“I still think giving them the wake-up call on only their second day is a bit harsh,” Misty Fly commented, resting back on the cloud couch in the Wonderbolts recreation room.
“It’s the way it’s always been done. We’ll have to trust three of these ponies to save our lives one day. If they can’t even do house chores right, we’re as good as dead.” Rapidfire gave his two bits on the subject before going back to writing something. He was always very straight and to the point with his opinions.
“Still, we’re not normally military. We shouldn’t need to be as ‘in your face’ as the Royal Guard, or Royal Navy, or Airship Force.” Soarin also chimed in, trying to remain neutral on the subject.
“Want to tell that to Spitfire?” Rapidfire questioned, once again, looking up from his paperwork, then back down at it. “If war were to be declared, we’d be expected to take up positions equivalent to that of commanding officers. Some of the kids out there would still probably get Mommy to pack their lunch and wipe their ass if they could.”
“What’s that got to do with it?” Misty questioned.
Rapidfire looked over at Misty, this time not looking away. “You might be able to get away with that as a performer. But as a soldier? Them and everypony under their command would be dead in a matter of moments.”
“I’ll remind you of that when a street performer draws the obsessive fans away from you like in Fillydelphia last year,” Soarin reminded him, winking.
“Oh yeah, and if I recall, you looked a bit dissapointed,” Misty added, playfully rubbing her chin with a smug smile on her face.
“Disappointed that I didn’t get to do any ‘crowd-control’,” Rapidfire replied. He waited a second, then huffed and rolled his eyes. He finished writing a final sentence with an emphasized final tap of his pen. “And that’s Rapidfire closed for the day,” He dropped his pen at the table he was working out then stood up and moved to the table over from him. Fleetfoot, Lightning Streak, Fire Streak and High Winds were sitting around playing cards. “Deal me in, Fleet,” Rapidfire ordered, pulling a chair up using his wing.
Fleetfoot started shuffling with her wings, “Five card draw, Ace is high,” She explained as she dealt some cards to him. “Anypony else want in whilst they’ve got the chance?”
“Sorry,” Soarin replied, getting up and stretching. “I’ve got stuff I need to do tonight,” He explained casually, heading towards the door.
“I’m up for a few rounds Fleet,” Misty agreed, heading towards the group of the Wonderbolts.
Soarin left them to their devices inside the rec room. He looked out the Window he walked past on the way back to his room. The sun was almost down, and the HQ was staring to pick up a more serious tone to it. Despite how relaxed he could be sometimes.
Rapidfire, having come from the Airship Force, was a firm believer in the ‘shock and awe’ aspect he went through. And whilst Soarin agreed that it worked, most pegasi that came here weren’t expecting it at all. At dinner, he noted how many of them looked close to tears. Some of them were in tears, just doing a good at hiding the sniffling.
Again, he wasn’t going to deny that it didn’t work. But to successfully get through it, a pegasus would need a do or do not attitude. Some just can’t handle it. Some manage to do everything perfectly. But the vast majority just had to endure. And they either eventually become unable to endure any longer, or they were rewarded for the efforts. And that led to a question that kept bugging him.
Would Rainbow Dash be able to endure it?
He sighed and continued walking to his room.
Rainbow Dash and her roommates were all half-heartedly walking back to their room. It was a very tiring day of marching drills for all of them, and Rapidfire seemed determined to work them to the bone. At least whatever room did the cooking today made them a damn decent meal.
As Rainbow Dash opened the door to their room, all she could think about was flopping down on bed for a few minutes…
...But unfortunately, it looked like that wouldn’t happening.
“What the…” The sight of their room left Dash and her friends in pure shock. Belongings strewn all over the place, mattresses flipped over. Even the bathroom had a few things lying on the floor.
Dahlia ran towards her space. “What the hell was this for? Who does something like this?” She moaned, picking up her things. A combination of tiredness and anger isn’t good for anypony’s sanity.
“Somepony we’ve pissed off at some point, that’s for sure.” Riptide flipped his mattress back onto his bedframe and simply flopped down. “So do we go find out who did it and retaliate?” He suggested, punching his forehooves together.
“Not tonight...please…” Bright Skies replied, pausing to yawn, then started picking up her things again. Even if she did have the intention to follow through with Riptide, she was simply too tired to be concerned with that now.
“It wasn’t just some random ponies,” Comet explained, picking up his things. “It just the Wonderbolts’ way of telling that it wasn’t good enough.” He picked up a rectangular case, opening it to confirm that his glasses were still intact. “That’s a relief.”
“But what did we do wrong?” Dash asked, pushing her mattress back onto her bedframe.
“Most likely, nothing.” Torque’s voice suddenly sounded. He ate by himself at dinner, and the way he was going around trying to separate himself from everypony, they all acted as if they forgot he existed briefly. He must have been following them very quietly to sneak up on them like that. Although what shocked them the most is that he seemed to have made quick work of cleaning up his bed and surrounding areas. He looked almost done.
“This obviously means something. We obviously did something wrong,” Dahlia protested, raising her voice and holding her forelegs out to emphasize her point.
“You probably did nothing,” Torque raised his voice to match hers, closing his locker door. “It’s a standard scare tactic. They tell you everything’s wrong to make you try to do it better. Since you have no other choice, you do better. And over time, it simply becomes a standard. The Royal Guard have done it for decades.” Torque didn’t take time for questions at the end of his explanations and got back to cleaning.
“...Huh…” Dahlia reluctantly agreed with his point of view. Oddly, everything he said makes sense, and sounds like a reasonable explanation. Although if it were that easy to understand, wouldn’t the Wonderbolts know that too?
Dash let out a big sigh, “Guess we better clean…” She said disheartedly, not really knowing how else to respond to the situation but to say and do the obvious. She sweeped all her belongings off the floor using her wings. She dropped them onto her mattress so she could start organising them.
Within a matter of minutes, they had at least got their sections of the room looking somewhat presentable. However, there was plenty of fine tuning still to do. Dash, however, started heading straight to the door when she got things in somewhat the right order.
“Aren’t you gonna finish setting up your bed area?” Dahlia asked.
“Nah, I’m gonna leave it ‘till the morning when I can concentrate better. Or a little later,” Dash replied, noticing a certain pony in the bed by the door. “Torque’s got the right idea.” She pointed with her hoof to Torque, who was lying flat on his back with his head on the pillow. His eyes closed and hooves down by his side, barely making a peep with his breathing.
“Yeah, but he has superpony skills with this kind of stuff from somewhere,” Dahlia shrugged, “That ain’t a fair comparison.”
Dash chuckled a bit as she opened the door. To be fair, Dahlia wasn’t lying. All of Torque’s stuff seemed to be in position and a by the book example. She couldn’t tell how clean it was from the distance, but she didn’t doubt that it was up to scratch.
Dash walked out of her room and down the corridor. She didn’t really have any particular location in mind, she just wanted to...walk.
Okay, she wasn’t going to kid herself. What she was hoping for was an opportunity to perhaps bump into Soarin on her way. She knew she couldn’t go directly to his bedroom in case she aroused suspicion. And at the same time, Soarin couldn’t come to her for the same reason. Any meeting between them would have to be purely coincidental.
It was starting to get late, and there wasn’t many ponies around. Unsurprisingly, most of them were wiped out by today's drills. Dash felt the same, but she had her motivations to keep going.
She wandered into a recreational area just off from the main canteen. There was a few ponies conversing in there, but not many. There was also a demonstration stand of what was expected of them with regards to keeping their bed area neat and tidy within their rooms. Dash gave it a once over, picking up some pointers, then continued on her walk.
She ended up in the gym. Again, a hooffull of ponies were in there. Her body was edging her towards trying to do some sort of exercise, but her mind was just too tired to agree with it.
She walked past the gym and headed up a staircase, stopping on the level where the Wonderbolts quarters normally were. Again, her mind kept teasing her with the thought of just going to see Soarin now. Just knocking on his door and acting normal. As sweet of a thought that was to her, she forced it to the back of her mind and pulled herself away, continuing up the stairs. She hadn’t really walked past this point before, and was curious to see how high the stairs went. She wasn’t even sure if she was allowed up here, but her curiosity let her continue. Better than her alternative curiosity anyway...
When she finally reached the top, she pushed the door open and stepped outside. It didn’t take her long to realise that she was standing on the roof of the building. The breeze coupled with the lowering temperatures as they headed into the night made for a chilly experience. Dash walked on nevertheless, over to the railings that lined the edge of the building. She rested her forehooves on them and looked over at what she could see.
Cloudsdale was still very much awake, seeing various lights in room and pegasi flying around it. Down in the distance she saw Canterlot and it’s bright lights that never seemed to stop. And in the opposite direction, she saw Ponyville. Twilight’s castle seemed to be just a spec from up here, but it was still very noticeable. Not many lights were on in Ponyville.
Dash looked up at sky. It still had a hint of blue in it, but the stars and moon were just starting to peak through. She looked at the stars and sighed. “I’ve come this close...don’t screw it up now…” Dash spoke to herself. She was stepping ever closer to her dream, but the more steps she took, she more likely she was to trip...
“It’s a nice view isn’t it?” The voice she’d been waiting to hear for so long spoke behind her.
Dash flicked her head around to see Soarin standing behind her. She smiled and turned around fully to face him.
“Oh, and the stars aren’t bad too I guess,” Soarin added, winking at her.
Dash simply shook her head at what he was referring to. “I bet you were look at me the whole time throughout those drills.” She slowly trotted up to him.
“I tried my best...I do kinda have a job to do though,” Soarin replied, chuckling a little.
“Yeah yeah, I saw you looking,” Dash stopped just short of him, shivering. “It’s colder than I thought it would be up here.”
“The top of the building is always exposed, so the wind makes it feel colder than it actually is. C’mon,” Soarin spun around, “Let’s go back to my room.”
“...What?” Dash asked, raising an eyebrow. If he meant it how he sounded…
Soarin sighed, “I didn’t mean it like that,” He rolled his eyes, looking over his shoulder. Then grinned back at Dash, “Although I won’t deny it if you’re offering…”
“Dream on,” Dash replied, shaking her head. “What were you suggesting anyway?”
“I just wanted to talk,” Soarin turned around to explain himself. “Follow me a few lengths back, that way if anypony spots us, it won’t look like we’re together. I’ll leave my door unlocked.”
“Wait, what do you--” Before Dash had anytime to ask questions, Soarin already pushed through the door. It made a very faint creak as he stepped his first hoof through.
Dash bit her lip and followed slowly. She wasn’t sure why she was feeling so on edge about the whole thing. Perhaps it was the fear of getting caught. Nevertheless, this is what she went for a walk to find. Looks like her request was answered. It would be stupid not to go with it now.
She stepped in behind Soarin, letting him take the first two flights of stairs, then started walking herself. She had to continually modulate her pace to keep sight of Soarin. If she lost track of him, she was a hundred percent sure where to go.
She came off the stairs and into a corridor. The corridor itself was still well lit, but it was rather deserted. Just as she hoped it would be. As she turned the corner, she just caught a glimpse of Soarin turning another. She picked up her pace to remain in sight. About halfway down, she saw Misty Fly emerge, walking in the opposite direction towards her. The sight made her hesitate in her step slightly, but she did her best to make sure it wasn't visible.
As they neared, Misty nodded at Dash in acknowledgement. Dash simply smiled awkwardly then broke eye contact. They walked past each other, but Dash kept her posture just in case Misty looked back at her. She kept her ears twisted in her direction just in case.
After what seemed like an eternity down a never-ending corridor, Dash finally got to her turning and pulled off. She sighed in relief then lowered her head. She followed Soarin down another corridor before eventually coming to a door with his name on it.
Well, he said he was leaving it open…
She pushed the handle and sure enough, the door opened all the way. The first sight she laid eyes on was Soarin sitting in an office chair. He immediately motioned with his hooves to close the door behind her, which Dash did so.
“Took you long enough,” Soarin joked.
“Don’t, I almost thought I blew it when I walked past Misty…” Dash started lazily walking over to Soarin. “She’s bound to be suspicious of that surely? Does she know?”
“About us? No,” Soarin confirmed, shaking his head, “And don’t worry about it. You blended in pretty well, walking quietly behind me. She wouldn’t have known where you were going, and judging by the fact she didn’t question you, she didn’t care. Now, if we were walking side-by-side holding wings, that would’ve been a different story.” He explained with a chuckle.
Dash laughed herself before she placed her forehooves on his chair either side of his head, then proceeded to climb on top of him and lazily flop onto him, resting her chin on his shoulder.
Soarin didn’t say anything and just let her...lay there. It wasn’t particularly comfortable for him, but just the feeling of her embrace was more than enough to compensate. He remained silent for around two minutes before he chuffed, “That bad huh?” He questioned.
Dash groaned as she lifted her head up. “I feel like I’ve done a years work in a matter of weeks,” She explained, then let her body go limp again.
“Welcome to Wonderbolt life. You’ll get used to it,” Soarin explained, but couldn’t help but let out a slight chuckle at her misfortune. It always came as a shock to everypony who walked through those doors as to how much effort they actually had to put in to be a Wonderbolt. “You’re doing well though. Better than some.”
“Yeah, it’s only been a matter of days and I’ve already seen ponies packing their bags,” Dash mentioned.
“Being the best of the best isn’t for everypony. And those that are leaving us are understanding why,” Soarin continued. “Come on,” Soarin slid his forelegs underneath her and leaned forward.
Dash was prepared to stand for herself for a second, fearing that she would fall to the floor. But it seemed that Soarin held onto her tightly enough that she didn’t fall. He stood onto his hind legs and started walking, carrying Dash towards a door and opening it with one of his hind legs. He carried Dash through his room and carefully laid her next to him on his bed, supporting both their weights with his right wing as he did so.
Dash simply laid there blushing at what just happened. Whilst she wasn’t expecting it...it was a nice feeling to have somepony literally carry you around…
“Heh, see something you like?” Soarin asked suddenly, breaking her out of her trance and jokingly flexing his muscles slightly. Dash blushed even more when she realised that she was contemplating how strong he was and was looking down at his body...his sleek, toned, sexy--
Dash shook her head and looked up at him, smiling as she thought of a comeback. “Can you blame me? I need my...motivations…” She replied, rubbing her hoof over his chest, “Besides, it’s only fair. I bet you stare at my butt all the time when we’re out there.”
“Well…” Soarin rolled his eyes, “Not ALL the time.” He pulled her closer to him with his wing whilst she was giggling at his comment. “But yeah...You’d be surprised how hard it is for me to stop my wings popping up when I see you in that suit…”
“Amongst other things popping I bet?” Dash asked, raising an eyebrow whilst looking up at him.
“Now THAT you’ll have to find out for yourself,” Soarin winked as he replied.
“Nice try,” Dash replied, jabbing him in the side. She caught Soarin off-guard, causing him to wheeze. “Although this,” Dash rubbed the spot on her neck, “Was very funny.” She said in a serious-sarcastic way with a stern look on her face. Luckily, the lovebite had almost faded now. And looking at Soarin’s neck, she could see that his was the same.
“Hehe, sorry about that…” Soarin awkwardly apologised, “But you did the same to me as well,” He added, rubbing the spot on his neck also.
“I didn’t even know it was possible,” Dash continued, “Guess we just got a little bit…”
“Excited,” Soarin finished for her, a grin on his face. “Guess that’s just a taste of things to come...literally.”
Dash snorted at his joke, “As long we’re not walking around waving huge flags that signal to everypony that we’ve been doing...that,” She blushed trying to think of words, “I’m fine.”
“Agreed,” Soarin replied, nodding, “I wore my uniform to cover mine up, but it quickly aroused everypony’s suspicion because I was wearing it when I wouldn’t normally. It would make life much easier if we just...took it easy for a little while.”
Dash chuckled at this explanation as she snuggled up to him. Soarin, not really knowing what to say, just laid there in silence. He realized his mistake in doing that as he noticed Dash beginning to nod off. “Don’t fall asleep on me Dashie,” He said softly, shaking her slightly by rocking his body, “You’ve probably got stuff to do. And there’s no hiding from it if you sleep with me overnight.”
Dash sighed in frustration as he was a hundred percent right. Despite the fact that she knew that full well too. She pushed herself up the bed to sit upright on the frame. “I know I’ve made it this far, but...everything I do...just doesn’t seem to be good enough.” She explained.
“You’ll get that feeling a lot. But trust me, if there was a problem, you wouldn’t even be here right now.” Soarin explained to her, then smirked. “Harder than it looks isn’t it?”
Dash nodded, “The flying part is easy. Everything in between is hard.”
“Well, we’re the best of the best for a reason,” Soarin replied, “And things will get more interesting. Believe me.”
Dash smiled as he spoke. She rolled onto her side and off the bed, stretching her legs and yawning as she got ready to walk again. Soarin did the same, walking ahead of her and opening the door, holding it open for Dash with his hind leg.
“Part of me wishes that this could just all be over soon so we don’t have to be so careful.” She explained.
“I know, but…” Soarin wrapped his wing around her shoulders, “You wouldn’t choose me over the Wonderbolts would you?” He teased.
“I might,” Dash joked back in response.
“Of course, I know when I’m not wanted,” Soarin replied sarcastically, fake-sniffling and pretending to wipe tears from his eyes with his wings, making Dash giggle in response. Soarin sighed and smiled upon hearing her. “That giggle of yours is so damn adorable.”
He timed his speech so well that Dash had just stopped giggling by the time his final word rolled off his tongue. Dash just scowled at him for his choice of words.
“What? I meant it,” Soarin replied sincerely.
“Jerk,” Dash joked, prodding him with her wing, right in a pressure point on his side, causing him to wheeze. She knew that he knew that it wound her up when he called her cutesy things, which is why he was doing it. But he was so sincere about it that it was hard to tell. Then again, she didn’t mind the complement…
Soarin walked past her over to his front door. He gently opened it up, poking his head around it to make sure that nopony was around to see Dash leave his room. Anypony seeing that would be able to put two and two together in less than a second... He motioned with his hoof for Dash to come along.
Soarin pushed the door open wider and stepped to the site to let Dash through. She walked through and out into the corridor, then spun around to face him. “Thanks for that, Soarin. I...I needed it…” Dash felt almost embarrassed to admit that as she got her words out. Luckily, nopony else was around to hear it.
“Anytime Dash,” Soarin replied with a smile, then looked serious again, “Seriously though, we’ll try and do it more often. I can’t make any promises though,”
Dash nodded, “I understand. Well…see ya later Soarin,” She replied, smiling and waving her hoof, preparing to walk off.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Soarin suddenly spoke up just before she could place her first step.
Dash looked back over at him and raised an eyebrow. Soarin only grinned in response, “Mwuh,” He mouthed.
“Ugh, really?” Dash replied, rolling her eyes.
“C’mon, you know how much you love it really.” Soarin replied, pouting and giving Dash puppy eyes.
Dash glanced to either side to confirm that it was still just the two of them, then back at Soarin. Without warning, she took a step forward and planted her lips on his. Soarin closed his eyes and wrapped a foreleg around the back of her neck, caressing the back of her head with his hoof.
Whilst she tried her best to be aware of her surroundings, Dash couldn’t deny to herself that this had been a long time coming. She’s been waiting for a good moment to have some downtime with Soarin since she got here, and she finally got it. She enjoyed the soft, loving feeling of his lips.
Dash eventually broke the kiss and the first thing she did was glance over her shoulders to make sure that nopony had appeared suddenly. Thankfully, nopony did. Which was good, because if Soarin was anything like her, he would have had his eyes shut too.
She looked forward at Soarin, feeling the heat in her cheeks rising. “Thanks, Soarin. I’ll see you tomorrow…” She leaned in again slightly, “I love you,” She whispered
“Love you too, Dashie,” Soarin whispered back, winking at her.
Dash smiled and turned to walk back, hearing his door close behind her. Whilst she was walking herself physically, her mind was still wandering with thoughts of Soarin. She desperately wanted to be with him, and wanted this to all be over so they could drop the act of having to pretend they didn’t know each other bar from what they’ve known of each other whilst they’ve been here.
Dash’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted as she heard some hurried hoofsteps coming from the direction she was walking, sounding like it was from around the corner. Why was somepony in a hurry? Who was it? The only reason she could think of was…
...Oh no...was somepony spying on them!?
Dash suppressed a gasp and used her wings in a quick burst to propel herself forward quickly, landing with a slight skidding sound coming from her hooves. Unfortunately for her, it seemed that she wasn’t quick enough, as the sound of hooves moving quickly remained.
She did the same again and propelled herself down the corridor, not letting up until she made it all the way to the end. She looked in all directions, still nopony in sight, and the stairs to go back down were now there.
She stood still as a statue, only twisting her ears to try and see if she could pickup on the hooves again. But they appeared to have vanished. She continued to stand still, trying to pick up anything, absolutely anything. Her head remained locked in the direction of the stairs, only twisting her eyes and ears to see what she could see and hear.
After a few seconds, she sighed in defeat, realising that whoever it was, they must have got away. Either that, or…
‘Must be my mind playing tricks on me…’ Dash deduced in her head. On top of the stress of the Wonderbolt trials, she was already very paranoid about being caught with Soarin. Beside, the only other ponies around this end of the building were other Wonderbolts. And they would’ve been quick to confront her and Soarin about it rather than run away.
She sighed and proceeded to walk down the stairs, back to her room. On her walk back, she was half-expecting somepony to burst out of nowhere and confront her about it. But fortunately, nopony did. She slowly opened the room to her door. Luckily, everypony appeared to be winding down, and didn’t seem to take much note of her entrance. She followed suit by not saying anything and heading straight over to her bed. She guessed it wouldn’t hurt to double-check her bed area for inspection...triple check...quadruple check...