Flying High, Falling Hard by soundslikeponies
Dash trotted up beside Twilight. The stallion who had just handed Twilight her tickets made himself busy, punching numbers into a small device at his side with a rhythmic clicking.
"Listen Twi, I really don't think we need to go that far to chase her down. I mean, we could just mail her a letter, or something.”
"How long do you think it would take to get to her?" Twilight asked, turning to face Dash. "Spike’s in Canterlot. Without his fire, how long do you think it would take for her to get a letter?"
Dash looked at the ground, thinking.
"I don't know... a bit under a week maybe?" Dash asked, uncertain.
"Didn't you see her as the train left the station?" Twilight asked, pointing to the empty tracks with her hoof. "She looked crushed! We can't just leave her like that! Without Spike here to send letters to Canterlot, it would probably take almost a week before Spitfire would receive any letter. And besides, she deserves to be apologized to in person, not just be sent a letter saying we’re sorry."
"Yeah, okay, I hear you,” Dash said, nodding. She glanced between the stallion at the ticket booth and the direction the train had disappeared in. “Can't you just take us to Canterlot with your magic or something? Get us there quick and easy?"
"Teleporting that far isn't within my ability," Twilight explained, as the pony behind the counter swept up her bits and handed her two tickets. Twilight picked them up off the counter with her magic. "Hopefully it's far enough that they have beds on the train," she mumbled, stepping away from the booth to go wait on the platform.
Dash followed her over to the train tracks. "I still think this is a crazy idea."
The two waited in silence, a cool breeze blowing past them as they sat on the open platform. Dash felt a weight leaning against her, and looked to her side to see Twilight asleep on her hooves. The unicorn was leaning against her, with her magic still firmly holding the tickets, even as she softly snored.
Dash let out a small sigh, having to wait for the train without anypony to talk to. Still, she didn't entirely mind just waiting. The warmth and weight from Twilight was company enough.
Spitfire sat in her train compartment, watching as the world came to a stop outside the train window. Rain poured over Canterlot. Ponies shuffled out in the hallway of the train car, all in line to get off the train and go home, but Spitfire lingered, not having anyplace she looked forward to going back to.
For a second she wished she had gone back to her house in Ponyville before leaving the town—just to collect a few things before leaving, but instead she had gotten caught up in the heat of the moment and rushed out of the town as fast as possible. She regretted not getting a chance to say goodbye to Dash, and she regretted not sticking around to see if Twilight sorted things out with her. But most of all she regretted falling for Dash in the first place and causing the whole mess.
Spitfire stood and walked out into the train's hallway. She was the only pony still on board, and she walked down the hallway. Stepping off the train onto the brick platform, she glanced back at the ponies now boarding the train for the return trip to Ponyville. For just a moment she wished to join them, but she shook the idea out of her head. As she walked towards the train station’s exit, she began to notice all the ponies around her staring at her as she walked by, no doubt recognizing her. Thankfully none of them had approached her yet. She wasn't in the mood to sign autographs, and she had a feeling it showed.
However, one of them stopped her just as she was about to leave the station. "Are you Spitfire?" a child’s voice called out from behind her.
Spitfire turned around to see a small green pegasus filly looking up at her with big, curious eyes.
"Yeah..." Spitfire answered.
"Are you okay?" the filly asked, her mouth forming a small frown. “You look sad.”
Spitfire barked out a sarcastic laugh at the innocent question. “Yeah, I guess I am pretty sad right now.”
The filly’s eyebrows knitted together. “Why are you sad?”
Spitfire turned to face the child fully, forcing a faint smile for her sake. "Because being famous doesn't mean much. Sometimes being famous won't get you the things you really want, and sometimes the things you really want are impossible to get."
The filly tilted her head, looking at her with child-like confusion. Spitfire shook her head dismissively. “Nevermind,” she said, turning back around. “Forget I said anything.” Shaking her head, she walked out of the train station.
She stopped outside the train station, glancing around the mostly empty streets. A few other ponies she recognized from the train ride were walking down the streets, no doubt to go home.
Home. That was where she wanted to go. The house she bought in Ponyville was quaint, but it wasn't home. She had a high class apartment in one of the richer districts of town. That was her home.
But it didn’t feel like it.
She headed down the street towards her home, her head lowered, watching her hooves.
Dash stirred, opening her eyes to see a train coming to a stop directly in front of her. She looked around and saw she was still at the train station and figured she must have nodded off like Twilight. Stretching, she groaned and looked down at the unicorn leaning against her side.
"Twilight," Dash said gently, nudging her with a shoulder and placing a kiss on her forehead. "Train's here."
Twilight's eyes opened, spotting the train at the station, and the line of ponies slowly boarding it. She glanced up and saw their tickets still floating from her magic.
"Alright." Twilight stood, teetering sleepily and walking towards the train. She spotted Dash lingering out of the corner of her eye, and turned back around to face her. "Come on, we’re boarding right now.”
Dash stood, but lingered, glancing back at a map of Ponyville that hung on the wall of the station. "Shouldn't we leave something for our friends saying where we are going?"
"We won't be gone that long. We'll probably be heading back first thing in the morning after finding Spitfire," Twilight replied. "Now come on, let's get moving!"
Dash looked down in alarm as a magic glow surrounded her and dragged her over to the train doors.
"Hey! Put me down, Twilight!" Dash shouted in alarm, her hooves flailing in the air.
Twilight dropped the pegasus in front of the train, who gave her an annoyed look and snorted.
"I still think this is a dumb idea."
Twilight rolled her eyes. "I know, you've said that."
Grumbling, Dash walked past her to wait in line to board the train. She noticed quite a few stallions waiting for the train were watching them with amusement.
"What're you all looking at!" Dash shouted, making most of them avert their eyes, though a few of them of them looked at the pair of mares with distaste.
Dash whipped around with fire in her eyes.
"Who said that!?"
"Dash please, you're making a scene," Twilight begged, giving her a nudge towards the train.
Dash glanced around at the crowd, not trusting any of them for a moment. Twilight gave her a harder nudge, pushing her through the train door.
"For Celestia's sake Dash! Just ignore them!" Twilight shouted, following the mare into the train.
Dash let out an indignant huff, muttering under her breath as they walked down the hall looking for an empty compartment. Spotting one on her left, Dash opened it and stepped inside, lying down on one of the two cushioned seats facing each other. Twilight followed her inside, taking the opposite seat.
"I don't get it," Dash said, watching Twilight. "How can you just be fine with them saying things like that about us?"
Twilight let out a sigh, resting her head on her forehooves. "It's one of the things I was having trouble coming to terms with back when I wasn't sure if I wanted to be in a relationship with you. I knew this sort of thing would happen, and it was one of the things I had to come to terms with when I decided to stay with you in Cloudsdale."
"But how can you just... Ugh!" Dash threw her hooves up in defeat, rolling onto her back. "You shouldn't have to be alright with that sort of behaviour. It isn't right."
"You're going to have to come to terms with ponies looking at us like that too."
"Why?" Dash asked. "Why do I have to accept ponies acting like that?"
Twilight raised her head to look at Dash, opening and closing her mouth. Dash crossed her forehooves, unsatisfied. All the two of them could hear for a moment was the steady chugging of the train as it started moving.
"Because..." Twilight finally said. "I don't want to see you so unhappy all the time."
Dash's eyes widened for a moment before softening. She got up and walked over to the seat Twilight was lying on, leaning her head down and brushing her muzzle against Twilight's cheek. Twilight's raised her head, seeing Dash’s anger gone and replaced by a comforting smile.
"I'll try Twilight," Dash said gently. "I'll really will try to ignore them, but some of the things they say just... bug me, I guess."
Twilight smiled at Dash and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. Dash blushed, causing Twilight’s smile to grow as she glanced at the edge of her seat.
"Do you think there's room for you on here?" Twilight asked.
"I don't think so..." Dash said, putting a hoof to her chin and inspecting the seat. "Looks like there's only room for one pony to lie down." Dash paced back and forth in front of the seat. "I think we can manage to share it though," she said with a nod.
Twilight giggled, reaching her hooves around Dash as she crawled on top of her. Twilight shifted underneath her.
"You're heavy," Twilight commented playfully.
Dash let out a snort and flicked her tail.
"You weren't so light either," Dash teased, eliciting a giggle from Twilight.
Dash shifted on top of her. Her coat was slick against Twilight’s, and it became warm as they rubbed against one another. She could feel Twilight moving beneath her, reacting to the warmth and her weight. Dash nuzzled Twilight’s cheek, and rest her temple against it. The train began to leave the tracks, and the heavy, rhythmic chugging of its engine filled the compartment. The two let out a content sigh and relaxed in each others embrace.
"I missed this," Dash piped up, burying her face into Twilight's mane. She took a deep breath. It smelled of flowers and grass seed. "I mean, it wasn't long... but I missed it anyway."
"Yeah, I did too."
Spitfire opened the door to her apartment and trudged inside, leaving a trail of wet hoofprints behind her. Walls the color of sky greeted her, but the absence of light painted them a darker night time blue. She walked up to a cabinet that held many of her most prized medallions and trophies she had won in her life. A large poster of her in a Wonderbolts uniform from when she first got accepted into the flight group hung above them. That younger Spitfire had a certain gleam in her eye that she hadn't felt in so long.
Spitfire turned away from the display, heading to the bathroom to dry off and get ready for bed. Grabbing a towel out of a drawer, she made quick work of her wet coat and mane, vigorously drying herself off. She hung the towel over her shoulders and walked to her bed.
Tossing the towel aside, she flopped down on her bed and buried herself in her soft mattress and her feather pillows. Tomorrow, she would head out to meet up with the Wonderbolts to tell them she was back. But for now, she wanted to rest.
Dash woke with a start. The world spun as she fell, and then crashed into the floor.
"Ugh..." Dash groaned. She opened her eyes. She was on her back on the floor of the train compartment next to the seat she had just fallen off of. "What happened?"
"I think the train stopped." Twilight poked her head out over the edge of the seat, looking down at Dash. "I guess there really wasn't room for two ponies."
"You don't say?" Dash said, sitting up. Despite her rude awakening, she felt loads better after getting some sleep. Her injured hoof felt a bit better now, and her eyes didn't feel so heavy. "Are we in Canterlot now?"
"Yep," Twilight answered, looking out the window. "And it's raining pretty hard."
Dash got off the ground and looked out the train window at the rain. "I'm getting so sick of the rain," She looked outside with a grimace. "Well, we should probably get off the train and find somewhere to stay the night." She glanced at the unicorn reclining on the seat next to her. "You know someplace we could stay, right?"
"Yeah, I always have a place in the palace waiting for me," Twilight said, getting up off the train seat and stretching her legs. "Pretty sure Princess Celestia had the ponies working at the palace keep it clean while I was gone."
"We're staying at the palace?" Dash asked, barely-contained excitement in her voice. "Ha! This trip is gonna be awesome."
Twilight watched Dash step out of the compartment into the train's hallway with a frown, following after her. "Just don't forget why we're here. We're here for Spitfire, and if we have spare time, to visit Spike." Twilight said, sticking close to Dash as she walked to the door of the railway car.
“Yeah, I know. I’m sure we’ll find some time to visit Spike. I mean, we have basically all of tomorrow.”
Twilight stopped as they reached the line getting off the train. "I wonder how Spike’s doing. It’s been a while since we’ve been apart for this long.” Twilight wrinkled her snout. “I hope he’s remembered to brush his teeth this time."
Dash shook her head. She knew how much Twilight had come to care about her assistant. "I'm sure he's doing fine staying with... uh..." Dash trailed off, at a loss.
"Ruby Hooftap," Twilight supplied with a smile, as they stepped off the train. "He taught the study of magical creatures. It was my favorite subject."
Dash followed Twilight out of the train station. The rain penetrated her coat and soaked her to the bone in a matter of seconds. "What I would give for an umbrella," she grumbled. Her mane hung limply over her eyes, wet and weighed down by the rain.
"I guess I was interested in it at first because I had a baby dragon to take care of," Twilight continued, ignoring Dash's complaining and the rain. "But as we got onto other things like timber wolves and windigoes, I started to get really enthralled in the subject."
"Yeah, that's nice and everything Twi," Dash said impatiently. "How much further is it to the palace?"
"It's not much further," Twilight answered. "Would it kill you to try and listen a little?"
Twilight snorted, sulking.
"You know," Dash said, still walking alongside her. "You're kinda cute when you're pouting."
Twilight only gave her an irritated glare in response, getting a laugh from the pegasus.
"So when we get to the palace are you gonna give me a tour?"
"I'm still tired. First thing I want to do when we get there, is go to bed," Twilight replied. "I could ask one of the palace guards to show you around."
"Nah, I'm not going to bother with it in that case." Dash waved a hoof dismissively as the Canterlot palace came into view. “Though maybe if we have time tomorrow you could show me around.”
“If we have time.”
Twilight led Dash through the gates, the guards standing watch giving Twilight a nod in recognition.
Dash looked around in awe; opal buildings with gold and blue-violet decorations spiraled high into the air, scattered loosely across the castle grounds, with the palace standing the tallest in the center of it all.
"Right up here," Twilight said, leading Dash up a stairway that wrapped around a nearby tower all the way up its length. Dash listened to Twilight talk about the architecture of the buildings with half an ear, taking in the view of the palace grounds as they walked up to the top of the tower.
"—And that's why the buildings are decorated deep purple and gold! to signify Luna and Celestia's combined rule. My building is mostly gold and white, Celestia's colors, since I'm her student," Twilight finished, as they reached the top of the stairs.
On the far side of the room a large balcony overlooked the palace grounds. The main room had almost as many books as the Ponyville library. They were stacked on tall shelves, and ladders, ones that let you reach the top shelf, leaned against them.
"Wow, you do a lot more reading than I thought," Dash commented from the doorway, looking at the shelves of books.
"It's pretty much all I did when I was here," Twilight replied, walking into the room. "Come on, the living space is downstairs. This is just the study."
Dash followed Twilight down some stairs to another level below all the books. Charts and posters decorated the walls, but one in particular caught her eye.
"I didn't know you were a Wonderbolts fan."
Twilight glanced at the poster Dash was looking at. It had the Wonderbolts in full outfit on it. They were streaking through the night sky, with a painted trail behind them.
"I got to see them once or twice as a filly," Twilight said, walking over to a door. "I was always fascinated by pegasi and their ability to fly."
Dash turned away from the poster, but she glanced back at it over her shoulder, her eyes lingering on the Wonderbolt with the yellow muzzle and orange mane.
For a moment, she stopped and looked back at the poster. She wondered what her life would be like if she had accepted Spitfire's offer to join the Wonderbolts, and if she would have fallen for her.
A part of her imagined what things could have been like.
"The bed is in here. I'm going to go to sleep now, but if you want to look around a bit, you can come to bed whenever you feel like it," Twilight called out, going into the bedroom.
Dash's eyes lingered on the poster only for a moment longer, before she followed her marefriend to bed.