I am Captain Spitfire. Wonderbolt. Look, I’m a serious mare. I do serious things and I work hard.
Right about now it’s been close to four months since I’ve been dating Rarity. It’s been good fun, and I like her a lot. All that you really want from a relationship, right? We both keep ourselves pretty busy. Me, up in the air, and her, well, she does fashion. I keep tabs on how her career is going… not that it’s difficult, she’s in every magazine from here to the Crystal Empire. I also hear she’s popular among yaks. Not sure what’s up with that.
It’s six in the evening. Sun’s starting to go down. Carousel Boutique looks real pretty in this light. It’s, uh, a bit too pink for me usually, but now everything is getting drowned in orange, it’s taken on this nice purple tone that, frankly, I find pretty appealing. If Wonderbolt uniforms weren’t a part of the culture, I’d be wanting our sleek outfits to be purple. It’s a powerful colour.
I glanced down at the little, neatly wrapped box in my hoof. It’s not big at all. About the size of two mugs strapped together… which is an odd comparison to make, because the contents isn’t mugs. Anyway. That’s just where my mind went, I guess.
I knocked on the door. It was out of hours. I know it’s a store and I could still just go inside, but… this felt more professional. You know?
“Come in!” came Rarity’s shrill voice. I’m not the sappy sort, but yeah, my heart skipped a beat. Like, half of one. Today was a special day. Today was Rarity’s birthday, and I don’t get invited to casual birthdays. I just go to the parties hosted by Cloudsdale socialites and work colleagues. Soarin makes a mean punch, even if you’d better bring your own food. He doesn’t share well.
I get the feeling this was going to be more casual. I wanted it to go well. I had prepared as best I could. Apparently, ponies down on the surface liked getting flowers from their romantic partner. That and jewelry. After four months I felt a bit… uncomfortable with jewelry, especially considering that Rarity would know way more about it than me, so I went with the flower thing.
I pushed the door open with my free hoof and trotted inside. I was immediately hit with a wave of noise, warmth, and various sickly-sweet smells. Close to a dozen ponies were all lounging in the main room, holding plastic cups of juice. Right. Rarity had other friends.
I was going to have to do the small talk thing.
Rarity swayed across the room towards me, wearing the cutest little paper hat you’ve ever seen. She was as pristine as ever… minus mornings… and was damn near glowing with contentment. Behind her I could see two of her friends, Rainbow Dash and, uh… the orange one… unpacking what I’m pretty sure was cider. Hard.
“Why hello there Captain Darling,” Rarity murmured coyly. “Had a nice day at the office I hope?”
Normally I’d be the sort to do something coy right back at her… escalate. Not today, though. “Happy birthday… ma’am.” I held the package out towards her.
Rarity levitated it out of my hooves and began unwrapping it. Beside her, Rainbow Dash emerged like a flash. “Hey hey, Captain!”
I groaned. “I’m not on duty right now. Just…” I grit my teeth. “Just Spitfire will be fine for today.”
Rainbow whistled. “Wow, I get to call you Spits. I thought only Soarin and Fleetfoot could do that?”
“I said Spitfire.”
Rarity giggled, and opened her present. Her eyes widened. “Goodness! A… cactus!”
I blushed. “Yeah, I don’t know surface flowers very well, but I saw this one and thought of you.”
Rarity glanced up at me. “Did you now?”
I looked down at the little prickly plant. “Do you… not like it?”
Rarity dove in towards my cheek and planted a large kiss on it. I was already pretty orange by nature, but I just got redder. “I love it. It’ll go wonderfully on the mantelpiece.”
I grinned. Glad that worked out.
“Hey, Spitfire, want to help us get some real glasses for the cider? It’s good stuff from AJ’s farm.”
The door behind me swung open, bumping me on the flank. Rarity leaned around me and lit up like a spotlight. “Twilight!”
Yeah, it was a good time to go and help out Rainbow Dash. “Sure thing, I’ll help out.”
Once the party got more into the swing of things, I relaxed a lot more. It was less fancy than I had expected from a party involving my elegant, fashionable marefriend. More… homely. Apparently it had been largely planned by this pink bundle of sugar that kept refilling my punch glass whenever it was even close to half-empty.
“That’s Pinkie,” Rainbow explained, leaning against the orange pony I had noted before, who apparently went by Applejack, or ‘AJ’. I logged this in my mind for future reference. I had seen the mare before, obviously, but now I had a name to put to the face.
“Pinkie, huh?” I asked. I pointed towards one of the others. “What about that one? Pretty sure I’ve seen her hang around you as well. Also a friend?”
“That’s Fluttershy,” Applejack said. “She’s a lil’ quiet but she’s a real nice pony.”
“She often goes on spa trips with Rarity. They’re good friends,” Rainbow said.
I bristled a little. Rarity didn’t go on spa trips with me. Then again, we did both keep busy schedules. I pushed the mild jealousy to one side, making an internal note to take Rarity on a trip myself. It’d be fun.
“Spike. He lives with Twilight.” Rainbow leaned in towards my ear. “He has kind of a crush on Rarity.”
I let out a small laugh, then stifled it. “Sorry. That was mean.”
“He’s a very nice sort. You ever visited the Crystal Empire?” Applejack asked me. Obviously I nodded. “They worship him as a hero there.”
“Do they now? Now you mention it, I do remember hearing something along those lines…”
Applejack shook her head, smiling. “How’d you not hear about that? It was all over the papers.”
“Spits here only cares about flying,” Rainbow said, nudging me in the ribs. I glowered at her in response. “Well, flying and Rarity I guess.”
I sighed. “I don’t just care about flying,” I retorted, but it was a pretty hollow comeback. Truth be told, Rainbow was kind of right. My life revolved around flying. It always had, ever since I was a young filly. I had been the first in my class to get my mark, so I had always been marked for greatness in the field. I had been so focussed on flying and competing that I had even grown up faster to accommodate it.
It was just who I was, I guess.
“Is she doing okay? I heard she set up a shop in Manehattan.”
Rainbow nodded. “Yeah, absolutely. She’s gotten busier, though!”
“Manehattan moves real fast. I ain’t sure I could keep up if I were her!” Applejack added. “It’s like it’s second nature to her.”
I smiled to myself. That was good. When your work life was going well, it was hard to not have that satisfaction carry over to your personal life. At least, in my experience. If Rarity was doing well, then I was damn happy for her.
I felt a heavy weight hit me on my left flank, as Rarity mock-collapsed into me from the side. “Where have you been, then?” she asked, levitating a half-empty glass of wine. “I have had to drink all this by myself with no assistance from you.” She rolled her eyes. “Do you know how hard that’s been?”
I let out an unprofessional giggle. “Well we can’t have that.”
Rarity pointed at Rainbow. “And… you... said you wouldn’t let Pinkie get near anything stronger than orange juice, and look what she’s doing now!”
Rainbow groaned, and pulled away from Applejack. With a flap of her wings she soared over me to the other side of the room, and disappeared into the crowd. I wasn’t sure what Pinkie was doing now, and I didn’t want to know. Knowing meant I’d be complicit in ignoring the problem.
“Enjoying the party?” I asked Rarity.
“It’s divine, darling,” Rarity said, swirling her glass of wine. “Especially this. It’s from the Crystal Empire, apparently! Gift from Twilight’s family.”
I made a mental note. Wine: good gift.
“Uh huh.” I reached a hoof towards the glass. “May I?”
Rarity nodded. “By all means!”
I took a sip. It was always good to stay on top of the stuff the Cloudsdale socialites would find impressive. Wine was one of them. I swirled the wine around in my mouth for a second, savouring the flavour. Nice. Kind of cherry-ish.
“Pretty good.” I swallowed. “Ooh, has a nice aftertaste, doesn’t it?”
“Doesn’t it indeed!” Rarity leaned into me heavily. “Where has this been all my life?”
I smiled, and leaned back into her. She was soft and warm; the Carousel felt pretty sweaty now that there were so many ponies inside, dancing and moving and drinking.
Rarity closed her eyes briefly. “Goodness, I’m so tired.”
“That’ll be because this is your fourth glass,” I quipped, gently putting the glass down before her levitation spell failed. “No wonder you’re starting to feel a bit sleepy.”
Rarity looked up at me through squinted eyes. “I have barely had any! How rude of you, accusing a lady of… of… disorderly behaviour.”
I laughed heartily. “I take it all back then. My bad.” I glanced towards the sofa. “That said, fancy a sit down? I’ve been on my hooves all day and I’m pretty sure I can’t feel them any more.”
The party had, largely, died down by this point. It was black outside and the only ponies left in the Boutique were myself, Rarity (of course), Applejack, Rainbow, and Twilight. Me and Rarity were on the couch. I was sat up (mostly) straight, and Rarity lounged on top of me like a heavy, horned blanket.
“It’s nice to get together like this,” Twilight said. “It’s felt like ages since you’ve been able to have a party like this with all of us, Rarity.”
Rarity made a small noise indicating agreement.
I still, honestly, wasn’t sure how to behave around Twilight Sparkle. She was a princess, and therefore technically my superior, even if I also didn’t report to her due to some pretty complicated internal shenanigans set up in Cloudsdale bureaucracy. Was I supposed to be casual? Or sort of casual, but my best casual?
I considered imitating Rarity, but right now that would mean also falling mostly asleep on wine. I decided that would be a bad strategy, although I was starting to get sleepy myself.
“I think she’s out of it,” Applejack said. “Well, ‘least she looks comfortable.”
Rainbow Dash was curled up between Applejack and Twilight, not unlike a cat. She also looked asleep. I finally allowed myself to relax. At last, I could talk without worrying about Rainbow Dash gossiping to the other ‘Bolts.
“You know, it’s pretty nice to meet you all properly.” I gestured towards Applejack. “‘Specially you. Rainbow talks about you a lot.”
Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah. It’s always ‘Applejack this’ and ‘Applejack that’ whenever we’re training." I leaned in a bit. "I hear you do contests and stuff too.”
“Only now’n then.” Applejack glanced towards Rainbow Dash. “Uh, what else does she say?”
Spitfire shrugged. “Uh, normal stuff, I suppose? I’ll be honest, I only listen to her about one-third of the time.”
Twilight yawned. “Well, that’s about enough for me. I’m going home to get some sleep.” She got to her hooves. “Very nice meeting you, Spitfire. I see the Wonderbolts are in good hooves!”
I chuckled. “Yeah, well… we’ll see about that, I guess.”
“Don’t jinx it,” Applejack joked. She got to her hooves.
“You heading as well?”
“Me? I was going to get a refill of cider. Want some?”
I felt Rarity stir on top of me. Just as well. I needed to go to the bathroom.
“Where is everypony?” Rarity asked, glancing at me.
I gestured around the boutique. “Well, Twilight went home. I think you were awake for Fluttershy escorting Pinkie away. And it looks like Applejack has fallen asleep on Rainbow Dash, so that’s where they are.” I looked at Rarity’s blinking, oblivious expression. “Hey gorgeous.”
Rarity lifted herself off of me, stretching her back. “I hope I didn’t miss much.” She smiled at me. “It’s your fault for being too comfortable. You sent me straight to sleep.”
“Sorry about that. It’s the extra floof.” I rubbed my chest, ruffling the thick, double-layered hair that made up my orange coat. “Just the way I’m built.”
Rarity got to her hooves. “Well I should get a blanket for Applejack and Rainbow or they’ll catch their death of cold.” She glanced over at me. “You are, I hope, staying for the evening?”
I nodded. “That was the plan.”
“It’s a good plan. I thoroughly approve.” Rarity levitated a large, thick blanket over the two sleeping ponies on the carpet. “There. All done.” She looked back at me. “Now then.” She tilted her stance alluringly. “I expect you to treat me especially well this evening. It is my birthday after all.”
“That was the plan.”
“A good plan.”
I trotted to Rarity and extended my wing around her. “After you, ma’am.”
We both walked, leaning heavily against one another away from the main room of the boutique and up the stairs. Rarity rubbed the side of her head against my neck. It was nice.
“You looked pretty tired back there. You sure you don’t just want to go to sleep?”
“It’s my birthday and I’ll make bad decisions if I want to,” Rarity insisted with a pout. “Besides, I’ve been working especially hard all month and I want to blow off steam.”
“Oh yeah?” I escorted Rarity into her room. “You look to be on top of things, though.”
Rarity snorted. “And I expect to remain on top of things, as well.” She smirked, before her face fell slightly. “In reality I think I’ve been barely keeping things together.”
I wrapped my hoof around hers. “Well I think you’ve been doing excellently. If you were a Wonderbolt I’d be giving you a… uh…”
“A what?” Rarity asked me.
“...At least an eight.”
“At least!” She recoiled with mock dramatic effect. “You’re so harsh, captain. Was opening a store in Manehattan and Canterlot not enough for you?”
“...maybe a nine.”
Rarity giggled. “Well that’s already a bit better, isn’t it?” She sighed. “I’m not sure how you do it. It seems so hard to get ahead in this profession. Any tips for a hardworking fashionista?”
“Fashion tips?” I asked. “From me?”
“No, about… you know. You’re the world’s top flyer right now. How do you keep it going?” Rarity tilted her head forwards. “I’m curious.”
“Well… mostly I just don’t think about much else.” I swallowed. “Sorry if that sounds kind of anticlimactic.”
“Yes but, what if you also had a large number of friends you wanted to keep happy, and a younger sister to take care of, and hobbies and travel and… I don’t know, everything else?”
I hesitated. A different pony might be a bit insulted that she had implied I didn’t have friends, but… well, it was true. I had colleagues. Contacts. Only really the one friend.
“I don’t know, Rarity,” I admitted. “I’m… not sure I’d be able to balance it out.”
Rarity sighed, and rested the tip of her nose on my neck. “Well… that’s disappointing. I was hoping you’d know.” She paused for a moment. “I suppose I’ll just keep on being tired, then.”
What was this? Did Rarity honestly think I was special? I’m not a wizard. I have to balance my time and attention like everypony else. I don’t have a shortcut.
“Sorry to disappoint.”
Rarity chuckled. “Oh, you never disappoint.” She smirked. “Except perhaps in the area of botanical knowledge.”
“Is this about the cactus? You said you liked it.”
“I do. It’s very sweet. And it is technically a flower.”
“What do you mean technically?” I asked. There was a rule I knew that if you had to use the word technically when saying something, it didn’t actually count. “Do ponies not like cactuses?”
“It’s cacti. And they’re not… customary.” Rarity smirked. “I think that makes yours a little more special, though.”
I relaxed a bit. “Well, okay then.” I tilted my head. “Anyway, don’t… feel the need to rush through your career if it hurts everything else, yeah? You’ve got plenty of time to climb that ladder.”
“If I don’t hurry, how else would I compete with you?”
I winced. “I’d rather you didn’t. I’m very competitive.”
“Ho ho, think you can maintain your lead forever, do you?” Rarity joked. “Well, when I own a dozen stores across Equestria, then you’ll be sorry!”
“Oh will I?” I asked.
“Yes. Now, speaking of being on top of things…”
Rarity gave me a forceful shove backwards onto the bed with a greedy smirk. I landed heavily, exhaling rapidly. She then jumped onto the bed with me, resting on top of my chest and barrel. I felt my blood rush through me, and I could feel the heat take over the unicorn on top of me as well.
“Any requests?” Rarity asked.
“Why ask me? It’s your birthday.”
“I’ll have you know I’m the element of Generosity.” She flicked her mane back. “You’re welcome.”
I bit my lip. “Well, since you ask…”
Rarity raised her eyebrow. “It had better not be something too pedestrian.”
“Well, I can’t help but notice that you do have a unicorn horn…” I began.
Rarity’s eyebrow raised further, practically beginning to enter the stratosphere. “I do know several interesting spells, if that’s what you’re getting at. I have a spellbook in my bedside cabinet if you’re curious…”
I blushed heavily. “I, uh, was thinking of something a bit more penetrative.”
Rarity went quiet for a moment.
“Well, I’ll try anything once.”
Sunlight illuminated the Carousel Boutique’s interior, falling across Rainbow Dash’s scrunched up face. She blinked furiously, and groaned, throwing the blanket off of her.
“Ugh!” She rolled onto her side. “I feel like I’ve been sleeping on the floor.” She looked around her, and at the carpet she was sitting on. “Oh.”
I held out a cup of coffee to the sleepy pegasus. “Morning, Dash.”
Rainbow glanced up at me with bleary eyes. She rolled her neck and extended her hoof, taking the mug and sipping at it slowly. “Morning, Spits.”
“Spitfire to you.”
I leaned back into the couch. Rainbow looked to the side.
“She woke up before you and headed back to the farm. Said she had ‘chores’.”
“You looked pretty comfy on her last night though,” I said, a modest degree of teasing inserted into my tone. Rainbow went purple in response.
“Y-yeah, whatever.” She breathed out. “How was your night, Spits?”
Memories of flashing pain flooded back to me. I crossed my legs instinctively and shuddered at the recollection of the intense discomfort. “Uh… mistakes were made, but otherwise… fine.”
“Nothing that concerns you, Dash.”
Rainbow held her hooves up in defeat. “Whatever, then.” She took another sip of coffee. “Rarity still asleep?”
“Yeah. I figured I’d let her rest.”
“Yeah. She’s been pretty overworked recently.”
“I had… kinda noticed.” I scratched the back of my head. “I hadn’t thought it was a big deal, honestly. I guess I’m just used to working you guys real hard so I didn’t notice the stress getting to her.”
“Yeah, well, dresses and sewing and stuff is apparently, like, stressful.” Rainbow sipped her drink. “At least with flying you can work out and just… be good. You don’t need to think about it all the time.”
I narrowed my eyes. “The fact you don’t think about it all the time is what holds you back, Dash.”
Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Ugh, I know, I know.”
I picked up a cup of coffee of my own and took a long sip. It worried me, frankly. Rarity tried to do so much more than I did and I was too much of a workaholic to notice it get to her. “Do me a favour, Dash…”
“Take care of Rarity, yeah? She looks like she needs good friends watching her back.”
Rainbow raised her eyebrow. “She’s your marefriend. Do it yourself.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. But seriously, you should do it yourself. She really likes you.” Rainbow got to her hooves. “The more ponies watching her back, the better, right?”
I had to admit that Rainbow had a point. “You’re not wrong.”
“Then again, Rarity can take care of herself. You know she kicked a manticore in the face once?”
“She did what?” I asked, feeling an immense sense of concern overwhelm me.
“Yeah, she’s like… got this unicorn kick-fu thing going on.” Rainbow tilted her head. “You’re telling me you’ve never seen it?”
“Well it… would explain how she’s so flexible.”
“Eugh. I didn’t need to hear that, Spits.”
“Whatever.” Rainbow turned to leave. “I’ve got to go and make sure Tank has salad. I’ll be seeing you around.”
I leaned back, running my hoof through my mane. “Yeah. See you around.”
I put the mug down and rested my head against the cushions. Truth be told, I felt pretty tired myself. I hadn’t gotten much sleep.
“I should take Rarity out more often,” I muttered to myself. “That’d be good.”