"Rainbow, it wasn't your fault."
Dash grimaced as she idly played with a lock of Fluttershy’s hair. “I know, but I can’t help but feel like I messed up.” She inched forward as the hospital bed creaked underneath them. “Princess Luna really chewed me out back there.”
Fluttershy sighed, leaning against Dash’s shoulder and staring at the door leading into the castle hallway. “She’s not normally like this. Night Mother is just very—protective of me. She’ll warm up to you... eventually. I’m sure she likes you.”
Dash scoffed. “She’s got a real funny way of showing it then. She looked at me like she wanted my head on a pike.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Dash reassured. “My chat with Princess Celestia was better, I think.”
Fluttershy’s ears perked up. “Oh? What did she say?”
“She wants us to meet her student in Ponyville; her name’s Twilight Sparkle. And something else about—”
“P-Ponyville?!” Fluttershy shot up, her leathery wings flaring out and nearly knocking Dash off the bed. “Rainbow, we can’t! I can’t!”
Dash’s bewildered expression shifted to that of concern. “Fluttershy, what’s wrong? You don’t want to go back?”
“N-no!” She quickly replied. “I mean… I do miss living in Ponyville, but I really don’t think that’d be a good idea.”
“What’s with all the bloody noise?”
The pair jumped at the sound of the new voice, the color draining from Fluttershy’s face as an annoyed thestral stepped into the infirmary.
“Captain!” Fluttershy squeaked. “What are you doing here?”
She snorted. “That should be pretty obvious, ya dolt. Didja honestly think I wasn’t gonna visit ya after I heard about yer little fuck up?”
“Y-you know about that?”
A nod. “Aye, course I know. It’s my fuckin’ job after all. That and bein’ the babysitter of you and yer dyke girlfriend.”
“Hey!” Dash growled, sitting up from the bed and shooting her a glare. “Who do you think you are?”
The thestral’s amber eyes glowed in the dim light as she returned the glare. “My name is Captain Stella Sabre, and it would do ya well to learn it.” Stella took an aggressive step forward, baring her teeth. “I’d ought to break yer fuckin’ jaw after ya decided to sneak out of the castle with one of my cadets.”
Dash’s eyes widened at that remark. “Captain Stella Sabre? You mean, the Stella Sabre?”
Stella gave her a sinister smile. “So ya’ve finally got it through yer thick fuckin’ skull, huh? Maybe ya should’ve done yer research before opening yer bloody mouth, Rainbow Dash.”
“Rainbow, please, don’t make this situation even worse than it already is,” Fluttershy pleaded in a surprisingly firm tone. “I should be held accountable for what I did, I deserve it.”
“But nothing,” Stella replied. “Yer lucky Fluttershy isn’t as stupid as you, otherwise I’d make sure the both of ya had spots in this infirmary.”
The door to the infirmary clicked shut as yet another pony stepped into the room, causing the smile to immediately fade from Stella’s face.
“I—er, morning, Princess,” Stella mumbled, “I was just, ya know, givin’ these cadets a firm talking to.”
Princess Celestia briefly glanced over at Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, before staring down at Stella with an unamused frown. “Well don’t let me stop you, Captain. Since you seem to be handling this conversation in a most professional manner.”
“No.” Celestia pointed at the door. “Please leave us, lest I report this little incident to my sister. I’m sure she’d be a lot less tactful about it than I.”
“I… right. Of course, Princess, I’ll leave at once.” Captain Sabre reluctantly bowed, exiting the room without saying another word.
A stagnant silence hung over the room as the door shut once more, only being broken by a heavy sigh from Celestia.
“Unbelievable,” she said under her breath. “I would have expected more discipline from Luna’s guards.”
Fluttershy’s ear twitched at that remark, but she said nothing, opting to bury herself deeper in her bed.
“Princess?” Dash approached Celestia with caution; hesitation laced her voice. “What you said earlier about visiting Ponyville… are we really just going there to meet your student, or is there something else?”
Celestia bit her lip. “Why do you ask?”
“It’s just—Fluttershy really doesn’t want to go back to Ponyville after everything that’s happened to her. So, unless it’s super important, I’d rather she didn’t have to come with me.”
Fluttershy beamed at the indirect affection. Even Celestia couldn’t help but smile.
“I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash, but it’s imperative that both of you meet Twilight Sparkle. It’s—well, the three of you might be able to help my sister if everything goes according to plan.”
“Princess Luna?” Dash tilted her head. “What’s she got to do with us meeting Twilight? And why does she need help from the three of us?”
Celestia sighed. “I apologize for being cryptic, but I just can’t explain everything to you for one reason or another. Twilight Sparkle will be able to clarify the situation once both of you get there; she’s done plenty of research.” She turned to face Fluttershy. “As for Captain Sabre, you don’t need to worry about her. You’ve already been through enough as is.”
Fluttershy frowned. “When do we have to go?”
“As soon as possible, dusk if you’re feeling strong enough. I’m afraid we don’t have much time to waste.”
“A-alright,” Fluttershy said. “If it’s really that important, then I’ll go, especially if I’m helping Night Mother in the process.”
Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy exchanged uneasy looks, though Dash couldn’t help but internally grin at the thought of the potential adventure that was now in front of them.
“We’ll catch a late train to Ponyville; you can count on us, Princess!”
Rainbow Dash wasn’t a morning pony. She wasn’t much of a night owl either, but after everything that had happened yesterday morning, she wasn’t about to pass up even a minute of sleep. Though, despite her state of total exhaustion, she was awoken from a predatory chill that ran down her spine, accompanied by the uncanny feeling of someone watching her.
It was her girlfriend.
“Eeep!” Fluttershy squealed, a blush spreading across her face. “S-sorry! I didn’t mean to wake you!”
Dash yawned, turning on her side to get a better look at the frazzled mare, as well as the train window behind her. The stars were still clearly visible in the night sky, so it was likely not much time had passed at all. “Do I… look tasty?”
“What—no! I was just,” Fluttershy glanced around their train car, looking for an escape, before slumping her shoulders in defeat. “I like watching you sleep. I’m sorry.”
“Heh, wow,” Dash gave a lighthearted chuckle. “If we weren’t a couple, this would be super awkward.”
“It is awkward!” Fluttershy blubbered, draping a wing over her face in an attempt to hide her intensifying blush. “Oh, Night Mother, I’m never going to live this down.”
Dash smirked and crossed her hooves. “Consider this revenge for embarrassing me in that restaurant the other night.”
Fluttershy squeaked, her face now a vibrant red cherry. “Wha—I was j-just trying to stop the bleeding!”
The train rocked with enough force to throw Fluttershy onto Dash, causing both of them to topple over.
“...” Fluttershy said nothing, burying her face in Dash’s coat and wishing more than anything that this was all just a bad dream.
“You know, you don’t have to act so flustered around me,” Dash said with a smile. “We’re together now, right? You don’t have to be so on edge.”
“I-I know.” Fluttershy sighed. “I’d like to think I’m composed most of the time, but with you it’s different. It’s like, it’s like we’re somehow bound together, you know?”
“Are you talking about love?”
“N-no,” Fluttershy mumbled, averting her gaze. “I mean, it’s as if we became friends again as soon as we met, like it was supposed to happen or something.”
“Now arriving at Ponyville!”
Dash jerked her head, looking out of the cabin window at the train conductor. “We should probably get to the Ponyville barracks before sunrise. Don’t want a repeat of yesterday, right?”
“Of course. You haven’t had the chance to rest much either.”
Dash rubbed the nape of her neck. “Heh. Not really, I had someone watching me while I slept.”
“...You’re so mean, Rainbow.”
“You know you love it.”
It was a little over three in the morning when they stepped off the train. A single lamp post illuminated the station, revealing just how alone the two of them were.
“I guess we didn’t need to take such a late train, did we?” Dash murmured, shuddering as a stray gust scraped across her frame.
“Probably not, though I appreciate it. I like being able to freely walk around with you without worrying about the sun.”
“I can’t even imagine what that’s like.”
“It’s good that you don’t have to.”
Rainbow Dash flared her wings as a plume of confetti showered them. Fluttershy instinctively stepped in front of Dash. A low growl emanated from Fluttershy as she bared her fangs at the unknown attacker. Despite this, Dash was tackled from one side, wind fleeing her lungs.
An obnoxiously bright pink pony pinned Dash to the ground. “Welcome to Ponyville! My name’s Pinkie Pie, Ponyville’s permanent pink party planner. What’s your name?”
“It’s three in the morning. Why do you even exist?” Dash heaved, struggling to get the pony off of her.
Pinkie Pie giggled. “That’s an awfully long name. Do you mind if I call you ‘Rainbow’ as a nickname?”
“Just ‘Dash’ is fine, please.”
“You got it, Dashie!” Pinkie chirped.
“Get off of her.”
Dash suddenly felt the weight of Pinkie Pie being lifted, paling as soon as she saw the sight before her.
Fluttershy was holding Pinkie Pie above her head with one hoof, gripping her throat hard enough to do damage. Despite this, Pinkie Pie chuckled.
“Wow, Fluttershy, you got so strong! You look different too! Did you do something with your hair? I wish you had told me you were leaving Ponyville, I would have thrown you a ‘going away’ party you know!”
“Fluttershy, do you… know her?” Dash said, finally standing once she regained her breath.
Fluttershy’s eyes widened as she realized how tight her grip was, sheepishly slackening her hoof and unceremoniously dropping Pinkie. “I—erm, yes. When I lived in Ponyville I did. Everyone knows Pinkie Pie.”
“Huh. Okay.” Dash turned to face Pinkie. “So, uh, Pinkie. Why did you come to the train station anyway?”
Pinkie Pie sprang up, her smile widening to an almost uncanny degree. “My Pinkie Sense™ woke me up in the middle of the night. My tail twitched, and my neck tingled and I knew that someone new was coming to Ponyville, but I had no idea that Fluttershy was coming back, so this calls for a super-duper double pony party!”
“Please, no parties, Pinkie Pie,” Fluttershy mumbled. “I didn’t even really want to come back.”
Pinkie visibly deflated at that remark, her ears lowering as her eyes met the ground. “Aww, pretty please?”
Fluttershy nervously dragged her hoof across the boardwalk. “I need to talk to a few ponies privately, Pinkie. I don’t want to be out in public, please don’t make me go to a party.”
“I… okay,” Pinkie Pie said with a sigh, before immediately perking back up and staring at Rainbow. “What about you? You still want a party, right?”
Dash smirked. “Well that depends, I guess. Will there be drinks?”
“Anything under the Equestrian sun!”
“What about music?”
“We have our own DJ and everything!”
Pinkie puffed her chest out proudly. “Leave it to Pinkie Pie to bake the best sweets in Ponyville!”
Rainbow Dash chuckled, placing her hoof on Pinkie’s shoulder. “You know what, Pinks? I think you and I are gonna be good friends.”
Pinkie Pie practically glowed at that remark. “R-really?!”
“Really,” Dash replied with confidence.
She wasn’t sure how or why she knew, but Dash was sure of it: Pinkie Pie was going to be her new friend in this unfamiliar town, and nothing was ever going to change that fact.