"Yoohoo! Dashiel!" The earth pony waved, her multicolored tail flicking anxiously. "I can see you on that cloud. Might I trouble you for some of your time?"
Dash sighed, facehooving. Two days before the party and she had to come...
"Better get this over with," the pegasus muttered, descending to the ground. "Hey there, couz."
"And a good morrow to you, Dashiel! I say, I was rather surprised you agreed to host this, how do you put it, shindig?" The cerulean pony leaned in. "I didn't know you had it in you. Grandma, quite frankly, terrifies me to the core!"
"I got the message two days ago."
"You... Oh my! I had assumed you were prepared!" The other pony put a comforting hoof on her cousin's shoulders. "I will of course be more then willing to assist you in any way, darling."
Dash gave her a flat stare. "I've got it handled."
The two of them looked at the ground.
The two of them both stopped, looking at each other in mild embarrassment. Rainbow bowed her head, silently indicating the pegasus initiate the conversation.
"....Look, I have a life here, okay? I'm doing this for my family, but I'm not going to pick up and pack up just because that mare thinks I should be with them all."
"I'm not asking you to." The earth pony looked around. "This is a nice town, and it's clear you've set down roots. I just wish you would visit more often, darling."
"But if I visit, then she tries to keep me there and make me... something else."
"Like she did with me?"
The pegasus sighed. "No... you were always you. What happened wasn't your fault, it's hers."
"Auntie always told me that, but..." Rainbow sighed. "I'm named after you, Dashiel. We can't just slide the problem away."
Dash snorted. "Like I said. It's your mom's fault, not yours."
"She tried to replace you, Dashiel! How can you not--"
"BECAUSE I'M ME, OKAY?!" The pegasus growled. "I don't care what that madmare thinks. I'm me and you're you and whatever she decided to call you doesn't matter. You are not Rainbow Dash two point oh. You are..." She floundered. "You're... Rainbow, the pony who always dresses in style."
The earth pony lowered her head. "I don't understand how you can feel that way. I don't understand how you can just forgive her."
Oh no... not this again. Dash put a hoof on her cousin's shoulder. "Stop it. You have nothing to be guilty about, so stop beating yourself up, alright?"
"How can I? You're never coming home...." The earth pony let her teary eyes rise. "You, you're never coming home and it's all m--my fault--"
Dash pulled her into a powerful hug. All Rainbow could do was sob gently.
"...how many times do I have to tell you this? You're not a replacement, Rainbow. You could never replace me, because you are your own pony." The pegasus stroked her mane. "I don't know how to say it but... just be yourself. Don't worry if you're better then me or anything."
"But... I'm pushing you away--"
"No, Rainbow. It's her. Not you. Trust me on this." Dash leaned back, looking into her eyes. "Ya know I always like hanging with you, right? You've always got something dashing to show me."
The earth pony snorted slightly, a small smile forming on her muzzle. "I... Yes. I do. Thank you, Dashiel, I... I don't know what came over me."
"Hey, it's no biggie."
"No, I mean it. You are one of the most friendly mares I have ever known. That Rarity darling is a lucky pony."
The pegasus raised an eyebrow. "Er.... why?"
Rainbow blinked. "...I thought you were courting her?"
"What?! No!" Dash actually laughed. "Oh, no, that was... that whole thing was a complete misunderstanding. She's a nice pony, don't get me wrong," she added quickly, "but me and her like that is like... Ugh. No."
"Oh my. I had assumed from the way she spoke of you--"
The pegasus shrugged. "She's always like that. Er..." glancing around, she leaned in. "You... didn't tell her about our family history did you?"
Rainbow giggled and shook her head. "Do give me some credit, Dashiel. I am well aware what the results would be of revealing our heritage wily nilly. All she knows is that I am your astonishingly fashionable cousin."
"Good. Cause, to be honest, nopony here in Ponyville knows. They see me as miss tough and I'd like to keep it that way." The pegasus saluted. "Well, I'm going to continue my weather duties now, couz. You got a place to stay?"
"Oh yes, a Pinkimena Diane Pie simply insisted we room together once she learned we were related."
Dash wilted. "Oh. Wow, are you sure you'll be okay?"
"Don't worry, darling, miss Pie has been nothing if not accommodating!" She shrugged. "Though she does seem rather interested in learning about our family, something about--Oh, I apologize, I was sworn to secrecy on that!" Rainbow giggled again. "Oh well, I do hope you'll make a good speech at Grandma's birthday."
"You and me both..." The pegasus gave the earth pony a final smile and took to the skies.
Fluttershy jumped as she heard the knocking on the front door. "Oh my..." Looking out her window, she noticed that Rarity was outside. "Oh, yes, I'm grooming Opalescence today... I'll be right down, Rarity!"
The pegasus glanced back at her work, nodding to herself; she could afford to abandon it for a brief moment, and Rainbow Dash certainly wouldn't want Rarity to see it. Walking down the stairs, she opened the front door; the alabaster unicorn stepped in, levitating Opal's carrier behind her. "I do hope I wasn't interrupting anything important, Fluttershy. Come on out, Opal, miss Fluttershy is going to make you look beautiful!" She placed the carrier on the ground and opened it, oblivious to the sudden rush of animals into their dens.
The feline, for her part, stepped out calmly and started licking her paws. She was in complete control of the situation, as always. Fluttershy smiled, amused, as she began to brush the long white fur; a part of her was quite upset that somepony had even thought to breed longhairs and inflict such torment on generations of poor kitties, but what was done was done.
"Oh I hope you have been doing well, dear." Rarity immediately took up her accustomed position on the couch as the caretaker took care of her pet. "I may have to cancel our spa date, Applejack has actually requested a very special order for this Thursday and it's taking up most of my time."
"Oh?" Something about her friend's tone piqued Fluttershy's curiosity.
"Yes, apparently it's some sort of Prank on Rainbow Dash." The unicorn giggled to herself. "Or Dashiel, as her cousin calls her... did you know that Rainbow has a cousin with her exact same name?"
"Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry Opal!" Fluttershy dropped the brush she was holding; she had just jerked it up in shock, not ever a good thing to do with longhairs. "So... you've met Rainbow's cousin?"
"Oh my, of course! We talked for hours about fashion, I must say the filly has an absolutely dashing sense of style. Our Rainbow did eventually come up, of course; apparently she was named after her."
"Really?" Fluttershy smiled. Innocent conversation, Rarity didn't know. "Well then... That must have been interesting."
"Why didn't you ever tell me Rainbow Dash had such interesting relatives?"
The yellow pegasus sighed as she brushed Opal's tail. "Well... she's kind of embarrassed about them."
"What? Because of her heritage?"
"Sorry! You, um, know about that Rarity?"
The unicorn smiled. "But of course darling. I've known for years."