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After Rainbow Dash’s outburst, Trixie and Big Macintosh quickly got underway. They walked in silence through the trees. After about fifteen minutes of quiet, Trixie decided she couldn’t stand it any more.
“Hmph. Trixie wonders how far two little foals could have gone.” She asked idly.
Big Macintosh shrugged. “Don’t know. Don’t matter none either, ‘cause we’re still gonna find them.”
“Trixie…admires your sense of purpose.” She said slowly, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. If she was waiting for a return compliment, she’d be waiting for a long time. Realizing as much, she pressed on. “I did not think there were ponies of your caliber in your…rustic town. My last visit was marred by some rather rude, uncouth ponies.”
Macintosh gave her the stinkeye. “You’re talking about mah little sister.”
“Ah, the earth pony with the rope trick?” Trixie winced, she should’ve figured that one out. “I was actually referring to the white unicorn.”
“Her little sister is best friends with mah other little sister.”
“..well there was the pegasus and…” Her voice trailed off. “Don’t tell me she’s your marefriend.”
Big Macintosh went from the stinkeye to full blown glower. “Eeyup!” He said firmly.
“Her?” Trixie blinked.
“You and the pegasus?” Trixie quirked her eyebrow elegantly.
“Eeyup!” Mac said a touch forcefully.
Trixie quailed. She opened her mouth but the only thing that came out was. “…”
Macintosh nodded and turned away as they continued on in an awkward quiet.
A few moments later Trixie pursued her lips and couldn’t help blurting out: “…You sure she’s just not using you for coloration?”
This confused the big red stallion as he turned back to her. “What’s my color got to do with anything?” He stared at his red hide. Trixie did too, but tried not to be as obvious about it.
“Trixie means that that featherbrained pegasus most likely wishes to use a…fine, strapping, handsome stallion like yourself to boost her own ego.”
“Miss Trixie? Three words: Teapot. Kettle. Black.” Big Mac said with as much scorn as he could possibly muster. “And in any case, yer wrong. It ain’t like that.”
“Oh please.” She rolled her eyes. “The Great and Powerful Trixie has been around—”
“I bet you have.” Macintosh muttered.
“—and I’ve seen it many times before. An arrogant yet insecure little pony sets out to snag the most handsome stallion in town in order to make herself look better.”
Big Mac kept walking, trying his best not to look at her. “Am ah hearing snippets of yer autobiography?” he asked, but Trixie was on a roll.
“Trixie can tell you’re skeptical, but consider! She is friends with that second-rate magician Twilight Sparkle.” She looked from side to side and whispered in his ear. “It’s not as if a love potion would be so difficult for her to brew, now would it?”
“Ah’ve been under th’ influence of love potions before. This ain’t that.”
Trixie didn’t see that one coming. “Really? Who gave it to you?”
Macintosh sighed. “Mah little sister.”
Trixie’s eyes did an impressive imitation of a certain gray mail mare. “EEEUGH! Trixie doesn’t need to hear this!” She shoved her hat down on her head.
Big Macintosh’s face went redder when he figured it out. “It ain’t like that!!” He stamped his hoof. “She set me up with her teacher!”
“Oh…oh Celestia.” Trixie shuddered. “Why didn’t you say so?!”
“Ah jest did! It ain’t none of your business, no how!” Macintosh eyed her like something that had gotten stuck to his hoof. “Now, kin you keep your mind on finding them foals?”
Snorting in annoyance, Trixie relented. She lit up her horn as the two walked through the woods.
Back in the tent, Rainbow Dash was trying to ride herd on four little ponies. After spending the entire night finding out Big Macintosh liked her, followed *immediately* by fighting a bear and then spending the rest of it searching for the foals, she was about at the end of her endurance.
“Can’t you guys just pleeeeeeeease go to sleep?” She all but begged. “Aren’t you tired?”
“A bit.” Archer admitted. “But we want to hear about how you and Big Macintosh fought off that bear! I bet it was awesome!”
Sweetie Belle hopped up and down. “I want to hear about how the two of you made it through the woods all by yourselves, overcoming the odds and braving perilous obstacles! Ooh I bet it was sooo romantic.” Her hooves practically floated in midair.
Rainbow Dash groaned. “Sweetie, we were tired, sore, and covered with bruises. That might be some ponies idea of romantic but it sure isn’t mine! Er, not that I’m big into all that romantic, mushy stuff.” She added hastily, a low flush lighting her cheeks.
Silver Spoon looked at Snails who was trying to make himself invisible, without much success. She cleared her throat. “Um, Rainbow Dash? Can I talk to you?” Grateful for the reprieve, Rainbow nodded.
“Sure thing. You two, settle down!” The two eager fillies groaned in disappointment as she walked away to Silver Spoon. “So what’s up?”
After making sure nopony was listening in, the gray filly shuffled her hooves. “So, um, you and Big Macintosh like each other, right?”
“Yeaaaaah…” Rainbow Dash nodded slowly. “What about it?”
“Well, there’s this pony who sort of had a crush going on and now—” Silver was surprised when she felt Rainbow’s hoof on her shoulder.
“Hey, it’s okay.” She said in understanding. “I can definitely see where you’re coming from. Big Macintosh is a great pony, but there’ll be other colts closer to your own age who you’ll have more in common with. They might not be as awesome as Big Macintosh, but…”
Silver Spoon rolled her eyes. “It’s not me!”
“…Oh. Of course not. It’s a ‘friend of yours,’ right?” Rainbow Dash gave her a pitying looked that clearly showed she didn’t believe her. She winked. “I getcha.”
“No!” Silver Spoon face hooved, barely remembering to keep her voice down. “It’s you!”
“You…have a crush on me?!” Rainbow Dash’s wings flared out in shock. “Um, okay wow I *really* didn’t expect this…not that there’s anything wrong with what you’re feeling! I mean, um, have you talked to your parents about you—”
“No no no you featherbrain!” Silver Spoon could swear she felt a twitch develop under her eye. “It’s Snails! He’s had a crush on you this whole trip! How could you not notice?!”
Rainbow Dash’s mouth made a little ‘o’ of surprise. “…that makes a lot more sense.” She conceded after a minute. Then she winced. “Oh. I guess he would take the news about me and Big Macintosh kinda hard huh?”
“He saw you two kissing in the woods.” Silver declared bluntly. “We all did.” She took a small amount of satisfaction in seeing the normally unflappable pegasus’ jaw hanging open as a bright blush spread across her cheeks and down her neck.
“….Oh.” Rainbow managed to squeak out in a voice that sounded more like Fluttershy than Rainbow Dash. She shook her head. “Um, okay, wow. Er…so I guess you think I should talk to him, huh?”
Silver Spoon gave an elegant glare over the top of her glasses that seemed to practically scream ‘Gee, ya think?’ without actually having to say anything.
“….Riiiight.” Dash nodded as she walked away and made her way over to the lonely colt.
If Snails took any notice of her approach, he didn’t show. He was facing the tent wall when Rainbow Dash arrived. She cleared her throat as she waited for him to turn around. “Um, Snails?”
“Oh, uh, hi there Rainbow Dash!” He put on a big smile that seemed oddly forced. “You found us!”
“Guess I did.” She sat down. If anything she seemed even more uncomfortable than he did. “So….bear attacks aside, how’ve you been liking the camping trip?”
“It’s been awesome!” Snails grin was smaller, but more sincere. “I got to meet lots of new ponies and I learned a whole bunch of stuff about plants and stuff and it was really fun spending time with…” His smile faded and he looked down. “…You.”
Rainbow Dash had to fight to keep from instantly pulling the poor colt into a Fluttershy-type hug, or ‘Flutterhug’ if you will. “Well, I’m glad to hear it.” She kept her tone even. “I like making sure that all my fans have a good time.” She fidgeted. “You’re a pretty cool colt, you know that?”
“R-really?” Snails felt his eyes grow wide. Rainbow Dash, the embodiment of awesomeness, thought that HE was cool? No way!
Rainbow Dash flashed him her most winning smile. “Hay yeah! It takes a lot of guts to try something totally new. I admire that in a pony. Er, in ponies who are just friends I mean!” She added hastily, rubbing the back of her head. “Aheh…eh.”
Snails seemed to droop down. “Oh.” Rainbow Dash felt like slamming her head against a tree. She felt like a world-class heel.
“Hey, c’mon now.” She gently chucked his shoulder. “I’m really flattered and all and you’re a nice colt. It’s just that…” The right words just wouldn’t come. Ugh why was this so hard?
“I get it.” Snails drawled. “I’m slow and you’re fast. I talk funny and you’re cool. I’m everything you’re not.”
“Whoa!” She held up her hooves. “Hold it right there. First of all, that’s not true. Even it was, then good for you.”
“Huh?” Snails was confused.
Honestly, so was Rainbow Dash but she was on a roll. And in typical Dash style, it was better just to go and do than to spend all day thinking and worrying about it. She who hesitates is lost and thinking too much can just distract you when you need to go on gut. That was her philosophy anyway.
“Snails, I’m going to level with you. When I was your age I wasn’t nearly as nice as you are. Yeah, I stood up for Fluttershy and stuff but I really wasn’t the most patient or understanding of foals. I got frustrated easily and when I get frustrated with somepony, I tend to say or do stuff that I later end up regretting. Maybe I still do, but it was way worse when I was younger.” Dash chuckled. “Heh, I guess Fluttershy and the gang’s been rubbing off on me; maturing me.” She rolled her eyes as if to say, ‘that’ll be the day!’ She let her wing drape itself over Snails’ back. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that as cool as I am, NOT being me isn’t the worst thing in the world. Hay, most of my best friends are nothing like me but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. You gotta stop judging yourself by my standard. You’re not me, you’re you. And there’s no pony better at being you, than you.”
Snails wiped a hoof across his face. “ I-I dunno…” Rainbow nudged him gently.
“C’mon, I can prove it. You have your Cutie Mark, right?”
He looked down to check. “Yup.”
“Now think about Sweetie Belle and her friends: they don’t have their Cutie Marks, do they?” Snails looked over at Sweetie Belle’s flank. He shook his head. “You wanna know why?” She waited for him to nod. “It’s because they spend all their time trying to be something or somepony they’re not. Apple Bloom always tries to act like Applejack, Sweetie Belle tries to be like Rarity and Scootaloo tries to be like me—not that I blame her. I *am* pretty awesome.” She winked at Snails who nodded in agreement. “But they totally end up failing every time because they’re trying to be somepony or something they’re not! Don’t get me wrong, those fillies are really awesome and not having a Cutie Mark isn’t the end of the world,” She waved a hoof. “But do you start to get it? If spent all my time thinking about how I’m not as smart as Twilight or not as random as Pinkie or not as…apple-y as Applejack, then I’d never figure out how to be the totally awesome pegasus that I am today. More so, I mean. Does that make sense?”
Snails blinked. “I…think so.”
Rainbow Dash sighed. Introspective moments were hard. “Look, it’s okay if you don’t get everything now. You gotta flap before you can fly after all. Now it’s reaaaally late, like so late it’s morning and I want to sleep.” She tousled his mane as she got up. “Okay, everypony, time for bed!” The exhaustion of the previous night had finally caught up to the little ponies as they didn’t even protest.
As she started to settle in, Rainbow Dash found Snails snuggling up to her side. Before she could say a word she found Silver Spoon doing the same, with Archer and Sweetie Belle scooting in on her other side. With a sigh and a tired smile, Rainbow stretched out her wings over the four little ponies like a blanket as held them close. Right before she nodded off she murmured to a yawning Silver Spoon. “Snails is really lucky to have you for a friend.” The little filly just rested her head on Rainbow’s foreleg and was asleep within seconds. Rainbow Dash joined the little ponies in their long awaited sleep just as the first rays of dawn started to peer over the horizon.
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