Synopsis: Rainbow Dash would never leave her. Hanging, or otherwise.
Groggily I force open my eyes. There's very little light where I am, but even so, what light there is burns my poor, sensitive retinas. Almost immediately my head starts throbbing, too. I'm tempted to shut my eyes again, but instead I take a careful look around and try to orient myself - which is a bit difficult to do as everything around me is covered in darkness and shadow.
There is dirt. I can see that much. Dirt and rocks and walls made of craggy, forbidding stone. Last but not least, there is a solitary pony nearby, sitting on her haunches and staring directly at me. As soon as she notices me moving, she frowns.
I frown right back. Licking my dry lips, I croak out, "Who are - "
"It's my name." She sighs deeply, and the sudden gust of air causes the bangs of her multi-colored mane to flutter. "My name is Rainbow Dash."
"Oh." I blink at her and feel confused. "And where - "
"In a cave. Entrance is blocked by a few tons of rocks. I'd try to Rainboom us out, but that would probably just bring the whole roof down on top of our heads. So for now, we're trapped."
"How do you - "
"How do I know what you're going to ask?" She smiles, but the smile doesn't quite reach her eyes. It looks almost sad. "Because you're as predictable as the Apples running out of cider on the first day of cider season, that's how. You ask the exact same questions, in the exact same order. Every single time."
I stare at her, pondering this over, but I can't make sense of anything she's just said. "I don't understand," I finally tell her.
"I know." She ambles over and settles down beside me. As she does so, her shoulder brushes against mine. Her fur feels warm, and for the first time I notice just how cold it is in this cave. "Do you remember your name?"
I snort at that. What a ridiculous question to ask. I open my mouth to toss off a sarcastic retort, something about how silly this pony is acting, but then I freeze.
Panic rises in my chest. I can't hear anything besides my own breathing, which sounds harsh and loud in this small, confined space. I'm hyperventilating or close to it. I try to breathe through my mouth, to calm myself down, but it doesn't really work.
Then something lightly touches my back, and I give a little jump. Glancing over my shoulder, I see the pony has wrapped one of her wings wrapped around me. I turn to face her.
"It's going to be okay," she says, her eyes bright and sincere. "We're gonna get out of this cave soon, and when we do, we'll go find a doctor. Then we'll get you all fixed up. I promise."
Very quietly, I confess to her that I cannot remember my name.
"It's Twilight. Twilight Sparkle."
Absentmindedly I nod, as I silently repeat the name to myself. Twilight. Twilight Sparkle. I feel a vague prick at the back of my mind, as though that name should resonate with me but doesn't quite do so. I make an effort to swallow down my panic, which tastes bitter and bilious in my throat, as I try not to think of all the things I apparently don't know and can't remember.
I don't like not knowing things.
Feeling sleepy again, I lean my head against Rainbow Dash's shoulder. In turn, she rests her chin on top of my head. It feels nice. Warm, cozy, oddly familiar. I almost start relaxing - until abruptly I catch myself. What am I doing, cuddling up to this strange pony? How do I know that she's not the reason I can't remember anything?
My entire body goes rigid as icy fear floods my veins.
Rainbow Dash sighs again, very softly this time. "Right about now is when you usually start wondering just who in Equestria I am and whether you can trust me or not."
It's too much to handle, everything, all of it, and I jerk back. Reaching out with both forelegs, I roughly shove the other pony away. "I'm probably wondering that because it's a really good question! How do I even know that you're who you say you are? Maybe you're my enemy! Maybe you're a spy!"
I expect her to get angry at this point, to shout or yell or perhaps even shove me back. But she doesn't do any of that. She just starts laughing.
It makes me furious. Here I am, utterly vulnerable, without any memories, completely at her mercy … how dare this pony laugh at me like this! I decide that I'm done here - done with her - and jump to my feet. I have no idea where I'll go, but that doesn't matter. All I know is that I can't stay.
Jumping to my feet so quickly was a terrible, terrible idea, however. Immediately I feel dizzy, and the pain that's been steadily throbbing in my head intensifies to such an extent that little sparks of light start exploding in front of my eyes. My stomach gives a lurch and, falling to my knees, I begin violently retching all over the cave's floor.
As I'm doing so, I can feel a pair of hooves touch my mane and gently pull my hair back from my face.
It feels as though that I'm sick for hours, but it's probably only a minute or two in actuality. Once I've finally finished, Rainbow Dash wraps her forelegs around me and pulls me close against her. I don't resist. I feel too weak to do so, too drained, even if I wanted to fight her off. And, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I do want to resist.
She's warm, at least. And the cave is still so very cold.
I bury my face against her muscular chest. She smells like earth and sweat and rain. "What happened to me?" I whisper hoarsely, my throat raw from all the vomiting.
"When everything started caving in, you got hit in the head with some pretty big rocks," she explains. With my face pressed against her chest, I can hear her heart beating, strong and steady and sure. "I wasn't fast enough to get you outta the way of all of the rocks. This is … this is totally all my fault, Twilight. I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault."
She snorts. "And how would you know that? You can't even remember your own name."
"I just do!" And I do. I don't know how, I don't know why, but nothing can shake my firm belief that she isn't to blame.
"I guess. If you say so."
I shut my eyes again. The cave, dark as it may be, is still too bright. The light hurts. "Sorry I made those accusations against you," I mumble, yawning. She is so warm. "Just … feel really confused, is all. Kinda scared."
Just as I begin drifting into sleep, she gives my shoulders a brusque shake, and my eyes snap back open. She's looking down at me with an incredibly worried expression on her face. "Don't go to sleep, okay? You gotta stay awake."
"Hard to keep my eyes open. It's too bright in here."
"I know. But you still gotta stay awake, 'cause Fluttershy says that with a head injury, you gotta make sure - " She cuts herself off. Takes a deep breath. Then, her eyes light up, and she grins. "Hey, how about I tell you a story? You like stories."
I cock my head, intrigued. I do like the idea of hearing a story, I have to admit, and I wonder what sorts of stories Rainbow Dash might know. Without quite realizing what I'm going to say, I find myself blurting out, "Tell me the story of how we met."
And so she does. She spins a long, convoluted fable about magical princesses and mares who live on the moon, about old castle ruins and magic necklaces with powers beyond all imagination. She speaks of so many different places, some fantastical and some mundane. Of apple farms and fashion boutiques, bakeries and menageries, and evil forests where all sorts of monsters lurk and prowl. Even though I still feel more than a bit sleepy, I don't nod off even once while she's recounting all of these adventures.
When she finishes her tale, a silence settles between the two of us.
"That is the most preposterous story ever," I tell her, attempting to stifle a giggle and failing rather miserably.
"Yeah?" She begins chuckling too. "Yeah, I guess it kinda is, when you think about it."
"So how did we really meet?"
She rests her chin on top of my head again and gives my mane a brief nuzzle. "You, uh, gave me tutoring lessons back when we were in school. 'Cause you're really, really smart and a total egghead. And me ... well, I guess I've always just been a dumb jock."
I reach out with a hoof and wrap one of my legs around her waist, hugging her tightly. "I don't think you're dumb," I state firmly, with a certainty that surprises and baffles me.
From somewhere not too far away I can hear the steady dripping of water, and it echoes eerily off the cave's walls. My eyelids start to grow heavy, and I worry that I'm about to fall asleep again. I don't want to fall asleep. Rainbow Dash seems to think it's important for me to stay awake, and I hate the thought of disappointing her.
So I decide to start a new conversation. Talking seems to help keep the grogginess at bay. "You said something earlier, about me always asking the same questions. Does that … does that mean I keep forgetting, and you keep telling me all of these things? That we've done all this before?"
She doesn't respond at first and, when she finally does, her voice is barely above a whisper. "Yeah. We have."
I mull that over and, as I do, something occurs to me. A chill runs down the length of my back. "Rainbow Dash. Just how long have we been in this cave?"
"I dunno exactly. It's hard to tell time in here. Two or three days, maybe?"
Gasping, I lean back far enough that I can look into her face. "You can't stay here! You have to leave, you have to find water and food, you have to - "
"No way!" Her deep, rose-hued eyes burn with a fury that I haven't yet seen, and any protest I might have offered crumbles to dust in my mouth. "I am not leaving you, Twilight, so don't even think of suggesting it!"
And it's right then, as I'm breathless and shaking from the sheer intensity of her glare, that I realize. All at once it hits me, like a bolt of lightning from the blue.
"We're … we're more than just friends. Aren't we, Rainbow Dash?"
She doesn't say anything in reply, but the expression on her face is all the confirmation I need.
I can feel my heart thundering in my chest. Can hear the rush of blood whistling through my ears. Tentatively I move a bit closer and press my cheek against hers. "Thank you. For not leaving me. And - and - and for being patient with me, even though I can't remember anything."
"Always." Her voice is low, gruff, almost a growl. "Always."
Before I can respond further, an explosion rips through the cave, sending strong shudders along the ground and a shower of small pebbles raining down from above. Instantly Rainbow Dash is pushing me to the cave floor, lying down on top of me, using her body as a shield. After seeming ages, the rumbling subsides. All is quiet and still once again.
Slowly Rainbow Dash stands back up, and I lift my head once she's no longer atop me. In a somewhat shaky voice I ask her, "What wasthat?"
"Dunno yet." She's not looking at me. Instead she's staring off down a long passageway, her stance edgy, tense. Her wings are spread out, as though she wants to be ready to take off on a split second's notice.
From somewhere far away in the cave comes a cacophony of voices, distant and indistinct. Rainbow Dash doesn't move a single muscle. But as the voices draw nearer, we can begin to make out the words that are being shouted in our direction.
"Twi! RD! Are y'all okay in there? Say somethin'!"
"Darlings! Can you hear us?"
Rainbow Dash's shoulders and wings both noticeably relax. Turning back around, she gives me a smile. It's the most beautiful smile I've ever seen - and I feel pretty sure that would be true even if I did have all my memories.
"Who are they, Rainbow Dash?" I gaze at her with wide, open eyes. "What's going on?"
"They're the cavalry," she cryptically replies, still grinning. "And everything's gonna be okay. Just like I promised."
Author's Notes: We are four chapters in, and I have not written a single one of these that ships Pinkie with somepony. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.