The fading sunlight shone dimly through the window of Golden Oaks Public Library, illuminating the face of a cyan pegasus. Around her stood five other ponies, all waiting patiently for her to speak.
"W-well, uh..." Rainbow stuttered, shifting her hooves on the floor. Her wings fluttered softly at her sides, betraying the one emotion the stuntmare had—on numerous occasions—denied even existed in her mind: anxiousness. "Y-you see..."
"You can do it Rainbow, just tell them what you told me." Fluttershy's quiet voice broke the awkward silence Dash had left hanging. Without hesitation, she placed a hoof around the speedster's neck and gave her a comforting nuzzle. "There's nothing to be worried about," the yellow pegasus said reassuringly.
Twilight was confused—and that in itself was enough to confuse her; she didn't recall any time in the past few years when she had been as profoundly confounded as this. Rainbow Dash had called all of their friends together at the library a few hours ago. They'd had a good time, of course, romping around town, playing board games and simply talking about whatever came to mind—but just a few minutes ago, with the sun setting and a storm approaching, Dash had suddenly turned very serious. "I have something I've got to tell all of you guys..." she'd said. "Something kinda important..." She'd frozen after that, too scared to move on, to stubborn to back down.
Rainbow Dash gulped. "Well... you see, I've kinda had this thing I've needed to say that I've, uh, been too scared to..." She trailed off once more, biting her lip.
"What's wrong Sugarcube?" Applejack inquired gently. Dash's wings fluttered nervously again, and she looked at the ground. Was that—no—Twilight swatted the thought aside, Rainbow wasn't blushing!
"So, um... h-here goes." Dash gulped again and hunkered down defensively, her belly low to the ground like a pony cowering for her life.
Twilight was concerned, usually Rainbow Dash radiated pure confidence—with shaking knees and wandering eyes, the pony she saw before her now could only be described as a nervous wreck!
Fluttershy placed a reassuring hoof on Dash once more.
"I like...fillies. Like, i-in a romantic way..." She managed, wincing. Visibly shaking, Rainbow's head raised and looked around the room with an expectant—albeit frightened—look on her face.
Twilight's jaw dropped. Pure shock forced her onto her haunches. Maybe... NO! She shook her head—there was no way she was about to go down that road again. Just because Dash had announced that she was gay didn't mean Twilight had any better chance than earlier that day. Still...
"And?" Applejack replied, "Your point?"
A confused Rainbow Dash looked up at her. "What's that supposed to mean?" she asked.
Applejack smirked and rolled her eyes. "Ah mean, Ah already had that figgered out."
Rainbow's face twisted up into an even more bemused arrangement of features. "You knew?" she cried incredulously, "How?"
"Ah had... a hunch, Ah a'spose. Anyway, congratulations R.D., Ah hope that takes a load off'n yer shoulders."
"OOOOOHHH! OOH!" Pinkie Pie screeched, hopping around excitedly. "I know what this calls for! A PARTY! No, wait... TWO PARTIES! OOH! We're gonna need balloons and streamers and a cake—" The party pony's eyes grew wide with sudden inspiration. "—No! A chocolate cake filled with fillies from Las Pegasus! Then Dashie could—" She was interrupted by Rarity, whom had silenced the party pony with a look.
"I think what Pinkie means is that we're very happy for you, Rainbow Dash. All of us are thrilled that you are ready to accept yourself and seek love! Oh, I simply must make you a dress for your first date! Perhaps something blue, no—green—wait ew, not green..." The dressmaker's brow furrowed and she frowned. "Oh, why does it have to be so hard to match a color with your mane?"
"Alls she said was that she's gay, Rarity," Applejack observed. "Ah don't think she's ready to go chasin' after ponies quite yet."
"Nonsense," Rarity replied with stars in her eyes as she filed a hoof through Rainbow's mane. "Everypony wants to find that special pony!"
Applejack just sighed and brought a hoof to her face.
Twilight felt her blood freeze when Rainbow's gaze drifted over to her. Somehow, all of the warmth in her body had migrated to her cheeks for the winter. Sucking in a deep breath, Twilight managed to organize a complete thought. "Uh, yeah. What Rarity said," she answered. Her tail twitched violently for a brief moment. "we're happy for you, Dash."
Rainbow's features relaxed and she released a breath. "I-I... thanks guys. I was worried about how you'd take it..."
"Oh, that's just silly talk Dash." Applejack laughed, pulling Dash into a noogie. "We love you for who you are, not who you love you goofy pegasus!"
Twilight felt her heart lurch as she watched Rainbow's lips pull back into a toothy grin.
After a few more congratulations and a short celebration, courtesy of one spontaneous pink mare, the rain had started to fall. "Well, Ah guess Ah should be headed home," Applejack announced, "Don't wanna get caught facin' the real storm." The six friends all agreed with her and began to part ways with sweet goodbyes and promises of seeing each other soon.
Twilight stood in the door-frame as an ecstatic Rainbow Dash started down the steps—her eyes lingering perhaps just a moment too long on her friend's backside before she closed the door.
Once she was sure she was alone, Twilight clapped her hooves together and released an excited squeal. Rainbow Dash is gay! Sure, her friend's sexuality didn't necessarily mean anything, but she was still closer to her heart's desire than she had ever been in her short life!
Outside, a crack of thunder roared, a last warning from the weather team to get indoors. Water began pelting the ground, raining down in buckets. Twilight watched as the stragglers outside bolted for shelter. That sure is one heck of a storm... Did the weather team really need to brew one this strong? It had been a while since the last good storm, but from the way the trees were hunched over, it looked like the winds where reaching gale-force! Oh, well... I'm sure it's nothing they can't handle.
Letting the matter drop, Twilight walked into the kitchen to fix herself a snack for the afternoon. Grabbing a few slices of bread and some assorted flora, she set about making a sandwich while pondering the possibilities that came with Rainbow's admission. When she'd finished preparing her sandwich, Twilight sat at the table and took a bite out of it. I wonder what made her say it now, of all times...
Like an epiphany of the most vile sort, a single explanation entered her mind, making her heart stop in its tracks. Does... does she like somepony?
It certainly seemed like the only viable scenario, why go all this time without saying anything just to suddenly come out of the closet for no reason? Rainbow Dash was probably just giving them a warning: "heads-up, I'm gonna be kissing a mare around you guys soon!"
Suddenly, all of Twilight's hopes came crashing down in a firestorm. That was it, wasn't it? Rainbow Dash had a crush on somepony and she'd felt the need to tell her friends about her sexuality before... before...
No, she could beat this! She had to beat this! She'd been dealing with this for way too long to give up now! Celestia almighty, she couldn't just quit now!
Twilight yelped in surprise as a loud crash sounded against the outer wall of the library. "What was that?" she cried. She looked at her plate, which was now empty due to the fact that she'd thrown her sandwich across the room in shock.
There was another crash, then another and yet another after that one. Twilight winced every time the loud thump shook her dwelling. The scrambling of little feet upstairs told her that the noises had woken up her young dragon. Shoot, so much for a quiet night alone...
The crashing stopped, thankfully, after a few moments. Just as Twilight slipped her plate into the sink to be washed later, a knock sounded on her door. She frowned. Who in the hoof could that be? she thought, making her way back to the entrance.
The wind caught the door the second Twilight turned the knob, yanking it out of her grasp and revealing the chaotic scene beyond. Rain poured down from the sky like the steady stream of a bathtub faucet. The wind blew so hard the water looked to be falling sideways. Trees were bent over sideways. Anything that wasn't nailed down was flying around in the streets like a headless pegasus. In the doorway stood the mare of the hour, soaked to the bone after just a few moments, with a fresh bump on her head. Grinding a hoof into the steps, she said, "Hey, Twi, is it all right if I spend the night here? I can't fly straight with all of this wind..."
Twilight blinked stupidly. She felt like leaping for joy; Rainbow Dash was asking to spend the night with her! Granted, it was because she couldn't get home and not because she wanted to spend time with her, but Twilight could live with that, after all, time with Rainbow Dash was still time with Rainbow Dash.
Thoughts of what they could do together filled her imagination: more board games, a hot meal, maybe they could even become study buddies! Maybe Twilight could actually work up the nerve to tell Dash how she felt, (after all, she'd been researching the subject for months) and maybe, just maybe, if she played her cards right, Dash would give her a chance!
"Uh, Twilight?" Rainbow Dash frowned. "Are you okay?"
The lavender pony froze, she'd been so happy she'd forgotten to invite Rainbow inside! How long had she zoned out? What would her friend think now? Oh, Twilight! she groaned inwardly, Don't screw up now, of all times!
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine," she spluttered, waving a hoof. "Sorry, Rainbow. Come in, come in!"
Dash raised an eyebrow, but followed her friend's lead. "Okay..."
"Spike?" Twilight called for her assistant as she heaved mightily on the door. It shut tightly with a click, cutting off the chilling winds from outside. "Spiiiike!"
With a burst of speed that would put even a Wonderbolt to shame, the baby dragon zoomed down the stairs and stopped next to his friend.
"Rainbow Dash is spending the night tonight-—"
"—Get the guest room ready? On it!" Spike interrupted with a dutiful nod.
"Actually, I was going to say that you need to make dinner for three tonight," Twilight finished, her tone a bit forced. "But yes, do make sure the guest room is... habitable before she goes to bed, please?"
Spike winced, Twilight didn't blame him, the guest room was where Twilight did most of her long-term studies and as such, books were lying all over the place, quills and ink would cover the desk, and every inch of flat surface, including the floor, would be coated in layers of carefully written notes.
"On it!" he said, bolting up the stairs.
"Dang," Dash said, peering up the stairs, "I wish I had my own little Spike to do things like that for me! That'd be awesome!"
Twilight sighed. Oh, Rainbow, she thought sadly, I would do things like that for you all day long.
"Yeah." the unicorn responded, "Spike really is one of a kind." Owlowicious hooted indignantly in the corner. "... and so is Owlowicious." She added with a giggle. "So Rainbow," she said, turning around to face her friend. "You never, ever, come to the library unless it's to hang out. How would you like to check out some books?"
"Books? Awwww! I thought we were gonna do somethin' fun!" Dash pouted loudly, following Twilight between the shelves of the library.
"Don't worry Dash, I have books that you'll like. Look!" She used her magic to pull a few tomes down to eye level. "I have Learning to Fly by Commander Thundermane,"
"Sounds boring," Dash said monotonously, sitting down and rolling her eyes.
"Maybe you'd like Nebula Crusades?" she offered hopefully.
Rainbow cocked her head in confusion, "Were those even words?"
"I guess that's a 'no'..." Twilight searched through the small section she'd pulled out. "Wild Blue Yonder by Berry Crawfish?"
Dash looked up from the small house she was building out of a few foal books she'd found on a nearby shelf. "Yawn."
"What about 'Speed Demons' by Spitfire?" Dash's eye's went from bored to excited faster than Twilight could distinguish the difference.
"Spitfire? She wrote a book?" Dash sat up quickly, knocking over her fort in excitement. The foal books lay on the ground at her hooves, forgotten.
"Well yeah," Twilight confirmed. "Famous ponies tend to write books: memoirs, autobiographies-" She made pulled the tome closer to read the synopsis, but the cyan pony pulled it out of the air and gawked at the cover with glee. Twilight chuckled at the sight, one she thought she'd never see.
"Yeah, but I never knew cool ponies wrote books!" Dash looked up at Twilight, her eyes sparkling with anticipation. "Can I read it?"
Once again, Twilight withheld a chuckle; her friend was acting like a child asking her mother if she could have a cookie. "Well, Rainbow, we are in a public library..."
A few minutes later, Twilight's wildest dreams had come true: she sat upon a small couch in the main room with a book on stars and Rainbow Dash—Rainbow Dash!—lay curled up on the carpet next to her, completely absorbed in her reading. Twilight watched the light from the fireplace dance on Dash's cyan coat, and breathed a sigh of serenity.
Twilight attempted to return to her studies, but found her concentration to be anomalously low. Furrowing her brow, she focused on the page, carefully saying each word in her head, determined to maintain concentration but, yet again, found her eyes wandering off towards her beautiful pegasus friend.
Twilight let out a huff and adjusted herself on the couch. With her back now turned to Rainbow Dash, she again refocused on her studies. She managed to get a few sentences into the first page when Rainbow tapped her on the shoulder.
The unicorn turned over on the couch and met her friend's eyes. "Yes Rainbow? What is it?"
"What's this word?" Dash showed Twilight the book, pointing at the page in question.
Twilight studied the word for a moment before blushing. Oh, come on! she groaned inwardly. Why me? "Paramour," she said softly, evading her friend's curious eyes.
Rainbow Dash gave her an expectant look and rolled her hoof.
Chuckling awkwardly, Twilight continued to stare at the floor next to Rainbow's hooves. "I-it means 'lover'," she explained.
Rainbow smiled brightly and plopped herself back down by the couch. "Thanks, Twi!" she said before returning to her book.
"Y-yeah..." Twilight managed, readjusting her position on the couch once more.
The minutes passed by quickly as the duo read in silence, marked only by Spike's occasional trips across the building, equipped each time with a stack of paper taller than he was. Twilight made a few passing comments, telling him not to strain himself, but the dragon paid her no heed. It was all right, really, Spike was doing her a huge favor in moving all of herresearch into another room for her—she supposed that as long as he did it, it didn't matter how it got done.
Awhile later, the smell of cooking food pulled Twilight out of her book. Spike must've finished cleaning the guest room, Twilight thought. He's so helpful; I should ask Rarity if she has any extra gemstones to give to him. I bet he'd like that.
Rainbow Dash's stomach broke the silence, issuing a deep growl that probably could have scared off an Ursa Major. The pegasus looked up suddenly, shooting her gaze at Twilight with an embarrassed expression on her face. "Sorry..."
Twilight shook her head and smiled. "Go on out to the kitchen Rainbow," she giggled. "I'll meet you there in a few minutes. I have to, uh... go to the bathroom."
Dash raised an eyebrow, then shrugged nonchalantly. "Um... okay?"
Twilight watched Rainbow disappear behind the wall of the kitchen, then raced up the stairs toward her room. Twilight had been nursing an idea during her studies: a few weeks ago, she'd bought Rainbow Dash a present, she wanted to give it to her now. Grinning at the thought of her friend's face when she received her gift, she jumped into her room and pulled open the top draw of her bureau .
She rifled through the draw for a moment until she found the thin sheet of paper. Smiling in triumph, Twilight grabbed it with her mouth and made her way back down to the kitchen with an extra bounce in her step. Upon reaching the entrance, she hid her gift in the crevice between her body and her foreleg and stepped into the kitchen.
"...every night?" Rainbow Dash asked Spike.
The young dragon hopped down from his stool in front of the stove and walked across the kitchen to the refrigerator. "Well, not every night," he responded, opening the door. "But yeah, I do cook for Twilight a lot." He retreated back to the stove, carrots in hand, and began to chop them.
"Don't you start with the sob stories, young drake!" Twilight declared indignantly. "You know perfectly well that you told me you didn't want me cooking anymore!"
"Actually, I said I didn't want you poisoning us anymore..." He grumbled in response as he chopped the carrots, eliciting a chortle from their guest.
Twilight glared at her assistant before moving to sit across the table from Rainbow Dash. Ungrateful little miscreant!
"So Spike," Rainbow started, leaning back in her chair, "When's the grub gonna finish cookin'?"
"Right now!" the young dragon said happily, pulling the boiling pot off of the burner. He hopped down and made his way to the table, stumbling a bit from the weight of the soup. He ladled a bit into both bowls. Still smiling, Spike gave a meaningful look to Twilight, then excused himself to go eat with Owlicious.
I wonder what that was all about... Twilight thought. That boy can be so strange sometimes... She waved it off and began to eat her dinner. "So, how's the book coming along Rainbow Dash?" she asked, blowing onto a spoonful of Spike's delicious soup.
"Oh!" Dash's ears perked up as she spoke, " It's Great! You know, I never really liked books, especially not learning ones—"
"Non-Fiction," Twilight helped.
"Yeah, that. Anyway, the one you gave me is really cool! Did you know that Spitfire was raised in Cloudsdale? She practiced for her auditions on the same street I grew up on!" Dash gushed excitedly.
Twilight listened intently during dinner as Dash filled her with fun facts on Spitfire's life. She talked back very little, ecstatic to see her athletic friend so interested in reading. Now if only she could extend the pegasus's enthusiasm beyond Wonderbolt biographies. Still, it was a start, and Twilight wasn't about to look a gift-horse in the mouth.
"You know, Rainbow..." Twilight said nervously, once they had finished eating. She reached under her seat and grabbed her gift. The paper was dry and warm beneath her hoof. Come on, Twilight! she coached herself, You can do this! Taking a deep breath, she continued, "I know you're a fan of anything Wonderbolt related, so I thought you might like this..." She slid the slip of paper across the table with a hoof.
Rainbow gave her a quizzical look, but flipped it over and gasped."Oh-my-gosh! Twi... How is Equestria did you get this!"
Twilight smiled happily, she knew Rainbow would love an autographed picture of a Wonderbolt. "Well... let's just say Princess Celestia owes me a favor... Do you like it?" She asked, though she was sure she already knew the answer.
"Do I like it? Twi—it's an autographed picture of Spitfire! How could I possibly not like it! It's AWESOME!" She punctuated the last word with a quick spinning liftoff, smiling until she bumped her head on the ceiling. "Ow..." she grumbled, rubbing her head. "Stupid buildings..."
Okay, Twilight... she thought to herself, It's the moment of truth. Tell her! Tell her now! Blushing slightly, she said, "I'm glad you like it, Rainbow. You see-" But she was blocked from finishing when she found herself enveloped in a hug. Rainbow Dash squeezed her like a boa constrictor.
"Oh, Twi, thankyou-thankyou-thankyou-thankyou-THANK YOU!"
"Dash...can't...breath!" Twilight managed to choke out when Dash finished her speech.
"Oh, sorry..." Rainbow said sheepishly, once again rubbing the back of her head.
"It's all right. Rainbow, I've been meaning to tell you—" Twilight was interrupted once more when Owlowicious burst through the door, Spike hot on his tail.
"Come back here you little—!" Spike sputtered in rage. The frightened owl took cover behind his owner.
Oh Celestia!... Can't I just have FIVE MINUTES! Jeeze, it's not like I'm going to be able to tell her all night! Twilight grumbled under her breath. "What's going on here!" she demanded of her dragon-child.
"He's being a jerk!" Spike defended. "I told him that story about Rarity and Hoity Toity and he just kept saying 'Who?' the whole time! I must've explained who he was a dozen times!"
"Spike..." Twilight sighed. "Did it ever occur to you that 'Who?' is all that owls say?"
Spike dropped his gaze to his shifting feet. "Yes, Twilight... sorry."
"I'm not the one you should be apologizing to." Twilight responded. Owlowicious peeked his head around Twilight's mane.
"Who?" he said.
Spike groaned. "Sorry Owlowicious... I guess I got kinda carried away."
The owl hopped off of Twilight Sparkle and flew over to Spike's shoulder. "Who?"
"I di- hey, wait a minute!" the duo walked out of the kitchen, Spike laughing.
Rainbow appeared beside Twilight, she too, was laughing. "Do those two ever give it a rest?"
Twilight peered over her shoulder. "About once a blue moon," she groaned. They shared a chuckle before Rainbow released a long yawn.
I could tell her now... Twilight thought nervously, noting the current lack of distractions. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm not going to tell her, I never do! I'm too much of a coward... "Here, Rainbow, let me show you to the guest room." Twilight said, trying to hide the disappointment in her voice.
Dash nodded and followed her out of the kitchen.
As they walked up the stairs, Twilight realized that she was indeed very cowardly. It wasn't just that she was afraid to tell Rainbow her feelings, it was more than that—she was afraid of the unknown. This question was one of the few things that she could ask and not be able to learn from a book; the embarrassment of not being able to figure something out on her own was far more than she could handle. What if Rainbow didn't return her feelings? Then she would have only succeed in making things awkward and looking foolish.
Stupid Twilight, how could you have ever thought that this would work out? You'll never know because you're a coward and you'll never tell her!
"Here it is," Twilight announced, presenting a small room on the far side of the tree. A bed stood on the right side, next to the wall, flanked by a window. A bureau stood on the opposite wall, bare and empty. Twilight often wondered why a guest room would even have a bureau, but never bothered to take it out. A desk stood next to the bureau, now devoid of the dozens of books she'd dragged in here for research purposes.
Spike had done an excellent job of cleaning up Twilight's notes, which had formerly coated the entire room. Twilight nearly breathed a sigh of relief, she didn't know what she would have done if her friend had stumbled upon that research—die of embarrassment probably, but she trusted Spike, he would never do anything that could possibly harm his friends. He probably double—no, triple checked for any loose papers.
"Twilight, thanks again for letting me stay the night. I really appreciate it," Rainbow said as she walked in and admired the room.
"Yeah, Rainbow... Anytime, that's what friends are for, right?" Twilight rambled anxiously, studying the floor, the bed, the window—anything but the beautiful mare before her.
Dash placed her new photo on the desk, the golden inscription shining against the light. 'Always follow your dreams! -Spitfire' The sight filled the lavender pony with a new vigor.
Twilight took a deep breath, forget fear, it was time to follow her dreams. Research was only going to take her so far, the time for action had arrived. "Uh... Rainbow?" she said, tentatively.
The cyan mare looked back over her shoulder and Twilight hoped she wasn't shaking as bad as she felt she was. "Yeah?"
The sudden exposure to Rainbow's beautiful crimson eyes caused Twilight to freeze in place. Come on, Twilight! The love-struck unicorn berated herself. Enough dancing around!
Upon seeing her friend's expression, Dash's features softened. "What's up, Twi?"
The soothing, almost comforting tone the pegasus used helped Twilight to pull herself together. "Well... there's something that I need to tell you... something important..."
Intrigued, Rainbow Dash turned around to fully face Twilight, and stepped closer. "What is it, Twi? You can tell me."
Twilight could feel her face getting hotter by the second. The amount of irony in that statement could sink a cruise ship! Was the role of nervous confessor not Rainbow's just a few hours ago? Twilight stared at the floor in a futile attempt to once more gather her thoughts.
"Well... Y-You see... For a while now..." Twilight attempted, once again looking at the floor, this time out of frustration. She wanted so bad to tell Rainbow Dash the truth, but she had no idea how to start. How many times had she practiced this to a mirror, to a wall, to Owlowicious? How many times had she said it in her dreams, under her breath, in her mind or even on paper? Obviously Twilight was not built for verbal admissions
"Oh forget it! Rainbow Dash: I love you!" Twilight cried, leaping forward and planting her lips on the cerulean pegasus's own. It only lasted long enough for the cyan mare to overcome the shock.
Pulling back furiously, Rainbow Dash growled at her friend through gritted teeth. "Just what do you think you're doing?"
Twilight stumbled backwards, falling onto her haunches. The look on Dash's face quite literally scaring her speechless. "I... I..." Twilight couldn't believe what she'd just done. Her nerves got the better of her, she knew that, but that didn't change the facts. She knew what was coming, she'd just blown any chance she'd had with Dash right out of the proverbial water.
"I opened myself up to you, I trusted you! I thought you would be better than that!" Rainbow cried angrily, stomping her hooves on the ground to emphasize her points.
Twilight didn't understand what was going on at all—she could understand Rainbow not feeling the same way, but this was something else entirely. The young unicorn wanted to reach forward and comfort her obviously distressed friend, but she was afraid to touch her. She wouldn't get the opportunity however, as Rainbow Dash began pacing angrily around the room.
"I expected this behavior from the bullies back at Junior Speedster Flight Camp," the pegasus growled, "But not one of my best friends! Do you know how that makes me feel, Twilight? That you would mock me for something so personal that I never even told anypony until today?"
Now Twilight understood: Rainbow Dash thought Twilight was mocking her, insulting her friend's sexuality in practically the worst way possible: by pretending to share it.
"I don't wanna hear it Twilight! If it wasn't so darn windy, I'd already be out the door! Just leave me alone! As soon as the storm clears, I'm outta here! And don't worry, you'll never have to look at my filly-fooling face again!"
Twilight stood, shocked as the mare of her dreams told her she never wanted to see her again. Her eyes stung—no, they burned. They burned like the fire of a thousand of Celestia's suns "Rainbow, I-"
Snarling furiously, Rainbow cut her off once more.. "Just go away, Twilight!"
"GO AWAY!" Rainbow bellowed, once more stamping her hooves on the floor.
Twilight sniffled a little as the once only threatening tears began to fall. No! Twilight thought determinedly as she fought back a squeal of pain, I am not letting her see me cry.
The cyan pony let out a threatening snort and turned around to face the window.
Tears now flowing freely, Twilight ran out of the room as fast as her hooves could carry her. Down the stairs through the kitchen and up the other stairs, past Spike—whom she nearly hit head-on in her blind sorrow—and into her room. She flung herself onto her bed and released a long, anguished cry of frustration and heartbreak.
Her worst fears had come true: Twilight had told Rainbow Dash about her feelings, but not only had she been rejected, no, something worse had come out of it—the worst possible scenario Twilight could ever think of: Rainbow Dash hated her now.
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Rainbow Dash sat on the hardwood floor, stewing in her own grief. She stared listlessly out the window at the stormy landscape, her tail flicking in annoyance every now and again. She made a move to once more wipe the tears from her cheeks. I can't believe Twi would do that! Dash thought, suppressing a sniffle. You think you know a pony...
The thunder roared outside, echoing the roar of pain in her heart. Dash tried to focus on something, anything to get her mind off of recent events. The waving grass, the sky—so gray that not one speck of the former beautiful blue wonderland could be seen—even the fliers and stray pieces of garbage dancing in the wind served to distract her.
It was no use, she couldn't forget it—Twilight's outburst had struck too close to home. Memories of the bullies at flight camp began to resurface; the cruel ponies swarmed around her, throwing out names and cruel insults. But something was different now—there was a new face among them, a lavender unicorn. She pranced mockily around her head, singing jovially. "I looooove you Dashie!" she cried. "Looooove!"
"No! Stop it! Stop it!" Dash screamed. She wanted so bad to fight back, or even to fly away, but her parents' voices rung clear above the cacophonous cries of her classmates.
"No more fights, please Dashie?" her teary-eyed father begged of her. "I know dealing with bullies can be hard, but you can stand up for yourself without resorting to violence! I don't want to have to come get you early this summer, honey—promise me I won't have to..."
"Suck it up, squirt," her mother said curtly. "You'll have to deal with bullies your whole life. If what they say isn't true, why should it hurt? You aren't... You aren't one of those freaks, are you?"
The voices blended together, striking her in waves, wrapping around her, tightening around her throat and choking her, rendering her helpless and unable to plead for mercy.
"St-stop it...please!" She cried out as soon as she could. She fell to her knees and gasped for air as the ponies around her jeered and spat.
"What's wrong Dashie?" they mocked, their faces decorated with malevolent grins. "What's wrong? What's wrong?"
Slowly, the voices changed, becoming deeper and more defined, resonating against her ears stronger and stronger. "Rainbow Dash! Hey, wake up! What's wrong?"
Dash's eyes snapped open and she picked her head up, breathing heavily. A small dragon stood over her with his arms crossed, his expression a mixture of concern and fury. "Spike?" she asked hesitantly.
"What the hay is going on here?" he demanded impatiently.
Rainbow Dash looked around. She must've fallen asleep while looking out the window, as she didn't see any other reason that she'd be sleeping by it. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, why was Twilight all happy-go-lucky one moment, and then tearing through the library spraying enough water to fill a creek bed the next?" he cried, waving his arms. "Ponies don't just cry for no reason, Rainbow!"
Rainbow Dash frowned, she wasn't sure she'd heard her reptilian compadre correctly; why would Twilight be crying? She should be laughing, or even stomping around angrily, crying didn't make any sense at all.
"Twilight's... crying?" she inquired, cocking her head to the side.
"Yeah," Spike confirmed with a grunt. "She just about impaled me going up the stairs, then locked herself in our room and started howling. What the hay happened?"
The young mare stared down at her hooves. Maybe she'd been too hard on poor Twilight—maybe she'd had taken offense too easily. Perhaps she should have just grinned and bared the joke her friend had attempted, after all, how often did she bustTwilight's chops?
"We... we had had a bit of a fight..." She admitted, her lip quivering.
Spike's eyes narrowed, then widened with dawning realization. "Oh..." he said, avoiding her eyes. "Uh... What about?"
"I..." Rainbow hesitated. "I'd rather not talk about it, Spike. Sorry."
The young dragon nodded. "You know..." he said slowly, "When I get sad I like to watch the rain out the windows. It kinda calms me down." With assurances that he'd be back, the baby dragon wandered off down the hallway.
Sighing, Rainbow Dash decided to just go back to her window like Spike suggested. However, on the way there she spied something on the floor under the dresser. Spike must've missed it when he cleaned up, she thought. She walked over and grabbed it with the intention of giving it to him upon his return when something written on the parchment caught her eye.
What the... the pegasus placed the paper down on the floor and held it there with a hoof. Page numbers and sentences littered the surface, each row organized by bullet points. These must be some of Twilight's notes, Dash realized. However, that simple fact hadn't been what the athlete was interested in. Written at the top was the phrase "Dealing with Love, A Guide for Fools." Curious, Dash sat down on her haunches to read.
Dealing with Love, A Guide for Fools
(By: Star Hooves)
Note Page 1
• 'One must first admit to one's love for the pony, no matter the problems.'(pg. 2)
I'm not entirely sure it's love, but I feel something for Rainbow Dash, even though she's another mare...
• 'Realize that love comes in all forms and is not exclusive to sex or pony type. If you love someone, you should not care about these things.'(pg. 3)
Funnily enough, I don't care that Dash is a mare, in fact... I think I prefer it... For some reason, the thought of her being a colt just doesn't feel right.
• 'You must admit your feelings, the only way to know if they are returned is to tell the object of your affections what they mean to you.'(pg. 7)
How could I ever tell her what I feel, I don't even know if Dash likes fillies! What if I tell her and she scorns me? What I don't tell her and nothing happens?
• 'It is important to realize that your feelings may not always be returned, if they aren't, you must be able to move on, it is not easy; but it is essential.'(pg. 7)
I guess I wont know for sure unless I ask her,..
• 'Remember; there is no 'right time' to tell your crush your feelings, however, there are wrong times, Try to feel the mood in the air.'(pg. 9)
I'm going to have to work on that, aren't I? Perhaps next time the gang gets together. I just hope I can do it.
• 'Show them you pay attention, get them little things like flowers you picked while walking, or a teddy bunny on a day when they look glum.(pg. 12)
Or maybe a signed picture of one of the Wonderbolts. Perhaps Princess Celestia can help me with that part.
Rainbow Dash's jaw dropped as she read the last line. She glanced over to the no doubt very same autographed photo of Spitfire that was sitting on the dresser and the guilt hit her like a ton of bricks.
"What have I done?" she cried mournfully. She looked at the note sheet once more and mentally slapped herself. How could she have ever thought that her friend would mock her over such a sensitive subject as her sexuality? That wouldn't be like her at all?
Shows what you know about your friends! An annoying little voice chided in the back of her mind. What kind of friend are you?
"Stupid, Dash!" she grumbled, "You know Twilight wouldn't joke about that!"
This was bad. Very bad. Rainbow didn't think she'd ever messed up so badly in her whole life; tot only had she smashed the Twilight's feelings for her first crush, but she had also spat in her face while Twilight came out of the closet. Dash fought the urge to cry she remembered her own anxieties from earlier and how her friends had accepted her wholeheartedly.
"But not me..." she choked, laying her head on the floor in hopes that the coldness of the wood would sooth the heat building in her face.
She remembered a few weeks ago, when the gang had gone to the beach. Twilight had spent all day following her around and asking to talk to her, but the unicorn had waved her off the first time with a "never mind," Dash ignored her choosing instead to focus on her aerial tricks. How could she not see it?
Then there was dinner, Twilight had been trying to say something after she'd given Dash the photo, but all she could think about was how awesome it was to have Spitfire's autograph!
Selfish! the voice cried. All you care about is yourself!
Then the most painful image appeared: Twilight with tears pouring down her face as Rainbow Dash tirade her for her feelings. The unicorn had looked about three seconds away from bursting into the biggest fit of crying Equestria had ever seen.
There was no excuse, Dash realized. Thinking that Twilight was mocking her was no excuse for being such a jerk! Twilight was one of Rainbow Dash's closest friends, she would never do something so cruel!
Some Element of Loyalty you are, you can't even give your friends the credit of being basic equestrian beings!
Rainbow Dash wiped the tears from her eyes. Maybe I am, but I need to talk to her, she decided. She didn't know if she returned Twilight's feelings, but that was hardly the issue at hoof.
What she did know, though, was that she did owed her friend an apology.
[X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X]
Twilight wiped her nose on her tear-soaked pillow. Her throat hurt too much to cry, so she snuggled deeper into the cushion and sobbed quietly, wishing with all her might that the past few hours had simply been a dream.
But it wasn't a dream, she thought sadly. You just made a complete fool out of yourself, and now one of your best friends hates you. Stuff happens, Twilight, just accept it.
She stopped sobbing for a moment and breathed a deep, if shaky, sigh.
On the other side of the wall, the rustling of papers and footsteps alerted her to Spike's presence in the storage room. Not that it was any surprise, the dragon had arrived almost twenty minutes ago. For a brief moment, Twilight wondered if he was going through her notes—not that she needed to hide them anymore.
Hoofsteps approached from down the hall, thumping softly as the neared her room. As the hoofsteps drew closer, Twilight heard Spike say, "Rainbow Dash? Wait!" before they were replaced by the sound of multiple papers dropping to the floor.
The door cracked open and the silhouette of a pony's head peeked inside.
Great! Twilight groaned inwardly, Now Dash wants to rub it in my face... I just hope she doesn't tell the others. Despite Rainbow's warm reception, Twilight didn't think her friends would take to kindly to her own situation—it wasn't like Rainbow Dash had admitted she was gay and also secretly lusting after one of her close friends!
Hoping that Dash would just go away if she thought she was asleep, Twilight ignored the dancing shadows that flickered around the entrance to her room. After a long pause, the door closed with a soft click.
Silence filled the room. Twilight didn't dare open her eyes to see if the cerulean pegasus had left—what if she still thought she was sleeping?
There was a hoofstep. A few seconds later, there was another one, then another. What in Equestria was that pony doing? Deciding a little risk was worth the reward, Twilight cracked an eye to see what was happening.
Rainbow Dash was on the other side of the room, her wings in full flight mode, like she might have to make a quick getaway out the window. Every step she took was hesitant, and she winced at every noise she made.
What's shegot to be so nervous about? Twilight wondered. She shuddered as she remembered the pegasus's hurtful words. It's not like she wasn't clear enough last time!
Rainbow Dash stopped a few feet short of the bed and reeled back onto her haunches. A few moments of silence passed as she looked at the bed, then the floor, then back at the bed. Her hooves fidgeted on the floor, creating a soft scratching sound that filled the silence. "Uh... Twi?" she said, after a minute or two.
When Twilight didn't respond, the pegasus looked down at the floor boards. Her wings fluttered nervously. "You probably don't wanna talk to me..." she said somberly.
Twilight fought the urge to nod in agreement. Instead, she let the silence speak for her once more.
Dash sniffled when she realized that no reply was coming. "Th-that's okay, though. I mean... y-you don't halfta talk back if you don't want to, but I still wanna say somethin'."
Now that was interesting; Rainbow Dash seemed like an entirely different pony than the one that had screamed at her before.
"So... uh, back when I was in Junior Speedster Flight Camp I had to deal with these jerks who always picked on me. They called me names and teased me because they thought I was a filly-fooler." Dash paused, before adding with a slight chuckle: "They were right of course, but it... it still hurt...
"My mom... she heard about it—what they called me. She figured that they'd need a reason to call me that, so she started trying to stamp it out of me. She did some really bad things..." Dash shuddered. "Things that I don't really want to talk about...
"My Dad didn't care about... well, y'know, the way I was always acting like a colt. Actually, all he cared about was that I got kicked out of camp early every year because I'd start fights with those jerks. When I told him what my mom was doing, he filed for divorce. He told me there was nothing wrong with me—you know, that I was just a normal filly. I hadn't told anypony my secret yet, but... it was like he already knew... My Dad's kinda cool that way.
"Anyway, I never told anypony the truth until today. I was worried that you guys would hate me like my classmates did. I... I probably still wouldn't have said anything if Fluttershy hadn't pulled it out of me yesterday.
"When you... when you told me about your feelings, Twi, I thought... I thought that you were like them—the bullies at flight camp, I mean. The fillies used to make kissy faces at me and tell me that they loved me, they thought they were hilarious. I guess theywere, 'cause everyone always laughed at them.
"I was only feeling sorry for myself when Spike woke me up, but then I found this under the dresser in the guest room." She set a piece of paper down on the floor near her. "'What if I tell her and she scorns me?' Twi..." she whimpered. "I saw the tears in your eyes when I was yelling, I didn't care at the time but... Spike told me that you were crying...
"Twilight, I'm sorry. I-I've been a real jerk, a-and the worst Element of Loyalty ever! I... I..." Rainbow fumbled for words. Her hooves danced on the floor and her mane hid her face, which was now angled at the floor. "I'm sorry..."
Twilight's heart broke. It had been hard enough to listen to Dash's apology without jumping up and comforting the pegasus right there. She opened her teary eyes fully and sat up. The second she moved, Dash scrambled to her hooves and shrank back.
"Rainbow," Twilight started, climbing off the bed. "You are far from the worst Element of Loyalty ever—in fact, I'd say you're the best one ever. It takes a lot of courage to apologize like you just did. I know I went a little crazy in the guest room," Twilight smiled meekly, thanking Luna for the darkness that hid her blush. "and I'm sorry I dragged up bad memories for you..."
The cyan pony seemed to relax a little, even taking a step forward. "So... you forgive me?" she asked tentatively.
Twilight wrapped her in a warm embrace. "Of course I do Rainbow! I wasn't sad because of what you said. I was sad because... because I thought you hated me..."
Dash scoffed a little at the statement as Twilight released her. "Me? Hate you?" she laughed, "Well... maybe a little bit earlier... but you'll always be one of my best friends!"
"You see? The Element of Loyalty if I ever saw her—willing to stay friends even after she thinks she's been mocked!" Twilight said half jokingly.
Slowly, a broad smile overtook Rainbow's face. "So... I was thinking, Twi..." she said, her voice shaking a bit.
"About what?" The unicorn frowned. She'd thought they'd resolved the issue.
The pegasus studied her hooves as they made a circle on the floor. "Well... about what you said earlier... I was wondering if maybe you'd wanna go out with me sometime—I mean, y'know... i-if you're still interested..."
Twilight had to fight to keep her jaw from dropping to the the planet core and melting upon contact with the magma. After all of this, Rainbow Dash was asking her out? On a date? She studied the cyan pony for a moment, her wings once again fluttering nervously, tail twitching, she was even avoiding eye contact.
Smiling, Twilight leaned forward and nuzzled her friend. "I'd love to, Rainbow."