Rainbow Dash flopped down on Twilight’s bed, her thoughts a mess.
The only time Dash had ever been attracted to any mare before Twilight was a brief and confusing period in her adolescence. She felt the same confusion as back then. It made her feel like she was the little filly going to flight school again, the one who made all the wrong choices.
Back then it wasn’t Twilight, but Cloudy Skies. She was a pretty ash-gray mare a year above her. She’d had long straight hair as white as chalk, and stormy blue eyes. In class she was perfect, well-behaved, every teacher’s dream when dealing with young, rambunctious colts and fillies at that age.
Outside of class she was someone entirely different.
When the teachers weren’t looking, she was wild and dangerous. She would always go out and fly in storm clouds, which the teachers had told them never to do. Cloudy broke almost all the rules the school had in just the one year Dash had known her. Naturally, Dash liked her.
When her family moved and she left school, Dash was devastated.
She had never gotten a chance to tell Cloudy Skies how she felt. It was a regret that lingered in the back of her mind whenever she thought back to flightschool. She quickly filled the hole left by her when she met a griffon named Gilda, but she never felt the same way about her as she had felt about Cloudy Skies.
Twilight wasn’t going away anytime soon, not for a while at the very least. But it had occurred to her that there might be a day when she’s suddenly called back to Canterlot by the Princess.
It had been a long time since Dash felt so lost.
It’s just a silly crush, right? she thought, burying her face into a pillow. Those come and go all the time, maybe I can just wait and it’ll go away. She closed her eyes and imagined Twilight, smiling at her. A chill traveled down her back, frightening and exciting her.
Dash was brought out of her thoughts by her stomach growling.
She rolled off the bed and headed down the stairs. Twilight appeared at the bottom when she was halfway down.
“Dash! Breakfast is—” Twilight stopped mid-shout, spotting Dash. “Oh, I was going to call you down. I made some sandwiches. I know it’s not really a proper breakfast, but...”
“It’s no problem. I’m not a picky eater or anything,” Dash said, giving her friend a reassuring smile.
Twilight led Dash to the kitchen, where two sets of food and drink sat on a table. Dash looked at her glass of apple juice and her sandwich, lifting up a corner of the bread to see peanut butter and jam.
She glanced up to see Twilight looking uncertainly at her.
“It looks good,” Dash said, and took a bite out of the sandwich.
Twilight relaxed. “Spike made me promise not to use the oven while he was gone. I’m a natural disaster when it comes to cooking.” She laughed nervously.
Twilight sat quietly, her mouth upturned in a content smile, while watching Dash eat her sandwich.
A knock at the door broke the silence. Twilight got up to answer it, leaving Dash to finish her sandwich. The door creaked open.
“Oh! Hello, Twilight.” Fluttershy greeted Twilight with a shy smile. I was just wondering, if you’re not busy, if I could get a...” Fluttershy paused as she spotted Dash over Twilight’s shoulder. “Oh, hi, Rainbow Dash. I didn’t expect to see you here.” Fluttershy looked around shuffling her hooves. “Well, I should just come back later then. You’re probably busy.”
“Don’t worry, Fluttershy. I’m sure Dash won’t judge,” Twilight said, glancing over her shoulder at Dash.
Dash raised an eyebrow. “Won’t judge what?”
“Fluttershy just comes by every once in a while to pick up a new romance novel to read,” Twilight answered.
“Oh, those sappy books?” Dash asked.
Fluttershy squeaked in embarrassment and mumbled something to the ground, backing away from the door. Dash spotted Twilight glaring over her shoulder at her.
“Uh, I mean,” Dash stumbled to correct herself, “That’s kind of cool. I think I read one or two of those back in flight school.”
Twilight motioned for Fluttershy to come inside, and after a brief moment of hesitation, she stepped forward. Her hoof caught on the doorstep, and she let out a squeak, stumbling through the door. Dash noticed her throw a nervous glance her way, before looking at Twilight with a blush and apologizing.
Twilight waved her concerns off with a warm smile, and shut the door behind her. “How did your visit to the mountains go?”
“Oh, the mountain lions were pretty scary at first, but once I earned their trust, they were really just like big kittens,” Fluttershy answered, smiling fondly. “Thank you for sending Spike to keep me safe. He enjoyed all the gems they had up in the mountains.”
“Is he staying at the magic university now?” Twilight asked, a bit of concern leaking into her voice.
Fluttershy nodded. “I left him with the professor you told me about. He seemed kind and gentle. I’m sure he’ll take good care of Spike.”
“Oh, I know he will.” Twilight shook her head with an amused look in her eyes. “I just hope he hasn’t put on too much weight by the time he comes back.” She glanced at her food on the table. “I’m going back to finishing breakfast. Give me a shout once you want to check something out.”
Fluttershy nodded, cantering up to the bookshelves, looking for a book to read.
Dash watched the other pegasus browse. She had known Fluttershy since flight school, but never would have thought the shy filly was a romantic. Considering her earlier reaction, she had probably been too embarrassed to ever bring it up around somepony like Dash.
Wait, that’s it! Dash watched with renewed interest as Fluttershy continued to browse. Having read all those sappy books, Fluttershy had to have answers about the emotions she was feeling. Finishing up her apple juice with a big gulp, Dash got up and walked over to her friends.
“So I should probably get going,” she said, drawing their attention. “I had a blast though. We should definitely do it again sometime.”
“Maybe we could go to your place next time,” Twilight suggested with a smile, placing her quill back in its holder.
“We should probably keep it at your place. I live in a cloud house and well...” Dash trailed off, ruffling her wings.
“Oh... right, no wings,” Twilight said, a sheepish blush on her face. “I wouldn’t mind having you come over here again sometime. I had a lot of fun. Maybe we could even invite somepony else over too!”
“Yeah...” She’d rather it was just them again. “Hey Fluttershy, you heading back to your cottage?”
“Oh, why yes.”
“I want to tell you about the tricks I’ve been working on.” Dash turned, walking to the door of the library.
Fluttershy followed her with the book tucked under-wing, briefly stopping in the doorway to wave goodbye to Twilight. The yellow pegasus looked over at her friend curiously. “So what trick did you want to tell me about?”
Dash glanced over her shoulder at the library. Satisfied that it was far enough away, she turned back to Fluttershy.
“Actually, I had a couple of questions about those books you’re reading.” Dash chewed on her lip, looking around to see if they were alone.
“Oh.” Fluttershy’s eyes widened. “Well, I could suggest one or two books I thought were good.” Fluttershy looked at her. “—If you’re interested in reading one, that is.”
“No, it’s nothing like that,” Dash said, shaking her head. “I was wondering... well...” Fluttershy looked at her with large, questioning eyes. “Nevermind.” Dash laughed and shrugged her shoulders. “I guess I forgot what I was going to say!”
Fluttershy tilted her head and smiled. “That’s okay. Hopefully you’ll remember it.”
Fluttershy looked away, and Dash hung her head, letting out a sigh. It was Fluttershy for pete’s sake. They had been friends since they were fillies. But talking about feelings just wasn’t something she did. It made her tongue feel swollen and her legs wobble. “So...” Dash trailed off, looking at the ground and kicking a rock she walked by. “Romance books, huh?”
Fluttershy reddened. “W-well, yes.” She seemed to avoid looking at Dash. “I enjoy them, I guess.”
“Huh.” Dash paused, trying to think of how to be tactful. “So what do you enjoy about them?”
Fluttershy’s blush stayed on her face, but a smile accompanied it. “Well,” she began, looking up at the sky. “I guess it’s because I like to dream.”
“Dream?” Dash asked, tilting her head.
“One day I think I would like having somepony special to be there for me.” Fluttershy glanced at her for the first time since Dash brought the topic up. “I know you and the girls will always be there too, but with somepony you love it’s...” she trailed off, looking down.
“Yes,” Fluttershy said, looking at her. “It’s much, much more special with somepony you like.” Fluttershy shifted. “At least, I think it would be.”
Another question popped into Dash’s head. “So who do you imagine that special somepony being?”
“Well,” Fluttershy stopped, twisting her hoof into the dirt. “I like the stallions in my books who are really confident and outgoing—oh, and funny!”
Dash’s smirked. “I would have figured you to like the gentle types.”
“Yes, well,” Fluttershy said, taking her hoof out of the small hole she had made in the dirt. “Sometimes the best relationships are when you balance each other out.” She began walking again, Dash falling in step. “We’ve been friends for a long time, even though we’re quite different.”
Dash mused. “I guess a bit of difference could be a good thing.”
The two of them walked toward Fluttershy’s cottage. Dash mulled over her thoughts while Fluttershy simply trotted at her side, content with the silence between them.
Having had a small taste of what it was like to like somepony, Dash found herself yearning for more. It was an insatiable desire and it only grew the more she thought about it. She hadn’t even been thinking about her upcoming contest. She hadn’t been yearning to hold a trophy, and hear a crowd chant her name. She had been yearning for that rush, that quickening of her heart, and that sensation like someone lit a fire under her cheeks. The haze that overtook her mind like she was on a drunk. The shakes in her legs and wings and the shivers that traveled down her spine.
She snapped out of her thoughts, looking over to see Fluttershy giving her a worried look.
“Are you alright? I called your name three times.”
“Uh...” Dash realized she was breathing heavily. She let out a nervous laugh and gave Fluttershy what she hoped was a reassuring grin. “Just daydreaming a little.”
“Alright then.” Fluttershy smiled and went back to walking down the street, a feathery bounce in her step.
Dash sighed. “Anyway, I’m going to head home,” she said, grabbing her friend’s attention.
Dash spread her wings and ran past her.
“Take care!” Fluttershy called, as she took to the sky.
Dash ached to get home. She needed time to think. Badly.
The sky was her place of solitude. Cool winds and warm sun, each day the sky was a different place. Each breeze was unique, each cloud, each storm, each ray of sun catching and warming her feathers. It was a place where she could get lost in an endless sea of wind and clouds.
Her injured wing was holding up alright, but she wasn’t keen on flying for longer than she had to. The leading edge of her wing felt like it would break if she went any faster than she was going. She looked forward to being able to practice again, but she knew better than to rush it.
And then there was Twilight. She liked Twilight. And not in the way friends were supposed to like each other. She could only wonder how the others would react finding out that she liked other mares, but she shoved those thoughts to the back of her mind. Right now she wanted to be worrying about Twilight, not them.
She didn’t know how Twilight would react if she told her. It was hard to tell with her. She could be surprisingly hot headed—another thing Dash liked about her. Unfortunately she was also smart and perceptive. Dash didn’t think she would be able to hide her feelings from her, not for very long anyways.
As her mind drifted to her holding Twilight as she fell asleep last night, she wasn’t sure if she even wanted to hide her feelings.
It was just a question of how to tell Twilight how she felt. Dozens of ideas came to mind, none of them good. Her first instinct was to just go up and talk to her about it, but that would never work. It would be awkward, and considering how little Twilight seemed to be interested in romance, the feelings would be one sided, and the idea of rejection gave Dash a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
But she didn’t want to back down. She wasn’t good at subtlety, but she needed to make Twilight start to see her in a romantic light without fully revealing her feelings and scaring Twilight off.
But she didn’t have a clue how to do that.
Dash hung her head and let out a sigh, looking down at the thatched rooftops scattered along the cobblestone roads.
She brightened up as an idea struck her: She could ask Twilight out on a date – only not call it a date. She would just ask her if she wanted to go do something, something that had a vaguely romantic vibe.
The sun peaked around a cloud, shining in her eyes and making her squint. Although it was much colder, night flying didn’t have a bright sphere of light that hurt your eyes to fly against. It only had the moon and stars.
Stars! Dash thought excitedly. We could go stargazing!
Any annoyance at the sun was forgotten. It was perfect. She remembered seeing a whole row of astronomy books in Twilight’s personal bookshelf next to her desk.
Dropping below the air current she had been soaring on, Dash swerved around, heading back to the library.
Twilight sat on the floor, poring over her books. The book she read was detailing somepony she had briefly studied back in Canterlot named Starswirl the Bearded. He was a doctor and magical scholar, who had made significant contributions to the medicinal magic of his time. However, what she was reading wasn’t academy curriculum, and it detailed some of his spells she had never even heard about.
The pinnacle of his research was something called amniomorphic magic. In theory it could alter a foal still growing in its mother. Once it came to light that Starswirl’s magic could be used to create an alicorn, his research on the matter was proscribed, and sealed away in the Canterlot Library’s archives.
A knock at the door brought Twilight out of her studies. She walked over and opened the door, her eyes widened seeing Dash back at her doorstep.
“Hi, Rainbow Dash! Did you forget something?”
“Sort of.” Dash rubbed her neck, grinning nervously. “I remembered while flying home, that tonight’s supposed to be a really clear night.” Dash leaned against the door frame. “So I got this idea that we should go and look at stars or something, since I remembered you’re into that sorta stuff.”
“That’s a great idea!” Twilight exclaimed, beaming at the pegasus.
“Really?” Dash asked, a smile splitting her face. She heard the eagerness in her own voice and added in a more controlled tone, “Uh, I mean—of course!”
Twilight lifted a hoof to stifle a giggle. “Did you have a plan?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Dash answered, nodding. “I was going to pick up some blankets and swing by here before it gets dark... Does that sound good?”
Twilight nodded. “Absolutely.”
“Alright, I’ll go get to it.” Dash looked around with a pink blush on her face. “So I’ll... see you later, I guess.” Dash lingered on her doorstep for a moment, staring at her with a lopsided smile on her face.
She suddenly blushed and looked away. “Uh, right.” Dash turned and walked out of the entrance, spreading her wings and looking back over her shoulder at Twilight with pink still tinting her cheeks. “Bye!” she quickly shouted, galloping away and taking off into the sky.
“Bye!” Twilight shouted after her, watching her go.
Closing the door, Twilight returned to her desk, opening her book to the page she had left off at. The library became quiet once more as she sat down on the floor.
She stared at the words without reading them, thinking about Dash. The pegasus had been acting different the past few days. She was acting nervous, blushing constantly, and tripping over her words when she spoke.
Twilight wondered if something was bothering her.
Maybe I’ll ask her about it tonight.