Those big eyes of Rarity’s stayed on Dash for so long she could practically feel them boring into her chest. It would definitely explain why everything around her middle suddenly felt so tight.
Did they all have to stare at her like that?
That loosened everything up again. At least, it made everypony else take their eyes off Dash and lay them squarely on Rarity, as she huffed and she shook her hoof so hard she came close to ruining her precious hooficure on the table.
Rainbow smirked, and finally let out the breath she’d meant to hold.
And immediately grimaced. It stank!
She glared at that… that cup. It was that tea! It had tricked her! Sure, it had acted all innocent and sweet with its sugar and the cake next to it and those disgustingly pink flowers on the cup, but she knew better. Or she should have, anyway.
Twilight sighed, slumping her shoulders. “Rarity…”
“Oh no. No. This simply won’t do…”
Dash put raised a hoof to her mouth and puffed against it.
Actually, maybe it wasn’t that. Those were definitely peppers from last night’s pizza she could smell. Had she brushed her teeth lately?
She shrugged. Nothing one of those creamy biscuits that she’d smiled a little too hard at the first time she saw them couldn’t fix!
“Now, stay calm, Rarity. You know what to do…”
Grinning, Dash reached out a hoof and aimed it squarely at the little plate in the centre of the table.
Only to see the last one disappear into Pinkie’s gaping mouth out of the corner of her eye. Dash’s grin collapsed into a scowl. Pinkie’d already taken at least half a dozen of those things, plus there was that empty packet of popcorn next to her cup.
Rainbow raised an eyebrow. Where did she even get those things, anyway? And why couldn’t she share?
“… although that Gryphon… oh, what was her name… Gilda! Yes, she might fit the bill, too…”
Before she could stop them, all sorts of images flew before Dash’s eyes. Of a Gilda’s claw bumping against her hoof after she nailed her first attempt at a loop-the-loop that she hadn’t been distracted for by a cloud or the wind. Of Gilda punching the air and then doing the same to her shoulder after she showed off her cutie-mark. Of Gilda’s beak stretched into the biggest smile that she’d ever seen on it, while they threw up those silly little black hats they wore for graduation.
Of Gilda, something gross dribbling out of her nose, narrowing bloodshot eyes at her. Of Gilda disappearing behind a door before Dash could get her hoof in…
Something coiled and tightened in Dash’s gut, squeezing a sigh out of her. Maybe it was time for another trip to Cloudsdale.
Dash looked over at Twilight, and so did everypony else. Especially Rarity, although she could also see that her eyes were focussed on the little cloud of red sparkles hovering around Twilight’s horn.
“This isn’t something that needs to be fixed, Rarity.”
Dash shivered. That was fine, though. She wasn’t scared. No way. She was the most awesome pegasus in Equestria—outside the Wonderbolts—and the only one ever to brave the other side of the sound barrier.
But even the most awesome of pegasi was allowed to feel a little nervous when their friend had the power to level Canterlot in her horn. Particularly when she was pointing it right at them.
And then let out a deep breath and not a sigh when those sparkles vanished. “Rainbow,” began Twilight, “are you saying that you’ve never had any desire to be intimate with somepony?”
Dash cocked her head. “What?”
“Might wanna’ bring it down a notch, Twi,” said AJ, chuckling.
They both scowled at her, and Dash noticed Fluttershy had disappeared behind her mane again. Even so, she could still see her eyes shining brighter than—
Rainbow looked away, her lips twitching for just a second. It was better than what had happened the last time, when she’d gotten stuck just staring into those big, wet eyes… Like a pair of giant holes just sucking out anything happy…
She shuddered. Maybe not that…
“Fine, Applejack. Dash?”
Her eyes flicked back to Twilight, whose normal smile had returned. “What I meant was ‘Have you ever wanted a relationship with anypony?’”
Rainbow snorted, shaking her head. “No… How many times do I have to say that?”
Twilight’s smile grew. “Not anymore!”
Dash leaned back into her chair, letting her eyes scour the table for anything. She thrust her lips into what would probably be a pout. If Rarity were doing it, anyway.
“… But Twilight…”
It was only then that she remembered where that final biscuit was. There was still a slice of cake, though…
“… It’s perfectly normal for a pony to not want a relationship, Rarity. There’s a whole book devoted to this in the library, and, while rare, it’s not unknown for ponies to eschew this sort of thing completely.”
“Oh, I understand, darling. I was just… curious, that’s all…”
Rainbow licked at her hoof, letting a smile loose as she swept up the last crumbs of cake. She couldn’t help it; it just came with eating a cake that Pinkie had made. Probably something to do with the amount of sugar and chocolate she loaded them with, Dash supposed, her lips curling.
“So does anypony wanna’ hear about the party I threw last night?”
A familiar itch spread through her wings, and Dash looked back through the window. The sun had moved a little across the sky by now. Too far for those updrafts she‘d been waiting three whole days to get a chance on to have anything near their top output left. A couple of pegasi lay on the nearest one, probably laughing and joking about all the fun they’d had just hovering on them!
“… Um… no offence, Pinkie, but I think I need to get going soon. Cheerilee‘s bringing her class to the library for their weekly trip.”
They’d moved her cloud, too. That perfect little one just ripe for a real stunt flier to launch from it. She frowned, letting her head fall onto her waiting hoof.
“Although, you could tell me this afternoon, Pinkie. I should have some time after I finish off Dew Drop’s ensemble…”
Although… they had left another cloud hanging around near town hall.
A smile crept onto her lips. It was bigger, and a lot greyer than the one she’d seen earlier, so it probably wouldn’t take all her energy when she took off, but if she could split it into smaller pieces…
“… Okie dokie lokie, Rarity!”
“Although, Twilight… Will Cheerilee be… spending the night with you, again?”
Then they’d make the perfect Wingmare’s Weave training route!
Yeah! If she lined it up right this time, right by one of the roads into town, then she could just use that for a run-up. She’d gallop towards those silent-but-deadly balls, her eyes on them but drawing the eyes of everypony to her. A little jump later and she’d be blasting towards them so fast she’d be a blur, ready to zip between through her course with her wings just missing the clouds. The ponies would love it!
But she’d have to be careful to actually miss the clouds, this time. She sighed. It hadn’t been quite so hot to stand there, her wings black from all the lightning, trying to coax some teary-eyed little filly out from under a park bench…
“… Oh, Rarity… But yes, she will be staying with me tonight…”
So why were her eyes feeling all hot, now?
“… Who knows, maybe we’ll finish off Practical Learning Applications together!”
The heat vanished as she looked at Twilight, and she snorted.
Twilight was such an egghead! She could be the definition of it, or something like that.
Not that there was anything wrong with being an egghead. No. Not when it meant Twilight learned all those freaky sort of spells that nopony else knew, but always managed to get them out of trouble. Even if those things got them into trouble, too…
“… Well, anyway, I think I’d best be off, now…”
Besides, Dash was a bit of an egghead herself, so being an egghead didn’t mean a pony couldn’t be cool. If reading the adventures of another of the most awesome pegasi ever to exist made her an egghead, anyway.
Dash smirked, and then it disappeared as she tapped her hoof against her chin. Wasn’t there supposed to be another Daring Do book out soon?
“… Reckon I better get goin’ too, girls. ‘S’much as I’ve liked chattin’ today, those apples aren’t gonna’ buck themselves.”
“Yes… I suppose we have been sitting around for a while now…”
There’d been something in the paper about it last week, if she remembered it right.
A full-page picture of Daring with her eyes narrowed and he teeth clenched so hard they should have been cracking, pumping her wings hard while her hooves clutched this weird medallion thing… Yeah, it hadn’t really explained what it was that Daring was adventuring for this time. But considering there was an enormous dragon behind her, shooting a massive column of fire right for her, it had to be important!
“… Ta-tah, girls!”
“Um… Rainbow? …”
Knowing how much they packed into a Daring Do book, that wouldn’t be the end of it, either. Maybe they would finally let Herpy reunite with that long lost sister—
Dash looked to her left and found herself locking eyes with Fluttershy, who immediately tucked her head down. She kept those big, green eyes locked on Rainbow, though.
“I’m sorry, Rainbow,” she mumbled through a fading smile, “but I was just wondering if you were… um… still coming over tonight?”
Dash raised an eyebrow. Oh… that.
That was tonight?
“I mean, If you’re busy at all—”
“Whoa, ‘Shy, relax,” she said, laying a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder and giving her a soft smile. It was Fluttershy. She was allowed to do that. Especially when it teased one back out of her. “I’ll be there. And even if I was busy, I‘d make time for you. You know that.”
Fluttershy looked straight at Dash, sighing as her smile spread further. “You’re right, Dash. Thank you.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it,” she said, shaking her head a little before her smirk made a triumphant return. “Besides, you’re helping me out this afternoon, remember?”
Now Dash was sure she could see ‘Shy’s pearly little teeth. “Oh, yes! I remember.” Her wide smile shrank back to its usual size, and she looked away for just a moment. “I’m sure your tricks will be amazing today, Rainbow…”
Dash stood up just a little bit taller, her smirk deepening.
“And when haven’t my stunts been amazing?”
Fluttershy let out one of her light, soft-as-an-old-cumulus chuckles, and then looked away to the door. “Um… well, I’d better get going too, Rainbow. Angel’s probably getting antsy…”
“All right, I’ll see you later, then.”
Fluttershy gave her one last, wide smile and trotted outside with Pinkie right behind her.
Leaving the way clear for the Dash!
She rolled her neck, teasing out and stretching away all the tightness that came with sitting on her flank without napping, before levelling her stare at the cloud. A little wisp of it flailed in the light breeze, taunting and beckoning her.
She smirked, taking a step forward.
Rainbow shuddered as a hoof landed on her side. “What, Rarity?”
The hoof jumped a little on her side, and she heard it clop to the floor. Dash turned around.
And found herself looking right into Rarity’s big, shiny eyes, staring at her with little pools shimmering at the bottom of them.
“Rainbow… darling… I-I have to apologise for earlier…”
She fought the groan back into her throat. How…
How were her friends so good at those! Those big, stupid, puppy-dog eyes! She’d already had enough of those this week to kill somepony who wasn’t as tough as her. There were the ones Twilight had given her when Spike had woken up with a bad head-cold and asked her to fetch Nurse Redheart—cause she was the only pony fast enough! Plus there were the ones Pinkie’d let loose on her after that special cake she’d baked turned out to have too much lemon juice in it. And she didn’t even want to begin to think about Fluttershy’s when they’d found one of her rabbits out in the Everfree with a sprained ankle… Hay, even AJ could do them when her sister was hurt!
And there was that long, lingering look that Tank had given her when his magical propeller ran out of energy… poor little guy…
Wait. Why was she even thinking about this?
“What I was saying was completely unacceptable!”
Dash looked at Rarity. Maybe it was those little streaks of black snaking their way down her cheeks.
“Look, Rarity…” she began, her words coming out thick.
“No, I mean it, Dash!” screeched Rarity, flinging her hoof out and her mane back. Her lips trembled for a moment. “I had no business prying into your love life like that. That was for you to talk about when you felt comfortable…”
Rarity kept those… eyes on her for a few more seconds, before she finally looked away, her head slumping down. “And I knew that…” she croaked. Dash could see her mouth wobbling again.
Sheesh! Rarity was right to call herself a drama queen!
“Rarity, I’m not mad,” was how it came out.
Instantly, Rarity snapped back to her, those eyes more wide than wet now. “You’re not?”
Dash grinned. “Nope. Well, not about that, anyway.” She looked back out the door. Still there. Her grin grew. “There’s a cloud out there with my name on it still waiting for me.”
Rarity let out a wet little chuckle. “Well, quite…” A smile sprouted on her lips, and made it almost all the way across them before it vanished under a sigh. “I suppose I just got caught up in the idea of everypony having somepony to call their own…” Her head slumped.
Dash scoffed. “Remember who you’re talking to here, Rarity.” She stepped forward and draped a foreleg around Rarity’s leg. “I’ve got the five best friends in the world. Why would I need a special somepony?”
Rarity stared at her for a long time. Long enough for that itch to tingle at her primaries, anyway. But she kept her hoof around Rarity and grinned at her. Slowly, a little one of Rarity’s squirmed and wriggled out in return.
“That’s… that’s rather sweet of you, Rainbow…”
Dash’s grin creased into a smirk. “Eh, you guys must be rubbing off on me…”
Rarity chuckled, a little stronger this time, and her smile stayed put. “Thank you, Dash…” She cocked her head. “No hard feelings?”
“Sure!” Dash leaned in even closer. “As long as I can go fly, now.”
And there was that high Rarity laugh she’d been waiting for, complete with a smirk of her own. “Deal.”
“Deal,” Dash replied, taking back her hoof and walking towards the door.
“Goodbye, Rainbow!” called Rarity, her voice light again.
“Bye, Rarity,” she called back, before finally feeling the warmth of the sun on her fur again. Head down, wing fluttering a little at her sides, she took in a deep breath of the sweet, fresh air, and looked up…
… At a totally clear sky.