Her alarm clock rang, shattering her ears. She scrambled to turn it off, succeeding in knocking it on the floor. Dash groaned and threw her blanket at it, the quilt smothering the alarm and filling the bedroom with blissful silence once more.
Her injured wing twinged in protest at the way she slept on it. Glancing at the clock, it was ten till nine, and she realized she forgot to give herself extra time for her injured wing. She slapped a hoof over her face, grumbling under her breath.
Undoing the latch on her bedroom window, Dash took a few steps back and then ran at it, jumping into the sky with her wings spread.
A throbbing pain flared in her right wing, but a gentle current of wind swept her up and carried her towards Ponyville, easing the pressure on it.
Once the library was in sight, she tipped her wings and glided down towards it. She hit the ground at a trot, folding her wings away and circling around to the library door. Raising her hoof, she knocked twice.
Twilight answered the door. She looked at Dash, and then down at the watch around her hoof. “You’re five minutes late,” she noted.
“Sorry, it’s just that I didn’t take think about how much longer than normal it would take to fly over because of my wing, and when I woke up it was—”
“It’s alright,” Twilight said. “Just try to leave five minutes earlier next time, okay?”
“Uh... right. I’ll do that.” Dash blinked, taking a second to form words. “So are we going to get started?”
Twilight’s eyes widened. “Yes, of course!” She dashed towards the kitchen, leaving Dash with an unofficial invitation to come inside.
Dash stepped inside, and was greeted by the loud whirring of a blender coming from the kitchen. She barely had a moment to sit down at the table before Twilight rushed back into the room floating a glass.
“Drink,” Twilight ordered, placing a glass of the thick, beige slop in front of her. “And eat,” she said placing an apple beside it, before disappearing again.
Dash rolled her eyes. She picked up the glass of muck and closed her eyes, putting pressure on her nose with one hoof, and tipping it to her lips with the other, trying not to think about the taste.
Twilight walked back into the room with a clipboard floating nearby, just as Dash was about to take a bite out of the apple.
“I finished adjusting the schedule,” she said, looking down at the clipboard. “It’s not perfect, but it will have to do.”
“Great!” Dash said, talking around a mouthful of apple. “Let’s get started!”
Dash and Twilight were out training at the same place they had the day before. Dash was busy bucking back and forth, jumping from her front to her rear legs and back again. Panting, her heart pounded, trying to keep up, as she gave it all the oxygen she could. “How—” She paused to breathe “—much longer?”
“Twenty seconds,” Twilight replied.
The land exercises Twilight gave her were exhausting, and completely out of her comfort zone. She already learned that she wasn’t the greatest when it came to strength on land back when she challenged Applejack to an iron pony competition, but now that she had a reason not to cheat, she realized how difficult land training was.
“Time!” Twilight announced.
Dash fell back down on all fours, mouth open and panting. Twilight handed her a water bottle, and she took a long drink of the refreshing spring water.
“Okay, ten minute break and then at three-twelve we start doing some light jogging to wind down,” Twilight read from her clipboard.
Dash groaned and toppled over sideways like a tipped cow onto the grass.
“You know,” Twilight said with a lecturing tone. “You wouldn’t still be so sore from yesterday if you had properly cooled down.”
Dash huffed and crossed her hooves in front of her chest.
“It must be hard flying up to your house with an injured wing,” Twilight said, sitting on the grass next to Dash and looked down at her with a smile. “Would you like to sleepover at the library tonight?”
“Oh!” Rainbow Dash blew her mane out of her eyes, looking at the library in the distance. "I'd love to!" she blurted out. "I-I mean, yeah. That’d be cool."
“Excellent!” Twilight said, her smile growing a little wider. A light breeze blew through her mane, and she glanced down at her watch. “Ack! We’re two minutes late!” She stood up, jogging on the spot. “Come on Dash!”
Dash smiled and stood. “You’re coming running with me?”
Twilight shot a smile over her shoulder. “Somepony has to make sure you don’t slack off!” she teased.
Dash smirked. Even if her legs ached a little, she finally had a chance to pay Twilight back for running her into the ground. “Try to keep up!” Dash shouted, sprinting past Twilight.
“Not bad,” Dash said, walking into the library. “You actually managed to keep up the entire time.”
Twilight crawled in through the door after Dash, dragging herself over the threshold. “I don’t think I’m cut out for this,” she said, pulling herself up off the floor. “I thought you would be a bit more tired after everything else.”
“So,” Dash said, looking around the library. “What’s the plan for the sleepover?”
Twilight glanced around. “We could read a story.”
Dash stuck her tongue out. “Bleh! There’s no way we’re doing that. Books are lame.” She lit up with an idea. “What about telling me what life in Canterlot was like? You probably have some pretty cool stories about the Princess, right?”
“Well, yeah, one or two...”
Dash grabbed a pillow from a nearby chair, laying down on it and propping her head up on her hooves. “Did you do lots of partying? Oh! Did you get to see tons of places, or meet really cool ponies?” Dash paused upon seeing Twilight's amused smile. She decided to settle on one question at a time. “What was being taught by the princess like?”
“I was invited to a few things, but I usually tried to get out of them somehow. Learning from Princess Celestia was...” Twilight lifted a hoof to her chin as she trailed off. “Princess Celestia is the wisest pony I’ve ever met. And sometimes it feels like she holds the answer to everything—and she constantly has to remind me that she doesn’t. She’s my mentor, but she’s also more to me than just that. When I left home to study under her, she took over as a mother figure for me.” Twilight grabbed a pillow and lay down opposite Dash. “I love my parents, both of them. They were understanding and supportive of me leaving to study under the Princess, and I will always be thankful for that. But we’re very distant now. The couple times I visited them, they were like complete strangers.”
“There weren’t any parties you went to? Not even the fancy-schmancy ones?” Dash asked.
Twilight shook her head, laying her head on her pillow and looking down at its cover.
“Oh...” Dash frowned, looking at Twilight, who had a far off look in her eyes.
Trying to change subject to something less gloomy, Dash grinned at her. “Hey, hey! How about you ask me something?”
Twilight raised her head. “Well...” Her mouth turned up slightly in a smile. “I’m curious about how you and Applejack met. I get the impression you two have some history together.”
Dash shuffled to a more comfortable position. “Well, I was taking a break after doing some tricks, resting in a tree and eating an apple or two from it, and Applejack came over and bucked the tree I was lying in. It sorta took me by surprise, so I fell. When I hit the ground, she pinned me down and accused me of being an apple thief.”
“I tried to tell her I had no idea those apples belonged to anypony, but she wouldn’t listen.” “Anyway, I wound up having to help her do farm work to pay for the apples I’d eaten.” Dash’s ears drooped and she looked away. “And you know... maybe it wasn’t the first time they had found munched up apple cores at the base of one of their trees.”
Twilight wiped a mirthful tear from the corner of her eye. “So what happened next?”
“I spent a couple days working at her farm, and we sorta became friends as I paid off my debt.”
“It sounds like even when you met you two were always barking at each other,” Twilight said, her eyes smiling.
The two of them sat by the fireplace and talked to one another until the fire cast long shadows on the walls. Dash lost count of how many logs had been added to it while they’d been talking. They told each other stories about the places they had been, the ponies they had met, and the trouble they had gotten themselves into, their laughs filling the homely tree.
Twilight glanced over at the clock, the hands reading just past eleven. “I can’t believe we stayed up this late!”
“It’s not that late,” Dash said, waving a hoof dismissively. “Besides, I learned a lot of cool stuff about you.”
Twilight smiled with a modest blush. “You had some pretty entertaining stories too.” she said, rolling onto her back and stretching. “I still think we should get to sleep now. Although, I have to say this went much better than the last sleepover I had.”
“Well,” Dash said, examining the back of her hooves with a smug expression. “The last sleepover didn’t have me.”
Twilight let out a small giggle and closed her eyes, lying on her back and facing the ceiling with a smile on her face.
There was a warm sensation in Dash’s chest. A pleasant haze overtook her mind, and she was struck by a thought while looking at Twilight.
“Have you ever gone out with anypony?”
Twilight opened her eyes and glanced over. “No, I can’t really say that I have.” She looked back up at the ceiling. “What about you?”
“Well, growing up I hung out with a bunch of guys. Most of the good fliers were guys, since girls didn’t tend to be interested in that sorta stuff. I was more like one of the crew, you know? I was asked out once, but it was by some shy colt. I think his name was Gust. Something-Gust. And he had no confidence at all. He barely even had the guts to ask me.”
“I was always absorbed in my books.” Twilight turned to her side, facing Dash. “So I wasn’t interested in stallions asking me out. It seemed like a waste of time.” Twilight put her hoof to her chin, thinking. “I don’t even remember any of their faces, but I think I had about ten different ponies ask me out.”
Dash’s mouth hung open in shock. “But you turned them all down?”
“Yeah,” Twilight said, and Dash to let out a silent sigh of relief. “I think it was mostly the idea of me that they were after. I never socialized and I never did anything that would get their attention. They probably just thought it would be some sort of accomplishment to date the student of the princess. I didn’t even bother to remember their names.” Twilight frowned and tapped her chin. “Come to think of it, I was quite rude to most of them.” She yawned, covering her mouth.
She’s kinda cute when she yawns, Dash thought with a smile, a small blush on her cheeks.
Twilight stood up and placed her pillow back on its chair. She turned back to Dash, motioning for her to follow. “Come on, let’s go to bed.”
A tingle traveled down Dash’s spine from hearing those words—even if Twilight didn’t mean it that way. Dash dropped her pillow back on its chair, and followed Twilight up to the loft.
Twilight stopped in front of them and Dash looked around her shoulder to see one of the beds was only a skeletal wooden frame, devoid of mattress, sheets, or blanket. Twilight turned back to her, looking down at the wood floor.
“Um, sorry... I just remembered I don’t have a mattress for the guest bed. I forgot to wash it when a tree fell in the window during a storm and got everything wet. I had to throw it out because of the mildew...” Twilight trailed off, looking at the single bed with uncertainty. “My bed should have enough room for the two of us though.”
Dash’s face heated up.
We’re friends. And two friends sleeping in the same bed isn’t abnormal or anything... right? Dash reasoned, trying to make her blush die down before Twilight noticed it.
Twilight climbed in under the covers, moving over to make room for Dash, who froze, looking at her like a deer caught in the headlights. Twilight patted the mattress next to her and Dash tried her best not to read too much into the innocent gesture.
“Come on, Dash! There’s plenty of room!” Twilight said, looking over her shoulder at the edge of the bed and scooting closer to it. “See?”
Dash gingerly stepped toward the bed, one hoof in front of the other, all the while staring into Twilight’s sparkling eyes.
Climbing onto the bed, she crawled under the covers. The bed was barely designed to fit two ponies on it. Their hooves brushed against each other under the covers, sending a shiver down Dash's spine that made her hair stand on end.
She turned to Twilight and gave her a nervous smile. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Twilight replied, rolling over and facing away from her. “Good night,” Twilight mumbled, burying her face into her pillow.
“Good night,” Dash echoed, her voice cracking slightly. If Twilight heard it, Dash was thankful she didn’t comment on it.
Turning away from Twilight and closing her eyes, Dash waited to fall asleep.
And she waited, and waited. But sleep did not claim her. She tossed and turned restlessly, remaining careful not to wake her friend, whose gentle snores filled the room. She tried sleeping on her side, her stomach, and her back, but none of them worked. Her body was too excited, too alert, too wound up. She turned to look jealously at the back of the peacefully sleeping mare who caused it all, who had managed to fall asleep the second her head hit the pillow.
Dash briefly wondered whether Twilight had cast a spell on her when she wasn’t looking.
Shaking her head, she looked at the back of her sleeping friend and flicked her tail in irritation. She hesitantly reached out, tracing the pink highlight running through Twilight’s mane.
Careful not to wake the other mare, Dash scooted closer to her, tracing the highlight with a bored sigh. She looked at the sleeping pony, chewing her lip. Cautiously, and moving very slowly, she wrapped her hooves around the smaller pony.
Twilight moved slightly in her sleep, adjusting to the hooves wrapped around her.
The thrum of Dash’s own heartbeat boomed in her ears and a deep scarlet blush heated her face. The slightly shorter pony’s back fit perfectly against her chest, as though she had been tailored to be held by her.
This is bad. I shouldn’t be doing this! What if she wakes up? Dash thought frantically, her heart leaping out of her throat as Twilight mumbled in her sleep.
Dash adjusted her position slightly, to something more relaxing that might make her blush die down. Twilight’s mane fell to one side and sprawled over the sheets, and her exposed ear twitched to the sound of her shifting.
Throwing caution to the wind, she squeezed Twilight closer to her. She needed to feel their bodies touching—needed to feel Twilight’s back pressed against her chest.
The other mare stirred for a moment, before relaxing in her grip, moving her hooves in her sleep down to rest on the ones Dash had wrapped around her saddle. Her coat radiated heat and held a subtle fragrance of some flower Dash couldn’t quite put her hoof on.
Dash’s eyes closed on their own accord, a content smile on her lips.
Twilight let out a content sigh as she woke, cozy and warm.
But something warm wrapped around her back gave her pause, and she opened her eyes.
Dash’s face was only a few inches from her own, and a pair of cyan hooves were wrapped around her sides. She felt her face heat up as she realized how close their muzzles were, Dash’s slightly parted lips a hair’s-breadth away.
Dash’s face twitched, followed by her eyes opening, and she looked at Twilight with sleep-drunk smile, not yet fully awake.
The gears in Dash’s head turned, working to realize the position they were in. When she did, her eyes went wide and she blushed furiously.
Snapping her hooves back to her sides, she shuffled backwards, falling off the side of the bed in her haste to create distance between them. Twilight might have laughed if she wasn’t busy mirroring Dash’s blush.
“Sorry!” Dash shouted, her head poking back up from her spot on the floor. “I... uh... I tend to move around in my sleep a lot!” she stammered.
Twilight watched with a bit of amusement as Dash scrambled to a normal sitting position at the side of the bed.
“I-I used to take lots of energy shakes back in flight school, because of all the flying I did, and the extra energy made me move around in my sleep, and I probably should have only taken the amount you were supposed to—but I mean, who listens to those things anyways? And so now when I sleep I—”
“It’s okay.” Twilight cut her off, giving her a nervous smile. “I’m sure it was just an accident!”
“Uh, yeah... right,” Dash said, looking at the ground sheepishly.
“I’m going to go downstairs and make some breakfast. Feel free to come down whenever you like.” Twilight climbed out of bed and walked away, hoping that she would be able to get rid of the blush on her face by the time Dash came downstairs.
Dash climbed back onto the bed once Twilight was gone, rolling over to the middle of it. The sheets were still warm, Twilight’s scent, that flower she couldn’t place, still clinging to them.
Idly tracing the wooden patterns at the top of the bed with a hoof, she sighed, something she had been doing an increasing amount of over the past two days.
She thought about Twilight more than normal. The unicorn invaded her thoughts during every waking moment since they had started practicing together. Around Twilight she didn’t feel like she had to constantly watch what she said, or maintain her image.
She told Twilight things about flightschool she had never told anypony, stories about herself so uncool that it made her cringe. Yet, the stories made Twilight laugh, so she couldn’t bring herself to regret telling them. She yearned to hear her laugh more than she yearned to pull off a new trick, or meet the Wonderbolts. To Dash, hearing Twilight laugh was the greatest sound in the world, but it hadn’t been like that when they first met.
She wondered when it changed.
She rolled over to look at the ceiling, her interest in the bed’s wooden patterns lost. She took a deep breath and relaxed, a faint smell of lilacs lingering on Twilight’s pillow. It felt so inexplicably perfect to hold her and fall asleep to the sound of her breathing. It made her hot, tense, and nervous—in a good way—for reasons she didn’t understand.