Storm hadn’t slept so well in ages it seemed, his body and mind refreshed and ready for anything the day could bring. It was likely for this reason when he did open his eyes and find Rainbow Dash curled against his chest and the memories of the previous day came flooding back, he didn’t spook but rather drew her closer and again closed his eyes, whispering softly to her as she slept. She slowly came to but didn’t let on, listening to his voice with a slight smile on her lips.
“I really am a lucky stallion, to have somepony like you for a fillyfriend... You’ve given me so much, and I will continue to give just as much right back. I can hardly wait... The future looks so bright, with you by my side, like it’s drenched in... rainbow.” A snicker alerted him that his heartfelt though overly sentimental ramblings had assuredly been heard. He blushed slightly as Rainbow Dash surprised him with a passionate kiss before pulling away and grinning widely.
“Storm, that was really...”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Deal with it.”
“I was going to say ‘sweet’ or ‘cool.’ But fine, if that’s the way you’re going to be about it...” Storm immediately changed his tune and attempted to compensate with a peck, but she playfully shoved his muzzle away. “Heh, you're gonna have to catch me first!” she murmured before jumping off the bed. She gave a startled yelp as Storm responded much faster than she was expecting, spreading his wings and launching into her, tackling her to the ground and pinning her forehooves. “Hey, I thought I said to be gentle...” she whispered, looking away.
“I'm sorry, Dash, I didn't mean...” he started, immediately releasing her before she laughed and took off running towards the other side of the house. “Oh, come on, that's cheating.” Rainbow Dash cantered over towards the shower without a word and Storm stood awkwardly debating what to do. The water went on and he moved towards the couch with a sigh before a hesitant voice gently called his name.
“Storm...” He drew cautiously towards the door and found Rainbow Dash staring out at him as the water flowed through her mane, trickling down her coat and dripping to the floor. Storm wrapped her in his hooves and they both savored several minutes of bliss before forcing themselves to attend to their weather duties.
“Listen, Cloudburn, we need t' talk.” The pegasus turned to face Applejack with confusion on her face. “I'm not blind, an' even if I was, anypony can see the way you've been lookin' at mah brother. I don't like it, and I'm just going to say now if you do anythin' to him, there's gonna be trouble.” To her surprise, the usually teasing and feisty pegasus cast her gaze to the ground, scoring the earth with a hoof.
“Don't worry, Applejack, I won't.” Applejack's expression immediately softened as she noted the tinge of pain and regret in the mare's voice. “I know it's probably just a temporary attraction, after having lost my chance with Storm. I'm a guest here, and I wouldn't just act on something like this on a whim. It's just... it's hard, desiring something you can't have.” To her surprise Applejack's hoof wrapped around her shoulder's as she chuckled ruefully.
“I know exactly what ya mean.”
“Wait, you have somepony you like? I've never heard you talk about it before,” she said, mildly alarmed. The only thing she’d seen from Applejack was hard work and the occasional glare, so suddenly finding that she had feelings too was a rather interesting revelation for Cloudburn.
“What would be the point in talkin' about it?” she replied, dropping her hoof and turning away. “It can't be helped, he's taken, an' I'm not about to try and stick my hoof in between two o' my best friends. Doesn't stop me from wantin' him, though...” She sighed, looking up at the morning sun. “I’m sorry for comin’ to ya in a huff, I ‘aven’t been myself, lately. Too much on my mind.”
“I know we barely know each other, but if you ever want to talk, I’m here. I really do appreciate you letting me stay, so if there’s anyway for me to repay your kindness, I’d like to try. Besides,” she followed with a giggle, “maybe Big Macintosh will notice me too.”
The sweet scent of muffins filled the apartment as Storm returned home just before noon, and he was thankful that it was just him and his mother. She had a way of taking him at a glance and knowing exactly what was going on in his mind, and the less ponies around the less embarrassing an experience returning home would be.
“Welcome home, Storm. Did you sleep well?” his mother asked, giving him a sly glance as she slipped another tray of muffins in and shut the oven door, turning to face him.
“I see what you did there,” he replied evenly, eliciting an infuriatingly big grin from his mother.
“Whatever do you mean? It was a simple question, proper sleep is important for ponies at your age.”
“I know what you’re hinting at,” he half growled, drifting into a sigh.
“Oh dear, that sounds like a guilty conscience to me.”
“Guilty? Yeah right, I’d do it again in a heart beat!” he shouted, not particularly angry but tired of the round about methods she was using.
“Do what?” Oh, buck me. Walked right into that one. Grace couldn’t help but laugh at her son’s consternation, though she knew she would push him over the edge if she kept going. “Did Cerulean deliver my little gift?”
“Yeah, it was perfect timing too! He...” Storm clamped his mouth shut to stem the excitement that had flooded his voice. “Mom, you’re evil.”
“You’re very much like your father, Storm. Very eager. In fact...”
“Ugh, mom, don’t tell me that! Stop talking, you’re gonna ruin everything!” Storm immediately interjected, cringing as he tried to rid himself of the thoughts that were invading his mind. To his relief she listened, leaning back against the counter and placing a hoof on her slightly swollen stomach.
“I don’t think Rainbow Dash is ready for a child, so be careful, ok Storm?”
“About that... uh...” he started, thoroughly embarrassed but he forced it down and asked, knowing that if anypony else was within hearing range it would be disastrous. “Do you have any more of those pills?”
“You’re right, Grace. He is a lot like me when I was young.” Storm froze as his father’s massive hoof descended upon his shoulders. What was he doing home already, didn’t he have work?
“Dad, what’s he talking about?” Really? Scootaloo heard too?
“What the buck are you two doing here?” Storm cried, jumping forward and backing slowly away from his father, who slowly paced forward with a scowl. Storm found himself backed into the couch, thinking in the back of his mind that it needed to give more so he could hide within.
“Did you treat her right?”
“Yes, sir,” Storm replied, faltering slightly. Quakehoof remained silent for a moment, letting his son quail under his gaze before bursting into a hearty laugh. Storm dared to relax a little, grateful that his answer had been acceptable. “So, just for the record, you’re not angry, right?”
“Indeed. Pound it,” Quakehoof said, bringing his hoof to a firm connection with his son’s and laughing even more. “As long as you treat her like a lady, then I have no qualms. Let your love free, Storm. And be thankful that you have the ability to do so at such a young age.” Flying Grace drew beside Quakehoof and gave him a deep kiss, and while Scootaloo writhed in disgust, Storm watched the display with a newfound appreciation. It was still gross though, and after a few seconds he averted his gaze and covered Scootaloo’s eyes.
Applejack and Cloudburn chatted amiably as they strolled through the town. Applejack was grateful to take a small break from the farm work, and seeing Rainbow Dash flying up above, she called out, waving a hoof to catch her attention. The cyan mare fortunately noticed, and pulled an increasingly tight downward spiral until landing easily right in front of the pair.
“Ever the show pony, eh Dash?” Applejack mentioned, smiling.
“You sure you’re gonna be alright? We’re all pretty worried about you, after yesterday...” Rainbow Dash grinned widely.
“With good friends, you can make it through anything. I know that I can count on you ponies for anything, and Storm was very... supportive, yesterday.”
“That reminds me, sugarcube. I never did give you that lecture on boundaries, did I?”
“Right, good idea, Applejack. We can’t have her getting too much of Storm too fast, can we?” Coudburn said with a wry smile. “Just curious, how much of Storm have you, well, ‘explored?’ What all am I missing that you’re not?” There was an immediate silence as Rainbow Dash’s mind answered not with words but with action, her wing shooting out and mind conjuring their previous night together in vivid detail, painting her cheeks a soft pink. “I’ll take that to mean ‘pretty far.’”
“Please tell me you didn’t...” Applejack started, before Rainbow Dash got a mischievous smile and nodded proudly.
“Let’s just say there are more uses for wings than just flying.” Applejack said nothing, sitting down hard as her mind failed to process the information. Cloudburn looked at her a moment before matching her grin. “Sorry, Applejack, I don’t think that lecture will do me much good now. Thanks for the thought, though!” Rainbow Dash said, placing a comforting hoof on her shoulder as she stared off into space.
“It’s not fair! First Twilight, and now you, Rainbow Dash? Where ‘n tarnation is my stallion!” she shouted, causing everypony to turn and look at the famous rodeo queen of Ponyville throwing a miniature tantrum in the middle of the street. It was then that she noticed Storm overhead, giving Scootaloo another flying lesson, and she used the distraction as an excuse to leave, shooting Applejack an apologetic look before turning her attention back to the black pegasus soaring above her. He grabbed Scootaloo and waited as Rainbow Dash drew near.
“Even from here I can tell that Applejack isn’t very happy. Wait, did you tell her?” Storm asked in disbelief. His fillyfriend grinned and he slapped a hoof over his eyes.
“What? She asked. Besides, she’s the Element of Honesty, I can’t lie to her.” He shook his head, feeling sorry for the well meaning mare.
“Did you break it to her easily at least?”
“What, and miss an easy opportunity?” Dash replied with a teasing grin.
“You’re evil,” he muttered, before realizing he had said the same thing to his mother that very morning and cringing.
“Hey, don’t talk to a lady like that, Storm!” Scootaloo warned. “I don’t want you scaring away my future sister just ‘cause you like to stick your hoof in your mouth.”
“Oh, I don’t think you have to worry about that, Scootaloo. I assure you, you’ll get your sister.” In yet another example of a heart speaking before the brain, he turned to find Rainbow Dash staring at him, mouth slightly agape. He let his head tilt to the side before suddenly realizing what he had just inferred.
“Storm’s in love, Storm’s in love! He’s gettin’ married, he’s gettin’ married!” Scootaloo sang as her excitement fueled her wings, flying a slow circle around them before seeing the ground below and immediately dropping back into Storm’s arms, which hadn’t changed position since his previous comment. Applejack’s booming voice sounded from below, frightening Storm and even making Rainbow Dash jump a little.
“Storm, you better not be askin’ her to marry ya already! You get down here right now, mister, I’ve got words fer you!”
“I suggest we make ourselves scarce, my place sound ok?” Storm said quickly, and Rainbow Dash agreed readily, leaving Applejack screaming at empty space as they made a swift exit. Flying Grace greeted the trio as they entered, Storm slamming the door and sliding back against it in mock exhaustion.
“Having fun, you three?”
“Storm’s gettin’ married, Storm’s get...” she sang until Storm tackled her and began tickling her furiously. Scootaloo was helpless against the onslaught, at least until Rainbow Dash snuck up on him and gave him the same treatment, and the three devolved into a giggling mess on the floor. Storm was the first to recover, and he motioned his mother over to Quakehoof in the kitchen and waved the other two away, speaking in a soft tone.
“Well, son, I know you’re in love but isn’t a bit soon to be thinking about marriage?”
“Ignore that, that’s just the ramblings of an annoying sister,” he said, glancing over at Scootaloo who had turned her powers of invasive questioning towards a bewildered Rainbow Dash. “I can’t give all the details but Rainbow Dash needs a family. She’s never really had one, so I was wondering if maybe...” Flying Grace and Quakehoof looked at each other for a moment before walking over to Rainbow Dash and wrapping her in their arms, one on either side.
“Um, what are you doing?” she asked quietly, completely unsure of what to think of the sudden motion.
“We just wanted you to know that married or not, we’re always happy to have another daughter. Welcome to the family, Rainbow Dash.” Storm watched as his fillyfriend yielded to the hug, laying her head against Grace’s chest and closing her eyes. Storm had just started to walk over when the door flew open and Rarity marched up to Storm, eyeing him with disgust.
“How can you even stand to be seen in public like that, much less by your beautiful fillyfriend? Just look at that abhorrent mess you likely refer to as a mane, and your wings! I simply will not tolerate this. Rainbow Dash, you are going to teach this stallion a thing or two about presentability or so help me I’ll... Never mind, come! We must be off!” she demanded, ending her rant and using her magic to drag him bodily out the door. He made no struggle, but rather stared at the white unicorn as she fumed. When they had ventured far enough away from the house, he decided to try and ease her concerns.
“Miss Rarity, I know we haven’t exactly hit it off.” A snort confirmed the statement before he continued. “I know I look dreadful, but when it comes down to it, I’d rather spend my time making sure Rainbow Dash is happy, rather than pleasing the eyes of ponies I don’t even know. That’s not to say I don’t think my appearance is important, but the reason I look like this now is because I wanted her to succeed. I’m sorry if that’s unacceptable to you.” He suddenly found himself released from her grip, and she turned to look at him, no trace of anger left in her features.
“I assure you, your priorities are in their proper place. I’m sorry for doubting you, and I will not force you to change.” She began to canter away before Storm called out after her.
“I never said I wasn’t going to let myself be groomed. You think I want to stay looking like this? If anypony can get me presentable, it’s you. So please, Rarity, could you turn me into a stallion worthy of Rainbow Dash?”
“Oh, but you already are.” He smiled for a moment before she surprised him with a gleeful squeal. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t help you look the part! Come, to the Carousel Boutique!”
It’s strange how a small alteration to one’s appearance can change so many things, and when Storm returned a few hours later, Rainbow Dash had a very hard time keeping her eyes off of him. None of the charred mane were left, and his hair had been given a trim, leaving his hair long though an inch or two shorter than before. It was entirely unnoticeable that any damage had been done, and his smug expression told her that he had noticed her interest.
Rainbow Dash stayed over late, having eagerly agreed to stay for dinner with her new family. The conversation flow had a way of constantly finding a way to embarrass them both, but it was filled with too much fun for them to care. The results of the tryout drifted to the back of her mind as it was pushed back to make room for happier thoughts, and before she knew it Scootaloo was heading to bed. Storm rose to accompany her home, ignoring the hushed whispers of his parents and opening the door for her, for which Dash rolled her eyes as thanks. It was mid summer in Ponyville, and Storm quickly adjusted as Rainbow Dash changed direction, landing on a cloud and motioning for Storm to lay beside her. He obeyed and soon found himself staring up at the star strewn skies, bathing in the light of a full moon.
“Storm? I know this is going to sound kind of sudden, but... Would you maybe... consider moving in with me?”
“Are you serious?” He hadn’t meant for his reply to sound so negative, but he quickly realized that his excitement had been interpreted as something else.
“I’m sorry, I knew it was stupid to ask so soon. Just forget I said anything... Good night, Storm. See you tomorrow!” she replied, faking a cheerful grin and darting off towards her house. He would have given chase right away but the request had been such a shock that he simply stared at her as she disappeared into the night. A myriad of thoughts and worries played through his head, but he knew exactly what he’d say when he saw her again.
“Wait, why shouldn’t I just go talk to her now?” he muttered to himself. Duh, he should. Shaking his head he gave chase, though not being nearly as fast he guessed, she had been home for at least ten minutes by the time he arrived. The house was dark, and the door made nary a sound as he snuck in, latching the door behind him and stopping at the foot of her bed. She didn’t seem to be asleep, but she was facing the other direction so she didn’t notice his presence until she felt him sidle up behind her, draping a wing along the length of her body. “I may be no expert in reading mares, but you’re just as bad when it comes to stallions, it seems.” She glanced over her shoulder a moment before turning to face him. “Rainbow Dash, I don’t want you to spend another night alone. If you’ll have me, then starting tonight, this is now my house to. And this,” he said softly, pressing a hoof to her chest, “is my home.”