With Great Power

by Dubs Rewatcher

Chapter 1: With Great Power

Curled up under her bedcovers, Sunset yawned and swiped at her phone screen.


Tennis players hate her! You won’t believe her secret!

Sunset rolled her eyes and kept scrolling down her MyStable feed. A woman with three arms? Really? Sunset had spent too much time at Camp Everfree; a weekend of fighting evil plant monsters and reading people's minds had made her forget how silly the rest of the world could be. Even with superpowers, she swore that she was more normal than ninety-nine percent of the planet.

Ooh, half-off on bales of hay! Sunset thought as she passed an ad for a local farm. Her stomach grumbled. I should check that out when I get back…


Sunset froze. Behind the screen, she could just make out the blurry shape of Twilight twisting and turning in bed. Twilight flipped onto her back, then again onto her stomach; she stretched out her legs, then folded them up again; she kept flipping and twitching and adjusting herself until her bed squeaked so loud it sounded like a trampoline. She would stop for a few moments, only to start up again, writhing like a torture victim.

She had been like this for almost half an hour, ever since they had shut off the light. Man, what’s up with her? Looks like she’s sleep dancing. Sunset hoped Twilight wasn’t having another weird Midnight Sparkle dream. Shrugging the thought off, she returned to her phone. She probably just needs to pee or something.

Sunset scrolled down her feed. Pictures of cats, more bad clickbait ads… evidently, Rainbow was still awake too, endlessly sharing soccer memes at one in the morning. She had changed her display name to ‘Rainbow LightningFast Dash.’ Well, it almost rhymes. Sorta. Maybe I should change mine, too… Sunset Psychic Shimmer?

Snickering, Sunset glanced up from her phone.

Twilight was staring straight at her.

The two locked eyes for a half-second before Twilight recoiled and clamped her eyes shut.

Sunset put down her phone. “Twilight?”

No answer. Even in the dark, Sunset could see Twilight’s chest rising and falling rapidly.

“Twi, I know you’re awake,” Sunset said, frowning. “Now, are you gonna get up? Or am I gonna have to tell Spike that someone brought a bag of doggy treats along on this trip?”

“No!” Twilight snapped up straight. “He’ll never leave me alone!”

Sunset gave Twilight a dainty wave. “Good morning, Sleeping Beauty.”

Twilight sighed and lay back down. “Sorry. I didn’t want to bother you.”

“Eh, don’t worry about it. You’re more interesting than a three-armed tennis player.”

“Thanks…?” Twilight squinted and looked out their tent door. “It’s not really morning yet, is it? Don’t tell me I’ve been awake for that long.”

“Nah, we’re still a few hours from sunrise,” Sunset said. “But what’s going on with you? You’ve been flopping around like a fish over there. Mosquitos eating you alive? Bad dreams?”

“I wish,” Twilight said with a snort. “I just can’t sleep. I’m… anxious, I guess. Anxious and nauseous.”

“Anxious? Butterflies in your stomach?” Sunset asked, smirking. She wiggled her brows. “Still thinking about Timber’s spruce?”

Twilight stared for a moment before her face seized up in a crimson frenzy. “Oh goddess, Sunset—! No, no!” With a tiny smile, she shook her head and rested a hand over her thumping chest. “No, that’s not it. Seriously.”

Sunset stifled her laughter. “What, then?”

Any amusement on Twilight’s face withered away. Taking a hard swallow, she reached over to their nightstand and grabbed the tiny purple necklace that sat there. “This,” she said, hanging it from her fingers. “This is what’s making me so anxious.”

“Ooh, you’re excited about your new magic?” Sunset asked. She giggled and touched her own pendant—she hadn’t taken it off since defeating Gaia. Its energy prickled at her skin like television static and sent a pleasurable jolt of magic through her limbs. “Yeah, I am too. All this time I thought I would never get to use magic again, and now look at us! It’s so awesome! It’s—Twi?”

Hunched over in her bed, Twilight looked like she was about to cry.

Sunset gaped. “Are… are you okay?” she asked, turning on the light.

“No. No, I’m not,” Twilight said. She hugged her knees and took a long breath. “Sunset, if I told you a secret, could you keep it from the others?”


“Yes, again,” Twilight said, nose wrinkling. “I’m sorry that listening to me is such a burden.”

Sunset bristled, but squashed the comeback brewing in her throat. “It’s fine. What’s up?”

Twilight squeezed her pendant tight. Eyes closed, she muttered, “I don’t want magic.”

“You… what?” Sunset blinked. “What do you mean?”

“I mean exactly what I said: I don’t want magic,” Twilight said. “I don’t want the telekinesis, or this pendant, or anything. I hate it.”

“C’mon, that’s not true,” said Sunset. “You were totally hyped about it when we talked back at the party! What happened?”

“I thought about it,” said Twilight.

Sunset waited for more, but when nothing came, said, “Look, I dunno what that’s supposed to mean, but I think you’re overreacting a bit.”

Twilight narrowed her eyes. “I’m not overreacting.”

“It’s either that, or I just don’t get what you’re talking about,” Sunset said. “We’ve got legit Equestrian magic now. It doesn’t get better than this! How could you not love it?”

“Because I don’t!” Twilight snapped, pounding a fist into the blanket. A bottle of sunscreen sitting across the room flew into the air with a burst of purple energy. Even louder, sharp eyes burning holes into her knees, Twilight said, “I never asked for this!”

“What, and I did?” Sunset kicked the oozing sunscreen bottle off her bed and said, “None of us asked for this! That’s just how fate works sometimes.”

“Oh, fate, right.” Twilight gave Sunset a wretched glare. “That might work for you back in Equestria, but it doesn’t work for me.”

Sunset scowled. “I’m just trying to help here, y’know.”

At that, Twilight’s glower melted. Wringing her hands, Twilight let her eyes fall to the blanket. “Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to yell, or make you mad. I just… I dunno.”

Just like whenever she got angry, a million insults and comments bubbled up in Sunset’s mind—one look at Twilight’s sagging shoulders and quivering chin sent them away. “Don’t worry about it,” Sunset said, putting on a smile. “Let’s just take this slow. You don’t want your magic?”

“No.” Twilight sniffled. “I don’t want to be a superhero, or an ‘Equestrian,’ or whatever we are.”

“Okay. What do you want?”

“A career!” Twilight said. “A normal career in science or medicine or something—I dunno, I’ll pick when I get to college I guess—and a normal education and a normal life. I don’t want to drop out of school to fight evil.”

Sunset scoffed. “No one’s gonna make you drop out, Twi.”

“Really?” Twilight asked, clenching her fists again. “It’s been three months since I came to CHS, and we’ve already almost died twice. Whenever we play music, those awful wings and ears grow out of me.” She growled. “And did you see what happened with Snips this afternoon? We were setting up for the concert and he couldn’t reach a pack of streamers up on a shelf, so he asked me to use my ‘wizard powers’ to get them.”

Sunset shrugged. “Okay?”

Twilight shook her head. “You don’t get it, do you? This—this stupid magic. This is my job, my life now. That’s all anyone cares about. I’m just a freaky wizard thing!”

“You are not a freak,” Sunset said.

“Then what am I?” Twilight asked, voice straining.

“You’re Twilight!” Sunset said, adding jazz hands for emphasis. She laughed dryly and shot Twilight a wink. “You’re cool, yo.”

Twilight didn’t laugh. “I’ve spent the last three months worrying about Midnight, but at least that was only in my dreams. Now everyone knows about what I am.”

“You don’t have to be anything,” Sunset said. “We dealt with magic before we met you and got on just fine. If you really don’t want to get involved, you don’t have to. No one will think less of you.”

“But isn’t that selfish?” Twilight asked. “I have the power to help people. Isn’t it selfish not to use it? What if someone who I could have saved gets hurt? Isn’t that on me?”

Are you looking for things to be upset about or what? Sunset thought, raising a brow. She shooed the thought away and said, “Well, we’re safe now. No evil demons in sight. Just tell Snips or whoever that you’re not gonna be some tool, and you’ll be good.”

“I don’t think it’s that easy.” Twilight frowned. “You said it yourself: we have no idea where all this evil magic is coming from. This weekend, I saw my entire class almost get swallowed by an evil plant. For all we know, tomorrow we could wake up to find some new monster has slaughtered everyone while we were asleep.”

Sunset flinched. “That’s pretty morbid.”

“But not improbable,” Twilight said. “I know how this goes. Superheroes show up, and supervillains arrive to torment them. This is just the beginning.”

“You’re making it sound like we’re in a comic book.”

“We might as well be!” Twilight said, throwing up her hands. “The sirens, Midnight Sparkle, Gaia Everfree. They’ve all showed up after the rest of you ponied up for the first time, right?”

Sunset looked away. “Well, yeah, but—”

“This won’t stop. As long as we have the magic, we’re in danger.” With wild eyes, Twilight stared at her pendant, resting it in an open palm. “Just touching this thing feels disgusting. Like something is crawling under my skin. I didn’t want to say anything because everyone else is happy, and I know I should be happy too, but I can’t stand it, and I hate it, and I—”

Twilight pressed a fist to her lips, her breaths shallow and quick. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

“Calm down,” Sunset said. Even her smile had disappeared, replaced by an uncertain grimace. “It’s gonna be fine. Sure, we’ve been in tight spots before. But we’ve always come out on top!”

“Past performance isn’t always a predictor of future results,” said Twilight. “What if a new demon comes and defeats us? What if they’ve got some sort of magic we can’t beat? Or they catch one of us off guard and kill her, so the rest of us can’t power up? What if they kill two of us? Or three? Or our families? What if I can’t protect my family and they die because of me, Sunset?”

“That’s not going to happen—”

“How do you know?” Twilight asked, voice cracking. In little more than a squeak, she said, “There’s only so many miracles, so many times we can just luck our way into victory! I don’t want to go to your funeral, Sunset. I don’t want to watch you be murdered by a demon, or choked out by vines, or—” She dropped her pendant and sprinted out of the tent. “Oh, goddess, I’m gonna be—”

The ugly sound of retching filled the air. With every new groan, Sunset retreated deeper under the covers. She plugged her ears and stared at the door to their tent with dulled eyes, begging her exhausted brain to come up with something to do, something to say to make this all better. She felt useless, even selfish watching her best friend break down, tortured by the same magic Sunset so loved.

She gripped her blanket tight and cursed herself. Part of this was her fault, wasn’t it? Sunset loved the thrill of power and adventure. And she had gotten so caught up in the excitement of her new powers that she hadn’t even thought about how Twilight—a girl whose greatest pleasure was curling up in her bed and reading all night—might feel. For the first time in a long time, Sunset the Equestrian realized just how different she was from Twilight the Teenage Girl.

An idea wormed its way into Sunset’s head.

A few minutes later, the flap to their tent opened and Twilight hobbled back inside. Bare feet dragging along the floor, she looked gaunt, like a corpse brought back to life. “Hey,” she said in a scratchy voice.

Sunset offered her a smile. “Feeling better at all?”

“I guess. Nothing came up, I just kinda… yeah.” Twilight rubbed her puffy eyes and trudged back to her bed. “I’ll get over it. Sorry for keeping you up.”

“Twi, come sleep with me.”

Twilight jolted up straight, cheeks igniting. Every limb trembling, she turned around and sputtered, “Excuse me?

“C’mon.” Sunset scooched over in bed and patted the empty space next to her. “Just for tonight.”

“Sunset, I…” Her back as rigid as a rod, Twilight took a deep breath and planted her feet firmly together. “I appreciate your invitation and I think you’re very attractive yes but I’m not entirely comfortable with doing that with you and I think I maybe sort of already have a boyfriend so—”

“I’m not asking you to have my babies, Twi. Just c’mere.”

Gulping, Twilight nodded and walked over. She stayed silent as Sunset pulled back the covers and invited her to lay down. A blush crossed both their faces as they turned in bed to look at one another, their bare legs brushing together.

Sunset opened her mouth, but looking into Twilight’s eyes, all her words turned to slush. She sputtered a few times, trying desperately to remember what her plan had been—Was I supposed to kiss her? No, right?—but could only muster up a tiny, “Hey.”

“Hey?” Twilight said. She shuffled around a bit, still occasionally sniffling. “Sunset, this is nice and all, but is there a reason we’re...?”

Has she always smelled like strawberries?

“Uh.” Sunset blinked hard a few times, putting her thoughts back in order. She built her smile back up and said, “I just thought it might make you feel better. I know that when I was a kid, whenever I got upset, my mom would take me aside and hold me, and it always calm me down.” She gave a wistful laugh. “I think that’s part of the reason studying with Celestia made me so sad and angry. I didn’t really have anyone that I could talk to, or trust to make me feel better. Sometimes it’s just nice to be touched, y’know?”

Twilight’s face fell. “I really am acting like a little kid, aren’t I?”

“What? No, no.” Sunset shook her head, brows furrowed. “That’s not what I meant. You know that.”

“You don’t have to lie to me,” Twilight said, her words slow and shaky. She curled herself up tight. “I sound so stupid. I need to suck it up and stop whining.” She pulled off the blanket and sat up.

“Twi, wait!” Sunset grabbed Twilight’s hand.

A flash of golden light burst from their entwined fingers.

I’m going to die like this.

The thought echoed in her mind, Twilight’s disembodied voice growing louder and louder. A horrendous rush of emotions swirled through Sunset—sadness, humiliation, fear. A chill spidered down Sunset’s back as her magic seeped into Twilight’s brain, probing every one of her darkest thoughts. She saw a vision: shapeless demons flying through the air, Sunset and all her friends mangled and broken. Sunset sees a bloody hand reaching towards her, grabbing her by the throat. She tries to scream, but nothing comes out, she can’t move, she can’t breathe, her magic is useless, oh goddess help me help me this is my life this is my future help me—

Sunset threw herself back against the wall.

Twilight stared, jaw hanging. “Sunset, did you just...?”

It took all of Sunset’s concentration to put a sentence together. “Holy shit.”

“Oh, no.” Twilight’s entire body wilted. A hand covering her mouth, tears welling in her eyes, she sputtered, “No, no...”

Brain kicking back into gear, Sunset laid a hand on Twilight’s shoulder. “C’mon, I’m sorry, don’t freak out. It’s okay. You’re okay.”

But even Sunset’s words came out crumbling, unsteady. The nightmare lingered in her mind, and in her chest she felt a hot panicky sensation, as if she were looking off the side of a building, about to be pushed into open air. She couldn't bring herself to look into Twilight’s eyes for more than a moment without being choked by guilt; Sunset knew that she wasn’t the only one who had seen that vision. Her magic had scoured the deepest reaches of Twilight’s brain and brought those dark thoughts to the front of Twilight’s mind.

Forget helping Twilight—Sunset had just hurt her more.

What am I doing?

“Twi, it’s alright,” Sunset said in the firmest voice she could manage. “Just—”

“No, no.” Twilight cradled herself, trying fruitlessly to slow her breathing, to stop the incoming panic attack. “Oh goodness, oh goodness...”

Sunset reached out again to hold Twilight’s hand, but recoiled when her magic sparked again and sent a tremor of fear spidering down her back. Cursing, Sunset tore off her necklace and hurled it across the room. It landed in a pile of her dirty clothes.

Twilight,” Sunset tried again, grabbing her friend’s arms and pulling them away from her face. “Slow down.”

Twilight choked out, “I can’t—”

“Yes, you can.” Sunset rested a hand on Twilight’s side and guided her until they were laying down together. As Twilight hyperventilating, Sunset touched her face and said, “C’mon. Just breathe with me.”

Sunset waited until Twilight opened her eyes before taking in a long, deep breath, followed by an even longer exhale. She did this once, twice, three times, all the while doing everything she could to keep on a steady smile. And although it took a few moments, soon Twilight tried her best to join in; she was barely able to draw in a full breath at first, sputtering when she tried, but eventually managed to even out her breathing.

“I get it now,” Sunset said after a while. “I thought you were overreacting before, but now I get it.”

“I just don’t want to lose anyone,” Twilight said.

“Neither do I. But that’s why we’re all going to look out for one another.”

“But—” Twilight bit her lip. “I’m sorry, I’m tired and confused and...”

“It’s okay.” Sunset rubbed Twilight’s arm. “Don’t bottle this up. You don’t have to pretend to make me feel better. Just let it out.”

Twilight closed her eyes and gripped Sunset’s hand, but it didn’t take long for a whimper to echo from her throat. Messy hair sticking to her face, Twilight curled up and buried her face into Sunset’s chest. Sunset felt Twilight quake beneath her—even without her pendant, Sunset felt the fear radiating from Twilight’s skin like electricity. She stroked Twilight’s back in wide circles and held her, breathing in the muted scent of strawberries.

She ran a hand through Twilight’s knotted hair. “I know it might not mean much coming from Miss Magic Unicorn herself, but it’s going to be alright, Twi.”

Twilight didn’t look up.

“I know you’re scared. You have every right to be. I bet the others are nervous too! I mean, Rarity’s the one who straight-up said she wanted a break from it all,” Sunset said. She hugged Twilight tight. “And you’re right: we don’t have to just take this lying down. We’ll do research, we’ll figure out what’s causing all of this. I’ve got your back. We’ve all got your back. I promise.”

A few seconds of silence passed before Twilight sniffled and looked up, her face splotchy and damp. “Thank you,” she said in an airy voice.

“No problem,” said Sunset, beaming. She wiped the tears from Twilight’s face. “And if you ever need a good cry, my bed is always open.”

The two paused.

Sunset’s face went as red as Twilight’s. “That sounded way sleazier than I meant it to be,” she said, rubbing the back of her head.

But any embarrassment she felt left her at the sound of Twilight’s giggle—a sort of snort, followed by a quiet titter. “Yeah, you are a slimeball.”

“Says the girl with snot all over her nose,” Sunset said with a laugh, earning a blush from Twilight. “Here, lemme grab you a tissue or something.”

But when Sunset sat up, Twilight laid a hand on her shoulder and stopped her. Closing her eyes, Twilight reached a hand out toward her suitcase on the other side of the room—a moment later, a box of tissues surrounded by purple light rose into the air and floated over to her.

As Twilight blew her nose, Sunset gaped. “You’re not even wearing your necklace,” she said. “How the heck did you use magic without your necklace?”

Twilight flinched, but shrugged.

“Wow.” Sunset chuckled. “You must have some amazing potential if you can...”

She noticed Twilight’s frown.

“...Nevermind.” Sunset laid back down again and drew the blanket over them. “We don’t have to talk about that. Not until you feel comfortable.”

Twilight smiled wider than Sunset had seen all night. She reached over to flick off the lamp, then curled up against Sunset’s side, head resting on Sunset’s shoulder. “Goodnight,” she said. “And thanks again.”


Sunset didn't need her magic to feel the tension slowly ebb from Twilight's bones, to hear her breathing slow down and steady out. The two lay in the dark like that, bare feet and arms touching, serenaded by the sounds of the forest around them. Sunset fell asleep with the tingle of skin-on-skin running through her and with the smell of strawberries coating her thoughts, turning her dreams into visions of wide open fields. And when she finally awoke, her face mere inches from Twilight’s, their legs intertwined, she smiled.

At least, until she heard the sound of Rainbow and Pinkie giggling in the doorway, followed by the snap of a camera phone.

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