A Bluebird’s Song
Lift the weight
Of the world
From my shoulders again
Under The Midnight Sun
The rain was still falling, spattering sharply against the dark library windows, splitting the night’s silence. In the absence of an umbrella, Spike had offered for Rarity to wait out the deluge in the warm library, and she had agreed with relief. The white unicorn was still occupying the borrowed blanket, but had moved onto the sofa. Spike was near the table, making a few adjustments to his pet sapphire project.
The silence was companionable, a welcome change to the animosity and tension from earlier. Rarity seemed visibly more relaxed, now that she had aired her explanation to Spike, and confided in him her feelings for Fluttershy. She kept worrying about the canary pegasus, after the veiled hint that Spike had given her concerning Fluttershy’s safety. However, she knew that she would simply have to trust to good luck to see her friend safe, difficult though that kind of passivity may have been for her.
“Are you ever going to tell Fluttershy?” Spike was looking at her, a little concerned.
Rarity shook her head. “How can I?”
“Do you think she’d hate you?”
There was silence for a few seconds, then Rarity sighed. “No, I don’t. I think she’d be just as understanding as she always has been. But she’d never be really comfortable with me again, not the way she is now at least.”
Spike left his gem, sitting himself down on a kitchen chair opposite the sofa. “You don’t think there’d be any chance, then?”
“Goodness, no,” Rarity said, with an air of finality. “I accepted that quite a while ago. She likes colts and colts alone, I’m afraid. Frankly, I’d probably have a better chance with Celestia herself.”
Spike snorted with laughter at the idea, and Rarity smiled a little, almost despite herself. “Well, you’ve got the same colour scheme, that might help,” Spike remarked, in a tone of mock-thoughtfulness.
“True, but the purple in my mane would clash simply dreadfully with the green in hers,” Rarity smirked, then dropped her voice, wistfully. “Really, though. If I told Fluttershy, I’m sure that it’d just make things worse.”
Spike nodded. “I guess. Are you sure it’d be worse, though?”
“How do you mean?” Rarity gave him a quizzical look, unsure what he meant.
“Doesn’t it hurt?” Spike asked. “When you feel like that for somepony, you live for the time you spend with them, but at the same time it’s always so painful.” He sighed, and watched the small curl of smoke from his breath dance up, melting into the shadows among the rafters. “Every second they’re with you, they’re breaking your heart and they don’t even know it.”
Rarity was staring at him, surprised at this insight. “That sounds like the voice of experience.”
Spike looked away, gazing awkwardly at the floor. “Yeah… It kind of is.”
For a few moments, Rarity sat in silence, then she realized what he meant. “Oh…” She blushed a little. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be putting these things onto you. I realize it can’t be… pleasant for you, given the way you…”
Spike chuckled quietly, giving Rarity a reassuring smile. “It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” He looked at her for a moment. “It was only really a dream, I know that now. It was a good dream, though.”
“Spike, I really am-”
“Don’t be sorry,” Spike said, gently. The rain outside was slackening off, and almost for the first time he felt genuinely comfortable around Rarity, seeing her as a genuine friend, no longer a dangerous and unattainable symbol of perfection. “All dreams have to end.”
“I think the rain’s stopping.”
Dash poked her head experimentally out from beneath the restaurant awning. “Yep!” she confirmed, finding herself reasonably dry. Together, they stepped out onto the night-black street, their path sporadically illuminated by streetlights as they passed.
“Thanks for the dinner, Rainbow,” Twilight said, yawning a little. “I needed that.”
“No worries,” Dash replied. “I did too, to be honest.” She looked up at the dark sky, the moon nowhere to be seen. “Two weeks…” she murmured. “It’s gonna be interesting. The guys who run the Cloudiseum’ll probably have gone public now, d’ya think?”
Twilight nodded. “I expect so, this is going to gather quite a crowd.” She could not keep a tinge of worry from entering her voice, hoping against hope that none of the probable crowd were coming with ulterior motives.
“Yeah,” Dash swallowed, a little nervously. “I wonder if that Lightning Flare guy’s gonna be there. I’d wanna show up if it were my record on the line.”
“No way of knowing,” Twilight shrugged. “Do you want to try for a Rainboom tomorrow?”
Dash nodded. “Might as well. How fast do I need to go to break the record?”
Twilight thought back for a moment, remembering what the article had said. “You need to get past eleven hundred miles an hour if you want to beat him. Twelve if you want a bit of a margin to work with.”
“Okay.” It looked as if Dash were steeling herself to say something further, then she blurted it out. “I’m gonna try an’ go double the speed of sound.”
Twilight halted in her tracks, looking at Dash in surprise. “What?”
Dash shrugged. “You said I should try and get a bit of a margin.”
“But… but that’s…” Twilight thought for a second. “One thousand, five hundred and… twenty-two miles an hour.”
Dash blinked. “I’ll take your word for it.”
“Well,” Twilight sighed in resignation, knowing that persuading Dash against anything tended to become a losing battle. “I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to. Theoretically, given a strong enough will, your top speed is more or less whatever you make it… However, your body can only physically take so much. At those speeds, the slightest bit of turbulence could seriously injure you. Hitting rough air at those speeds would be like going into a brick wall.”
“I know,” Dash nodded, “it’s bad enough hitting turbulence when you’re going for a Rainboom, so I can see it’s gonna be tricky.” She paused, making up her mind. “I’ve never run away from something because it’s difficult,” she said, with a tone of finality. “If I get the Rainboom tomorrow without using my wings, I’m gonna keep on training, and go for double on the day.”
The tight knot of worry clenched painfully in the pit of Twilight’s stomach. “If you’re sure…” she said, quietly. She could barely see Dash walking beside her in the dark, as they were between streetlights at that moment. “I don’t want anything to happen to you,” she whispered, moving closer.
“I know,” Dash replied, then sighed, relenting a little. “If the air gets too bad up there for me, I’ll just go for the record. No stupid stuff, I promise.”
Twilight nodded. “Sounds like a deal,” she said, stealing an almost-invisible kiss on Dash’s lips.
Dash giggled. “You’d better not try any funny business in the dark!”
“Is that a challenge?” Twilight winked, her eyes suddenly fiery, half-visible through the night. They were quite alone in the street, all other ponies either in their houses or inside the various cafés and restaurants that dotted the roads of Ponyville. She could feel that now-familiar electric charge building in her chest, sparking in the darkness between them.
Unable to resist, Dash took Twilight’s hoof, gently pulling her into the pool of light cast by a nearby streetlamp, the yellow glow washing over them. “There,” Dash murmured, “now I can keep an eye on you.”
Her voice tailed off as she met the unicorn’s eyes, and her lips moved instinctually forward to meet Twilight’s, eliciting a low moan from the unicorn at the moment of contact. Twilight raised herself up onto her rear hooves, her back pressed against the cold streetlight’s column. She could feel Dash stand with her, the latter’s wings spreading, casting an angel’s shadow onto the illuminated cobblestones.
There were houses on either side, but fortunately enough nopony was looking out of the window at that moment. Twilight wrapped her forehooves tightly around Dash’s back, their heated tongues struggling back and forth under the soft cone of light. Dash broke the kiss after a minute or so, and began trailing her lips gently up Twilight’s cheek and forehead, brushing her tongue with the lightest of touches against the base of Twilight’s horn, drawing the faintest of static crackles from the sensitive magical field. She felt the unicorn shudder at the sensation, the radiant heat from her cheeks warming Dash’s neck.
She pulled back a little, looking into Twilight’s blushing face, the unicorn leaning back against the streetlight, panting a little, her eyes wanting so much more. Twilight suddenly looked up at the cloud-filled and starless night sky, then returning her gaze to Dash. “All we need now is the moonlight,” she murmured.
Dash felt as if she were singing inside, the euphoria driving her, feeling at that moment as if she could accomplish anything. “I might be able to do something about that,” she whispered to Twilight, whose eyes widened. “Wait here a moment,” she added, taking off into a low hover, pulling reluctantly away from her marefriend.
“Don’t be long,” Twilight said, still glowing from the kiss.
“I won’t be,” Dash grinned. “You’ll know when I’m done.” With that, she took off, arcing from the pool of light into the pitch blackness, accelerating rapidly, and was instantly lost from sight, leaving Twilight standing there, expectantly.
Is she planning on clearing the clouds manually? Twilight wondered. For a minute or so, she stood there, but was unable to see any sign of activity in the sky.
She was about to call out, when she heard a strange noise. It was a soft whistling sound, growing in pitch and intensity, coming from somewhere high above. Twilight thought she saw a glint of white in the sky, but could not be sure. Her horn flared, and the surrounding streetlights were instantly extinguished, plunging her into darkness and affording her a better view of the black, brooding sky.
The whistling whine kept growing, and she thought that once again she caught sight of a streak of light, like a shooting star, crossing the sky, impossibly high above her.
She watched it move, its progress seeming slow and stately by dint of its distance.
The whistling reached its zenith, then stopped, the sound suddenly extinguished. The streak of light was directly above her. For a fraction of a moment, all was silent. Time itself seemed to take a breath.
Then, the night exploded.
There was no other way of describing it. A shockwave burst of prismatic light swept out in expanding circle, for a moment almost blinding, then falling in intensity, bathing the whole town in flickering light. A crash, almost akin to thunder but muffled by such great distance, met Twilight’s ears. As the wave of colours swept out, the clouds dissipated at its touch, turning the night sky from a cloudy blackness to suddenly being alight with vivid stars, the moon holding court, hanging low and aglow just above the dark horizon.
The rainbow wave faded out at last, but still Twilight stared in astonishment. A Sonic Rainboom in daylight was incredible, but at night it became a whole new spectacle. Her eyes followed a moonstruck speck, still trailing a rainbow path behind her, curving gently back down towards the town, heading straight for Twilight.
Rainbow Dash alighted on the now-moonwashed cobblestones, meeting Twilight’s awestruck eyes with a small smile. “Your moon, ma’am,” she said, quietly, a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
For a few moments, Twilight stared at her. “That… That was…” she whispered, utterly lost for words. She rushed forwards, and embraced the pegasus, never wanting to let her go. Right then, every second that they spend together felt precious, as if their time together was fragile. Perhaps that was why they clung to one another so tightly, for fear that the world might try to rip them apart.
Everything’s going to be fine, Twilight told herself, repeating the mantra in her head. She hoped with all her might that she was not lying.
All around them, windows and doors were opening, ponies craning the necks inquisitively out of houses and restaurants, searching for the source of the sound. Looking skywards, they saw the cloudless, constellation-studded night, the vestigial crackles of rainbow light flickering out along the horizon.
Unseen on the ground, the unicorn and the pegasus held each other close, deaf to the sounds of the world around them.
End of Part One