Chapter 22 Define: Love
Twilight and Rainbow stared at each other, unblinking and unmoving. No words passed between the two, each too afraid to say anything lest they be the cause of the lost friendship. While no words were spoken, their thoughts were traveling at the speed of light.
‘Did she hear what I said?’
‘Was that really her that said I love you?’
‘Will she hate me?’
‘Was it for real?’
‘This is a trick, I hope.’
In the end it was Twilight who first broke the silence, “Rainbow, I… I…”.
‘No, she can't be trying to backtrack again.’
“Rainbow, I don’t know what you heard.”
‘She’s trying to take it back, I can't go through that again.’
“Rainbow, Discord, he-"
“Shut up, Twilight.”
“Rainbow, it was-”
“TWILIGHT SPARKLE.” Rainbow did not scream, her voice carried the weight of her words to Twilight, with more force than any yelling could ever accomplish. “Shut up.”
Maybe it was the force of the order; maybe it was because for the first time she could remember, Rainbow had used her full name. Whatever reason, Twilight complied with the command. Too afraid to speak up lest she angered the black mare in front of her even more. Rainbow slowly, more slowly than she ever had before, got up. Dash began walking up to her friend. Slowly, ever so slowly, until she was a hare’s breath away.
“The time for talking between us is over.” that scared Twilight, Rainbow was mad at her, she was going to tell her to leave, they would not be friends anymore, she was about to lose her best friend in the world.
“Please don’t hate me.” She managed between tears falling from her eyes.
Rainbow kissed Twilight.
Twilight had been expecting to be yelled at, to be ousted, to be labeled a hundred different names, no self-respecting pony would ever want to be around her again. She had been expecting a lot. This was not on the list. Her mind triple-checked the checklist to make sure she had not missed it when she double-checked the checklist.
Kicked, punched, bitten, yelled at, screamed at, bullied, beaten, abandoned, tossed in lava, kidnaped by aliens, etc..., etc.… No kiss, nowhere had she ever planned on this. She thought her feelings where just that, hers and nopony else’s. Twilight’s mind gave up, this went against any planning it had ever done for this situation; there was only one logical course of action Twilight’s brain could think of. For the first time in her life, Twilight Sparkle let her heart take control.
For Rainbow, this was a game changer, the consequences could be dire, but she could not go through with letting Twilight off again, her heart would not let her. Rainbow’s mind went to interject. It tried to tell her not to do this, however, when she pulled out the court document identifying that if the issue that caused their earlier divorce ever came up again, her brain was to stay a thousand yards away at all times. Dash’s mind had no choice but to back off. Rainbow herself was tired of the act. Ever since that morning (She assumed it had been in the morning, but in this place?) that kiss was all she could think of. Rainbow had cursed herself for letting Twilight off, for giving her the ‘out’ that she had so craved. Not after this, that would not happen again. Twilight had said it first. She had.
The kiss was amazing. Not even her time in Elysium had felt this good, and that was supposed to be her heaven or something. ‘It doesn’t hold a candle to this.’ True, right now she might as well been kissing a mannequin, as Twilight was too shocked from this whole situation to do anything. Rainbow would not let that interfere with her enjoyment, If this was the end of their friendship, if Twilight wanted nothing more to do with her. So be it, she would have this memory for the rest of her days, while it was no substitute for actually being with Twilight, she would at least have this.
It was Twilight’s turn to surprise Rainbow. She began returning the kiss, with all the strength she could manage. Wrapping her hooves around the black mare, Rainbow fell over, the extra weight throwing off her balance. Twilight never let go, true to her earlier comment she ended up on top of the night-black pegasus. Their lips never left each other. Days of frustration and awkward moments were over. In this one single act the weight of all of it was lifted. While it may have been her first real kiss, if this was what all those books went on about it was well worth the wait.
Twilight’s mind returned from a bout of tutoring with her heart, freshly read up on the finer details of love, ‘It’s not the act, it’s the pony. It would not feel the same with just anypony, you know why it feels this good, say it’.
After an indescribable amount of time, Twilight finally broke the kiss, Twilight’s head pulled back from Rainbow’s lips, Rainbow lost herself in those pearl white eyes.
“I love you, Rainbow Dash.”
“I love you, Twilight Sparkle.”
Rainbow Dash had stolen that kiss; Twilight took the next two.
After an eternity, Twilight rested her head next to Rainbow's while still refusing to get off the pegasus. All they had done was kiss, but she had never felt so ‘satisfied’ in her life. This feeling, it was not excitement, happiness, joy, or anything else she could name for that matter. It was something better, something that took her mind off everything. She still had issues and it was not like they suddenly did not matter. No, it was more like, they did not matter right now. She could put them off for later. For the first time in her life Twilight Sparkle did not worry about anything, she was content. Yes that is the word. That is what Rainbow had given her right that second. Twilight was content.
Twilight noticed something about Rainbow she had not expected to see at that moment.
“Rainbow, are you crying?”
“So.” Rainbow did not care, at that moment she felt completely safe with this pony, if anyone dared say anything she would curb stomp them later. She was with Twilight, and for the first time since she was a filly, Rainbow Dash could not care less of what the world thought about her.
“No, I mean how are you crying? You shouldn't be able to cry.”
“Oh, you know, now that I think about it, it is not the first time I felt something like this.”
Twilight paused, silently listening to the mare she was currently laying on.
“You know Twi, the more I think about those times, I think I'm beginning to understand why.”
Rainbow lifted her head to whisper it into Twilight’s ear.
Twilight jerked her head back, in shock at what she had heard. Her ‘marefriend’ (that romantic Involvement box just got a big bucking check) was staring up at her, that sly grin was back on her face. “That’s not possible, Rainbow.”
“Sorry Twilight, but I think you're wrong about that. Given; I can't explain it, but whenever I think back to when something odd happened, you were there. You either saved me, I saved you, or we were in some sort of awkward situation together.”
Twilight considered these words carefully. Briefly she remembered the time in the tent, the warmth she got from being under Rainbow’s magic wings, she was no longer convinced that is was just a side effect of those wings. She checked with her magic vision, if somehow being close to her friend caused ‘this,’ whatever this is, being this close should still count. What she saw confirmed her hypothesis.
Each living being had some sort of energy on the magic plane. Rainbow was no exception, even dead. On the magic plane Rainbow maintained some of her energy. Even heavily reduced, it was still there, like a unique signature identifying her to anyone who could see it ‘this is Rainbow Dash’, given, her wings augmented that a hundred, no, a thousand fold. On that plane of existence, they burned brighter than the sun. Twilight could look at those wings for hours and never grow bored. If Rainbow thought they were beautiful in the physical plane, she would have to redefine the word after seeing them in the magic plane. However, that was not what had Twilight attention. Her attention was directly on the mare below her. One that was right now, drawing Twilight’s excess magic energy into her. In much the same way she drew on Rainbow’s strength before.
“Rainbow… it seems as though you're drawing energy from me.”
Rainbow shot out from under the alicorn, pushing her to the side as she flew at full speed to the other end of the room, slamming into the opposite wall with enough force to shake the building, panic written all over her face.
“You… you mean, I'm hurting you!!!”
“No, nothing like that,” Twilight mentally facehoofed. ‘Remember she is a hot-head, you need to choose your words more carefully.’ “Trust me Rainbow, it doesn’t work like that.” For her part Rainbow seemed to relax a little after that, still a little shaken up but that could have been from the impact.
“It’s more of a symbioses,” after a confused look from Dash, Twilight figured she needed to elaborate. “How can I put this, you see on the magic plane emotions and well, magic, are energy. They all exist in everypony in turn. However, our bodies can only hold a limited amount of any, as such ponies like you, who have the endurance of ten ponies, you bleed off the rest. Not in any negative way, in fact it would probably harm you not to do so. Well ‘powerful’ magic users can draw on that extra energy and imbue it into themselves. I've done it a few time actually, it was the only way I was able to get through that fight in Tartarus.”
“So, I'm a powerful magic user?”
“No, it seems more like a connection if you will, when your emotions peak, when you feel a certain way. You form a bridge with my magic, allowing my excess magic to flow into you. It seems to be temporally restoring some of your feelings. This is all theory mind you… educated guess mind you. But it seems to explain everything that has happened.”
Rainbow thought about this, she did not doubt Twilight when it came to magic, but there was one more thing she wanted clarification on.
“One more question and be honest, when you say powerful magic users, who else can pull of such a stunt?”
Twilight looked sheepishly at her hooves, “well… actually… I'm the first one I know to do it, but I doubt I'm the only one EVER to do it.”
“Leave it to me to fall in love with the most powerful pony in existence.” Rainbow walked over and rubbed up against a now blushing Twilight.
For her part, Twilight simply closed her eyes and enjoyed the contact. Every brush of Dash’s fur on her's seemed to elicit a new emotion from the alicorn, every feeling taking on a new meaning. When it was over Twilight immediately missed it, unlike before it was not the warmth she missed, it was the closeness of her friend against her, her marefriend against her. She immediately walked behind rainbow and nuzzled her wing open to take her usual spot under it. A habit that Rainbow was more than happy to accommodate.
“More than you could ever know,” Twilight replied, kissing Rainbow on the cheek.
“Well isn’t this just a hallmark moment. I can’t wait to send out the Hearth's Warming Eve cards.”
“Discord, thank you.”
“Come again Twilight? I think I had something in my ear.” Discord pulled his ear off and began fishing out several items, including a safe, a bunny, a rat, a sky chariot, and several other objects of ridiculous size.
“Much better,” he put his ear back on and held a claw in front of it. “Now, what did you say?”
“I said, thank you Discord. This place, making us come here, it was your idea, wasn't it?”
“Wow, Twilight Sparkle, thanking me? This calls for another parade! Or maybe not.”
The death glare Twilight gave him made him reconsider.
“Anyway, as much as I would love to take the credit, sadly it wasn’t me, Chaos wanted you two to enjoy yourself. Lets face facts, the sexual tension between you two, I could have cut it with a butter knife. There was no way you would really enjoy yourselves with that hanging over your heads.”
“Anyway that’s not why I'm here, I'm here to tell you to he’s ready.”
“Who's ready?” Twilight asked.
“C'mon Twi, you cannot be that dense.”
“Oh she is, I have the broken piece of steel to prove it.”
Rainbow wanted to laugh, and then Discord actually pulled out the broken piece of steel. Her mood went from happy to pissed in point-ten seconds flat.
“You hit Twilight with that!” Rainbow’s wings flared out angrily.
“Oh look at the knight in shining armor, come to rescue the princess in distress.”
Discord paid for that remark, he knew he would but it had been too good to pass up. After finding the seventeen pieces of himself and putting them back together for the second time that day, it seemed to lighten the mood.
“Well now that ‘that’s’ out of the way, shall we get going ladies?”
Twilight and Rainbow nodded at each other then followed the trickster out of the funhouse. The three of them made their way through the carnival, it was different this time, not in any physical way, yet it seemed that everything… everything important had changed. Somehow, knowing that Twilight cared for her, it's as if that one thing had made everything better. There was no pressure anymore; Rainbow did not have to worry about anypony's expectations. This mare, Twilight Sparkle, she had seen the very worst Rainbow had to offer; yet she loved her not in spite of those qualities, but because of those qualities. For the first time in her life, Dash felt no pressure to succeed. At that point, it did not matter if she was the best at anything. All that mattered was that she was herself, because that is all Twilight wanted her to be.
It would not last, the pressure would return. When this was all done, when they got back to Ponyville, it would be there. A constant reminder of the expectation everypony placed on her to be the best. However, that was future Dash’s problem, even then, she would have Twilight with her, she would be able to draw on that pillar of strength. So, right this second, Rainbow did not worry about it, she could simply enjoy the company of the mare she loved.
Rainbow rubbed her muzzle into Twilight's. The purple alicorn looked lovingly into her eyes. They spoke no words, yet in that one glance Rainbow knew with one-hundred percent certainty that Twilight felt the exact same about her.
They both ran into Discord at that moment, he had stopped without any warning. “Well some pony is feeling frisky.” Rainbow stared daggers into the draconequus.
“Oh relax, I thought you would be more fun when you finally loosened up a little.”
Rainbow’s wings extended, ready to give her reply to ‘that’ comment.
“Sigh, well before I have to pick myself up yet again, there are two things you need to know.”
“Which are?” Twilight asked.
“Well the first one is that to get to see Chaos you have to... go through a ride.”
“What ride?” Dash asked.
Discord snapped his fingers and vanished, not wanting to face the wrath of princess’s new ‘protector’ or worse, the princess herself. For the two ponies, they were left picking their jaws off the floor. The ‘ride’ Discord mentioned directly in front of them. It was a normal carnival ride. It did not look suicidal like some of the others, indeed most ponies would have been perfectly happy to go on it. Especially ponies in their position. However, Twilight and Rainbow were not like most ponies, they both stared at each other, blushing uncontrollably, for there, right in front of them, was the one ride they would normally not be caught dead on: The Tunnel of Love.
“Twi I… I don’t know if I can do this.” The pegasus looked frightened, somehow this ride, it scared the pony next to her, so much so that she started backing up. It looked as if Rainbow’s ‘flight’ instinct in her fight or flight response had won, she was ready to get out of here at her top speed. If that happened, Twilight would be on her own, she would never catch the black mare. A thought formed in Twilight’s head, one that she would normally never consider. True, she needed Rainbow with her, in more ways then one. Therefore, if she could overpower Dash’s ‘flight’ instinct with a ‘fight’ instinct she could cut if off before it became an issue. However, what could cause such a response? She looked at her hooves; an object was lying on the ground. One that Discord had left behind, the piece of steel he broke over her head. Twilight remembered the reaction Rainbow had when Discord showed it to her. Rainbow attacked Discord for doing that to Twilight.
Wiggling her way out of Rainbow’s wings (not something she wanted to do). Twilight wrapped her tail around her legs, flattened her ears, and stared down at the ground with sad puppy dog eyes. “I understand Rainbow, I can’t ask you to do this for me, you've already done so much. It would not be fair to ask you to help me with my mistake anymore. I'll take it from here. Thank you for everything, and don't worry, it was just a silly promise, whatever may come, I won't hold it against you. ”
The general sat back in his command chair and lamented for the thousandth time that day his lot in life. ‘How did this all happen?’ of course he knew the answer, it was all because of ‘her’. His forces had ruled for countless generations, these other countries were never a threat he took seriously. Maybe that is why it occurred? They… he underestimated his opponents. Over the past six years, his neighbor in the north had gathered her strength in secret. He had assumed that the offensive she had launched weeks ago was it.
The general won, that was his job, but the cost had been high. Foolishly, he had believed his analysts, that they had exhausted their strength in one last vain attempt to be relevant. How wrong they were, how wrong he was. Over the past few weeks, she had proven to be anything but exhausted. He knew the truth now, that offensive he won against; it was just a test, a small fraction of her true power.
They spent the past few days surrounded on all sides, slowly being cut off from any source of reinforcements or resupply. Her maneuvers were textbook; he would have been impressed if he had not been on the receiving end. The general knew he could not win, no commander could, so he sought to delay, to find his opponents weaknesses, and turn them against her. Guerrilla tactics, although to be successful he would need to save as many of his forces as he could. Reinforcements would eventually come, and then he could take back the kingdom.
The plan had been perfect, designed and executed by the finest minds they had. They waited for the right time to strike and then jumped at the opportunity when it presented itself. A small break had appeared in the enemy lines, a slight weakness. The general had thrown everything he had at it. Committing all his forces at the enemies’ greatest flaw.
He would save the majority of his army, they would flee the battlefield, and when ready, return with everything he needed to crush this upstart and reclaim the land. He was about to break out the Apple Family Cider to celebrate, when new reports had arrived that ruined any possible joy he might have had. His enemy was being reinforced.
The accursed neighbors to the east had arrived and counterattacked at the worst possible time. His forces were in full rout. Worse yet, his enemies would be here soon. He had lost everything.
It was not long before the shelling was felt in the command bunker. Bombs were falling very nearby. Enemy howitzer rounds were landing, decimating his troops, there were no options left.
“Captain, order a full scale surrender.”
“General, are you sure?”
He glared at his captain, “Are you questioning my orders?”
“Sir, no Sir.”
That was it, it was over, he had lost. They had gotten so comfortable in rule that his enemies had effectively outplayed his every move. ‘Best get ready, I'll have company soon. Time to break out the cider for a much different reason.'
“General, I told you I would see you again.”
The two enemy commanders were pointing weapons at him; their troops had cleared the command bunker with a speed and skill he could admire. He respected a show of force like this, not even the weapons bothered him. Besides, it showed they at least took him seriously.
“You know this isn’t the end, right? You cannot get rid of me forever.”
“We know, but the times have changed general. Sure, you will eventually come back. Who knows, we might actually have need of you down the line. However, it will never be as it was before. We have ‘her’ now, we don’t need or want you to be in charge anymore.”
He poured three more glasses of his precious cider and passed one to each of his two enemies, even if he had lost, he could respect their might if not the ponies. Raising his own glass he gave each a small toast, first to the new arrival, then to the one who had caused all of this.
“Protection: Ruler of the east, Love: Ruler of the north, well played ladies. I look forward to our next battle.”
“Until next time, Ego.”
They let him finish his drink before ending the rule of Ego in Rainbow’s psyche for all time.
“Of course I'll go with you Twi. Sorry, I don’t know what came over me.”