Sunset’s breath caught in her throat. A warm rush of euphoria coalesced in her chest and spread throughout her body, and she found herself grinning like an idiot.

“And I, um, know everyone’s been saying this to me a lot, but I think you’re pretty cute too,” Fluttershy said with a shy smile.

Sunset felt laughter bubble out of her throat and she jumped forward, pulling Fluttershy into a tight hug and picking the smaller girl up off the ground briefly. “Fluttershy! I, geez, I don’t even know what to say now!”

“A little tight,” Fluttershy wheezed.

“Sorry!” Sunset put Fluttershy back down gently. “Wow, I uh. I honestly didn’t think this far ahead. What do we do now, anyway?”

Fluttershy blushed and looked away. “How should I know?”

“Right. I have no idea what I’m doing either, but I’m just going to wing it, okay?” Sunset took Fluttershy’s hand in her own, intertwining their fingers. She stared into Fluttershy’s eyes. A part of her wanted to just lean forward and kiss her, but this was Fluttershy. One step at a time.

“I’m kind of scared,” Fluttershy whispered. She stepped in close, wrapping her arms around Sunset’s as they made their way back inside. “I’m not sure what’s really changed, but it suddenly feels like everything has.”

“No matter what, we’re still friends. And I don’t think there’s much more to it than that. Just, you know, with kissing and stuff. But we can work up to that, don’t worry.”

Fluttershy furrowed her brow, then smiled. She leaned up and gave Sunset a quick peck on the cheek. “Is that good enough to start with?”

Sunset still couldn’t stop grinning. She reached up and rubbed at her cheek absently.

“Yeah. A good start.”

Author's Notes:

Thanks to Kalan, MaskedFerret, Zoey, and Seraphem for editing and pre-reading!
Coverart commissioned by Magello.

This story is part of a collection of oneshots, each focusing on a relationship between Sunset Shimmer and a member of the humane six. The other stories can be found as follows:
Applejack - The Sun Sets Over the Apple Orchard
Rarity - A Suit With Sincerity
Rainbow Dash - A Heartfelt Goal
Pinkie Pie - Pinkie Pie and Sunset Shimmer Get Trapped In An Elevator
Twilight Sparkle - A Sunlit Journey
End - For The Love of Sunset

There are also a few other story contributions to this madness. Check them out!.
(Human) Twilight Sparkle - The Nightmare I Need, by Dubs Rewatcher.
(Pony) Twilight Sparkle - Anamnesis, by TheAlbinocorn.

Return to Story Description


Login with