>Wide, dark curtains blotted out the sun that tried to poke through, the little light that did cast the room in a warm glow.
>She didn't notice.
>Her glazed blue eyes focused only on the screen as it scrolled up and down and reacted to every flick of the wrist and every fidget of her finger.
>A dull click and the soft sound scuffing sound followed every movement of her hand.
>The screen's illuminating presence cast deep shadows in the room, despite the low light.
>Her eyes flicked over to her phone as it buzzed just next to her right hand.
>Her scratchy voice grated on her ears, and she hoped the person on the other end didn't notice.
>"Pinkie Pie? Are you alright?"
>Pinkamena closed her eyes and grimaced as she forced more energy to lace her voice.
"Yep! Just fine, Dashie. I had a little froggie in my throat, but I got him out. What's up?"
>"The girls and I wanted to throw a sleepover at my place, my parents are out of town for the weekend. How about it?"
"Sounds great! See you soon!"
>Pinkamena clicked the phone closed and set it back down.
>She kicked herself away from the desk and rolled her chair to her vanity.
>Pinkamena pulled the top left drawer of her vanity open and extracted a bottle.
>Barely as big as her palm, and made of translucent orange plastic that was slightly cool to the touch.
>With a habitual rhythm, the top was screwed off and a pair of oblong white bars were downed.
>Pinkamena capped the bottle and let it fall to the desk's surface.
>She pressed her eyes into her palms and sucked in a shuddering breath.
"You're selfish, Pinkamena."
>Pinkie's lips twitched and pulled into a wide grin as she opened her eyes.
"Always taking up all the time. Let me out to have some fun once in a while, will you?"
>Pinkie giggled as she stared into her reflection.
>Flat hair and an even flatter affect stared back, with dull, glazed eyes and deep bags under them.
>Pinkie ruffled her hair so it sat on her head like cotton candy and she almost bounced to the windows.
>The curtains were ripped open and light flooded the dim room.
"That's better. You're so dreary, Pinkamena."
>Pinkie grabbed a bag and stuffed clothes into it, then followed suit with the orange plastic bottle.
"See ya, Pinkamena. Have fun!"
>Pinkie flashed a grin over towards the vanity and bounced from the room.
>"Hey Pinkie Pie."
>Rainbow tried to pry Pinkie's arms off, but not very hard.
>"Come on, let go, Pinkie! The girls are all in the living room."
"Oh, that's great! Let's go!"
>Rainbow laughed as Pinkie dragged her through her house.
>The girls echoed a greeting as Pinkie entered the room with a laughing Rainbow Dash trailing behind her.
>This was gonna be fun!
"Sorry, Girls. I've gotta go to the little girl's room. Be back in a sec!"
>Pinkie breathed a sigh of relief as she shut the door behind herself.
>Pinkie stared back at her in the mirror, a sour reflection on her usually bright face.
"Hurry up and put me back!"
>Pinkamena nodded and reached into her pocket.
>She felt dizzy and her mind ground to a halt when she grabbed nothing.
"Did you really forget your medicine, Pinkamena? Go back and get it!"
>Pinkamena looked at the deep grimace that crossed Pinkie's face, and was sure she was scowling as well.
>Her eyes locked fearfully on her hair as it slowly fell flat against her scalp.
>Pinkamena touched the bathroom's door knob, and her arm jerked back.
>"Pinkie Pie, are you okay? I thought I heard someone talking in there."
"J-just fine, Dashie! I'm just singing to myself. Could you bring me my bag?"
>Pinkamena hated the warble, gargled tone in her voice.
>She couldn't help it, her body was sapped of energy.
>Pinkamena heard Rainbow's footsteps.
>She waited until they grew faint before turning back to Pinkie.
>She was scowling, her face morphing into a twisted mass for just a second before settling back into that permanently happy grin.
"Careful, Pinkamena. You could be caught. What then?"
>Pinkamena pressed her face into her hands and leaned against the counter.
"What happens if my friends find out about you? It's me they want."
>Pinkie's grin fell off, her brow scrunched into a deep scowl.
"You're nothing. You'll never be more than nothing. Let me out and just GO AWAY!"
>Pinkamena shuddered and clawed at her forehead.
>"Pinkie? I've got your bag."
>The knob jiggled as Rainbow's voice floated through the door.
>Pinkamena opened the door so only a thin slice of her was peaking through.
"Thank you Rainbow Dash."
>She snatched her bag and shut the door before Rainbow could look in.
>Pinkamena dug into her bag and pulled out the bottle.
>She screwed it open and prepared to knock back two more tablets.
>Pinkamena jumped, hiding the pills and bottle behind her back.
"W-what are you doing?"
>"What am I doing?"
>Rainbow's maroon eyes were fixed on her arms as she stepped further into the bathroom.
>"What are you doing? You're acting... Weird. Weirder than normal. What did you do to your hair?"
"Oh, haha. I just wanted to try s-something new!"
>Rainbow let her hand rest on Pinkamena's shoulder and her eyes came up to meet hers.
>"Do you want to tell me something?"
>Pinkamena's lip wobbled and her eyes grew shifty as she tried to shake Rainbow's shoulder.
>Quick as a whip Rainbow pulled the bottle form behind Pinkamena.
>Pinkamena gasped and lunged for the bottle, but Rainbow was quicker and managed to dance out of the way.
>"Pinkie, what is this? Sertraline?"
>Pinkamena's eyes watered and her head pounded as Pinkie grew angrier.
>Pinkie beat on her skull from the inside, screaming, raging, ripping and gnashing her teeth.
>Pinkamena couldn't make it stop, she had dropped her pills and Rainbow was holding her bottle.
>She scratched at her head and pulled at her hair.
>Rainbow threw the bottle to the ground and tackled Pinkamena, forcing her down and pinning her arms.
>"Pinkie, what are you doing? Calm down!"
>Pinkamena stop struggling and started to cry.
>She gripped Rainbow's collar and buried her face into her friend's warm skin.
"P-please, Rainbow, p-please make her s-stop."
"Don't call me that!"
>Pinkamena resumed her struggling for a moment before falling limp, resuming her sobbing into Rainbow's neck.
>Rainbow didn't know what to say, what she could say.
>It was clear her friend was breaking down, but she didn't know what to do.
>Rainbow wrapped her arms around Pinkamena's and pressed a hand into the back of her head.
>She rubbed gentle circles into Pinkamena's back.
>Rainbow didn't know how to help, but that didn't mean she wouldn't help anyway she knew how.
>Pinkamena hadn't moved in a long time.
>If Rainbow couldn't see her blinking eyes, she would think she was asleep.
>That was okay with Rainbow, though.
>She felt selfish.
>Her friend needed help, and all she could think about was getting her to stop struggling.
>Rainbow could never remember feeling more helpless.
>"Pinkie, talk to me. Please."
>Besides the flinch at her name, Pinkamena didn't respond for a long time.
>Hours, perhaps, but she did.
>It was almost too soft to hear and Rainbow couldn't remember a time when Pinkie spoke like that.
"I'm okay, Rainbow Dash. Could you hand me my bottle? I'll be better soon."
>Rainbow tightened her grip on Pinkamena when she tried to move.
>That tone sent chills up Rainbow's arms and over her back, as if she was drenched in ice water.
>The defeat in Pinkie's voice shook her, but Rainbow pushed it back down.
>Her friend needed help.
>"N-not until you tell me what's wrong, Pinkie. I'm your friend. I won't tell any of the others, just tell me, I want to help you."
>Pinkie cringed again at her name, and Rainbow couldn't stop the curiosity from creeping up.
"I-I don't want to explain it."
>Pinkie wasn't trying to get up, rather she seemed to sink in on herself.
>"Why, Pinkie Pie?"
"Don't call me that!"
>Rainbow was surprised by the vicious snarl that bit past her friend's lips.
>"What do you want me to call you, then?"
>"Okay, Pinkamena. Could you, uh, could you tell me why you want your bottle back?"
>Rainbow shuddered as Pinkamena's tone grew more and more flat, until it almost bottomed out in pitch.
>It was so unnatural, so un-pinkie.
"I... I have a split personality."
>"What? You're like, those people with a buncha different people inside them?"
>The bathroom feel quiet.
>Rainbow couldn't imagine what Pinkamena was thinking, she hardly understood what she was thinking.
>"Do you take the medicine to keep from being... Like this?"
>Pinkamena's lip quivered, and her eyes shut tight.
"T-this is it. I'm the original, Rainbow. Pinkie is the split."
>"Wha...? You're serious? This, what you are now, is really... Er, really Pinkamena?"
>Rainbow's brain ground to a halt.
>Pinkamena was really the original?
>And, and she was taking medicine to force herself to change?
>"I don't care. You're still my friend, Pinkamena. I wanna get to know you like I got to know Pinkie."
>Rainbow felt much more brave than she felt.
>Pinkamena turned in Rainbow's arms and started to cry into her chest.
>Rainbow was surprised, but she did her best to let Pinkamena cry herself out.
>It didn't take long before Pinkamena was just shaking, curled further and further into herself.
"Thank you, Rainbow Dash."
>Rainbow hugged her tight, and smiled.
>Maybe she could help.
>Pinkie Pie had fallen silent.
>Pinkamena wasn't fooled, though, she could feel her.
>Simmering just at the edge of her mind, waiting, gnashing her teeth and stomping her feet as Rainbow pried a little harder at Pinkamena.
>Pinkamena breathed in and let herself be washed away in Rainbow's presence.
>She couldn't remember that last time she had spoken, let alone to another living, breathing person.
>Everything felt a little raw, and sounds and smells were just that much more intense.
>Rainbow's scent was pleasant, not too overpowering, simply there, simply right.
>It felt good to be wrapped up in Rainbow's arms, as if she was a damsel in distress, and Rainbow her knight in shining armor.
>She could tell that Rainbow was worried for her- not for Pinkie Pie, but Pinkamena- and it helped.
>Rainbow smoothed her hair down and blew air through her nose.
>Pinkamena nodded into Rainbow's chest as she focused on her friend's steady thump-thumping heart beat.
>"Do you wanna... Stay like this? I mean, I know it's hard, and all, but... The girls would love you like they love Pinkie, I know it!"
"I don't know. I've been locked up so long, do you think they'd be weirded out by me?"
>"No. I can't say for them, but I think I like you, Pinkamena. Would you try, for me?"
>Pinkamena bit her lip in thought and let Rainbow's thump-thumping heart beat ease her mind.
>If she were a bold person, she would say that Rainbow Dash was a friend, and a friend like Rainbow would never leave Pinkie astray, why would she be any different?
"Okay, Rainbow Dash, for you."
>Pinkamena could almost hear the wide smile that grew over Rainbow's face.
>Rainbow stood up, but not before grabbing Pinkamena in a hug.
>She spun them in the bathroom, making Pinkamena clutch her tight with a squawk of surprise.
>"I'm so happy for you, Pinkamena! The girls'll love you, I just know it!"
>Pinkamena didn't share Rainbow Dash's confidence, but she hoped for the best.
>Applejack looked up at her first from the floor.
>"Ya'll have been gone a while, RD."
>Rarity spoke up from the couch she was lounging on next.
>"Indeed you have. And where's Pinkie Pie? She hasn't run off, has she?"
>Rainbow stalled any further inquiries with a wave of her hand, requesting silence.
>"Girls, I know you might think I'm crazy, but, I'd like to introduce you to someone..."
>Sunset's eyebrow lifted from behind the book she was digging her face into.
>"It's not another one of those girls like Gilda, is it? You remember how that turned out."
>Rainbow shook her head, now a blush crept up her cheeks.
>"No, no. Please, let me finish. I'd like to, uh, you know, introduce you to Pinkamena."
>Rainbow stepped out of Pinkamena's way, exposing the shorter girl to four sets of new eyes.
>"Rainbow," Rarity said slowly, "That's Pinkie Pie."
>"Y-you don't get it. Explain it to them, Pinkamena!"
>Pinkamena shuddered under the collective stares.
>Her body tensed, and in her mind she could hear Pinkie Pie berating her uselessness.
>'Your only friend was in trouble, and you freeze up? Pathetic'
>"It's true, guys!"
>Rainbow sounded almost desperate to convince them, it was enough to break through Pinkamena's internal struggle.
"S-she's not kidding."
>Applejack had stood up, and was now eyeing them closely.
>"What do y'all mean? Pinkamena? Ain't that just yer name?"
>Pinkamena winced under that heavy-browed stare.
"I-I can e-explain..."
>"Then start. I ain't gonna appreciate a prank by you two, neither."
"I'm not a prank, Applejack, just please s-sit down."
>She didn't budge, and it left Pinkamena cowering.
>"Lay off, Applejack! This isn't a prank! Tell 'em, Pinkamena!"
>Sunset had joined the standoff.
>She put a hand on Rainbow and Applejack's shoulders, pushing them away from each other before fists could be slung.
>"AJ, I don't think this is a prank. Pinkie really does look upset. Why don't you tell us what's going on, Pinkie?"
>Pinkamena instantly felt better under Sunset's warm gaze.
>It felt like she was back in Rainbow Dash's arms.
"Could we sit down?"
>Sunset smiled and nodded.
>She grabbed the two girls she was pushing apart and brought them over to the couch Rarity was lounging on.
>She was quick to move over, and Sunset even quicker to push Rainbow and Applejack into their seats.
>Fluttershy came at Sunset's direction and took a seat on the love seat with her.
>"Tell us what you and Rainbow were talking about earlier, Pinkie. Take your time."
>Pinkamena nodded and took a shaky breath.
>She set her jaw and her mind buzzed under Pinkie's increasing anger.
"I- I- I have a split personality!"
>She had said it, and she felt no better for it.
>The relief she was expecting didn't come, rather more dread and that sickly feeling that came with being out too long set in further.
>Applejack didn't look especially impressed.
>Pinkamena sucked in another steadying breath and spoke softly, though it felt like she was yelling.
"My name is Pinkamena. I have a split personality that you all know, Pinkie."
>"Is this yer version of some elaborate prank, RD? And gettin' Pinkie Pie involved? That's why you two were inna bathroom this whole time, wasn't it?"
>Applejack's accusing tone made Pinkamena flinch.
>Rainbow noticed, and was spitting back a retort just as quick as Applejack had.
>"No, this is for real! I know you could tell if Pinkamena was lying!"
>Applejack's furrowed brown turned back towards Pinkamena, who felt more and more nervous with every passing second.
>"She ain't lyin'."
>Applejack snorted and crossed her arms.
>Pinkamena shut her eyes and tried to ignore that incessant drone that grew louder and louder, and Applejack's disapproving look.
>Sunset called Pinkamena back, shaking the chilling ice that crawled up her spine.
>"Why did you wait so long to tell us about... You, Pinkie?"
>Pinkamena hugged her knees to her chest, uncertain of how to answer.
>An arm wrapped around her, and Pinkamena was transported back to the bathroom, and the safe, warm feeling of Rainbow Dash washed over her again.
>She looked up to see Rainbow's smiling face.
"I-I was scared. I didn't want to lose you guys, not now, not in Freshman year, never."
>Pinkamena noticed Sunset's subtle twitch, and she deeply regretted her choice of words.
>She carried on though, bolstered by Rainbow's affection.
"I'm not Pinkie, Pinkie is me. I'm the original, I guess."
>"Can Pinkie Pie, er, can she get out?"
>Pinkamena looked over to Rarity, and her concerned gaze.
"Not without the medicine I take to make Pinkie take over."
>The group mulled over it.
>Pinkamena leaned into the arm that tightened further around her waist and took comfort in Rainbow's calming presence.
>With four new sets of eyes on her, Pinkamena had never felt smaller.
>Not even when she had been locked in the dark confines of her mind, cast adrift in a sea of deep, inky blackness.
>She could only ask herself if she had made the right choice.
>For all her false-confidence instilled in her by Rainbow Dash, she really didn't know.
>"So, Pinkamena, tell me about yourself."
>Sunset had broken the tense atmosphere by dragging Pinkamena into the kitchen.
>She began rifling through cupboards, looking for food, Pinkamena presumed.
"What would you like to know?"
>She crinkled her brow at a box of bland-looking crackers before throwing them back where she found them.
>Her search resumed as she answered.
>"Whatever you want to tell me. What's your favorite food?"
"I don't know," Pinkamena admitted, "I haven't eaten under my own power in years."
>"Really? You must be sick of sweet things," Sunset joked.
"I don't know. I can't really taste what Pinkie eats, I just know that she does."
>Sunset paused and looked over her shoulder.
>Her passionate aqua eyes showed a furtive glance of concern before returning to a warm, inviting look.
>"Let's fix that... Hm... Ah, I know what you can eat!"
>Sunset pulled a tray of cupcakes from the fridge.
>Sunset's eyebrow rose and she smirked.
>"Sorry Pinkamena, just cupcakes for now. They should be just as good."
"R-right. Sorry. M-may I?"
>"Yeah, here. They're not mine, anyway."
>Pinkamena grabbed one of the heavily iced confections and sniffed it.
>Like a cannon, the aroma assaulted her nose and made her tear up.
>She hadn't smelled something, not this close nor for this long, in years, especially not something so sweet.
>It almost made her gag in its' intensity.
"It's a little sweet..."
>"It's a cupcake, silly, of course it's sweet."
>Pinkamena looked up into those waiting aqua eyes, and her confidence was reaffirmed.
"Right, here I go."
>Pinkamena closed her eyes and touched her tongue with the icing.
>As if a galaxy has sprung up in her mouth, an overwhelming rush of flavors lit up every nerve ending that the sweet icing touched.
>Pinkamena jerked the cupcake away from her mouth and shuddered as the unfamiliar taste of sugar beat against her mind.
>She could hear Pinkie laughing at her.
>Sunset was giggling at her, and Pinkamena shrank a little under it.
>Sunset didn't let it linger though, and was quickly gathering Pinkamena's attention again.
>"How about these? They're pretty bland."
>Sunset held a wrapped package of crackers from earlier.
>They almost looked like cardboard to Pinkamena.
>She hesitantly took the package and unwrapped it, pulling the cracker free from its' prison.
>Her hands shook and her eyes squeeze tight as she just touched it to her tongue.
>Where the cupcake was an assault on the senses, the cracker was bursting with flavor in a pleasant way.
>Pinkamena sighed in relief and finished it off, then the next, then the next.
>She had forgotten how much fun eating was!
"Yes, Sunset. Thank you."
>Sunset was taken aback by the soft genuineness in her friend's voice, but she just smiled wider.
>"No problem. I think AJ and Dash've had enough time to talk it over. Want to go back into the living room?"
>True to Sunset's word, Applejack and Rainbow Dash were fighting over a video game, all thoughts of Pinkamena completely gone.
>That felt better than Applejack's overbearing stare, at the very least.
>Rarity looked up from a drawing pad seated in her lap.
>She flashed a wide, brilliant smile and patted the open seat next to her.
>Pinkamena glanced sidelong at Sunset, who pushed her forward a little.
>Pinkamena obliged and sat next to Rarity who tucked away the sketchpad and turned to her.
>"Pinkamena, is it? Dear, this is quite an odd situation, is it not?"
>"Why just a few days ago Pinkie Pie and I-"
"You two went to try on dresses together."
>"Oh, have you been... Observing the whole time while Pinkie Pie was in control?"
>Rarity seemed to notice Pinkamena's discomfort, and quickly moved on.
>"So, Pinkamena, tell me, do you like fashion?"
"I-I don't know."
>"It would be my absolute delight to help you figure that out! If you intend to, erm, stick around, we just have to get you a whole new wardrobe!"
>Rarity's eyes sparkled and she reached over the edge of the couch and snatched her sketchpad.
>She began to mutter to herself and began scribbling quickly.
>Rarity had always been a little intense for her, even when she was inside.
>Pinkamena's head jerked over to her other side.
>Fluttershy was staring at her from under her soft pink hair.
>"A-are you really Pinkamena?"
>"A-and y-you've seen everything Pinkie has seen?"
>Pinkamena nodded again.
>Fluttershy's eyes darted around the room, then back at Pinkamena.
>Fluttershy blushed and looked away again.
>"C-can Pinkie hear us?"
>She really didn't know how much Pinkie could hear.
>Several more moments passed, and Fluttershy grew less and less tense as she breathed in deep, then let it out, then in again, and on and on.
>"I-I think I like you a little better. N-not that there's anything wrong with Pinkie Pie! I just mean that you're less... Less...!"
>"Yes! Thank you, Pinkamena..."
>Fluttershy was burning from head to toe in embarrassment.
"How is Angel Bunny doing?"
>Pinkie liked that rabbit, so Pinkamena could remember at least that about Fluttershy.
>"Oh, Angel? He's very good. Still a little picky about his food, though..."
>Fluttershy perked up in interest, embarrassment forgotten.
>"Do you like animals?"
>Pinkamena rolled her shoulders noncommittally.
"I don't dislike them."
>"Oh. If you ever get a little lonely and need a pet, I'll help you find one. The shelter has all kinds of pets."
"Really? I- I'm honestly not sure if I'm gonna stay out very long."
>Their conversation grew hushed as they leaned in.
"I just don't want to get in the way of you all and Pinkie Pie."
>"You could never! You're as much our friend as Pinkie is."
>Pinkamena blushed a little under Fluttershy's intense stare.
>She seemed to believe that, and had the conviction to match.
"T-thank you, Fluttershy."
>Fluttershy glowed under Pinkamena's sincere words.
>"It was my pleasure."
>Pinkamena turned from Fluttershy to look over at Rarity.
>That twinkle she had observed in Rarity's eye had not abated, if anything it shined a little brighter.
>"What do you think of these designs?"
>Rarity tapped a manicured nail to the drawings that dominated her sketchpad's open page.
>Pinkamena looked at the flowing, floor length gowns, and loose-fitting clothes, dozens of different designs fluttered about the page.
>"Those look lovely, Rarity!"
>Rarity flashed a beaming smile at Fluttershy's compliment, then turned back to Pinkamena.
>"What do you think, darling? Oh, I do hope I captured what you would like in your clothing."
"They look good, Rarity."
>"Yes, but do you like them?"
>Pinkamena blushed and shuffled back away from Rarity's piercing look.
>"Oh dear, I'm not making you uncomfortable, am I? I suppose you wouldn't really know what you like..."
>Pinkamena opened her mouth, but Rarity cut across, rapidly going from morose to adopting a fierce look.
>"Then I shall just help you form fashion-forward habits!"
>Rarity's grin grew ever wider and she scooted ever closer to Pinkamena.
>"What do you say to that, Pinkamena?"
"I-I have to use the bathroom."
>"Hurry back," Rarity called as Pinkamena beat a hasty retreat.
>Pinkamena caught Sunset's sympathetic, but amused, eye, and blushed again.
>She sighed in relief when the door closed behind her and she could finally relax.
>Her mind felt tired and stretched, like taffy.
>Pinkamena jumped and she spun towards the mirror.
>Pinkie Pie was seething, her face twisted and distorted into a furious scowl.
>"GIVE ME BACK MY BODY, RIGHT NOW!"
>Pinkie pointed to her bottle of medicine, sitting innocently on the gleaming white marble of the bathroom counter.
>Pinkie noticed her hesitance, and her lip curled back to bare her teeth in a furious sneer.
>"Don't even think about keeping me locked in here, Pinkamena."
>"Why not? Why NOT? Pinkamena, they don't want you. They don't care about you. You will always be a bland, boring loser. Now give me back my body."
>Pinkamena recoiled from Pinkie's anger.
>She could feel it, that unending rage bubbling up to the surface.
>It felt foreign, and different, more... Alive.
>More intense than Pinkamena had ever felt anything, like a thousand cupcakes all at once.
>"Don't talk back to me Pinkamena. They say they like you but they're just lying. They don't want you, they want me back. I'm their friend! Not you!"
>Pinkie slammed her fist against the mirror.
>Her blazing blue eyes made Pinkamena flinch.
>"You don't have any friends. They won't want you when they realize what you are. A mistake. A bland, boring loser who can't even function."
>"I-I-", Pinkie mocked, "You're so pathetic. The only thing you're even remotely good at is staring at a screen and watching other, better people have fun. You don't belong with other people."
>"My friends won't like you. No one will like you. Just go back to watching me and the others have fun while you watch us from that stupid screen."
"I don't want to- please, please j-just s-stop!"
>Pinkamena wiped at her eyes as her body was wracked with shuddering sobs.
>"Pathetic", Pinkie spat, "I don't even know why you exist. You're just a nuisance."
>"Don't you dare say my name! Just go back to your room already and stop bothering good people! You don't deserve to be happy, and you never will be!"
>Pinkamena sucked in shuddering, raspy gasps of breath and wiped furiously at her eyes.
"I-I won't l-let you out Pinkie... Never!"
>Pinkie stalled for a moment, her face twisting in disgust.
>"So be it. You'll regret it."
>Pinkamena shut the bathroom door behind her and slid to the floor.
>She was still crying.
>Fat, hot tears poured from her eyes and carved deep tracks down her cheeks.
>Trying to stop the flow was pointless; Pinkie had made sure of that.
>Pinkamena looked up at the shadow that towered over her.
>She sniffed and wiped at her eyes.
"Y-yeah. W-what was your name again?"
>The figure above her snorted.
>"Applejack. Yer Pinkamena, right?"
>Applejack waved her off.
>"Ain't no trouble. Lot's o' folks forget about me."
>Applejack slid down next to Pinkamena.
>She didn't offer a shoulder, nor a tissue, she simply began talking.
>It made Pinkamena feel better than any amount of pity.
>"Y'all been inside Pinkie this whole time? Must've been tough."
"W-well I came out sometimes, whenever Pinkie wanted to get some rest... She was always with you guys, though."
>"So you know? 'Bout everythin' we did?"
>"Musta been nice ta watch. I'm a might jealous, ta tell ya the truth."
"O-of me? W-why?"
>Applejack rolled her shoulders in a half-shrug.
>"Dunno. Sometimes I just wish I coulda been in the background. Ain't easy fightin' off all these monsters. I'm a farmer, not a super hero."
"Why couldn't you be both?"
>Pinkamena had stopped crying, and for that she was thankful.
>Applejack gave her that half-shrug again.
>"Dunno. I just wanna be a farmer. The limelight ain't for me, get me? I don't mind bein' in the background. It's a might more peaceful."
"I feel the same way, a little bit. I'm not used to all the attention."
>"That makes two of us."
>They fell silent for a moment.
>The hallway was dark, and Pinkamena couldn't make out more than Applejack's outline.
>Applejack turned her head to look at her.
>"So... Y'all have been payin' attention the whole time? Even when I, well, when I told Pinkie-"
"Yeah. I remember."
>"G-good. I just don't wanna make you uncomfortable or nothin', I know it's a bit strange ta like girls."
"N-not at all! I, well, I like girls too."
>"Really? Seems yer about the only other one that does, that ain't taken."
>They fell into another peaceful silence in the darkened, quiet hall.
>Applejack shifted uneasily.
>Her arm brushed against Pinkamena's, and it sent pleasant chills up her spine.
>"Fer not believin' ya and thinkin' you were a liar. I reckon I was a little out of line."
"I don't hold it against you. I'd be suspicious, too."
>"Thanks, for understandin'."
>Another lull, but it didn't last long.
>Sunset's outline appeared in the doorway leading to the hall that Pinkamena and Applejack were sitting in.
>"You've been gone a while. I was just making sure you were okay."
>"Yep", Applejack answered, "Everythin's okay here, Sunset. Y'all wanna sit?"
>"No thanks. The girls are getting suspicious, though, I'd hurry up before more of them..."
>Sunset's tone took on a teasing lilt.
>"Decide to join you."
>Pinkamena blushed at the implication.
>"It's a shame I can't, but someone has to pummel Rainbow Dash in that video game of hers."
>Sunset turned and began to walk away.
>"That girl's a tease."
"H-have you two...?"
>"I wish. Can't get an honest answer outta her, though. I think she's all talk. A real flirt."
>Applejack let out a sigh as she stretched.
>"I think I best be gettin' back to the livin' room. Wanna come with?"
"Not yet. I'll be there soon."
>As she was walking away, Pinkamena stopped her.
"Thanks, for making me feel a little better."
>"Ain't no problem, Sugar."
>Pinkamena watched her go with a detached sort of glee.
>As Applejack rounded the corner, Pinkamena sagged against the cool wall.
>She closed her eyes and tried to drown out the growing, angry voice of Pinkie Pie.
>It was futile at best.
>Pinkie was in her head, she couldn’t escape that maddening thrashing and rushing, pounding her head from the inside and beating her skull like a drum.
>It was different from a headache, it felt like Pinkie Pie was really inside her head and pushing from the inside out.
>After agonizing minutes of head-splitting wailing and moaning, Pinkie fell silent.
>Pinkamena sighed in relief.
>She had forgotten what her other half could do to her.
>She wobbled up from her place on the ground and stumbled to the living room.
>No one was paying her any mind, Rarity was still drawing, and Fluttershy and Sunset were watching Applejack and Rainbow shout at each other over their video game.
>Sunset noticed her immediately and shot her a quick, teasing smirk that made Pinkamena shiver.
>Though why, she didn’t know.
>She quickly approached the open spot on the love seat next to Sunset and plopped down into it.
>It was a tighter fit than she had been expecting, but Sunset didn’t seem to mind.
>If anything, the way she wriggled a little closer to Pinkamena sent pleasant shivers up her spine.
>It didn’t take Pinkamena long to forget about Sunset, instead her gaze fixed blankly on the screen as Applejack and Rainbow Dash argued back and forth, rapidly trying to get over one another in their game.
>”Interesting, isn’t it?”
>Sunset’s hot breath washed over her ear
>Pinkamena didn’t move besides the jolting tense of her muscles.
>”Have you ever played a video game… Pink~a~men~a~?”
>Sunset rolled her name off her tongue so delightfully.
“N-no”, Pinkamena whispered shyly.
>She couldn’t do more, not with Sunset so close.
>”It’s fun… Though it is more of a… Two person kind of thing.”
>Pinkamena’s rosy skin turned scarlet.
>”Video games, I mean…”
>She found that hard to believe.
>Pinkamena glanced over at the girls on the floor, then on the couch.
>Applejack and Rainbow had thrown their controllers away and were wrestling over something, though it was clear by the grins on their faces they were having fun.
>Fluttershy was pointing to something on Rarity’s sketchpad and glancing worriedly at the two girls rolling around on the carpet.
>Pinkamena quickly looked away when she caught Rarity’s smirk and subtle wink before she turned back to what Fluttershy was saying.
>”So what do you say, Pink~a~men~a?”
>Pinkamena could feel Sunset’s smirk, even if she couldn’t see it.
>Sunset’s eyes lit up and her smirk grew a little bigger.
>Sunset stood up from the love seat and sashayed her way out of the living room, throwing a quick excuse over her shoulder that Pinkamena missed.
>She was too focused on Sunset’s swaying hips.
>Pinkamena gave another glance around the room- Applejack had pinned Rainbow with a triumphant smirk, and Rarity and Fluttershy were wholly invested in her sketch pad.
>She made a hasty getaway, following Sunset’s path out of the living room.
>Pinkamena stopped short of the dim hall, its' darkly-cast shadows made her skin crawl.
>She shuddered as she stepped out of the warm light peaking through the living room and into the darkened hall.
>Where Sunset was waiting.
>The first step was harder, the second even harder.
>She could feel Sunset's intelligent blue eyes fix on her as she stepped further and further in, like a predator waiting to pounce.
>Pinkamena gasped when a pair of hands wound around her body.
>One came up to muffle her voice, the other pulled her flush against Sunset's back by the waist.
>Sunset's teasing voice calmed Pinkamena.
>Sunset directed her forward, until Pinkamena's cheek and upper body was pressed against the wall.
>Sunset's teeth nipped at her neck and her hands splayed themselves across Pinkamena's sides, holding her firm.
>Sunset spun Pinkamena around easily and pressed her back against the wall.
>Pinkamena was blushing, visible even in the dark hall.
>Her chest rose and fell, sucking in shuddering breaths and trying to keep calm.
>The way Sunset loomed over her didn't help, if anything a growing pit of lava was burning at her stomach and crawling up her throat.
>Sunset let her arms fall to Pinkamena's face, her graceful fingers curling around the edges of her jaw.
>She finally pulled Pinkamena in, slowly, like a glacier.
>Pinkamena closed her eyes and relaxed.
>For the moment, when Sunset's lips met hers, Pinkie Pie was shut out.
>Silent, not deigning to whisper in her mind.
>Pinkamena didn't respond to the kiss- she didn't know how to, neither of them had been much for kissing- but Sunset didn't seem to mind.
>She directed their lips like a symphony of flesh and tingling, warm passion that made Pinkamena's heart go thump-thump-thump.
>Sunset pulled back and they rested their foreheads against the other's.
>Pinkamena could barely keep up, but she tried.
>Sunset was kissing her, then nipping at her neck, then smattering her jaw with feather-light kisses.
>Pinkamena tried to respond where she could, but only when Sunset rested her chin on Pinkamena's shoulder, and Pinkamena copied it, did her mind catch up.
>She took a moment to catch her breath.
>She caught the scent of Sunset's hair, a linger, strawberry smell mixed with something that was irrevocably Sunset Shimmer.
>It wasn't anything she had smelled before, it was wholly, uniquely Sunset's.
>Pinkamena hugged Sunset a little tighter and focused on her, and not on Pinkie Pie.
>She was quiet for now but Pinkamena knew better, she wouldn't be forever.
>Not forever, but she was now.
>It was all that mattered for the moment, that and the intoxicating scent that lingered over Sunset Shimmer.
>The rest of the night was a blur.
>Feelings that Pinkamena had been deadened to were roaring in her ears and making her skin tingle delightfully.
>It left her exhausted and wrung dry, even if she had had more than then than she had in her entire life.
>Pinkamena curled up inside her sleeping bag and burrowed further into the warmth.
>She drifted to sleep quickly and quietly, surrounded by the warm lumps of her friends.
>Pinkamena stepped into the living room and kicked off her slippers.
>She looked back and forth over her friends as she stepped in.
>Rarity and Fluttershy was softly bickering over something, and Rainbow and Applejack were doing the same, though much louder.
>Sunset was watching through her passionate blue eyes at the girls across from her.
>Pinkamena slid into the love seat beside her, smiling shyly.
>Sunset's eyes flicked over to her then back to the other girls.
>Pinkamena looked over oddly at her when it didn't even illicit a glance.
"Hello? Sunset? Fluttershy? Rarity?"
>Pinkamena peered over at the girls, a cold chill creeping in her chest.
>She snapped her fingers in front of Sunset's eyes.
>What was going on?
>Why was Sunset, why are Rarity and Fluttershy, ignoring her?
>Pinkamena pressed a hand to Sunset's shoulder.
>She jerked back, eyes flying wide open when her hand went straight through.
>Pinkamena looked down at her hands.
>They were glowing and ghostly, vaguely translucent.
>She tried to pinch herself, but her fingers passed through without trouble.
>"Hey, Pinkie Pie!"
>Sunset flashed her a grin.
>Pinkamena's head snapped over to Pinkie Pie.
>She bound through the door, giggling and grinning and bouncing, hair as bubbly as her.
>Pinkamena leaped out of the seat just as Pinkie Pie landed in the space she was in just moments ago.
>She watched, her heart beating furiously in her chest and her stomach flopping over and over, as Pinkie Pie kept talking.
>Pinkie was just as Pinkamena remembered her.
>Outgoing, carefree, and simply fun to be around.
>A tight fist formed around her throat and tears stung at her eyes.
>Everything she wasn't.
>Pinkamena sunk to the floor, pulling her knees tight to her chest as best she could
>She was invisible, barely visible to her own eyes.
>Unseen, unheard, alone in a room full of people.
>Watching her counterpart engage with her friends.
>Pinkamena could only watch and grieve.
>"See how it feels, Pinkamena?"
>The world was black, devoid of all color, life, an empty chasm as far as Pinkamena could see.
>She could only hear Pinkie Pie's voice, even her own breathing seemed taken away with a waterlogged .
>"Being locked away isn't fun... Is it?"
>Pinkie Pie swam into focus.
>Her voice was still joyous and bubbly, despite the sinister looking grin twisting and marring her face.
>"Not for me... You're the other, you know. I don't need you. They don't need you."
>Pinkie snarled, her voice warbling into a shout.
>"SO JUST GO AWAY! NO ONE WANTS A ROBOTIC, PATHETIC THING LIKE YOU!"
>Pinkamena recoiled, backing further into the abyss and away from Pinkie as she stalked towards her.
>"You just make everything worse..."
>"No wonder you let me have free reign all those years. Look at what you did, you disgusting, pathetic waste of space."
>The abyss seemed to stretch on forever behind Pinkamena, yet it felt like she wasn't move back at all.
>Pinkie was steadily coming closer.
>Pinkamena sucked in a shuddering breath.
"N-no, Pinkie. I-I'm not worthless. The girls said so! They like me! I don't need you anymore!"
>"Need... Me...? You think you can even exist in the real world? I know you told Rainbow Dash that you were the original, you liar! Get out of my head! Let me out!"
"I am the original!"
>Pinkamena, and it seemed Pinkie, too, were shocked by the vehemence in her voice.
>Pinkie jerked back, her face losing some of the twisted veneer that shadowed it, as if burned.
>"Get out... GET OUT!"
>Pinkie clutched at her head and fell to her knees, body wracked with sobs.
>Pinkamena tried to touch her, but it seemed the closer she tried to get, the further she traveled away from Pinkie Pie.
>The waterlogged sense of hearing fell away as darkness closed in around her vision, obscuring Pinkie from her view.
>She could just be heard, like a soft whisper just behind her ear.
"P-please let me out... I want to see my friends... P-please... I hate it here..."
>Pinkamena jolted awake at a soft touch to the back of her neck.
>A familiar, high-class voice broke its' way through her stupor.
>"Darling? I forgot my sleeping bag, and it's a tad chilly out... Would you mind sharing?"
>It seemed Rarity took Pinkamena's half grumbled question as a yes, as she was already climbing in.
>It was a tight fit, the space barely big enough for the two of them.
>The tight space left them squished together.
>Pinkamena couldn't work up the energy to feel embarrassed, nor when Rarity hugged her tight and burrowed further into the sleeping bag, only her purple hair left out in the cold.
>Pinkamena followed her in after her nose was nipped at by the chilly air.
>Her mind was fuzzy and unfocused, but she couldn't get Pinkie's soft pleading out of it.
>Thankfully the rest of the night's sleep was uneventful.
>Pinkamena was ensconced in a sleeping bag laced with something that could only be Rarity.
>Her fragrant and flowery scent and bouncy, purple curls tickled at her nose and her long, graceful limbs were wound tight around her.
>Rarity didn't snore, yet there an unmistakable lilt in her voice.
>Pinkamena shuffled in closer to stave off the chill that followed the very early morning, and embrace in the drowsiness that lingered at that time of day.
>Yet her bladder refused to allow her rest, and soon Pinkamena was wiggling out of the warm sleeping bag- and Rarity's hold- much to her chagrin.
>Pinkamena shuffled her sleepy-eyed, drowsy self to the bathroom.
>She grew more awake and sober as she approached the white door.
>A shuddering breath, then Pinkie pushed the door in.
>She made certain not to look in the mirror, or at the tantalizing, addicted orange bottle resting just within hands reach.
>The urge to take her medicine and let Pinkie Pie out was almost overwhelming, it left her mouth and throat dry at the thought.
>Pinkamena shook her head to clear it, and went back to focusing on her real reason for coming.
>Pinkamena didn't return to the living room.
>A voice, soft and gentle and simply beautiful filtered from the kitchen and into the hall as she stepped out of the bathroom.
>It drew her forwards, taunting her and demanding her attention.
>Pinkamena indulged in the soft sounds, following it like a woman possessed, until she ended up in the kitchen.
>Rainbow hair pulled into a high ponytail bobbed and fluttered as Dash hummed to herself as she cooked.
>An already sizable stack of pancakes was on the counter next to her.
>Rainbow spun to face her, cheeks burning red in embarrassment.
>"P-Pinkamena, w-what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be asleep?"
"Oh, I'm so sorry for interrupting. I was just using the bathroom... Were you singing?"
>"As if I'd do something so dorky! Singing's... Dumb."
"It was beautiful."
>Rainbow gave her a queer look, then turned back to her cooking.
>"I-I, well... Thanks. N-not that I was singing or anything! If I was I know I'd be totally awesome at it! But I wasn't!"
>Pinkamena didn't press her.
>She took a seat on a stool and waited for Rainbow Dash to calm.
>She didn't start singing again, much to Pinkamena's dismay, but she did seem a little lighter on her feet as she seemed to float around the kitchen.
>A lighter step, and a happy grin.
>Totally awesome, indeed.
>Rainbow was like a machine with a spatula, every flip and turn seemed almost acrobatic in nature.
>Pinkamena was mesmerized as the stack of pancakes grew.
>Her gaze traveled up the length of Rainbow's bare arm, then to the flexing, tight muscle bending under soft, sun-kissed skin.
>Pinkamena felt her cheeks heat as Rainbows' lean arms flicked back and forth over the pan.
>Rainbow seemed oblivious to her staring, especially by the way she stretched and twisted, her muscles coiling under her taught skin.
>Pinkamena caught the gentle hum that reverberated in the kitchen that matched well with Rainbow's graceful steps.
>She let her gaze trail down, to Rainbow's firm backside, then lower to the well-sculpted calves flexing in the dim light.
>Pinkamena almost fell from the stool she was sitting on at Applejack's interruption.
>"Morning AJ. Sleep well?"
>"Bought as well as I can, I'd reckon. Them pancakes ready?"
>Rainbow pointed to a cupboard, and Applejack was quick to retrieve a plate and serve herself a small stack.
>Pancakes were piled high, then a veritable river of syrup and butter was heaped on top.
>Applejack sat across from Pinkamena on another stool.
>"Mornin' Pinkamena. Sleep well? It's awful early."
"Y-yes, I suppose so. Are you an early riser?"
>"I'm a farm girl. Always gotta get up 'fore the roosters."
>Applejack fell silent as she tore into the mound of butter, syrup, and fluffy, warm cakes.
>"Aren't you hungry Pinkamena?"
>Pinkamena looked back over to Rainbow Dash, who was glancing at her from over her shoulder.
"Oh, n-not really. I'm not... Used to eating, really. Sorry."
>"No problem. Hey AJ after you're done stuffing your face you wanna wake the others up?"
>"Ain't no need to be rude, RD. Gimme a sec."
>AJ took a large bite, just out of spite.
>Rainbow shot her a look.
"I'll do it."
>"Thanks, Pinkamena. Hurry please? You know how Rarity gets when she doesn't eat breakfast in the mornings..."
>Rainbow gave her a beaming smile, and her dexterous fingers landed gently on her arm as she passed.
>Pinkamena blushed and hurried through the door.
>Only half the sleeping bags were still occupied; Sunset's, her own, and Fluttershy's.
>Pinkamena tip-toed over towards Fluttershy.
>Gentle as a mouse, she rustled Fluttershy's shoulder, rousing her from sleep.
>Fluttershy sat up with a bleary-eyed look and a jaw-cracking yawn.
>Pinkamena pointed to the door that lead to the kitchen.
>Fluttershy accepted the hand up and gave Pinkamena a shy smile.
>"Thanks. See you..."
>Fluttershy's warm hand lingered in her own, and it seemed she was hesitant to let go.
>Pinkamena watched her leave, then approached Sunset's sleeping bag.
>She was a little less gentle than with Fluttershy as she shook Sunset awake.
>Sunset opened her left eye, then her right, and a smirk grew across her face.
>"What a way to wake up..."
>Much like a feline, Sunset stretched out, curling her back in almost inhuman ways.
>She bounded up and stretched some more, exposing just a peek of a flat stomach.
"Breakfast is in the kitchen."
>Sunset gave her a wink as she left.
>Any further and she'd have a heart attack.
>She looked over at Rarity, already awake.
"Morning Rarity. I was just about to wake you up for breakfast."
>Rarity squeezed out of the sleeping bag.
>"Thank you, Pinkamena. Be a dear...?"
>Pinkamena looked at her dainty, outstretched hand, and grabbed it.
>Light as feather, Rarity was hoisted up with all the grace she usually mustered.
>Pinkamena looked down at the tight night gown that Rarity had shimmied in to.
>Barely stopping mid-thigh, and offering a low-cut glimpse of smooth, pale skin, the fabric was sheer in its' design.
>Rarity bit her lip, eyelids fluttering.
>"Is everything alright? You seem a little flustered..."
"Yeah. I'm fine, Rarity."
>She didn't sound fine, the incessant warble in her voice made her flinch.
>Rarity didn't seem to notice her tone.
>Maybe that was for the best, the way that she pressed up tight to Pinkamena had her wishing she would never let go.
>Rarity pulled Pinkamena's arm away from her body and wrapped her arms tight around it.
>"Lead me there, Pinkamena?"
>How could she say no?
>Rainbow was as good a cook as Pinkamena had guessed, judging by the pleased expressions decorating each face around the table.
>As Pinkamena let her eyes wander from each face, they lingered more on some than others.
>Sunset's insistence, for example, on licking the fork clean- even after all the syrup, butter, and cake had been pried off- was more than distracting.
>Her piercing, flirtatious stare every time she looked away from the fork for a second didn't help Pinkamena's case any, either.
>Rarity seemed to be trying to outdo Sunset as she practically moaned in delight as every mouthful was swallowed, jealous looks were shot at Sunset in between eye-rolling ecstasy.
>It left Pinkamena feeling hot under the collar, and the rest of the girls in varying states of ever-increasing lust.
>"Are y'all done?"
>The spellbinding display put on by Sunset and Rarity was broken by the ever stalwart and now blushing Applejack.
>"I'd like ta eat in peace, if y'all wouldn't mind too much."
>"Stick in the mud."
>"What was that, Rainbow?"
>The two girls glared daggers at each other.
>"Settle down you two. As Applejack had so stated, manners first."
>Rainbow Dash snorted at Rarity's admonishment.
>"At least we're not orgasming over a pancake, Rarity."
>"Rainbow! Why I never-!"
>"Oh you never, huh? "Oh, pancake! So good! Muah, muah! Kiss me, darling!", does that sound familiar?"
>Rarity and Rainbow dissolved into playful bickering, and it seemed infectious.
>Soon Sunset and Applejack were trading barbs, and even Fluttershy was smiling and laughing along.
>Pinkamena was just thankful that they weren’t picking on her, even if it looked like fun.
>She relaxed and let the lines around her face fade as she took in the scenery of the kitchen.
>Well-lit, surrounded by friends, simply being welcome.
>All so new, yet in a vague sense familiar.
>Pinkie Pie should be sitting here, and yet she wasn’t.
>It was the quintessential opposite of Pinkie Pie that took her place.
>She was welcome.
>Pinkamena smiled at a comment that was thrown Rarity’s way, from Applejack.
>She wouldn’t change it for the world. She was, dare she say, happy.
>Pinkie wouldn’t take that away from her, not for anything.
>Pinkamena opened her eyes, a flurry of red and yellow met her vision.
>”This is your place, right?”
>Sunset was staring at her from under a brimmed helmet, a smirk on her face.
>Pinkamena didn’t trust her voice, she wobbly got off the motorcycle and nodded.
>She made sure her backpack was still attached firmly to her back with a quick shake of her shoulders.
>”Sorry if I went a little fast.”
>Sunset didn’t sound sorry, especially when Pinkamena was pressed tight against her, clinging for her very life as the bike thundered down the road.
>”Want some help?”
>Pinkamena didn’t get a chance to reply before Sunset looped their arms together and guided them up to the dark, ashy wood of her front door.
>The entry hall was devoid of life, as was the walk up to her room.
>Sunset gave a surreptitious glance around the empty, dark hallway, and prepared to push Pinkamena’s door in-
>Her hand froze around the nob, and she looked up, and up, and up, at the man standing just in front of her.
>She could hear Pinkamena’s gulp from right behind her.
>Sunset looked at the man’s stern, unyielding face.
>It was speckled, as if carved from granite, with the color and texture of well-worn leather.
>Thick, serious lines entrenched themselves in his face and high, prominent cheek bones stuck out below piercing golden eyes.
>”Who is this?”
>His voice, much like himself, filled the hall.
>It sounded like it should belong to him, gravely, rough, and deep.
>”Sunset. Sunset Shimmer.”
>Sunset hesitantly accepted the man’s outstretched hand- which were easily larger than trash can lids.
>He gave her a bone-crushing squeeze for a moment as he shook his hand up and down, then let go.
>”I am Igneous Rock Pie. Father to Pinkamena Diane Pie. I welcome you, Sunset Shimmer.”
>Igneous spared her one last glance before looking back at Pinkamena.
>Her brushed- although it felt more like she was being thrown aside- past Sunset and stood tall in front of Pinkamena.
>Pinkamena looked up at her father.
>This is the first time she had seen her father’s age-worn, serious face in years with her own eyes.
>Pinkamena hugged Igneous around his barrel of a waist.
>Her father didn’t react, as if he would anyway, yet the way his hand came to rest against her back, she knew her father was pleased.
>”It is a fine pleasure to see thou once more, Pinkamena.”
“You too, dad.”
>They parted, and Pinkamena was content.
>Igneous gave her a nod and continued down the hall, his booming footsteps audible on the creaky wood flooring.
>Pinkamena looked over at Sunset’s shaken pallor.
>”T-that was your dad?”
>Pinkamena offered Sunset a, hopefully, reassuring smile as she rested her hand on her arm.
“Sorry. He can be a little intimidating if you don’t know him.”
>”Maybe I should go?”
“I-if you want to. Dad won’t do anything, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
>Sunset felt her gut flop over.
>That behemoth of a man could turn her into a pretzel with ease, the urge to- escort- Pinkamena to her room suddenly soured in her mind.
>”That’s okay. I’ve, uh, I’ve got a lot of homework and stuff. I’ll see you?”
>Pinkamena smiled softly.
>Pinkamena could just make out Sunset’s fading steps down the hall as she closed her bedroom door and sunk to the floor, leaning against the cool wood.
>That unnatural rattle in her bag every time she moved was tempting, so, so very tempting.
>Pinkamena could just make out Sunset’s fading steps down the hall as she closed her bedroom door and sunk to the floor, leaning against the cool wood.
>That unnatural rattle in her bag every time she moved was tempting, so, so very tempting.
>Pinkamena pulled the clear orange bottle from the top of her pack and palmed it, rolling it over and over in her hands.
>Just the mere proximity of her medicine made Pinkie bang against the inside of her skull in anger.
>It left her dizzy and disoriented, and wishing for Pinkie to stop.
>Maybe she could let Pinkie out for just a little bit- just to get some rest.
>Yes, that was a good idea.
>Her head swam as she fumbled with the cap, and her vision blurred as she tried to count out her dosage.
>They all seemed to be in double, or was it triple? Quadruple?
>She couldn’t tell.
>Pinkie was still angry, and she could feel it.
>Pinkamena poured the medicine into her hand, and lost count after a dozen.
>A large, weighty hand fell on her shoulder as Sunset tried to step out of the front door of Pinkamena’s home.
>Home free, almost to her motorcycle, yet no dice.
>Sunset watched the man begin to walk away into a room connected to the entry hall.
>The thought of simply fleeing crossed her mind, yet the man looked as if he could outpace her, despite his age and graying hair.
>She wasn’t certain why she was so intimidated, as she followed Igneous into a sparsely decorated drawing room, yet she was.
>The man had made no outward signs of hostility, and despite that, it made it all the much worse.
>As if Igneous could see her intentions before they had even been introduced.
>”Would thou prefer to sit?”
>Igneous pointed over at a hand-carved chair across from the one that bore his weight.
>”I’m okay, Sir.”
>Igneous eyed her up and down, and it made her fidget.
>Something about Igneous seemed to change, Sunset couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
>His demeanor darkened, and deep trenches crossed the lines on his face.
>”You know of Pinkamena’s… Condition?”
>”Er, yeah. She sort of… Opened up to us all.”
>Igneous’ eyes narrowed and his thick fingers drummed on the scored wooden surface of the table he was sitting at.
>”I must give heed, Sunset Shimmer. Pinkamena and Pinkie Pie are not divergent personas.”
>”W-what?! You- you’re saying…”
>His jaw clenched, making his stone-like visage grow ever more serious.
>”H-how do you know? T-that Pinkie doesn’t exist?”
>”Many years ago, we switched the medicine held in Pinkamena’s bottles. The medicine we give her is an anti-depressant, masqueraded as a personality-switcher.”
>”Like a placebo? But maybe it works because Pinkamena wants it to work?”
>Igneous shook his head.
>”After Pinkamena revealed to us Pinkie’s existence we brought her to a hospital. They could find no evidence of any neurological disorders besides deeply-seated depression. Not on their machines, nor through therapy.”
>Sunset’s jaw felt loose in her mouth as she stared, gaping, at Igneous.
>”S-so Pinkamena… She’s just been faking it?”
>”I do not believe that this is so. Pinkamena was not a popular child, until she adopted Pinkie Pie’s persona. I believe that she believes she has a different personality, but that is not reality. Pinkie Pie does not exist as a separate entity. Not truly.”
>”Why are you telling me this?”
>Sunset had taken a seat, the reality of Pinkamena- Pinkie Pie- it left her winded.
>”I do not want you to misunderstand Pinkamena. I want you to know her for who she is. She has the capacity to be Pinkie Pie, yet it is her own beliefs that hinder it.”
>”W-why can’t you tell Pinkamena?”
>Igneous’ face grew minutely sorrowful, his eyes misting and reflecting memories long gone.
>”It is my belief that she is unable to handle the reality. The realization of her true nature would be… Too much. I do not wish to lose my daughter, Sunset Shimmer. I ask you to keep this in confidence.”
>Sunset nodded, her face a mask of shock.
>They sat there in the dusty, gloomy room for what felt like hours- it must have been, as the sun sank lower and lower in the sky.
>Silent, unseeing, unfeeling, just digesting the truths of the hour.
>Sunset looked up when a dull thud broke through the silence, reverberating through the house from upstairs.
>Her mouth went dry, and she looked over at Igneous.
>Her chest ached, like someone was sitting on it.
>Her head pounded, a thundering chorus of drum beats and hoof steps that echoed deep in her skull, yet Pinkie Pie was silent.
>Pinkamena gasped for breath and clutched at her throat that refused to accept any air, as if she was drowning.
>Pinkie’s giggle was wrong- the look on her face seemed warped and disgusted, dark, black holes filled her empty eye sockets and a broken smile traced its’ way across her face.
>Pinkamena let out a feeble gasp and looked up at Pinkie Pie.
>She was there in the room with her, smiling down at her, seated firmly on her chest.
>She could barely choke out a word, and it seemed Pinkie had no intention of getting off.
>Sweat poured down her face and her throat constricted, just as Pinkie gripped it tight in her hands.
>”Sorry, Pinkamena… But I’m the one they want…”
>Pinkamena feebly beat at Pinkie’s arms.
>”Just die already… DIE!”
>Pinkie squeezed as hard as she could, her eyes bulging out of her head as she screamed bloody murder at Pinkamena’s gasping, struggling body.
>Perhaps it was simply an accident, or a miracle, but Pinkie went flying as Pinkamena rolled off the edge of the bed and slumped to the floor, letting out a dull thud on impact.
>Pinkie didn’t come back, yet the squeezing, choking feeling didn’t subside.
>Nor did the headache that beat a furious tempo within her skull.
>Pinkamena gasped and flailed until dark spots began to fill her vision, until darkness filled it entirely.
>”Pinkamena? Pinkie? Pinka-”
>The fading voice of Sunset and rough hands grabbed her, yet not soon enough to stop her drifting into unconsciousness.
>Tick, tick tack, tick.
>Her hands flattened keys as if she were a machine, moving to and fro across the board.
>The brightly lit monitor gleamed at her from the darkness and the scrawling black text looked like little ants to her dull, glazed eyes.
>Without looking Pinkamena drew another word, then another line, then another paragraph, then another story.
>Finally her eyes squinted against the harsh light and she fumbled for a rattling bottle.
>Her mind uncleared and a barrage of emotions began to leak through, but not before Pinkamena could swallow a pair of tablets.
>Another line, another story, a world of friends and acceptance, not to be.
>Not for her.
>Not for quiet, lonely Pinkamena who can barely string two words together in the presence of anyone outside family.
>The thought of being like Pinkie- or even having a Pinkie Pie to take over- appealed to her more than anything.
>But that was simply a pipe dream.
>Pinkie didn’t exist.
>Pinkamena wished that she didn’t either.
>Tick, tick tack, tick.