Why do I feel pain?
Where am I?
I can't see!
My eyes are closed.
I opened them.
All I see is white.
That's not right.
I can see things, but those things are white.
Where am I?
Why am I here?
Why am I in pain?
How did I get here?
Who am I?
I reached out in front of me, trying to grab something, anything that could give me answers.
A blue hoof.
"You're awake," said a voice," that's too bad, this might hurt. Please try to relax."
Like the sky.
Because I am the sky.
"Are you ready?" asked a voice, "we have to set your wing."
"On the count of three."
That's not right.
I live in the sky.
I'm a flyer.
"AAAUGH!" This sharp, new pain woke me up. Everything becoming clear, snapping into place like my wing.
I am Rainbow Dash, a flyer.
The best flyer in all of Equestria.
And I messed up.
I guess I should head back soon.
There's not much I can do for her now, except let the doctors work.
I hope she's ok.
I don't know what happened, but she was hurt.
I couldn't leave her.
She'll be all right now, the doctors will take care of her.
I should head home.
I can't leave her.
That was her.
Why do I care so much?
I don't even know her.
Ponies get hurt all the time. It's sad, and I always hate to see it happen, but-
It never hurts this much.
She's my sister's best friend. I've seen her around, but I've never really spoken to her.
I don't know.
I don't know how long I sat there, but eventually, she came out into the waiting room. She had a few small cuts and bruises, and bandages wrapped around her wings.
Her beautiful wings.
She was about to leave when she saw me.
"Hey Big Mac," she said, "are you hurt?"
Why is she worried about me? She's the one who's hurt.
"N-nnope," luckily my accent hid the stutter.
"Then what are you doing here?"
No dodging this question with a yes or no.
"Checkin' on somethin'."
"Ok, well see you 'round."
She started to leave.
"Ya all right?" I asked
"Are you all right? Yer wing, Ah mean it looks bad."
"It's fine, it was just dislocated this time, so I'll be flying again in no time at all."
"What's so funny?" I asked.
"I think that's the most words I've heard from you since we met."
It was, wasn't it.
She was smiling as she walked out the door.
We should talk more.
It's nice when she smiles.
I want to see her smile more.
But she probably won't smile much if she can't fly.
But doesn't she live in a cloud?
She has no way to get home!
I rushed out the door, but she was gone.
I looked around, but I couldn't find her.
What was I going to do anyway?
"Stupid hospital," I kicked a stone out of my way, " they know I have nowhere to go if I can't fly."
Oh well, I have plenty of time to think about it. The hospital is a little out of the way in relation to the rest of Ponyville. Unfortunately for me, that means a lot of walking.
At least it's nice out.
I looked around. It's early spring, not too hot, not too cold, sunny with patches of clouds. Perfect weather for flying.
IF I COULD!
I sighed and resumed my walk.
What should I do? I can't go to my friends, they'll just worry and make a big deal out of it like they did last time. And all my bits are at my house so a hotel is out of the question. Maybe I could ask somepony else? Yeah! Somepony I know well enough to ask a favor from, but not well enough that they'll worry about me!
But who in Ponyville do I know that would be able to help? Ponyville's just ahead of me on the path, I can just stroll through and scope out the possibilities.
The first building I passed was Sugarcube Corner. The cakes always have room, but that would mean trying to recover while dealing with Pinkie. She's cool and all, but I would probably end up back in the hospital.
Though that would solve my housing issue.
Nah, I don't want to spend anymore time there than I have to. I mean, the place is boring with a capital "B". Would it kill them to buy paint that isn't the dullest, flattest shade of white possible? They used to have blue, it was depressing, but at least I could look at it and think of the sky.
I looked up quickly. I could ask somepony on my weather team to fly me home!
Yeah, right, and humiliate myself in front of ponies I have to see everyday? I'd rather take my chances with Pinkie.
Looks like I may have to go to my friends after all. But which one?
Fluttershy's out of the question, on account of "Devil" bunny. She does have Tank though. Heh. Good thing I dropped him off for his checkup before the crash.
Gah! Why am I looking at the bright side? This is a terrible situation I'm in! I can't fly, I can't go home, I can't work, and I can't even make it to the office to tell them I need a few days off!
Of course, while I wasn't paying attention, I bumped into somepony. I turned my head to see who it was. It was, um, ok, I have no clue what her name is, but she's that orange mare that's always going head-to-head with AJ. You know, the carrot farmer.
"Well?" She said, picking up some items off the ground and stuffing them into her saddlebags.
Oh great, I dumped out her shopping. "Well, what?" What's her name? I know AJ told me what it was at some point.
"Well, aren't you going to apologize?" She scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Honestly, even when you're on the ground, your head is in the clouds."
I have been distracted lately. "Yeah, sorry," I'll just guess at the name, "Carrot?"
She sighed a little louder than was necessary. "It's Carrot Top. But that's more of an apology than I was expecting." She turned and trotted away.
Oh, she forgot something. "Hey," I called after her, "you dropped an apple!"
She stopped in her tracks. After checking her bags thoroughly, she turned to me. "I most certainly did not!"
Liar. I stuck my tongue out at her as soon as her back was turned. You just don't want to admit that you're buying product from your competition. Like there even is any competition, apples and carrots are two totally different things.
I picked up the apple and dusted it off. I was going to take a bite out of it, but something stopped me and I ended up staring at it instead.
I could always stay at Sweet Apple Acres. They have that guest room, and AJ won't make as big a deal out of my injury as anypony else would. But looking at the red apple, I caught myself thinking about a different red apple.
A big one with a messy straw-colored mane.
I tucked the apple under my wing and continued walking.
It was pretty neat to actually get to talk to Big Mac. I see him at the farm all the time, but we never say more than two words to each other. Maybe I'd get to spend more time with him if I stayed at the farm.
Did I really just think that?
By now I was nearing Carousel Boutique. Ha! No way am I even going to ask Rarity. I know she'd let me stay, but can you imagine? She'd either fuss over every little thing I do, or insist on making my bandages more fashionable.
Sweet Apple Acres is sounding better and better. It's not too far from here either. I picked up my pace and soon found myself on a familiar dirt road. By familiar, I mean completely alien and creepy as tartarus. I had only ever seen it from above. The trees completely covered the road, only letting patches of light shine through here and there. And what little light there was only illuminated the scraggly undergrowth and bushes lining the road enough to make you guess what's hiding in there. To me, it looked like a miniature everfree.
Skip that, I'm cutting through the field!
I hopped the nearby fence and walked among the well spaced, and well lit, apple trees. Within a few minutes, I was within sight of the farm. Mac was there, moving some barrels from behind the farmhouse out to the barn.
I should go talk to him.
I should go talk to AJ first, ask her if I can stay here. But Mac could let me stay. Don't they both own the place?
But isn't that weird? Asking a Stallion if you can stay at his house? What if he thinks I like him?
Don't get me wrong, he's nice and all, but he's just not my type. I like ponies who are athletic, able to keep up with me.
Like he did on that treadmill on cider day.
Well, ok, so he's got one point for him, but there's more to it than just athletic skills. There's also dedication, I am all about my training, so my guy has to abbey able to understand what it's like to work for something, day in and day out, through thick and thin in any kind of-
Oh, wait. The farm. Duh.
Well, there's also-
Wait a minute.
He's strong, he's fast, he's dedicated, he was fun to talk to, I doubt he's any worse than me when it comes to cooking, and- I looked up just in time to see him dip his head in a bucket of water. As soon as he lifted his head, he shook it from side to side. The water flew off his mane in sheets of glimmering droplets.
And he's flipping hot to boot.
I quickly ducked behind the nearest thing I could find, an apple tree of course. This just got a lot more awkward. He's like, the perfect stallion! I can't ask him to let me stay here! he'll definitely get the wrong idea!
And what idea is that?
Why would I even think that?! I've never thought about stuff like that before. Why start now?
I peeked around the tree. Mac was using a rope to lash several of the barrels together. Even from here I could see the muscles in his neck as he pulled the rope taught. When he was done, he took a step back to survey his work. He must have been satisfied with it, because he gave a small nod and walked back over to the bucket of water.
I ducked back behind the tree. Ok, that's a pretty good reason. Wow. I have a crush on Applejack's brother. I just have to make sure nopony ever finds out. That means I am definitely not staying here tonight.
I hightailed it out of there as quickly as I could without drawing attention to myself and was soon back on the road to Ponyville.
I guess I can sleep in a tree or something.
That one looks good.
I spotted a large maple with wide branches and soft looking leaves on the side of the road. Out of habit, I spread my wings to fly up. At least I tried to, the bandages held the right wing securely to my side.
"Ugh," I stomped the ground and headed off to find a tree with lower branches.
I forcibly exhaled after lifting my head from the water bucket. It ain't workin'. No matter what I try, I can't keep my mind on my chores.
I sat down and picked up the water bucket in my hooves. I stared at my reflection for a moment before dumping the water on my head.
After I left the hospital, I headed back to the farm to finish my chores. I was hoping I would run into Rainbow on the way. She needed a place to stay and AJ would tan my hide if I didn't at least offer to let her stay at the farm.
Oh, who am I kidding? AJ don't even factor into it. I wanted to run into Rainbow because I wanted to see her again.
I shook my head and walked back to barn. All the empty apple barrels were lined up against one wall and a couple of hay-bales were sitting outside.
Better get to work.
As I started hauling out the empty barrels to make room for the hay-bales, I once again let my mind drift towards a certain sky blue mare with a Rainbow mane. It was nice talking to her, seeing her smile.
Sorry AJ, but I think I've got a crush on your best friend.
She'll probably tan my hide just for that.
I thought back on all the times I'd seen her around the farm. Most of the time, she would either be practicing her fancy flying, or dragging AJ into some sort of hastily thought up competition to see who was a better athlete. But a few times, she had actually come over to help, either out of boredom or because AJ asked.
I moved the last of the empty barrels out into the yard and started bringing the hay-bales into the barn. One of the good things about this kind of work is that you get plenty of time to think about stuff.
You know, now that I'm thinking about it, I really should have gotten to know her better, that rough and tumble Pegasus is always causing some sort of fun commotion. Hey, I remember this one time, she-
The cord on the first hay-bale snapped before it made it to the far wall. Oh well, there'll be some loose straw on the barn floor, no big deal. I went back for another hay-bale.
I wonder where Applejack went? I wanted to tell her about her friend. Though I guess she stands as much of a chance of running into her on her own as she would if she went searching. Besides it's probably better if Rainbow talked to her personally.
Speaking of Rainbow, I wonder if she found a place to stay. Ditzy's got that room she's trying to rent out, I wonder if they know each other. But I guess she'll stay with one of those other four.
Speaking of which, I still need to return that ragdoll to the library.
I got the last hay-bale stacked in the barn just as the sun began to set. Pretty good timing, I guess. I have just enough time to stretch out and hang up my yoke before heading into town.
Eeyup, I've still got work to do.
Man, the park is eerie after dark. There's only one working streetlight and it's flickering. I can also hear it buzzing. I know ponies don't usually come to the park at night unless there's some sort of celebration, but is it really that big of a deal to maintain it the rest of the time? I mean, the only reason I can still see where I'm going is because Luna went overboard with tonight's full moon.
And is it just me, or does the moon look like it has a slight reddish tint to it?
On top of the horror-movie like setting, I haven't eaten, I dropped that apple somewhere back along the way, and I still haven't found a tree that I can climb. It looks like I may be sleeping on a park bench.
Then I saw it. There, near the gazebo. A big, old live oak with wide, low branches. That'll do nicely.
I ran up to it and jumped up on the lowest branch.
The moss-covered bark came off under my hooves and I slipped off, landing face down in the dirt. Just what I needed. Now I'm stuck on the ground, hungry, tired, AND dirty. Could this day possibly get any worse?
"Well, well, well, what do we have here?"
Of course it could.
I was still face down in the dirt, so I couldn't see who it was, but I didn't like the sound of his voice.
I got up quickly and faced the direction the voices were coming from.
There were three of them, two earth ponies and a Pegasus. I recognized one of them, the green earth pony behind the other two. He's that kid who paints all the houses and signs and stuff. He was looking around nervously. The other two, both dark brown, both unfamiliar, had their attention focused on me.
"What do you want?" I demanded.
"We just want to help," said the Pegasus in a tone that was anything but sincere," maybe I could help you get into that tree there? Maybe help you stay warm?"
Oh, hay no.
"Back off," I said, " just leave me alone and you won't get hurt."
"Is that how you to treat those who offer you help?" said the brown earth pony, "by pushing them away?"
It made me sick to admit it, but he was right. That's what got me into this mess, my own stubborn pride. If- I mean, when. When I get out of this, I'm gonna make sure I do something about that.
The green earth pony didn't say anything, he just stood there looking nervous. I bet he doesn't want to be her. I might be able to use that to my advantage.
The brown earth pony took a step towards me.
"Hey!" I yelled, "I said, back off!"
He kept walking closer to me, but I refused to step back.
He got up in my face and smiled at me. The kind of sickening, smug grin that you just can't help but want to wipe off somepony's face. "No," he said.
That's it! He's going down!
"Guys," the green earth pony was practically prancing in place, "why are you doing this? We should leave, let's just go."
The earth pony in front of me turn on his green companion "Shut up!"
There's my chance!
While the earth pony in front of me yelled at his companion, I swung out my good wing at his face. Being the fastest flyer in Equestria means I have strong wings and he didn't stand a chance. He went down and I ran off as fast as I could.
I heard laughing behind me.
I could run pretty fast, but even my best groundspeed was no match for an average Pegasus in flight. I broke for the treeline, hoping he wasn't trained in obstacle avoidance,but he caught up to me before I could reach it. I leaped to the side to avoid a collision and ended up tripping over an exposed tree root.
"AGH!" I felt something in my ankle twist as I fell. I hit the dirt pretty hard and got some in my eyes.
I cleared my eyes as best I could, but I could only make out blurry shapes. And. when I tried to put some weight on my ankle, I ended up collapsing. It's not broken or sprained, but until the swelling goes down, I don't think I'm going anywhere.
The brown blur of the Pegasus landed and started walking towards me.
I was trying to figure out what to do when the Pegasus got run over by a wall of red.
It wasn't exactly run over, more like calmly walked over.
"Hey!" the Pegasus yelled after the slow moving, red mass, "what do you think you're doing?"
"Ah'm goin' somewhere," he stopped and turned to face the pegasus, "you'd best do the same."
I got lucky.
The green earth pony was trying to drag off his unconscious friend. " This is bad. Come on man," he yelled at the pegasus, "let's just go."
"What's your problem?" demanded the Pegasus of his green friend.
"He knows who Ah am," said Mac, pointing at the green pony, "and he knows where Ah'm goin'." He stomped his hoof down. "And that's yer problem, not his."
That was cool, cheesy, but cool. Add one point to the reasons I have a crush on him. Plus, he looks kinda cool without his yoke, definitely more streamlined. I wonder why he's not wearing it.
The Pegasus scoffed at him. "You think you can get away with treating me like dirt?"
"Why?" Mac asked without moving. "Judging by the way you treat a pretty, little lady like miss Dash over there, Ah'd say bein' treated like dirt's a might bit more than you deserve."
D-did he just call me pretty?
Hey! Did he just call me little?
"Well let's see who deserves what when you're lyin' in the dirt with her!" The Pegasus lunged forward, flying as fast as he could, with his hooves out straight in front of him. He flew past Mac and started flying in a wide arc. He's building speed, for an attack.
Basic flight physics, every Pegasus learns it, mass of a Pegasus, averaging 50 kilograms, times acceleration, average top seed of a Pegasus being 105 kph and the average force of a collision with a stationary object becomes 5,000 kilograms.
Meaning, Watch out! That's gonna hurt!
"Mac!" I yelled, "get out of the way!"
He glanced over in my direction. My eyes had cleared enough that I could see him smile. There was something else too, that little fire in the eyes. The one that I see every time, in everypony I compete against, the one I'm sure they see in me, the one that says, "bring it on."
He has something up his fetlock, I'm sure of it.
"Don't ya fret none, pretty lady," Mac turned back to the approaching Pegasus, "Ah got this."
Did he just call me pretty again? He's acting like the hero from an action movie. Not that I mind, it's just, I never really thought I would be into the whole, white Knight, brave stallion thing.
Mac does pull it off pretty well though.
Yep, I definitely have a crush.
And what's he gonna do? This is actually really exciting. I couldn't help but stare, this was one of those unstoppable force, immovable object moments, and I didn't want to miss a minute of it.
The Pegasus was nearing the end of his arc. Whatever's gonna happen, it's gonna happen soon.
Of course, my bits are on Mac. He's probably gonna applebuck that Pegasus straight to the moon!
I didn't expect what I saw.
Big Macintosh lifted his front left hoof first then reared up to sidestep the incoming Pegasus at the last moment. Then he brought his right hoof up into the Pegasus' chin, and his left hoof down at the base of his wing, sending him skidding to the ground with a sickening pop.
The Pegasus was on the ground, writhing in pain and Mac was just standing there, watching impassively.
"Ya need to get out of here," said Mac.
Is he talking to me?
"Can ya hear me?"
"I can't," she said, "my ankle, I can't walk."
Not good. I guess I can't wait for the authorities then. I'm gonna have to help her to safety.
"We've got to get you out of here," I stood beside her and lowered myself on my front hooves," climb on, I'll make sure you're safe."
She suddenly looked away from me. "B-but-"
I wonder why? "Don't worry, I'll protect you."
I'm an idiot.
I know how proud and competitive she is. I should have known she wouldn't-
She climbed on my back without another word and I suddenly felt very self-conscious. She's right there! The mare I have a crush is laying on my back with her hooves around my neck! When did this- How did this- What?
Focus Mac! First things first.
I had to get her away from there. I could deal with the mess that happened later, but for now Rainbow needs medical attention. A twisted hoof isn't too serious, but I'm sure it hurts.
I set off for Ponyville proper, being careful not to let Rainbow bounce around too much.
"Uhm, hey," started the Pegasus on my back," I-, I don't know what to say,"
She's talking to me! I've gotta say something back! But what? She seems upset about not knowing what to say, so try to ease her concerns. "Then do what Ah do, don't say anythin'."
Way to go. Mac, you just told the mare of your dreams to shut up. This is why you should just keep your big mouth shut.
"But what you did back there, you saved me."
Good, she wasn't offended. "Why wouldn't Ah? Ya needed help and I happened to be around to provide it"
"I'm just not used to being the one saved. I don't know how to thank you."
"But I want to."
I couldn't keep myself from smiling. Fortunately, Rainbow couldn't see my face from where she was. "That's enough fer me."
"That works too." Wow, that was a stupid thing to say, but she laughed at it, so it couldn't have been that bad. Or maybe it was that bad and that's why she's laughing.
I don't really care though, it's a nice laugh.
"Did-" she started, but she stopped and shifted her weight. I felt her hooves let go of my neck and I slowed down so she wouldn't fall off. I craned my neck to look at her, but her hooves where covering her face.
"Did, what?" I asked.
"Did you mean it, what you said back there? I mean-"
Did I mean what I said? What did I say?
She took a deep breath before quickly forcing out, "do you really think I'm pretty?"
Oh, I said that didn't I, how embarrassing.
Oh well, I don't know how she'll take this, but she deserves the truth.
What's he gonna say? And why do I care so much? I don't. I don't care about things like that. I don't need to be pretty, but if he thinks I'm pretty, that would be good.
"Ah meant it, every last word."
"You, you really think I'm-"
He thinks I'm pretty! I'd rather he think of me as awesome, but hey. I'm fine with pretty. But I've never heard him call anypony else pretty. But he thinks I'm pretty, does that mean-
"Are ya hungry?"
"What?" I must have zoned out. I looked up to see that we were stopped in the middle of Ponyville's market square. Huh. I've never seen it like this before. All the produce carts were folded and locked.
"Ah asked if ya wanted somethin' to eat."
Is he asking me out to eat? Like, on a date? At a restaurant?
Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh! He has a crush on me too!
What do I do?! I really just want to scream yes, but no, I can't do that.
Should I play it cool? Yeah, sure, whatever.
Or play hard to get? Maybe later.
Wow, for once in my life, I am actually regretting not paying more attention to Rarity's romance stories.
I'm being all sappy! I'm acting like Rarity! Next thing you know, I'll be wearing frilly dresses and hanging out at the spa, and-
I looked down at the red fur beneath me.
And it might be worth it. I don't know, I've never given it much thought.
What the hay? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. "Sure, that sounds great. So, Mac, what did you have in mind?"
He walked over to one of the folded up stands and started fidgeting with the lock. I recognized the stand as the applecart that I always see AJ hauling.
"Hey, Mac," I said as he opened the cart and pulled out an apple, "I thought AJ brought her cart back to the farm when she's done selling."
He handed me the apple. Then locked up the cart. "Nnope." He started walking again. "Only on weekends, or when the apples start runnin' out, or if they start goin' bad, or if she's had a rough day, or, well, Ah guess she usually does. But not today."
"Huh." Well, it wasn't a restaurant, so does that mean I'm back to square one? How do I figure out if he likes me without embarrassing myself? Maybe I can't.
I took a bite of the apple. It was good, like always. I've yet to even see a bad apple from Sweet Apple Acres.
Anyway, where's he taking me? "Yo, Mac, where ya headed to?"
"We're almost there."
That was vague. "Almost where?"
I laughed out loud,"I can't see it."
"You, at a gym lifting weights and running on a treadmill."
"I work there."
Wait, he does? On top of working at the farm? "Doing what?"
"There it is." He stopped and pointed at the little white box of a building. "Do ya wanna see?"
The building didn't quite match the rest of Ponyville. I'm guessing that that green earth pony never got around to painting it, and I'm guessing he never will, after today.
Mac carried me into the gym and helped me onto a bench near the door and sat next to me. There was a reception desk across near the bench and past that was a large open space. The floors were blue and mirrors were hanging along one wall.
But the ponies were what caught my eye. Several ponies in white uniforms and colored belts were mimicking the movements of a yellow Pegasus dressed all in black.
It's a dojo!
Big Macintosh works at a Dojo!
How awesome is that? It explains his cool moves back in the park.
"That's enough!" yelled a tan, male pegasus near the front of the class, "break into pairs and practice forms, anypony testing next week can move on to boards. Switch partners in 20 minutes." He walked over to us, "geez Mac! What happened?He turned to me and I saw him look at my bandaged wing. "Are you all right? Miss?"
"Dash." What is it with everypony calling me "miss" today? "Rainbow Dash, fastest flyer in Equestria, future wonderbolt, and weather pony extraordinaire. You can call me Rainbow."
"W-weather pony?" For a moment, I thought I saw a glimmer of recognition and horror on Pete's face, but I must have been imagining it.
"So," I said, tapping my hooves together, "I'm guessing you two know each other?"
"Yeah!" Pete jumped on the subject change. "For a few hours a week, this big lug's my boss. Speaking of which, what happened?"
Another sudden subject change, what's the deal?
"Well Pete," Mac sighed, "Wishy's brothers finally dragged him into something over his head. Rainbow here got caught in the middle. And she twisted her ankle in the fight, could you grab little miss ninja and a medical kit?"
Pete, weird name by the way, nodded and walked away, leaving Mac and I to sit there in even more awkward silence.
Have I mentioned that I hate awkward silence.
"So, a Dojo," I said, trying to break the ice, "that's pretty cool."
Mac gave a small smile. "Thanks."
"So," it was Mac who spoke this time, "Ah'm guessin' ya haven't-"
Pete returned with the black clad pegasus and a white first aid kit. Safety plus workspace kit number 300. I should know, I've seen and used enough of them to own stock in the company.
"Mac, I need a little more information," said Pete.
Mac nodded and got off the bench. He and Pete walked away, leaving me with the ninja pegasus. She, judging by the size, was wearing a face mask and had covered her hair and cutie mark.
How does she know who I -
Is she crying?
Sure enough, tears were welling in her light-blue eyes.
Wait a minute.
I know those eyes.
"Oh, Rainbow! What happened? Your wing! And now your ankle? How?"
This is why I didn't tell anypony. I didn't want them to worry. But it just made it worse. I'm probably gonna be writing a letter about this.
"I'm fine, Fluttershy,"
"Oh, uhm, do- do you think you could call me Flutterdancer? At least while we're here? I mean, if that's all right with you?"
"Oh, because of the ninja thing?" I guess it makes sense that she's hiding her identity in front of all these ponies.
"Y-yes, nopony knows who I am, except Mac and Pete. And now you. You don't think it's weird, do you? Me teaching at the Dojo."
"Fluttershy, I've seen your bear massages, I think it's weird that you're not running the place."
"Oh, I couldn't do that. I barely have time to make it to practice and the competitions as it is."
Wait! "You compete?!"
"Oh," Fluttershy, put a hoof to her mouth, "um, maybe?"
I glared at her.
She put her hoof down. "Maybe a little.
Not letting up on the glare.
She looked down at the ground. "Ok, maybe a lot."
Still not letting up on the glare.
She sighed. "Fine, I'll show you the medals and trophies later."
I broke into a wide smile and patted her on the shoulder. "That's my girl." All pegasi have a competitive streak in them. I knew Fluttershy would find hers someday.
We chatted about it for a little and I told her what happened to my wing as she bandaged my ankle. After she fixed it up, I was able to put some weight on it. I couldn't walk comfortably, but I could walk.
Hey, it was an improvement. I'm not gonna complain.
Normally, I would.
"Um," Fluttershy started, "you know, you could have stayed with me, I'm sure any of the girls would have been happy to help."
I shrugged. "I didn't want everypony fussing over me, it's not broken and I'll be flying in a few days."
"Rainbow," she said in a firm tone,"one of these days, your pride is going to get you into trouble and you'll be lucky if there's somepony there to get you out of it."
Leave it to Fluttershy to say exactly what I didn't want to hear.
"I know, I know," I sighed, "it already did. And I'm gonna try to work on it."
"Good for you."
"No promises though."
"I wouldn't expect it," she said with a smile, "your pride is part of you, just like my shyness is a part of me. You just need to learn how to control it a little better, like I do with my mask."
Speaking of pride.
What am I doing?
I can't ask her this!
"do you have somepony that you like?"
Please don't laugh.
"I-I guess," enough of her face was showing through her mask that I could see her blush, "Pete and I grab dinner after this every night, and he invited me to the hearts and hooves day dance, and um," she put a hoof to her ear, "we, um-" She mumbled the last part so quietly that I couldn't make out what she said.
I need to know.
"How did you know?"
"Well, it's complicated, but he's nice, easy to talk to, and I like being around him. Why do you ask?"
That's vague. But it makes sense. And that's kind of how I feel around Mac. Well, fifty-fifty on the easy to talk to thing, but hey, nothing worth having is ever easy. I spend enough time training to know that.
I wonder if martial arts training would help my flying. Wait. No! Focus!
I jumped when Fluttershy put her hoof against my shoulder.
"Huh? What is it, Fluttershy?"
She giggled. That's never a good sign. "You zoned out for a moment, were you daydreaming?"
"What? No." I dismissed the light-hearted accusation with the wave of a hoof. "I was just thinkin'."
"Oh, what about?"
She sat on the bench next to me. "Stuff that has to do with why you asked me about my special somepony?"
"Well," I scratched the back of my head.
What do I tell her? Does she know? Should she know? She wouldn't tell anypony. What would I do if everypony found out? Why does this have to be so confusing? I just had to go and-
"Who is it?" asked Fluttershy.
Fall in love.
Wow, this makes things complicated.
But I did fall in love.
And now I've got to do something about it.
Fluttershy giggled again. "Is it somepony I know?"
Big Mac came back and I could feel my face heating up.
Am I blushing?
No! That's embarrassing! I turned my head to hide my face from Mac, but I couldn't hide it from Fluttershy.
"That's so great Rainbow, I'm so happy for you."
Big Mac was followed by Pete who had changed into a dark blue uniform.
Since when did Ponyville have cops? I know cloudsdale has a few, and Las Pegasus has a ton of them, but those places are a lot rougher than Ponyville could ever be.
"I'll round them up Mac, don't worry about it. And your sure about this, paying Wishy's bail?"
Mac shrugged. "He didn't do nothin', and Ah don't wanna see him ending up like his brothers."
"All right," Pete shook his head, "I just hope Wishy Washy learns a lesson from this." He then walked up to Fluttershy and kissed her on the cheek. "I've got to go, sorry."
"It's ok," Fluttershy returned the kiss, "go get'em. And be safe."
"I will," he said, "can you handle the rest of tonight for me?"
"Of course I can." She gave him another kiss on the cheek.
He returned it before walking out the door.
My face was burning! I can't believe they did that right here.
I can't think that. But still. I can't help it! I wonder what's it like? I snuck a glance at Big Mac. Is it nice?
He looked at me. Oh no! He caught me staring! I looked away, trying desperately to find something to be interested in.
He's walking over here! Why is he doing that?
"Ya ready to go?" he asked.
"Go where?" I replied.
"Well, the farm," he said, "ya gotta stay somewhere, right? And our guest bed's probably better than a tree branch for healin' and the like. And the sooner ya heal, the sooner ya get to go home."
Stay at the farm? With Big Mac? And I didn't have to suggest it?
"Besides, Applebloom and A.J. would love to have ya over."
"Right." Why am I disappointed? Wait. Nevermind, I know why I'm disappointed. "Ok then, I guess I'm staying at Sweet Apple Acres."
"All right," he motioned his head towards his back and leaned down,"let's go."
"Um, are you offering to carry me?"
Fight it Rainbow, fight the heat that's rising in your cheeks. You were fine a few minutes ago. "Thanks for the offer. But, um, I can walk."
"Not all the way to the farm," Fluttershy chimed in.
"Excuse me a moment," I told Mac. Then I pulled Fluttershy aside. "You pick now to join the conversation?" I asked in a whisper, "and why did you have to say that? Whose side are you on anyway?"
She tilted her head to the side and gave me a weird smile. "Why, I'm on your side, of course." She trotted off to the main part of the gym, but turned and looked back over her shoulder. "No walking for you tonight." She turned away again and said, in sing-song, "doctor's orders!"
"I, uh, wait, what?" I stared after her until a soft, "ahem," broke me out of my contemplation of, well, whatever the hay you'd call whatever just happened.
I turned to see Mac lean down to offer his back once more.
I don't have much of a choice, do I? I climbed on and laid down. At least his fur is soft. I didn't notice it before, but it's a lot softer than you'd expect from a farm worker. I think it's even a little softer than mine.
At least when I'm on his back, he can't see me blush.
We walked back to the farm in silence, and he let me off his back on the porch. I was kind of sad that it was over. Yeah, I thought about it the entire way back and I'm pretty sure about it, I like him. So what should I do about it?
"Ah've gotta go get some apples for breakfast," he said, stepping off the porch, "the guest room is to the left of the stairs. Rest up, breakfast'll be waitin' in the mornin'."
He's been so nice to me. He's gotta feel the same, right? I wonder? I could-
Yes! I'll do it!
I walked over to him,"Thanks Mac."
Now or never.
And I never back down.
I leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek, mimicking Fluttershy's actions earlier. One difference, Fluttershy was slow and graceful. I was nervous and it showed. I rammed my snout into the side of his face. It wasn't graceful, it wasn't nice like I thought it would be, but it was embarrassing.
Ok, maybe it was a little nice.
"For everything," I said as I went into the house and closed the door.
I had to force myself not to run away, not that my ankle would let me. I hid behind the closed door for a moment with my heart just about pounding out of my chest.
Fortunately there was no one there to see me. Applejack and Applebloom must have been asleep already. My face was burning furiously, I must have been as red as Big Mac.
I waited for a few moments then peeked out the window, Big Mac was gone.
I hope he didn't mind.
What if he did? What if I went too fast? What if he hates me now?
He said I was pretty. He must like me. I think.
Anyway, it wasn't much of a kiss. It was more of a- a playful nudge! Yeah, that's it.
I banged my head against the old wooden door. Isn't that worse? What if he thinks I just want to be friends? I mean, he's nice, and I want to be friends. But I want-
I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WANT!
Why is this so hard? Why do I feel like this? I know I like him, so I should just tell him and ask him if he feels the same way.
BUT I CAN'T!!!
I opened the door and slipped out. onto the porch and sat next to one of granny Smith's old, wicker rockers. Honestly, how many of those things does she have? I bet she has them stashed around Ponyville just like Pinkie.
I sighed and looked at the moon. It looks so nice, hanging in the sky over the farm. I know AJ won't mind me staying here, but I want to have some time alone. Some time to think.
But Macs gonna come back soon.
I usually see something I want and take immediate action. Even if it's just a tiny step forward, I'll take it. But right now, I don't know.
I hopped of the porch and immediately regretted it. Pain shot through my twisted ankle. I waited for the pain to subside before I headed to the barn, I know Mac and AJ are always having problems trying to keep the roof from leaking, butit's a step up from sleeping outside and I probably wouldn't be found until well into tomorrow.
Inside, I found a big pile of hay in the middle of the floor, so I pulled some together into a makeshift bed and pillow along the wall. I placed it so I could see the moon through the barns only window.
I laid down on the pile of hay, watching the moon, for I don't know how long before drifting off to sleep.
I don't know why, but the moonlight filtering through the Apple trees was always calming to me. This time it didn't help.
I went the wrong way after I dropped Rainbow off at the porch. I just spent, I don't know how long, searching for apples in a section of the orchard that's already been harvested.
Hey, that's what I get for being distracted.
I sat down in the middle of the orchard and looked up. The full moon always looks nice over the orchard. It's the perfect thing to look at when you're trying to think.
And I had a lot to think about.
"What did she mean by that?" I said to nopony in particular.
It was just a nudge, but it felt like she was trying to make it a kiss.
Which was it? Was it just a friendly thank you? Or was it something else?
"Ah don't know!" I said, to the moon, I guess.
I'm not even sure which one I want it to be.
Why do I feel like this? I like her, but it's just a crush, right?
What if she feels the same? Could this be more than that?
Aah! This is so distracting! When was the last time I got this worked up over something? It's not like me.
I gave up on finding fresh apples and walked towards the barn to grab some out of storage.
When I entered the barn, I could see a large patch of pale moonlight streaming in through the barn's only window. There, in the center of that patch of light, I could see Rainbow Dash, sleeping on a pile of hay.
Why wasn't she in the guest room?
She was beautiful, and the moonlight only made her more so.
She didn't mean anything by what she said earlier. She was just being nice. There's no way somepony like her would ever like somepony like me.
"No," she mumbled.
I guess she isn't asleep.
"What was that?" I asked quietly, walking over and lowering my head to hear her better.
Before I could react, she threw her arms around my neck.
"Don't go," she mumbled.
She was still asleep! She was just dreaming. I should have known.
I couldn't get her hooves off my neck so I just sat next to her. I didn't stand a chance with her, but I could dream. I could enjoy my little crush. And I could enjoy this moment.
"Thanks Mackie," she nuzzled her face into my neck, "You're so soft."
My heart was racing. Was she dreaming about me? Maybe I do have a chance.
But what do I do? If AJ sees me like this with one of her friends, she'll kill me!
"and warm," she mumbled.
And it would be worth it. I layed my head down to think about all that happened today, but quickly fell asleep.
The sunlight hit my face, slowly breaking me from my dream, but I didn't open my eyes. I didn't want it to end! It didn't start off the greatest, but eventually, he stayed. He stayed with me. I'm always so brash and reckless, it's who I am. And he always takes things slow, thinking things through and making the right decisions. But he stayed. I don't really stand a chance, there's no way way he'd like me. But I can dream, and in my dreams, he'll be next to me.
I squeezed the bundle of hay I was holding. It was so soft and warm and comfortable. I rubbed my face in it, taking in the faint sweet smell of apples.
I forced my eyes open and saw that I wasn't holding a bundle of hay.
But. Why? Why would he be here?
I was surprised, but I didn't want to let go.
Why would he stay with me? Does he like me? In the same way I like him? How long was he here? Am I sure about this? No, I made my decision yesterday, I'm sure about my feelings. It's his feelings that I need to know about.
As soon as he wakes up, I'm going to ask him.
But, for now anyways, "Big Mac,"
I felt sunlight on my face and felt something press against my neck.
"I think I like you."
She must still be asleep.
"Ah think Ah like you too."
I picked my head up and turned to get one last look at her before starting my day. I found myself staring into her bright magenta eyes.
I actually said it.
But he was awake.
He heard it.
Beautiful emerald eyes.
He said it back!
Thank you to everybody who read, commented, faved, watched, and thumbed. Even the thumbs down, you read and gave your honest opinion, I would hope for an explanation of what you didn't like, but I can't fault you for that.
I rewrote this one today, but it may be a week or more before I get a chance to rewrite and more.
Here it is, the 4x longer chapter three!
I'm pretty sure I can hear the barn creaking. Rainbow and I are just sitting here, on the pile of hay. I'm pretty sure neither one of us was planning on telling the other about our crush, but we just did. At the same time. A few awkward moments passed.
I slowly stood up and Rainbow followed suit. We walked out of the barn and up to the porch. I opened the front door and held it open so she could go inside. She blushed and tried to hide it as she rushed through through the doorway.
I followed and shut the door behind me. She had taken a seat at the dining room table, so I took the seat across from her. We didn't say anything to each other the entire time.
She started tapping her hooves against the chair.
I started picking at a stray splinter sticking out of the old wood of the table.
This is getting us nowhere.
We could at least be eating breakfast while we're sitting here. As soon as I got off my chair, Rainbow brought both hooves up to the tables surface with a bang.
"Did you mean it?" she asked.
"Eeyup. Ah meant it. Did you?"
"Yeah, I meant it."
We both looked at the floor. I could hear that old clock on the wall ticking away. It seems neither of us knows what to do. "Now what?" I asked.
She took a deep breath before answering, "I dunno."
I don't know either.
After a few more moments of silence, I heard a low growl. At first I thought it was my stomach, but I saw Rainbow grab hers and start blushing.
"Hungry?" I asked.
She gave a few quick nods.
"Ya want some breakfast? Ah'm sure we've got plenty."
"Well," she chewed on her lower lip for a bit, "if it's not too much trouble."
Really? Usually, whenever she comes to visit AJ, she just raids the fridge. I guess she's just nervous. Then again, so am I.
"So, what would ya like?"
Her stomach growled again. "I dunno. Anything's fine."
This isn't the same Pegasus that my sister hangs out with. She seems too uptight, too reserved. She's clamped down on all that energy she normally shows.
Is it because she's nervous?
I don't want her to feel like she can't be herself here. Especially not if, well, if we want to make anything of this. But what, exactly, is this? We both confessed about our crushes, but what does that make us?
I don't know, but I'm going to at least try to... to... something.
My stomach growled. It was more of a low rumble compared to Rainbow's higher pitched growl.
"Hungry?" Rainbow asked with a smile.
That's it. That's what I'm gonna do. I'm going to make her smile. I'm gonna make sure that she's as comfortable being her as she is in her own house.
"Ya know," I glanced at the clock on the wall, "It's kinda late in the mornin'. And Ah don't really feel like cookin' nothin', so would ya want to, I dunno, just raid the fridge, or something."
"Sure!" Her eyes lit up like a foal that just realized it was their birthday. "You don't mind?"
"Nnope, besides, you wouldn't have let that stop you before."
Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say, because all the energy drained from her expression and she shifted in her seat. "Sorry, I guess that was kind of rude of me."
How do I salvage this? I'm not gonna lie, but I don't want her to feel bad about it.
"Do ya think Ah mind if AJ eats all the bread in one of her midnight sandwich snacks? Think she minds when Ah chug all the milk after a long day of work? It can be a tiny bit irritatin' to find somethin' gone, but the food's there for anypony who wants it, family, friends, whatever we are." Especially whatever we are. "As long as yer stayin' here, don't feel bad about usin' what ya need, just try not to waste it. Oh, and if ya finish somethin' off, add it to the grocery list."
Her smile started to return slowly. "Thanks, Mac. But what exactly are we?"
"That's the 64,000 bit question now, ain't it?"
A look of surprise flashed across her face. "Oh. My. Gosh! You actually remember that old game show?"
"Eeyup. Used to listen to it on the radio every week until it got canceled. The whole family used ta gather in the livin' room and make a regular party out of it."
Her surprise faded into a reminiscent smile. "Yeah, there was an instructor in cloudsdale who used to play the show as part of his class. He would call on somepony and make them answer the question before the contestants did, said it was to help us think on our hooves and make decisions under pressure." She got this little smirk on her face. It was that look she gets before a competition, the look I must have seen a million times directed at AJ. "Ya know," she tapped a hoof to her chin, "I might just happen to have taped a couple of episodes. And they might just happen to be sitting in a box in my closet. You Apples up for a little quiz show sometime?"
I gave a small laugh. "Eeyup." I never figured her for the game show type. But I guess it's just another sort of competition.
"Sweet!" She hopped off her chair. "I haven't listened to those things in ages. How about Wednesday evening?"
"The original time-slot."
"Duh!" She smiled. "When else?"
"That sounds like fun." I smiled back. It looks like she's over her nerves. And we found something we have in common.
She walked past me and into the kitchen. "So that's settled, now let's eat."
"Eeyup." I followed her into the kitchen. But while Rainbow went straight to the refrigerator, I was distracted by the stove, and the sink, and, come to think of it, the table.
Everything was clean.
There were no signs that anypony had made breakfast. In fact, it didn't look like anypony's been in here since I cleaned it yesterday.
Did Rainbow just stutter?
I looked over to see her standing in front of the refrigerator hand-picked
Is she shaking?
Did she see a spider or something? No, Rainbow wouldn't be scared of somethin' like that.
Maybe it was a big spider? A tarantula? Nah, I've only ever seen those in Apploosa.
I walked over to her. "Um, Rainbow, what's-"
She jabbed a hoof at the refrigerator. I looked where she was pointing.
There was a little yellow piece of paper stuck on the fridge. It was one of those 3Mare sticky notes I bought for AJ. They're real nifty little things, let ya leave a note just about anywhere.
This one read,
Gone to Appleoosa with Granny and Applebloom. Be back in three days with new tree.
P.S. Don't drink all the milk this time, ya big galoot.
Oh. AJ went out of town.
Wait. AJ went out of town?
I could feel the heat rising to my face. Oh, pappy, I don't think I can tell ya how glad I am that I got momma's red and not your yellow. Poor Applebloom, she's gonna be so easy to tease.
"S-so," Rainbow reached up and pulled the note off the fridge, "that's pretty cool." She stuck it back to the fridge and pulled it back off. "You don't need tape." She let out a painfully forced laugh.
"Eeyup," I said with a nervous chuckle, "they come in different colors too." Just after she was starting to feel comfortable too. There's no way she'll be able to stay here now. Alone, with me? That's far too awkward. I'll ask Ditzy if Rainbow can stay with her.
"So, Mac," Rainbow bit down on her lip and took a deep breath through her nose, "you never answered my question."
"Well, what are we? You know, to each other?"
"What do ya want ta be?"
"I don't know," she glanced down at her hooves, "this is kind of a new situation for me."
"Eeyup, same here." I've gotta do something, but what? "But Ah think-"
"A-Ah think, Ah want to see where this goes. Ah mean, yer always a lot of fun ta have around the farm, and Ah- Ah want to get to know ya better."
"Well, then we could-" she blushed and looked away. She's so cute when she does that.
"It's just," she looked down, "um, Fluttershy was talking about, um."
Fluttershy? She and Pete go out and do stuff all the time. Is that what she's hinting at?
"We, uh- we could go somewhere." I said.
That would be nice.
"That would be nice." she said.
"Mah thoughts, exactly."
She giggled. I like it when she does that.
I do not giggle, why did I do that?
And where are we going to go?
My stomach growled again.
"Uh, Rainbow," said Mac, "why don't we get started on breakfast."
"Yeah, that sounds good."
He opened the refrigerator door, "after you."
I'm blushing again. I can feel it, but I'm not going to turn away. "Thanks Mac, you're such a gentlecolt." What a stupid thing to say. Why does Rarity always talk like that?
"Why thank ya, miss Dash," he said, turning away quickly, "A-Ah try."
Good to know that I'm not the only one feeling awkward and nervous.
I dug around in the refrigerator, it was surprisingly well stocked, with a surprising lack of apples. There was apple jelly, leftover fritters, and even a little cider, but no actual apples. As much as I was tempted by the cider, I decided against it and walked away with a grape soda, fritter, and ,surprisingly, a microwave pizza roll. I went over to microwave and started cooking my pizza roll as Mac started digging around for his food.
He dug out a small jar of apple jelly and a half-empty, half-gallon jug of milk.
As my food spun around in the microwave, I watched as Mac set his stuff on the counter. Then he opened one of the kitchen cabinets.
Nothing but apples.
He closed that cabinet and scratched his head. Then he picked another cabinet and opened it. This time, there was nothing but jars of apple jelly. He didn't even bother to close that one. I had to hold back laughter as he systematically opened every cabinet in the kitchen, each time revealing a different apple-based product, from apple butter to applesauce.
Then he looked at me.
He looked past me, at the microwave.
I turned around. Why is he looking at the microwave?
I couldn't hold back the laughter anymore. There, on top of the microwave, on display, was a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. I looked over at Mac, he looked embarrassed.
"Oh, I'm sorry," I tossed the peanut butter to Mac then carried the bread over to him, "but you gotta admit, that was pretty funny."
"Ah s'pose," a grin slowly appeared. on his face, "it was, wasn't it?"
The microwave started beeping and I went and took out the pizza roll.
I set it on the counter to cool and stuck the fritter in the microwave. I better not cook this one as long. Thirty seconds should be fine. After hitting the start button, I turned around.
Mac had a stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches five tall.
I watched in fascination as he ate them all, two bites per sandwich. Then he up-ended the milk jug and drained it. Then he started cleaning up.
The microwave started beeping again. Wait, he ate all that in 30 seconds. Whoa.
He started walking out of the kitchen, but before he did, he looked over at my pizza roll on the counter. "Yeah, Scootaloo got Applebloom stuck on them things. Ah figured you'd like'em too."
"Um, yeah, they're really my favorite breakfast food."
Mac chewed on his lower lip a little bit, making me realize how much I've been doing that lately. "Ah guess Ah'll have ta stock up on,em then." He started scratching the back of his neck. "Ah mean, if ya still want to stay here."
Stay here? For three days? With Mac? And free pizza rolls? That doesn't sound too bad, a little awkward, but I'm pretty sure I can trust him. "Yeah, I still want to stay here. Are you okay with that?"
He looked at me and I could tell he was trying to hold back his smile. "Eeyup." I don't know why, but when he says that, the conversation feels like its over. He must have noticed it to, because his half-hidden smile disappeared and his gaze started drifting to the floor. "Ah'll be on the porch." He walked off.
I took the fritter out of the microwave and slammed it down. Then I polished off the pizza roll and chugged the soda. I made sure I burped in the kitchen. I did not want to do that in front of Mac.
Even though I have before.
But now it's different. I feel really self-conscious around him now. I bet he feels the same.
I walked out of the house and onto the porch. He was sitting there looking out over the Apple orchard.
"Hey, Mac, do you have chores today?"
"Really?" That means we could do something, my cheeks felt warm just thinking the next word, together.
What? But you just- Oh. "Funny."
We both laughed at his little joke and I could feel the tension I felt earlier melting away.
I don't know why I did it, but something about the moment felt right. I leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. This time, it wasn't rushed, it wasn't akward, and I knew that he felt the same. This time, it was perfect. My heart was racing, like it did during my stunts, or during a race.
Then he returned the kiss, my heart nearly exploded at the warm, soft touch. I never thought I could be this happy unless I was flying. I think I'm going to enjoy all this relationship stuff.
I can't wait till I'm flying again, that's the only thing that could possibly make this better.
I was fired up. "Let's get those chores done!"
"Ah will," he said, laughing as he stepped off the porch, "it shouldn't take too long."
"What're you talking about?" I hopped off the porch. There was no pain this time. "With me helping you, these chores'll be done in ten seconds flat!"
He pointed at my hooves. "What about yer ankle?"
"Oh, it's fine, Fluttershy did a great job with the bandage. It doesn't even hurt anymore." I jumped up and down like Pinkie does all the time. "See?"
Mac thought about it a little. "But, I don't want to-"
I put up a hoof to stop him. "If you don't let me help, I'll probably go crazy from boredom. Besides I still need to get my daily training in, even if I can't fly. So helping with the farm work is a win-win situation."
"All right," he sighed, "but only if yer sure. And nothin' heavy like plowin' or applebuckin'. Ya need to heal."
"Relax, how hard could it be?"
Answer, very hard. Four hours later, I was only halfway through with AJ's chores, minus the applebucking, and I was struggling the entire time.
I had helped with farm chores before, but this was the first time I couldn't use my wings. I had to carry things like buckets in my mouth, where I had just taken flight and held it in my hooves before. It was kind of a strain on my neck, so I started filling buckets halfway and making two trips. But that meant twice as much walking and all this walking was killing my legs. I'm built for bursts of speed, not the long haul.
It kind of explains why Big Mac is so solid though.
I'm blushing again, I can feel it. Why? How can I stop it? I hope Big Mac can't see me. Where is he anyway? I haven't seen him for at least an hour. Not that I'm that desperate to see him.
Ok, maybe just a little.
But I don't want to be clingy.
Maybe just a quick peek.
The plow was pulling easy today. I, no, we, woke up kind of late, but the works going quickly today. I looked up. Judging by the sun, it's a little past one in the afternoon. I looked back down and I could see Rainbow in the distance.
What is she doing? It looks like she's looking for something. She didn't let one of the chickens loose, did she? No, she would have told me.
It's surprising how well she's holding up, considering that she can't use her wings, but we really should stop soon. I normally work through lunch, but I'm not gonna make her do that.
I didn't want to make her work in the first place. She's a guest and it ain't right to make a guest do chores. I know she said she wanted to, but I should make it up to her somehow.
She said she wanted to go somewhere, so maybe I could take her somewhere nice for lunch. But where? I have no idea where to go. Where are you supposed to take somepony on a date?
A date? This is a date right? Two ponies who like each other going somewhere to get know each other better. Eeyup. It's.
I'm going on a date with Rainbow Dash! To paraphrase her, oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I'm going on a date with Rainbow Dash.
Ok. Settle down there Mac. Think this through. Where do you go on a date?
I don't know.
What do you know about dating?
About as much as a cow knows about laying eggs.
Do you know anypony who knows more about dating than you.
Any of them stand out? Any of them currently dating somepony?
Pete and Fluttershy!
Well then! Where do Pete and Fluttershy go on their dates?
I never asked.
Wow, I'm useless, aren't I?
Yeah, I am. Sorry, I just never thought I'd be in this situation!
Oh, why didn't I ask them? Maybe I still can. Pete's probably at work, but I could go ask Fluttershy. The chores are almost done. I just have to-
I looked behind me.
The row of field I was supposed to be plowing ended a couple hundred feet back. I got distracted and ran a plow through the front yard! "Granny ain't gonna be happy." I muttered to myself.
I turned to face the object of my distractions, "don't ya sneak up on me like that."
"Aww," she feigned disappointment,"but your eyebrow does this little twitch when you're surprised."
"Like that," she said, tracing small circles on the ground with her hoof. "It's cute," she tried to hide her face.
Cute? Did Rainbow Dash really just say that?
She gasped suddenly and her eyes went wide. "But you can't tell anypony I said that. Not Applejack, not my friends, not your friends, and especially not Rarity! You got that?"
"Eeyup." What else could I say, she seemed awful serious about that.
"Good," she sighed and wiped a hoof across her forehead, "if Rarity ever found out I was being all sappy, she'd probably drag me to the spa for, ugh," she made a funny face like Applebloom does when she eats green beans, "girl talk," she shuddered.
After that, I couldn't resist a little good natured teasing. "Ya could prob'ly use a nice day at the spa." I laughed when a look of shock appeared on her face. "Yer a mess!" I pointed at the straw in her mane.
"Well those chickens of yours didn't want to settle down," she tried to brush it away, but only made it stick up more, "and what about you?"
"Yeah! You're messier than I am. If anything you need a spa day more than I do." She leaned up and sniffed my mane," you're all sweaty after dragging that plow all day." She closed her eyes and sort of fell forward, resting her head against my neck. "Ahh!" She jerked her head straight up," Why did I- I mean, um, you smell, you need to go to a spa, or take a bath, or something."
That's a good idea.
I copied her gesture as best I could, "So do you." I lifted my head. This is crazy, but it's the only idea I have. "Let's go."
"Huh?" She tilted her head in confusion.
"The chores're done, and we've got the rest of the day to ourselves." I unhitched myself from the plow. I'll have to patch up the yard later. "Ya wanted to go somewhere, so let's go."
"Go where?" Her eyes went wide and she took a step back, "you don't mean?"
"B-but," she stammered," I'm not, I mean, it's, well, what if somepony sees us?"
"What if somepony sees us?"
"I don't know. What if Rarity or one of my other friends are there?" Is she embarrassed about being seen with me? Or is she embarrassed about being seen at the spa?
"We could sneak in."
"We disguise ourselves, and sneak in. We pretend we don't know each other and if ya get caught, ya gotta say yer alone."
"Oh," her eyes lit up, she's in competition mode now, "you're on!"
"Now we need disguises, Ah think AJ's still got that hat Fluttershy gave her."
"What are we waiting for? Let's get to it." She ran off for the house.
I laughed to myself and followed after her. I meant it before, there's always some sort of fun commotion when Rainbow Dash visits the farm.
And it don't look like that's about ta change.
We walked to the spa with our disguises on. I was wearing a wide brimmed sunhat and oversized sunglasses left over from Fluttershy's brief modelling career. A scarf draped over my neck and back hid my wings and bandages.
Big Mac was wearing a red buttoned up shirt adorned with white flowers. It looked like it was borrowed from Rarity's folks. He also wore a small straw hat with a red band, a fake mustache, and had left hide yoke at home.
Nopony gave us a second glance as we walked through Ponyville. Or a first for that matter, which was a very good thing.
"This is never going to work," I whispered to Mac. We were getting close to the spa and we ducked into a nearby alley. "You can still see our cutie marks. And it doesn't help that we're kind of the most recognizable ponies around." What with my colors and his size, trying to sneak around was pointless.
I jumped at a loud sound from the entrance to the alley, but when I looked up, I saw that it was just a cart from the local laundry service. Mac didn't even flinch. Not many ponies around here have much in the way of clothing, so it doesn't make much sense for everypony to have their own washer and dryer.
I think Ditzy's got one though. I haven't spoken to her in a while, but I probably could have stayed at her place. Well, no need for that now, but I should still go see her sometime.
Wow, being stuck on the ground sure gives you time to think.
Whew! That cart scared me.
Rainbow's right though, there's no way we're getting into the spa unnoticed and unrecognized, unless-
The cart! Eeyup. I've got a plan. This could work.
Or it could land my flank in jail for the evening.
"Wait here," I told Rainbow then trotted along after the cart. I'm lucky I've got fast hooves for my size.
What's he doing?
Mac just dashed out of the alley and towards the spa.
Wait, did I just make a bad pun based on my own name?
Nevermind that, Mac's gonna get caught!
But, then, he'd have to admit to visiting the spa. I want to see that.
But, then, I might get caught! I don't want to get caught! Then I would have to admit to visiting the spa! I've been there before, but I always had the excuse that my friends dragged me there. If I had to admit that I went to the spa of my own free will, I would be ruined. My reputation for being tough, and cool and awesome would be shattered!
Be careful, Mac! If you get caught, I won't forgive you.
I waited in the alley, not daring to peek out into the street for what seemed like hours. The clocktower was straight across from me, so I know it was actually only about 40 seconds, but it still felt like hours.
I can't take it anymore! What's happening out there?!
I made my way to the alley's entryway. I saw a straw hat for a fraction of a second before colliding with something heavy and fast. I had just enough time time to register that it was Mac before his momentum overrode mine and sent us both tumbling into the back of the alleyway. Earth! Sky! Earth! Sky! Red! White! Dirt! Hat! Something! I'm getting dizzy!
When we finally came to a stop, my vision had gone completely white. No way, I can't pass out! We didn't hit enough Gs to- oh. There was something stuck to my face. I pulled it off. It was soft, and white. It's a fluffy towel, and
OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! I'M LAYING ON TOP OF BIG MACINTOSH!!!
I jumped off as quickly as is physically possible for anypony that isn't Pinkie Pie. If I wasn't a frayed bundle of nerves before, I definitely was now. I hope nopony saw that. I used the towel to wipe some sweat off my forehead.
My hat! It's gone!
I looked around frantically, there it was! I dropped the towel and took off in a mad Dash for the hat. Gah! Why do I keep making bad puns about my name. I grabbed the hat and shoved it back into its place atop my head.
With my identity once again obscured, at least partially, I walked back over to pick up the towel. Mac was making no move to get up from that spill we had taken. But he was awake and staring up at the sky. I could almost swear his face was a shade deeper than his normal red. I ignored it and lifted the towel.
Then I noticed the little logo on the corner of the towel.
I dropped the towel quickly. "Mac! Did you just-"
"It ain't stealin'." He sat up quickly and got to his hooves. For his size, he moves pretty effortlessly. He walked over to me. "We're bringin' them back right now."
He grabbed the corner of the towel and tossed it over my flank with a flick of his head. It covered my tail and cutie mark. He looked around the alleyway and located a second towel. He tossed that one over himself in a similar manner. Then he located his hat and carefully placed it on his head.
I checked to make sure I still had my sunglasses. I did. Then I walked over to Mac. "I can't believe you did that!"
He adjusted his hat. "Neither can Ah."
"And where'd you get that thing anyway?"
"Fluttershy bought it for me, said I look like red-furred Shanks."
"Who's red-furred Shanks?" And why would Fluttershy buy you a hat?
"No idea," he peeked out of the alley, "let's go."
"Wait, Fluttershy told me about a side entrance, this way." I dragged him away from the main street and we made our way into the spa through the side door.
The inside was just as I remembered it, tile everywhere and decorations meant to be calm and relaxing. I just find it boring.
We made our way to the reception desk. When we reached it, the pastel mare sitting at it looked up from her magazine. The first words out of her mouth were, "I see you already have your towels."
I'm gonna have to have a little talk with Mac about thinking his plans through. "Well," I said, "that was your laundry cart that came by, right?"
"Yes," she said.
"Well, these were on the ground." Technically not a lie. "And we were coming here anyway." Also technically not a lie. I leaned towards the silent red pony beside me and whispered, "back me up here."
Mac cleared his throat. "Eeyup."
I facehoofed. Hard.
The receptionist raised an eyebrow and set down her magazine. "Do you have a reservation?"
I didn't think about that! "No, do we need one?"
"You do not," she gestured to a pricelist, "but you do get a discount if you book at least forty-eight hours in advance."
I looked at the prices.
HOLY COW!!! No offense to cows or anything, but these prices are ridiculous!
"Which spa package do you want?" asked the Mare, I think her name is Aloe, or Lotus, I'm not sure.
"It's our first time," I replied, "so the basic package will be fine." It's also the only one that won't set Mac back the cost of a, well, whatever expensive thing somepony like Mac would buy. But it's still a little pricey, I could buy a dozen boxes of pizza rolls for the price and still have a few bits left.
I was tempted to call the whole thing off right then and there. I looked at Mac, if he was upset about the price, he didn't show it. He was just quietly looking around.
The receptionist took out a pad and pen and started writing in it. "One basic spa package," she said before looking up, "for two? Or will that be two of the basic package."
"For two!" I answered quickly. So much for pretending to be alone, but I can't let Mac spend more on this than he already is.
"Very well," she went back to writing, "what are your names?"
What do I say? Do I give our real names or do I make something up? Should I give both names? No, I'll give mine, then Mac can give his. Should I say Dash? or maybe Apple? or maybe?
"D- dapple," I stuttered. Oh, real smooth, Rainbow, real smooth.
Just then there was a jingling noise accompanied by a small squeak. It must have been the front door. It was accompanied by a high-pitched, sing-song voice.
"Aloe! Lotus! I'm here for my 2:30. Three of the usual please."
No, not her, anything but her. Why does it have to be her? Wait. Did she say three?
The mare at the desk didn't look up from her pad. "As soon as I finish checking in Mr. and Mrs. Dapple here."
Mr. and Mrs.!
"Of course darling," said the newcomer as she walked up to the desk, "it will be so nice to have company for a change. The spa is always so empty around this time." She turned to me, "Mrs. Dapple, was it? It's so nice to meet you. Is this your first time here?"
What do I do? If I answer her, she'll know it's me.
"Why, yes Rarity," I forced my voice to go higher than normal," this is our first time here."
"I'm sorry," a look of confusion appeared on her face, "have we met?"
"E-why would you say that?"
"It's just that you knew my name. Were you a customer perhaps?"
"N-no, um, we've never met!" I can't believe I used her name! How do I fix this? "It-it's just that," what do I say? "Your reputation precedes you," I hope that works,"darling." I can't believe I said that.
"Oh my, that is nice to know," she turned to Big Mac, "and this is your husband? How are you today, fine sir?"
No! The moment he opens his mouth, everything's over! "Y-yes, this is my husband, uh, M-Mackie Dapple, and uh, he is," what do I say? I have to cover for him!
"I am quite well indeed. Thank you, madame."
Whoa. Since when did he have a Trottingham accent? But at least our cover isn't blown.
"Oh my, I simply adore your accent, dear. It is so elegant compared to the local ones."
Hey, watch it miss prissy.
Wait am I offended, or jealous?
"I can imagine," said in his fake accent," this is a farming town, is it not?" He cleared his throat," "Eeyup,they prob'ly talk like this."
"That was splendid!" said Rarity, sitting down and clapping her front hooves together. "You're a dead ringer for Big Macintosh."
"He is, isn't he?" said a new voice from the door.
Fluttershy! I forgot, she always goes to the spa with Rarity. Oh no. There's no way I can fool her. And why didn't I hear the bells?
Fluttershy walked over to us. "Oh, hello Da-" she started.
"Dapple!" I corrected her quickly. Please don't blow our cover, Fluttershy. " It's so nice to see you again, darling!" I don't know how much more of this my voice can take.
"Of course it is," Fluttershy gave me a big wink," so what brings you to Ponyville?"
She's enjoying this! But at least she's keeping our secret. I looked around for an excuse, but all I saw was 'A Brief History of Cosmetics' sitting on the reception desk.
"Well, uh- deary," this is killing me,"I am doing research for my book!"
"I see," said Rarity," how delightful. What type of book?"
"It's a history book!"
Fluttershy started to giggle. Oh no, what did I say wrong?
"I am sure you and Twilight will have so much to talk about," said Rarity, "she's a friend of mine, she'll be along shortly, and she just loves books. You can join us." She turned to the receptionist. "Lotus, be a dear and add Mr. and Mrs. Dapple to my tab for today, would you? Thanks."
I'm dead. There's no way out of this. I'll be shamed, humiliated-
"So," said Mac in his fake Trottingham voice, "I take it this Twilight knows a great deal about sports?"
Thank you Mac!
"Yes," I said, " it is a book on sports history after all."
"Nice accent," said Fluttershy.
"Not particularly," said Rarity, "you'd have to talk to Rainbow Dash for that, but I don't think she would be caught dead in the spa."
"Heh-he," I adjusted my hat," I've heard of her, and you're probably right about that."
I want to get out of here!
"Mr. and Mrs. Dapple?" asked a voice. One of the spa caretakers was walking over to us, "right this way please." She motioned for Mac and me to follow her.
"Mr. and Mrs. Dapple?" said Fluttershy with a funny grin on her face.
I don't like that face Fluttershy.
You're the element of kindness, Fluttershy. You shouldn't be making that face.
You wouldn't? Would you? You're my friend. You wouldn't do that to me. Would you?
"Um, excuse me, Rarity" Fluttershy said. What is she planning? "I seem to have forgotten something, I'm going to go get it. I mean, that is if you don't mind."
"Not at all dear," said Rarity, "I'll just wait here in case Twilight shows up."
"Thank you Rarity, I'll be back soon."
Fluttershy ran off. Once again, the bells on the door were silent. I have to get her to teach me that trick sometime. She was acting mighty suspicious, but she's a friend of Rainbow's. She wouldn't tell anypony, would she?
"If you'll follow me please," the spa caretaker spoke a little more forcefully, snapping me out of my thoughts.
I turned around to face the mare and noticed that Rainbow was still staring after Fluttershy.
I nudged Rainbow on the shoulder to get her attention. "Dear," I kept my fake accent in place, of course,"I believe she wants us to follow."
"What?" Rainbow snapped out of her thoughts, "oh, of course. Darling." She snuck a glance back at Rarity who had started flipping through the magazines in the waiting room. "Do you think she knows?"
"Ah've seen ya girls play poker," I whispered back, "Fluttershy and Twilight're the only ones who can hold a bluff."
"Yeah, I guess you're, wait. Twilight? And not me?"
"Yer overconfident with the bluffs, and it shows, I can help ya with that later. But for now" I waved a hoof in the direction the spa pony wanted us to go, "shall we?"
"We shall." Rainbow walked up to the, what do you call a spa worker anyway? They can't all be masseuses. "So, what's first."
"Follow me." The caretaker walked through a set of frosted glass doors into the main area of the spa.
We followed her, the room was large and had a mudbath on one side and massage tables on the other. There was a rack garden in the center and doors along the far wall that must lead to other parts of the spa. It was cool and sllightly humid, really nice after working in the field. It also smelled nice, like flowers, or something.
"My name is Lotus," she said, "now, the basic spa package is a mud bath, then a sauna, then your choice of a hot stone massage, mane treatment, or hooficure. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me or my sister Aloe." She led us to one of the doors along the back wall and motioned us through. We walked in, but she didn't follow, so we turned around to face her.
"Now," she said, "You two are filthy and you smell like you slept in a barn. Get cleaned up and you can enjoy the rest of the spa. Not before that." She shut the door with a click. "Robes are in the stand next to the door," she said from the other side, leaving us staring at the shiny metal door.
"Get cleaned up?" I asked, no longer bothering with the fake accent. "Did they just- No. They wouldn't, would they?"
"Yeah," said Rainbow, "I think they did. You wanna check?"
Not really. I turned around. "Eeyup. They did." I looked back at her.
Her face was as red as I am. "It's basically an indoor swimming pool, right?"
"Eeyup." I can't believe they did this.
"And we can take turns."
"Eeyup." I promise not to peek.
"See? There's no reason this has to be akward."
"Nnope. None at all."
"This is going to be Akward as hay, isn't it?" asked Rainbow.
"Eeyup." It sure is.
"There's no getting around it though,so you better not peek." She turned around. "Why would they put us in a single bath?" She threw her front hooves in the air and plopped down to a sitting position, let the towel slide off of her.
"'Cause they they think we're Mr. and Mrs. Dapple." It's sort of a nice bath though, it's big and fancy for sure, but it also has plants and a little waterfall. And it's warm in here, I'm guessing that's from the warm water. If we weren't standing on tile right now, I would think we were at a natural hot spring.
Rainbow sighed. "Thanks to Rarity, I couldn't say otherwise. Nice accent by the way."
"Applejack taught me after her stay in Manehattan. And that was pretty quick thinking with the book."
"It almost backfired though." She took of her hat and set it down next to her. "I can't believe Twilight's coming here." The sunglasses followed, as did the scarf shortly afterwards. "These disguises aren't going to hold up for long." She picked everything up and set it on the stand near the door.
"Well," I started thinking out loud as. I sat down and started removing my own disguise," the robes will hide our cutie marks," the hat and mustache came off easily enough, "and we can wrap towels around our heads to hide our manes." The shirt was giving me some problems though. I couldn't quite get my hooves around the top button.
"Ya need some help there, Mac?"
"What?" Did she just offer to help me get undressed?!
"Nevermind, then," she turned around and opened up the door on the front of the little stand, "looks like you've got it taken care of."
What does that mean? I looked down. The shirt was torn in two. I've got to stop letting myself get distracted.
Rainbow let out a sudden gasp. "We can use this!" She had dug a box out of the stand and lifted up in her hooves. I could see the words, "water-soluble bath dyes," printed on the side. "The rest of the spa is mud baths and massages right?"
"Eeyup, no water involved." So what are you going to do with water based dye."
"Perfect," she set the box down and started rifling through its contents, "there's green for you. And for me, what do you think, red or maybe purple, like Scootaloo's?"
Purple? Scootaloo? Oh! Her mane! That's her plan! "Dark blue. And Ah'll help with yer mane."
"Why?" she turned around and narrowed her eyes at me. "You're not planning something, are you?" She put a hoof to her chin and raised an eyebrow and held the pose for a moment before laughing.
I laughed with her. "You'll see."
"Ok, now I'm curious. You can help me with my mane," she said reluctantly and pointed a hoof at me, "but I'll be watching you."
She walked straight into that one. "Ya sure about that?"
"Why wouldn't I-," her face went crimson as soon as she got the joke. "Y-you- I can't believe you," her voice cracked, and she started to laugh. Then she threw the first thing she could get a hold of. A tube of pink dye hit me in the chest and exploded. "Take that! Pink Mac."
I was covered. I scooped as much of the pink Goo as I could into my hoof. Turnabout, and all that. "Take this!" I tossed it, splattering Rainbow with additional color, "Pink- Uhm-, oh, Ah've got nothin'."
"Well then," she started digging through the box of dyes, "take, ... this!"
I put up my hooves in preparation to block another tube of dye, but instead, she tackled me.
I was standing at the edge of the pool. So much for taking turns.
The water was warm, but not uncomfortable. And sure enough, the dye washed away, tinting the water a light shade of pink. When we surfaced, Rainbow was holding on to me. She quickly let go and moved away from me, turning away as she did so.
"Well, Ah guess Ah'll get out and let ya wash up." I moved to exit the pool. "Don't worry, I won't peek."
Rainbow took a deep breath. "N-no." What does she mean by that? She took a few more deep breaths before speaking again. "Mac?"
"This is part of it, isn't it?"
"Part of what?"
"Part of," she shrugged, "well, what we want, to get to know each other, to be comfortable together, to get past the awkward silences and nerves." There was a pause as rainbow lifted a hoof to the surface of the water and started tracing shapes across the pink surface. "This is part of that. So, you don't have to get out, there's plenty of room in here."
I smiled and sat down in the water. "Thanks Rainbow."
"What, for sharing the bath? Pffft. Dirty Stallion."
"No, fer sharin' your feelings. It can't've been easy for ya, and it means an awful lot to me that ya trust me so much."
She turned her head and gave me a small, shy smile. "Just don't forget, you promised to help with my mane, ok?"
"Don't worry, Ah think you'll like what Ah've got in mind."
"But you still better not peek."
"E-" Wait. Which one is the correct answer for that? Eeyup or a Nnope? "Ah won't."
I can't believe it! I knew Mac had something planned, but I wasn't expecting this! He dyed my mane dark blue, except for the yellow stripe. It was kind of like the stripe in Twilight's mane. And he brushed my mane up and back and tucked it behind my ears in a slightly poofy, bookish look. I almost look like a historian. And in a robe without wing holes, I would look like an earth pony. It's perfect! I even dyed my tail to match. Although, I couldn't save the yellow stripe. But it doesn't look to bad solid, I look like a completely different pony. It would even fool Fluttershy! At least, it would if she didn't already know it was us.
Mac's disguise was a bit more simple, he had his green-dyed hair flat and messy and kind of slicked back. He was going for sort of a rock star look, since he was pretending to be a voice actor, and I guess he kinda pulled it off.
putting on our hats and robes, we we went over our cover stories one last time before exiting the bath. As we walked through the door, I took one last glance at the pool of pink water. Even if we were sitting on opposite sides of the bath, I think we touched in a more important way and I'm never going to forget it.
"YOO-HOO! Over he~re!"
I'm probably never going to be able to forget the rest of this either.
I looked away from the bath to see Rarity sitting in the mud pit, waving wildly to get our attention. It doesn't really make sense to take a bath before sitting in a pile of mud, but there's no way we're getting out of this now. I glanced over at Mac and he gave me a weak smile before walking forward. I hesitated a little before finally giving in and following him.
I hope these disguises hold up.
As we approached the mud bath, I could see that there were three other ponies in it with Rarity, all of them facing away from us. From right to left, there was Rarity, one shock of purple mane, that was Twilight. A respectable distance away was a mass of pink, Fluttershy, obviously. But next to Fluttershy, sitting very, very, very, very, did I say very? Well, sitting very close, was somepony with a short, messy, tan mane. Is that Pete?
Wow, Fluttershy must really like him, to be comfortable sitting that close to him in public. I wonder how long they've been together? I just found out about them yesterday, so it can't have been too long. But, then again, Fluttershy and I never talk about girly things like romance, so I have no way of knowing.
I'm a little jealous though. I would be be embarrassed to be sitting that close to Mac where anypony could see me. I'm surprised she isn't. Or maybe she is and just isn't letting it stop her. That's gotta be it. When Mac and I reached the mud pit, or mud bath as Rarity no doubt insists on calling it, he went and sat on the side opposite everypony else. He didn't get in yet, he just sat on the side and dangled his hooves into the mud.
I stole another glance at Pete and Fluttershy. They were whispering to each other. I couldn't make out what they were saying, but I noticed that they were sitting so close that their shoulders were touching. It looks like they really enjoy each others company.
I've made up my mind. If she can do it, then I can do it too! I sat down next to Mac at the mud pool's edge and scooted over. I think I moved a little too quickly, because I bumped into Mac's side kind of hard. He gave me that cute look with the raised eyebrow though, so it wasn't all bad.
Across from us, Pete and Fluttershy stopped whispering to each other and nodded. Fluttershy turned to face us and feigned surprise. "Oh, hello," I could see her smirk, "How was the bath?" Fluttershy never smirks, love sure has changed her. She's almost acting like me. Almost.
I'm still the best though.
I smiled and leaned against Mac. "Pink," I said, raising the pitch of my voice to mimic Rarity, "absolutely, wonderfully pink.
She didn't have to fake surprise this time. "What?" She glanced at Pete who shrugged and shook his head. I held back a snicker as Fluttershy turned back to me and whispered, "ok, I give up, what does that mean?"
"Nothing, darling," I said loudly, "absolutely nothing."
"Fluttershy," Rarity, who was silent up until now, leaned past Twilight to tap Fluttershy on the shoulder, "introductions?"
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I forgot. I didn't mean to, it's just that, I, um, oh, sorry." Fluttershy's voice that was barely above a whisper and her head was slowly lowering towards the mud. Yeah. Some things will never change. As much as Fluttershy can be confident at times, especially if it's just her friends around her, it doesn't take much for her to slip back into maximum introversion mode. "Um, well," she did her best to snap out of it, but getting her out of her shell usually takes a good deal of time. Or a small critter of some sort.
Neither of those things were present, so it looked liked Fluttershy would most likely be quiet for the rest of the spa visit. Poor Fluttershy, but at least our secret is safe. Scratch that, it's safer, but there's still a wild card. One by the name of Pete.
He smiled at Fluttershy and put a hoof on her shoulder. Then he looked over at us and shrugged. His grin told me that he was about to prove his wild card status. But how? I know nothing about him other than name, jobs, and Fluttershy's Coltfriend. I don't know his moves, his style, how he reacts under pressure, nothing. As an opponent, he's a completely blank slate and I have to be ready for anything. There!
He made his move.
He leaned over and kissed Fluttershy on the cheek. Just a quick peck, but when he turned back to us, he had a confident look in his eyes, like he knew it was his victory.
And it was.
Fluttershy popped up, kissed him on the cheek and started talking like nothing could stop her. "This is Pete, my special somepony." She turned and gestured to the other two ponies in the bath. "And these are my friends, Twilight," Twilight waved, "and Rarity." Rarity nodded. "Pete, girls," Fluttershy gestured towards Mac and I, "this is Mr. and Mrs. Dapple. They're friends of mine from Canterlot."
"Really?" asked Twilight and Rarity at the same time, "we'll have so much to talk about!"
"A-actually live just outside of the city." I looked over at Mac, hoping for some backup, but he was busy having a staredown with Pete. Looks like I'm on my own for now. "We're more the country type anyways."
"Oh, I can Imagine," said Fluttershy, girls? Did you know? Mrs. Dapple is an author."
"Really!" leave to Twilight, always perks up at the mention of something boring, "I love books! I live at the library, so if you ever need any I'm pony to see. But I don't think we have any of yours though. What genre do you write?"
Way to put me on the spot Flutters. Let's see genre? If I give her a specific answer, she'll back me into a corner. "This and that, dear, this and that. At the moment, I am working on a brief history of sports, rather Pegasus specific, but it's for a client." I know she doesn't follow sports, so this conversation should be over.
Fluttershy had other plans though. "Will the Wonderbolts be in it?"
I could feel my eye twitch behind my sunglasses. "Well, of course not deary. They've been done." I had to grind the words out through my teeth and I can only hope they didn't sound too mechanical.
Well played, Fluttershy, well played.
"Well, we have a friend named Rainbow Dash," said Twilight, "She's a pegasus and an expert on anything competitive like sports, racing especially. But if you talk to her during your research, do not tell her what you just said about the Wonderbolts." She gave me an apologetic smile. "She might take it the wrong way."
What the hay is that supposed to mean?
Fluttershy, I apologize for what I'm about to do, but you were asking for it. "I may speak to her at some point, but I need to catalogue contact sports. Racing and the like are a little too hooves off for my purposes."
"So, what?" asked Twilight, "hoofball? Cloud tag?"
"Actually," I fixed my gaze on Fluttershy, "I was thinking more along the lines of the martial arts. Things like karate championships and Dojos." That got her! Fluttershy's smile is fading. One more push oughtta do it. "I came to Ponyville because I heard there was a real-life ninja training at the local Dojo. Doesn't that just sound delightfully fascinating and mysterious?" Fluttershy started another slow slide into the mud. Game and Match! Winner? Me. Sorry, Fluttershy, you were a good opponent, and your defeat was an honorable one. I take no pleasure in this victory.
Oh, who am I kidding. I won! I'm awesome! Woohoo!
I didn't have long to bask in my victory before Pete came to Fluttershy's rescue. He put a hoof around her shoulders and pulled her towards him, resting her head on his shoulder before it could hit the mud. "Ya know, it's interesting that you bring that up." I saw his eyes flicker towards Mac. "I happen to know the stallion who runs the Dojo. Big red fella, a lot like your husband. Never has much to say. Speaking of which," He shifted so that he was looking straight at Mac, "Mr. Dapple, what do you do for a living?"
"Well sir," said Mac in his fake Trottingham," I am voice actor." That's it Mac. It's your turn now, but I'm rooting for you.
Pete tilted his head and very flatly said, "not a very good one." And just what does he mean by that? He's got Twilight and Rarity fooled, and I bet if you didn't already know, you'd be fooled too. "Now don't get me wrong," he put his free hoof up defensively, "the accent is perfect, but your dialect is all wrong."
"Dialect?" asked Fluttershy, perking up her ears. Looks like she's back in the game. She lifted her head off of Pete's shoulder and gave him an inquisitive look. "What's the difference?"
"Well, you see," Pete moved a bit away from Fluttershy and turned to face her. They sat face to face as Pete explained, "the accent is how he says the words, and is easily recognized. The dialect consists of the words that he uses. Words that are specific to certain locations. For example, when you go shopping, what do you put your groceries in?"
"Um, a grocery sack?" she answered.
"Right, but you lived in Cloudsdale as a foal. Somepony who grew up in Ponyville would just call it a sack or a shopping bag. In Canterlot, it's called a tote, Trottingham it's a paper, and in Las Pegasus, it's just a bag. See?"
"Oh," exclaimed Fluttershy," I see."
You know, Pete and Fluttershy sure go well together. I look at them and they just seem to fit. I wonder if anypony sees that when they look at Mac and me. Not that anypony's seen us together besides Pete and Fluttershy. Well, Twilight and Rarity have, but they don't know it's us. I glanced over at them. They had lost interest in us and were chatting about something between themselves.
I heard Fluttershy start giggling, "so that means that Mr. Dapple isn't from Trottingham?"
Sigh. Round Two! DING!!
These two are tough. Every time Rainbow and I get the upper hoof, they recover and hit back harder than ever. What's hurting us the most is that their teamwork is better than ours. Rainbow and I are gonna have to work on that. Heh. I like the thought of that.
"So," Fluttershy put a hoof to her chin, "if the Trottingham accent isn't Mr. Dapple's real accent, then that means he's not from there, right?" Fluttershy? You're destroying us. How can you keep asking those questions so innocently?
I still have Canterlot, Manehattan, Griffin Standard, and my own voice. I'll take a risk with Canterlot. "Excu-use me, but I never said I was from l, ugh, Trottingham." This is my best one, I copied it off some stuck up noble I met at a tournament. "How rude, to presume that I-"
"STOP!!!!!!!!" Aaaggh! My ears! What'd you go and do that for, Miss Rarity? "Just. Stop." She ain't happy. I'm pretty sure she's stomping her hoof under the mud. "That accent reminds me of somepony, and I will NOT be reminded of him during my time of relaxation. That means you will not speak in that manner while in my presence. Is that understood?"
Eeyup. "Yes, ma'am." I really liked that one too.
"Thank you." She leaned back with a smile and closed her eyes. "It's so nice of you to be so understanding." She's a scary one sometimes. I just hope Sweetie Belle don't turn out that way.
"Hey, you know what?" There goes Pete. You know, every time he opens his mouth, and I know that whatever he says, I'm gonna be the one who regrets it. "I have this friend, he's a local farmer, could you do his accent? Kind of a southern drawl, I bet it would be foal's play for an accomplished voice actor such as yourself." That's Pete, never one to disappoint.
I cleared my throat and dropped all the fake accents. "Ah s'pose, ya mean somethin' like this."
"That's perfect!" said Twilight. She hasn't really said much today. "You're copying Big Macintosh aren't you? He's my friend Applejack's brother. Though I've never really heard him talk much, so I'm not sure if you're copying him or somepony else."
"Trust me," said Pete, "it's just like the real thing." He started scratching his left ear. This isn't good. That's his tell, in everything from poker to sparring, that left ear doesn't lie. He's about to pull something big. "Say, I'm curious, what does the cutie mar-"
I grabbed Rainbow and jumped into the mud bath, splattering mud everywhere to the shrieks and laughter of the other occupants. Sorry, but there was no time to come up with a better plan. That was way too close, and now they've got us on the defensive.
I'm still holding on to Rainbow! I looked down at the mass of bright colors nestled in my fore-hooves. She was looking back at me, sunhat tilted just enough for me to see the shy smile gracing her reddening face. I let go of her, but instead of moving away, she leaned back against my chest.
Confidence renewed, I turned back to face Pete. "Ah'm sorry, Pete was it? Ah didn't quite get that." I feel like I could take on the changeling empire myself. Wait. Didn't the pony that say that die after four seconds of screentime?
Pete had wiped most of the mud from his own face and was helping Fluttershy. "I was asking what the cutie mark of a voice actor looks like."
"Ah, uh, Ah don't like to show it." I'm doomed. I got cocky, and now I'm going to pay the price. If I'd have just kept my big mouth shut, then maybe he would have forgotten about it.
"Why?" Pete narrowed his eyes. "What is it? Lozenges? A microphone? A script? I'm sure it's something interesting, so why don't you want to show us?"
"Ah, uh, well, ya see-" I've got nothing!
"We can't choose our talents or cutie marks," said Twilight, "there's nothing to be embarrassed about." I looked over at Twilight to see her and Rarity sitting next to a frozen wave of mud. What? Twilight noticed that my stare and glanced over at the wall of mud. "Oh, that." She started scratching the back of her neck. "Temporary suspended animation, I kind of panicked when you cannonballed. It'll wear off soon. Anyway, you don't have to be ashamed of your cutie mark. Besides, I knew somepony back in Canterlot whose special talent was ergonomics." She stopped there, but she must have noticed my blank stare. "He designed chairs. Really comfortable ones too, sometimes you just didn't want to get up once you sat down. Anyway, his cutie mark was, shall we say, less than fortunate. So yours can't be that bad, can it?"
"Well, uh, Ah guess, um, Ah- ACK!!" There was a sharp pain in my ribs. I looked down to see Rainbow glaring at me from under her hat. "Did ya just jab me?" I asked in a whisper.
"Pull it together, Mac," she whispered before turning to face Twilight, "actually, it's that little thing that hangs down in the back of the mouth."
Ew. But nice save.
Rarity gasped put a hoof to her mouth. "Oh, my dears you have my sincerest condolences." Her voice was filled with genuine concern and sorrow. "If you ever find the time, please come by the boutique I'm sure I could make a fine pair of pants that you will simply adore. Free of charge, of course."
"Why, thank ya kindly, Miss Rarity, but ya don't need to go through the trouble on my account."
"Oh, it's no trouble, none at all," she replied, "and let me help you with your hats." A brief look of concentration crossed her face and the hats disappeared in a flash of magic.
Fluttershy and Pete clamped their hooves over their mouths and started to sink below the surface of the mud. Bubbles started to rise from their muffled laughter.
Aloe came around with a tray of cucumber slices. She gave me and Rainbow an odd look, but she didn't say anything as she offered the tray to each pony. I'm guessing she noticed the change in mane color.
Rarity, who took two of the slices suddenly slapped a hoof to her forehead. "I almost forgot the sunglasses. They're quite stylish, but you don't need them inside."
Twilight started muttering something about her brother.
"Yeah I do, uh, I mean," Rainbow, had taken 2 cucumber slices, and I'm pretty sure she was just going to eat them, "they are quite helpful." She quickly stuck the slices behind the glasses. "See?"
Rarity's eyes went wide. "I never thought of that," she said with admiration, "it's brilliant! I have to remember it for next time." She put the cucumber slices over her eyes. "Fluttershy, this is why I like your friends, they're all so cultured. Except for Rainbow Dash, no offence to her, but she just does not take the time to enjoy the finer things in life. She would have just eaten the cucumber slices."
"Mac?" I heard Rainbow whisper, "is anypony looking?"
"Nnope," I whispered back. Rarity's eyes were covered, Twilight was talking to Aloe, and Pete and Fluttershy were busy plotting our downfall. "Yer safe."
Rainbow tossed her head back quickly and lifted the sunglasses straight up. The cucumber slices stuck to glasses for a second, but then fell into Rainbow's open mouth. She returned her head to its former position, put the glasses back on, and had the slices chewed and swallowed in about a second. "Thanks," she whispered.
"Yer welcome," I whispered back.
"So, Pete," Twilight had finished her coverstaion with Aloe and had turned her attention to the tan terror, "I've heard Fluttershy mention you a few, but what is it that you do?" Fluttershy started giggling. Uh, oh. That can't be a good sign.
Pete flashed a grin in my direction. "You know, miss Sparkle, I'm really glad you asked that." Whatever their endgame is, it's happening now. "I'm chief of police for district A-12. A.k.a. Ponyville."
What are you planning Pete?
"Since when did Ponyville have a police force?" asked Twilight. "And what about the Royal guard? It seems kind of redundant to have police when we have them."
"There's only three of us," laughed Pete, "as for the royal guard, they aren't from here, so they don't know the ponies or the places. Local police are members of the community. Also, most cities don't have a Royal Guard presence. We're pretty close to Canterlot and let's just say that Ponyville is a rather eventful place."
"That must make a lot of work for you," said Twilight.
"They're planning something," Rainbow whispered, "get ready to move."
Pete, reached a hoof to his mane. "We develop little tricks to make things easier for us," Pete pulled a small, dark grey puff out of his mane." this is one of mine." Twilight examined the item with intense scrutiny.
Rainbow gasped. "Mac?!" Her voice was a whisper, but it held a hint of panic. "What is he doing with a piece of thundercloud?!"
"He uses that for his shock tag," I whispered back, "don't worry, it's stabilized. Pete's a proffessional."
There was another sharp pain in my ribs and Rainbow fixed me with a glare. "So am I! I can tell it's stabilized from here, but what's he going to do with it? And what the hay is a shock tag?"
Pete clapped his hooves over the stormcloud and started rubbing them together.
"Time to go," I whispered to Rainbow. She didn't waste time responding, she just started climbing out of the mud bath. She was having problems though, her muddy hooves were slipping on the smooth tile and she couldn't lift herself out.
Pete suddenly pulled his hooves apart. "This is the shock tag," he said.
"I don't see anything," said Twilight.
I leaned towards Rainbow. "Sorry Rainbow, yer taking too long."
Rainbow looked at me in confusion. "What does that mea-WHOA!" I picked Rainbow up, taking care to avoid putting any stress on her injured wing. Wow, she's light. I tossed her up out of the mud bath. She landed gracefully and offered a hoof to help me out. "Don't you ever do that again," she snorted angrily.
I took the offered hoof, even though I didn't need it. I'm used to dealing with mud, what with the farm and all, but I really don't need to upset Rainbow anymore than tossing her already did. "Ah won't." I don't feel like diein' young. But we're out, and now we can-
"Whoa now! Don't touch." Pete started laughing. Twilight almost touched his hooves in her curiosity, that would not have been pleasant. "There's not much to see," he started bringing his hooves together, "but if you touch, there's a lot to feel." When they were about an inch apart, there was a crackle and a puff of smoke as blue electricity arced between his hooves. Then, suddenly, nothing happened. Huh! I got all worked up over nothin'. Too bad. You tried, Pete. Better luck ne-
"BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!!" He set off the fire alarm? "Fwissssshhhh!!" Why am I getting wet? I looked up. Oh, sprinklers.
He's trying to wash away the dye!
"Run!" I yelled to Rainbow.
"Duh!" she yelled back. Good, we're on the same page.
Pete climbed out of the mud bath and placed himself in our path. We started running around the other side of the bath. I was suddenly stopped by a yank on the robe I was wearing. I looked back to see Fluttershy holding down the ends of my robe and Rainbow's. Normally, she would have been dragged along like one of Winona's old chew toys, but we had no traction on this wet tile. Meanwhile, Pete started to make his way around the bath towards us.
Rainbow and I exchanged glances before discarding the robes. We were completely undisguised now. The sprinklers washed away the mud and dye and Rainbow had even lost her sunglasses somewhere along the way. I'm gonna have to buy Spike a new pair, but I can think about that later. Rarity and Twilight were too preoccupied by the sudden downpour to-
As suddenly as it had started, the sprinklers ceased sharing their water supply. Rainbow and I once again exchanged glances before deciding on a course of action.
We headed for the door, but the two unicorns were starting to look up. We're not gonna make it! We weren't even past the wall of mu-
Right. Temporary suspended animation. But we're hidden again! We didn't stop heading for the door, but I spared a glance back at Pete and Fluttershy. They were sitting beside each other at the far end of the mud pool. In unison, they each snapped both front hooves up and together. Then then bowed their head and snapped them back up with a shout of, "OSU!"
You two are in for it when I get my hooves on you! Rainbow and I made it through the rest of the spa and the lobby without incident, but as we ran out the door, the receptionist, whom I now know is Lotus, called out, "please come and visit us again!"
There could be only one possible response to that. "Nnope!"
This is fun. Running through Ponyville with Mac like our tails are on fire. I used to think he was boring, but I'm never going to forget this. And judging by everypony's stares, I don't think the citizens of Ponyville will either. Fortunately, we're completely covered in mud, so nopony knows it's us.
We kept running until we reached Sweet Apple Acres. I was surprised that Mac could keep up with me. He wasn't as fast as AJ, but he kept up a steady run. I stopped at the front entrance to the farm and turned around. "Hey, Mac, I-"
He ran straight past me and jumped over the fence with ease. Looks like Applejack's not the only rodeo pony in this family. I slipped through the gate and took off after him. I didn't have the momentum to make the jump, but I can still catch up with him.
I followed him past the barn and off to an undeveloped section of the farm that I am, honestly, not familiar with. I just hope he stops soon. No! Not because I'm tired! I could run like this all day! It's just, we're still covered in mud, and it's starting to dry, meaning it's starting to get uncomfortable.
Up ahead of me, Mac darted to the side and disappeared behind a dense grove of trees. When I turned the corner, I found myself in front of a large pond. It was almost deep enough to be a small lake really. The water was crystal clear and I could see small fish darting around the rock at the bottom. There were cattails near the bank and a large willow tree hanging over the edge of the pond. The willows branches stopped just short of the waters surface and every so often, fish would jump out of the water to nip at bugs that landed too close to the surface.
"Mac, this is awesome!" That's really the only way to describe it. "I never even knew this place existed."
Mac was sitting on a fallen cottonwood tree. At least, that's what AJ calls them. I don't get it really. I mean, cotton? Wood? You can't get two things that are more different than that. "Ya mean, ya never saw it while ya were flyin' around?"
"I don't really pay attention to the ground beneath me unless I'm about to crash." Maybe I should though. "But I really mean it, this place is really nice. Thanks for showing it to me."
"Yer welcome Rainbow." Mac scratched the back of his neck, flaking off some of the dried mud. "Ah'm glad ya like it."
I walked over and sat down on the log next to Mac. "But why did you run here so suddenly?"
"Well, Ah thought a swim would be better than a garden hose. And, uh," he tapped his hooves together a few times, "Ah'll go now, so you can wash up." He got up and started walking away.
I hopped off the log and followed him. "You think I'm just gonna let you watch me from the trees? Not happening."
He stopped and spun around. The look on his face was priceless, both eyes were as wide as saucers as he tried to stammer something in his defense. He couldn't even make sound come out. It's cute when he gets flustered. Not that I'll ever tell anypony, of course.
I sat down in front of him and crossed my forehooves. "If you're gonna spy on me, you're gonna do it where I can see you." I think something broke in that big red skull of his, because he completely froze. After a few seconds, I gave up on waiting for him to recover and took off for the pond. As I neared the water's edge, I yelled out, "last one in's a rotten-" I saw a reddish-brown streak out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head just in time to see Mac leap for the water.
He dove into the pond with an impressive splash, pelting me with water droplets and small fish. He didn't even cannonball. He turned to face me after he surfaced. Flicking his now-soaked mane out of his eyes, he gave me a playful glare. "Don't ya dare say apple."
I kicked the flopping fish on the.bank back into the water. "Wouldn't dream of it." I stepped into the pond and paddled my way over to Mac. Ya know, it's weird, I was all embarrassed and stuff being in the bath with him, even though it was just us, but here, I'm fine. I wonder if it's because the water's colder. Or maybe because we we're not behind closed doors. Or maybe it's just because I'm getting a little more comfortable with the idea of having somepony special. Whatever it is, it's kind of nice. "I underestimated you, Macintosh Apple. I thought you would be dumbstruck for at least another minute. I won't go so easy on you next time."
Mac scratched at his ears. "Ah'm sorry, there's mud in my ears. Did ya say ya want me to go easy on ya next time? Let me think about it."
"Hey! That's not what I-" before I could finish setting Mac straight, he lifted his fore-hooves out of the water and brought them down with a resounding slap. The resulting wave knocked me back and sent me under. I was about to right myself when I felt myself being lifted for the third time today.
When my head broke the surface of the water, I heard Mac calling my name. "Rainbow! Rainbow, are ya all right?" Whoa, he's strong. He's holding me up in the air like it's nothing. And he's tall. I was paddling, but he's just sitting on the bottom. "Ah'm sorry, Ah didn't mean ta-"
"Do you enjoy treating me like a stuffed doll?" I made sure to inject a healthy dose of sarcasm into my voice. "And calm down, I'm not gonna break that easily."
He blinked. "Huh?"
"That means put me down!" He jumped back, hooves releasing me from their grip. Through some quirk of my latent pegasi magic, I had just enough time to realize that I was still in the air before gravity claimed me.
"Ugh." That hurt. I floated on the surface where I belly-flopped, but it didn't last long before I started sinking.
"Rainbow?" I know she said not to worry so much, but she ain't coming up. Of course, she ain't done sinking yet. She's probably waiting to hit the bottom so she can push herself back to the surface. I could see her through the clear water and when she didn't push up after hitting the bottom, I knew something was wrong. That fall must have hurt worse than I thought! Hold on Rainbow! I wasted no time in diving under to help her. Please be all right.
She was at the bottom of the pond pulling her hooves under her. I saw that her cheeks were puffed out, most likely, she must have managed to get a good breath of air before she sank. She also probably would have made it to the surface in a few seconds.
That was a few seconds that I wasn't willing to wait. I stuck my head beneath her and gently lifted her out of the water. Then I walked back to the shore with Rainbow slung over my neck.
As I approached the fallen log, I felt something push down on the top of my head. "I thought I told you I didn't break easily," said Rainbow with some annoyance in her voice, "I would have been just fine on my own." She punctuated her words with light smacks from her hoof to the top of my head.
"Ah didn't know, and AJ would never forgive me if somethin' happened to ya." I took a deep breath before saying what was really on my mind. "And Ah wouldn't either."
She stopped smacking my head, but said nothing. I wonder what's going on in that head of hers. Is she mad at me? She has every right to be. Suddenly, she furiously rubbed her hoof side to side in my mane. Once she stopped, I felt her shift on my back. "Thanks, ya big lug." I could feel her stand up on my back. I was about to look back to see what she was doing, but before I could, I felt two hooves on top of my head. Then Rainbow's upside-down face filled my vision. "For everything, and I mean that." She hopped from my back to the log and sat down facing me. "I had a really great time today, Mac."
That's good to hear. "Ah'm glad ya did." I sat down where I was. The log was just high enough that
Rainbow and I were able to look straight into each others eyes. She has really nice eyes by the way. "Ah was a little worried that ya weren't too happy with how our date turned out."
"Wha- Ohhh-" She stood up quickly and almost slipped off the log. "Are you kidding?!" she yelled after regaining her balance. I knew it, she was just trying to be polite. I probably just destroyed any chance I- "That was the best date ever! I would say day, but that would just invite disaster. You know, we should really do that again sometime."
Another date? "Eeyup." I would love to!
"How about tomorrow? If you're not doing anything?"
"Eeyup." All I've got are chores, same as today.
"Sweet! It's a date then." A smirk crossed her face for a moment. "My second date, who would have guessed that I, of all ponies, would ever be dating somepony?"
"Me," I said, pointing out the obvious.
Rainbow blinked and tilted her head before falling of the log in a raucous fit of laughter. "Oh, Mac! That was great!" She laughed some more while rolling on the ground. It was nice to see her laugh, but I was worried that she would aggravate her injured wing. Eventually, she stopped rolling around and stood up. Wiping a tear from her eye, she flashed me a smile. "Thanks for making my first real date a memorable one."
I scratched the back of my neck. It's funny how itchy that particular spot's been lately. "Aw, shucks, Ah should be thankin' you fer the same thing."
"Wait, Rainbow pulled her eyebrows together, "that was your first date too?"
"Eeyup." If you don't count the love poison, but I ain't bringing that up anytime soon. "But, what do you mean by real?"
"Oh, um," looks like she's got the same itchy neck problem that I do, "back in Cloudsdale, Fluttershy had a crush on somepony in her remedial flight class. In an effort to give her the courage to talk to him, I may have gone on out with her brother."
"How'd it go?"
"He was as shy as she is." Why isn't she smiling anymore?
"Oh." I suppose that's to be expected. "Ah never knew Fluttershy had a brother."
She didn't answer, not verbally anyway. Her face told me what I needed to know. It was a face that said, "used to." It was a face I've seen too many times. I stood up and walked over to Rainbow. I don't know how close she was to this colt, but I know how close she is to Fluttershy and if that's any indication, then I just opened a wound that probably won't ever heal. I know mine hasn't. "Come on, let's get to the house. Ah can put together somethin' for an early dinner. Ya know, since we skipped lunch and all."
"Yeah, I guess." She managed a half-hearted smile before she started walking back to the farmhouse. "Hey, Mac? Do you have any bandages? Mine are all nasty."
"Eeyup." I walked alongside her, matching her uncharacteristically slow pace. "We've got plenty of medical supplies, most of it for me. Do ya need any help?"
"No, I can get it." We walked in silence for a few moments. "But, um, if you don't mind..." She let her words trail off without finishing her question.
"If Ah don't mind?" I prodded.
"Well, it's just um, you did a great job styling my mane. What with the dye and everything."
"Ah've got two younger sisters. Mah days've seen a lot of brushin'."
"Well, then you're probably sick of it, but, um, maybe just once, you could..." Once again, she didn't finish her question.
That's ok though, I'm pretty sure I know what she's asking. Leave it to Rainbow to be embarrassed about something like that. "I'd love to. And Ah'll be sure not to tell anypony." I don't have a hairbrush though, and I'm pretty sure that if she has one, it's a little out of reach. "You'll have to borrow AJ's brush though."
Rainbow shrugged with one shoulder while she walked. "What do you think I did for the gala? Just don't tell her."
"Thanks, Mac." We walked back the rest of the way in silence, but once we were within sight of the farmhouse, Rainbow shouted, "race ya!" and took off for the front door.
She was already on the front porch by the time I started running. She had already won, but I didn't care. I just ran to the porch anyways. Just because she suggested it. Just because of that beautiful mare who took what would have been a boring, normal day and made it something unforgettable. Just for that bright Rainbow. She was so sad earlier. I know how she felt, and that nopony can ever take that pain away, but just having somepony be there can help you live with it.
When I reached the porch, Rainbow was stretched out on the ground, feigning sleep. "Took ya long enough," she said, in between fake snores, "I thought I was gonna grow old here."
There's a thought. But one for much, much later. "Well, Ah'm here now, Rainbow. And if ya need anything, Ah'll be there, for you."
Confusion painted her face for a moment, but that quickly gave way to a warm smile. "Thanks, Mac. I may take you up on that."
He'll be there. Such a simple statement, but it's a really nice thing to say. I guess it's kind of, I don't know, romantic maybe? Not that I know the first thing about what's romantic or not. Oh look, he's holding the door open for me, that counts as romantic, right? I gave him a smile as I went in. I should probably do something romantic for him. But what? Ooh! I know! I can give him another kiss on the cheek! It's romantic, he'll like it, and if I'm lucky, he'll kiss me back! It's perfect! And I am getting way too excited over this. But I don't care. Now, I just have to find the right time to put my plan into action.
Mac started walking past me towards the kitchen.
Now seems like a good time. "Hey, Mac?"
"Eeyup?" He stopped walking and turned towards me.
I took a step towards him. "I really mean it when I said that I enjoyed today. It was a lot of fun hangin' out and I'd like to do it again sometime." Now's my chance! I took another step towards him. This is it, one more step and I'll be close enough to- No! Wait, I- I could- No! I can't. Wait. Why Not? There's no reason not to and I bet we'll both like it. That's it! I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna go for broke and give him a real kiss!
I took on last step towards Mac. If I'm going to do anything, I'm gonna do it now! All I've gotta do is lean up and- I'm shaking, aren't I? I am so nervous right now, but I want to do this. I put my hooves to the side of his head, more to steady myself than anything else, and started leaning in. My heart's racing a mile a second and- And Mac's shaking his head and mouthing the word, "no." Way to kill the mood there, Romeo. Why wouldn't you want to-do
Everything stopped in that moment, and I'm fairly sure that includes my heart. Not only was somepony in the house, but they saw me about to kiss Mac! It's gotta be a robber or something. In that case, Mac can-
"Yeh'd best be thinkin' real careful-like 'bout where yer puttin' that mouth a' yers, little missy."
"E-evenin' Granny," gulped Big Mac, "what're ya doin' back so early?"
It is! I thought they weren't gonna be back for two more days!
"S'prised ta see me, are ya? Then maybe ya can imagine how 'tis fer me, wakin' up from a nap and seein' mah grandson bein' more than friendly with his sister's best friend."
Shoot! I'm still holding on to him. I hastily let go of Mac and turned around to see old Granny Smith sitting in her rocker and glaring at me. Does that mean AJ's here too? What's she gonna think? I mean, I hope she'd be happy for us, but Granny Smith sure doesn't.
There was another creak as Granny got up from her chair. "Ah always had ya pegged for that sparkle filly," she said to Mac, "her or the pink bakery girl." Twilight or Pinkie?! Well, I guess I'm just as unlikely of a match for him as anypony. Granny started to walk around me slowly, eyeing me up and down like she was inspecting something before making a purchase. I didn't like it, but I didn't complain. I guess this is part of a relationship too, winning the approval of family members. "Yeh know," she finally said after a few moments, "judgin' by the way the two a' ya were gallyvantin' around an' still got yer chores done afore supper, Ah'd say the two a' ya fit."
"What?" I couldn't believe my ears, all she cared about was that the chores got done?
"Didn't yeh hear me?" She asked as she climbed back into her rocking chair. "I said, the to a' ya fit together. If yer lookin' fer mah approval, yeh've got it. Yeh had it the moment Big Mac took a shine to ya. Ah knew he'd pick somepony nice and it ain't mah place ta interfere." She was smiling at me as she talked, but as soon as she turned to face Mac, her face took on an angry scowl. "But Big Macintosh Apple, yer sleepin' in the barn till Applejack get's back. That's yer punishment fer not tellin' us. Now go on, git! An' there's a pie in the kitchen, mah gift ta the two a' ya, take it with ya."
Mac just nodded and walked away. That's not fair, he didn't do anything. "Look don't punish him because of me, you were already off on your little trip, he couldn't tell you if he wanted to. And he was just trying to help me, ok? If you want, I'll just pack up an-"
"Shut yer trap little missy," she jabbed a hoof in my direction, "yer stayin' out there with'im."
"What?" Why am I included in this?
She started rocking. The creaking of her chair almost hid the sound of the front door as Mac headed out to the barn. "Yer a strong gal," she said, "not many ponies talk back ta me like that. But don't ya go thinkin' Ah'll let ya use the guest room without askin' just cause Mac thinks yer somethin' special."
"What, you mean, all I've gotta do is ask?" I should probably tone down the sarcasm, I want her to like me. Failing that, I want her to tolerate me.
"Technicality-wise, Applejack owns the house, and yeh gotta ask her if'n ya wanna sleep in the guest room. But she ain't gonna be back fer two days."
This is AJ we're talking about, of course she'd let me stay in the guest room. But she isn't here now and I don't want to cause trouble for Mac. "Fine." I started walking to the door.
The chairs creaking stopped. "And just where in tarnation are ya gettin' off ta in such a hurry?"
What? Did you forget? "You just said I have to-"
"That don't mean we cain't talk a spell." I could feel my eye twitch. She seems like a nice old lady on the surface, but when she wants to be, she's one manipulative little- "Asides, yeh need to have that dirty ol' bandage swapped fer a new one."
She has a point there. "Yeah, I'll take care of it later."
She lightly stomped a hoof. "Hogswaggle!"
"What?" What does that even mean.
"Ah can take care a' it," a far off look appeared in her eyes, "Ah've done patched up so many ponies on this here farm that Ah may as well be a doctor." She turned and walked off to one of the bathrooms. Mac does seem to get hurt a lot, but I'm a pegasus and wings are pretty difficult to treat. She came out of the bathroom a few minutes later with an old metal box with the letters "TB" engraved in the middle of a cloud. "Ever since yeh became friends with mah granddaughter, Ah been keepin' this thing stocked. Do ya know what it is?"
"It's a medical kit." An extremely old one too. But it looks familiar, like I've seen it before, or at least a picture of it.
"A pegasus one at that." She opened it up and sure enough, there were wing splints, a feather straightener, and a few other tools that I am far too familiar with. "Yeh dislocated yer wing, judgin' by the way it's wrapped."
"How did you know that?" I swear, Granny will never cease to surprise me. She's a little like Pinkie in some ways.
She started talking while taking stuff out of the kit. "Back before yeh were born, well, Ah reckon it was before even yer parents were born, but Ponyville weren't much more than the farm and a post office when we got our first weather team. He was a brash, loudmouthed pegasus who always claimed he could do anything in seven seconds or less."
"No way!" There's only one pegasus that ever said that! Even I wouldn't dare say that! "You knew Thunderbolt? Founder of the Wonderbolts, that Thunderbolt?"
"Know'im, Deary, Ah gosh-durn near about married'im. What did yeh think TB stood fer."
"Whoa." That's where I saw that first aid kit, there was a picture of it in Thunderbolt's biography! "What happened?"
She pointed to the front door. "We said goodbye right out on that there porch. It came down to a choice between settlin' down and followin' his dream of makin' flyin' into a sport." Wow, I never knew there was that kind of history behind the founding of the Wonderbolts. Granny pulled a small pair of scissors out of the box and started cutting away the old bandage. "Yer livin' proof that he succeeded, and Ah want yeh ta tell me right now, is Mac gonna be sittin' on that porch like Ah did? Is he gonna be watchin' ya fly off one day, never ta see ya again?"
"Huh?" What is she- What kind of question is that?!
"What're yeh lookin' for here?" She pulled the bandage off carefully. "Ah see that boy took yeh to the pond. Yeh know, that's where his ma and pa used ta go when they wanted to be alone. After Mac was born, they used ta take him there all the time. They told him that it was a special place, and Ah know that's how he sees it."
"I- I didn't know."
"Yer the only one he's ever brought out there, so Ah'll ask yeh again. What do yeh want from him?" She started wrapping the new bandage around my wing. It may have been years since the last time she fixed up a pegasus' wing, but she did know what she was doing.
I don't even plan things out a week ahead of time, and she's asking me what I want out of life? What I want from a relationship that, besides being my first, has only been going about a day or two? I don't even know if I can look that far ahead. "I don't know," I told her. It's true, I don't know. I don't know what to expect, or want, or anything like that.
"At least yer honest." She finished wrapping the bandage and tied it off. "But yeh best figure it out, sugarcube, things'll only get worse if ya wait."
"But, how am I supposed to do that? I don't-"
"Talk ta Mac, this involves the both a' ya, and Ah don't want ta see either a' ya get hurt." She started packing up the first aid kit. "And yeh better not lead'im on." She left the first aid kit on the floor and got back in her rocking chair with a sigh. "Ah know it's in mah own best interests if yeh figure this out soon."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I didn't get a response. Did she fall asleep? I walked over to her rocker. Sure enough, she was snoring quietly. What? All that, and she's just gonna take a nap?
There's nothing I can do about it is there? I guess I'll go talk to Mac. Granny brought up some questions that I don't want to answer, but I owe it to Mac to talk to him about it. I exited the house and closed the door behind me. A voice immediately yelled at me.
"I want great-grandfoals!"
I don't see why she's so mad, Granny only uses my full name when she's really upset about something. But I didn't do nothing. I got the chores done, I couldn't tell them since they weren't here, and Rainbow needed help. I sighed as I pulled out a hay-bale to use as a table.
I just hope Granny isn't too hard on her.
I sat down in front of it after setting the pie down. Then I waited for several minutes before I heard the barndoor creak open. I looked over to see Rainbow trying to sneak in, she was edging along the wall keeping her back to me.
"Rainbow?" I called.
"O-oh, hey, Mac," she gave a nervous laugh and kept her back to me, "I'm just gonna take a quick nap, ok? I'm not used to waking up as early as we did."
"Don't ya want some pie first?" Granny must have said something.
"Nah," she waved back with a hoof but still didn't turn around, "you go ahead, just be sure to leave some for me."
"Nnope." Now I'm sure Granny said something. Rainbow's never passed up a chance at one of Granny's apple pies. "It'll be here when ya wake up. Ah can wait."
She groaned softly. "Why do you have to be so nice?"
"Cause ya deserve it." What happened in there? "Rainbow, turn around."
"I-I don't want to." Her voice was was quiet.
"Then I won't make ya, but I will be here for ya." She walked over and sat across from me at the hay-bale. Her eyes were red and she wiped them as she sat down. What could Granny say that would make her cry? "What happened?"
"It's nothing." She nudged the pie. "Hey, this looks great. Let's eat."
Sorry, Rainbow, a fake smile isn't going to get me to drop this. "You ain't the type to cry about nothin'."
She looked down. "I-it's just-"
"What did she say to ya?"
Her face started taking on a reddish tint. "Well, it's kind of embarrassing." Not the great-grandfoals again! She pulled that on Cherrilee and scared her off to college in another town even though she was only lookin' for a tree to plant in the park. Rainbow looked up at me. "But it's not what she said, i-it got me thinking, and where that led just kind of scared me. It's nothing really."
It ain't nothing. If it was nothing, you wouldn't be crying. "When ya got hurt yesterday, what yer ya doin'?"
"Ah bet it was some kinda stunt that most Pegasi wouldn't even try."
"I- I wanted to see if I could do a sonic Rainboom by increasing my momentum on a circular flight path before slingshotting off a cloud and into the dive, but my wing collided with the sub-sonic barrier before I could straighten out my trajectory."
"See?" Cause I sure don't. "Now if somethin' scared ya, it's gotta be somethin' big." Cause whatever you just described scares the tar outta me.
"I was thinking about, well, the future, and what I'm gonna do in life."
"Ain't nothin' bigger than that. But what about the wonderbolts? Everypony in Ponyville knows that's where yer eyes're set."
"I know," she set her head down on the haybale," and that's what scared me." She paused for a moment before continuing. "Mac, what do you want?"
This is a sudden change of topic. "What do ya mean?"
"What do you want from this? From us?" She lifted her head a little bit to look up at me. I couldn't begin to describe the look in her eyes, hope, fear, and I don't know what, all fighting to be seen. "From me?"
How can I even begin to answer that? "Ah don't know." I really don't. "And Ah'm guessin' you don't either." She nodded before setting her head back down. "Then we can find out together."
She gave a weak smile. "I'd like that."
"Then, since ya went and helped me on the farm today, why don't Ah help ya train for the Wonderbolts tomorrow?" What little smile she had quickly disappeared. I must have said something wrong, but I don't know what.
"Mac, I've never told anypony this, but I know they'll never let me in to the wonderbolts. I won't admit it or talk about it, and I keep telling myself that, if I get better, then they'll have to let me in, but what Granny said made me realize that I need to move on and think about what I should instead."
Why wouldn't they let her in? "Yer the best flyer in Equestria, they'd be lucky to-" I just stepped in it. Her expression flashed from sorrow to anger as she jerked her head up from the hay-bale.
She smacked the pie off the haybale with a grunt,"WELL THAT'S JUST IT ISN'T IT!" she screamed at me, her tears were running freely now,"I'm the best! I'm the fastest! I did this! I can do that! I! I! I!" She dropped her head to the haybale. "Th-they're a team," she choked out, "I-, I just wouldn't fit in. I'm better off alone." She sniffed loudly and rubbed at her face.
I laid my head down next to hers. "Ya know," I said quietly, "Ah've been hearin' stories lately. It seems that a group of mares've been runnin' around Equestria and savin' it from evil creatures, dragons, and the like. Ah haven't heard their names, but Ah hear there's six of'em. And they all work together. Sounds like quite the team to me. Ah think they're called the elements of harmony. Ever heard of'em?"
She threw her hooves around me and pulled her head against my neck. "Thank you." I could feel her hot, ragged breaths and the warm trails of the tears running from her face. As warm as it was, I couldn't help but feel strangely cold. "But, there's more to it Mac, there's more than just them being a team." Her voice was cracking as she spoke. "I know for sure that I can never be a Wonderbolt. I-" She started crying harder than ever. "I know that my dream can never come true."
"How?" I put my hooves around her shoulders. "How can anypony know that?"
"Because I told them." She pulled tighter to my neck. "I had my chance to join and I told them no."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "That ain't the whole story, is it?" Everypony in Ponyville knows how much Rainbow loves the Wonderbolts. I can't believe that she would just up and tell them no without a good reason.
"I got the letter in the mail. One of their members retired early and they needed a new member. All I had to do was write back within a month and I would have been a Wonderbolt."
"AJ didn't come home. She went to that stupid rodeo of hers and never came back."
"Ah remember that, but ya brought her home."
I didn't think she could tighten her grip on my neck, but somehow she did. "We brought her home, and I couldn't leave after that. If I did, I might as well have just taken a hammer to my element. I couldn't abandon my friends. It came down to the choice between my friends and my dreams." She took a deep breath. "The letter's still sitting on my kitchen counter, I never wrote back, but I can't bring myself to throw it away. I'm stuck in the past. I want to look to the future, but I can't and I don't know why, Mac. I just don't know."
"That's a choice nopony should have to make, Rainbow." I don't know if it'll make her fell better, but- "Ah used to be just like you. Before AJ was old enough to work the farm, Ah always had to take care of the family. Ah had to work the fields, handle the business, be strong for everpony else, and Ah thought Ah was always gonna be alone. Ah love the farm and Ah love my family, but there were times when Ah thought my life was picked out for me. I met somepony crazy, and exciting, and fun and- Rainbow, yoy let me know that things don't have to turn out the way Ah thought they would."
Her crying had stopped at some point while I was talking, and her breathing against my neck felt much more even. "Ya feelin' better?" I asked. Her steady breathing was the only reply. She didn't even move. "Rainbow?" No answer.Just her steady breathing against my fur.
She fell asleep! Leaning over the haybale, and holding onto my neck, she fell asleep. That's fine for her, but I'm taller than she is. "Rainbow?" And I'm bent over quite a bit. "Please wake up."
I'm gonna be feeling this later.
I needed that. A nice nap always clears my head. I started to open my eyes and saw a blurry red shape. Mac? I may be fast at everything, but I can be slow to wake up. What's he doing here? I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, the fur under my eyes was matted and hard, was I crying? My right hoof was wrapped around Mac's neck.
It all came back to me, the spa, the lake, Granny, the pie. Oh no! I yelled at him! No, I didn't yell at him. I screamed at him! I can't believe I did that! I let out all my anger, everything that was bothering me, everything I couldn't talk about. And he- And he understood. He tried to make me feel better. Why did I have to yell at him? "Mac?" Is he awake?
"Rainbow," he grunted.
He's awake. What should I say? How can I apologize? "Um, about what I-"
"Go," he grunted again.
What? No. Mac, please. "Don't say that Mac!" I hugged him close,"I love you! I'm sorry. I-"
"STOP!" he yelled.
No. I didn't mean to. I did it again. I messed up again. I always do. I let go of him and ran to the door. He didn't even move. Why didn't he move? "FINE! Be like that! I thought you understood! I THOUGHT YOU CARED! But I guess I'm an idiot for thinking I wasn't alone." This is too much for me. I thought he would be there, I thought that-
"Help," he whimpered. Mac actually whimpered.
"M-my back," he groaned,"Rainbow, Ah love you. Ah do understand, and Ah do care. Ah'll always be there for ya. Ya don't have to be alone ever again. Just go get help." The words were rushed, but they were exactly what I needed to hear.
That's why he didn't move, he threw his back out. This was all a misunderstanding. "I'm such an idiot. I'm so sorry. What should I do?"
"Don't call yerself an idiot ever again." He grunted in pain as he tried to move. "Ya either gotta bring me to the hospital, or get someone else to come here and do it."
I'll do it. It's the least I can do. "Is there a cart? I can pull you into town."
"Around the back of the barn," he groaned loudly as he instinctively tried to indicate the direction. "A-AJ's old cart. It's a little small, but it should be enough."
I ducked out the door. As I walked around to the cart, I realized something. I told him that I love him! And he told me that he loved me! YES!!! Yesyesyesyesyesyes, yes! I looked up at the clear, early evening sky. Oh, how I wish I could fly. I would so Rainboom the ever-livin'-daylights out of that sky right now.
The cart was a hoof-made, four-wheeled model with a push bar, meaning I didn't have to hitch myself to it. Truthfully, it's a beginners model. It also has smiley-faced apples painted on the sides. I'm guessing AJ was only slightly older than Applebloom last time she pulled this cart.
I brought it into the barn with no problems. The wheels didn't even squeak, and come to think of it, the paint looks a little too good for it's age. Wait a minute. I think I know what Applebloom's getting for her birthday.
I brought the cart right up next to the hay-bale and the immobilized Macintosh. "Uh, Mac? How are you going to get in the cart?"
"There's a beam leaning against the wall behind me. Ya may be able to use that as a ramp." I went for the beam, it was huge! Probably twenty hooves long and leaning against the wall near a stack of haybales. "Rainbow?"
"About what happened earlier, Ah'm so-"
"No. Don't." I don't want him apologizing to me. "That was my fault. I should be the one apologizing." I'm the one who did all the screaming. "So, I'm so-"
"No. Don't. If yer not gonna let me apologize, then Ah don't want ya to apologize to me. If ya want, we can blame it on getting used to each other."
"Deal." I knocked over the beam and started dragging it over to the cart. Let's see, to make the ramp I need to keep the cart from moving and find a way to secure the bottom of the ramp. "Say, Mac," this probably isn't the best time to ask this, "have you thought about it at all? What you want from this?"
Good answer. I set the beam down and pushed the cart up against the wall. "So? What do you want?" I put one end of the beam up on the end of the cart and started looking for some way to secure it.
"Ah don't know, Ah've been thinking, but Ah don't have an answer. Is there somethin' you want?"
"Well," I grabbed a hay-bale from the stack near the wall and started dragging it over to my ramp, "I've been thinking about the future a lot lately, and if it's ok with you, I'd like to think about what it would be like if you were part of it." There! The haybale makes a perfect endstop.
"It's ok with me. Do ya mind if Ah do the same?"
I felt a smile spread across my face. "Of course not. Now let's get you loaded up!" Mac groaned and started scooting himself towards the ramp.
After an agonizingly slow couple of minutes, Mac had finally managed to inch his way to the base of the ramp and up it into the cart. Then we were finally able to set out for the hospital.
Every bump and rattle of the cart caused pain in my back, but it still didn't hurt as much as what Rainbow said. I only said two words to her and she misunderstood, but I still hurt her enough that she thought I didn't care about her. I'm glad we got past it, but misunderstanding or not, I don't want that to happen again.
The sun was starting to set as we reached Ponyville. After a few minutes of walking through town, I heard a voice yell out, "Rainbow!"
From where I was laying, I couldn't see much, but I could see a pink pony bouncing towards us. It's that crazy girl from the bakery. Granny really thought me and her? I can't see it.
"I'm kind of busy right now Pinky," said Rainbow, slightly out of breath from pulling the cart and its heavy load. Unfortunately, I'm not a light pony.
"I know," Pinkie nodded, "I left a get-well cupcake at the Hospital for Big Mac." Wait. She what? "Anyway, I heard from Rarity that there were two new ponies in town. Which is really weird cause usually I have a pinkie sense for that, and I didn't feel anything. That usually means that there aren't any new ponies, but Rarity said there were, so I'm not sure. So I was gonna go talk to Twilight, but then I had to leave the cupcake at the hospital and then I saw you and started talking to you. Then you said you were busy and I-" Rainbow shoved a hoof into her friend's mouth, stopping her long-winded tirade. I don't see how anypony can talk so much on a single breath.
"I get it," said Rainbow, removing her hoof," what's the point?"
Pinkie tilted her head to the side and thought for a little bit. "I'm looking for Mr. and Mrs. Dapple, they were at the spa earlier. Have you seen them? I need to throw them a party." She tilted her head the other way while she waited for an answer.
Rainbow glanced at me while a nervous chuckle escaped her throat. "You're asking me about somepony who was at a spa?" She turned back to Pinkie with an unnaturally wide smile plastered to her face.
"You're right! Silly me." Anypony else would have seen through that smile. "What was I thinking? Anyway congratulations, you beat me to it. Not there was any beating to do, cause I wasn't actually trying, even though Granny wanted me to, but I've already-" Her eyes went a little wide. "Said much more than I needed to and I need to stop now." What?
Pinky hopped over to the side of the cart and hopped up to face me, leaning her front hooves on the cart while her rear hooves remained planted. Just thinking about how she was standing made my back hurt. "Hey Mac! Nice view, huh?" What?
"Pinkie!" yelled Rainbow.
"Oh wait," said Pinkie, " I forgot, you hurt your back and can't even turn your head. Nevermind then." What was that about? Why is Rainbow blushing? And how did Pinkie know that I can't turn my head.
"So," Pinkie let go of the cart and started bouncing in place, "have you two kissed yet?"
"Pinkie!" Rainbow yelled again, "I am not even going to answer that!"
I'm glad nopony's around. Of course, half of Ponyville could be standing behind us and I wouldn't know.
"Okie-dokie-lokie," Pinkie started to bounce off, "if you change your mind, you know where to find me."
"I won't!" Rainbow yelled after her.
"Bye Dash! Bye Ma-" she stopped mid-bound, suspended in mid-air. Then she hopped backwards to where we were. She turned to face us with a smirk, "Rainbow," she tilted her head to one side, "Big Mac," she tilted her head the other way, "Dash and Apple, you couldn't come up with anything better?" Of course she had to be the one to figure it out.
Rainbow's eyes went wide. "Please, you can't tell anyone." Don't beg. We've been caught, accept it with dignity.
"Don't worry silly." Pinkie was turning cartwheels. Don't ask me why, but she was. "I won't tell."
"Whew!" Rainbow breathed a sigh of relief. I did as well. "Thanks."
"If," Pinkie's cartwheeling came to a stop with her standing directly in front of Rainbow, "you answer my question."
Rainbow's scowl at that moment was something I hope I never find myself on the receiving end of. "For nothing, you manipulative little-"
The town librarian was passing by at that moment and Pinkie noticed. "Hey Twilight!" she yelled, waving wildly, "over here!" The librarian waved and started walking over.
"Fine!" Rainbow whispered, "you win, I'll tell you." Pinkie had us over a barrel.
"Promise?" Pinkie batted her eyelashes innocently.
Rainbow glanced over at the approaching purple unicorn. "Yes," she turned back to Pinkie, "I promise."
Pinkie batted her eyelashes again. "Pinkie Promise?"
"Fine!" Rainbow began the bizarre sequence of motions that every citizen of Ponyville learns at some point. "Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye. Happy?"
Pinkie nodded. "Very!" Good, cause I'm sure Rainbow isn't.
"Hey Pinkie, hey Rainbow," said Twilight when she reached a comfortable distance for conversation. "Big Mac!" she exclaimed when she saw me, "what happened to you?"
"Ah hurt my back," I said. No need to volunteer any more information than necessary.
Twilight tilted her head. "How?"
"That's not important," said Pinkie suddenly, " I wanted to tell you something, but Rainbow convinced me not to." Then why did you even bring it up?
"Oh, that's ok," Twilight scratched the back of her neck, "I already know."
"What?!" Rainbow and I yelled at the same time. We would have exchanged surprised glances, but I couldn't move my neck.
"It's kind of obvious really," said Twilight with a shrug.
"That bad, huh?" asked Rainbow.
"Oh,no," Twilight put a hoof up, "it's not bad at all, as long as you two are happy. It's just a little," she paused for a moment, "unexpected.Oh, I know, Fluttershy has some friends in town, the Dapples, maybe we could all get together sometime. I know you'd love to meet them. Mrs. Dapple is even writing a book on Pegasi sports, you should talk to her." Crisis. Equals. Averted. Yes!
"Yeah," Rainbow chuckled nervously, " that sounds great."
Twilight looked back and forth between me and Rainbow. "Um, Rainbow, you know, nopony's seen you for a few days, and now Big Mac has a back injury he'd rather not talk about. Um," she leaned towards Rainbow and whispered something to her.
"What?!" Rainbow went beet red and started flailing her hooves about. "N-no, we- well, kind of, but not like that!" What did she say? "What is it with everypony? First Granny, now you, and don't get me started on Fluttershy!"
"What about Fluttershy, darling?"
"Rarity!" yelled Rainbow in response to the new voice that approached, "nothing! I'm helping out at the farm while Applejack is in Appleoosa. Big Mac got hurt and I'm dragging his flank to the hospital. Ok?" Poor Rainbow. I wish I could help her, but anything I say can only make things worse.
"How did he get hurt?" asked Rarity.
In reply, Pinkie yelled something that, while true, made me wish that was physically capable of crawling under a rock. "Granny Smith wants great-grandfoals!"
"I-I see," stammered Rarity, "well, good luck with that."
That does it. I'm moving to Manehattan and changing my name before AJ gets home.
"What?!" yelled Rainbow, " No! I mean she does, but- Argh! Why'd I say that? No! That has nothing to do with how he got hurt!" I wonder if Rainbow would come with me.
"But,"said Twilight, hoof to her chin," you did say that you-"
"No!" yelled Rainbow, "I said it wasn't like that!" She's struggling, I may have to step in soon. Figuratively of course.
Rarity half-covered her mouth with her hoof and, in a a hushed tone, said, "oh? Then what was it like?"
Nnope. I'm staying as far away from this conversation as I can.
"I fell asleep with my head on his shoulder, ok? That's it! That's all! There is no more! I have to take him to the hospital." Rainbow stomped a hoof after each sentence.
"Of course," said Rarity," but you simply must join me and Fluttershy for one of our spa trips. We can talk, just us girls." She started to trot away, " I must see if Fluttershy could invite Mrs. Dapple, that would be simply marvelous."
"Well," said Twilight," I guess I'll let you two be on your way." She started to walk past the cart, but stopped to whisper to me," if you ever do anything to hurt her, I'll make sure you regret it."
"If yer her friend," I replied, "you'd better." But that won't be necessary, I'm going to make sure of that. She nodded walked away without another word, leaving us alone with Pinkie.
She immediately started hopping up and down. "Aren't you going to answer my question?" Pinkie started to hop around the cart as Rainbow groaned. "You Pinkie promised!"
"Well,um," Rainbow started,"you see, we um-"
Pinkie completed her orbit of the cart and came to a stop in front of Rainbow. "And on the cheek doesn't count!"
"Oh," said Rainbow, relief evident on her face,"then no."
Pinkie started giggling. "So you have kissed on the cheek?"
We just got played like an old record. And Rainbow doesn't look too happy about it. "You tricked me!"
"I sure did! You two are so akward, it's cute. Bye!" She hopped away. Leaving us alone in the street. I'm glad that's over.
"Mac, Why didn't you say anything?"
"What should Ah have said?"
"What did Twilight say to you?"
When we got to hospital, I parked the cart in front of the double doors and four orderlies moved Mac to a rolling hospital bed. Nurse Redheart came out to talk to me as the orderlies wheeled Mac into the hospital.
"Hello again Rainbow," she said with a smile, "it's nice to see you in the waiting room for once."
"What can I say," I shrugged,"I don't like to come here unless I have to." But I'm outside, not in the waiting room. I guess she's referring to the idea of me not being injured.
"So you felt you had to come here? To accompany Mr. Macintosh?"
"Well, yeah." Pointless small talk! Why aren't you back there treating Mac?
"I see, is that because you care about him? Or because you are responsible for his injuries?"
"Um," I looked at the ground, " a little of both." What's with all the questions?
"I see," she nodded, "well, both of you visit this hospital quite frequently. However, these last two times, you've been together, and this particular combination of injuries is something we see quite often."
"What do you mean by combination?" And stop saying, "I see," everytime you talk. It's annoying.
"Well, a Pegasus with a dislocated wing, and an earth pony with some sort of muscle strain. Coming in as a couple."
"And? I don't get it. Two ponies, two injuries, what's the big deal?" Honestly, you're making less sense than you usually do.
She sighed and rubbed at her eyes. "I'm trying to put this delicately, but pegasi aren't as sturdy as earth ponies and earth ponies aren't as flexible as pegasi, so they sometimes have problems when-"
"When what?" And why does she sound annoyed"
"Eh?" She shook her head and muttered, "you can't be serious."
"You're the one that's not making sense. What the hay are you-"
She put her hoof down with a thud."I tried delicacy, so now I'll be blunt. Are the two of you trying to start a family?"
"What?! No! Why does everypony think that's what we're doing?!"
"Sorry dear, it's policy. We assumed your wing was a flying accident because of your track record and the minor surface injuries."
"Good, because that's what it was." Why does everypony jump to these sort of conclusions?!
"I see," you seriously need to stop saying that before I break my hoof off in your- "So what were you two doing when Mr.Macintosh threw his back out?"
"We were just sleeping." So get your mind out of the gutter for ten seconds and maybe you could-
"Yes." I just said that! What part of, "we were sleeping," wasn't in Equestrian?
"Yes." How many times are you going to make me repeat myself? It's annoying. And why are you staring at me like- "No!" Stupid trick question. "Not together, together, just together, ok?" I wanna go home.
Nurse Redheart blinked twice. "Just start from the beginning dear."
I sat down with a heavy thump. "There was a haybale." I held up a hoof to indicate a haybale. Hopefully, a visual aid will help her understand this.
"Go on." So far so good.
I put my other hoof on one side of the, "hay-bale." "I was on one side," I moved my hoof to the other side, "he was on the other," I put my hoof on top of the other, "our heads were in the middle. We napped, we woke up, he couldn't move," I pointed to the hospital doors, "I dragged him here. End of story." Did you get all that, Nurse Numbskull?
"All right, but you two do seem to be quite close." Seriously? You're not gonna let it go? Are you professionally trained in aggravating banter? "Will you be taking care of him as he recovers?"
"Yes." He helped me, I can help him.
"He may need care during the night."
"So? I'll be there." She raised an eyebrow. "I'm staying at the farm, so I'll be nearby." So stop looking at me like that.
"I'll give you some instructions and medicine before you leave." She turned around and headed for the hospital doors. "It should only be a few moments, he's just getting a shot of muscle relaxant."
A small poke in my back and the tight pain in my muscles started to fade. As soon as the doctor was sure that the treatment was successful, I was wheeled out of the hospital on the rolling bed. I'm glad they decided against the wheelchair this time. One hospital visit directed by Micheal Bray is enough for me. On a side note, I see that the oxygen tanks aren't stored in the individual rooms anymore.
Once they got me out the doors, Rainbow ran up to the hospital bed. She must have gone shopping or something, because she had a small bag in her mouth. She tucked the bag under her good wing and gave me a smile. "Hey Mac, you feeling better?"
"Then let's get you home."
Rainbow went and brought the cart around and the orderlies moved me into it. After checking to make sure I was secure, Rainbow started to pull the cart back to the farm. It was dark by now, and the streetlights were on.
I wanted to say something, to thank her for dragging my sorry flank back and forth, but words couldn't match up with what she was doing for me. I let my head droop over the side of the cart as I tried to think of something to say. Oh. That's what Pinkie meant. I turned away quickly, any attempt at words forgotten in my embarrassment and we spent the rest of the trip home in silence.
When we got to the farm, Rainbow hitched the cart to a tree so I wouldn't roll away. "I'll be right back." She said, then she went and knocked on the house door.
She waited for a few minutes for Granny to open the door, stick her head out and say, "this don't change nothin'." Granny then slammed the door shut. Then she called out from behind the door, "Ah stuck a mattress out dere fer ya, an' a pot a' tea, an' another pie, seein' as how the last one weren't good enough fer ya."
Rainbow didn't even try to argue with her, she just shrugged and walked back to the cart. "Mac, how did she get a mattress to the barn?"
"Ya know the rule about Pinkie?"
She rolled her eyes. "Duh. Pinkie is pinkie. Don't try to understand it, and don't ask too many questions."
She chuckled as she untied the knot holding the cart to the tree. "That actually makes a lot of sense, Mac."
Rainbow dragged the cart into the barn. There were a couple of changes to the layout that were immediately apparent. A mattress was sitting near the window, and there was a small folding table sitting where the hay-bale had been. An apple pie, a teapot, and some sandwiches were arranged on top of it.
The weirdest thing was the rabbit marching back and forth on top of a stack of hay-bales placed in the middle of the floor. He had a rolled up paper slung over his shoulder and a helmet atop his little head. When he saw us, he snapped to attention, gave a salute, and hopped off the haybales. Then he marched over to Rainbow and presented the paper with a flourish.
Rainbow took the paper and unrolled it. She then read the paper, nodding here and there as she did so. When she finished reading, she rolled the paper up and gave it back to the bunny.
"Hey, Mac, guess what?" Rainbow pulled the cart over to the mattress with a smile. I didn't guess because I know she's about to tell me anyway. "The mystery known as Granny Smith just became a little less mysterious." She ducked under the carts push bar and poked her head over the side of the cart. "Pete and Fluttershy came by after we left for the hospital." She gestured around the room. "They set all this up. Now, let's get you on to the bed. I need to go talk to Fluttershy."
She started helping me down, but the moment I tried to support my own weight, I collapsed. I landed on top of Rainbow, but I caught most of my weight on my front hooves. My back legs don't seem to be working right. "Sorry, Rainbow, I-" She was staring up at me. "I didn't mean to-" Her mouth is hanging open, just slightly. "I, uh-" I swallowed loudly. "I-" She's breathing heavy. I can feel her heartbeat against my chest and I'm starting to notice just how fast my own heart is going.
She's so beautiful. Her wide eyes stared back at mine as I started to lean down towards her. She started to close her eyes as she started to lean up towards me, closer and closer, until-
I became aware of a stinging sensation in my face before anything else. Then I noticed a light, repetitive tapping sound. Looking towards its source, I found a beady pair of eyes and a scowl that could could put an angry griffyn to shame. The angry bunny adjusted his helmet and meaningfully smacked his paper roll against his open paw.
"Go on, shoo!" I didn't really expect that to work, but I had to try. The bunny rolled his eyes and pointed his paper roll at Rainbow. Then he swung it around to point at the door before hopping out of the barn.
"Hey, Mac?" I looked down at Rainbow. She was blushing furiously and looking away from me. "I, uh, should probably head to Fluttershy's now. Um, Angel isn't known for patience and I probably shouldn't keep him waiting." I nodded and pushed myself off to the side so Rainbow could get up.
She got up with a nervous chuckle and brought over a sandwich and a glass of tea. She was still blushing as she set them next to the matress, but she was also smiling and trying to hide it. "I'll be back soon, I'm just gonna walk over to Fluttershy's." She grabbed a sandwich and headed for the door.
Before she made it out, I called out to her. "Hey, Rainbow?" She turned around with the sandwich still stuck in her mouth. "Maybe later?" I asked with a shrug. Whatever just happened, it was nice while it lasted. Apparently, Rainbow thought so too, because, despite her bright crimson blush, she nodded before slipping out of the barn door.
I did my best to get comfortable and started eating my sandwich. While I ate, I noticed something on the floor near the mattress. Rainbow dropped her shopping bag. I wonder what she bought. I washed down the sandwich with the tea and dragged myself over to pick up the bag. Looked through it, I found some medicine and instructions from the hospital. She must have put those in the bag for easy carrying. There was also a book. This must be what she bought. I took it out of the bag.
It was a brown and blue book titled Earth and Sky. There were two silhouettes on the cover, an earth pony and a pegasus. Underneath the silhouettes were small gold letters,"How not to hurt the pony you love."
Yeah, I can take a hint. When she bought this, she was probably still sore about what I said earlier. She probably doesn't know she dropped it, I'll surprise her by reading it before she gets back.
Chapter 1: Pleasure and Pain
Nothing can cause more pain than hurting or being hurt by those you care about.
Nopony wants to hurt the one they love, but it can be difficult to know what can cause a loved one pain. This book is designed to help both pegasi and earth ponies avoid unnecessary pain and accidents...
"You ever do that again, and I know at least one griffyn that would love to meet you." I'm pretty sure that threatening Angel is useless, but it still helped me vent. And I have a fair amount of venting to do. He interrupted the single most romantic moment in my life! At least, I think it was romantic. That's it! From now on, anything Mac and I do that makes me feel all fluttery and weird inside is romantic, whether it is or not.
"OW! Hey!" I stopped walking for a second and that devil bunny whacked me with the paper. "I know how to get to Fluttershy's, ok?" I don't need a guide.
"OW! What was that one for?!" I didn't even stop that time. He must have just felt like it. This is why I don't spend more time with Fluttershy. I continued walking for a good ten, maybe fifteen minutes before he whacked me again. "What now?"
The devil named Angel hopped in front of me and pointed with the rolled-up paper. I looked in the direction he indicated just to see the bridge to Fluttershy's cottage.
"If I had a paper of my own, I would whack you." He twitched his nose once and hopped over to the bridge, taking up a guard stance beside it. You know, I hate to admit it, but with his little helmet and the rolled-up paper over his shoulder, he's kind of cute. When I walked past him, he even saluted.
As I crossed the bridge, I could see Pete and Fluttershy talking to each other. At one point, Pete lifted his hoof. Attached to it, was a long, shiny steel chain. When I got closer, I could see that it was attached to another pony sitting a short distance away. I felt a knot form in my stomach when I recognized him. It was the green earth pony from the park. What is he doing here? I'm glad its not one of the other two, but why isn't he in prison, or a dungeon, or a prison in a dungeon, or wherever it is that Ponyville puts its criminals?
Pete saw me and motioned for the green pony to go into the cottage. Then he said a few last words to Fluttershy before going in as well. Fluttershy stayed where she was and waved for me to come over. I didn't really want to, but I did. "Why is he here?" I asked as I sat near Fluttershy.
Fluttershy glanced at the cottage door. "Who, Wishy Washy?"
"No, Pete," I said with heavy sarcasm.
"Oh." And the sarcasm went straight over her head. "Well, Pete kind of lives here, you know." What?! No, I didn't know. How long have these two been together? For Fluttershy to get over her apprehensive nature enough to move in with him, or rather, to let him move in with her is no small accomplishment.
I wonder if Mac and I will ever move in together. It would have to be at the farm, since Mac can't fly. It could be someplace else on the ground, of course, but I kinda like the idea of staying at Sweet Apple Acres. Maybe we could even- Wait! No! It's only been two days! It's way too early to be thinking about moving in together. "Hey, Fluttershy, how long were you and Pete together before he moved in with you?"
"Oh," she put a hoof to her chin, "I don't know." Knowing her, I bet it was a really long time. "About a week or so, I guess." See? A really long ti- WHA-WAIT-WHAT?! A WEEK?! She continued on like what she said was of no consequence. "Though you really can't count the first month. And the second one was crazy too, but after all that ended, it was a pretty good year for us."
"A-a year?" You've had somepony living in your house for a year, and I only met him yesterday? How is that even possible?!
"Why do you want to know?" She tilted her head and gave me the same smile she was wearing at the spa. "Are you planning a change of address anytime soon?"
She's been spending too much time around Rarity. "No, I was just curious." It might actually be nice to live at the farm, but I'd rather discuss it with Mac on my own time. "So, why is this Wishy Washy pony here? And what's with the chain?"
Fluttershy let out a long, low sigh. "It's called protective custody." Ponyville only has one jail cell, so all three ponies from the night you were attacked had to share."
"So? They seemed friendly enough with each other." Not really, those other two weren't too happy with the green one.
Fluttershy was quiet for a moment. "Rainbow, how much do you know about Equestrian arrest procedure?" An involuntary grimace crossed my face. "Oh, my," Fluttershy put a hoof over her mouth, "I'm sorry, I didn't know." Yeah, I've gotten into a spot of trouble here and there. No big deal really, Cloudsdale used to be really strict on trespassing in airspace. That's one of the things I like about Ponyville, airspace isn't considered property. "Since you know, I'll get right to the point. Wishy's brother's told the judge that you and Mac attacked them." WHAT?! Those filthy, rotten- "There's more, one of them had an injury to his face consistent with a wing-strike." That would be the earth pony that I knocked out. "He said that Pete roughed him up after the arrest." Why that pathetic little- He just doesn't want to admit that he got taken out by a girl. "Because Pete and Mac are friends, the judge was about to launch an investigation."
"Let'em investigate!" We did nothing wrong. "They attacked me and they-
"And how many ponies saw it?"
I didn't think of that. "None." The park was completely empty. It's our word against theirs. "Then it's two against three. When does the investigation start?"
"There isn't going to be one."
"What? But you just said-"
Fluttershy let out a giggle. "You didn't let me finish. The judge was going to launch an investigation, but Wishy pleaded guilty. He told the judge what happened."
Then why is he here? "Did he try to deal?"
Fluttershy shook her head. "No, he didn't. But his brothers beat him once they were back in their cell. So we went to the judge to see if there was anything we could do. That ended up with him here, chained to Pete. Officially, he's under protective custody, but tomorrow, he's going to be put on probation and sent to stay with a friend of ours in another city."
His own brothers? Come to think of it, Mac said that Wishy's brothers dragged him into it. And he sounded like it wasn't completely unexpected.
"Oh!" Fluttershy suddenly hopped into the air and flew to the roof of her cottage. I kinda wish she wouldn't do that in front of- Oh, awkward! She's talking to that eagle! I hope he doesn't see me.
He must not have, because he flew off after a minute or two. If he had seen me, he would have tried to get my attention. Just one more reason that I've been avoiding Fluttershy's place lately. But the main reason is Angel. Speaking of which, "Hey, Fluttershy!" I had to yell at her because she was still on her roof. "You want to come down so we can finish talking?" She nodded and flew down. "Hey, I'm curious, does Angel give Pete a hard time like he does for me?" Also, I'm jealous of the fact that you're able to fly and I'm not.
She ducked her head a little. "Um," she doesn't really look like she wants to answer, "no."
"Why not?" All that bunny ever wants to do when I'm around is pelt me with the nearest food item.
Fluttershy started hiding her face behind her mane. "I- uh, can we not talk about that? Ever? I mean, um, if that's all right with you?"
"Ok." Now I'm even more curious. "So, why did you want to see me? The note you left said you had something to talk to me about."
She lifted her head and brushed away her mane. "Right, I wanted to apologize for my actions at the spa, and Pete's as well. We shouldn't have given you such a hard time."
"Ah, forget about it, what's done is done." You actually made it kind of fun. "I just want to know why you did it."
"Well," Fluttershy started shuffling her hooves around, "I didn't want you to feel like you had to hide your feelings about Mac."
"I wasn't hiding my feelings." I think I said that a little too quickly. "But I may be keeping a few details quiet." Fluttershy let out an extremely hollow, forced laugh and started turning away from me. "Uh, Fluttershy? You ok there?"
"Eh?" She snapped her head back to face me. "Whyever would you ask that?"
Maybe because you're acting like a manticore on catnip? "Anyway, I just didn't want anypony to know that I went to the spa of my own free will." With a sigh, I added, "Pinkie figured it out though."
Fluttershy nodded solemnly. "She does seem unnaturally able to figure out things we would rather keep secret. I suppose that's why she's so adamant about keeping promises."
Fluttershy and I apparently had the same thought, because at that moment, we both started looking around. "That's odd," said Fluttershy.
"Yeah, I know." No sign of pink anywhere.
Fluttershy let out a small laugh. "We must be getting paranoid. I was expecting Pinkie to pop out of nowhere and shout the word forever at us."
"I wasn't going to, but I could if you want me to."
"GYAHH!" I don't know if that was me or Fluttershy that screamed, but I'm gonna guess it was both of us. I turned around to face the seemingly omnipresent Pinkie. "What are you doing here?" I wonder if it's still called paranoia if there's a good reason for it, because Pinkie was nowhere to be seen. She was behind me. I know she was.
"I came to throw a congratulations for getting out of jail party for Wishy Washy!" Up! She's above me!
"Pinkie," Fluttershy was looking around for any sign of the party pony, same as I was, "I don't think that's such a good idea, he has to travel tomorrow morning, so he needs to get some sleep."
"Oh, ok! When he gets back then, but I still need to thank him for the wonderful new paint job on Sugarcube Corner." To the left? I don't see her. And the voice sounds kind of far away. "He did a really good job on it, even though it looks just like the old paint job, but that's what the cakes asked for, so I guess it doesn't really matter, but then why did they even-"
"Pinkie!" She must have been in a tree and fallen! "Are you okay?!"
"Yup, that's definitely broken. I'll be fine, don't worry."
She just broke something, and she's telling us not to worry?! "Pinkie, are you crazy?! We need to get you to the hospital!" Fluttershy was already running towards the spot where Pinkie's voice was coming from and I followed immediately behind her. After a good ten minutes of searching, we found the spot where she had fallen. At least, we assumed it was. The broken tree branch, Pinkie-shaped hole in the ground, and a sticky note on a rock saying, "see you tomorrow," were pretty good indicators, but with Pinkie, you can never be too sure.
"Um," Fluttershy peered down the hole, "I don't see her, I'm going to go see Twilight and get her to locate Pinkie with a spell or something."
"Yeah." How did Pinkie get away so quickly after breaking something? "You might want to check the hospital too." Fluttershy gave me an odd look and I shrugged it off. 'You never know, she might already be there for all we know?"
Fluttershy nodded. "Ok, I'm going to go then." She got ready to take off, but before she did, she looked over at me. "Before I forget, Pete and I need you and Mac meet us at town hall at eight-thirty. Rarity will give you the details tomorrow." With that, she took off, leaving me to wonder what she meant. Oh well, looks like I'll find out tomorrow.
I made my way out of the trees and started the walk back towards town to help look for pinkie. At the bridge, Angel stopped me to give me a folded up sticky note. It read, "BTW, I meant the tree branch." Of course she did. Now Fluttershy's going to be flying around all night for nothing.
There's no way I can catch up with her, so I gave the note back to Angel. He started hopping towards the cottage and I headed towards the farm. Once I reached the edge of Sweet Apple Acres, I hopped the fence so I could walk through the orchard. The moon was high and bright, and even though it wasn't completely full like it was yesterday, it still provided enough light to see by.
As I walked, I thought about everything that had happened in the last day or so, Mac and I made it through our first and hopefully last big misunderstanding, I patched things up with Fluttershy, and the rest of my friends were ok with Me and Mac being together. Some more ok than the others, but Pinkie will be Pinkie. And I get to take the bandages off and stretch my wings tomorrow. I still can't fly till the day after but hey, it's a start. But best of all, things are starting to become less and less awkward between me and Mac. Sure, there are some weird moments here and there, but I'm really getting used to this.
When I reached the barn, I didn't go in. Instead, I sat down outside and stared at the moon. How used to this am I going to get? Pete and Fluttershy moved in together, will Mac and I ever do the same? What happens if things don't work out? I mean, we are pretty different. But we're also a lot alike in certain ways. What happens if things go well? How will things change if I stay?
I don't know, but I want to find out. I got up and walked into the barn. Mac was still awake and sitting on the mattress. He was staring at a small electric lantern and hadn't seen me come in. I wonder if granny gave him the lantern?
Wait a minute. There's only one mattress. Granny doesn't expect us to share, does she? I mean, sure, we were laying together last night, and the nap on the hay-bale, but this? This just seems a little, different, I guess? Though, not in a completely bad way, just a way I don't think I'm ready for.
Mac looked up I sat down next to the mattress. "Uh, hey," I said with a slightly forced smile, "guess what, Fluttershy apologized for the spa thing earlier and wants us to meet her and Pete at town hall tomorrow at-" I stopped. Mac was sitting there, shifting his gaze back and forth between me and the floor and fidgeting his front hooves. "What is it Mac?"
He took a deep breath and patted the mattress next to him. "We need ta talk."
"Ok." I climbed up on the mattress. I guess it's not too weird if we're talking. "What do you want talk about?"
He forced himself into a sitting position. Turning to face me,he put a hoof on my shoulder. "Rainbow, Ah love ya. I want ya to know that Ah'll always love ya." His voice was shaky and he had to force himself to look me in the eyes. "A-and Ah know ya love me, ya told me. And whatever happens, Ah'll be there. B-but Ah need to know that yer sure about this. A-ah think yer the one, and Ah can't imagine it bein' anypony else, but am Ah the one fer you? Can ya see yerself stayin' here, with me?" Why is he saying this all of a sudden, and why is he so nervous? Should I be worried?
"Mac?" I inched closer to him.
"Ah just think that it's a might bit soon," he inched away. Why is he moving away? You're scaring me Mac.
"Is there a reason you don't want to be close to me?"
He started sweating. "Uh, no, heh, Ah want to be close to you. Uh, but Ah know how Granny is, and your friends today seemed uh," What do granny and my friends have to do with you not sitting next to me? "And Ah If we're gonna be close, Ah want it to be cause it's what you want and not because yer feelin' pressured."
"I'm not feeling pressured, It's what I want." What would I be pressured about? You're not making sense. Did they give you painkillers or something.
"Yer not?" He started sweating more.
"Of course not, why would I feel pressured?"
"Ah still think its a might bit soon, Ah mean we've been together all of what, 24 hours? Maybe a little more? Ah just want to make sure ya thought it through."
I sighed, "It was a good 24 hours, and I've thought about it a lot. You've made me very happy and I don't see why you're so nervous." I scooted over until we were touching shoulder to shoulder,"what's the problem?"
"It's just, Ah've never done anythin' like this before." he put his chin on top of my head. "But if it's what ya want, Ah'll try. Ah just think we should go slow. We ain't even kissed yet." He lowered his head and looked me in the eye. "Don't ya want to try that first?"
"Why would we kiss first? We can try that later." First, I want to know what the hay you're talking about.
"Oh, wow," he started scratching the back of his neck, "um, Ah just thought that's how it went, ya know? Holding hooves, then kissing, marriage, and then-" He shrugged.
Marriage?! "Mac, what is this even about?" I haven't understood a single word you said since I got back from Fluttershy's.
"That book," he said matter-of-factly.
I blinked. "What book?"
"The one ya bought today, Ah found it in the shoppin' bag ya dropped."
"I didn't buy a book today."
His eyes went wide. "Ya borrowed that?! Who from?" There was a slight pause before he threw his front hooves in the air and started waving them wildly. "No! Don't tell me, Ah don't want to know."
"I didn't borrow a book either. All my bits are locked in my house, I couldn't go shopping if I wanted to. The only bag I had was the one the hospital gave me."
Mac started nodding slowly. "Ah guess it makes sense that the hospital would have something like that."
At least something does. I mean, what's the big deal? "Where is this book anyway?"
"There," he pointed to the far end of the barn.
"Where?" I don't see it.
"Ah tossed it over that away. Ah may have, um, gotten a little carried away. That fifth page was kind of surprisin', and Ah may have, um," he tapped his front hooves together a few times, "overreacted?" With his front hooves in the air, Mac was unable to support himself for very long and fell to the mattress. "Sorry, Ah should be walkin' by tomorrow, but fer now, Ah'm a little wobbly. See? That's another reason why we oughtta wait. Give me a couple months to recover fully?"
What does he mean, "overreacted?" And wait for what? And he just said he was going to be fine tomorrow. What is going on?! Giving up on getting any answers out of Mac, I walked over to the wall he indicated and started looking for the book. I couldn't find it though, I even checked behind tools and stuff to make sure it hadn't fallen behind anything, but it just didn't seem to be anywhere. And, I'm getting tired. I've been up all day, I woke up earlier than usual, I worked the farm, and then there was all the craziness the rest off the day. I let out a yawn. Couldn't help it, I was really, really tired. When I did so, I happened to glance up.
There, embedded in the wall about 9 hooves up, was what appeared to be a brown and blue book. Ok, my exhaustion has officially been replaced by curiosity. What could have made Mac throw the book so hard that it broke the wall? I couldn't just fly up to get the thing, so I had to rely on the sort of tactics AJ would resort to. I spun on the spot and kicked out my rear legs.
Bad move on my part. I was expecting a light thump and a falling book. What I got, was a loud crack and a falling wall. The whole section of wall, not the whole thing, mind you, but a good chunk of it, just fell right over. Good news-bad news situation here. I could now reach the book, but even using the winch, I don't think I can repair this on my own, especially at night and without my wings. And it wasn't this cold and windy earlier.
With a fair amount of effort, I pried the book from it's splintered resting place. Amazingly, the book didn't appear to be damaged. A little scuffed, but no tears, broken spine, or anything like that.
Book in mouth, I headed back over to where Mac was sitting. I set the book down first so I could apologize for breaking the wall, but Mac put up a hoof to stop me. "Ah shoulda told ya, that there wall used to be a cargo door. It ain't been top of the list for repairs lately and was gettin' ta be in pretty poor shape."
"Well, I'll still help you fix it." She sat down next to me. I started to move away from her, to give her a little space. No. I stopped myself and moved back towards her. I said I would be there for her, and I will be. If this is what she wants, then- Oh, I still think we should wait, but if this is what she wants, then I'll be there for her.
She snuggled into my side and started flipping through the book. She started reading out the sections of the book as she went. "Introduction page. Differences between Pegasi and earth ponies. Massages? Hey this could help your back. Let's see- OH. WOW."
I glanced over. She was on the page that caught me by surprise earlier. But why is she acting so surprised? It's her book, isn't it? But the way she's acting- Oh, applesauce and hay fritters. What if it isn't? The hospital's given me flyers and pamphlets before without me asking, so what if they did the same thing here? Oh, I'm so sorry Rainbow.
She stared straight ahead of her as she slowly closed the book and set it down. "Diagrams, huh?"
She nodded. "They make it sound so technical and-" It must have started to sink in, because she started to shrink in on herself. "And you thought I- And that we- And I said-"
"Eeyup." I don't think she was quite sure what to say there, but I got the point. I feel really stupid right about now.
She scooted across to the opposite side of the bed. "Holding hooves sounds good, let's start there and forget the book even exists."
"Eeyup." A particularly strong draft chose that moment to blow through.
She shivered. "It's cold in here."
"Eeyup." It always gets cold at night. That big ol' hole ain't gonna help any.
She let out a groan. "Granny didn't give us any blankets, did she?"
"Nnope." I think I see where this is headed.
She dropped her head to the mattress. "There's no way for this to not be akward, is there?"
"It's still cold."
She started to inch towards me. "No." She moved back away, shaking her head as she moved. "I can't do it. Not after-" She took a few breaths before continuing. "Mac, everything that's happened between us, doesn't it seem like it's gone a little fast? I mean, I thought I wanted to see where this went, but now that I think about it, I- I don't know. I don't know what to do. You said that I was the one, is that what you see? When you look at me, can you see us together, getting married, having foals, and being a family? I can't see it. It's not who I am. I just can't see that far ahead. When something's in front of me, I have to deal with it immediately, but this is too much for me. Mac, I can't deal with this now. I don't know if I ever can."
This isn't going to be the thing that tears us apart, is it? Some stupid misunderstanding over a book that neither of us even wanted to see? I don't want this to end like that. It took some effort, but I moved over to Rainbow's side. "Ya ain't usin' this empty spot here, are ya?" Bad joke, I know, but I'm just trying to put her at ease.
"M-Mac?" Apparently, it didn't work. "I'm sorry, but I- I can't." She turned away from me. "I can't look at you without thinking about, well-"
"Then think about it." She turned around with a look of shock on her face. What I just said might have scared her, but her own thoughts were scarin' her just as much. I pulled her into a hug just as she opened her mouth to say something. "Shh-shh. Hold on. Now, yer scared thinking about the future and what's gonna happen between us, so Ah'll tell ya exactly what's gonna happen. In one year, Ah'm gonna ask ya a question. It's gonna be an important question and yer gonna answer it. Then we can think about the future, the stuff in that book, and all those other things. Until then, you and Ah are just two ponies havin' fun and livin' day-by-day. No thoughts of what time may bring, no expectations, and no bein' afraid."
I could feel tears running down my chest as Rainbow pulled her face against my fur. "Th-thanks, Mac." The voice was muffled, but it was enough. I let out a sigh of relief as I relaxed. Unfortunately, being tense was the only thing keeping me upright as my back legs were still pretty numb from the muscle relaxer. Rainbow let out a squeak as we once again crashed to the mattress, side-by-side this time. Not wanting to upset her any further, I tried to roll over, but Rainbow was laying on my hoof and made no move to get off. She was laying still and looking at her hooves which were sitting against my chest. "This is still awkward." She looked up with a little smile. "But if it's gotta be akward, I'm glad it's with you."
I put my free hoof around her as she pressed herself up against me. "So am Ah Rainbow, so am Ah. Say, ain't it cold up in the air? like when ya sleep on clouds and stuff?"
She let out a little giggle."Sometimes, but clouds trap the air around you, so they hold heat, it's like being wrapped up in the biggest, fluffiest blanket you can imagine. It's really comfortable."
Seems like she's comfortable now. "Ah never had ya pegged fer the type to like fluffy stuff."
"Hey!" she said with mock indignation, "anypony can like a fluffy blanket. Besides," I felt her shrug, "you're fluffy, and I like you."
I couldn't help but laugh at that, nopony's ever called me fluffy before. "Looks like Ah'm just a big, fluffy blanket now, ain't Ah?"
She let out a yawn. "The biggest, fluffiest one I can imagine."
I woke up to a gentle rumbling noise. It was warm and deep and I could feel it reverberate throughout my body. I think Mac is snoring. I rolled over in his hooves and forced my eyes open. Sunlight was streaming in through the busted wall. Why isn't Mac awake yet? And why am I? This is so comfortable, laying like this. I shouldn't have woken up until at least noon. But here I am, it's just after sunrise and I can't get back to sleep.
I turned a little more and spotted something next to the bed. It was that book. Staring at the thing, I found it kind of hard to believe that I had let it affect me so much. But now that I see it again, it looks familiar. I think I've seen it before. But where?
Fluttershy has a copy of it on her coffee table. But why? Why would Fluttershy have something like that? And not keep it locked as far from sunlight as possible? Well, it is a relationship book. And Fluttershy is in a relationship. But page 5? It can only get worse right? But I don't think Fluttershy would own something like that. Maybe that's the only page with something like that.
I picked up the book and flipped to a random page. Nope. I was wrong, that wasn't the only page. I was about to toss the book when I felt Mac tighten his hooves around me. Just a little though, it was like a light hug, but he was still asleep. After everything he said yesterday, I'm a lot more comfortable around him. Especially that part about no pressure or expectations. He also said he was going to ask me something in one year, and I can only think of one thing it could be. It's funny, yesterday, I would have been scared stiff at the prospect, but now? I actually think it could be kind of nice. It's also helpful to know that I don't have to worry about it for a long time.
But that doesn't mean I don't have to think about it. Knowing there has to be more to the book if Fluttershy owns a copy, I opened it to another random page. Fortunately, this one didn't have any pictures.
This book is intended for distribution by medical facilities and contains only the necessary health and safety information. The following contains excerpts from other books in the Earth and Sky series.
Of Shifting Winds and Changing Hearts. (Excerpt from book one)
Hello, Mr. Earth Pony and Ms., or Mrs., Pegasus. Thank you for giving this book a chance. But you may be wondering why I address you as I have. Especially if I was correct.
The answer to that is simple, this book is written for earth pony/pegasi couples, most of which consist of a male earth pony and a female pegasus. Nopony is sure why, but the leading guess is that there is a dual attraction of the Pegasus to the strength and stability of the earth pony, and of the earth pony to the exotic nature and inherent sense of freedom possessed by the pegasus. This may help create a stronger than usual initial attraction. You might call it a crush, or maybe you'd call it love at first sight. This allows the couple to emotionally bond in a rather short amount of time. Usually a few weeks, but it is known to occur faster if subjects have highly compatible personalities or deeply rooted emotional similarities. In the end however, love is love, and no amount of science or psychology or magic will ever explain it.
This accelerated bonding process has led to many long-lasting and fulfilling relationships. One in particular, that of myself and my wife, the co-author, has lead to this book being in your hooves. We have found during our research though, that for every successful relationship of this type, there seem to be hundreds of examples where couples simply drift apart.
It is by no means complete, but we have done our best to catalogue the hurdles that face what we call 'earth and sky' couples. Hopefully this will give new couples the chance to avoid, or at least recognize, things that have torn other couples apart in the past. If even one couple finds help through our words, then our years of work and dedication will have validated in the only way we could ask for.
My hero (Excerpt from book one)
Nearly half of the failed relationships that we encountered during our research began as the direct result of an earth pony coming to the aid of an injured Pegasus. Less common is some other, perhaps inconsequential, need on the part of the Pegasus. This need is met by the earth pony in some manner.
This is in fact how my wife and I began our relationship. While we were still in university, my wife had broken her last pencil during a closed exam. I had foolishly risked failing to pass her one of mine. I did it because I thought she was cute, and I liked how she would just jump out of the nearest window when class let out. After the exam, she ran up to me and gave me a hug. I asked her out to lunch, and a month later, we were sitting in line at a fly-through chapel in Las Pegasus. We got cold hooves and left, but as we left, we started to question things. Why did we chicken out? Why were we there in the first place? How had it only been a month when it seemed like so much longer? We returned to university and continued to question. I went into psychology, and she went into medicine, but we stayed together. Years later, after receiving our doctorates, we returned to that same fly through chapel to start both our lives together and our research for the earth and sky project.
If our relationship was successfully built on a single pencil, it seems that a bond based on helping somepony through an injury, or saving their life would be stronger. Sadly, we have not found this to be case. Usually, the ponies involved in these more serious cases are much less likely to have things in common, specifically small day-to-day relatable occurrences. My wife and I had university happenings to talk about, small, inconsequential small talk that helped root our similarities while still allowing us enough differences for the relationship to be exciting.
My hero: continued,
Much more rare is a case in which the earth pony is the one injured or in need, and rarer still when both ponies must come together for mutual benefit. Sadly this can lead to misplaced feelings of guilt or resentment, and the often mistaken belief that the other partner is better than you are, or nicer than you deserve, or doing more than you are.
The best way to overcome these problems, or to keep yourselves from falling too hard, is to stop and question your relationship, really question it. Do you have something in common with your somepony? Did you know each other before the event? Would you have met even without the event? Even if the answer is no, do you love them? Truly love them, enough to work through whatever may come?
Location, location, location (Excerpt from book three)
One hurdle earth and sky couples must face is geographic location. Living in Canterlot, my wife and I went to the same shops and restaurants. Cloud buildings were exceedingly rare, and usually temporary. I was always able to call in a favor from a unicorn friend and get a cloud-walking spell. This allowed us live in the same world, whereas more cloud-dense cities such as Cloudsdale, Las Pegasus or the Clouderado region would be much more difficult to navigate in this manner, requiring instead the constant companionship of a unicorn or repeated doses of a featherweight potion. I have learned from experience though that repeated spell casting or potion use can lead to spontaneous failure, therefore a parachute is recommended for all earth ponies attempting long term cloud inhabitation.
Location, Location, Location: continued,
This problem is often related to an earth and sky couple's first meeting in that an injured pegasus may suddenly find themselves unable to return to their homes, or in rare cases, completely alone in a new and possibly frightening land due to never having been on the ground before. In these cases, the earth pony usually offers their home for use until the pegasus can return to their own.
Location-based problems can be difficult to overcome, but it can be done. Moving to a ground-based mountain location such as Canterlot, or a high rise city such as Manehattan or Seaddle can be the easiest and safest way to provide both the necessary earth pony accessibility and the desired pegasus altitude. However merely being aware that geographical separation can lead to emotional separation may allow you to take measures against this. Take a little extra care with travel plans, calling ahead to see which hotels are cloud-based, earth-based, or a combination of both is a good idea. As is traveling with groups of friends that include unicorns. And if you're an earth pony like me, that parachute can go a long way towards making your trip more enjoyable.
All work and no play (Excerpt from book two)
In any comparison of two different ponies, the subjects of career and recreation prove interesting. They may vary drastically or be nearly identical.
My wife and I are both doctors and authors, our careers are identical and intertwined. This book is proof of that. However our special talents and cutie marks are drastically different. My wife loves sports, cloudball the most and her mark is a flaming cloudball hoop. I prefer music and hold a metronome upon my flank. As university students, we could either afford to go to a ball game, or to a concert, rarely ever both. We found a middle-ground in the most unlikely of places. A young mapmaker and friend of ours introduced us to the local video arcade. We would take turns choosing which games to play, I would find ones with nice music and rhythmic pacing, and she would always choose the ones with the most action. We have moved to personal gaming systems now, but they still provide as much of a bridge between our hobbies as ever.
All Work and No Play: continued,
Rarely if ever do two ponies share the same interests completely, in our case, we allowed our love and mutual goal to override what we once thought to be destiny. This may not work for everypony, so keep in mind that the one you love may not love the same things you love. It is sometimes possible to find another activity that incorporates elements of things you both enjoy, or something new entirely.
While the subject of hobbies may seem inconsequential to some, to an earth and sky couple it can be quite important. It is much easier to try a new hobby than it is to switch careers.
On the subject of careers, an earth and sky couple is less likely to be compatible than any other combination of ponies. A Pegasus may have any number of careers not suited to an earth pony, from express postal delivery, to weather control, to cloud architecture. Similarly, earth pony work is often too difficult for most Pegasi, from farming, to mining, to construction. This can be especially stressful if you or your partner own or are part of a family based business as one may feel pressured into helping regardless of whether or not they are capable of it. It is important that, if you find yourself in this situation, that you take it slow and find out whether or not you or your partner is suited for and truly enjoys the task at hoof. And more than anything else, do not pressure, or feel pressured, or get upset if things don't work the way you think they should. Part of a relationship is being able to adapt to changes and accept differences.
More to Think About (a personal message from the authors)
We could keep listing the various problems you might face as an earth and sky couple, and in many parts of this book and the others in the series, we do. But these book are designed to be read a little at a time as you grow into your new relationship. So after reading this section of the book, we hope that you will keep these things in mind.
Be honest with yourself and your partner. Trying to be something you're not, or forcing them to do so is not going to lead you anywhere worth going.
Don't be afraid to be different, but be ready to accept the differences in others.
Talk to each other, talk about little things, talk about big things, your day, your past, your hopes for the future. Everything you talk about is something you've shared.
Things will not always work out. It may hurt, and you may not like it, but try not to let a failed romance destroy your friendship as well.
Love is the most important thing of all. During our research we had a lot of ponies ask us, "What good is a relationship if it couldn't work without your little book?" We will give you the same answer we gave them. A book is a book. Without somepony to read it, it is wasted space. All of our experiences, our research, our advice is pointless if nopony cares. You can read this book and forget every word. Or you can read it and take the advice and put more thought and effort into your relationship. But the only ponies who would care enough to do so, together, are those that truly love each other. It will not always be easy, and there will be times of pain. But like all things, great reward only comes with great effort. You must decide for yourself what is worth that effort. You must decide,
Do you two love each other?
Something fell onto the page and a red-coated hoof wiped it away, leaving a faint, wet streak under the words.
"Rainbow," Mac said softly. I looked over at him. Has it really only been a day and a half? "Ya don't have to read that if it's gonna make you cry. Ah'm here for ya." It felt like forever. I want it to be forever.
"I want the answer to be yes." I could feel tears running down my face. Funny, I'm not sad.
He lifted a hoof to my face and wiped away the tears. "What are ya talking about, Rainbow?" He said it so softly, so gently. He's always so gentle with me.
I sat up, removing myself from his hooves before offering him the book. "Read it."
"Why?" He sat up, took the book, and closed it. "And why did the hospital even give ya that?" He set it down on the bed.
"Because it's us Mac," I picked the book back up and offered it to him again, "page 71. Read it, it's us. And we figured it out. I love you, and I want the answer to your question to be yes."
He looked me in the eyes for a few moments then took the book from my hooves. "If ya want me to, I will."
"Ah think we should read it." Well, I just read part of it. "All of it."
Rainbow nodded."A few pages everyday, until we finish it."
"We'll start tonight, before we go to sleep. Ah'll try ta find the other books in town, somepony's got ta carry'em." Rainbow was sitting next to me, so I lifted a hoof and started running it through her mane. Don't really know why, it just felt like the right thing to do. "What made ya give it another try?"
Rainbow must have liked it, because she moved a little closer to me and leaned into the motion. "I remembered seeing a copy at Fluttershy's place. I didn't think it could be that bad if she had a copy, so I opened it to a random page."
I let out a chuckle. "Ya opened it to the right page."
"On the second try," she squeaked, lowering her head, "I, um, found something else first."
"Oh." And she's ok with being so close to me after that? I guess that's a good sign. "What made ya give it two more tries?"
"I thought about you, and how I want this to last forever." She sat up and nudged me in the side. "And I thought about your question, and maybe, someday, if it's you, well," she looked away with a shy smile, "Granny'll still want grand-foals."
I sat up and nudged her back. "Great-grandfoals, and she'll get'em, but only if it's you." I wonder if they'd be colorful like her, or more plain like me. And I can't believe I'm actually thinking about this.
She pulled closer to me and leaned her head against my shoulder. "She will, but not right now."
"Dagnabbit." There was a tiny voice that sounded like granny. Heh. I must be imagining her disappointment.
"You know," Rainbow said into the open air with a smile, "Pegasi have better hearing and eyesight than earth ponies." I heard another tiny voice, but I couldn't make it out. Was that Granny? Is she eavesdropping on us?
Rainbow sat straight up and turned to face the window. "It's not a bluff Granny!" Her voice sounded angry, but her face held a smile as she looked over and gave me a wink. "You just have to wait." Uh, Rainbow, that wink could mean so many things right now. I kinda wish you hadn't done it.
"I ain't got time ta wait!" Eeyup, it's confirmed. That was Granny, how long was she eavesdropping?
"Oh! Sure ya do!" Rainbow started rubbing her head along the back of my neck. "Just another year or two!" Normally, I wouldn't be happy about somepony other than me or AJ making decisions that'll impact the farm. But this time, I think I can let it slide.
"One year!" Yelled Granny from outside the window.
"Two!" Rainbow yelled back at her.
"One an' a half!" Leave it to Granny to turn something like this into a negotiation.
"Don't make me say three!" And leave it to Rainbow to go along with it.
"Fine! Two years! An' Ah'll hold ya to it!" Are we talking about the birth date here or what?
"Thanks Granny!" Rainbow grabbed me by the neck, rammed her hoof into the top of my head, and started moving her hoof from side to side, thoroughly mussing my mane in a rather painful manner. I don't have a say in this, do I? Ah well, I guess it ain't too bad.
"Don't ya go thankin' me yet! Till the two a' ya get started, there's still chores ta be done." Of course there are, Granny. In all the years you've been here, has there ever been a day where something didn't need to get done?
Rainbow let go of my neck and stood up. "Then Ah reckon we oughtta get started!" It took every ounce of self-control I had not to burst out laughing, but I still let out a snort.
"Heh! Careful missy, yer startin' to sound like ya belong here."
Rainbow looked down at her hooves then over at me with the cutest, shyest smile I've ever seen. "Maybe I do." She wasn't talking to Granny anymore. Her eyes and her words were focused on me.
I stroked my hoof along her foreleg and said the only thing that came to mind. "Eeyup." She blushed. Whether it was from the caress or from the confirmation of her remark, I don't know, but I do know that what she said is true.
"young-uns these days," Granny mumbled, "just get them chore's done! List's on the porch, so's another pie. And eat the thing this time! Ah ain't makin' another!"
Rainbow and I exchanged glances. She communicated her intentions with a quick rise and fall of her eyebrows and I responded by taking a deep breath. She took in her own gulp of air and we let out simultaneous calls of, "EE-YUP!" A single moment passed before we both gave in to the laughter that we were both trying to hold back. I let my hooves slide forward until I was on the ground and gave it a few solid whacks. Rainbow, on the other hoof, was rolling back and forth beside me.
We were still consumed by our merriment when Granny mumbled something that I couldn't quite make out. Rainbow stopped rolling with her belly in the air and looked towards the window. "Aww," I could describe her voice as a gentle crooning, "thanks Granny."
I forced myself to my hooves. "What'd she say?" I'm curious as to what can snap Rainbow out of a fit of laughter and into such a, for lack of a better word, mellow state. She was staring out the window and off into the distance with a serene, peaceful look on her face. One corner of her mouth was pulled lightly upward. I can't believe I'm going to use this word to describe her, but she looks almost motherly. "Rainbow, what'd she say?
Rainbow rolled her head to lock me in that calm gaze. Then she stuck her tongue out at me. "Wouldn't you like to know?" I did say almost.
"Eeyup," I put a hoof to my chin and did my best to look contemplative, "and Ah bet Ah know somethin' that you'd prob'ly like to know."
"Oh yeah?" She had a smug, confident look on her as she looked up at me. A look that will not be there long. "And just what is this thing that I'd like to know?"
I moved my hoof a little away from my chin and bent it at the ankle to point at her "Ya dropped yer guard."
She only managed to get out a confused, "huh?" before I pounced. I saw the realization dawn on her face and she tried to roll over, but I had the advantage of surprise. Before she could even make it to her side, my hooves were on her, kneading at her ribs. "What? No, I-" She clamped her hooves to her mouth to silence her snickering, but it was too late. I found a ticklish spot and I wasn't about to let up. She started batting at my hooves in a weak attempt to stop the onslaught, but I was not deterred. After a few seconds, she was still able to suppress most of her giggles. She's a tough one for sure, but don't underestimate the power of a big brother! I have one weapon left. A powerful weapon that nopony can stand against. I caught her hooves and leaned down, placing my lips against the fur of her chest. She stopped moving, looking down at me in confusion as she tried to figure out what I was about to do.
That got her! She broke down in peals of raucous laughter, completely unable to contain it. She did however start batting at my head until she managed to get her hooves free. She then shoved me away and scrambled to get up. Before she could make it to her hooves, I darted in and planted another raspberry on her side, resulting in more laughter. She braced her shoulder against me and tried to shove me away, but only succeeded in exposing the back of her neck.
Well, that was weird. The raspberry to the back of the neck produced no laughter, just a squeak and a bout of superpony strength. Rainbow sure is strong for her size to be able to throw me like that. It wasn't even a proper throw or anything, she just gave me a push and here I am sprawled out on the other side of the barn. Is that a hole in the roof? I need to fix that.
My view of the barn's roof was soon blocked by a pair of worried-looking magenta eyes. "Mac! Are you ok?!"
"Eeyup." I rolled over and got to my hooves. I've got to get her to join the Dojo. With her and Fluttershy on the same team, nopony else would stand a chance. "What was that?"
"Well, I, um," she looked away as her face started turning red, "I'm kind of ticklish there."
A little too ticklish. "Ah'll remember that. Ya want ta go get some pie?"
She leveled her eyebrows at me and, in a flat monotone, asked, "you need to ask?"
"Nnope." I started walking to the door, but noticed that she didn't. She was hanging back and looking around for something. "Watcha doin'?"
"Looking' for the bag. You know, the one from the hospital?" She moved over to the bed and checked around, eventually finding what she was looking for under a forgotten pillow. "Here we go," she tucked the bag under her good wing, "there's some medicine in here that you're supposed to take with breakfast."
"Rainbow, Ah'm fine." And I hate that stuff, it tastes like pine needles and salt water. Speaking of which, I lose way too many bets. "Mah back don't even hurt, it was just from sittin' funny for too long."
Rainbow tilted her head to one side. "So, I make you sit funny?"
"Eeyup." Wait. "What?" Rainbow crashed to the mattress in a fresh fit of laughter. Ok, I walked straight into that one.
"Oh, Mac!" She pounded on the ground beside her. "That was priceless, you should've seen your face!"
"Give it a year little missy!" yelled Granny from outside the barn. "Ya'll be the one sittin' funny!"
"Granny!" That was uncalled for. And why are you still there?
"Tell me it ain't true!"
"Ah, uh, Ah ain't even gonna respond to that!" Why can't ya just go in the house?
"Mac?" Rainbow walked up behind me and patted me on the shoulder. "Let me handle this." She took a deep breath. "You got your deal, so just leave us the-mpph-bmm-mhh!"
I got my hoof over Rainbow's mouth just in time. "Be nice," I hissed quietly, "you get to go home tomorrow, but Ah gotta live here."
"Bmmph-mm-hmm-mnn-" She looked down at my hoof then back at me with a decidedly impatient glare.
I pulled my hoof away quickly. "Sorry."
"She's the one who started it!" Rainbow proudly beat a hoof against her chest. "And I'm gonna finish it."
"Ya sure 'bout that, little missy?" I guess it's a good sign that she's got a nickname for Rainbow, she only does that for ponies she likes. "Why, if he's anythin' like his grandpappy, then-" I sat down and stuck my hooves over my ears. I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear the rest of that sentence. Or the rest of the argument for that matter. I'm just gonna let them battle it out and try to pick up the pieces afterwards. Poor Rainbow, she doesn't know what she's getting herself into.
I sat there for about a minute and a half before Granny won their little verbal spar. I could tell by the blush on Rainbow's cheeks, the wide-eyed expression of shock on her face, and the rather stiff way she walked out of the barn with her tail tucked between her legs. I have a feeling she's gonna have trouble looking me in the face for a while.
I gave her a minute or two before I followed her out. I don't know what Granny said to her, but it's probably best if I give her some space. I went to the porch, but there was no sign of Rainbow or Granny. The pie was there, sitting on an overturned bushel. The list, two plates, a knife, and the bag from the hospital were next to it.
I was just about to read the list when I heard the front door open. I turned to see Rainbow carrying out a glass of water. She set it on the makeshift table and sat down opposite me, all the while examining something off in the distance. It felt like several minutes before she finally spoke. "You need to take the medicine." She was still looking away from me. "I know you said you were ok, but nurse Redheart said that the muscle could tighten up again if you overuse it."
It would take a lot for me to overwork a muscle. "Rainbow, Ah-"
"Look, I don't want to see you get hurt, ok?" She crossed her forelegs with a huff. "Just take it."
All right Rainbow, just for you. I opened the bag and dug out the medicine. The instructions on the little foil packet said to mix with water and take with breakfast. I took the knife and cut out two slices of the pie. I offered the first one to Rainbow and she took it with a quick glance over and a small smile. She then went right back to staring out at the yard. I ate my pie and took the herbal medicine. It was nasty and bitter, the medicine, not the pie. It was like drinking pine needles in honey. Kind of sad that I have a reference for that, but I really need to stop losing bets. The entire time I was eating, Rainbow didn't even touch her own slice.
With a sigh, I walked around the barrel and sat next to her. She didn't move, but it looked like she was forcing herself to stay put. I'm probably gonna regret this. "What'd she say to ya?"
"You were there," she sounds a bit angry, but she's doing her best to keep her face blank, "why do you want me to repeat it?"
"Rainbow, Ah wasn't listenin'." I put a hoof on her shoulder and she shrugged it away. "One a' the things ya learn 'round Granny is how to cover yer ears." I put my hoof back on her shoulder and she shrugged it away again. "Rainbow, yer upset. It's my fault for lettin' ya go at it with Granny, but Ah can't help ya if Ah don't know what's buggin' ya."
She hung her head in defeat. "D-did your dad really have fifteen brothers and sisters?"
"Nnope." She sighed and a smile appeared on her face as she started on her slice of pie. "That was ma, pa only had twelve."
The smile dissapeared and she swallowed the pastry with a loud gulp. "Th-then, you're gonna want-" She was almost shaking.
Well, at least now I know what granny meant about me being like grampa. "One or two, if you're ok with it. And we ain't gonna discuss it for one year, remember?"
"Yeah, I guess." She took another bite of her pie. "That I remember," she said with her mouth full, "not that I'm ok with two." Ah wouldn't expe- "Three sounds good. Four at the most."
"What? But ya-"
She waved a hoof in front of me. "Ah-ah-ah, no talking about it for a year, you promised." That was a pretty sudden change in attitude. I kind of wonder if she was even upset at all. "And we've gotta be done with chores before seven, we're meeting Pete and Fluttershy at eight-thirty."
"Ya got somethin' planned fer that hour an' a half?"
"I-I was thinking," Rainbow started to blush, "Mr. and Mrs. Dapple could strike again. Just, this time no disguises, no Rarity, no distractions, just us. And if we get caught, the farms' shower was broken."
"Sounds nice," I said with an appreciative nod, "but just a moment ago, ya couldn't bring herself to look at me. Are ya gonna be ok in the bath?" I don't want her to feel uncomfortable.
"So you automatically assume we'll be sharing the bath again?" Rainbow shook her head. "I just had to fall for such a dirty stallion, didn't I? Does Applejack know how much of a pervert you are?"
"Eeyup," I deadpanned, "now let'ss get that, uh, bandage off of you and get ta work."
"You just want an excuse to touch me." She said with a pout as she presented her bandaged wing.
I tilted my head. "Ssso?" I've touched her plenty, and she has no problem touching me, so what is she talking about?
"So, maybe I'll let you." She looked at me in confusion. "Ok, forget the jokes, just get that bandage off."
Bandage. "Eeeeyup." Remove the bandage. Uh, which one? There's two, one to the left, and one to the right. It was her right wing, so I reached out to touch the bandage on the right. Wait, this doesn't feel right, it feels kinda wiry.
"Mac, that's my mane. Get the bandage." She needs to brush more. It must be the other bandage. I reached out for it. "Whoa, Mac! Watch the hooves there." It moved. I reached out and poked it. "Whatare you-" The other bandage moved too, so I poked that one too. "Oh! Hey, sto-" Now they're both on the left. Gotcha! I grabbed for the bandages just to find my hooves unable to reach them. "Hey! Mac! What are you doing?!"
"Which, uh, one isss it, Rainnbow? And why can't I, uh, reach it?" It's magic, isn't it? Enchanted bandages? "They keep moving." Maybe they know when they're supposed to be taken off and they're trying to tell us.
"Mac," she turned to face me, "are you ok?"
"Yer purddy." Why did I say that? It's true, but still, why did I say it now? It was true earlier, why didn't I say it then? Oh! She's blushing. "Yer cute when ya blush." Now she's blushing more, and now she's even cuter. I gently placed my hooves around her pretty little face and stared into her eyes. Her big beautiful eyes.
What am I doing?
What is he doing?!
He just randomly started complimenting me. Which I like, don't get me wrong, but he also grabbed my flank and now he's holding my face and staring at me with that goofy grin. And his eyes are drifting! "Mac, your eyes are going Ditzy."
He tilted his head, worsening the drift in his eyes. "Uh, Ditzy-who?"
"Ditzy-doo, friend of mine. Grey, one slow eye." What's going on here?!
"Ah know her!" Mac perked his head up and his eyes snapped back into place. "Nice gal, beats the tar outta everypony every Friday."
"What? Mac, you are out of it."
"And Rainbow, you are beautiful." I'll never get tired of hearing that. Not that I'd ever admit it. Wait. He's getting closer! What's he doing? Is he? Why is he doing that now?
"Mac, what are you-mmph" Oh, why didn't you do this sooner. I could feel my eyes rolling up into the back of my head at the gentle touch of his lips. Our first kiss. Our first real-
He collapsed! One minute, he's kissing me, the next, he's snoring on the porch. He didn't even finish the kiss! How is that supposed to work? Do you even finish a kiss, or do they just end? "Uggh! You owe me Mac!" I was enjoying that! Even though you were acting weird.
Playing a hunch, I grabbed the bag and dug out the papers Nurse Redheart gave me. I flipped through them until I found one about the medicine.
Take in the morning. Check.
Mix with water. Check.
Eat first. Check.
No hot liquids. Check.
Dosage increased due to patient's size. Check.
Side effects include euphoria and drowsiness. I guess that's a check.
So, my first kiss was a side effect of heavy duty painkillers. You know, that kind of kills the romance. And on top of that, I'm stuck with the chores now. "You really owe me, like, another kiss or something. And you had better make it romantic."
He snored in response.
With a little giggle- I mean chuckle. With a little chuckle, I arranged Mac so he would be more comfortable while he slept. He was kind of heavy, but that's not too big of a problem for me. After that, I finished my slice of the pie. Gotta say, as infuriating as she can be sometimes, she does know how to make a pie. Maybe I'll just have one more slice.
A few minutes and most of the pie later, I picked up the chore list off the table. Let's see now.
Feed the chickens. No problem
Apple delivery to sugarcube corner. Can't say I'm looking forward to that.
Plow 20x20 salad garden beside house. Tough but doable.
Dig hole for new tree 5 hooves deep and 10 around at the blue flag. I hate you, Granny.
Well, hate is a little harsh. Mac and I were supposed to be working together on this after all. Well, first things first, get the small stuff out of the way so you have room to work.
The chickens only took a few minutes. So I was off to Sugarcube Corner pretty quickly. Mac probably could have carried the two barrels of apples like they were saddlebags. I was stuck with AJ's old cart. I set off for sugarcube corner as quickly as I could. I knew I would need all the time I could get to work on digging the hole. I am not letting Granny mess with tonight's plans.
I got a few odd looks during the walk through Ponyville, probably because of the ridiculous little smiley faces on the cart. I wonder how mad Mac would be if I painted it black.
When I got to Sugarcube Corner, I parked the cart and walked in through the front door. The normally packed bakery was completely empty, not even Pinkie or the Cakes were present. Weird,but there's nothing I can do about it.
I turned around to exit the bakery and heard somepony yell, "ear flop, eye flutter, knee twitch!"
"Oh! There you are, Rainbow Dash! I had a feeling I'd see you today!"
"I, ughh, yeah." Oh, that hurt. I peeled myself off the back of the door to see Pinkie carrying both barrels of apples into the back of the bakery. She was walking rather unsteadily on her hind legs while supporting the barrels with her front. I don't know if that's possible because she was an earth pony, or because she was Pinkie. But I decided not to ask. My head hurts and I don't think it could take whatever explanation Pinkie would give.
"Thanks for the apples Dashie!" After dropping off the barrels, Pinkie walked in through the front door. I know, I know, but come on, this is Pinkie we're talking about. "Usually Mackie's the one who does the deliveries," she bounced over to the counter, "but I guess I've gotta get used seeing you more often." She disappeared behind the counter. "Which I guess is pretty nice actually." She popped up a moment later with a little paper foodservice hat on her head. "I can't wait till Granny teaches you to cook."
I watched her put together some little sampler trays with miniature sweets and pastries. "What makes you think I can't cook?" And those things actually look pretty good.
"Ooh, can you make cookies?" To illustrate her point, she held up a tray covered in mini cookies. There were chocolate chip, oatmeal and even some pistachio cookies.
"Uh, no." But I'm going to have to get Mac to bring me back here after he wakes up, those things look delicious. I'm gonna have to pay him back though.
"Then what about muffins?" She held up a tray full of little, bite-size muffins.
"No." Where is she getting all these things? I didn't see any of it when I came in. Then again, I was plastered to the back of door, that tends to distract.
"Pie?" She held up a pecan pie that fit perfectly on the end of her hoof.
"No." I didn't know they came that small.
"Cupcakes?" She held out a box of cupcakes. Each one could have been placed on a bit instead of a plate.
"That's your department." How do you even get them that small? The frosting is still perfectly swirled.
"Spa-what-i?" Ok, that made it sound like I don't know what spaghetti is. I do, it's just the sudden jump away from baked goods threw me off.
She placed her hooves together on top of the counter. "So, tell me Rainbow," she said in a serious tone that sounded a little unusual coming from her, "what can you cook?"
"Uh," I shrugged, "you know, food. And stuff."
"Hay fries and frozen pizza?"
"Wait here." She ducked under the counter for a moment. It sounded like she was digging for something. For a moment there, I could almost swear I heard a chainsaw, but when I peeked around the counter, she wasn't there.
I could still hear the chainsaw though. "Pinkie, I swear, if you're standing behind with a chainsaw, you're gonna get applebucked straight to next Tuesday."
"I've already done that." Pinkie came walking out of the kitchen with a brown paper bag in her mouth. "It's not as fun as you'd think. She placed the bag on the counter in front of me. "Smell this."
I took a sniff. "Kind of smells like butter." I bet half the things in here smell like butter. And where is that chainsaw noise coming from? She stretched out an arm to retrieve a plate and set it down in front of me. Her face was expressionless as she emptied the bag onto the plate. A single pastry fell out. "Oh, yeah, twisty, flaky thing. Those always smell like butter."
Pinkie face-hooved. "It's called a croissant."
"Yeah, a cro-what about it?" She did some sort of nasally sound with the s that I don't think I can copy.
She sighed. "How about crescent roll?"
"Yeah, crescent roll works." It's actually kind of humiliating to know that I'm trying Pinkie's patience.
She pushed the plate towards me. "Taste it," she whispered.
"Why? Is it free?" I don't have any bits at the moment. And why did you whisper?
"I got ya covered. Now, eat it, you'll be begging to learn how to cook after you do."
"I doubt it." And you're being kind of pushy.
"Say that after you try it." Fine. I picked it up. Pinkie seems pretty confident, so I'm sure it tastes pretty good. I just can't see me learning how to cook. Sitting in front of a stove waiting for a little bell. I can handle the farm work because I can keep moving. I took a bite. Crispy, flaky, a little salty. Pretty normal for a crescent roll. The salty taste kind of stuck in my mouth though. "Go on," said Pinkie, motioning with her hoof. I took another bite and it melted in my mouth with a sweet caramel taste. It wasn't sticky like caramel candy. It was smooth and blended pretty well with the salt. "One more." I took a third bite, and a light refreshing taste of apples washed away the last remnants of salt and caramel. Leaving a cool taste in my mouth.
"Ok, Pinkie," I said, putting my hooves up in defeat, "I would like to be able to make something like that."
"Good," she went back to filling her little sampler trays, "now you just need to ask the baker to share the recipe."
"But I wouldn't know what to do with a recipe."
"Then you need to ask for lessons."
"So you think you can teach me to make something like this?" That'd be a neat trick.
"Of course not, silly. I said you need to ask the baker, I didn't bake these! Who do you think makes caramel apple croissants?"
"Of course, Granny!" Well, forget learning to cook those, I would rather keep my contact with that green terror to a minimum. And speaking of Granny, I still have chores to finish. "Well, see ya Pinks!" I started to leave, but Pinkie popped up in my path.
"What if it wasn't Granny?" She whispered like she was telling me some big secret.
"Then who was it?" And why are you whispering? We're the only ponies here.
With heavily exaggerated eyebrow movements, she looked left and right without moving her head. Then she put a hoof up beside her mouth and whispered, "you kissed the cook."
No. Way. "You're seriously telling me that Big Mac made that crescent roll?"
She jumped up in the air and started clapping her hooves. "You kissed Big Mac!"
"Pinkie!" I stomped a hoof. "Stop tricking me like that!" I can't believe I didn't catch it.
Pinkie was giggling like a little foal. "But you make it so easy. And you didn't deny it either."
If I tried to deny it, you'd just find another way to trick me. "He was on painkillers, and don't tell anypony."
"Aww," her shoulders drooped, but she was still smiling, "you're not as awkward anymore."
I shrugged. "Sorry Pinks, but like you said, you better get used to seeing me more often."
"Good for you Rainbow." She patted me on the shoulder. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go check on Gummy." She started hopping towards the stairs. "That chainsaw's been on way too long."
Uh, ok. She went up the stairs as I headed outside. I'm pretty sure I heard another chainsaw start up, but I dutifully ignored it as I started my walk back to Sweet Apple Acres. That was actually kind of nice to chat with Pinkie like that. It was almost a normal conversation. And we're meeting Pete and Fluttershy tonight, so I wonder what they want to talk about. Plenty of time to wonder about that after the chores are done. After all, all I have to do is some plowing and a little digging.
It'll be a piece of cake.
Side story is up! Find out what Applejack and Applebloom are doing in Appleoosa, why Granny Smith came home early, and
"Eeyup." Who is it?
"Eeyup?" Go away, I'm tryin' to sleep.
"BIG MACINTOSH APPLE, YOU GIT YER LAZY FLANK UP AN' AT'EM RIGHT THIS MINUTE OR YER GONNA BE SLEEPIN' IN THE BARN FER AS LONG AS AH'M AROUND TA MAKE YA!"
"Granny!" I got to my feet as- Whoa, too fast. I plopped to a sitting position as a wave of light-headedness washed over me. As it started to subside, I noticed that the sky was starting to take on a pinkish tint. Sunset? "Ugh, what time is it? We were in the middle of breakfast, what happened?"
I received a solid whack on the head from some sort of hard object. "Ya slept all day, ya bum! That's what happened!" Granny was gesturing at me with a hoof. Hanging from that hoof was a shopping bag. "As fer the time, ya got eyes, don't ya? Use'em! Sun's settin', that mean's it's late!"
Granny whacked me with the shopping bag. What's in that thing? "Ya don't have to hit me." I rubbed my head and looked around. "Where's Rainbow?"
"WHACK!!" Cut that out, Granny! It hurts.
She dropped the bag in front of me. "Yer filly-friend went and did yer chores fer ya." She softened her voice when she started talking again. "Big Macintosh Apple, ya hold on ta her, ya hear? She's a bloomin' stubborn little thing an' a fair bit of a show-off, but that gal's got her heart in the right place." She nudged the bag before walking over to the door. "When ya give that to 'er, tell'er Ah ain't gonna pester her no more." She opened the door and walked into the house. Once she was inside, she turned around. "But you ain't off the hook till Ah get a few more foals runnin' round around here." With that she slammed the door shut. She opened it again a few seconds later. "How many bits 'ave ye got?"
"Huh?" That's a pretty sudden change of subject, and I ain't sure I want to tell you. "Why do ya want to know?"
"We're puttin' in a pool." She slammed the door again. A pool? Why would we put in a pool? We have a pond, two creeks, and part of a lake on our property, we don't need a pool.
I stepped off the porch and started walking towards the barn. If Rainbow did all the chores, then she's probably tired and taking a nap right about now. I'm gonna have to come up with a good way to make it up to her, something she'll like, but what?
As I was thinking about it, I noticed that the plow was dumped by the side of the barn. My yoke was with it. I haven't worn it since our first trip to the spa, so Rainbow must have been using it. It's way to big for her, she must have been struggling. But it brings up a nice mental image, she probably looked cute wearing it.
When I got to the barn, it was empty, so I went back to the porch and checked the list. Rainbow had apparently scribbled over the tasks as she completed them. The very last item, digging the hole for the new apple tree, wasn't scribbled over. Oh, applesauce! That's what Granny meant about the swimming pool! Rainbow doesn't know! I ran to the side of the house where the plowing was supposed to be. One look at our new salad garden confirmed it. Oh, hayseeds, I've gotta stop her.
I knew where the tree needed to go, so I ran there as quickly as I could. I found Rainbow sprawled out next to the hole, shovel beside her. A huge pile of dirt stood a little off to the side. I was too late, she already finished. "Rainbow?" I walked over to her.
"Mac," she was breathing heavily, but she turned her head to face me with a big smile, "I did it." She sat up and swept a hoof in the direction of the hole. "Check. It. Out. Ha! It took forever, but it's done!" From her sitting position, she picked up the shovel and threw it at the pile of dirt. "Take that dirt! Who's the boss?" She pointed at herself. "Rainbow's the boss!" She threw her hooves up in the air, and with a shout of, "Whoo!" she fell back spread eagle. "I did it, Mac. Granny didn't think I could, she even came by a few hours ago and told me to stop. But I got it done!"
"Eeyup. That's great, Rainbow. Uh, did Granny happen to mention why she wanted ya to stop?" She shook her head no. "Um, Rainbow, if Ah ever need to apologize for somethin', how would ya want me to go about it?"
She waved a hoof and let it drop back to the ground. "Forget about it, it was the medication. It makes you all loopy and droopy and stuff. Besides, I liked it." She blushed a little and turned away. "We totally need to do it again some time."
What is she talking about? Does she really enjoy digging that much? "I'm serious, Rainbow." Though, the medicine would explain why I can't remember much after that slice of pie.
"So am I." She rolled over and got to her hooves. She then took a few wobbly, lurching steps towards me before dropping to the ground. "Ok, if you really want to make it up to me, you can carry me into town. My legs are killing me!"
"Eeyup." Poor Rainbow, she's so proud of the work she did, that I can't bring myself to tell her that she did too much. Ya see, Granny uses the old hoof for her measurements. The old hoof is about half the size of the standard hoof that everypony uses nowadays. Meaning, Rainbow did four times as much plowing and eight times as much digging as she needed to. I'm going to have to come up with something really nice to make it up to her, but what? I knelt down next to Rainbow so she could clamber up. Once she was up, I started heading for Ponyville. One thing was bothering me though, "Rainbow, why are we going into town?"
"Cause, if we don't get to the spa soon, we're really gonna be late!" She leaned forward and wrapped her hooves around my neck. "So you better hurry." I increased my speed from a walk to a trot as I headed for the edge of our property. It wasn't long before Rainbow let out a loud sigh. She stuck her nose right into my ear and started whispering. "Ma~ac, I'm giving you a chance to show off for your marefriend, are you just gonna let it slip by?"
"Nnope." I broke into a full-blown run. If Rainbow wants me to show off, then I'm gonna show off. "Ya might want ta hold on." I cut across the field straight towards the fence.
"Mac? What are you doing?" I angled for the tallest section of fence, one right near a group of oak trees that we never bothered to take down. As we got closer, Rainbow started to get a little frantic. "Mac, you're crazy! That fence is too high, even Applejack couldn't make that ju-" I darted right as soon as I passed the first tree, making Rainbow concentrate on keeping her grip. Then I jumped at the trunk of the nearest tree and used it to launch myself into the branches of another. Without slowing down, I started moving across the wide branches towards the fence, paying special care that none of the small branches whipping by me came anywhere close to Rainbow.
Once I reached the last of the branches, I vaulted forward, clearing the fence and coming to a scraping halt once I landed on the road beyond. I tossed my head back so I could look at the pretty little pegasus hangin' on to me. "How's that fer showin' off, marefriend?" I can't believe she called herself that, but I ain't complainin'.
She shook her head. For a moment, I thought I saw a look of surprise, but it was quickly replaced by a look of contemplation, as if she were judging my performance. "Hmm." She put a hoof to her chin. "Not bad actually." She started tapping her hoof, stopping after a few seconds. "All right, after much deliberation, I declare what you just did to be awesome and a successful example of showing off. And now, for your reward." She leaned forward and planted a tiny kiss on my cheek, no more than a quick peck, but more than enough. "Ya know what? I think I'm getting the hang of this romance stuff."
"Eeyup," I said with a smile, "ya sure are."
"Can you take the rest of the walk a little slower? I'm not quite used to moving unless its by my own power."
"Eeyup." The rest of the walk, or rather, trot, since Rainbow insisted that we speed up a little, was pleasant. The evening air was cool and slightly breezy. Being just about sunset, few ponies were out and about, but those that were tried to sneak glances our way. The general atmosphere was one of surprise, but that could be because most ponies don't generally walk around carrying another pony on their back. A few of the ponies who were members of the Dojo gave me winks and a hooves up. Pinkie gave me two hooves up and an enthusiastic head nod. I'm more than a little surprised that she hasn't insisted on throwing a party for us, but for all I know, she's on her way to set one up. You never can tell with that one.
Unlike last time, when we reached the spa, we entered through the front door. Inside, Aloe and Lotus were sitting at the reception desk, reading magazines and chatting away. "Um, hello," I still can't remember which one is which, so I refrained from using names, "Rainbow and Ah were wonderin', could we use yer bath?" Hearing that out loud, it sounds really wrong somehow.
"Two baths," said one of the sisters, taking out a notepad and writing something down, "not a problem."
Rainbow started climbing off my back. "Um, actually, we uh, only need one." Rainbow sure is cute when she blushes.
Eyebrows were raised and bits changed hooves. When they were done, the one on the receiving end of the exchange trotted off to the back with a smile on her face. The other one let out an exasperated sigh as she turned to face us. "You know where it is. But please, do not use the entire tube of pink this time, it is expensive and you only need a few drops."
"Right, sorry." They know! Who else figured it out?
She reached under the desk, pulled out a fairly large box, and set it on the desk. "Miss Rarity dropped this off for you earlier. She said you would show up covered in dirt and that you are not to open this until you get cleaned up. Oh, and she also insisted that your visit be put on her account."
"That was nice a' her." I don't know how she knew we'd be here, but I'm gonna have to pay her back somehow.
Aloe, or Lotus, I'm not really sure, went back to reading her magazine, leaving Rainbow and I to show ourselves to the bath. I took the box with me and set it on the robe stand when we entered the familiar room. There was a small alarm clock on the stand as well. It was probably there last time and I didn't see it. "Rainbow?"
"Yeah?" She looked up from where she was poking one of the floating plants.
"Ya said we'd be late," I held up the alarm clock, "should ah set this?"
"Oh, yeah." She put her dripping hoof to her chin and jumped when she noticed. "Um, eight-ten should be good."
I set the clock and put it back on the stand. "Do ya need help with yer bandage?"
"No." She walked over and sat in front of me. "But if you want to, that'd be ok." I hesitated for a moment, if she doesn't need help, then- "Oh, come on. You already grabbed my cutie mark, don't chicken out over touching my back."
I did what?! "When did Ah do that?"
"After breakfast, remember?"
"Ah think Ah'd remember somethin' like that!"
She suddenly looked disappointed. "Does that mean you don't remember our first kiss?"
I would never forget that! "Of course Ah remember, we were headed out to do the chores, that first day, ya leaned up and kissed me, and Ah kissed ya back. I would never forget that."
"You don't remember it." She looked sad for a moment, but then looked up with a wistful smile.
She moved over to me and put her hooves around my face. What is she doing? "I won't be showering you with compliments though." Wait. She's getting closer! What's she doing? Is she? Why is she doing that now?
"Rainbow, what are you-mmph" Oh, why didn't you do this sooner. I could feel my eyes rolling up into the back of my head at the gentle touch of her lips. Our first kiss. Our first real-
The alarm went off and Rainbow jumped back. One minute, she's kissing me, the next, she's not. She didn't even finish the kiss! How is that supposed to work? Do you even finish a kiss, or do they just end? And I was enjoying that! Even though it was a little sudden. But I don't care! She kissed me!
Playing a hunch, I checked the alarm clock. It read, "7:10." Oops. I reset it for, "8:10." A silly little mistake, but it ruined a really nice moment.
When I turned back towards Rainbow, she smiled at me. "That," she placed her hoof on my nose, "that was your last first kiss." She lifted it and gave me a solid poke. "I hope you enjoyed it."
I couldn't help but smile. "Ah enjoyed it, don't ya worry none about that. But, last first kiss? What does that even mean?"
"Just something I heard in a song somewhere." She pointed to her bandage. "Now get this thing off, would you?" I couldn't undo the knot where the bandage was connected with my hooves, so I leaned in and yanked it free with my teeth. As soon as she was free from the restraining white cloth, she stretched out like a cat and unfurled her wings with a groan. "Finally!" She gave the wings a few experimental flaps, wincing slightly. I felt the breeze they caused, but she stayed on the ground, "I can't wait to get flying again."
She looks so happy. "Ah can't wait to see ya flyin' again."
"It will definitely make the farm work easier. Come on!" She grabbed a little poofy thing from a little tray of soaps then jumped in the water with a splash. She went under for a second but quickly surfaced with gasp. "Sheesh, that's hot! Hoo! What's the temperature on this thing?"
I grabbed a little more substantial sponge and what I hope is shampoo before going in the water a little slower. As I did, I noticed that the water was significantly warmer than it was last time. Not unpleasantly so, but it was a little unexpected. I waded a little towards Rainbow, letting the shampoo bottle float along as it may. "What about your weather work? Ya don't have to help out on the farm. Not that Ah don't appreciate it, it's just, well, Ah can handle it and Ah don't want ya to feel like ya ha-"
"Mac, stop for minute." Rainbow paddled over to me and came to a stop floating in front of me. Why is this bath so deep? Her hooves barely touch the bottom. " Ok, I want you to think for a moment,have you ever actually seen anypony clearing the clouds?"
"Nnope." Come to think of it, the only time I've seen anypony doing weather work is during winter wrap-up.
"Right!" She paddled around me in a lazy circle and made her way to an underwater ledge where she could sit comfortably with her head above the water. "That's cause, once we get the order, it takes an average team about 20 minutes to clear a region, mine takes about 5." I retrieved the shampoo and made my way over to the ledge, sitting beside her. This is interesting, I never really knew how the weather control teams operated. "Usually we do a smaller area like the sky over Ponyville, I can do that myself in 10 seconds flat. The last time we cleared the entire region was almost a year ago. That was also the first I ever-" her eyes went wide and she stared off into the distance, "flew in on-" she buried her face in her hooves, "two pegasus sharing a cloud." She let out a rather pathetic moan.
"Uh, Rainbow?" I put a hoof on her shoulder. Through the wet fur, I could easily feel the muscles beneath. Wow, she's solid. "You all right?"
She threw her head back. "AAUGH!!! That was Pete and Fluttershy! I thought he looked familiar!"
I'm not following. "Rainbow? What's wrong with sharing a cloud?"
She leveled her gaze at me. "Are you really that dense?" Why is she so upset about this? She put a hoof to her forehead and started shaking her head slowly. "Sorry, Mac. You're not a pegasus, so you wouldn't know." She took a deep breath before continuing. "For pegasi, sharing a cloud means the same thing as sharing a bed."
So? "We share a bed."
Her face turned bright red. "I-in the way, um, we weren't going to talk about for a year."
"Oh." I think it's time for a subject change. "Well, let's get cleaned up then. We don't want ta be late." She turned a little brighter red. I must have said the wrong thing. "Um, what exactly do we not want ta be late for?"
"Meeting Pete and Fluttershy at eight-thirty near town hall."
"Oh." So much for a subject change. Ok, I can do this, I just have to make small talk without mentioning the weather to the one pony who's life revolves around weather more than mine. I mean, come on! She lives in a cloud! What is that like, anyway? I can't ask about it though, I have to steer the conversation away from clouds and towards something else. Something like the ground, or the farm. That's it! I'll just ask her something about the farm! "So, how do ya like stayin' at the farm?"
"It's nice." She used a hoof to scrape some dirt off her leg. "The mattress was a little hard."
"Eeyup." It was pretty uncomfortable, but a little better than sleeping on the ground. Ok, subject change successful. Now, I just have to keep the conversation going. "The guest bed's a lot softer."
"Yeah." She pulled one of her wings in front of her and started to use the poof to carefully remove the dirt from her feathers. It seems like she's starting to loosen up. "But Granny won't let us in the house."
"Only till AJ gets back." Just keep the conversation going. "Ya can use the guest room then."
"But I'll be flying again tomorrow." Apparently satisfied with her cleaning of the wing, she let it fold up to her side and pulled out the other one to start cleaning it. "I'll be able to get home." She suddenly stopped and looked at me. "M-Mac! Are you asking me to move in with you?"
What?! I hurriedly went over the conversation in my head. Oh. I guess it did sound that way, didn't it? There's only one thing I can do now. "Rainbow, will you move in with me?"
"Ah understand if ya won't, and Ah don't blame ya. It's far too early and anypony would-" I blinked. "Did ya say yes?" She answered by letting her head nod up and down. "Why? Uh, Ah mean, um, Ah don't know what Ah mean. Ah'm just a might bit surprised is all."
"Yeah," she shrugged, "I don't know." She absent-mindedly went back to cleaning her wing. "I want to go home, but I think I could learn to call Sweet Apple Acres home."
"What about yer cloud house?"
She looked up. "It's just so, empty," she looked over at me, "ya know? I mean, when I built it, I made it huge cause that's how I do everything, but it's a lot of nothing. It's all cloud, so when I'm in my house, it's just a reminder that I could be in the sky instead, a reminder that I can be surrounded by life and freedom instead of walls. That's
why I always sleep on clouds or in trees." She scratched the back of her neck then turned so she was facing away from me. "Get my back, will you?"
"Ah, uh-" She wants me to help her wash? "Ya sure?"
"Not really," she looked back with a smile, "but it's ok."
"If yer sure." I put some shampoo on the sponge and started scrubbing the dirt off her back. "Ya sure are dirty."
"Dirt tends to be pretty dirty. You're a farmer, you oughtta know that." She looked forward with a laugh. "The farm feels alive, Mac. It's just so, I don't know, there. Does that makes any sense."
"Ah'd say it makes plenty." I finished with her back, so I poured a little shampoo over her mane and started rubbing it in. "There's just somethin' about lookin' over the fields that makes ya want to take a deep breath."
"It's exactly how I feel before I jump off a cloud. Standing on the edge and staring at the open sky, there's this strange calm."
"Then ya jump in and yer heart starts racing as yer mind tries to keep up, but ya move with yer instincts instead." I finished shampooing her mane, all that's left is for her to rinse. "That's how I feel durin' tournaments sometimes."
She took a deep breath and dunked her head, shaking back and forth under the water to get the shampoo out. When she lifted her head out of the water, she tossed her mane out of her eyes and leaned back into my chest. "Thanks Mac."
"Rainbow?" I took the little poof and used it to remove the last bits of dirt from her face and forelegs.
Rainbow sat still as I worked. "Yeah?"
"Applejack comes back tomorrow, do you want to tell her, or should Ah?"
"I'll do it, I'll meet her at the train station."
"What'll ya tell her?"
"The truth, I think I owe her that much. Besides, I don't see any reason not to."
After a few moments of silence, she tilted her head back to look at me. "Say, Mac?"
"What is it, Rainbow?"
"Um, that was kind of nice earlier, do you think, maybe we could, um, try that again? If you don't mi-"
I leaned down and cut her off with a quick kiss. "Ah'll never mind."
A slight blush graced her features as she smiled up at me. "Then could we do that again?"
I leaned down again and she leaned into the kiss. We didn't hold it long, but we still had to catch our breaths afterwards. "We can do that as much as ya want."
She leaned up for another kiss. Our lips were nearly touching when she spoke. "Then maybe another?"
"Ah love ya Rainbow." I closed the short distance between us and we sat there, lost in the moment and each other.
It was Rainbow who broke the kiss this time. She took a moment to get her breathing under control. "I love you too." She let herself sink into me and I wrapped my hooves around her, enjoying the moment. I don't know how long we sat there, but it was Rainbow who broke the silence. "Hey, Mac?"
"One more time."
After our bath, we opened the box from Rarity. When we did, it became instantly obvious why she insisted we clean up first. She really outdid herself this time. There was a dress for me, a suit for Mac, and a small black box.
The dress wasn't filly or girly, it was sleek and simple, red with green swirls at the edges. The suit was a pretty standard black suit with a white collar, but the tie was cyan and had a six-colored rainbow at an angle near the end. After putting on our respective outfits, we opened the smaller box. In it were two small pieces of jewellery, a lapel pin and a hair clip. The hair clip was adorned with half of a green apple, and the pin was in the shape of a cloud with a rainbow lightning bolt. They were perfect. And a little embarrassing, but I didn't care. Much. It's also going to be woefully obvious that we're a couple now. Though the outfits kind of make it obvious too.
After fumbling with the jewelry for a little while, we left the bath, thanked Aloe and Lotus, and set off for town hall. As we walked through Ponyville, I noticed something. Ponies may have been glancing our way before, but now, they're outright staring. I even saw Thunderlane. His mouth was hanging open and I can only imagine that he's regretting every time he said, "yes sir, Mr. Dash, sir," during a weather briefing.
I never really thought it was possible to be feminine and awesome at the same time, but I'm kinda liking this. Especially the way Mac keeps trying to look at me without being noticed. If he likes it that much, I may have to dress up a little more often. But only if he does too, he fills out a suit pretty well. Too bad about the tie though. I know it's meant to match me, but it would have been nice if it went better with his eyes.
His eyes! He's looking at me! He saw me staring! Wait! He was staring too! Eyes forward, Rainbow! Eyes for-
"Oh, hello Miss Dash, Mr. Macintosh. It's nice of you to drop in, but I do have a door you know."
"Hello mayor." I swear, town hall has got to be the flimsiest building in Ponyville. I started trying to tug myself free from the wall, but it was no use. Mac and I are stuck here on display like the trophies in the Griffin consulate. "I like what you've done with the place." I'm just making small talk, the office doesn't really look any different from last time. Desk, paintings, walls, and paperwork. Yeah, same as always.
"Eeyup." Mac started sniffing the air. "Fresh paint." His head had gone through the wall right where a picture of the mayor had been leaning.
I couldn't help but laugh. "Hey, Mac, you even look good in the mayor's suit."
He rolled his eyes. "That's funny, princess, you look good too." I looked down. Apparently, I went through a painting of Celestia. My head took the place of hers, making it look like I was wearing her tiara and neckplate.
The mayor cleared her throat. "As much as I hate to interrupt your playful banter, I need to speak to Rainbow regarding her weather duties." She pulled a sheet of paper off her desk and held it out in front of me. It was this week's weather schedule, and it had a big, red "X" at the top. "Or rather, her lack thereof."
"Yeah, about that-" I tried to scratch the back of my neck, but ended up putting my hoof through the wall just above my head. I swear! Is this building made out of paper, or what? "Uh, I'm grounded until tomorrow." I tried to free my hoof, but it wouldn't budge. Oh, horseapples. Thunderlane's out there. I bet he's staring at my flank and laughing his tail off. "I crashed the other day and dislocated my wing. The hospital knows I'm a weather official, they should have filed an injury report."
The mayor started rubbing her eyes. "They didn't," she groaned, "once you're healed, but before the end of next week, we need a solid downpour to make up for yesterday's missed storm."
"That was yesterday?!" Well, this is just great! "If we missed it, then the clouds will be too decayed and fragile to use." But Cloudsdale's having production issues, we're gonna have to import new clouds from somewhere. But who's gonna have enough? Manehatten always has extra, but the clean up takes forever. "Ugh!" This next week is going to be major pain in the cutie mark.
The mayor started nodding. "I see you understand how much of a headache this causes."
"But what about Thunderlane?" That lazy little- "He knew about the schedule, why didn't he take charge when I didn't show up?"
"He was paying a fine and witnessed the altercation between wishy and his brothers. He was stuck in court testifying and didn't get a chance to tell somepony else to do it." She walked over to the office door and opened it. "I'll be right back." She slipped out and closed the door behind her, leaving Mac and I alone in the-
"HEY! WHO WAS THAT?!" Somepony just poked me in the flank! If that's Thunderlane, I'm gonna kick his flank six ways from-
"Good to know I'm not the only clumsy pegasus in Ponyville."
"Howdy do, Miss Doo."
I heard a giggle from the other side of the wall. "Howdy do to you too, Mr. Mac, and you too, Rainbow Dash. Are you two enjoying your date?"
Nice to know she's as cheerful as ever. "Derpy, why did you poke me?"
She giggled again. "I was gonna bop you on the nose, but I can't reach it. Anyway, I have a message for you. It's from Fluttershy." She cleared her throat. "I never do quite what you'd think. I love sugar and the color- That's all you get. Now, I have to make a rush delivery to Canterlot, bye! See ya Friday, Mac." She hummed as she walked away.
"Hey! Watch it!"
"Sorry! Here, let me help you with that."
"No! It's ok, I can-"
"Oops, I didn't mean to, just let me-"
"Look, I've got it, please just go."
"I'm sorry, I just don't know what went wrong."
"Derpy?! You okay out there?" I listened intently, but there was no response to my question. I guess she left. "Hey Mac? What did she mean about seeing you on Friday?"
I'm guessing he shrugged, because the picture frame around him moved a little. "Ain't nothin' ta be worried about, if that's what yer thinkin'."
"I'm not, I trust you." Besides, AJ and Granny would kill you if you ever cheated. "It's just that you mentioned it before."
He put a hoof to his chin, busting another hole in the wall. "Ah don't remember ta- Right. Painkillers." He let out a sigh. "Rainbow, Ah didn't do anythin', um, unbecomin' while Ah was out of it, did I?" He looked down at his hoof and tried to wiggle it free.
I shook my head. "Nothing too bad. The kiss was a little sloppy, but you've fixed that. Now tell me about what happens on Friday. Does Derpy really beat everypony up?"
"Eeyup." He leaned his head down so he could scratch his nose against his hoof. "Comes ta sparrin' every Friday and challenges ponies to fight. Most ponies walk away with icepacks."
"How?" She's so clumsy sometimes, how does she manage to fight.
"She's a weapons expert, even Pete don't stand a chance against her. Fluttershy's about evenly matched, and Ah'm the only one who can consistently win against her."
"But how does she fight? She can barely fly in a straight line because of her eyes."
Mac let out another sigh. "She closes 'em ta fight."
"Whoa." That's hardcore. I knew she was my friend for a reason.
The office door opened and the mayor trotted in, followed by a lightly colored unicorn in a light blue police uniform. "Sorry about the wait," said the mayor, "this is officer Beat, he-"
The police officer cleared his throat. "Street, Ma'am."
The mayor blinked. "What was that?"
"I'm officer Street," said the unicorn, standing at attention, "My brother Beat's out of town until later tonight."
"Oh, of course." The mayor cleared her throat and turned back to us. "This is officer Street, he's a specialist in teleportation spells. He'll help you get out of the wall. Any questions?"
I raised my free hoof.
Ok, that was stupid, my hoof's still outside. "I have a question."
The mayor nodded. "Go ahead."
"Are we gonna end up all crispy like Twilight does? We're kinda dressed up for something."
Officer Street started laughing. "A common worry, to be sure. Miss Sparkle has the greatest individual teleportation range of any unicorn by far, but she pours way too much power into the spell. That results in the trademark singed mane which she then has to repair with another spell."
"So, no burnt mane?" I gotta be sure.
He closed his eyes. There was a flash of greenish yellow light and I found myself a few feet away from the town hall building, staring through the hole I made. Officer Street smiled at me through the hole. "No burnt mane."
"Whoa." That was much smoother than that time Twilight teleported me. Except for the flash, I didn't even feel anything. "Okay, Mac your turn."
"Nnope." I looked over just in time to see him tear his head free from the wall, knocking a decent chunk of the wall loose. "Ah'm good." He shook the dust from his mane and head and brushed as much of it off his suit as he could before looking through the hole he made. "Sorry 'bout the wall."
The mayor sighed loudly. "Forget it. We need to fix this place up once and for all, and one of these days, we just might. Anyway, enjoy your date. And Rainbow, stop by the weather office tomorrow morning and set up the cloud shipment."
"Will do, mayor!" I walked over to Mac and nudged him in the side. "Let's get out of here," I whispered.
He glanced back at the holes in the wall. "Eeyup."
We made a hasty retreat and stopped once we were out of sight of town hall. "So, Mac? Any idea why Fluttershy left a message for us."
He shook his head. "Nnope. But it's obvious that the last word is s'posed ta be pink."
I nodded. "Sugarcube Corner?"
He nodded back. "Sugarcube Corner."
The walk to the edible-looking bakery was short, a few minutes at most. When we got there, Pinkie was waiting for us at the counter. We knew she was waiting for us because she had a giant sign hanging up behind her that said, "Rainbow Dash, Big Macintosh, over here! I'm waiting!" She was waiting very well, for Pinkie that is. Meaning, not at all. She was bouncing up and down like we were having an earthquake.
"Hey, Pinks!" I called out before walking over to the counter. "What's goin' on?"
She stopped bouncing. "I can't tell you, but I can tell you that you two look so cute together, almost like two peas in a pod, or two twins in a stroller, or two kumquats in a jar of peanut butter or two guppies in a fishbowl, or whatever else comes in twos and looks really cute together, but that's enough about that." She leaned over the counter. "So, what brings you to Sugarcube Corner?"
She let out a loud gasp and ducked behind the counter. "I almost forgot!" She popped back up with two boxes sitting atop her head, one yellow, one blue. "You're here for these!" She set them on the counter and dug out a shopping bag from somewhere. "The yellow one is from me. The blue one is from Fluttershy, and she said to tell you not to open it." She carefully placed both boxes in the bag and held it out in her hoof. Mac took hold of it in his mouth. "Yay! Now for the next clue!" She ducked back out of sight. After a few seconds, the lights went out.
"CRASH!!" The door to Sugarcube corner was thrown open and a flash of lightning illuminated a dark figure standing in the doorway. It approached us slowly. "Now, my dear Rainbow, what can you deduce from from these words? I once lost these and caught some flack, I sometimes work the fields with Mac." The lights flickered back on, revealing Pinkie in her Fetlock Holmes hat, blowing bubbles from a pipe. "That's all you get from me! Quite a stumper isn't it?"
Mac pointed his hoof in the air. "Ifs Harmel." He looked at me before continuing. "Ee os ze rass seez urin' inner wrah-uh." I stood there for a moment, staring at him. I didn't get any of that. I leaned forward and took the bag from him.
"THAT COUNTS AS A KISS!!" Screamed Pinkie, clapping wildly. Good to see she's enjoying the show. "Well, I've gotta go, I promised Thunderlane I'd teach him how to make his brother's favorite nut brittle cookie bars in exchange for the lightning." She bounced out the door with her hat still on.
"Haf fum." I'm not entirely sure it'll possible for her not to have fun, but still. I turned to face Mac. "Ooh er aying?"
"It's Caramel, he lost the grass seeds durin' winter wrap-up."
That makes sense. "Ih ih Harmel or he rass eez? Eh where an we bind 'em?"
Mac scratched his head. "Honestly, it could be either one of 'em. Ah think Caramel's house is out past the library, but the vendor we bought new grass seeds from was set up in the square nearby."
I nodded. "Oh ee eck at un hurst."
"Eeyup. Sounds like a plan." Mac leaned forward to take back the bag.
"It still counts!" Pinkie yelled. I looked over to see her pressed up against one of the windows, waving at us. "Ok, I'm going for real this time." She ducked out of sight again, but I had to check. I walked over to the door which Pinkie left open and peeked out. It seemed like she was gone, but with Pinkie, you never know.
Mac walked up to the door behind me. "Uh, ya want me ta take that?"
"O," I shook my head, "I'm ohing ah oh ih."
"Esh!" I looked around again. "I own wan Inkie reating ush kissie ike a eckator sort. Ih sumsing secial etwee se who of ush."
He sidled up beside me and chuckled. It was deep and rumbling, just like his snores. "That's awful sweet a' ya, Rainbow."
"Uh, Ack? Ow ooh you ow wha I'm aying?"
He shrugged. "AJ used ta have braces, ya just get used to it, Ah guess."
"Oh." AJ? In braces? I would have loved to see that. "Sho, eed de way." I wonder if they have any pictures.
"Right this way, miss." He led me out of the bakery and down the street to the market square where. A brown earth pony, probably Caramel, was waiting near one of the folded up carts. Mac waved to him and we walked over. "Howdy Caramel, we were told ya might be here."
Caramel waved back with grin. "Big Mac, you lucky dog, you finally found somepony?"
"Eeyup." He glanced over at me with a proud smile. "Literally fell outta the sky, like a little angel." Aw, Mac, that's so sweet. But it's so cheesy, that it's embarrassing. He turned back to Caramel. "what's the next clue?"
Caramel lifted a box off the cart and gave it to Mac. "Fair warning though, this is the last of the easy clues." He cleared his throat. "I can find any book you like, I'm short and cute, my name is-"
I set down the bag so I could speak. "Spike! We gotta go to the library next." What is Fluttershy up to with this little treasure hunt? And what is in these boxes? I took the one Mac was holding and placed it in the bag. I'm tempted to crack one open, but I don't think Mac would let me. I tucked it under my wing so I wouldn't have anymore speech troubles. "Let's go, Mac!"
"Oh, um, before you go," Caramel was tapping his hooves nervously, "Mac, you're neighbors with the Carrot twins, right?"
Mac squinted his eyes in suspicion, but just a little, like, a teeny-tiny, almost unnoticable bit. "Eeyup."
Caramel, meanwhile, was glancing around to make sure nopony overheard him. "W-would you know if, um, either of them are seeing anypony?"
Mac blinked in what, for him anyway, was the equivalent of a long drawn out sigh. "Nnope."
Caramel couldn't decide on a smile or a frown and ended up with a weird halfway expression. "Is that a, no, they're not seeing anypony, or a ,no, you don't know if they're seeing anypony?"
Caramel rolled his eyes. "Come on, Mac! You've gotta help me out on this? Please?"
"I'm only asking you because the rumor was that you and them were an item."
Mac and one of the Carrots? That's actually pretty sensible for a rumor. A little more sensible than the truth actually. "Which one?" I asked that mostly to make Mac squirm. Well, not really squirm, he's way too stoic in public for that, it's more of an eyebrow twitch.
Caramel scoffed in response. "Uh, the Carrot twins?"
"Both?" I gave Mac a teasing punch on the shoulder. "You stud, I knew there was a reason I liked you. Hoof." I held up a hoof for a hoof bump.
Mac's eye twitching was pretty close to being noticeable by a casual observer, apparently this shook him up a little. "R-Rainbow, it's just a rumor, this is the first Ah've heard of-"
I punched him in the shoulder again to stop him. "I'm teasing, you fuzzball. You're too clueless to handle one mare, let alone two. I guess you're just lucky that I'm as clueless as you."
"Eeyup." He turned around and started walking in the direction of the library. I followed.
"Hey, wait!" Caramel called after us. "What about the Carrot twins?"
Mac looked back, but didn't stop walking. "Ask 'em yerself!"
"Fine!" Yelled Caramel. "I will!" He stormed off in the opposite direction.
"Good luck!" I called after him. Then I smacked Mac on the shoulder again. "Mac, you didn't have to mess with him like that."
"And you know how long that will work on me."
"Cut it out, or I will make you cut it out."
"You're funny, Mac."
We traded little one word one-liners for the rest of the short walk to the library. When we got there, we were greeted by Twilight's owl, you know, the one with the ridiculously jumbled name? Owlylicious or some such nonsense. He was sitting beside a stack of four boxes with a scroll on top, but when we approached, he flew off. I broke the seal on the scroll and read it aloud. "Dear Rainbow Dash and Big Macintosh,
I sincerely apologize for interrupting your plans for this evening, but certain events have occurred which required Twilight Sparkle's immediate presence in Canterlot and Spike is asleep. Fluttershy and Pete left the final clue and package in front of the the Lofty Lily restaurant.
P.S. Allow me to offer you my congratulations on your newfound friendship and love. Should things go well, I trust you will let me know. It's been far too long since I last officiated a wedding."
Mac let out a long, low whistle. "That'd be a mighty fancy event, don't ya think?"
"Yeah." ai stuffed the boxes in the bag. Hopefully, a fancy event without the threat of impending invasion. "Yeah, it would." I'm actually considering it! Subject change, now! "So, let's get over to the Lofty Lily."
"Eeyup." He turned and led the way through Ponyville once again. As we walked, I found myself wondering, would it be Rainbow Apple, or Rainbow Macintosh?
The Lofty Lily was a newer two story building, sort of fancy without overdoing it. The most striking feature was the balcony. The entire second level was a large balcony overhanging the main building, giving the restaurant the impression of a large flower. The package was a little obvious and easy to find. A rainbow-colored box sitting on the ground kinda stands out. The final clue was taped to the top of the box. "Look up."
"Hey, Mac? What do you suppose that means?" Maybe we're supposed to go back to the library and look something up? But what?
"Rainbow." I felt a tap on my shoulder. "Look up." I looked over to see Mac pointing towards the restaurants upper level.
There, on the balcony, chatting away and dressed to the nines, were Pete and Fluttershy. They hadn't seen us yet, so I whistled and waved to get their attention. Fluttershy noticed first and waved back. "Hello! Rai- oh my," she put a hoof to her mouth and walked over to the edge of the balcony, " I should have known Rarity would never let it go. I asked her to invite you two to the boutique so you could pick something out to wear. I half expected you to both show up wearing suits. I mean, that's ok, of course, but this is much better."
"Yeah, she did a great job at matching them up, didn't she?" I stuck the last package in the bag. It's a good thing that the boxes aren't that big, or else they would be hard to carry. "Hey, what's the deal with the whole scavenger hunt thing?"
Fluttershy glanced over at Pete. "Why don't you come up here? If you don't mind, that is. Just give your names to the doorpony."
We did as we were told and the grey-suited doorpony led us through the restaurant. The lighting was dim and warm and soft music was playing, giving the place a laid back, comfortable atmosphere. Not quite my thing, but still kind of nice. Oh, and it smelled so good too, I bet the food here is awesome. The doorpony led us out to the balcony where Pete and Fluttershy were waiting. As Mac and I sat at the table, Pete lowered his head to his hoof and started shaking it. Fluttershy rolled her eyes before smiling and shaking her head.
What? All we did was sit down.
Pete opened his eyes really wide at Mac and started shifting his eyes between Mac and me. What is he doing? Mac stared back in confusion, and I could see why. Pete suddenly started jerking his head in my direction. Mac started mimicking the movement and gave an exaggerated shrug. After a fomew more moments of gesturing, Pete groaned loudly and dropped his head to the table, rattling the silverware. "You're supposed to let her sit down first, you dolt!"
Mac looked over at me. "Really?"
I glanced over at Mac. "Why?"
Pete sighed loudly. "Have either of you ever been to a restaurant before?"
"Eeyup." Mac nodded once.
"Yeah." I've been to plenty. "What's that one with the good hay fries?"
"Oh," Mac smacked his hooves together, "Ah know that one, starts with a d."
"Yeah!" It's on the tip of my tongue. "Doc's!"
"Eeyup." Mac nodded. "Good fries."
Fluttershy started giggling, "you two really are perfect for each other, aren't you?"
"I'd like to think so," I said with a smile. "So, what's with the treasure hunt?"
Fluttershy looked over at Pete with a smile. "It's something we did when we started getting to know each other again."
Again? "So you two knew each other before you started dating?"
"Uh." Fluttershy shrugged. "Kind of."
What the hay does that mean?
Mac spoke up. "So that's why ya took such a shine ta him after the tournament?"
"Um, no." Fluttershy put a hoof on top of Pete's. "It's kind of a long and complicated story, but that was the first time we met. Is it ok if I tell you some other time?"
"Yes," said Pete as he started flagging down a waiter, "plenty of time for talk later. For now, we're treating you to a fancy dinner." Sweet! Free food!
Another pony in a grey suit came to the table with a basket of breadsticks and two menus. He set the basket on the table and gave one menu to Pete and the other to Mac. I leaned over to look at the menu that Mac was holding. I had no clue what any of the dishes where, since they were all in a different language, but the descriptions made everything sound really good.
"This one looks good." I poked at the menu to show Mac which one I was talking about. Sautéed turnips and leeks in a brown sugar butter sauce. "Or this one?" I poked at another item. Apple medley spring stir-fry. Can you even stir-fry apples? "Of course, this, this, and this look good too. And these-"
The menu was suddenly yanked from Mac's hooves by a panicked-looking Pete. "How many did you-" His eyes went wide as he looked at the menu. "I've got to go stop them!" He jumped out of his chair and ran into the restaurant, almost losing it around a corner.
What was that about? And where's the waiter? "Hey, Fluttershy, aren't they going to take our order?"
"They did." She held up the other menu and and tapped two of the dishes listed on it. The ink turned from blue to red. "Magic menus."
Oh, hailstones, I just ordered half the things on the menu.
Fortunately, Pete managed to stop the cooks before they got to my order. The rest of the dinner was pleasant, if not very eventful. We ate and talked and laughed. The food was great, especially the breadsticks. Between Mac and I, we went through at least five baskets of them. But the best part was that it was really fun to just hang out and chat. Fluttershy's always been a good friend of mine, but until now, we never really had much in common. I love the sky, and I'll never give it up, but the time between flights was always filled with boredom. There have been so many things these last two days that I just never gave the chance, fancy restaurants being one of them. I think I'd like to do this again, I just don't want to be the one who suggests it. Knowing Fluttershy though, she'll suggest that we do this whole double date thing every week. I'll just shrug it off and say "sure, why not. I've got nothing else planned." That'll work.
That didn't work!
The dinner ended and then Pete and Mac started arguing over who would pay. Pete wanted to split the cheque 50-50, but Mac wanted to pay for everything since they commissioned our clothes. They settled on 60-40 and we started to leave, but Fluttershy wasn't asking!
We walked out through the restaurant, Pete grabbed a box from the counter before we left, but Fluttershy still wasn't asking. They started leading us down the street to the park fountain. What is taking her so long? We found an empty bench and everypony sat down. Then Pete opened the box he brought from the restaurant. Inside were four Ice Cream cones. Anytime now, Fluttershy! We each took one and ate it, then they thanked us for our time and started walking home. She's not going to ask! "Gahh! Fluttershy, you're supposed to ask if we could do this again sometime!"
She stopped and turned around. "Oh, really," she said, "why? Would you want to?"
"Yes!" I sighed. "I just didn't want to be one to suggest it."
She smiled, "in that case, how about we do this again?" She ran up to me and gave me a hug. "Same time next week?"
"Yeah," I sighed, resigning myself to the embrace, "that sounds great, thanks Fluttershy."
She broke the hug and bounded off after Pete, turning back to wave. "I'll look forward to it! Bye Rainbow."
I waved back in response. "Bye."
Mac and I walked back to the farmhouse slowly, enjoying the moonlight. The moon wasn't quite full, but it was still bright enough to see by, I think Twilight called it a waxing gibbon, but I'm pretty sure I'm wrong about that.
When we got back to the barn, we took the fancy clothes off and carefully hung them up. Then we sat on the mattress and started opening the various gifts. Pinkie's gift was a box of the mini cookies she was preparing earlier. She must have seen me staring at them. I closed up the box and set it on the table for later. After that meal, what with the breadsticks and ice cream, I couldn't eat anymore.
Next up were the seven boxes from the treasure hunt. Mac picked up the rainbow-colored box and opened it carefully. I face-hoofed hard when I saw what was in it. Earth and Sky, volume one, paperback edition. It was accompanied by three pieces of paper.
We hope that your relationship goes well and we hope that this gesture is unnecessary, but these books helped us through a rough patch even though they were originally meant for couples like you. It may appear to be copies of the same book, but it is actually different volumes of the series. We learned about your visit to Ponyville hospital shortly after purchasing them, so we apologize if you have two copies of the first book. Um, you may want to start with book two. But if you'd rather start with book one, then- No! Trust us on this. Start with book two.
Pete and Fluttershy
I want you to know that I truly am happy for you, and wish you the best of luck. I must say though, that you and Mac seem to be moving forward about as fast as Pete and I did. We were completely unprepared when circumstances beyond our control tore us apart. I made a stupid decision and ended up in over my head. I got hurt very badly, and for a long time, I blamed Pete. I didn't find out until much later that he had gone through the same thing and worse in order to help me. I know that what happened to us will never happen to you, but if you're unprepared, it may be the smallest of things that cause the biggest problems.
Wishing you many years of happiness,
It took you long enough, but you finally found somepony, good for you. I bet seeing her fly is one of the things you love most, isn't it? I don't know why, but when you're stuck on the ground, flight just becomes this beautiful thing and demands to be treasured. Fluttershy doesn't fly much, but when she does, I can't help but watch. Anyway, about you and Rainbow. I probably don't have to tell you to take care of her, I know you well enough. But be careful of pride, for both of you. You might think you know her well enough to know when something is bothering her, but when you think that, you stop paying attention. She may not think you care, then she'll hide her fears and worries. When she stops sharing her problems, you'll stop sharing yours. Things do not go well when that happens, you will lose something. I lost the use of my wings, I almost lost Fluttershy. I probably would have been started down a very dark path if that had happened. Don't let it happen to you.
Name one of them after me,
Mac let out a loud sigh after we finished reading. "Ah don't know if we should."
I leaned up against him. "Why not?"
He put the papers back in the box and closed it up. "Peter Dash or Peter Apple just don't sound right."
I put a hoof to my chin and made an exaggerated show of thinking it over. "Peter Dapple sounds ok."
Mac nodded. "Ah think we should see if it's an earth pony or a Pegasus first."
I started laughing. "Are we really having this conversation?"
"Eeyup." Mac put his own hoof to his chin. "Let's ask AJ, Ah bet she could come up with a good name."
There's an idea! "I'll ask her as soon as she steps off the train." It'll be great! I can just imagine the look on her face. "Say, Mac? I've got to head to the train station pretty early, but before I do, could we make breakfast?"
"Anythin' in particular?"
"I don't know, I don't really know how to make anything. I was kind of hoping you could teach me."
He nodded slowly. "Pancakes it is. Ah'll do my best, Rainbow."
He started digging through the boxes. "Ya want to start reading?"
"Yeah." Which box has book two?
That was interesting. The volumes weren't in order by book number, but rather by number of pages. Meaning the condensed hospital version was volume one. The second and third volumes were books number five and six, both on foal raising. It was a little awkward going through them because of the conversation we just had, but I can say now that I have a whole new appreciation for what the cakes are going through. Book two turned out to be volume four. There was a lot more "normal" information in that book. Things that were really good to know. Things like-
"Rainbow! Watch the pan!"
I ducked as another pancake burst into flames. Things like the fact that pegasi tend to have naturally shorter attention spans. "Sorry Mac."
"It's okay," he dodged the flames to drop a pan lid over the flaming pancake and turned of the stove,"ya only burnt three of'em and the rest are pretty good."
"I know." The pancakes came out surprisingly well, and they cooked fast enough that I didn't get too bored waiting for them. "But if you weren't here I would have burned down the farmhouse."
He chuckled and started missing up my mane. "Ah doubt that, applebloom and her friends tried to get their cookin' cutie marks in this kitchen. AJ had Twilight put a flameproofin' spell on it, industrial grade one at that."
I've seen the results of CMC pastry chefs. "That was good thinking."
Mac nodded and smiled wistfully. "Too bad it didn't work."
I started looking around the kitchen for signs of scorch marks, but I could only ones I could see were recently made. "What happened?"
He shrugged. "We didn't think we had to fire-proof the microwave,"
"Wow, Mac, that must have-"
"or the fridge."
"really been something." How do you set a fridge on fire?
"It was." He looked up at the clock on the wall. "Ah would tell ya 'bout it, but ya gotta head for the train station."
I scarfed down a few of the pancakes and Gave Mac a kiss on the cheek. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to get rid of me."
"Eeyup." He smiled and returned the kiss. "The sooner ya finish yer work, the sooner we can have some fun." He dropped his voice to a whisper for the next part. "Ah've got somethin' planned and Ah think you'll like it."
"I better. Oh, and tell Granny thanks for letting us use the kitchen, I'll be back soon."
"See ya Rainbow," Mac said as I ran out the door.
"See ya!" I yelled back.
Once I reached the edge of the porch, I spread my wings pushed forward with a mighty flap. I was airborne again, wind in my face and air beneath my hooves. Oh, I've missed this feeling so much, but the temporary loss was worth it compared to everything I've gained. I found love, made a new friend, and reconnected with some friends I already had. I also got some stuff sorted out in my head about the future. I gave a few more flaps to increase my altitude and let myself glide to a nearby cloud. The familiar, cushiony surface sunk just a little as I landed. I walked over to the edge and stared out at the town below.
Something about the view from up here, maybe the way everything seems so small, just gets your heart going like nothing else can. Correction, like almost nothing else can. I've found out this out first hoof.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath through my nose, filling my lungs with cold, thin, high-altitude air. I felt a smile form on my face and I felt the sudden urge to shout.
So I did.
I snapped my eyes open, and focused on the sleepy little town below me. Then, at the top of my lungs, I bellowed, "LOOK OUT PONYVILLE! RAINBOW DASH IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER! WHOO!!!"
I spread my wings to take of and got hit by a sudden twinge of pain along my wing. Ok, maybe not better than ever. I decided I didn't want to put too much stress on my wing, so I flew to the train station in small bursts. This made the trip a little longer than I anticipated, and by the time I got there, the passengers were unloading.
When I found Applejack, she was just getting off the train so I flagged her down. "Yo AJ!"
"Howdy Rainbow!" She waved her hat in her hoof so she could be seen more easily. I walked through the crowd to meet her. "Well, yer lookin' mighty happy this morning. What's got ya in such a good mood?"
I'm smiling like a foal, but I don't care. "Mac and I are trying to pick out a name for our first foal and he said we should ask you. Any ideas?"
"Funny, but Ah ain't got time fer pranks, Dash. Ah've gotta go talk ta Granny, dig a hole for the new tree, and get back here before noon. All while keepin' Pinkie outta the loop. Ah got a message from Twilight that she's bringin' somethin' back from Canterlot 'round noon."
"Well, I already dug the hole." You're on your own for the rest of that. "And it's not a prank. Though I can totally see why you would think that."
She sighed. "Fine, Ah'll humor ya," she put a hoof to her chin for a moment," Applebreeze, Ah guess, if it's a filly. Works fer a Pegasus or an earth pony."
That's actually pretty good.
"Big Jack if it's a colt," said a voice from above," congratulations by the way." I looked up to see a pale blue Pegasus land on Applejack's back. It's funny, he looks kind of familiar.
"Don't you get dragged in," she told him, "she's just pullin' one of her tricks on me." The pegasus flapped his wings to gain altitude and he hovered above Applejack. She looked at me, "if ya wanted me to fall for it, you shoulda just said ya kissed him or somethin'."
"I kinda did, a lot." I've seen that stallion before, I know I have. And why are they acting so buddy-buddy.
"Too late. I ain't fallin' for it." She looked up at the pegasus. "Applebloom with ya?"
"Right here, sis." a yellow hoof waved from behind the Pegasus' dark blue mane.
A light blue hoof waved from behind the other side of the mane. "I'm here too."
"Why don't ya head off ta the farm," Applejack said to the Pegasus,"I'll follow along." If she trusts him to take care of Applebloom, it's gotta be serious. I was just wondering how serious, when the Pegasus dropped to the ground next to Applejack and kissed her. Right on the lips! Right in the middle of a crowd of ponies! What happened out there in Appleoosa?!
"Blecch!" exclaimed Applebloom, "can we just go now?" Yeah, good idea, stop doing that in front of me!
"Yeah," said the other pony on his back, a small blue pegasus,"let's go." My heart nearly stopped when I got a good look at the little pegasus. He looked just like Fluttershy's brother did all those years ago.
"Ya sure ya wanna do that?" asked the larger Pegasus. I was actively trying to hold back tears now. If he was still alive, Heart would have looked just like this pony.
"Yeah!" yelled the two in unison.
He shook out his joints and took an exaggerated stance. "All right, prepare for take off. Ready in three, two,-" He was gone. A gust of wind was left in his place. I watched him recede into the distance. He wasn't as fast as I am, but then again, nopony is. But still his speed was better than average and that acceleration was impressive. Heart was never that good at flying, no matter how much I tried to teach him.
While Applejack watched them go, I sunk back into the crowd. I was losing the battle against the tears and I didn't want her to see it. I almost bumped into a little unicorn filly who was walking along and holding a piece of paper in front of her with her magic.
"I can't believe he signed it!" squealed the filly. I snuck a quick glance at the paper. It was a signed Wonderbolt's poster.
That's where I recognize him from, I danced with him at the royal wedding. Applejack's dating Soarin'. My silly head's just dragging up bad memories.
You know, in a sad, cruel way, it's sort of funny, Heart always wanted to be a wonderbolt, and he got me wanting it too. Now it turns out that one of them is his exact double and I gave up my chance at the team. I flew to the Cloudsdale weather office, still thinking about old friends and lost chances.
Just you wait, Heart. The Wonderbolt's are great and all, but I'm gonna do something better. I don't know what yet, but I'll find something.
It is a curious thing.
All have felt it.
Few know it.
And most will try to appear strong while facing it.
But there is one fear, so strong, so terrible that the strongest among us are reduced to children before its power.
This fear is the most curious of all.
For all its power, and all its might, the masses will line up and wait their turn to experience it.
One soul is doing so now.
He is sitting, calmly, in a brightly lit room. His loved one sits by his side. She feels no fear, she knows that she is safe. But he can feel the fear, that cold gnawing inside him as he awaits what will become of him. He hides it, but with each ticking second of the clock on the wall, his apprehension grows.
Then it comes for him. Through the door, into the room, steps the white-clad harbinger his of fate.
He feels relief, knowing that his wait is over.
He feels new fear, knowing that his wait is over.
He reaches over to touch the one beside him one last time. One last moment before resigning himself to his fate.
He stands and solemnly approaches the figure in white as it begins to speak.
"Mr. Macintosh? The dentist will see you now."
"Have fun, Mac," said the mare behind him.
Mac followed the nurse through the door, and Rainbow went back to reading her magazine.
"Mac!" Rainbow Dash stared at the scene before her. One minute, the two had been fighting, rain falling around them from the last remnants of atmospheric magic. The next, there was a burst of purple light and both of them collapsed in a smoking heap. Applejack was there too, she witnessed the scene and rushed in to help the two collapsed fighters.
Rainbow, however, was powerless. She was contained within a magical field and could do nothing but watch and hyperventilate as her friend tried and failed to wake her lover. The confinement and helplessness were eating away at the brightly colored pegasus. She started pounding on the formless, invisible walls of her enchanted prison. "AJ!" She screamed. "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" Tears streamed down her face as she continued beating away at the energies binding her.
Applejack looked around for a moment before finding a discarded sword in the mud. She grabbed it and ran towards the spot were Rainbow was held. "Hold on, Rainbow." She tried to swing the weapon, but the foreign movement proved too much for the farmer and the sword ended up in the mud once more. Not knowing what else to do, the orange pony turned and started kicking away at the forcefield. "Don't ya worry, these things wear down." She was speaking more to herself than to her friend.
"H-how do you know that?" Rainbow pressed herself against the far end of the magical cell so she wouldn't get hit if it collapsed. No, when it collapsed. She couldn't let herself get hurt carelessly, she needs to be able to help Mac once she's freed.
"That fella was helpin' me with the trees." Applejack continued kicking, but her strength was starting to give out. "He was practicin' his magic on some a' the dead ones."
A cold, sinking realization hit Rainbow. "That's why there was an explosion. I-it's all my fault. I jumped to conclusions and Mac tried to protect me. It's all my fault!"
"No! Sugarcube, it ain't." She kicked at the cage again and lost her footing, landing in the mud. "They're alive, that means they can get better."
"How do you know?!" Rainbow didn't mean to snap at her friend, but she did, and it sent the farmer over the edge.
"Ah Don't! Ah don't know the first thing 'bout what happened, but Ah ain't gonna give up just cause Ah'm scared!" With a scream, she put the last of her strength into another kick, but it still made no difference. She turned to face her friend with tears streaming down her face. "Ah'm sorry, Ah can't- Ah'm gonna go get Twilight, she'll know what ta do." She ran off towards town. "Ah'm sorry!"
Rainbow couldn't understand why Applejack would be the one apologizing. It wasn't her fault that-
Rainbow looked towards the two fallen fighters. It had just been for a moment and out of the corner of her eye, but there was no mistake, she saw one of them move! "Mac?!"
There was another movement. One of them started to get up. But it wasn't Mac. The strange creature he had been fighting pulled itself up to its feet and started stumbling towards the imprisoned pegasus. He collapsed near the abandoned sword and took hold of it. "Protect him." With a grunt, he threw the sword towards the prison. It passed through the barrier as if there was nothing there. There was pain in his voice as the creature struggled to speak again. "You have to want to protect him."
"I do, I love him, tell me how!"
"AAAUGH!" Purple sparks started dancing across the creatures body, causing him to writhe in agony. "Take it!" He yelled, breathing heavily. "Take the sword! Concentrate on what you want to protect and walk out!"
Without hesitation, she picked up the sword, closed her eyes, and thought about Mac, the time they spent together, and the time they will spend together. She didn't notice the purple glow forming around both the sword and her own body. With a yell, she charged forward, not knowing whether or not she would make it past the barrier.
But she did.
After she had gone several paces, she opened her eyes and spit out the sword. She was free. Now she could get Mac to the hospital. Ignoring the pain in her wing, she flew as quickly as she could to the storage shed and, after a short search, found what she was after. She flew back to the scene of the fight, cargo net in tow, and laid it on the ground next to Mac. She rolled him onto the net as gently as she could and prepared to take off.
Rainbow stopped at the sound of the creature's scream. She looked over just in time to see him try to get up and collapse. It was her fault that he was hurt too, she couldn't leave him. But she couldn't put him in the net with Mac, not with those sparks coming off of him.
She ran over and clamped her teeth down on the creature's shirt. Then she dragged him over to where the ropes for the cargo net lay. This was going to take everything she had, but she had no choice. She's flown carrying multiple ponies before, she can do this. She took the ropes in her hooves and started flapping her wings for all she was worth. She slowly managed to lift herself into the air, then the creature, then finally, Big Mac in the cargo net.
With no momentum to help her along, the flight to the hospital was a long and arduous battle against her own screaming muscle, every fiber burning with pain. But she made it. She lowered her cargo safely to the ground at the hospital doors and stumbled through the doorway just in time to pass out.
She woke up hours later in a darkened hospital room. Enough light came in through the window that she could see that she was alone in the room. She could also see that she was hooked up to an I.V. She ripped the needle out of her leg and ignored the protests of her aching body as moved out into the hallway to find Mac. She found him a few rooms down. The door was locked, but she could see him through the window.
Once more, tears escaped her eyes as she placed a hoof against the glass. "You're safe."
"Rainbow!" The colorful pegasus turned to see Twilight walking down the hall towards her. The purple unicorn had a look of concern on her face. "Aren't you supposed to be resting? What are you doing out of- Rainbow! You're bleeding!"
Rainbow looked down to see that she was indeed bleeding from the place where she pulled out the I.V. line. "It's nothing." She wiped the tears from her eyes. "How's Mac?"
"He's fine, it was just a magical overload. He's just sleeping. It's a defense mechanism that all ponies have. He'll wake up when the excess extrakinetic charge wears off." She looked through the window. "I'm more worried about Dragon, as far as I can tell, he doesn't have the same defense mechanism. And on top of that, his body is still adjusting to the presence of magic." She sighed. "It's probably a good thing that this happened early, while his body is adjusting, but we can't be sure."
"And it's all my fault."
Twilight put a hoof on her friend's shoulder in an unsuccessful attempt to comfort her. "Rainbow, I heard what happened, and I can assure you, no one thinks that."
Rainbow let her head fall forward to the glass in front of her. "They should." She turned and started walking away.
"And where d'ya think yer goin'?"
"Granny." Rainbow turned to face the newest addition to the hallway. "I'm sorry, I never meant for-"
"Shut yer trap, little missy." The pale green apple matriarch walked over to Rainbow and delivered a solid whack to her head. "That colt protected ya, didn't he? Then what happened was his own choice. Now think about how he's gonna feel if he wakes up and yer not there."
Rainbow's objections were silenced by another whack to the head. "The only but 'round these parts betta be yers walkin' inta that room with a git well soon card." Granny stormed off with one final statement. "Ya've got five minutes ta get one."
Five minutes later found Rainbow in the room at Mac's bedside. She had been unable to find a card, but walking back to the hospital, she found something that would do the job just as well, a vibrant, rainbow-hued assortment of flowers. The florist was even able to find a light blue vase to put them in. Rainbow made sure to set them up so that Mac would be able to see them should he wake up after visiting hours ended.
"I'm sorry," Rainbow said to the sleeping workhorse, taking a seat by his side, "I was going to leave, Mac. I didn't stop to think about how you felt and I was just going to leave." She laid her head down on his chest, listening to the steady rise and fall of his breath. "I thought you would be upset. Actually, I thought you should be upset. Granny beat some sense into me though. I thought about what she said and I've decided that I'm going to wait until you can tell me yourself. And I want you to know that I'm going to wait right here until they kick me out." She sighed. "I know you can't hear me, buI also want you to know, that you don't have to wait the year. Whenever you ask me, the answer's yes."
Rainbow suddenly felt a weight on the back of her neck.
"Ah'll keep that in mind."