Dash bit back her sigh, and along with it the urge to just flare her wings and take off. Instead, she kept staring out the window and into the cool, blue sky. It called back to her, teasing her with its complete lack of clouds, mocking her with the epic thermals it was giving to the other pegasi that were floating around it and not using those things properly, and, most of all, reminding her that this was supposed to be her day off from weather patrol.
Of course, Rarity just had to pick today to invite them all together for a little chat over biscuits and… ugh. She really didn’t want to think about what was in those cups.
“Oh, Applejack,” crowed Rarity, pausing to take another sip of her poison. “I haven’t told you what your darling brother did last night!”
AJ glared at her, and Dash had a sudden suspicion that she’d seen that look before. From between splintered branches, probably. “If it’s anythin’ like the last time you said that, Rare, then I don’t wanna’ hear it.”
“Oh! Oh, no, nothing like that, Applejack. You know how sorry I am for what I said last time, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I know that.”
“Thank you, Applejack.” A lazy smile eased itself across Rarity’s muzzle. “Still, you must understand, darling, your brother is… oh, those hooves…” Her eyes glazed over, and she took a moment to snuggle into her own forelegs.
Dash propped her head up against a fore-hoof, and finally let her sigh pop out. Still trying to bore a hole through the glass with her eyes, she spotted a lone cloud drifting just above the rooftops. It was a small, flat little thing, but it looked the perfect size for one of her take-offs.
Yeah. She’d swoop straight down off it and through the rows of houses, wowing anypony brave enough to not dive out of the way and cower like a little foal with her Super Speed Strut. Then she could shoot right back up to where her breath misted and the chills tingled her wings, just so she could come all the way back again and let her hooves graze the rooftops for her Peregrine Pulse.
Then, if she didn’t break anything this time, the whole town would go wild! She’d look around, and be met with ponies as far as she could see, all of them roaring and cheering her name. Foals would be leaping everywhere, their faces cracking into adorable grins the instant they caught sight of her. The Mayor would be there too, standing on a balcony, declaring that this day forever be known as Rainbow Dash Day!
The sea of ponies poofed out of existence. So did all of those adoring—not. adorable.—foals, and The Mayor, and those banners that were just being unfurled. Instead, she found herself staring at Fluttershy, who looked like she was trying her hoof at Pinkie’s clown costume. If a clown were to ever hide from their audience behind their mane. Or shrink away into a little ball, their hooves curling up against their chest. Or leave behind the massive rainbow wig.
She’d gotten the red splotches on her cheeks right, though.
“Oh… Fluttershy…” Rarity slapped a hoof over her mouth, her eyes welling up. “I-I apologise… I shouldn’t have been talking about something so… so private. That was most unladylike of me…”
They all turned to look at Applejack, who glared at Rarity as a greenish tinge spread across her cheeks. The tears in Rarity’s eyes vanished as they narrowed, and her lips curled into a smirk.
“Well, I would say that your imagination’s to blame there, Applejack—”
“Just get to the part ’bout last night, Rarity.”
Rarity pouted. “Fine, Applejack.” In an instant, she cracked into another warm smile. “It was after I finished those designs for Ruby Ring. I had just put the last of those little silk strips that she’d requested on the pleats, when who should appear at my door but my handsome prince!”
Dash looked over to where Rarity had thrown her hoof out in one of her dramatic flourishes. And ponies said that she took things too far! Her eyes quickly landed on the frilly, lacy mess of pink, white and more pink that she’d sooner rip all her feathers out than be caught wearing.
“… He gave me the most marvellous bouquet…”
Dash huffed. Rarity had already figured out the frilliest, most girly way to earn a living, and yet she’d managed to find a way to make it even more embarrassing to even look at!
“… And then he… regarded me with those gentle eyes…”
Sure, it wasn’t like Dash particularly minded Rarity designing her clothes. Making money was making money. And she had to admit that some of Rarity’s designs did look kind of cool. Especially that blue suit in the corner, tucked behind the mass of pink and purple and white.
Still, would it kill her to make stuff a little less… sickly-sweet?
“… And you should have seen the spread he laid out for us! There were these divine little sandwiches, and of course he’d filled them with all of my favourite things, and for dessert he produced a lovely apple crumble…”
“Actually, Rares, I did see it.”
“I was the one who helped him with it.”
“… Applejack… I… thank you…”
Could it be?
Could it be an order from one of the most amazing flyers that Equestria had ever known?
It… could. No matter how far she leaned back, or how she twisted her head, she couldn’t quite get a good enough look at anything other than the muzzle to say yes or no. Even so, those lightning bolts did look very familiar…
“… Aw, shucks, Rarity. S’all right. Besides, I’m gettin’ a fair amount o’practice whenever Soarin’ stays over.” She chuckled. “Poor guy. Might end up needin’ a new flight suit ‘cause of me…”
Dash scowled. The papers had just lapped that one up when it broke; city-slicking Wonderbolt finds his sweetheart out in the sticks. And then when that became old news, not a single picture of Soarin’ in the news was complete without him about to plant his maw in some kind of dessert. Sometimes they’d even find the nerve to pack in close-up of the guy’s gut.
And it looked like he’d exhaled for Celestia’s sake!
He was a Wonderbolt! Those guys spent hours every single day soaring through the skies and throwing themselves through training courses that had even made her eyes water the first time she looked at them. A little, anyway. There was no way kicking back for a few days out on Sweet Apple Acres was going to make him ‘let himself go’, as those hacks had put it. She’d even seen him help AJ with the harvest.
“Oh, Rares… I know it’s not like me to go all gaga over anypony, but he’s just so Celestia-durn adorable! I mean it! Why, just the other evening he offered t’help me with the rest of my work, even when it was his last night away from all that training he does. An’ he really put his all into it, too. ‘Course, he didn’ ‘xactly keep up with me, but he screwed up his face an’ really tried.
“I’ve… None of m’other coltfriends ever helped out like he did… And then when we were done, we just kinda’ laid there next t’each other, and he put his hooves aroun’ me…”
Besides… How could they criticise one of Equestria’s heroes? When the guy was standing at the top of a huge platform, the weight of the crowd on his shoulders, their roars almost shaking him off the edge, and a massively-complex and exhausting routine just a few seconds ahead of him, the last thing he needed was to be pressured about his eating. She knew that, why didn’t they?
“Dash, I can’t thank you enough for introducin’ me to him.”
Not that top athletes should let the pressure get to them. No. Not that she did, either.
Dash shook her head, and found herself staring at Applejack, who looked back at her with a neat little smile. “Nice of you t’join us again, Dash.” She chuckled, shaking her head for a second. “I was just tryin’ to thank you for tellin’ Soarin’ about me… I can’t tell you how happy he makes me…”
Applejack’s smile spread and made itself a comfortable home with a sigh. Only then did Dash see just how wet and shiny her eyes looked.
She snorted, her own mouth stretching into a smirk. “Ah, it’s nothing, AJ. Just as long as you,” she pointed a hoof at AJ, “remember to count me in on those ‘family and friend’ tickets.”
Applejack chuckled. “Sure thing, Dash.”
Dash let her huge grin off its leash, but held back on the squeal. That was only for when nopony was looking and she had just found out there was a new Daring Do book and she couldn’t handle the sheer awesomeness of it. Or for when the Wonderbolts pulled off one of their secret training moves in the valley just on the other side of Whitetail Wood and they didn’t know she had been taking a nap beneath them. Or for—
Ah, screw it. She was going to see the Wonderbolts in a private, air-conditioned booth on plush seats with waiters bringing her all the hay fries she could eat! She could squeal if she wanted!
And clop her hooves together loud enough to get everypony staring at her, too.
“Rainbow…” said Twilight, sharing a look with Rarity.
Sheesh! Since when was her mouth so dry? Dash sighed. It must have been from all those biscuits that she’d eaten earlier. Why couldn’t those come with a warning for ‘Will Suck Out All Moisture’ rather than just ‘High Fat’? Those were just for lazy ponies who never exercised.
As Dash stared at the only liquid—or sludge—nearby, sitting in that flowery little cup with the handle she was never going to get her hoof through, steam coiling off the top of it.
Thinking about it, that… gunk she’d tried over at Twilight’s did have its own warning label on it. Well, she’d been told a warning, anyway. About it being a medicine, from Zecora, and being used to treat Twilight’s inability to unload her—
“We don’t want to intrude, you understand, but… well… you’ve never brought up any of your relationships.”
She eyed the cup. She’d already seen Rarity heap a couple of spoons of sugar into it, so it was hardly going to taste bad. Plus Pinkie’d already downed at least a couple of these, and that pony practically lived on sweets. And hot sauce.
“Well… is there anything like that in your life?”
What was she waiting for again? She grabbed the cup with both hooves.
“No? You mean… you don’t have a coltfriend—or fillyfriend,” she added, glancing at Twilight, “whom you’ve kept hidden from us? Or somepony you gaze at from afar, hoping that you’ll catch their eye? Or an ex whose memories you’d rather forget?”
Dash drained the last drops from her cup, smacking her lips together. Not bad. Maybe not something she’d have too often, especially with that fuzzy feeling it left in her mouth, but all right, she supposed. Could probably have been a little sweeter, though.
She set the cup back on it’s dainty little saucer with a chink, and looked Rarity right in those wide, quivering eyes.
She shrugged. “Nope.”