by PonyAmorous

Chapter 1: Imitation


Goddess above! She's so damn beautiful!

I try not to stare as I follow Sunset around to the back of the school. I fail miserably. Who could blame me? She's gorgeous, brilliant, creative, and tough as nails. Somehow just as at home in a lab coat as her signature leather jacket. A guitar shredding, motorcycle riding, science doing bombshell who's literally out of this world. A magical girlfriend straight out of one of those absurd wish fulfillment animes. Not that she's my girlfriend or anything. That would be ridiculous.

No matter how often I lie awake at night fantasizing about it. Holding hands as we walk home from school together. Lazy Sundays together playing videogames and watching bad movies. Her hot breath on my neck as her hands slide up under my shirt and–

No! No time for that now! Sunset said she had something important to discuss in private, so get your head out of the gutter, Twilight, and pay attention!

Besides, there's no way she'd ever be that into someone like you. Can you even imagine what she'd think if she saw those filthy thoughts in your head?

I slow my pace a bit as I follow Sunset, increasing the distance between us, wary of accidentally stumbling into any physical contact that might trigger her mind reading powers. What a disaster that would be. Would she be disgusted? Yell? Run off? Laugh? No, she was far too nice a person to do any of that. She'd probably feel bad for me. Try to find a way to let me down easy even as she looked at me with eyes full of pity. Oh, Goddess! That would be so much worse!

That was why I had tried to change. Tried to distract myself by accepting Timber Spruce's flirtatious advances that had all the subtlety of a freight train . That hadn't been too bad for a while. He was a bit cheesy, but it was kind of endearing in a way. Sunset had been really supportive while also ribbing me mercilessly, which made for some...confusing emotions. But it had worked, for a little while at least. Eventually I found my thoughts inevitably drifting back to Sunset, resenting the occasions our dates conflicted with time I could have spent with her instead. Eventually, I had stopped returning his calls. Eventually, he stopped calling.

I shake that bit of guilt for my inconsiderate behavior free from my head as we finally reach our destination. The backside of the bleachers tower over us as Sunset stops and turns to face me. Well, tower over me at least. Somehow, nothing ever seems to make Sunset look small. I refocus my attention as she moves to speak.

"So...uh, here we are...obviously..."

Is Sunset actually...nervous?

"So, what is it Sunset? Do you need a lab partner for some kind of secret project?"

"Not really. Though, uh...I guess in a way you could call it an experiment of sorts? And not really secret so much as...personal I guess."

Sunset raises a hand to rub at the back of her head, leaving the other unsure what to do at her side until it dives into a pocket of her jacket. The end of one of her boots grinds into the ground below as she shifts her weight uncomfortably. There's no denying it. She's nervous. Bordering on downright flustered.

"Oh, wow. I really thought I'd be a lot better at this. I thought after all the encounters with Equestrian magic running wild, this would be a cake walk."

"Don't worry Sunset, whatever it is, I'll help you with it."

She seems to relax a bit at hearing that. For the first time today I feel like I've done something right.

"Thanks, Twilight. I guess I should just come out and say it then." She takes a calm, steadying breath. "I-I like you. A lot. Like, romantically. And I was wondering if you wanted to...you know...be together. In like, the romantic sense?"

Externally, the silence of the following pause is polluted by the wind, the sounds of an after school soccer match picking up on the nearby field, and Sunset's heavy breathing as she let's out the breath she was holding and rests her hand on her knees as if she'd just finished unloading a truck full of heavy cargo.

Internally, there is only the screeching sound of my mind grating against itself as mental gears go flying apart and then burst into flames.



"I like you. I think we should date. Please don't make me say it again. It takes a lot out of me." Sunset leans against the back of the bleachers, trying to get her breathing under control.

This...this shouldn't be. This isn't right. None of this is right. It can't be real. It must be a dream. A dream that is just waiting for me to let down my guard so it can morph into a nightmare. I'll go in for a kiss and she'll suddenly backpedal in disgust or laugh at me. Or I'll look down and suddenly be Midnight again, the monster who nearly killed all her dear friends, and she'll blast me away and banish me, before running off to celebrate with them. And with her.

"W-Why?" Despite my best efforts, I'm shuddering now.

"What?" She looks at me, utterly perplexed.

"Why me? Why would you like someone like me?"

Her perplexed look continues unabated.

"I...I'm not sure I understand the question? You're...You're Twilight! Why wouldn't I like you?"

That doesn't make any sense. Not in the slightest. Twilight Sparkle isn't anyone special. Nobody interesting. Certainly not compared to a dimension hopping, genius alien wizard who had grown up in a fairy tale castle as the personal apprentice to a ruler who was described as a literal sun goddess. Well, this Twilight Sparkle at least. There was another who matched that description perfectly.

Suddenly, everything starts to click into place. My mental gears are back on track and spinning again. I reexamine what Sunset just said.

You're Twilight! Why wouldn't I like you?

You're a Twilight. Not the Twilight. But the real Twilight is off in Equestria, so she's settling for you. But she'll just end up disappointed in the end. You're only a cheap substitute.

Of course. That makes so much sense. I was stupid not to make that connection sooner. Before I know it, I'm running, though I can barely see where I'm going through the tears pouring out. Somebody is shouting my name behind me, but I ignore them and keep running.

I run until the burning in my lungs and my legs is as painful as the throbbing in my head and the tearing feeling in my heart. I arrive at my house, stumble through the door and up to my room, and collapse panting for breath onto the bed. I'm not used to such physical exertion. It takes me a while to catch my breath enough to get down to sobbing into the pillow.

Of course Sunset didn't love me, even if she was trying to convince herself otherwise out of desperation. She loved the other Twilight. The better Twilight. The perfect Twilight. The brilliant, confident, world saving princess from Sunset's homeland. The one she could relate to. What did I have? I was pretty good at science? So was the other Twilight, in addition to much more. Like magic.

Magic was a critical part of her identity. She was a prodigy who had grown up with it, mastered it. The first time I touched it, I turned into a monster. That never would have happened to her. Now I had magic again, but I didn't understand the first thing about it, and from Sunset's descriptions, every unicorn in Equestria had basic telekinesis. Meanwhile, the other Twilight had been bearer of the Element of Magic, and was now practically a semi-divine physical incarnation of the concept itself. Or friendship I guess. Apparently the two were somewhat synonymous, but her actual title was Princess of Friendship.

That was yet another thing. Princess of Friendship! I'm just some socially awkward nerd who never had a friend until I transferred to CHS. Even then, those were her friends, not mine. The whole school loved her. I had just floated in to fill a conveniently Twilight shaped hole she had left behind in the social ecosystem when she had to go back to Equestria. It was the same situation with Sunset writ large to the rest of the girls and the rest of the school. I was just...a placeholder. Equestrian Twilight was the best possible version of me (she didn't even need glasses, for crying out loud!), which meant I was the inferior knockoff. The cheap off-brand imitation everyone had to settle for when the real thing wasn't around. She was the real Twilight. Me? I was the other one.

Part of me wants to scream 'so what?', and jump at the chance to be with Sunset. Even if she is only seeking a substitute out of desperation. It's not like I care about pride or anything. But...I'm NOT what she really wants, and sooner or later the resentment will set in. It'll be inescapable how poorly I measure up to what she's really looking for, and she'll be as disappointed in me as I am. They all will eventually. An attempt at a romantic relationship will only speed up the process.

Exhausted from crying, I drift off to sleep.

When I awake I'm starving and my head is pounding from a dehydration headache. The sun isn't where it should be. Through bleary eyes I find a clock and learn I've slept straight through the late afternoon and evening, and now it's early morning again. I drink some water, eat some breakfast, and set about making myself less bedraggled.

I've just finished drying my hair and getting dressed after a shower when I hear a banging on the front door. Without thinking first, I open it and then leap back in surprise.


"Twilight! I-Please listen! I'm sorry I upset you! It's alright if you don't like me back that way, really. It was my fault, I-I shouldn't have...I just wanted to make sure you're okay. And that you don't hate me now."

She looks so...hurt. I stammer as I try to come up with a response.

"I-I-I what? NO! No I don't hate you at all! I could never hate you. I..." I trail off.

Sunset lets out a relieved sigh.

"Good. That's good. But then...why did you...are you alright? Was it something I said?"

"I...uhh...I'm f–I..." I try to say that I'm fine, but I can't. I'm so far from fine. I just want to wrap my arms around her and start crying again.

I fidget uncomfortably as I fail to find words. I see a pained expression cross Sunset's face.

You're upsetting her. Hurting her. That's all you do. Get away before you hurt her more!

But there's nowhere to flee to. I'm already in my house and she's blocking the exit. I briefly consider running up the stairs and hiding under my bed. Or jumping out the window.

Or off the roof.

"Twilight, please! Talk to me! Tell me what's wrong!"

I see her stepping forward and reaching a hand out for mine. No! I reflexively snatch it away.


A look crosses her face as if I've kicked her in the stomach, but I can't let her see. I can't let her see what a jealous, petty, pitiful wreck of a human being I am on the inside. But she's so close now. My sudden motion startled her and set her off balance. She could stumble into me at any moment and then she'd see everything. All the lewd fantasies. All the pathetic insecurity. All the revolting weakness. I panic. Magic flies out from me in a wave of force that knocks her backward out the doorway and onto the street.

I see her land with a dull thud on the pavement with a wince. My blood runs cold with horror and my heart feels like it stops.

"SUNSET!" I shout as I run toward her. What have I done? What have I done?! I reach her and throw my arms around her without a thought. "I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY! I'M SORRY!"

I no longer care that I'm now pressing a large amount of skin in direct contact with hers, or that she's doing that staring off into space thing she does when she's reading minds. That seems so unimportant now. I'm too busy hugging her and apologizing, and trying to check for injuries through the panicked tears in my eyes. Trying to breathe is somewhere down the list, but it's not nearly as high a priority.

Eventually, Sunset shakes free from her trance and stands up, brushing herself off and assuring me that she is unharmed. We make our way into the kitchen and take a seat at the table while Sunset waits for me to pull myself together until I'm slightly less drippy.

"Twilight." Sunset says in that beautiful, calming voice.

"Yes?" I choke out a reply.

"A ways back, well...I'd be lying if I said I hadn't developed the slightest bit of a crush on Princess Twilight, after I got over wanting to kill her that is. Or if I said I didn't still find her attractive."

"Right." I stare down dejectedly at my hands.

"But if I had wanted to be with her, I could have. There's nothing stopping me from going back to Equestria whenever I want. I had actually been mulling over the idea of moving back home since shortly before the Friendship Games. Do you know why I ultimately decided to stay?"

"Because...of your friends at CHS?"

"Right. That's definitely a big part of it. I deeply cherish the friends I've made here, and I'd hate to leave them, even if popping back for a visit now and then would be relatively simple. But there's something else. I met someone. Someone wonderful. Someone who made the choice to stay so easy, it wasn't even a choice anymore."


She simply stares at me with her best 'really?' face until I slap a palm to my forehead.

"Right! Right. Duh. Sorry. I'm still a bit disoriented and shook up from all the adrenaline."

"The point is, I'm crazy about YOU Twilight. Not anybody or anypony else."

"But...I'm not–"

"You don't have to be. You don't have to be anything other than you, because that's what I love. I don't see you as some imitation or substitute, and I guarantee neither does anybody else. I'm not into you because you remind me of pony Twilight. If anything, my residual attraction to her is because she reminds me of you."

I listen to what Sunset is telling me. Part of me still finds it hard to believe. That she could really have...feelings for me. This me. But she's not a liar. She not the kind of person who would say these things as a cruel joke. Gradually, I let my muscles start to relax. Then they start to tense again as I realize what this all means. Sunset Shimmer...likes me back. In that way. Suddenly my heart is pounding out of control.

"Soooo...." She starts.

"So?" I manage to squeak out a reply.

"Would you be...interested? You know, in us? Being a thing?"

I blush and stumble blindly for a reply.

"I-umm-I-w-wait! Don't you know that already? Didn't you..." I wave a hand around my head.

"Yeah, yeah I did. Just thought I'd ask anyway."

I try not to think about what other embarrassing things she probably saw.

"Well I-y-yes. Yes I would like that very much, thank you." I feel my cheeks burning.

"Great!" She grasps my hand between hers and smiles at me. "So, what do you want to do first?"

That smile she's giving me is sending certain thoughts racing. I feel my cheeks burning brighter, and the sensation only intensifies as I look down at my hand between hers and then up at her grin that is growing more and more salacious by the second.

"Well, that certainly sounds fun. But how's this for a start?"

She leans forward and suddenly her lips are on mine. It feels like a firework going off in my brain, and I'm pretty sure she can feel every bit of it, because she presses in even harder in response. My mind dissolves into pure bliss. For once all those fears and doubts and insecurities are silent. There's only Sunset kissing me and holding me tight.

Eventually, the kiss ends and I stare dreamily at her, trying and failing to form words. Fortunately, she understands me just fine, and I don't think she even needs her power for it. I feel light as a feather as I stand up and follow her up the stairs. I feel...like me, in a way I haven't felt before. Like I'm my truest self at the moment. I'm not a magical pony princess from another dimension. I'm just Twilight Sparkle. And right now? With Sunset giving me those eyes? That's a heck of a thing to be.

Author's Note

So after finally finishing Heart of Loyalty, I found myself with leftover shipping energy. Now I'm on a bender for SciSet shipping, and insecure SciTwi.

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