“Okay, so, a game?” Rainbow Dash asked, a growing grin on her face. She grabbed another cupcake, crumbs spraying everywhere as she continued. “Cool. How do I win?”
“No, silly,” Pinkie giggled. She nudged the tray of tasty treats with her snout, clearly inviting Dash to have another - which she did. “It’s not a game! Or, well, kind of? Sort of! I mean, it’s a game like in ‘fun and games’, just like dancing, but it’s not a game as in ‘you’re on Trotsworth Avenue, pay five hundred bits! Oh, you can’t pay? I guess that means I win, and that means we have to kiss!’”
Dash tilted her head, stopping mid-munch as she peered at her bubbly pink friend. Pinkie was smiling brightly at her and tilted her head to mirror the pegasus’ movements. “Wait, what? Say that last bit again?” Dash asked, getting the distinct impression she had just missed something.
“So basically, we both dress up as our favorite heroes!” Pinkie said, sitting up straight. She cast a glance over her shoulder that set her mane bouncing, nodding at where Mrs. Cake stood behind the counter of the otherwise empty Sugarcube Corner. “I got all of tomorrow off, so we can both suit up and head out!”
“Uh, and then what?” Rainbow Dash asked, frowning.
“Then we, um.” Pinkie Pie halted for a second, brow knit as her eyes sought the roof. Rainbow Dash could have sworn she saw a hint of genuine hesitation or some such in her friend’s expression, but she knew that was incredibly un-Pinkie, and thus, couldn’t be true. Likely, she’d just forgotten what she was talking about.
Rainbow Dash shrugged and glanced to each side before availing herself of the last cupcake. Finders keepers and all that. Besides, Pinkie had invited her over for lunch.
“Then,” Pinkie Pie said, tongue sticking out of her mouth as she squinted, almost comically meticulous as she spoke with furious concentration. “—then we have fun?”
Lighting up with a grin, Dash nodded at that. Finally, Pinkie Pie was making the sort of sense she could get behind. “I’m in!”
Rainbow Dash knocked again and reached up to adjust her hat. There was a muffled “coming!” from the other side this time, which was a lot better than the past three times she’d tapped her hoof on the glass. Still, she couldn’t make herself be even the least bit annoyed; spending the day with Pinkie Pie was sure to be fun. She knew she’d once found the pink mare annoying, but the memories of the time when she thought Pinkie Pie frustrating and incomprehensible seemed so very distant now.
Well, it was a half-truth. Pinkie Pie was still incomprehensible half the time, but as Dash had come to discover, that unpredictability was what made her so exciting to be around. They’d been close friends for a long time now, tighter than thunder and lightning. It was just that after the looks they had traded at the wedding last week, those private little glances during the celebrations, Dash had caught herself wondering if maybe—
Dash shook her head and knocked again before her thoughts ran away from her. No reply this time. Granted, knocking on the door would probably have yielded better results than knocking on Pinkie’s bedroom window, but it was the principle of the thing. Heroes didn’t walk on streets when they could run across rooftops.
Of course, wings made both of these rather obsolete, but even Batmare preferred prowling the shadowy skyline of Trotham City. Ponyville was perhaps a bit too colorful to be Trotham, and the bright sun overhead further prevented the illusion from taking root, but there were some pretty menacing dark clouds over the Everfree today. It didn’t matter much either way. Batmare wasn’t half as cool as Dash’s chosen hero—
Just as she completed that thought, Dash was very suddenly and painfully reminded of the fact that Pinkie Pie’s window opened outwards. One moment there had been the click of a latch, and the next thing she knew, she was on her back, head still ringing.
“Ow,” Dash groaned. She raised a hoof to clutch her head, only to yelp in surprise and scrabble backwards when her vision was filled with a black and purple masked visage.
“Oh wow, oopsie! I’m glad you were wearing a helmet, but I totally didn’t mean to do that, I’m really super-duper sorry—” a high-pitched voice bubbled forth from behind the dark cloth mask. Rainbow Dash casually plugged Pinkie’s mouth with a hoof and struggled back up on all fours.
“I’m good,” Dash said, shaking her head to try to bring the world back into focus. Once they were both standing, she let her eyes roam across her friend’s form, a grin blooming on her face as she took in her costume from snout to covered tail: the wide-brimmed hat, the long dark cape and the tight form-fitting purple spandex. The latter, especially, held her attention for a bit longer than strictly necessary.
“Mare Do Well? Really?” she asked, more to distract herself from that last thought than anything else.
Pinkie reached up to pull the mask halfway off her face, giggling. “Well, I thought you’d dress up as my biggest hero today, so I chose one of my other favorites to be safe!” she declared with a smile that rapidly gave way to a confused look. “But, uh, you’re not. Who are you meant to be? Sprinkleburst the Journeymare of Magic? Alfalfa the Moonbender? Lucky Shoes, Vanquisher of a Thousand Sorrows?”
Rainbow Dash gaped. “What? No! I’m Daring Do! You know, from the books?” Shaking her head in disbelief, she gestured to her own hat and vest. “I mean, hello? I had Rarity help me out with the costume and all. It took so long to get it just right, she made me promise to model for her next week, bleh.”
Pinkie Pie pursed her lips and squinted as Dash spoke, eventually reaching over to touch the pegasus’ carefully dyed two-tone grey mane. Rainbow Dash waited while Pinkie leaned closer, putting her snout not half an inch away from her neck. If Rainbow Dash would’ve drawn back earlier, that train had well and truly left now. She held very, very still, licking her lips. It wasn’t very hero-like to be paralysed by the feeling of breath on your coat, but she was held captive by the sensation of warmth against skin. Her heart beat faster and faster—
Pinkie Pie withdrew, shaking her head as she laughed. “I just always thought she was pink. You’re not pink. You’re yellow!”
“You— uh, wait, what?” Dash said. “She’s not pink! Why would she be pink?”
“So! Where do we go?” Pinkie asked, pulling her mask back up and bouncing up into the air. “We’re heroes, we should do heroic stuff!”
“Right, yeah,” Dash agreed, flexing her wings and punching a hoof skywards. “Heroics!”
Rainbow Dash puffed out her cheeks and glanced mournfully up at the lip of the steep hill’s cliffy terminus. Exactly zero carriages were careening to their doom, and no buildings in sight were collapsing even a little bit; nopony was endangered in the least. Mayor Mare had even laughed at them when they asked her if there had been any muggings in recent history, and not a single Ponyville citizen was lost or unaccounted for. So much for bringing criminals to justice.
To top it off, the vest she wore was uncomfortably warm in the sweltering summer heat, and it was a wonder the cheap yellow dye hadn’t begun to run as she sweated. At her side, Pinkie Pie bounced along, energetic as ever and apparently completely unencumbered by their failure to find any action. Even if all they had gotten so far was a lot of funny looks and the odd compliment here and there, Pinkie was happy, and somehow, that was worth a smile and more.
“You know,” Pinkie chirped, following her gaze up the hill as they passed it by. “It doesn’t seem like ponies have any terrible accidents since that episode.”
Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow by way of reply.
“Episode, as in period of time,” Pinkie Pie hurried to clarify.
“Uh, sure,” Dash agreed, now actually confused where before she hadn’t been. “Whatever. We might as well be pranking or racing or whatever else instead of this. Nothing’s happening.”
“Maybe we just need to make something happen then,” Pinkie said, stopping on the spot. Rainbow Dash could practically hear the smile in her voice even through the mask. That, and the fabric was stretching ominously.
“Because that went so well last time somepony tried that,” Dash retorted, glancing over at where the branches of the library tree poked over the rooftops nearby. “We can just send a letter to Princess Celestia and tell her to come punish us right away instead.”
Pinkie Pie giggle-snorted and poked her in the chest. It was odd how that playful gesture felt so different today. The touch lingered, even though Dash knew that behind that mask, the pink pony would be smiling her usual smile.
“That’s not what I meant, silly. I mean we need to find our own fun! Maybe our friends are doing something that we can help with?” she suggested. “Helping out friends is always fun, but we’d be, like, super-helping!”
“Yeah, sounds good,” Dash muttered, scratching at her chest with a hoof. “Hey, can you take the mask off? It’s getting a little creepy.”
“Creepy?” Pinkie asked, her head tilted a full ninety-degrees. Dash opened her mouth to reply, but what could she say? She wasn’t very well afraid, it just didn’t feel right to play around with somepony she couldn’t see. Dash briskly shook her head, already feeling silly for even admitting that she didn’t like it.
“Never mind. Let’s go bother Twilight or something,” she suggested.
“You’re here to save me,” Twilight repeated, voice flat as she glanced back and forth between the two. Her eyes slid from Rainbow Dash to Pinkie Pie, then back to Dash.
Pinkie nodded rapidly and bounced around in little circles. “Precisely, Twilight! Any problem, big or small, medium-sized, or even hummus problems, we’re here to save you!” she proclaimed, her cape billowing as she went. For her part, Rainbow Dash merely nodded and re-adjusted her hat. She could almost understand why AJ wore that lame hat of hers all the time. It was like putting on a pair of sunglasses, every time. Poke hat, receive instant cool points.
“You mean ‘humongous’,” Twilight chuckled, turning to walk back to her desk. She settled back in place behind a huge tome, just as they had found her when they entered the library mere minutes prior. “And I’m sorry girls, I don’t need rescuing. I don’t even need help. As kind as you are, Spike and I cleaned the library from top to bottom yesterday, and today I’m re-working our cataloguing system. It’s tons of fun!”
Rainbow Dash stared at Twilight for a good few seconds while the unicorn scribbled in her book and hummed tunelessly. When she sought Pinkie’s eyes, the earth pony mare had pulled her mask half off and was looking straight back at her, inching closer.
“She sounds like she believes it,” Pinkie Pie said in a conspiratorial whisper.
“Worse, she sounds like she believes she believes it,” Dash agreed.
“I’m right here,” Twilight grumbled. The unicorn didn’t even look up from her writing. “But fine, I’ll bite. What’s up with the costumes?”
Dash grinned. She’d been waiting for Twilight to ask, and couldn’t for the life of her understand why the studious mare hadn’t caught on to her costume. She knew for a fact that Twilight had read all the books in the series, too.
“Come on, Twilight. You know who I am. I’m—”
“We’re heroes today!” Pinkie said, scrabbling to stand atop Rainbow Dash’s back and head both. Her impromptu heroic pose shoved Dash’s hat over her head.
“Pinkie!” Dash groaned, but try as she might, she couldn’t free herself from the relentlessly enthusiastic pink mare atop her back. It wasn’t like she was trying too hard, anyway, a small smile tugging at her lips.
“See, I had this great idea that we should dress up as our favorite-most heroes!” Pinkie explained. “I was going to go as my favorite hero, but I thought Rainbow Dash would go as her, so instead I went with my second favorite!” she said, finally bouncing off of Dash’s back with enough force to send the pegasus to the floor.
Rainbow Dash picked herself back up with a mutter, flaring her wings and re-adjusting her vest. Twilight made a noncommittal appreciative noise or said some words or whatever, but Dash wasn’t really paying attention. This was the second time Pinkie had said the same thing, and now it was too late. Now, she was curious.
“Hey, who is your favorite hero, Pinkie?” Dash asked.
Pinkie Pie looked over at her, tilted her head one way, then the other, all whilst smiling. At length, she pulled the mask back over her face and giggled. “Oh, she’s super-duper awesome!”
Having hardly expected a straight answer, Dash nevertheless frowned. “Is she from a comic book or a movie? Come on, I don’t like guessing games,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
“Nopey-dopey!” Pinkie chirped, though it was hard to tell what, if anything, it was an answer to. Before Dash had a chance to protest, the cloaked mare bounced over to Twilight and headbutted her on the rump. “Besides, we have boredom to banish! Tediousness to terminate! Uh— something to combat!”
Twilight yelped, steadied her inkwell with a glimmer of magic, and glared back at Pinkie Pie, turning in a circle until she faced her. “Seriously, girls, I’m busy! I appreciate the very insistent offer, but I’m sure there’s some ‘evil’ to be vanquished at Applejack’s farm or Fluttershy’s cottage. Both, conveniently enough, far away from here.”
Pinkie’s mask crinkled and creased as she leaned closer to Twilight. “Far away? How convenient,” she said, clearly trying to make her voice as low and dangerous as possible. Given her pitch, it was impossible for Dash to hold back a snort and giggle.
“Yes. That’s what I said,” Twilight deadpanned, sighing deeply and locking eyes with Dash, her expression pleading.
Dash cleared her throat and drew herself up. “Twilight is right! I mean, clearly, there are more adventures to be had away from town. Daring Do is far more comfortable in the jungle anyway. Come, Mare Do Well. We are needed!”
“Thank you,” Twilight muttered to Dash, giving her an appreciative smile as Pinkie bounce-trotted out the door. Dash knew what went into a rousing speech, after all - she’d done the voice and everything, so it was only natural. She was just making her exit, spreading her wings to take flight when Twilight spoke again.
“Wait. Daring Do?”
“Yeah?” Dash asked, squinting skeptically over her shoulder at her unicorn friend.
“I just always pictured her hair as straight-cut,” Twilight admitted with a shrug before she returned to her books. Rainbow Dash groaned and took off after Pinkie Pie, barely catching the flash of a grin from Twilight as she left, the unicorn muttering something about “teach you not to get my Starswirl costume—".
Rainbow Dash soon spotted Pinkie Pie from the air, the costumed earth pony mare humming to herself as she bounced. Pinkie’s little secret was gnawing at her now. What hero could be cooler than Daring Do, Batmare and all the others? Pinkie was hard to read and harder still to get exact answers from, but she had to know. Before that, though, there was doubtless some trouble that needed to be solved over at Sweet Apple Acres. Problems that only superheroes could face.
“And then you just carry the two, sure,” Rainbow Dash said, sinking down to rest her head on Apple Bloom’s desk. The little filly’s room was stuffy and hot, and Rainbow Dash could swear she was melting where she sat, even with her hat off and the vest open.
“Um, but there’s no two to carry, an’ it’s geometry,” Apple Bloom protested.
“Yeah, well, make it a three, then,” Dash snorted, blowing her mane out of her face. On the other side of the Apple family’s youngest member, Pinkie Pie was frowning furiously at the problem ahead of them. The enemy. Apple Bloom’s maths homework. Whatever. After a moment of careful deliberation, the pink pony grabbed the quill in her mouth. With a dramatic series of slashes across the parchment, Pinkie struck.
“P’here! Problem pholved!” Pinkie declared, spitting the quill out.
Rainbow Dash glanced over to find a rather neat little drawing of Pinkie Pie and herself dancing together and hugging close. Pinkie Pie had even gotten her cutie mark right and everything, and the really interesting part was how their muzzles were touching. It was almost as if they were kissing. Rainbow Dash grinned and shook her head. She was probably reading too much into it, though she wasn’t sure she was happy about that realization.
“Well, that’s actually kinda cool,” Dash muttered, grinning up at Pinkie Pie. The ditzy pony must’ve simply run out of room to draw on or something.
“Thanks!” Pinkie replied, turning to Apple Bloom. “Do you need help with anything else?”
“Uh. Thanks, but Ah think Ah’ll just, um, ask Applejack later,” Apple Bloom said, glancing between the two of them before slipping off her chair. “Catch y’all later, thanks for the help, Ah think?”
“No problem, kiddo,” Dash replied, her forehead still solidly welded to the boards of the desk. Who in Equestria was this mystery mare of Pinkie Pie’s? And why did it bother her so much that Pinkie had a heroine that she herself knew nothing about?
Her thoughts were cut short by Pinkie Pie snaking her forehooves around her neck and hugging her close. Sure, most ponies enjoyed a good hug now and then, but Pinkie had always been even more huggy and snuggly than most. Not that Dash minded too much.
“What’re you being all downy-frowny mopey-dopey about, Dashie?” Pinkie asked, resting her head atop of hers. “We won!” Her giggle sent a rumble through Rainbow Dash’s entire body, and Dash had to struggle to hold back a laugh of her own.
“That tickles,” Dash complained, shrugging Pinkie off and rolling around to lean her back against the desk. “And I’m not sad or— or whatever else, it’s just that we’re not getting a lot done, you know? Ugh, I wish there was a monster around or whatever.”
“Aw, not every day can be, um, monsterful?” Pinkie suggested, but Dash waved her words aside.
“And I want to know who this hero of yours is,” she pressed, frowning and thrusting her muzzle forwards until their snouts touched. Pinkie smelled of raspberries and bubblegum, sugar and-
She shook her head. It really was uncomfortably hot in here. “Okay. I bet I know,” she added.
“You do?” Pinkie asked, her smile widening until it seemed it would split her head in two. Suddenly, she was sweating as well, a trickle of perspiration running down the pink pony’s face. Perhaps the heat was finally getting to her, too?
“It’s Miss Mare-vel, isn’t it? Either her, or Supermare,” Dash said, grinning as she crossed her forelegs. It had to be somepony who was practically unstoppable, and while there were many amazing superheroes out there—
Her triumph was stolen from her in less than a second. Pinkie Pie’s creepy wide smile mellowed and gave way to a more subdued little thing that could almost have been called a smirk. She shook her head ever so slightly and leaned forward to touch her lips to Dash’s snout before giggle-snorting loudly. “Nope, silly! She’s far cooler and smarter and faster and stronger than Miss Mare-vel!”
Rainbow Dash deflated a bit and wriggled out from between Pinkie and the desk, rubbing her tingling snout with the back of a leg and wracking her brain as she stood. “Then who is it?” she cried, but Pinkie Pie was mum, avoiding her gaze now.
“Right. Whatever. This is boring. If you aren’t going to tell me, let’s at least find something actually heroic to do,” Dash suggested, hopping up to hover overhead, sending Apple Bloom’s homework papers scattering everywhere.
Pinkie tilted her head a smidgen as she reached for her mask, unusually serious for a second. “Are you okay?”
“Uh, yeah? Why?” Dash asked, shrugging.
“Oh, nothing! It’s just, my favorite hero-pony helps other ponies out all the time, and I think she likes it, even though she pretends she doesn’t,” the pink mare said, flashing a smile before she pulled her mask over her head again. “She even helps me out sometimes!”
Rainbow Dash frowned and breathed slowly through her nose. She’d already heard enough about this wonderful super-pony who apparently breathed lightning and oozed pure awesome, and that was bad enough by itself. If Pinkie Pie knew this pony, if it was an actual living breathing pony, that made her a competitor.
Knowing it wasn’t some comic book hero, but rather, a friend of Pinkie’s, those last words burned inside her. It felt as if though her stomach had dropped down to rest by one of her hooves - not that she was jealous. She was neither jealous nor angry that Pinkie Pie had friends she liked more than anypony else, friends she didn’t tell anypony about. Not at all.
“Yeah, okay, forget it then, I don’t care,” Dash snarled, a little louder than she’d intended. Pinkie’s masked visage was trained at her, unreadable as she took a single step back. Dash swallowed, trying to tell herself that the sour taste of bile and stinging in her throat were just heartburn from too many cupcakes yesterday. Not jealous at all.
“Let’s just find something else to do,” Dash muttered.
“Okie-dokie-lokie!” Pinkie chirped after a moment’s hesitation.
“Are y’all still up there?” a certain farmpony’s familiar twang rang out from below. “If you’re trying to be helpful today, Ah need to weed the southern cornfields today. R.D.? Pinkie Pie? You up there?”
Rainbow Dash glanced over at Pinkie Pie. Her own words about excitement were still fresh in mind, and as fun as weeding sounded— well, that was just it. It didn’t.
“Window,” she whispered, quietly hovering over to the nearby window that led out of Apple Bloom’s second-story room.
“But— but, we’re heroes, not villains!” Pinkie protested. “Sneaking is villain-y! Villainous?”
“Then why are you whispering, too?” Dash asked, grinning and spreading her wings as she stuck her head out the window. “It doesn’t count if we’re escaping stuff. Heroes escape from villains all the time. Hop on!”
Daring Do brushed aside more of the undergrowth, overgrowth and sidegrowth— the green stuff, pushing through the dense jungle. Somewhere through the dark and mysterious Jungle of Absolutely No Return, Ever, lurked a great and foul beast that needed vanquishing. She flicked her ear as something brushed it by, frowning in annoyance.
The beast they hunted was so evil, she’d had to enlist help for this adventure. She could hear the rustle of branches and ferns as her faithful sidekick trailed behind her. Daring had convinced Mare Do Well to join in her quest, the cute, perky and kinda hot earth pony mare picking her way between the trees with ease. It wasn’t like she really needed the help, but the terrible bunny-beast was not to be trifled with. Better to be on the safe side. Again, something brushed against her ear where it stuck out from under her helmet.
“Cut that out!” Dash snapped, shooting Pinkie Pie a glare. The bouncy mare halted on the spot as she was caught readying another nip on the pegasus’ ears.
“Would it be okay and would you be a little less annoyed and grumpy if I said that there was a huge wasp on your ear and that I ate it?” Pinkie asked.
“Uh, I guess. Sorry,” Dash muttered, shaking her head and crouching low to the ground again. A gust of wind swept past them, the relief from the heat so welcome she didn’t even bother to ask where it had come from. The day was scheduled to be warm and clear.
Daring Do swished her tail as she scanned her surroundings. It was hard to see further than her own hoof this deep in the dark and evil realm, and the bunny-beast could be anywhere. To top it off, there was a hypnotic scent in the air. Clearly, the jungle held many dangers. Was that cheddar? What could possibly—
“Sorry for what?” Pinkie Pie asked, pulling off her mask and hat again.
Rainbow Dash sighed and stood back up, her wings flared. “What? In case you forgot, we’re in the middle of hunting Angel here! Fluttershy will thank us for teaching him a lesson, and she just lets him—”
“What are you sorry about?” Pinkie asked again, one brow raised skywards.
“I’m not ‘sorry’! I meant thank you for getting that wasp!” Dash cried.
“Oh, I haven’t seen any wasps,” Pinkie shrugged.
“Um, excuse me?” Fluttershy said. The demure pegasus mare’s head poked out from a nearby kitchen window, looking over at where Rainbow Dash and Pinkie were standing, obviously a little hesitant. “If you’re going to stomp all over my herb garden, maybe you could ruin the sneezeweed instead of the slumber root? I need that to—”
Dash tilted her head and turned back to Pinkie Pie. While Fluttershy did seem to be making food, she was making no real offer to share. She glared at the incomprehensible pink pony instead. “You said there was a wasp on my ear, that’s why you kept biting it!”
“Oh, I never said there was a wasp on your ear,” Pinkie retorted just as Fluttershy sighed, folded her ears and ducked back inside her cottage.
“Then why did—” Dash began, only to be interrupted by a carrot bouncing off her helmet.
“White bunny-beast! We found it!” Pinkie exclaimed, pointing at where Angel Bunny stood nearby, idly tossing another carrot from paw to paw.
“Your time is up, bunny!” Dash said, fully extending her wings and making herself as big as she could. She tried to recall one of Daring Do’s lines, but instead, she snagged on one other item.
“Uh,” she said, another carrot making a dull impact against her chest. “Did you bring a net or something? I mean, I don’t want to actually hurt the little guy,” she murmured.
Pinkie Pie sat down on her haunches and stared skeptically at the little white demon as he stomped back inside the cottage only to return a few seconds later with another pair of healthy, orange missiles.
“I have some cupcakes in a tree by the brook, but a net? Oh wowsie, I need to diversify my party stash contents, don’t I? Can’t we just tell him to stop bothering Fluttershy? I bet if we ask really politely—” she suggested, halting when a carrot sailed through the air to land on top of her mane, nicely cushioned by the curls.
“Then again, maybe not,” Pinkie amended, going cross-eyed as she stared up at the carrot. In one swift motion, she threw her head back and scarfed it down, stalk and all.
“Fine, let’s just use your cape then,” Dash snapped. Angel had stopped throwing vegetables at them, instead moving on to some odd sort of sign language, pointing the middle digits of each paw skywards. What in the hay was that supposed to mean?
“My cape? But—” Pinkie protested, her words giving way to a loud squeal as Dash tried to yank it off her with minimal success. All her efforts served to do was drag the party pony on top of her, both of them going down in a tangle of legs and manes, cloak and costumes.
“Ow,” Dash muttered, trapped under Pinkie Pie. “Get off— wait, no, your cloak’s stuck—” she said, reaching over towards a clasp at the back of Pinkie’s suit.
“Wait, it’s sewed fast— no, hang on,” Pinkie giggled, wiggling, but she herself was half trapped by two of Dash’s legs, and all they got for the trouble was Pinkie rolling over, one of her hind legs now over Dash’s neck. Rainbow Dash felt her face heat up a little as she scrambled to free herself, but she somehow ended up with Pinkie’s flank in her face.
Just as she was trying to figure out exactly how that had happened, Rainbow Dash got a mouth full of dirt. Sputtering and spitting, she craned and twisted her neck, bringing her face to face with the grinning visage of one extremely pleased bunny.
“Oh come on—” Dash groaned as the spiteful little thing put his feet to work, kicking the loose soil of the little garden patch straight at her. “When I get you, I swear,” she growled, struggling to free herself, doing very little except sending Pinkie Pie into a fit of giggles.
The volume of that soft voice silenced all of the jungle-herb-garden’s occupants, all except Pinkie Pie, who was still shaking with laughter. Fluttershy was standing in the kitchen doorway, frowning. Fluttershy wasn’t supposed to frown. Dash felt a little chill go down her spine as she blinked to get the dirt out of her eyes, but her pegasus friend’s attention was focused entirely on the white menace standing not three inches away from Dash. Angel, for his part, had his little forelegs crossed.
“Yes, I know they were making a bit of a mess, but that’s no excuse to be so mean,” Fluttershy said, shaking her head. “If you keep this up, there’ll be no souffle tonight.”
Angel glared right back at her. Dash slowly began extricating herself from under Pinkie Pie even as her attention was all on the little contest of wills. The bunny raised a hindleg as if about to give Dash a last farewell-kick, but Fluttershy narrowed her eyes dangerously.
At last, the white bunny-beast relented and stuck his tongue out, bouncing off in disgust. Fluttershy watched him go, turning her attention to Daring Dash and her sidekick, Mare Do Pie. Rainbow Dash noted with a little pout that her vest was pretty much ruined, and Pinkie’s costume wasn’t faring much better, but it wasn’t quite as big a concern as the rather displeased pegasus pony who stood next to them.
“Uh. Sorry about your garden,” Dash murmured, surveying the battlefield. Loose dirt, broken and trampled plants - the little herb garden was a sorry sight. Pinkie Pie echoed her words, but Fluttershy’s frown slowly melted as she looked at the two of them. In the end, she smiled like she knew something she didn’t. It was as if she had just played some prank that hadn’t gone off yet, but Dash couldn’t ever imagine her oldest friend pranking her.
“Um, well, it’s okay, I guess. Apology accepted. I would love some help getting it in order later, if you don’t mind, just please don’t step on anything else when you leave, okay?” Fluttershy said, earning a nod from both of the would-be heroes before she trotted back towards her cottage.
“So, heroes, right?” Dash snorted, brushing some dirt off her vest. “One single lame bunny. I bet Daring Do could have just cracked her tail like a whip and scared him off or something.”
“Oh, my hero wouldn’t,” Pinkie said, waving at Fluttershy. “Oh, well, I mean, Mare Do Well probably would have, you know, since she was Fluttershy too, but the super-most fantastic hero of all times? She’s not very good with this sort of stuff either,” Pinkie giggled.
“Yeah?” Dash asked, her ears perking up. Finally something this wonder-mare of Pinkie’s couldn’t do.
“Yeppers! She’s super silly at times too, but I think that’s why I like her so much. She has a heart of gold, even if she does really weird things that make no sense, but I think that’s the neatest thing of all. I really feel—”
Rainbow Dash interrupted Pinkie Pie with a loud groan. It seemed that even when she won, she lost. “Yeah, that’s super. That’s just amazing. I’m really happy that you have this awesome hero who’s apparently the best thing ever,” she said, trying to keep her voice under control.
“Oh, I don’t really have her,” Pinkie giggled, making to pull her mask back over her face. Rainbow Dash stopped her, putting her hoof atop Pinkie’s and leaning close.
“And stop with the mask!” she cried. “Seriously, it’s really, really annoying!”
Pinkie just stared back at her. “Why?”
“I don’t know, just stop!” Dash yelled, a little too loud. For a second, Pinkie’s mane stood out straight behind her like a flag in a storm. Perhaps she’d finally crossed the line. The moment the words left her stupid big mouth, Dash felt a stab of regret. Pinkie’s smile was wiped clean off her face, the corners of her mouth sagging ever so slightly.
It was so utterly, completely stupid. She was jealous of this heroine of Pinkie’s, and now she’d blown it. The worst part was, she couldn’t even think of something to say. Dash just stared at Pinkie as the party pony took a step back, then another, slipping away from her.
Only now, after it was well and truly too late, did Dash understand why she was jealous. Pinkie Pie was the neatest, funniest, second-coolest pony in Ponyville, and she was supposed to belong to her, not to some stupid hero who she’d heard nothing about, some super-hero she’d never met yet who was her better in every respect. It was bad enough losing in the first place, but losing Pinkie Pie?
Except Pinkie Pie wasn’t looking at her. Pinkie was looking past her, slowly raising one hoof to point over Dash’s shoulder. “Rainbow Dash? Are tornadoes supposed to look like that?”
Dash whipped her head around so fast she half expected the grey to fly out of her mane. Past Fluttershy’s cottage, not more than a few hundred paces away, the dark clouds were billowing over the Everfree forest. This in and by itself was nothing special; Everfree weather was Everfree weather, and she’d seen this coming long ago. Storms over the Everfree were common as a sunny summer’s day in Ponyville, but the black twister that tore through the fields uprooting bush and tree alike, that was decidedly well into ‘special’ territory. The rogue little tornado was bee-lining straight for Ponyville.
“Um, no,” Dash said, frowning. “That’s not how any weather is supposed to look.”
“Oh, yay! It’s a good thing we’re superheroes, then!” Pinkie exclaimed, masking up and bouncing on the spot. “Let’s go stop it and save the day, let’s do something daring, and let's do it well!”
Dash broke into a hover and squinted. “I think this is more of a weather patrol thing than a superhero problem, Pinks. Stay here,” she said.
“No buts!” Dash snapped. “This is pegasus stuff, it could be dangerous. Wait here.”
Without waiting for a reply, Dash flapped her wings and rocketed off towards the soil-turning mass of darkness. It looked unlike anything Rainbow Dash had seen before, but she had the best motivation ever. Let’s see Pinkie’s hero do this. With a grin, she flipped her hat off her head and wriggled out of her vest all mid-air.
It spun. It was air that moved, and everything she had learned, everything that was in her bones and in the little bits between her feathers that made her a pegasus all told the same tale on how to approach this. With a loud whoop, Dash shot forward, forelegs outstretched as she plunged into the twister seeking to reverse its momentum.
Only to be tossed back out. Dash yelped as she was flung back. It was as if though she’d tried to fly through the lovechild of a brick wall and a trampoline, her impact ripping a long furrow through the grass and soil that left her on her back with entirely too much dirt in her mouth. Dash spat and groaned as every bone in her body protested. Somewhere far off in the distance, a melodious, high-pitched voice called her name, barely audible over the maddened howl of the rampaging twister. It was a potent reminder of exactly what she was trying to do.
Saving Ponyville? Sure. Stopping some evil little tornado-thing, knocking it down a notch? Bonus. But what made her leap back up onto all fours with a snarl was something far simpler. She was going to show Pinkie Pie who the coolest pony in Ponyville really was. Hopefully, she’d forget all about her stupid little hero, and Rainbow Dash would get the stallion. Mare. Whatever. So long as there were hot makeouts in the end. She’d have time to think about that later; first, she had to save the day.
With the type of grin reserved for the brave and the mad, Dash took to the skies again and soared over the twister; she still had time before it hit Ponyville. When she drew near to the village, putting herself between the menace and the outlying buildings, she could see ponies were already gathering in the village square. All eyes were on her, just the way she liked it, but she found herself looking the other way this time.
On a nearby hill, a small pink-maned shape waved at her. That was enough. With a wordless yell, Rainbow Dash shot down towards the ground, pumping her wings as hard as she could. The air twisted and warped around her, and she could see bits of body paint flaking off her coat. Just before she hit the ground, she banked, hard. It felt as if though her brain tried to escape through her nostrils, but she forced herself into a tight curve and kept working her wings.
The wind roared in her ears as she tightened her loops, the fast, horizontal spins finally yielding results; the air around her was taking the hint, and a tight, furious tornado of her own was forming around her. Every ounce of wingpower she could muster, bruised as though she was from her first failure, it all went straight into the fury of the wind she wove. Even through the whipping wind, she could hear the dark thing from the Everfree approaching. With a huge death-defying grin that ate the fear, Rainbow Dash angled her own little creation towards the evil twister.
Rainbow Dash slowly opened one eye, then the other. When the two eyes reported slightly different things, she reached up to tap the side of her head, and the world reluctantly swam back into focus. She was staring up at the clear blue sky, and her wings hurt. As did her back, her legs, her head— her everything hurt, really, but her body had fared far better than the surrounding countryside.
Where the two angry little twisters had met, the ground was scoured of grass for a dozen paces, and a small crater marked the impact. To say her plan had worked would be a bit of a lie. She hadn’t really had a plan per se. It just felt like the right thing to do. Considering it had resulted in an explosion and victory both, it couldn’t be called anything but a success.
She was just about to see if she could stand when her vision filled with Pinkie Pie’s grinning visage. The blue of those eyes was even brighter than the sky, and the part of her that was still high on the rush of battle wanted to reach up and kiss her on the spot. Her eyes, her smile - Pinkie was meant to be hers.
“Let’s see your hero do that,” Dash croaked, struggling to stand. She made very little progress in that department given that she wasn’t so much on the ground as in the ground, embedded a full hoof’s breadth in the soil from the force of the impact.
Pinkie Pie’s grin grew as Dash’s own smirk waned. She already knew what words were coming. There seemed to be a distinct pattern.
“Oh, she does stuff like this all the time,” Pinkie giggled.
Dash licked her lips, swallowed and nodded, trying to collect her thoughts, trying to buy time to think, but nothing came to her. There was a distracting pink face in her vision, and a rather darker red mass of anger and hurt somewhere in her mind. She didn’t want to yell at Pinkie Pie and risk hurting her again, but the party pony must have sensed something was wrong. Perhaps the way her muzzle hurt was from a grimace, then. Perhaps the wet on her face was neither blood nor spittle.
“You’re jealous, aren’t you?” Pinkie asked, but there was no mirth in her tone. The usually jovial mare’s ears drooped, and her face was ashen.
“No!” Dash snapped, bringing an aching foreleg to her face and rolling her eyes. “No, I’m not jealous,” she lied. “I’m— I don’t know, annoyed, okay? And don’t ask me—”
“You totally are!” Pinkie accused, her brows knit. “And why are you so angry about my silly little costume, too, huh? Don’t think I haven’t noticed! I notice lots of things, and you’re totally angry at my mask!”
Dash turned away as best as she could. In the corner of her vision, she saw Pinkie holding up the innocuous cloth mask as if she could glean the full truth from staring at it. It really was too much. With a growl, Dash slapped it from her hoof.
“Because it’s stupid! I thought this would be fun because heroes kick flank, but hanging out with Mare Do Well isn’t— it’s not as fun as hanging out with you!” she spat. Her cheeks burned as she realized that she hadn’t exactly meant to compliment Pinkie, but there it was. The heart of it.
“Maybe I just wanted to hang out with my best friend, you ever think of that, huh? I don’t want to have fun with somepony else, I want to be with you,” she said, wriggling until she could at least sit up. Pinkie sat down in front of her, big eyes blinking rapidly.
“You want to be with me?” Pinkie asked, her head tilted. It was impossible to say what went on under that tangled mop of a mane, but she was smiling very faintly, an uncharacteristically calm little thing far removed from her usual face-eating grins.
“Something like that,” Dash muttered, flexing her wings to make sure everything was in working order. Suddenly, she wanted nothing more than to head back home right away, to be alone. “You got your stupid new hero. You obviously don’t need me,” she grumbled.
“Dashie,” Pinkie said, a giggle bubbling forth as the pink mare put her hooves on Dash’s shoulders. Dash wriggled a bit to try to get free, but once she looked back up into those pools of blue, she was truly held. Pinkie leaned a little closer at that, eyes shining. “You’re my hero, you silly filly. It’s you. It’s always been you.”
Rainbow Dash blinked. It really was all too hot today. It wasn’t the first time she’d had the thought, and the sun was blazing in the cloudless sky, but the warmth was of an entirely different nature. Pinkie Pie was leaning over her, but the way her long cloak draped over them both as surely as did the earth pony mare herself, that had nothing to do with it.
“Me,” Dash repeated. Relief mixed with disbelief, and the result was a bark of laughter. “I’m your hero?”
Pinkie leaned forward to rest her head atop Rainbow Dash’s chest. When she nodded, the gentle rub of Pinkie’s muzzle sent an electric little sizzle through her entire body. “Even if you’re very silly,” Pinkie said.
“Yeah, well, I’m not feeling very hero-like,” Dash admitted. It was stupid to get bogged down with questions and answers, but it still didn’t make sense. She reached over to poke one of Pinkie’s ears with a hoof, frowning. “Okay, so the whole tornado thing, maybe, but the rest—”
“The rest?” Pinkie said, giggling as she inched a little closer, nuzzling Dash’s neck. “That was the best part! There are tons of heroes out there who kick all kinds of flank, but only one who can make me smile just the way you do,” she said. “There’s just one Rainbow Dash. Well, only one that I know of. Oh wowsers, if there are more, we have a real problem!”
“I don’t think so,” Dash laughed, craning her neck, but just as she leaned in to seek Pinkie’s muzzle with her own, Pinkie pulled back. She seemed unusually hesitant, almost vulnerable.
“Um, Dashie? What you said about wanting to be—”
Rainbow Dash grabbed a hold of Pinkie Pie, one hoof to either cheek, and tilted her muzzle as she kissed her. Mercifully, Pinkie Pie shut up, the pink pony melting in her hooves. All the frustrations of the day were seared away by that one kiss, leaving in its wake the taste of sugar so sweet, it even tasted pink. When they parted, Pinkie was breathing heavily. While her question had been lost to her, Dash already had the answer.
“I’m not too hot for Mare Do Well,” Dash said, grinning. “But if you can take that stupid costume off, I’d totally make out with Pinkie Pie all day long.”
“Does that mean I get Rainbow Dash?” Pinkie asked, beaming and picking at Rainbow Dash’s flaking coat-paint.
“Is that an invitation to a bubble bath?” Dash asked with a smirk of her own.
Every once in a while you get these ideas that just have to be written. Sometimes, like now, those ideas are a distraction from another fic in progress. Often, for me, they're written in a very short time because the idea is intoxicating.
Usually, those ideas are suggestions by Kits.
When I sat down to write this, I wanted to write something short and sweet that had high energy and pacing plus a lot of humor, even if I don't have it in me to write actual comedy. My current long-term project is a very slow and deliberate fic, so this was a very welcome way to blow off imaginary steam and let the ponies have fun.
A huge thanks to Kits for forcing me to write this, for his help, and for doing the cover art, too! I'd also like to thank Couch Crusader for being intensely awesome at poking holes in my atrocious language/syntax/whatever, Whiteout for making time for me when I really needed a fresh set of eyes, and Corma for reading this through and offering feedback so many times I start to wonder if he's read it more'n me. Big thanks also to Morden and Still Waters for taking time to give me their thoughts!
Jeez, that's a lot of help. Thank you all!
Please leave a comment whether you liked it or not. Even if all you took home from the story was a vague desire for the author (hi!) to choke on a potato, I'd love to hear from you. I try to reply to all comments, but I'm also very happy for mail!