Chapter 2 – Dinner
The sun was already standing low when they finally had to admit that they would need at least another day. They had managed to remove most of the goo from the gym itself and had also mostly cleaned out the vestibule and part of the locker room, but there was still a lot to do. A lot of smaller debris and remains of slime still needed to be cleaned up, not to mention the ruined party decoration that would need to be restored. And then, of course, there were the restrooms which, as far as they could tell, were almost completely filled up with blue slime.
Vice Principal Luna, after a short gaze over the partially restored gym, told them to go home and continue their work on the next day. If she was surprised by Twilight’s presence, she didn’t give notice. And so they stowed away the snow shovels and the second large bin which they had had to get once they had filled up the first one, grabbed their bags and made their way to Donut Joe’s.
“I can’t believe you’ve never been to Donut Joe’s!” Rainbow exclaimed. “Like, everyone goes there! Great milkshakes! A pin-ball machine! What’s not to like!”
“I guess I’ve just never had… an opportunity to go there,” Twilight said, blushing and turning away from Rainbow as if she was embarrassed by the fact.
“Well, good thing you’re with me then,” Rainbow declared as they approached the brightly lit diner. Through the big windows they could see that at most of the tables students were sitting on the vintage red-cushioned seats, drinking milkshakes, chatting, laughing, and generally enjoying each other’s company. Rainbow shortly frowned when she recognized Hoops and his lackeys, but then decided that she would ignore any crap he was going to give her—that, or kick him in his jewels, if he really asked for it. She was not going to let Hoops keep her from introducing that cute little egghead to the joys of a Donut Joe’s milkshake. They really deserved a treat after the day’s work.
Despite her determination to not let the evening be spoiled, Rainbow found it rather unsettling how, as they entered, every head turned towards them, staring. As they walked through the central aisle towards an empty table, people started whispering left and right. Rainbow shot a few nasty glances to both sides, but didn’t manage to quell the whispering.
“Rainbow Crash,” Hoops said audibly, and several kids started laughing. They sat down at a table for two, and Twilight started studying the menu.
“Don’t bother,” Rainbow said, grinning. “You want the house burger and the caramel milkshake, trust me.”
“Okay,” Twilight said. “I’ll trust you.”
Rainbow turned around to look for the waitress and suddenly found herself facing three kids that stood behind her and stared at her unfriendly. “How dare you ruin my coronation ceremony! Tomorrow was going to be my night!” Sunset Shimmer hissed at her. “You pathetic losers! You’re going to pay for this!”
“Yeah!” her two lackeys, Snips and Snails, chimed in. “You’re gonna pay!”
“We didn’t—“ Twilight started, but Sunset Shimmer interrupted her.
“I didn’t ask for your opinion, Sparkle!” She leaned forward and calmly added, “Don’t you two losers dare show up at the Fall Formal next week. This dance will be in style. No one needs the likes of you there!”
“Oh yeah?” Rainbow Dash exploded. “Make me!” She jumped up and planted herself opposite of Sunset Shimmer. For a few seconds they stared at each other menacingly.
Finally, Sunset Shimmer took a step back and smiled mischievously. “I will,” she said, spun around on her heels and marched off, followed by her lackeys.
“Bitch,” Rainbow said not very quietly. Turning to Twilight, she added, “It’s not even worth arguing with her, honest. It’s like she’s made entirely out of Bitchnium.”
Twilight snorted. “That isn’t even a real word,” she said, starting to smile.
Rainbow smiled back. “Well, it should be! For people like her!” Twilight burst out laughing, and Rainbow joined in. “Bitchnium, and Jerknium, and—and—“
“Facenium!” Twilight cried, still laughing hysterically. “Which compounds with Jerknium to Jerk2Face2Oxide.”
Rainbow stared at her, puzzled by the nerdy joke she didn’t quite get, and just kept laughing. Seeing her new friend, who seemed a bit restrained at times, crack up like this was absolutely hilarious, and made her laugh all the harder. They looked at each other, laughing, and whenever one of them was finally calming down a little, seeing the other’s antics across the table sparked yet another burst of guffaws. Only when the waitress cleared her throat standing next to their table did they manage to calm down a bit.
“Hehe… we’ll have… two caramel milkshakes with extra chocolate sauce, and… and two house burgers,” she said, still breathing heavily. The waitress raised an eyebrow and noted down their order without another word and left. Rainbow, still grinning, looked at Twilight. “No reason to cry,” she said, pointing at the tears of laughter that were running down the other girl’s cheeks.
Twilight blushed and hurriedly wiped her face before she tentatively reached out to Rainbow’s face, not quite touching her. “You too,” she said with a smirk. Now it was Rainbow’s turn to hectically wipe her face—she would not be seen crying in public, even if it was just because of laughter. Still, the fit of laughter had been nice after Sunset Shimmer’s attitude.
“Jerkface oxide,” she chuckled. “How is that even funny!”
“You tell me,” Twilight replied. “You were in hysterics about it.” Suddenly, her eyes shot wide open. “I…I just totally had a retort when I needed one!”
Rainbow decided not to mention that it hadn’t been the strongest one, and instead gave Twilight a reassuring smile. Then she saw a pink-haired girl who was just walking past their table. “Hey, Flutters,” she casually greeted.
“Hello, Rainbow Dash,” Fluttershy mumbled, not even looking at her. While the girl was notoriously shy, she was usually quite relaxed around Rainbow Dash and at least maintained eye contact.
“Flutters, what’s up? Something bothering you?”
“I… I’m sorry,” Fluttershy replied, “but I have to go. Good night.” She made two steps, but then she spun around and looked at Rainbow Dash. “Oh, I have to say it. It was really mean that you ruined the Fall Formal. I was really looking forward to it, and now I’m very disappointed with you. I mean… if you don’t mind me saying this…” She turned towards Twilight and added, “I’m sorry, but I’m also disappointed with you.”
“It wasn’t even us!” Rainbow snapped. “And it’s not like the stupid dance is cancelled, you can still go next week, so gimme a break!”
“No, I can’t!” Fluttershy shot back more heatedly than Rainbow Dash had ever seen the timid girl before—which, in fairness, still was more like a pleasant chat. “Big Macintosh was going to go with me, but next week he won’t be able to make it because he has to help out on the farm, and now I’ll never get to dance with him!” She stomped her foot, which was really more cute than threatening, and glared at the two sitting at the table. Then, within an instant, her fury, or whatever it was, vanished, and she lowered her head, letting her hair cover most of her face. “I’m sorry I yelled at you,” she said more calmly. “But I feel that you should know what I think about what you two did, and I hope you learn from it.” With that, she spun around once more and made her way to another table where some more girls whom Rainbow Dash knew were seated.
“Hi, I’m Twilight Sparkle, nice to meet you,” Twilight said to the pink-haired girl’s back, raising an eyebrow. “Friend of yours?”
Rainbow nodded. “Fluttershy. We’ve known each other since primary school. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her that angry with me.”
“’Angry’? You’re kidding, right?”
“No, I’m dead serious. This is more intense than I’ve ever seen her.” She shrugged. “But yeah, she’s been pining over Big Mac since forever and never had the guts to like ask him out or anything.” Suddenly she smashed her fist on the table. “That jerkface, whoever did that! Ruining Fluttershy’s big date!” Twilight ducked her head at Rainbow’s sudden anger, and the other girl made an effort to calm down. “Sorry. It’s just… I know how important this was for Flutters, and now her date is ruined.”
“Two caramel extra chocolate and two house burgers,” the waitress, who had reappeared next to their table, announced and put down two large glasses filled with a creamy caramel-colored liquid and two plates with a burger and some fries each. Twilight felt her mouth water as the waitress turned and left.
Suddenly someone bumped into their table, knocking over one of the milkshakes and spilling its contents over their burgers. The person turned out to be Hoops, who leaned on their table and smirked at the mess he had made. “Oops. Looks like you’re done eating, Rainbow Crash. Which means you can sod off now.”
“What the heck, jerkface!” Rainbow exploded, jumping up and grabbing Hoops’ collar. “You’re gonna pay for this!” It was only then that she noticed half a dozen more kids standing around their table, shooting them hostile glares.
“Make me,” Hoops smirked.
“Rainbow!” Twilight urged. “Maybe we should leave!”
“Listen to your dorky friend,” Hoops suggested with a mean grin. “I don’t think anyone wants to see your sorry faces here tonight. So beat it!” Some of the other students murmured their agreement and nodded. Rainbow looked around, trying to find Fluttershy. She spotted her sitting in a far corner, watching the scene from afar. She looked uncomfortable, but she didn’t make any attempt to intervene. The other girls she were sitting with, Rarity and Pinkie Pie, looked uncomfortable as well, but also stayed put, probably thinking that they deserved what they got.
With a jerk, Rainbow stood up. “Wouldn’t wanna be in the same building with an idiot like you anyway. Come on, Twi. We’re leaving.” She took Twilight’s hand and pulled her towards the exit, all the while keeping a watchful eye on the other students. Hoops seemed satisfied by just standing next to their table and grabbing a milkshake-covered fry from one of the plates. Under the nasty looks of most kids in the diner, Rainbow and Twilight finally left.
They slowly marched along the darkening streets, most shops and restaurants around them closing down already. Rainbow Dash angrily kicked a soda can lying on the sidewalk; she was still upset about the way they had been kicked out of the diner. Twilight had also seemed rather subdued ever since the incident at Donut Joe’s, and hadn’t spoken much. And to add insult to injury, Rainbow’s stomach suddenly growled forcefully.
“Are you hungry?” Twilight asked.
“That burger was supposed to be my dinner,” Rainbow grumbled.
“You can still eat at home, can’t you?”
“Nah, not really,” Rainbow said dismissively. ”Dad’s been too busy to really take care of shopping this month, so I usually go to a diner.” Her stomach growled again. “Well, I guess tonight is officially gonna suck some more. At least Hoops’ll have to pay for the burgers.”
“You... you can also come along to my place. I can make you some dinner, if you like?” Twilight suggested sheepishly.
“That would be so awesome!” Rainbow Dash declared. Her stomach gave another agreeing growl, eliciting a sheepish grin.
“Alright, I can see that it’s a real emergency,” Twilight said with a grin. “This way.”
Twilight lived with her parents in a nice family home a little off the town’s center. Rainbow took the opportunity to have a look around the suburban street that looked so quiet and almost park-like in the pleasantly warm summer evening with all the nice yards and the big trees lining the street. It was quite different from the Cloudsdale Condo high-rise apartment block she lived in.
Twilight led her into the house and tried to usher her into the kitchen before her parents noticed, but her mother, a friendly woman in her forties with white and purple hair, intercepted them, followed by a small purple and green dog who welcomed Twilight enthusiastically.
“Hi, mom,” Twilight said with a smile that looked somewhat forced. “This is Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash, my mom,” she introduced. “I was just going to make us some dinner.” She knelt down and scratched the dog between the ears. “Hi, Spike!”
“It’s so nice to meet you!” Twilight’s mom exclaimed and enthusiastically shook Rainbow’s hand. “Are you in Twily’s class, Rainbow Dash?”
“Um, no,” Rainbow replied, “Twilight just, um, helped me out with something, and, erm…” She trailed off, not wanting to reveal the details of how they had met. Somehow she didn’t want her new friend’s mom to think she was some sort of notorious delinquent.
“That’s wonderful!” Twilight’s mom said with a huge smile. “I’m so glad to finally meet one of Twily’s school friends. She hardly ever—“
“Mo-om!” Twilight protested, looking flustered. She got up and, turning to Rainbow, added, “Let’s go to the kitchen and get some dinner. See you, mom!”
“You sure your mom won’t mind?” Rainbow asked when Twilight closed the kitchen door behind them, leaving a disappointed Spike outside.
“She’s probably just happy I finally brought home a friend,” Twilight said before clasping her hands over her mouth. Blushing, she added, “She seemed to like you.”
“Heh, cool, I guess.”
“So what would you like? We have…” Twilight rambled as she opened the fridge and started searching through its contents. “Eggs. Cheese. Ham. No burgers, sorry.” She turned around. “Do scrambled eggs sound okay?”
“I’m like super grateful for anything you got,” Rainbow said, leaning against a counter. “Scrambled eggs sound awesome!”
“Want something to drink?”
“Do you have cider by any chance?”
“You are in luck,” Twilight smiled and took several food packages from the fridge before pouring both of them a glass of cider. After handing Rainbow her glass, she turned to the stove and started handling a bunch of kitchen implements.
Rainbow, in the meantime, gratefully drank from her cider and looked around. The kitchen was quite small and cozy, the wooden doors of the cupboards covered in photographs and what looked like childhood art from Twilight. She had to suppress a grin at a crayon drawing by Twilight of herself and her parents waving goodbye to probably her older brother, labelled “Shining Armor goes to the acadimy”.
Twilight started humming as she poured the eggs into the pan, and attracted Rainbow’s attention again. The purple-haired girl seemed completely absorbed in her cooking and didn’t pay her any attention, and so Rainbow got to watch her undisturbed as she stirred the eggs, still humming, occasionally cocking her head, which inevitably forced her to brush back stray strands of her bangs. It was really kind of cute.
It didn’t take long for the eggs to be finished. Twilight arranged the eggs on a pair of plates, took a package of bread and the cider bottle and placed it all on a tray. “Let’s go to my room,” she suggested. Rainbow grabbed her glass, which she had put on the counter, and followed her upstairs.
At first, Twilight’s room reminded her of a cave. While the room itself was big enough, three of its walls were covered in ceiling-high bookshelves, making it seem significantly smaller. On the last wall, next to the window, hung a large poster of a starry night sky. A big desk was covered in more books and loose sheets, and on the bed in the middle of the room lay—
“A pony plushie? Really?” Rainbow asked, grinning, pointing at the white winged unicorn plushie with the magnificent pastel-colored mane.
Twilight nearly dropped the tray as she hurried to put it down on her desk before rushing to the bed to cover the embarrassing toy under her blanket. “Childhood relics,” she replied, blushing. “It’s perfectly normal to have keepsakes from when you were younger!”
“Heh, it’s cool. You’re talking to someone who still has a Spitfire doll on her nightstand. Erm. Spitfire action figure.” She flopped down on the desk chair, grabbing one of the plates. “Don’t tell anyone,” she said, faking a threatening voice. “I’d have to beat you up, and I’d feel bad beating you up.”
“I’ll… keep that in mind,” Twilight replied, gulping. She took the other plate and sat on the bed, balancing the plate on her knees. As she started eating, she cast Rainbow a preoccupied glance.
“You know I was kidding, right?” Rainbow reassured her, rolling her eyes, but smiling. “I like you too much to beat you up.”
“Thank you?” Twilight almost squeaked.
“What are these?” Rainbow asked, chewing, pointing at a shelf that was filled with a number of trophies and medals.
“Oh, they are nothing,” Twilight tried to dismiss, her voice getting lower and lower as she continued, “just… some trophies I won at the science fair.”
“Wow,” Rainbow made, examining the trophies a bit closer. “First prize, first prize, extraordinary accomplishment in the field of organic para-chemistry,” she read. “You really owned those science fairs, huh.”
“Well, yeah,” Twilight said sheepishly, avoiding Rainbow’s gaze. “I’m a big uncool science nerd.”
“I can see that,” Rainbow said, gesturing at the huge amount of books on the shelves. “The science nerd,” she quickly corrected herself, “not the uncool. You gotta give yourself some credit.” When Twilight looked up doubtfully, Rainbow pointed her fork, on which she still had a piece of egg impaled, at her. “I mean, look at those! You won like four science fairs in a row. You’re like the Rainbow Dash of science fairs!” She gave Twilight a wide grin, which the other girl shyly returned. “I mean, just because books are completely boring doesn’t mean you are.” She interrupted herself, feeling some warmth rise in her cheeks, and quickly distracted herself by putting that piece of egg into her mouth. Praising someone, anyone, that enthusiastically was really unlike herself. She carefully looked at Twilight from the corner of her eyes and saw that she was focusing intently on her food, her cheeks flushed.
Silently, they finished their meals. When she was done, Rainbow had recollected herself enough to speak again. “That was really good, thanks, Twi!”
“Oh, it was nothing,” Twilight said. “Too bad the burger and shakes didn’t work out.”
“Yeah,” Rainbow growled, frowning. “Those jerks. Kicking us out like that, who do they think they are! Now you still haven’t tried them, and they don’t even have a reason to be mad at you since you’re only helping me out.”
“Don’t worry—“ Twilight began.
Rainbow interrupted, “No, I’m not gonna take it. I’m gonna get you one of those milkshakes, promise.”
“You don’t have to—“
“I want to. It’s set. As soon as everybody’s cooled off a bit, I’m taking you to Donut Joe’s.” She gave Twilight a determined grin and extended her hand. Twilight, after a short moment of hesitation, took Rainbow’s hand and shook it.
“Deal,” she said, her voice suddenly shaky.
Somebody knocked at the door, and Twilight’s mom entered the room. “Girls, it’s almost nine o’clock, and tomorrow is a school day, so please finish up, okay?”
“Yes, mom, sure!” Twilight hurried to assure her.
“Sorry,” Rainbow chimed in. “I’ll be on my way.”
“No worries, dear” Twilight’s mom replied with a warm smile. “Do you need a lift home?”
“Nah, thanks, it’s only a few blocks and I don’t want to cause you trouble—“ Rainbow tried to refuse, but Twilight’s mom didn’t allow for it.
“It’s no trouble at all!” Twilight’s mom chirped. “I’ll be waiting for you downstairs; no need for you to walk all the way that late at night.”
“Thank you,” was all Rainbow could reply. She noticed that Twilight was rolling her eyes at her mother’s overwhelming care. Twilight’s mom gave them a wide smile and left the room.
“Heh, parents,” Twilight said awkwardly as she heard her mom’s footsteps descending the stairs.
“So, um, good night?” Twilight extended her hand to Rainbow, but the cyan girl ignored it and pulled Twilight into a quick hug, burying Twilight’s face on her shoulder, again being subjected to her scent. Twilight, surprised, froze for a split second before returning the hug.
“See you tomorrow at school.” She walked out of the room, but turned around once more on the threshold. “Listen, if anyone’s giving you a hard time tomorrow, you tell me, and I’ll teach them a lesson. Bye!”
“Bye!” As Rainbow stormed down the stairs, Twilight flopped on her bed, freeing her pony princess plushie from the blanket and pulling it into a tight hug.