Confidence. Confidence in oneself is a wonderful feeling, and after two weeks of planning, Storm had concocted the perfect plan for a second date, his only inhibition that it would be difficult to top afterwards. After deliberation with his parents, Cerulean, Twilight, and even Cloudburn to a certain extent, he was sure that today was going to be the best day ever. Perhaps a bit too sure, as he found himself awake a good two hours before sunrise and too giddy to sleep.
He rose quietly and allowed himself a long shower, taking particular care to make sure his mane was free dirt or grease, and gave it a thorough combing, amazing himself as he realized that he had used up an hour working on his appearance. Being an early riser, his mother had awoken while he was showering, and as he stepped out he braced himself for the teasing, but instead found her eyes shining with pride as she approached.
“You’ve really turned into a fine stallion, Storm.” The words were simple, but heartfelt, and Storm wrapped a hoof around Grace for a few moments before stepping back.
“Thanks, mom. Well, I’m off, so wish me luck.”
“All right, be safe, especially at the hotel,” she warned, shooting him a wink before returning to the kitchen. Storm laughed it off and soon felt the cool morning breeze whipping passed as he made for Rainbow Dash’s cloud home, his wings fueled by the growing excitement of spending a day alone with his fillyfriend.
Sleep. Sleep is a wonderful thing, and one Rainbow Dash was not given to losing for no reason. As such, having little to no idea what Storm had planned, she had minimal desire to hoist herself out of bed as early as he had urged. She lay staring at the ceiling for thirty minutes as wakefulness unsuccessfully attempted to infiltrate her mind, and with a groan she rolled out of bed and onto the floor in a heap before dragging herself to the shower. The lethargy fled at the presence of the cleansing downpour, and she was soon humming happily as she awaited what the day might bring.
Rainbow Dash didn’t have any idea how long she had spent in the shower, but with great reluctance she shut off the flow and paused to view herself in the mirror. She could only imagine what Storm would do if he saw her exiting the shower, and for kicks she began talking to the reflective surface as if it were Storm.
“Hey there, Storm, how do I look? Oh, I’m so cold and wet, won’t you warm me up? Mmm, yes, that’s much better? Oh my, what’s that I feel? Your wings, you say? Well, I don’t mind if you don’t.” Had her face not already been flushed from the heat of the shower it would quickly have matched the current hue, but with nopony around she felt no need for embarrassment as her mind and her mouth ran freely. She began backing her imaginary coltfriend towards her bedroom and stepped out in a billowing cloud of steam.
Embarrassment. Embarrassment is what happens when you are midway through the phrase “wing rape” and suddenly realize that you are not alone. Not only are you in the presence of another, but that certain somepony happens to be your very shocked significant other, mouth agape as you stand before them, sopping wet and naked. Such was Rainbow Dash before her extremely alarmed coltfriend. “...Storm?”
“Uh huh?” came his weak reply, his powers of speech mocking him from the deep recesses of his brain as they held his articulation captive. Rainbow Dash gave a panicked yelp and ran into her room, slamming the door and leaning against it as her heart tried to break free of it’s confines and run away. She cringed as Storm’s voice came through from the other side. “Come on, Dash, it’s not that bad.”
“Are you kidding me?!? I’d rather fail a Rainboom in front of a crowd than be seen like... while I was...”
“...Ok, that was pretty embarrassing, not gonna lie. But we do need to get going, so try to hurry, please?” Storm would have attempted to comfort her but it would likely not be well received in her current condition. After a short time he heard movement, and gave her a respectful distance, opting to sit on the couch rather than wait right outside her door. He looked up as she cracked open the door, peering at him around the corner with a deep blush still on her cheeks, and he motioned for her to come.
“Storm, how much... how much did you hear?”
“Um, everything I think. I’m quite flattered that you think of my flanks like that, really.” His cheerful response had the opposite effect that he desired, and she pulled her head back and disappeared from view. He was about to pursue the matter but she stepped out and cantered over, avoiding eye contact and stopping in front of him.
“You could have at least knocked first,” she muttered, scraping at the cloudy floor.
“I did. Many times. Now quit sulking, today is supposed to be fun day, remember?” he commanded, rising and planting a quick kiss on her muzzle. Stupid warm fuzzy feeling, making everything feel better... Storm led her out and they made straight for the train station, arriving just in time to board the first train to Canterlot. They talked quietly as the train departed, but due to neither of them being morning ponies they soon drifted off, the noise of the rails drifting into the background as Rainbow Dash’s head drooped down, slowly sliding from his chest before coming to a rest on his lap. Storm heaved a yawn and quit resisting the urge to nap, draping an arm over her shoulders and closing his eyes.
“Now arriving in Canterlot. Please exit safely.” The voice eased the two pegasi into consciousness, and any lingering feelings from the morning’s rather odd start were soon replaced with anticipation.
“So, Storm, what’s first on the list?” To her surprise he pulled an physical checklist from his bag, scanning it thoughtfully without letting her see it. “You actually made a list?”
“Twilight’s little contribution,” he said with a laugh. “First, how about some lunch since neither of us have eaten? Cerulean got us reservations at his friend’s restaurant, a real classy place.”
“Oh yes, ‘cause I just love the idea of dining with snobs,” she replied with a grin.
“Nah, don’t worry about that. I’ve heard this Lemon guy hates them just as much, so we should be in good hooves.” Canterlot was endlessly entertaining for the pair, the ridiculous ways of the upper crust ponies causing no shortage of laughs as they made their way to the address indicated on the list. The host that greeted them at the entrance was the very definition of posh, and he stared down at them disdainfully as they entered.
“I’m sorry, but perhaps you rabble have us confused with some kind of low end establishment. We do not serve ponies that can’t even bother to clothe themselves.”
“For an earth pony, you sure have your snout stuck pretty high in the clouds, sir,” Storm replied coolly, eliciting a gratifying gasp of indignation from the host. “Now, if you’re done with the hoity toity act, reservations for two, under the name Storm Blitz.” With a huff he scanned the list, and Rainbow Dash snickered as his eyes grew wide, finding that they were indeed special guests. Without a word he went to the back, returning with a yellow unicorn who was just shorter than Storm but incredibly thin.
“Heya, you must be Storm and Rainbow Dash. I’m Lemon Chiffon, head chef. Come on, this way, away from the poshness,” he smirked, noting the glare on the host’s face as he led them away. “I’m glad you came earlier rather than later. The less ponies here the better. I can prepare your food personally this way,” he explained, handing them each a menu. “How is Cerulean doing by the way? I haven’t heard from him for a while.”
“He’s had it pretty rough, but I think things are looking up. Things seem to have stabilized between him and Twilight.”
“That’s good to hear. I’ll be back in a few minutes to take your orders, ok?” They both nodded as he left, sweeping back into the kitchen to resume his duties. True to his word, Lemon returned a few minutes later and they placed their orders. Lemon nodded his approval at their choices and immediately set about his work. Unbeknownst to him, they eagerly set about pranking the other customers. Lemon casually mentioned that there were a lot of complaints about the food that morning, and the couple went to great lengths to keep their hoots of derision sealed until Lemon was out of earshot.
As they finished their spectacular meal, Rainbow Dash decided to have a bit more fun with the other ponies before leaving, and as another enraged customer demanded to speak with Lemon, he walked out in time to see the couple pouring a liberal amount of hot sauce into one of the goblets on a tray, waiting to be served. He put two and two together and knew that he had to act, if only for the sake of his job.
“What do you think you’re doing, scoundrels?” he bellowed across the room, causing both ponies to panic, knowing they had been caught. They shot each other knowing looks before bolting out the door, laughing as they took flight. Lemon stood at the door and waved cheerily at them, stoked that somepony had livened up the atmosphere around the place. They returned the wave, thankful that they hadn’t caused any serious problems for the unicorn.
“Ok, that was too much fun, what’s next?” Rainbow Dash giggled, landing on a cloud and trotting excitedly in circles. Storm rummaged through his saddle bag before handing her a ticket, and her jaw just seemingly came unhinged as she read the inscription.
“Wonderbolts Derby: Admit 1
Location: Canterlot Raceway
Time: 2 p.m.
Seat: 23b “
“I know it’s not the best seats ever, but,” he began to explain before her cries of elation simultaneously silenced and deafened him. As the ringing in his ears faded he found himself experiencing an acute shortage of breath as she wrapped herself around his neck. “I guess I did something right,” he murmured, grabbing her tightly and taking off towards the stadium. He set Rainbow Dash down in front of the entrance as she immediately bolted to the ticket booth, presenting her ticket and bouncing from hoof to hoof like a little filly who just had received her first love note. Storm caught up and they entered together, the crowd having already begun to build.
“Storm? Rainbow Dash? Well, isn’t this a pleasant surprise!” They turned to see Princess Celestia walking over, followed closely by four of the royal guard.
“Ohmygosh, can you believe it, Princess? We get to see the Wonderbolts! This is gonna be the coolest thing since my last Sonic Rainboom!” she squealed excitedly, getting a little too close to the princess for the guards’ comfort, though a single glance from their leader let them know their unease was unnecessary.
“I’m glad somepony here isn’t above displaying their excitement. Storm, was this your idea?” He nodded proudly, and an idea suddenly began to form inside the devious princess’ mind. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you two watch the race with me if you also attend dinner at the castle with me tonight. It will be a rather stiff crowd, and I could use some ponies such as yourselves to lighten the mood.” How was that any kind of trade? Awesome seats plus a royal free pass to raise chaos?
“Princess, we are so there!” Rainbow Dash shouted, causing many of the ponies to immediately start whispering about her unrefined conduct.
“Splendid! Let us go then, the show will start soon.” The whispers intensified as the nobility watched with amazement and disgust as the princess proceeded to her seat with the two uncouth ponies sitting to her right, but not daring to say anything loud enough to catch her attention. The announcer came on and began to announce the names as the Wonderbolts filed out onto the track, taking their positions and tossing playful banter back and forth. They didn’t really care who won, just as long as they put on a good show. For Storm, the real prize sat next to him, and he soon lost interest in watching the race and instead watched the mare that had come to mean the world to him. He looked back as the race finished, Fleetfoot having again smoked the competition, and as she spun through some victory stunts Storm pointed his hoof at her, his muzzle right next to Rainbow Dash’s ear.
“Take a look Rainbow Dash, because that’s going to be you someday,” he whispered, meeting her gaze as she looked up at him.
“Storm, thank you...” Ignoring the public view they embraced and shared a deep kiss, and it wasn’t until they started hearing audible comments from the crowd that they pulled away. “I wish I could speak with them. I’ve always wanted to spend some time with them; I didn’t really get the chance after the fiasco at the Gala last year.”
“I think I might be able to help with that,” Celestia replied casually, as if it were no small matter. “I always make a point of thanking them personally when they perform for me, you see. Come, Rainbow Dash, Storm, let’s get you acquainted.” She led them down the stairs and passed security into a large furnished room where the Wonderbolts were lounging. They all bowed as Celestia entered, and Rainbow Dash soon found her words to be in short supply as none other than Spitfire approached.
“Hey, I remember you! You won the Young Fliers competition a year or two back and saved my life. You’re Rainbow Dash, right?”
“Yes!” she immediately fired, unintentionally shouting.
“Easy there, Dash. They need their ears to hear the fans cheer, ya know,” Storm said gently, placing a hoof on her back.
“And you, lumbering giant, who are you?” Spitfire said with a laugh, turning her attention to Storm who towered over her.
“Storm Blitz, grandson of Lightning Wing.”
“Lightning Wing? I looked up to him for a long time. It was hard for me to see him go, so suddenly... “ She shook her head, determined not to get sentimental. “So, are you taking up his mantle and continuing his legacy?”
“I wish I could, but that’s not an option... However, this mare,” he paused, motioning to Rainbow Dash who was looking sheepish, regretting her outburst, “has more talent than anypony I’ve ever met. I will personally guarantee that she will take first at the tryouts in a month.”
“You think you got what it takes, filly?”
“Are you kidding? I’ve trained my whole life for this, and with Storm by my side there’s no way I’ll lose!”
“Heh, hey Soarin! Who does this mare remind you of?” The stallion in question broke into a huge grin, himself having been the biggest Wonderbolt groupie of all time before finally making the cut.
“Don’t ever give up on your dreams, Rainbow Dash. With effort and determination, I’m sure you’ll make it in,” he encouraged, recalling the countless number of times he was harassed and laughed at for his notions of joining.
“At least it’s a month away, that’ll give you enough time to prepare to be dazzled,” she asserted confidently, striking a pose.
“I like this one, she’s got spunk,” Spitfire said, grinning at the mare brimming with enthusiasm and energy standing before her. Even if she didn’t win the competition outright, there was something in Dash that made her want her for the team, something she couldn’t quite place. They continued to chat as time flew by, and before they realized it was four thirty in the afternoon, and Princess Celestia pried Rainbow Dash away and bid the Wonderbolts farewell.
“So Celestia, how exactly is us coming to dinner paying you back for letting me get to meet the Wonderbolts?” Rainbow Dash asked as they entered the castle grounds.
“Oh, you will see soon enough. I will place no restrictions save that nopony get hurt. Other than that, do feel free to liven things up a bit. Now wait here a moment while I find Luna and have a word with her.”
“I suddenly feel quite nervous for our approaching dinner.” Rainbow Dash suddenly gasped as she remembered her last prank on Luna. Was this to be their retribution? Luna had said she had forgiven her, but Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but worry.
“Storm, if Princess Luna destroys us in there, I apologize now.” He cocked his head and she gave a short recap of the cupcake incident some six months ago. Tears of laughter were streaming from his eyes as Dash came alive, detailing the chaos she had raised before finishing with Luna’s dire warning.
“Thanks for waiting, everypony. Now then, shall we?” Celestia said cheerfully, nodding to them and bidding them follow.
“Uh, Celestia? Luna isn’t still mad at me, is she? I don’t wanna live on the moon!” she asked, mostly serious and quite worried.
“Oh, that little matter? Do not worry about it, she’s completely recovered I assure you.” Rainbow Dash was legitimately relieved by the response, Celestia laughing quietly with a hoof over mouth for a time before continuing their trip. “I will say thank you again in advance. Do entertain me, though not quite like your father, Storm.” He made a face and they stepped into the banquet hall, each with their own expectations and worries that were soon put to flight as Storm froze in his tracks. There, to the right of Celestia’s seat, was Proud Skies.