Well, at least she was nice.
Soarin had slipped Rainbow and me both tickets to the Winter Solstice performance later that night as he winked at us, sending shivers down my spine. Rainbow Dash had been nervously chattering away with him, until he finally told her that he’d be seeing her at the Solstice and took off.
I scoffed. What a showoff. He’d flown off with the pie tin still on his head, as if he hadn’t just been complaining about it. I stashed the tickets away anyway. No matter how I felt, I knew Applejack would still force me to go with Rainbow Dash.
I just hoped it wouldn’t end too badly. By this point, Rainbow had calmed down enough to turn around and grin widely. “Hey, Braeburn.”
“Uh, hey, Rainbow Dash,” I muttered. I wasn’t too sure how, precisely, I was meant to go about this. I didn’t even know her all that well.
“How was the train ride?” She seemed surprisingly calm, even if she had been nervous earlier. All four hooves were planted on the ground, her wings neatly tucked in.
“Nice enough. Colder here than I figured.”
Rainbow nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, I remember Appleoosa was always really, uh…” she stopped for a moment, pondering. “Different.” She flashed a smile.
Applejack trotted out the door, now that the floor was clean of crumbs and bits. I heard her say something that I couldn’t quite make out before MacIntosh nudged his way through the door with Applebloom weaving between his legs. She thought for a second before settling happily next to me on the couch.
“Granny Smith’s goin’ ta go play bingo.” Applejack told me again, though she was looking at Rainbow Dash. “So it’s just gonna be us. Applebloom, did ya talk ta Rarity ‘bout sleepin’ over with Sweetie Belle?”
“Eeyup!” Applebloom nodded vigorously. “Ah got mah bag packed. Rarity’ll be here soon.”
“Good,” agreed Applejack. “Well, Mac, if ya wouldn’t mind startin’ on dinner…?” She tilted her head to the red stallion, who was already standing in the small kitchen. Clanging pots and pans were heard.
The room was filled with an awkward silence with the occasional sizzle from the kitchen, until finally somepony, who I assumed was Rarity, knocked on the door for the third time that night. Applebloom hopped to her hooves as Applejack seemed to dart over, perhaps to block the doorway, and Rainbow Dash shrunk back.
I looked to her and raised an eyebrow, but kept my mouth shut. Applejack kind of hustled Applebloom out of the door and slammed the door shut, then grinned nervously and turned around. “Sorry. Ah didn’t want ‘er ta come in here an’ make a big deal about you an’ Brae.” She explained to Rainbow.
“Got it.” Rainbow Dash nodded. “So, what’s for dinner?” She turned to Big Mac. I realized that she somehow looked different than she generally did when she was in Appleoosa. Applejack was also squinting and looking at her.
She was wearing makeup, something I sure as shoot didn’t remember. Had she taken that much time to try to strike my fancy? I felt bad. Why in the hay was I so special?
The dinner was unmemorable, bread and mashed potatoes or something like that. We ate without really talking, which sometimes reminded me of dinner when my mom was busy and it would just be me and my dad. The only noise was forks scraping against our plates. I shifted uncomfortably, and finally decided to break the silence. “So, Soarin’s one of those Wonderbolts, right? The famous stunt fliers?”
“Ohhhhmygosh! They’re so cool! Soarin is the greatest of them! He’s the leader with Spitfire, there’s two. Soarin leads the stallions, and Spitfire leads the mares. Oh, man, I should ask him for an autograph tonight! Do you think he’ll give me one? I once got an autographed picture of Spitfire, she told me to follow my dreams. Isn’t that just so co-“ She snapped her jaw shut when Applejack glared at her. “Uh. Sorry.” She mumbled, redness creeping along her cheeks.
I actually laughed. Poor thing. “Y’know, err. He seemed a little weird. Celebrities are like that. Crazy drugs and the such.”
Rainbow paused, chewing over what I had said. “Yeah.” She finally agreed. “Well, I heard some weird rumors that he’s a coltcuddler or something,” she shrugged.
My jaw went slack. Was that really not a big deal at all to her? “That’s unnatural!” I blurted. Rainbow turned and stared at me, tilting her head.
“It’s not all that weird,” she muttered. “Oh, wait, sorry. I forgot! You guys,” she gestured around to the group. “aren’t used to the way Cloudsdale thinks about those kinds of things.”
“What sorts of things?” Applejack snapped. “Ah think just fine ‘bout anythin’!” She scrunched her nose and leaned in over the table.
“I mean, uh,” Rainbow quickly realized her mistake. “Fillyfoolers and coltcuddlers, y’know? Not as big of a deal to the Pegasi as it is to earth ponies. I heard the unicorns are getting used to it, organizations in Canterlot and stuff.”
Applejack scoffed. I knew she had plenty to say, but she kept her mouth shut. It actually surprised me, AJ wasn’t known for those kinds of things. She generally opened her mouth and spoke, then thought about what she had said after. Maybe she was just trying to be polite, or avoid things turning awkward, though it was a tad late for that.
I decided to avoid the topic. This wasn’t something I wanted to talk about. But, my mind still stayed in the same place. Those rumors about Soarin couldn’t be true, right? I knew celebrities had crazy lives, but it just…wasn’t right.
The rest of the night seemed like a blur of awkward discussions, avoiding the general topic until Applejack decided it was time for us to go and shoved us out. The night was cold, and I shivered. The dark blanket of night stretched out overhead. If it weren’t for the occasional street light lining the path to the center of Ponyville, I wouldn’t have known where the hay I was going.
“I hear Pinkie Pie’s making some of her special punch tonight. I can’t believe that the Wonderbolts are here, though.” A pause. “I wasn’t even going to go,” I heard Dash continue. The trees around us were dark and almost seemed to lean in, boxing us in. “Do you, uh, drink?”
I blinked. “Ah guess, sometimes. Some ponies have problems with it in Appleoosa, but Ah’ve had a drink here an’ there.”
“Hah, it’s pretty fun at parties. You ever been to Cloudsdale?”
“Ah’m an earth pony,” I pointed out flatly.
“Oh yeah,” She laughed nervously.
I felt mean. I was generally a friendly pony, but this was just so… uncomfortable. I reminded myself to not let Applejack set me up on any more dates with mares. I was being rude. I knew that, and part of me wanted to be nice. This was a nice filly. I knew, somewhere in my stomach, that I could be nicer. I tried to smile.
“Are you okay?” Her maroon eyes were trained on me.
“Uh, why wouldn’t Ah be?”
“You look like you’re in pain.”
I sighed heavily, and we turned onto Mane Street, Ponyville’s main road. Pastel-colored ponies flooded in front of me. All of them were talking, or eating, or dancing in an area I guessed was the dance floor, all lined up outdoors on the street. A few Pegasi hovered through the air, but the group of ponies soaring overhead caught my eye. They left behind smoky cloud trails that lingered for several minutes as they gradually dissipated with the cloud cover.
In the sky, there sat the faded remains of what was probably a show. “THE WONDERBOLTS” was burned across the night in a smoggy mess, being dragged in one direction with the wind. Rainbow Dash tipped her head to the sky and I heard her breathe in loudly. “Wow,” she murmured. “They’re so talented.” She turned around and grinned. I frowned.
“Yeah,” I mumbled, shifting on my hooves.
“Come on,” she said, trotting toward a table with a neon tablecloth draping over it, a massive punchbowl with a ladle sitting inside of it and plates with various foods sitting atop it. The punch was a radioactive reddish-pink color. It was actually kind of scary. It seemed like a small amount for such a large crowd, though.
Rainbow spooned a generous amount into a cup she held in one hoof and moaned quietly when she gulped it down. “Great stuff.” She mumbled. “Pinkie Pie only makes it, like, twice a year. I guess there’s some crazy ingredients or something.”
The only hard thing I’d really had to drink up until this point was cider. I saw the Pegasus mare looking my way. “C’mon,” she encouraged. “Have a sip.” She thrust the cup in my direction, and I shrugged. I took the cheap plastic thing in my hoof and tipped my head back.
Almost immediately, I felt myself shift. “Holy-“ The world swam for a moment, and I had to plant my hooves on the ground. “What is IN that?” I suppose I knew why there was so little. More than two cups or so of that stuff could kill somepony.
“I have no clue.” Dash took the cup back and stared into it for a moment. “But it’s pretty intense, huh?”
I didn’t even answer. I felt looser, somehow, like I’d had all my joints oiled. A healthy buzz rang through my mind.
Rainbow Dash seemed unfazed, and kept idly sipping the punch. “Ya wanna dance?” I grinned at her and snatched the cup, taking another swig of the stuff. Wow. What could have possibly been put in this?
Rainbow looked up, staring at me. She was wide-eyed. “Huh?” She relaxed again.
“You wanna dance?” She seemed alarmed, her ears pricked up and eyes big as dinner plates. The Pegasus relaxed after a second. “I mean, uh, sure.”
The night was a blur of dancing and punch as I dragged her out onto the dance floor. Boy, howdy, she could dance, once she got started. The alcohol made her uninhibited and brought down any walls she had up. Rainbow Dash was a party animal; and a wild one, at that. She’d flutter up a bit and come back down hard on her back hooves, sending a small vibration through the ground.
Sometimes she’d flit about, sometimes she’d be moving in time to the music. As the night wore on, we both entirely forgot about Soarin, and she grew closer to me. She pushed up against me and would occasionally let out a little groan or a grunt or some other noise.
The air had gotten warmer at some point, and I found myself up against a tree several hooves away from the dance floor.
We were farther away, but I could still hear the dull thudding of the music beating through my ears. Rainbow’s hooves were planted beside either side of my head. “You’re… So hot.” She slurred, grinning deviously and leaning in. I felt her moist, hot breath condense on my face. It carried along the scent of something like rotten fruit. She leaned in. Her face was flushed. Her forelock was plastered to her forehead by sweat, damp clusters of seven-colored hair obscuring her magenta eyes.
Those beautiful magenta eyes. Why hadn’t I seen them before? She leaned in, mashing her mouth against mine. I went along with it for several moments. As we’d been drinking the same stuff, her mouth tasted like mine, without much variation.
My heart dropped into my stomach, and I pushed her away quietly. “No,” I slurred, shaking my head, trying to clear the cloudiness. “This ain’t right, Rainbow.”
“Huh?” She pulled back, standing on all four hooves again. “Wha-?”
“Ain’t right, pretty mare like you…” I grumbled, not sure if I was making sense. “Yer a good mare. Ah don’t- this ain’t gonna work, Rainbow.”
“What are you talking about? This kick-“ She hiccupped. “This kicks flank! You’re really cute and nice and all that crap. What else do you want?” She rolled her eyes. “Now, back to what we were doing.” She wrapped a foreleg around my neck awkwardly and I shook her off.
“No,” I said flatly, shoving her away and glaring.
“Dude, what’s your problem?”
“Ah just don’t wanna… Ah ain’t interested.”
“You were just making out with me, and you tell me that now? What’s your malfunction, dude?” Rainbow snapped. Some of her words were still malformed.
“Ah’m sorry, but we should quit while we’re ahead and somepony gets hurt.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Rainbow Dash stamped a hoof, sending dust spiraling into the air. I coughed. “Why’d you even bother coming, then?” She was starting to snarl.
“Ah apologize. Ah shoulda jus-“
“You damn well better be sorry!” She glared, narrowing her eyes. “I shoulda known better, you were just another one of the-“
“Now, Rainbow, listen ta m-“
“Just another one of them! A stupid stallion,” she continued relentlessly, her voice becoming louder. “I should h-“
“If you would just l-“
“No! You listen to me, okay? I’ve dealt with you all my life, you are all the same. I figured since you’re related to Applejack you’d be different, b-“
“Ah like colts!” I wasn’t sure why I said that. It wasn’t true. I liked mares. The right one just hadn’t come along. I liked mares. Rainbow sat there for a second, entirely stiff. In spite of the alcohol from earlier, everything was stunningly clear. I saw the colour drain from her face. “Please don’t tell Applejack,” I murmured, terrified by the words that had come out of my own mouth.
“I-I… I have to go think.” Rainbow Dash hissed before flapping her wings. Apparently, the alcohol was still affecting her, because she flew lopsidedly from the ground, one side of her body higher up than the other and she disappeared. She moved faster than any earth pony or Pegasus I’d ever seen. I squinted after her, in hopes she’d be okay. She was going awfully fast.
A spectrum of colours burst forth from her, seven different hues peeling behind her as she reeled forward, evaporating in her wake. A shockwave pounded through the air, rattling the trees, me, and the dance floor several hooves away.
I knew this would happen. I leaned against the tree and sighed, reaching a back hoof to check to be sure that I still had my hat. I felt sober, now. I’d heard of the sonic rainboom before, but it didn’t seem to matter anymore. This was my fault.
I groaned loudly and slid my back down the tree, brushing my mane from my eyes, and tipping my hat down so that it at least partially covered my face. I didn’t need anyone seeing me like this. I hoped she would be okay, for everypony’s sake. Applejack was going to have my skin for this.
I just hoped that she didn’t tell Applejack what I’d said. I was intoxicated. That didn’t count, right?
I heard somepony’s hoofsteps and looked up. At first, I didn’t recognize the stallion until he pulled his goggles up from his eyes. “Was that true?” He asked. I stared at him for a moment before I recognized him as Soarin.
“Ah’m drunk,” I grumbled. “Go away.”
Soarin grabbed my hoof, practically forcing me up. I settled on all fours. “What?” I snapped.
“Listen, you seem like a cool guy.” Soarin grinned. “We should hang out.”
I stared at him, raising an eyebrow. “Uh. What? What Ah said back there was jus’ the punch talkin’.”
“Why don’t we have lunch or something tomorrow?” He asked, ignoring my explanation and cocking an eyebrow.
“C’mon, I’m a celebrity! You should be honored, dude.”
“Ah barely know you!”
“Great time to start! So, how 'bout one-thirty? I just wanna chill, it’s been a while since I’ve just talked with somepony other than team members. Or," He flicked his dark blue mane histrionically out of his eyes. "Raging fan mares."
I scoffed, already turning. “Ah’ve got more stuff to worry about.” I snapped, beginning to walk back toward the farm.
He fluttered over my head and landed in front of me, furrowing his eyebrows. “At least think about it, okay?”
“Fine.” The alcohol seemed like it was setting in again, and several of my steps were misplaced.
“See you tomorrow!” He called nonchalantly.
What an idiot.