Twilight closed the library door behind her, holding a cold remedy she had gotten from Nurse Redheart at the clinic in town. Even though Dash’s fever had gone down, it was still high and her coughing hadn’t died down.
She felt nervous being back at the library with Dash just upstairs. A small voice in the back of her head had been bugging her the whole time she had walked through town.
Why did you turn her down?
Several reasons came to mind. ‘Because she’s a mare,’ ‘I’m not interested in a romantic relationship,’ and ‘it would be awkward around our friends’ all answered the voice, but none of those answers seemed to satisfy it. Instead, it would move onto another question:
What would it be like?
The curiosity that question caused filled her with mixed feelings. She didn’t have an objection to two mares dating each other; after all, love is love. But she had never thought about dating another mare herself. She walked to the sink and filled a glass with water, remembering that Nurse Redheart had warned her that the remedy didn’t have an appealing taste, and walked upstairs, floating the medicine and water in front of her.
Dash lay on the bed, snoring loudly, her tongue lolled out of the side of her mouth. Twilight tried waking her, prodding Dash’s side with a hoof.
Dash let out a grunt from being poked, and incoherently mumbled as she woke up and rubbed her eyes. She looked at Twilight, and then to what she was holding. “Iszat medisin?” she slurred, pointing a hoof at the bottle Twilight was levitating.
“Yes, and you are going to be drinking it.”
The pegasus let out a groan, and rolled over, pulling the blankets up over her head.
“I dun need it, Ah’ll get better evenshually,” Dash mumbled, burying her face in her pillow.
Twilight narrowed her eyes as the pegasus tried to drift back to sleep. Not willing to let her get away so easily, Twilight gave her a hard prod in the side with her horn.
“Ow! What the hay Twilight? I said I don’t need it!” Dash whined, rubbing her abused flank.
“Yes you do. Doctor’s orders,” Twilight replied, as she read the instructions on the side of the medicine bottle. Opening the bottle, she poured the cold syrup into a smaller cup she had brought up with the medicine and handed it to Dash.
Dash swallowed the medicine, before breaking into a fit of coughing. Twilight handed her the water, which she took, chugging it down in large gulps. She took the glass away from her lips, wiping them with a hoof.
“Ugh, you sure they didn’t accidentally give you mashed up slugs instead of a cold syrup?” she asked, retching. “Bleh! That was putrid! I hope you don’t expect me to have any more of that stuff.”
Twilight set the bottle of medicine and the empty glass down on the night stand. “We’ll have to wait and see,” she answered in a sing-song voice. “It all depends on if you stay in bed and rest like a good pegasus.”
Dash groaned and sank under the blanket, her rainbow mane poking out the top of it.
Twilight sat down on the carpet at the side of the bed, reading a book and checking on Dash’s fever every other hour. The light outside the bedroom window faded, and the sky dimmed to dusk, the soft sound of Dash’s snores filling the room.
Noticing Dash had fallen asleep, Twilight closed her book and stood up, walking over to check her temperature. The pegasus’ fever had died down a little and she didn’t look as pale anymore, but she was still sweating and shaking. Twilight stood there for a while, looking at the sick mare and thinking about everything that had happened between them. Then that nagging voice in the back of her head spoke up again.
Why does she like me?
When the two of them had talked until the sun went down, she had felt a type of bond with her that she had never felt with anyone before. Dash had made her smile, and laugh. It didn’t feel like Dash was just waiting for her turn to speak. It was as though, for the first time in her life, somepony really listened to her.
And when Twilight woke up that morning after the sleepover, Dash’s sleeping face had been mere inches from hers, her lips parted as she softly snored. A red hue crept onto Twilight’s cheeks just from thinking about it.
After an awkward breakfast, Dash had left. She followed Fluttershy into town, and that was the last time she saw Dash before she showed up with the idea to go stargazing.
Maybe I should just go out and talk to Fluttershy about all this. She’s known Dash practically all her life. Besides, Dash’s fever is dropping, and she’s sleeping soundly right now. I can probably slip away for a few minutes and get back before it gets dark.
Her mind made up, Twilight levitated a scroll over to the nightstand, took a quill she had left lying on the table, and wrote out a note for Dash saying she was at Fluttershy’s in case the pegasus woke up while she was gone. Leaving the scroll facing the bed, she glanced at the sleeping pegasus one last time, before heading downstairs and out the door.
Fluttershy let out a small huff as she dumped a bag of chicken feed into a large bucket. Chickens scrambled over one another to get at it first, swarming beneath her hooves. Fluttershy simply stepped out of the way, smiling lovingly at them as they dug in, and giving a satisfied smile at a job well done, she turned to walk back to the cottage, only to see Twilight standing at the door.
“Oh! Twilight, over here!” Fluttershy tried to shout, but her faint voice didn’t carry far enough for the unicorn to hear.
Twilight lifted a hoof and knocked on the door, waiting for her to answer it.
Fluttershy took a deep breath. “Twilight!” she tried louder, getting her attention.
Twilight walked over to the chicken pen, and smiled in greeting at her.
“Hi, Fluttershy. Feeding the animals?”
“Yes, I just finished giving the last of them their food,” Fluttershy replied with a smile.
“Great!” Twilight answered. “How have you been?”
“Oh, good,” Fluttershy said, “and you?”
Twilight rubbed the back of her head, staring at the dirt. "I've been better." She dropped her hoof, staring at Fluttershy. "But I came here to ask about Rainbow."
"Oh?" Fluttershy asked, walking back inside the cottage as Twilight followed alongside her. "What about her?”
“I was wondering if Rainbow Dash seemed a bit odd when you two left the library a few days ago.” Twilight looked around, as though searching for how to phrase it. “She's been acting different.”
Fluttershy’s eyes widened slightly. “Oh,” she answered, thinking. “I don’t know Twilight. I don’t really think I’m supposed to talk about it. It seemed sort of private.”
“Please, Fluttershy?” Twilight begged, biting her lower lip. “It’s really important.”
“Well...” Fluttershy said hesitantly. “I suppose Dash didn’t say not to tell anyone...” Fluttershy watched the begging look on Twilight's face give way to excitement. “She asked me about my books.”
“Your books?” Twilight asked, her excited look quickly falling to a confused one. “You mean those romance novels? Why would Dash be interested in those? She hates books!”
“Well, she didn’t want to read them or anything like that," Fluttershy said. "She just asked me what I liked about them.”
Twilight's eyebrows shot up. “She did?” she asked, as though testing how the word sounded on her lips. “What did you say?”
“Well...” Fluttershy said, lifting a hoof to her chin and trying to recall. “I told her...” Fluttershy looked up, blushing. “I’m sorry, it’s sort of embarrassing,” she began to say, but Twilight looked up at her with a wide-eyed, desperate look. “I told her that having somepony you love is very, very, special.”
Twilight was quiet for a moment, then she spoke up in an almost frightened voice, “How can you know for sure?”
Fluttershy blinked at the curious tone of Twilight’s voice. “Oh, well, I don’t know for sure, but it’s what everypony says about it, right?”
Twilight’s voice grew quiet. “Was there anything else you two talked about after that?” she asked, staring at the ground with a look of hard thought.
“No, not really. Rainbow just stayed quiet for the rest of the walk.” Fluttershy paused, looking uncertainly at Twilight out of the corner of her eye. “Did something happen?”
Twilight snapped out of her thoughts, looking up at Fluttershy and giving her a weak smile. “I guess you could say that,” she said with a nervous laugh.
Fluttershy tilted her head at her, giving her a confused look.
“Well, it’s getting dark, and I should probably get going now,” Twilight said, turning and walking to the door of the cottage. She stopped just in front of it and turned to Fluttershy. “Thank you for answering my question. I think it gave me some things to think about.”
“Take care!” Fluttershy called out as Twilight closed the door behind her. A part of her was worried something had happened between Twilight and Dash, but it might have been nosy of her to ask, so she didn’t.
Twilight stepped inside the library, heading to the loft. What Fluttershy said had struck some chord deep within her, but she wasn’t quite sure what. She reached the top of the stairs and saw, ironically enough, Dash lying in bed, reading a book.
“Finally you’re back. Do you know how lame this is?” Dash said, tossing the book onto a small pile of others. “Honestly, I don’t know why you like these things so much Twilight.”
“You just have to find the right one to read, that’s all.”
“Yeah, right. So what did you need over at Fluttershy’s anyways? Because if you brought back some sort of animal medicine let me just tell you right now there’s no way I’m taking it,” Dash said sternly.
“No, nothing like that,” Twilight said. “It was just a personal errand. I wanted to ask her about something.”
“The morning you and her left the library,” Twilight replied, noticing the way Dash’s wings tensed ever so slightly.
“And what did she say?”
“Just that you talked about her books.’” Twilight recited, causing the pegasus to roll her eyes and groan, wrapping her pillow over her ears.
“I didn’t peg Fluttershy for being a loudmouth.”
“I pressured her into talking about it,” Twilight said, taking a seat at the side of the bed. “And you never said she shouldn’t tell anyone about it.”
“I know.” Dash sighed, slumping against the bed. “But it was strongly hinted at.”
“Listen, Dash, it’s been bugging me since you told me, and I just really have to know.” Twilight moved close to the bed, drawing eye contact from the pegasus. “Why do you like me?”
Dash simply looked at her for a moment, thinking of what to say.
“I might be just as bad and awkward with romance as you, Twilight. I’ve never been good with touchy feely stuff. I don’t even know if I’d be able to tell you why I like you, when I barely know myself. But, I can tell you what I have figured out.” Dash looked away from her, having trouble thinking while staring into Twilight’s eyes. “At some point I started to feel... different when I was hanging out with you. I didn’t have any clue what it was, but it wasn’t the same as being with my other friends. Then that night, during the sleepover, I couldn’t get any sleep with you lying right next to me for some reason. Then, I just felt this urge to wrap my hooves around you. It felt nice to lie there like that with you. I fell asleep quickly after that, but in my defense when I fell asleep you were on your back, so you must have rolled over to face me at some point for us to wake up how we did.”
“I guess I did,” Twilight answered, not really caring. “Go back to the story.”
“Well, when you woke up, and we both had a bit of a scare, I made up some lie about moving around in my sleep.” Dash glanced up at her, her ears and wings drooping. “After that morning I realized I had a crush on you. I wasn’t sure what to do about it though, so when Fluttershy came in to get a romance novel I figured she would be a good pony to talk to.”
“So what happened that night with the stargazing, was that planned?”
“I thought that maybe if I set the mood or something, that you might... that we might...” Dash paused, and let out a short laugh. “Honestly? I don’t know. I don’t think things through, Twilight. It’s just never been something I’m good at. With how I felt being with you, I thought maybe you’d feel the same way.”
Dash fell back onto the bed with her wings spread out, stretching to either end of the bed. “Sorry,” she said, her mouth cracking to a thin smile. “We were supposed to stop talking about this stuff.”
“No, it’s... it’s alright,” Twilight said, staring at the carpet with a light blush on her face.
“I mean,” Dash said, “when Fluttershy talked about what it’s like having somepony special to you, I guess I let myself get carried away with the idea.”
Twilight blurted out the question that had been bugging her. “Just what is it like?”
Dash opened and closed her mouth a few times. “Well... it’s...” She let out a sigh, staring at the ceiling. “I don’t know, actually. I was hoping to find out.”
Twilight bit her lip and looked around the room. She felt hot, even though it was a cool evening and the bedroom window was cracked slightly open. She stood and began backing up away from the bed while laughing nervously. “Uh, I’ll be right back. I need to go... grab something from downstairs!” Dash gave her a questioning look, right as she turned and bolted to the door, slamming it shut behind her.
Twilight paced back and forth frantically in the main room of the library, a feeling of gnawing uncertainty growing in her stomach. What if, what if? She tried closing her eyes, thinking of other things, but the thought wouldn’t get out of her head.
What if I did date Rainbow?
The fact that she was even asking herself the question seemed ridiculous.
The nagging doubts that she had, the stray thoughts, and the feeling that there was something she was missing, finally made sense now. She had feelings for Dash. But with everything that had happened, she wasn’t sure what to do about them.
She was still curious. She wanted to take back everything she had said to Dash that night. She wanted to say yes.
Twilight spun around, seeing that Dash had come downstairs and was standing across the room from her, her eyes beginning to water and her bottom lip quivering. It suddenly occurred to Twilight how it must have looked when she ran out of the room.
“I just don’t get why...” Dash choked, “why you had to ask me about that, if it only made you angry. I want to be friends Twilight, but if you keep toying with my emotions like this I’m not sure if I can!” Dash clenched her eyes shut, tears appearing in the corners of them.
Twilight took half a step towards her. “Dash...”
“I tried to explain things, just like you asked.” Dash held her head high, but Twilight could still see the look of pain in her eyes.
“I understood your explanation, Dash. I’m just not sure anymore why I turned you down that night under the stars.”
“Wait, what?” Dash asked, her mouth hanging open.
“Ever since that night you kissed me, I’ve been thinking about it. About us.” Twilight walked up to Dash with a serious expression on her face, remaining steadfast as she confessed. “When you were sick, and I was taking care of you, I started to think about why I turned you down. I didn’t understand your feelings, and didn’t know how to respond to them. As I thought about it more, I started to realize that I care about you. I’m not sure yet if it’s in the same way, but I think I would like to find out.” Twilight saw the way that Dash was looking at her in awe, and looked away, blushing. “You’re a great friend. I... I haven’t ever been in a relationship, but I think I would like to try it.”
“With me?” Dash asked, still trying to wrap her head around everything.
Twilight smiled and rolled her eyes. “I don’t see anypony else in this room,” she said, though her voice was full of mirth.
“Oh, right,” Dash said, letting out a nervous chuckle.
“I still don’t really understand how I feel towards you, but I’ve heard that you have to give feelings time to grow.” Twilight nervously took a step closer to Dash. “I think I want to learn about them with you.”
“Are you sure about this?” Dash asked, uncertainly. “Just the other day you were giving me the cold shoulder, and refusing to let me inside. Are you really sure about this?”
“Yes, I’m sure, Dash,” Twilight answered, “and I feel really badly about the way I treated you that night. Can you forgive me? Are you still willing to try this?”
“You’re a stressful pony to be around, Twilight,” Dash said, shaking her head and sighing. “But I still want to be around you anyways, and I want this too.”
Dash smiled at her, and Twilight moved forward and wrapped her hooves around Dash, who tensed for a moment, before wrapping her hooves around Twilight and returning the embrace. The two of them stayed like that for a few moments, neither of them saying anything.
Dash broke the hug to let out a string of coughs. Twilight placed a hoof on her back as she cleared her throat and looked up at Twilight, giving her a sheepish grin.
“Don’t worry about it.” Twilight patted her back. “Come on, let’s get some rest.”
The two walked side by side upstairs to the loft. Climbing under the covers with Twilight, Dash hesitated briefly before laying her hooves around Twilight, exactly like she had the night of the sleepover.