A Little Chat
By Jonathan "KnightMysterio" Spires
All characters copyrighted to their respective owners and used without permission for non-profit amusement purposes. All original characters copyrighted to me, so please ask for permission before using. Comments, compliments, and constructive criticism is not only appreciated, but encouraged.
Five days after Rainbow Dash adopted Scootaloo…
Rarity whistled to herself as she worked. It had been fairly quiet in town, lately. Pinkie Pie and the Cakes had been asked to host a party in Canterlot and had been out of town for a while. (Pinkie Pie admitted in a letter that Princess Celestia was just using it as an excuse to get another Marzipan Mascarpone Meringue Madness made for her, one mixed with the other three treats from that incident on the train.) Twilight Sparkle and Spike were also taking care of some business for Princess Luna in Trottingham, leaving the library under Fluttershy's care.
She made the finishing touches on a dress when the bell to her front door rang. Rarity turned, reflexively going into her usual greeting.
"Welcome to Carousel Botique. Where everything is chiq, unique, and… oh, hello Rainbow Dash," she said, smiling. "How are you today?"
Rainbow Dash chuckled, shaking her head as she came down and planted herself on one of Rarity's couches. "I'm feeling like a dork, that's how I'm feeling."
Rarity blinked. "I'm sorry?"
"I COMPLETELY forgot that Spitfire was literally raised in the Wonderbolts. She's the daughter of Firefly, the founder of the whole group." She sighed, smiling. "Dad was so right. All my concerns about having to maybe give up on being a Wonderbolt were…"
"…about as pointless as some of my trademark melodramatic outbursts?" Rarity offered, smiling slyly.
Rainbow Dash grinned. "Wasn't gonna go there, but sure," she said. "Spitfire stopped by our house yesterday. Apparently, I've actually been more in the running for joining than I actually thought. She talked to me about ways to keep Scoots in school and in close contact with her friends if I end up joining."
Rarity smiled, glad things were going well for her. "Must be a bit of a load off of your mind, then," she said as she finished up the dress she was working on.
Rainbow Dash sighed. "You have no idea…"
"How is Scootaloo anyway? She's obviously had to adjust somewhat since moving in with her new mother," Rarity said as she cleaned up her work area.
Rainbow Dash grinned. "Me a Mom… I don't think that's ever gonna stop feeling good…" she said, blushing a little. "Dad loves her, so that's also a load off. Scoots herself is doing fine. I managed to get her to start flying on her own. She's still got a long way to go, and I have to help her up to the castle, but she's making real progress. I think she was just afraid to try flying on her own before."
"Possibly," Rarity said as she began to put away her needles and thread, deciding to take a break. She didn't really know about how flying worked for a pegasus.
Rainbow Dash sighed. "And I already had to put some discipline down. She got into a scuffle with Diamond Tiara. Apparently, the widdle pwincess decided that I took in Scoots out of pity and made fun of her for it. Scoots took umbrage to it and fought back."
Rarity couldn't resist. "First of all, I'm surprised you even know what 'umbrage' actually means."
Rainbow Dash snickered. "Twilight's rubbing off on me, Celestia help me."
Rarity chuckled. "Secondly… I hope she's all right after that…"
Rainbow Dash nodded. "Yeah, she's fine, just a little roughed up. Diamond's more of a scrapper than she seems at first. Her brat buddy Silver Spoon was impressed, at least. Anyway, Diamond's dad understood that she started the fight, and apologized for it. Scoots, for her part in the fight, has got to do a week of friendship reports to Miss Cheerilee, though, with the first one being on controlling her temper."
Rarity nodded, smiling, pouring tea for herself and Rainbow Dash "And you're going to make sure she does them?" the unicorn asked.
Rainbow Dash chuckled, politely turning down the tea. "Yeah. Kind of a switch for me: back when I was a filly, me and Gilda would ditch homework all the time."
Rarity rolled her eyes, laughing. After a moment, she said, "Rainbow… I just want to say, and I'm speaking for the rest of us on this… We're glad we made the decision you did, but no matter which choice you made, neither Pinkie, nor Twilight, nor Applejack, nor Fluttershy, nor I would have thought less of you for it."
Rainbow Dash blushed. "Thanks… But I'm glad I made the choice I did. I don't regret it."
Rarity smiled warmly. "I just… Looking back, Twilight and I in particular felt we may have put undue pressure on you."
Rainbow Dash hugged her. "Don't worry about it, Rare…" she said. "Which reminds me: I did come in here for more than just a chat. There's this big end-of-the-year party coming up. The school's treating all the students to a trip to a big fancy restaurant in Canterlot. I wanted Scoots to have a nice dress for it, and I had some bits saved up, so…"
Rarity nodded. "Have her in for measurements tomorrow, and I'll be more than happy to make it for her."
Rainbow Dash smiled. "Thanks," she said. "I'm still pretty new at this whole 'Mom' thing, but it seems right to make sure she has pretty things, right?"
Rarity nodded. "Of course. But remember, just try to keep to your own personality. Don't go overboard," she said.
Rainbow Dash sighed. "It's confusing sometimes… I have to figure out when to be a friend, when to discipline…" She chuckled weakly. "And this is just the first week."
Rarity smiled sympathetically. "If it helps any, I think you'll turn out to be a better mother than I would," she said.
Rainbow Dash blinked. "You? You're one of the most generous, kindest people I know. I make fun of you a lot, but that's just because of the whole frou-frou thing you have going."
Rarity chuckled. "I appreciate the thought, Rainbow. But as much as I adore my wonderful little sister, I can barely stand having her over at times. Can you honestly imagine me with a baby?"
Rainbow Dash thought about it for a moment, then giggled. "Okay, so maybe you're right on that."
Rarity smirked. "I know my limits," she said. "It's part of the reason I won't babysit for the Cake twins. They're certainly adorable… but I really don't have the patience for them."
Rainbow Dash nodded. "Speaking of patience…" she said. "Was that Gilda I saw talking to Fluttershy in town earlier?"
Rarity blinked, grimacing. "Sweet Celestia. Is she still hanging around?"
Rainbow Dash nodded. "Yeah. During the whole thing before I took Scootaloo in, I went to talk to her. We managed to patch things up between us a little… Didn't know she came back, though…"
Rarity scowled. "From what I remember, she scared Fluttershy and Granny Smith, and made a beastly fool of herself at that lovely party Pinkie threw to greet her."
"I know," said Gilda as she stepped through Rarity's front door. "And I'm sorry about that. It's why I came into town: to apologize."
Rarity blinked, surprised. Rainbow Dash looked at her suspiciously. "…I'm just surprised you know how to pronounce the word, Gilda," she said after a moment.
"I know, Dash, I know," Gilda said, chuckling. "I'm still getting used to saying it and actually meaning it… When Pinkie comes back I want to throw her a party to make up for the one I ruined."
Rarity and Rainbow Dash traded looks. Rainbow Dash smiled. "Not that I'm not pleased, but… what brought this on?"
Gilda chuckled weakly. "Fluttershy's Mom, actually…"
Rarity eeped. "Oh dear. Barricade?"
Gilda nodded. "The same. She and I had… a little chat after the big race on Mother's Day."
Shortly after the race…
Gilda followed the massive pegasus warily. She had been dragged off by the weirdly oversized pony that looked like Fluttershy and told to follow her. She debated trying to bolt, but every time she started to work up the courage to do it, the massive mare would cast a murderous glare at her, causing her to drop the idea immediately.
She led Gilda to a restaurant across from Sweet Apple Acres. She ordered tea for herself and Gilda, the griffon becoming more and more nervous by the massive pegasus's silence.
"Okay, so you're Clu…" as she said it, she had a feeling that using the nickname 'Clutzershy' for Fluttershy might be a bad idea. "You're that mare's mother, right?"
The pegasus nodded. "I'm Barricade, called Equestria's Invincible Steel Wall. Captain of the Royal Pegasus Guard, and recipient of the Order of the Hurricane. And Fluttershy is my daughter."
Gilda's eyes widened in surprise, and had to fight back the urge to salute. Order of the Hurricane was an award for valiant heroism, respected even in Griffhala.
"And you," Barricade said, "bullied my daughter the last time you were here."
Gilda had to think back. She barely acknowledged anyone that wasn't her father or Rainbow Dash. She had vague memories of a wimpy yellow pegasus that Rainbow Dash liked back in Flight School, but she did eventually remember scaring her on her initial trip to Ponyville.
Gilda scowled. She took a breath to try and build up her courage, and said, "Yeah, I did. If you're gonna beat the crap out of me for messing with your girl, you might as well do it."
Barricade chuckled. "Little chick, if I wanted to hurt you, I would have just ripped off your wings and beaten you to death with them back at the fairgrounds."
Gilda gulped hard. Looking at the mare's eyes, she was suddenly certain that she wasn't exaggerating.
Barricade sipped her tea calmly. "No no," she said. "When I said I wanted to just talk, I meant it."
Gilda frowned. "…Talk about what? You want me to apologize?"
Barricade nodded. "Yes. But I'm rather curious, actually. From what I understand, you left Ponyville in something of a huff the last time you were here."
"None of your business," Gilda muttered, looking away.
Barricade just stared at her for a moment, and sipped her tea. "I've read a little about griffon comradery habits. One thing I found is that when griffons fixate on someone as a lover or a friend, it's difficult for them to ever move on from them."
Gilda just looked away.
Barricade's expression became kind. "Sometimes it helps to talk about things," she said.
"It won't help me…" Gilda said. "I just wanted to support Dashie by showing up, and I did. So that's done."
"Dashie," Barricade said. "A nickname I heard that cheerful pink thing use for her."
Gilda found herself unable to look at Barricade. "…It was a nickname I used for her when we were younger," she said, staring at the table.
"'When we were younger?'" Barricade gently pressed, sipping her tea.
Gilda nodded. She sighed, deciding to just say it. She had a feeling Barricade wouldn't let it go anyway. "Rainbow Dash and I grew up together. Literally. Her Dad and mine both worked at the weather factory in Cloudsdale, so we'd spend a lot of time together. I didn't have a Mom either, but mine died when I was a chick." She smiled slightly. "We were best friends. Always together and nothing really mattered except that we were pals. She had her weird projects, like helping out your girl, but it was still just us…"
"But things changed," Barricade said.
Gilda shook her head. "Yeah… Dash ended up moving to Ponyville, getting a job on the local weather team. Me? I went back to Griffhala to work for my Dad in his hotel. After a few years, her letters to me got slower and slower, so I decided to check up on her. And then I found out she has some 'new friends,'" she said, scowling. "One of them was even using my old nickname for her, even pulling pranks with her like we used to. She didn't need me anymore."
Barricade said nothing for a long moment. "So… she simply dismissed you when you showed up again?"
Gilda blinked. "Huh? No, she wouldn't do that. We went around having fun together, just like old times. Well, barring that pink weirdo interfering…"
Barricade nodded. "She was glad to see you?"
Gilda nodded. "Well, yeah."
"Doesn't sound like someone who didn't need their old friend anymore," Barricade said, her expression neutral.
Gilda sputtered for a moment. "But… But she had all those other friends!" she stammered.
"And she still wanted your friendship," Barricade said.
Gilda fumbled, trying to find some way to justify how she felt. "She… She stood up for them instead of me! After all those pranks went off on me!" she shouted, thumping her fist on the table.
Barricade quirked an eyebrow, her expression becoming slightlyamused. "Fluttershy told me about that party. It seems all those pranks were set by Rainbow Dash, not Pinkie."
"She had to have been in on it! Arranged it so that they all went off on me!" Gilda shouted. Although for some reason, the same thing she had been telling herself for over a year suddenly felt very stupid.
"…You're giving Pinkie Pie of all ponies credit for a grand conspiracy to humiliate you?" Barricade said. She hadn't known Pinkie Pie for very long, but she rather doubted that she would have the attention span for something so elaborate and mean-spirited.
Gilda, who had gotten the same impression of Pinkie Pie, frowned, suddenly realizing how foolish her argument was. "I… she… she still didn't have to stand up for them instead of me…"
Barricade sipped her tea. "Tell me something, Gilda. These letters to Rainbow Dash you mentioned earlier… Did you write to her as well?"
"…Sometimes," Gilda said after a moment.
"I see," Barricade said. "So maybe Rainbow Dash thought that you had moved on as well? It may be hard for griffons to move on, but it does happen."
Gilda scowled, staring at the table. "I just… I…"
Barricade sighed. "From the sound of things, you wanted things to be just like they were before you and Rainbow Dash separated. Like they were in Flight School."
Gilda nodded. "Is that so wrong?"
Barricade smiled briefly. "Not entirely. But everyone changes, Gilda. They grow. Rainbow Dash grew up in the time between Flight School and now. Look what's become of her now. She's the bearer of the Element of Loyalty, helped save the world from both Nightmare Moon and Discord, is a top draft choice for the Wonderbolts, and even taken in a young filly as her daughter." She sipped her tea, and added, "What have you done since then?"
Gilda had no answer. She tried to think of something, something important she had done. But all she could remember was working in her father's hotel and doing her best to maintain her 'cool' image.
Barricade sipped her tea and sighed. "Instead of trying to blame Rainbow Dash for 'breaking your friendship, perhaps you should look at your own part in it?" she said. "I don't know all the circumstances behind it, but from everything I've heard, you were the one that ended things. Not her."
Gilda clenched her fists tightly. A part of her wanted to rally against the massive pegasus's words. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized how much of a fool she had been.
"I've been an idiot, haven't I?" she said softly.
"Pretty much," Barricade said.
Gilda glared at her. "…You could at least be a little sympathetic."
Barricade shrugged. "You strike me as the type who'd get offended by sympathy," she said. Gilda, knowing she was right, just looked away again. Barricade snickered, and added, "Besides. Fluttershy's the kind one. Not me. My little Flutters gets her sweet personality from her father, and her good looks from me."
Gilda just grunted, too lost in her own thoughts.
Barricade sipped her tea, and said, "I won't force you to do anything one way or another. But you're going to have to face facts, my little griffon: Rainbow Dash has changed. She's grown up, becoming a strong, wonderful mare. Time moves ever forward. We can either move with it, or stay lost in the past. Accept that things change, and change to match it. Only then can you find harmony within yourself."
Gilda looked up, Barricade's words slowly sinking in, starting to make more and more sense. "I don't… I don't know what to do…" she said after a long moment.
Barricade finished her tea, and sighed. "And I can't really give advice on what to do. It's your life, after all. The best I can do is offer suggestions."
Gilda looked up at Barricade. And the pegasus could see that the façade of 'coolness' she had been putting up before was completely broken. "I'll take anything I can get at this point…"
Barricade smiled benevolently. "You burned a lot of bridges the last time you were here, if what I heard is true. Apologize to everyone you've wronged, and try to become their friends as well. Instead of trying to be all 'cool' and what not, start trying new things. Don't be afraid to fail and look a little foolish. If you do, you can just keep trying until you get it right. And as for Rainbow Dash's friends, why don't you try becoming friends with them yourself?"
Gilda fidgeted nervously. "You think they'd accept me?"
Barricade gently patted her talons. "You never know until you try."
"…and that's pretty much it," Gilda finished. "We just talked, and she gave me a heckuva lot to think about…"
Rarity raised an eyebrow curiously. "And you've decided to go 'rebuilding' all your metaphorical bridges, as it were?" she asked.
Gilda nodded, sighing. "Yeah… Looking back, I've made a lot of mistakes…" she said. "I want… I want to start again. To make up for being a jerk to everyone last time I was here. And maybe… Maybe we can friends again?" She smiled hesitantly.
Rainbow Dash smiled benevolently and hugged Gilda. "You never stopped being my friend, Gilda," she said.
Gilda blushed, returning the hug. After a long moment, they broke the hug, smiling warmly at each other. Rainbow Dash coughed, and said, "Anyway, if you're gonna start again, might as well start here." She gestured to Rarity. "This is Rarity. Best dress-maker in Equestria."
Rarity smiled warmly, glad to help Gilda in her new start. "Hello and welcome to Carousel Boutique, where everything is chiq, unique, and magnifique."
Gilda smiled, still a little nervous. "It's nice to meet you."
Rainbow Dash gestured to Gilda, and said, "This is Gilda. She and I were best buds back in Flight School." She blinked, and grinned, another memory occurring to her. "And I think you two have something in common."
"We do?" Gilda and Rarity asked.
Rainbow Dash nodded. "Gilda knows all about fashion for fliers," she said.
Rarity brightened. "REALLY now!" she said. "I've always felt that my dresses for pegasi were lacking somewhat…"
Gilda blushed, rubbing the back of her head. "Dash, you know I just kept up with that so we'd always look cool…"
Rainbow Dash shook her head. "You were GREAT at it, Gilda," she said. "Heck, if you were a pony, I'd bet that you'd get a fashion Cutie Mark!"
Gilda grinned. She was still very uncertain about all this, but was pleased by the praise. "You… You really think so?"
Rarity smiled. "You never know until you try, my dear," she said. "Now come come, let's talk."
Gilda hesitated, looking to Rainbow Dash, who nodded. "O-Okay then," Gilda said, going over to Rarity's work table. Rainbow Dash watched as the two of them bonded, each one managing to impress the other with their knowledge, Gilda with her knowledge of trends, Rarity with her knowledge of dress-making.
And as the rainbow-maned pegasus thought, the more she had the feeling that things were going to turn out all right.