“Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?” asked Twilight, stopping for a moment to look behind her at the two cyan ponies.
“Yes, we’re certain,” reassured the frail mare with a gentle smile as she placed her head against her husband’s neck. “We’ve been waiting for too long and I fear that if we don’t do this now, we’ll never get another chance.”
“I’m afraid you might have already missed your chance...” whispered Twilight glumly with her head held low.
“Excuse me?” asked the mare.
“Oh, nothing! Sorry, I was talking to myself,” explained Twilight, laughing it off nervously.
The trio continued to walk down the path and with much deliberation, Twilight led the couple to Ponyville Park where she hadn’t a doubt they’d be able to find the pony they were after. Silence fell as they trotted on but when Twilight glanced behind her, she could see the joy and delight in the visage of the Pegasus mare. The corners of her lips were pulled up and her eyes were closed, but she still looked incredibly happy. Seeing this pony obviously meant a lot to her.
Biting her lip, Twilight regretted ever agreeing to this. She was one of the few ponies privy to the truth, and something like this was obviously going to end with somepony being hurt. The pony they were looking should be strong enough to escape from this unscathed, but she was much more worried about the two behind her. Taking another look behind her, Twilight saw for the umpteenth time the duo of ponies that followed her eagerly.
The stallion stood taller than most of the stallions from Ponyville, and he was slightly thinner than they were as well -- though Twilight could see that he was still quite muscular underneath his layers of clothing. On his hooves he wore black leather shoes and from his tail to his neck he was covered. On his flank he wore a pair of dark ashen trousers that went as far as his ankles and it covered up his insignia of talent. His tail was, strangely enough, tucked into his trousers and it was hidden from sight. On the front portion of his body, the stallion wore a stunning white shirt and above that he wore a coat similar in colour to the storm clouds that often loomed over Ponyville. There were two holes on the sides of his clothes and his wings came through them, the light blue feathers ruffled by the gentle breeze. On top of his head he wore a simple, black bowler hat and just like with his tail, his mane was tucked into it. A few strands were visible at the back of his neck, but other than that it was as if he didn’t even have a mane.
The mare that stood beside him was sensationally different in comparison and Twilight felt refreshed every time she saw her. From her shoulders to her flank she wore a simple, thin, honey-coloured sundress. It wasn’t so thin that it was bordering on the transparent, but it was thin enough that on a hot summer’s day like this one, she would be cool and content. On the back of the dress there were two small holes and that was where her wings were. She too wore a hat although, unlike the stallion’s, her hat was almost psychotically eccentric. It was large, it had twigs, leaves and fruits hanging off of it, and it seemed like something only an amateur designer would make. Strangely, just like her husband, the mare had her mane and tail hidden too.
“I...I like your hat,” managed Twilight, desperately wanting to break the silence.
“Oh, why thank you!” replied the mare with a smile. “I made it myself!”
“Really?” questioned Twilight through nervous laughs. “You did a great job!” she added.
With a nod, Twilight turned her head again and continued to lead them to the park. She could see that large sign above the entrance in the distance and she wished that she could just disappear and leave them there. Praying for a miracle, Twilight bit her lip, shut her eyes and held her head low as she continued down the path, getting closer and closer to where she didn’t want to be.
“Good morning Twilight!” a voice called out, lifting the librarian’s spirits. “And good morn...” continued Rarity, trailing off as she stared at the monstrosity sitting on top of the mare’s head.
“Hello Rarity!” screamed Twilight, ready to tackle her friend to the ground and kiss her.
“Yes, hello Twilight,” mumbled Rarity, mouth agape and eyes wide. “My goodness, what is that thing?” she cried, pointing a shaking hoof at what she could barely call a hat.
“Oh this?” asked the mare with a wide grin as she tipped her head forward. “Do you like it? I designed it myself!” she replied with a chuckle.
“Oh...Oh, really? You designed it yourself?” stammered Rarity, wiping the horror from her face and putting on a false smile. “Oh my, well that’s...Brilliant! It’s magnificent; no wonder I’ve never seen it before! I was just admiring the beauty of it you see,” assured Rarity, hiding her nervous chuckles and trying not to look at the disaster on the cyan mare’s head.
“Thank you so much!” beamed the exuberant pony, her husband standing by her side quietly and holding her with a wing.
“Twilight, can I speak with you for a moment?” begged Rarity with a shaky grin, already turning to leave.
Confused, Twilight apologised and followed her friend to a bench on the side and stood in front of her whilst she sat down.
“Is something wrong Rarity?” asked Twilight, relieved that her friend managed to get her away from the couple.
“Well, do you mind telling me who the pony with the horrific hat and that stallion holding her are?” demanded the designer indignantly.
“Well...” started Twilight, turning her head for a moment to see the couple waving at her. “I was passing by the station and they came up to me to ask if I could help them find a pony. I said that I could try and then...Here we are,” she admitted half heartedly.
“Who do they want you to find?” continued Rarity, lifting her head to be level with Twilight’s.
“Uhm...” mumbled Twilight, eyes darting from side to side as they tried to avoid Rarity’s piercing stare. “Their...Daughter...”
Rarity almost broke a rib screaming.
“What! You’re going to let her meet her daughter with that on her head?”
“Well, I didn’t think that it was that impor-”
Twilight’s reply was cut short by Rarity suddenly running off towards the couple. They were enjoying each other’s company when ivory coated Unicorn appeared by their side. With an almost malicious grin, Rarity took hold of the mare's face and locked onto her hat with her magic.
"I love your hat so much, I do, but I just had a few great ideas on how to improve it!" stated Rarity, desperate to fix the ugly hat. "So if you'll just let me take that hat from you for a moment, I'll get it back to you in the blink of an eye, better than new!"
"No, that's okay," cried the mare with her hooves clamped onto the hat.
"Oh it'll be just a second," insisted Rarity, pulling even harder with her magic.
"No! It's fine!" retorted the initially mild mannered mare with an unfounded fear in her eyes.
"You won't even know I've changed it!" reassured Rarity, concentrating in the hat.
"No! I've already told you that...I'm...Fine...With my hat...The way...It...Is!" screamed the cyan pony, losing her grip on her hat.
The horror in the eyes of the mare was almost immeasurable, and it was as if she just watched somepony close to her get murdered. Rarity too lost her persistent glare and though she now had the monstrosity in her possession, she no longer had the motivation to change it. Now that she knew who her daughter was and who she was here to see, she shared Twilight’s fears for the worst. Twilight had already returned to the group by the time Rarity pried the hat off of her head and she was there to witness everything unfold.
The moment the hat came off of her head, the other three ponies all watched as her mane flowed from its originally curled up state and fall down the sides of her face, framing it. They watched as the locks of rainbow unfurled and cascaded down to the ground, barely missing it because of their length and bouncing back up towards her face before gently descending once more.
Both the stallion and the mare were shocked and appalled, but not nearly as much as Rarity. Being one of the only seven ponies in the world that knew the truth, she understood why Twilight seemed reluctant to tell her about the couple’s objective. Two cyan Pegasi, one of whom had the colours of the rainbow growing out of her head -- only one pony could be their daughter.
“I’m...I’m so sorry, but I have somewhere else I need to be right now...Please excuse me!” mumbled Rarity, unable to walk straight as she ran off towards her home.
Before she disappeared from sight, Rarity stole another glance back at Twilight and saw her despondent expression. Sadly, she also saw for the second time the mare’s beautiful, well-cared for mane with the colours her good friend flaunted so proudly.
“I’m sorry about that,” apologised Twilight, picking up the hat and tucking the mare’s mane into it.
“I hope you understand that where we come from, such a mane is frowned upon,” explained the stallion, wiping the shock from his face in an instant. “So we try our best to keep the truth hidden,” he added, shifting his bowler a little so that Twilight could see that he too had a rare mane of multiple colours.
“I won’t say a word,” assured Twilight, bowing her head slightly before offering the mare an empty grin.
Turning once more, Twilight set off and led the other two ponies into Ponyville Park. Now, it was too late to turn back and the miracle she prayed for never came. She could see the tree where her friend often napped on sunny days like this, and to her dismay, Twilight saw that on this particular day, Rainbow was happily sleeping on a branch with her light blue blanket and drool drenched pillow.
When the two behind her saw the pony up in the tree with the incredibly rare mane, they forgot all about the little mishap with Rarity, and they almost flew towards the base of the tree, leaving Twilight behind. Before they had a chance to yell and wake up the mare they wanted to see so badly however, Twilight flashed forward and gently placed her hooves on their lips.
“I think it’d be better if I woke her up,” she revealed, looking back at Rainbow for a moment. “If somepony she doesn’t recognise does it then she might get upset,” she explained, chuckling to lighten the mood a little.
The two looked at each other then back at Twilight before they nodded in agreement. Offering them a grin and then quickly wiping it off her face the second she faced Rainbow, Twilight took a deep breath and prepared for the worst.
“Rainbow?” she called out, prompting her friend to turn over in her sleep. “Rainbow,” she continued, pulling out a groan from her friend. “Wake up Rainbow,” she added with a voice as gentle as her mother’s when Twilight was pulled out of her naps as a filly.
The third time was the charm and Rainbow finally sat up.
“What do you want Twilight?” she moaned, annoyed. “I was having a great dream too!” she complained as she rubbed her eyes with a hoof.
“I brought some ponies who wanted to meet you,” answered Twilight, looking to them and seeing the mile-wide smiles on their faces.
“Oh really?” Rainbow shouted, now wide awake. “What is it? Do they want my autograph? It’s no problem really, I don’t mind! That’s me, kind and generous! Just give me a pen and paper and I’ll give you an autograph. In fact, I’ll give you ten autographs if you want them!” exclaimed Rainbow, swooping down from the branch and landing gracefully in front of the trio.
There was no response from them and instead, they stared through teary eyes at the dignified, ostentatious mare in front of them. At first Rainbow stood proud and puffed out her chest, but the silence soon got to her.
“Is something wrong?” she asked, tilting her head. “Don’t you want my autograph?”
“No, we just wanted to see you,” explained the mare, tears flowing down her cheeks and falling on the grass beneath her hooves.
“Are you alright lady? Why are you crying?”
“I’m fine, I just-” started the mare, her sobs cutting her off.
“We just waited so long for this day to come!” explained the stallion, wiping her wife’s tears away.
“Really? How come you had to wait so long?” asked Rainbow, unaware of who they were.
“It was never the right time,” mumbled the mare, voice sharp on the last syllable.
The stallion wrapped his hoof around the mare and together they both stared with loving eyes at Rainbow Dash.
“I’m sorry,” started Rainbow, taking a few steps back. “But who are you?” she asked, trying not to sound offensive.
“No!” interrupted the mare with a smile.
Lifting her hooves she gently lifted her hat off of her head and watched as Rainbow’s incredulous look appeared.
“We’re your parents!” she cried, tears flowing faster and stronger than before.
Rainbow was speechless. She saw the mare take off her hat and watched as the rainbow coloured mane dropped down. It was hard to meet ponies with a mane like this, and it was the reason that Rainbow couldn’t deny that they were in fact her parents.
“No, that’s not true,” she insisted, knowing that she was wrong. “You can’t be my parents!” she screamed, slamming her hoof on the ground.
“It’s true Rainbow,” insisted the stallion, tipping his head forward. “See?”
Two Pegasi with rainbow manes and cyan coats claiming to be her parents. Rainbow didn’t want to believe it was true.
“No! You’re lying!” she shouted, holding her head in her hooves and falling to her knees.
“We’re telling you the truth Rainbow,” assured the mare, maintaining her loving stare. “We’ve finally found you, and we’ve come to take you home.”
“What?” shrieked Rainbow
“We’ve come to take you home, with us!” reiterated the mare, tears falling onto Rainbow’s hooves as she held them close.
“I don’t want to go with you!” cried Rainbow, eyes watering and lips quivering. “If you’re my parents, then how come you were never there for me?” she demanded, thinking back to her childhood.
For a moment, everything went silent and couple stared at each other again before they nodded and continued. They were reluctant, but they managed it.
“We couldn’t be there for you because we had to let you go,” admitted the mare, holding a hoof to her lips and holding back the tears.
“We just didn’t have anything we needed to raise a foal at the time!” justified her father. “We were poor and we could barely keep ourselves alive! I had to starve just to make sure that your mother could feed you when she was pregnant! We did everything we needed to do back then to make sure that you could have all the opportunities you needed in life, but now that’s all over. For twenty-three years we’ve been working hard and now, we can finally give you the life we’ve always wanted you to have! So please Rainbow, come home with us.”
“No!” screamed Rainbow, crying into her hooves. “I don’t care what you did, you’re not my parents!”
“Rainbow!” gasped Twilight. “Didn’t you hear what he said? He didn’t even eat when your mother was pregnant just so you’d be healthy! They obviously care for you more than anything else!” she explained, desperate to calm Rainbow down.
“I don’t care, Twilight!” bellowed the Pegasus, pulling her hooves away from the stranger. “I don’t care what they did, and I don’t care if they gave birth to me! It doesn’t matter what they did, they didn’t raise me! They didn’t watch me grow up! They weren’t there for me!”
Of a sudden, everything went silent. Rainbow’s voice sounded through the petrified air and she cried silently into her hooves with her teeth clenched and her mind racing. Twilight had her mouth open to speak, but Rainbow’s outburst stopped her before any words came out. She was one of the few that knew what she was talking about, and though she had no idea what Rainbow must feel like every day, she knew that she was right.
“Please listen to us Dashie, jus-”
“Never call me that!” screamed Rainbow, interrupting her father. “Don’t you ever call me that! I’m not your Dashie!” she cried, tears trailing into her mouth.
The salty pang of her tears brought back memories of her childhood, of when she got mad or when she had a fight with her father.
“I’m not your Dashie!” she howled before taking off into the skies, leaving behind a rainbow streak in the sky.
The couple fell to their knees and as Rainbow’s mother cried tears of pain, despair and anger, her husband wrapped his wing around her and placed her head into the curve of his neck as he too started to cry. Regretting her actions, Twilight picked up the eccentric hat that had been dropped onto the floor and with her magic she tucked the mare’s rainbow mane into it, hiding the beautiful colours from sight. With a tear in her eyes, Twilight turned to watch as Rainbow flew off into the distance and witnessed the coloured trail fade into nothing.
“They’re wrong!” cried Rainbow as she flew through the skies.
As she dashed through the clouds, the water splashed onto her face and cooled her down a little, but it was no use. She was still angry. Four years had passed since that day when she left her childhood behind and came to embrace this life of hers, and never once did she think that this would happen. She never wanted to believe that this would happen.
“They’re wrong!” she repeated, rubbing her eyes with a hoof as she approached her cloudy mansion.
She slowed as she neared her home and after opening the doors, she leapt inside and slammed them behind her before pressing her back up against the soft, warm surface. Her chest heaved with each of her immense breaths and as she continued to pant, the tears continued to flow. Biting her lip, Rainbow flew up her spiral staircase and once she was in her bedroom, she dove under her bed and started rummaging. After digging her way through book after book of Daring Do’s adventures, she finally found the shoe box that she was searching for. Where she grew up, shoes came in boxes like the one she held.
With fresh tears collecting in her eyes, Rainbow sniffed and made her way onto her bed with her box in her hooves. Carefully, she lay down on her stomach and placed the box before her cerise eyes. Slowly, she tucked her wings away and she lifted the lid of the box, letting the memories overflow and fall onto her bed sheets.
Inside the box were some of her most treasured memories.
With surgical care, Rainbow reached in with a hoof and carefully took out a slip of paper. It had writing all over it, and it was the key to one of the brightest days of her life. Grinning through her pain, Rainbow’s eyes skimmed the ticket and she read aloud the memories.
“Indianapolis five...Hundred. Admit one onto the grounds...Scheduled eleven...A-”
Rainbow couldn’t read anymore. Holding the ticket further away from her, she rubbed her eyes with her free hoof and sniffed again. When she felt a little better Rainbow took another look at the ticket and remembered how she felt that day when she went to the race track. She wasn’t allowed in, so she sat on one of the clouds and had a better view than anyone else, and every time she looked down she would see her father sitting there, smiling.
Placing the ticket back inside the shoe box, Rainbow reached in again and this time she pulled out a thin, hard cover book. Looking at the colourful front page helped ease her heart at times, but it also served to offer nostalgia like almost nothing else could.
“Dana’s Dumb Daddy,” read Rainbow as she followed the words with her hoof.
Carefully, she turned to the first page and continued to read the book she read every day as a foal. The very first book she read when her father taught her how to read.
“One day, Dana had a fight with her daddy, and she was really upset,” she started, taking pained breaths whenever she could.
“She was so upset that she went into her backyard and sat down on the grass.”
Pausing, Rainbow turned the page again and marveled at the colourful pictures.
“She sulked and cried, and wept and sobbed, and she kept going until her eyes were red. The sun saw her crying and felt so bad for her that it shone brighter than ever.”
She turned the page again.
“But Dana was still upset, so the sun started to go down. He was upset too. Dana kept crying and her hands kept rubbing her eyes, and she was...She was all alone.”
Slowly, she turned the page again.
“Then...Then Dana’s daddy came back, and he gave her a teddy bear. It was a brand new teddy bear, and it was the one that Dana wanted. Dana was so happy that...That she...Forgot all about their fight, and she...She hugged her daddy...”
Sniffing, Rainbow managed to turn another page.
“Dana’s daddy hugged her back...And he held her close. Then, he leaned in close...And he whispered in Dana’s ears...‘I’...‘I love’...‘I lo-”
Rainbow’s tears wouldn’t stop when she saw what was in the book. The sentence had been changed, and she never realised. She could barely see through her eyes anymore, but she kept reading.
“‘I’...‘I love you’...‘Dashie.’”
Her tears fell down onto the crayon used to cross out the original, and the book was assaulted by her salty tears. They started to warp and the beautiful picture of a little girl and her father embracing was being drowned. With her eyes shut, Rainbow dried the pages of the book with her hooves and put it back into the box before folding her hooves and pressing her face into them, crying to her sorrowful heart’s content.
Rainbow wasn’t one for crying, and the event rarely ever happened, but today was a day full of nostalgia, memories and regrets for her. Seconds turned to minutes, to hours, and for all that time Rainbow never stopped for a single moment. She tried to forget about all of this, but she couldn’t. All she could do was never think about it, but whenever it came back to her the result was always the same. Her father was the one who cared for her, who raised her, who taught her everything. Who wasn’t with there for her anymore.
Calming down a little, Rainbow lifted her head once more. Her lips quivered more than the day she learnt that she supposed to be a cartoon, and her eyes were redder than the brilliant vermillion in her mane. Sobbing as silently as she could, Rainbow reached into her box for the last time and pulled out of it a small, framed photograph.
A border of colourless wood surrounded the colourful photograph behind the layer of glass and it was protected from her perpetual tears. A filly sat quietly on the couch with her legs tucked away, her mane neat and her Cutie Mark proudly emblazoned on her flank. Rainbow stared into the cerise eyes of her younger self and saw how incredibly happy she was. Her smile showed her teeth with the gap on the left side, and she was brimming with joy. She remembered that this was her first photograph.
Rainbow’s eyes moved to the side slightly and the tears came back to her. She saw, standing right next to her filly self, a man – tall, and full of joy and meaning. He wore casual clothes -- a T-shirt and some jeans -- but Rainbow never cared how he was dressed. It only ever mattered that he was there.
“Dad...” cried Rainbow through her tears, accepting the unbearable salty flavour. “I miss you.”
With trails cascading down her face, Rainbow held the photograph in her hooves as she buried her face into the covers.
“When are you going to come and take me home?” she whined.
Her voice trembled when she spoke and she could barely breathe.
“I love you daddy, don’t you love me?”
She sniffed once and rubbed her eyes with a hoof.
“Remember? I’m your little d...Daughter always...Right?”
Her tears wouldn’t flow anymore, and they just stopped.
She bit down on her breath and clenched her teeth.
Rainbow held the photo even tighter and slightly cracked the glass. The crack was long and consistent, and it made a border between him and her.
Rainbow saw the crack and her tears started again. Taking a deep breath, she held back her sobs.
“I’m your little Dashie...”
The later hours of the day passed slowly until finally, night fell upon Ponyville and the silver light that leaked through her windows and wavered in the air originated from the brilliant crescent moon. Her shoe box was precariously balanced on the edge of her bed because of her fidgeting and the glass from the framed photograph cut her face countless times as she held onto it as tight as she would hug her father.
Rainbow’s sorrow never ended, and her pain never left her, but she was alright. She was always alright.