Theory and PracticeMonochromatic
For as long as she could remember, Twilight Sparkle regretted never having kissed Sunset Shimmer.
It was a thought that had always lived in her mind, buried for months and months until some silly little detail would force it to resurface, and she’d find herself thinking about her childhood crush, her childhood mistake, and the silly regret of never having taken the plunge.
What if she had kissed Sunset at the train station? Or at the swings? How many kisses would they have shared if Twilight had been just a little braver, a little less chained to what Society expected of her?
For as long as she could remember, not kissing Sunset Shimmer was a regret she thought she’d take to the grave.
But now? Now, as she walked the city streets with Sunset at her side, it was a possibility. A possibility, an idea, something that whispered into her ear every other minute, resurfacing feelings and emotions she’d thought were gone.
It had been precisely four days since they’d been reunited and Sunset’s three-day stay had been extended indefinitely. They’d done a great many things during that week! They’d visited museums, visited gardens, visited libraries, and just about any place there was to visit (except, obviously, some areas of the Lunar District).
They’d also spoken at length about many things. They spoke of Sunset’s job, traveling from city to city and tutoring children in magic while running her own independent research. They spoke of Twilight’s classes under Lady Celestia, and of the many things she’d learned to do. They spoke of their childhood town, too, exchanging the most recent gossip and fondly reminiscing about their many childish adventures.
So many things were said, yes, but it was not lost on Twilight that the only thing they didn’t speak about was Them. The unspoken understanding, the romantic feelings once present but never acknowledged—or, rather, never acknowledged by Twilight, in any case.
Of course, she thought once, while she and Sunset read Lady Celestia’s books side by side. Of course this would happen now. The first biggest mistake of her life had to come knocking right on the heels of the second biggest… not mistake, no… Biggest…
Yes? Yes. That sounded right.
The second biggest heartbreak of her life.
That is what it was, wasn’t it? Letting Sunset Shimmer walk away had been a mistake, but cutting me off had been a painful necessity. It was what had to happen, and it hurt, and maybe she could have handled it better, but Twilight had to believe she hadn’t been mistaken twice. She had to.
In any case!
Regardless, however, notwithstanding, anyway, she thought, this was not about me.
It was about Sunset Shimmer.
And the oppressive emotion Twilight felt. The regret. And the fact that it had been an entire week, and nothing had been said.
“I don’t regret leaving,” Sunset mused, her hand wrapped around a steaming mug of coffee as she looked out the café window. They’d just finished talking about their hometown in the North. “Sure, I wish my parents didn’t pretend I’m dead, but I don’t regret it.”
“Really?” Twilight asked, playing with the key hanging from her neck and envious of the confidence in her friend’s voice. Sunset had been disowned, had to figure out all alone how to feed herself at sixteen, all these things that would have given Twilight nightmares just thinking about, and yet there she was. Confident in her decision. How had she done it? “You don’t regret anything? Nothing at all?”
Sunset shook her head. “Nope.” She frowned. “Actually, yeah. Maybe one thing.” She looked to Twilight and grinned. “I regret not dragging you along with me. Everything would have been much cheaper with someone to split the bills with.”
There were many things Twilight could reply in turn. She could laugh, and mention that her savings at the time would have hardly helped pay for anything. She could sigh and note that she would have been remiss to break her family’s heart by running away.
Or, she could be sincere.
“I…” She crossed her arms, her nails digging into flesh, until she forced herself to stop and rest her hands on the table.
It was something I’d told her, you know?
If you want to show you’re being sincere, I’d said, don’t hide your heart.
So she didn’t.
“I’m sorry, Sunset.”
Sunset’s playfulness vanished almost instantly. Like it had, so long ago at the train station, her expression softened and she faced Twilight fully. Meeting her gaze made things harder, and even more so when Sunset crossed her own arms, but if anything, this compelled Twilight all the more to keep her own heart bared.
“Sorry about what?” Sunset carefully asked, because of course she knew what Twilight meant, and of course Twilight knew Sunset knew what she meant, but what a dreadfully boring story this would be if people actually communicated, no?
“I’m sorry I buried myself so far into the closet, I was practically in an entirely different universe.”
She struggled to maintain eye contact with Sunset after that, but by the stars, she did it. Gazed right into her soul the very same way she’d done when telling me it was over.
Sunset didn’t react, initially. She stared, mulling over the words laid out before her, until finally…
She cracked a grin.
“I mean… I wasn’t going to say anything.”
And when Sunset’s arms fell to her sides and she laughed—fondly and sincerely—so did Twilight, burying her face in her hands.
“Yeeeeep. Really far back in there, Twi.” Sunset leaned in, innocently sipping her coffee. “Would have been interesting to write a research paper on your Closet Universe. Call it something like, I don’t know…”
“A Study In Not Getting The Hint?”
“No, no. A Study In Seeing The Hint And Running The Other Way At Mach Speed.”
Their laughter echoed out, dancing together and intermingling as it had long, long ago, when the worries of adulthood and decisions and relationships were distant and foreign.
It felt to Twilight as if a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She’d done the right thing, which she should have, of course, but it was so terribly relieving to not add another mistake to the sea of mistakes she’d been swimming in recently.
“I missed you,” she confessed, and when Sunset held out her hand, Twilight took it in hers.
“I missed you, too.”
Hours later found the two of them back in Twilight’s room, sitting on the bed as they did long, long ago. Chatting about boys, and girls, and all in-between, both of them clad in their pajamas and sharing a bowl of fries between them.
“It didn’t work between Steel and me,” Sunset was saying, speaking of some man she’d met during her travels. “He’s nice, but wasn’t my type in the end.”
Twilight nodded. “Right. That’s sort of how I felt with Flash. He was nice, too, but he wasn’t my type, either. I thought that maybe because I hadn’t gone with you, then that must mean I was straight, but—” She stopped at catching Sunset stifling a giggle. “…What?”
“Nothing! I just…” Sunset carefully selected her words. “The idea of you being straight.”
“I could be straight!” Twilight protested, which she couldn’t, by the way.
“You slammed yourself against a wall at the academy that one time Stardew Whisp walked past us between classes.”
“I was looking at her book! I was!” she insisted at Sunset’s laughter.
“I could be interested in men and women!” Twilight interjected, to which Sunset hummed thoughtfully.
Twilight looked away. “…No.” She looked back to Sunset. “What about you?”
“I definitely swing both ways,” she mused, taking a bite out of a fry. “Think I lean more towards our side, but I’m open to anything.” She stood up and wandered towards Twilight’s desk, curiously looking over the several assorted objects on it. “So, who was it?”
Twilight frowned. “Huh?”
“Who was it?” Sunset asked again, examining the various magic books on the desk. “Who finally got you to admit you were in Closet Universe? It obviously wasn’t me, and I doubt Flash was bad enough he made you swear off the other sex.” She looked around to Twilight and smiled mischievously. “So, who was it?”
Twilight fell silent, her hand reaching to the key hanging from her neck. “I… Ah… It was a woman I met here,” she said, finally, and how dull it sounded. How unremarkable, and normal, and generic. She hated it. “She was one of my first friends here. We don’t really talk anymore, though.”
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that,” Sunset replied sympathetically, turning back to the desk. “What was her name?”
“Rarity,” Twilight said, and she realized that was the first time she’d said my name in weeks. She couldn’t quite decide if saying it again was comforting or burning.
“Wow, you two must have been really serious,” Sunset said, and before Twilight could question her, her heart nearly jumped out her throat when Sunset turned around, a familiar golden lipstick tube in her hand. She looked it over, inspecting the name engraved on its side. “She left her makeup here and everything. I’m actually a little surprised Lady Celestia let your girlfriend stay over. I’d heard she was kind of… traditional.”
“She wasn’t my girlfriend,” Twilight curtly said, beet-red.
“Ooooh. She was a crush,” Sunset corrected, a little sly smile on her lips. She turned the lipstick around in her fingers. “Hm. I really thought you’d have outgrown ‘accidentally’ taking your crushes’ makeup.”
“It was an accident! You used to get the same brand as me!”
Sunset grinned. “Sure.”
“You did! And I didn’t take that from her! She threw it away!”
Sunset’s amusement waned. “Oh.” And then her amusement turned to horror. “Wait. Twilight. Twi. She threw this away, and you grabbed it from the trash?”
“No!” Twilight gasped. “I’m not a creep!”
“I hope not!” Sunset said, laughing. “Then why do you have this?”
“She…” Twilight drifted off, frustrated. “It’s complicated. The point is I thought maybe she’d regret throwing it away, so I kept it. But we’re not friends, anymore, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.”
“It doesn’t?” Sunset asked, every word careful.
“No,” Twilight Sparkle replied forcefully. “It’s over.”
“…It sounds like she meant a lot to you,” Sunset said. “…Did you love her?”
“No,” Twilight replied, because she didn’t. “I… I cared about her a lot. And that was it. But things didn’t work out between us, which I’m fine with.”
Sunset paused a moment, deep in thought.
“Well,” she eventually said, “I don’t know what happened between you and this woman, and I know we haven’t seen each other in, what, over six years? So I can’t really say I know you well still, but I know you some, Twi, and…” Her tone softened. “I don’t think you’re fine with that?”
Because she was.
Sunset didn’t say anything for the longest time. She simply allowed her gentle gaze to meet with Twilight’s harded one, the lipstick tube rolling on her palm, until finally, she made a choice.
She stepped forward and sat down before Twilight.
“Can I kiss you?”
What a bold proposition! And an unexpected one, too, for poor Twilight stared at Sunset Shimmer, utterly thrown by this left field question.
“W-What?” she asked, too shocked to blush.
Sunset did not waver. “I’d like to kiss you. I was asking if I could,” she repeated matter-of-factly.
“Because I think it will answer a lot of things. And it might help you.” Her voice wavered. “And it might help me.”
What a strange position for Twilight to find herself. A position her teenage-self would have been dying to be in. All her life, she’d regretted not kissing Sunset Shimmer. All her life, she’d wondered the what-if’s of this relationship she’d decided not to pursue.
And finally, here it was. The possibility of an answer she’d long wished for.
It happened before she could second guess it. Before she could even warn Sunset Shimmer, even! She moved forward, her eyes slamming shut as their lips pressed together, and her mind reeling when Sunset kissed her back, her hand finding its place on Twilight’s hip.
That’s all she needed.
Sunset’s hand felt like a jolt of electricity, snapping Twilight apart rather than together, as she’d hoped. She pulled away mid-kiss, almost forcefully so, scrambling back, suffused with shame.
“I can’t,” she said, wanting to die. “I can’t, I can’t—I’m sorry, I—”
Words failed her, stuck in her poor throat. Gods, she wanted to say, why couldn’t she do anything right. Why couldn’t something go well?
Sunset’s voice brought Twilight back to reality, focusing the mage’s attention on her and only her. If Sunset had been bothered or upset by Twilight’s action, she certainly didn’t show it.
She simply leaned back, her palms on the floor supporting her weight. She seemed meditative, almost.
“I was terrified of seeing you again,” she continued, and though the statement was vulnerable, there was no vulnerability in Sunset’s voice. On the contrary, there was a palpable calm. A confidence Twilight clung to. “I was going to kiss you at the train station. The day I left, I mean. Back home. And I didn’t, and I always felt I’d never know for sure if I was over you unless I kissed you and saw what happened.”
“I care about you a lot, but I can officially say I am totally a hundred percent over you, Twilight. Which is good because you’re over me, too.”
Twilight kept quiet. Waiting and waiting for whatever came next.
“You didn’t like the kiss, did you?” Sunset asked, simply.
“…No,” Twilight whispered.
“Tell me why,” Sunset asked, as she had long ago. Kindness suffused her voice. A kindness Twilight had not been offered in the past weeks, and a kindness Twilight did not feel was deserved. “Why you didn’t like kissing me. Tell me. The real reason why.”
You see, this is why I myself prefer practice over theory. Theory is exclusively mental. Exclusively hypothetical, exclusively intangible, and something that can be refuted, toyed with, tangled with until you get the results you want. Because you can’t know things for certain with theory, not really. You can get close to what the truth certainly is, but it will always only ever be in theory.
But practice? Practice is different. Practice will tell you whether you’re right or wrong, whether you like it or not.
Practice, darling, couldn’t give less of a damn for what you think.
And it was only in practice, only in kissing Sunset Shimmer, that she would have to contend with the meaning behind the very real and very tangible reaction of viscerally rejecting a kiss she’d regretted missing her whole life.
Her mind traveled months back, vividly bringing back the haunting memory of the first time we met. Of the words I’d left her with.
“You said you wouldn’t miss me when I’ve gone. Well…
You will now.”
Her eyes welled with tears, hidden soon enough when her hands covered her face, finally confronting the fact that she did, in fact, miss me. Miss me much, much more than she’d ever missed anyone, but it was over and it was her fault and there was no going back now.
“I messed up,” she choked. “Again. And I—I can’t fix it, and—She—Gods.”
She loved me. And she had hurt me. And the regret of shutting me out she’d learn to live with, but the knowledge that she had hurt me was a bleeding, searing wound that would stay open forever.
Twilight looked up through tears.
“I didn’t just come here to kiss you, you know?” She leaned in. “You’re still one of my closest friends, and I’m not leaving until we figure this out, okay?”
Twilight didn’t reply at first. She simply looked at Sunset, a moment that was eternal, until her expression softened, and she nodded her head, immensely grateful to have a dear friend there.
“Okay,” she eventually said.
Ha haaaa, I love the way you write, I really, really do.
Poor kiddo. She basically lost her whole friend group and crush all in one shot. And she’s probably been kicking herself for so long with pretty much no one trying to help her, while Rarity (who I still think is the…”more wrong”(?????) onee here has a massive support system.
(I say “more wrong” not because I think she’s the only one in the wrong (Twilight definitely has a BIIIIG share of the blame), but after sitting on it, I ultimately think Rarity is the one with more to blame here for basically setting up a complicated lie that Twilight had almost no way of correctly navigating when it all fell apart.)
At least she has our girl Sunset on her side.