Rainbow Dash hardly ever got up early for any reason unless it was for an important occasion. Good thing today was such an occasion. Today, all of her planning, practicing, and training would be put to the test to see if it was really worth all the effort. As she emerged from sleep to the sound of her alarm, her mind found her reason of doing so, causing her insides to twist into nervous patterns and anxious knots.
Today was the day.
No sooner had this thought crossed her foggy, sleepy mind that she hit the clock and leaped out of bed. She darted around the room, bumping into walls and dressers, wading through laundry, sleepiness depriving her of exactly what she was supposed to do next. Catching herself and taking a deep breath, she organized her thoughts and faced the door.
First thing was first: she needed to take a shower.
Rainbow’s idea of a shower was normally a dip under a raincloud and a few laps around the house to dry off. But today, she had something else in mind.
Rainbow had hardly ever used shampoos or conditioners before the Gala, but when the idea of impressing the Wonderbolts became a top priority, she had to take a trip over to Rarity’s place. There she was prescribed hygiene gels and goos that matched her personality and style. After the Gala utterly flopped, the bottles were left untouched in Rainbow’s bathroom. Today she would put them to good use once more.
With the help a scalding shower, a fresh-scented shampoo to match the fresh air outside, a sleek conditioner for improving speed and agility, a body soap that made her coat soft but not greasy, a few blemish ointments, a blow dryer, a comb, a brush, a toothbrush, some floss, some mouthwash, and a mild perfume for good measure, Rainbow Dash was ready.
So they had plenty of time to fly, Applejack and Dash had planned for their outing to be after breakfast Friday morning. Rainbow recollected back to the Thursday evening before when she had checked with Applejack to make sure she was ready.
“I need you to answer the following questions honestly, as they are for your safety.” Rainbow stood at attention like a general.
Applejack raised an eyebrow.
“What makes you think Ah, of all ponies, would be dishonest?” She chuckled.
“Just…” Rainbow lost the general-like stance for second, “just answer the questions, okay?”
“Do you have any problems with motion sickness?” Rainbow had regained her general-like attitude, and practically barked the questions.
“Any illness or ailment?”
“Any current injuries?”
“Problems with projectile vomit?”
“No?” Applejack looked at Dash like she was crazy. Dash continued.
“Do you get dizzy easily?”
“Don’t think so…”
“Get tired easily?”
“Any fear of heights?”
“Not that Ah know of.”
“Great,” Dash stopped standing at attention and smiled. “Then you’re good to go tomorrow. We’ll start tomorrow morning after breakfast. Eat lightly, so you don’t get sick. Don’t worry about lunch or dinner, I’ve got that covered.”
“Alright,” Applejack grinned excitedly, “Will do!”
“Fantastic!” Dash was giddy at the thought of this finally coming together. “It’s a date then!”
“Hmm?” Applejack tilted her head, unfamiliar with the phrase.
“I-I mean…” Dash stuttered as she tried not to blush madly, “T-that it’s a plan, er… an idea, uhm… that it’s set in stone!” She finally added.
“Oh right! See ya tomorrow then?”
Now Dash nervously fussed with her forelock in the mirror. The hair was smooth and clean, but it was getting in her face and covering her eyes. Today had to go without a hitch, otherwise there could be terrible consequences. Everything had to be perfect.
Rainbow was so anxious she found trouble eating. The knots in her stomach refused to go away, making every pastry, fruit, and cereal look unappetizing. Finally she decided on two pieces of toast smothered in zap apple jam. She had always thought that Granny Smith’s zap apple jam had some amount of luck in it, and right now she felt she could use all the luck she could get.
As she shoved the messy multicolored toast into her face, her eyes darted to the clock.
Oh pony feathers. She was going to be late.
Without another thought, she dropped the toast and soared upstairs to grab a few things (goggles, scarves, etc.) and then back downstairs and out the door.
Even though she had gotten up early, she was still going to be late. It must have been all that showering and mane-dressing and perfume using. She silently cursed Rarity for giving all those goos to her in the first place. Her pointless perfume hit her muzzle like stupidity does to one who doesn’t study for a final.
Yeah, that was a bad idea.
Her hooves hit the ground running as she headed for Twilight’s castle. She was supposed to meet Applejack there so Twi could recast the Cloudwalking Spell. She bit hard on the fabric strap of the goggles in her mouth, bits of saliva dripping on the ground as she charged towards the edge of town.
Panting and nervous, Dash knocked on the enormous door of the castle. She caught her reflection in the crystal-like castle wall. Her hair was already messy, and drool was streaked across her cheek.
Twilight opened the door to see a very anxious Rainbow Dash rubbing her cheek as she stared at her reflection.
Dash stopped messing with her cheek and jumped.
“Uh, hey Twi. AJ here yet?” Beads of sweat appeared on her brow.
“Sorry Rainbow, you just missed her.” Twilight’s gaze turned to one of concern. “Are you alright?”
Dash nervously laughed and shrugged her off.
“Ha! Of course I am! I’m about to spend the day with one of my friends! What could be better?”
Suspicion threatened to question in Twilight’s eye, but she let it go.
“Alright, you two have fun then. She said to send you to the farm. She forgot something.”
Dash nodded in thanks and shot off, not wanting to risk another minute of being questioned.
As the dust from the road billowed up around her, she dropped the goggles from her mouth down onto her chest. She had the strap around her neck, and was holding it to keep it from bouncing. But she was so nervous that now it was covered in spit causing the strap to stick to her fur, which was really gross. Dash was sweating so much anyway, that it didn’t really matter. In fact, that didn’t even bother her. It was something far worse that was bothering her.
She was scared out of her mind.
Dash was a brave pony. She could easily take on any adventure, any quest that was thrown at her. She got stage fright once, but that was fixed by her amazing loyalty and awesomeness. But this was different. You couldn’t win somepony over with just awesomeness. At least, not Applejack.
As if on cue, Applejack appeared in front of her.
Throwing her hooves into the dirt, Dash tried unsuccessfully to stop. Goggles and other accessories went flying as the two mares collided, twirling and tumbling across the orchard path. Finally Applejack, who weighed substantially more that Rainbow due to having solid bones and other boring factors, pinned the pegasus to the dirt with a shove.
“Whoa there, partner!” She laughed with a cough.
Dash looked up at Applejack, her blonde hair a little messy, and her hat missing. She was a little flushed by the collision, but by the look of the smile on her warm, orange, freckled face, she seemed to be fine with the accident. No harm done.
Still, Dash laughed nervously and her face warmed at the sight of being on bottom.
“Yeah, sorry, I’m late.”
"Looks like yer on time to me,” AJ chuckled again. A bit of thrill flashed in her bright green eyes. “You excited?”
Seeing the situation from the bottom and having her mind slightly in the gutter, Dash’s face grew pale.
Applejack tilted her head in confusion at the outburst.
“Fer flyin’? Are you excited to go flyin’?” she asked again.
“Oh.” If her hooves weren’t pinned, she probably would have hit herself. “Yes, yes I’m excited.”
“Good!” AJ rolled off her friend and let her get up. “Are y’all ready to go?”
Dash dusted herself off and looked at all her belongings scattered around the place.
“Yep. After we pick this up, We’ll be ready for takeoff. I’ve ordered a lunch of hayburgers and fries for noon, and then I have dinner planned for sunset.”
Applejack picked up the goggles Dash had been holding earlier and dusted them with her tail.
“Are these fer me?” she asked curiously.
“Of course!” Dash said brightly, picking up Applejack’s stetson and putting it on while striking a pose. “You can’t go on your first flight without flight goggles!”
Applejack laughed. It gave Rainbow more confidence, and she liked that.
“Don’ Ah jus’ look butiful in this har hat?” Rainbow mocked playfully, strutting around and showing off her new accessory.
“Very cute, Dash.” AJ raised an eyebrow. “But Ah want my hat back when yer done.”
Dash was caught by the comment. Cute? She was probably just playing, or using the word casually, but… Dash paused mid-step and blushed madly. Luckily Applejack had turned around to pick up a scarf. Once Dash regained control of herself, she quickly took off the hat and hurriedly shoved it back onto Applejack’s head.
“Hey!” Applejack pushed the hat off her eyes and whirled towards her attacker.
“You said you wanted it back.” Dash said indignantly as to cover up the blush.
Applejack rolled her eyes and handed her the rest of the stuff.
“C’mon sugar cube, are we going flyin’ or what?”
Remembering the plans for the day, Rainbow smiled.
“Yep! Let’s head over to the runway!”
With that, the two started off down the path.
The ‘runway’ was a cleared bit of ground that lead straight to a drop off over by the Everfree forest. Dash had mentioned this place a couple times before, but this was the first time Applejack had actually seen it. It looked like the world just stopped right there. As they prepared for flight near the edge, she couldn’t help but feel a little nervous.
“So, goggles or no goggles?”
“You’ll probably want the goggles for the first part,” Dash advised. “Just to get you used to the wind without discomfort.
“How do you get these dern things on?”
Rainbow turned and laughed to see Applejack struggling to get the goggles onto her head with her hooves.
“Here, let me help you.”
“Alright, but be caref—ow! Hey! Stop it! Ow!” Applejack struggled as Dash tried to put them on for her.
“Hold still, silly pony!” Rainbow teased as she adjusted the strap a little. “There. How does that feel?”
“Uh… snug.” Applejack played with them a little, then looked up. “How do they look?”
The goggles enlarged Applejack’s eyes by a considerable amount, and the strap caught a bit of her blonde hair which caused it to stand straight up. Along with the goggles, she had a green scarf that matched her enlarged eyes, and her beloved stetson sitting on top. A bit of warmth fueled in Dash’s cheeks as she gazed upon her crush. She looked positively adorable.
“Like a dork,” Dash answered with a smirk. “You ready to go?”
“Maybe?” Applejack frowned a little.
“Maybe?” Rainbow echoed, surprised by her uncertainty. “Why maybe?”
“Ah dunno,” Applejack sighed. “Ah guess Ah’m just… scared.”
“Scared?” Rainbow scoffed. “Why would you even need to be scared? You’re flying with me!”
Dash puffed out her chest proudly, as if it proved her point. But in all truth, she was scared too.
“It’s not that,” Applejack explained. “Ah’m just afraid that it won’t be as great as Ah’ve hoped it to be.”
Rainbow understood completely, as this was her same fear.
“Listen,” Rainbow leaned in, although she was talking to herself just as much as she was to Applejack. “Everything is going to be fine. And awesome. It won’t be as great as you’ve imagined. It will be even better! I promise.”
Applejack stared at her through the goggles, her giant eyes filled with faith.
“Okay. Let’s do this.”
“Alright!” Dash said excitedly, her heart still in her throat despite the short pep talk. “Hop on!”
As Rainbow Dash knelt and spread her wings, Applejack nervously climbed over and onto her back. She sat mostly on Rainbow’s back, with her front hooves wrapping securely around Rainbow’s neck and chest. Finally, she leaned forward into almost a laying position, her chest against Rainbow’s back, and her head beside and slightly above Rainbow’s.
As Applejack let out an anxious breath into Rainbow’s ear, Rainbow smiled and allowed herself to blush. Never before had she been so close to her. She could feel Applejack’s racing heart on her back, nearly echoing her own. After so long, it was time.
It was time to fly.
Rainbow Dash stood. Her muscles strained under Applejack’s weight like they did before, but this time her legs were ready. She took a steady step forward, then another, and another. Soon she was at the very edge of the drop off. A few rocks crumbled and fell off the edge, bouncing and breaking as they fell down and down.
This was the first time for Applejack to really see how far the drop was. She gulped and tightened her grip slightly around Rainbow’s neck. Rainbow smiled nervously and spoke.
“You ready, partner?”
“Ready.” There was unease in Applejack’s voice, but she seemed determined.
With this last remark, Dash took a few steps back and prepared for takeoff. Then with a short running start she jumped off the cliff, wings closed.
The two shot down at a terrifying speed, spinning and tunneling towards the spiked rocks below. Dash could hardly breathe as Applejack squeezed her tightly and shrieked all the way down, fearing for her life.
As they neared the bottom, Dash realized how bad of an idea this idea was. She had no idea if her wings could bear Applejack, let alone veer her up from a straight descent to their death. This definitely was not a very thought through or safe plan. But it was sure thrilling.
At the last possible second, Dash made a silent prayer for success and opened her wings. Her feathers caught the air and immediately turned their fall into a float. With a few strained but powerful strokes, Dash lifted them up and out of the canyon and into the sky. She did it! It would be easy riding from here on out.
Applejack let out a whoop and a cry of joy as they lifted from the ground. But Rainbow wasn’t finished yet. To celebrate her success, she had a few tricks she had been waiting to perform with a passenger on board.
No sooner had they lifted from the rocks did she begin to loop and twirl much to Applejack’s delight, who cackled and hooted with each turn and drop. Before long Dash could feel Applejack’s heart in sync with her own, as they zipped and soared through the sky.
After a significant amount of time performing tricks, Rainbow decided to take a break and go for a more gentle approach. She began to glide over Ponyville, the wind guiding her beside the clouds. Applejack sighed at the view.
Below could be seen every little detail of Ponyville, including the miniscule ponies going about their day. The fillies and colts had just started school, so only the few early shoppers were seen walking the streets in the morning sun. The boutique was just opening, the library had already opened, and the bakery never closed. Pinkie could be seen as a little pink spot rushing around and saying good morning. Fluttershy was up tending her animals as the birds came out and circled her home. Even Sweet Apple Acres could be seen in the distance, as the tiny farm ponies began another day of work. The bell tower called out the time, and the smell of another day could just be made out over the breeze. The whole experience was amazing.
“You having fun yet?” Rainbow called over the wind.
“Yes!” Applejack replied gleefully as she took in the scene.
“We’re only getting started! Hold on!”
Dash rushed over to a cloud.
“Why are we stopping?” Applejack whined as she was invited to get off onto the cloud.
“Because,” Dash explained, “I thought you wanted to help me clear the sky.”
“Oh!” Applejack’s oversized eyes lit up. “Really?!”
“You won’t be needing these, though,” Dash took off Applejack’s goggles and tossed them down to a conveniently placed picnic blanket below.
“Huh,” Applejack chuckled, peering down at the blanket. “Nice shot.”
Rainbow laughed in reply. Little did Applejack know she’d been practicing this same sequence over the last month at least a thousand times. She was glad she just made the shot.
“Ok, hold still.” Dash instructed. “I’m gonna get you situated.”
“Situated?” Applejack inquired. “What do ya mean?”
“Well, I figured,” Dash explained as she began flying around and pushing clouds into position. “If you are gonna buck clouds, you are gonna buck ‘em the way you buck trees. And you buck trees in a straight line. So technically, you would need two lines of clouds and a path of clouds to walk on in the middle. Like so.”
She stepped back to admire her work. As stated, there were two rows of clouds placed above a path of clouds that ran in between the two. Applejack looked at it all with a familiar smile.
“Give a try,” Rainbow invited.
Applejack stepped forward, prepared, and threw her legs out at the cloud.
The cloud instantly dissipated on contact, but Applejack was thrown off by how easy it was. She began to wobble and then fall off the side of her cloud path. Luckily, Dash came down and caught her.
“Careful,” Dash cautioned playfully, “Clouds aren’t trees. You don’t have to kick them as hard. You need more agility and less strength for this game.”
“Game?” Applejack gave Rainbow a funny look.
“Yeah, we’re gonna have a race! First one who kicks all her clouds wins!” Dash gestured above them, where the same amount of clouds were floating, only instead of a straight line they were spread out in a random pattern.
“To make it fair,” Rainbow patted Applejack’s head with a smirk, “I made my course harder since I’m more experienced.”
“Okay,” Applejack raised an eyebrow with a competitive smile, “let’s start.”
“What?!” Dash pretended to be surprised. “No more practice hits?”
“Nah,” Applejack turned and waved at her dismissively. “Ah want to kick flank already.”
Rainbow smiled to see her game was on, and flew into position.
“You asked for it! On your mark, get set, GO!”
The next ten seconds were filled with a flourish of white clouds and zipping ponies that could break every academy record in the book. As Applejack reached the finish line, she was disappointed to see Rainbow already waiting for her.
“Not bad, for a newbie.” Rainbow remarked with a wide smile.
“Goshdernit, Rainbow!” Applejack stomped her hoof. “Why do ya gotta be so fast?”
“It’s my job.” Rainbow smiled and landed beside the disappointed loser. “Don’t worry, this next adventure is way more fun.”
“Oh?” Applejack tilted her head. “What is it?”
Dash smiled and ran over to the other end of the cloud path. She began pushing the clouds together, squishing the line shape and giving it a more blob appearance. She then muzzled herself into the cloud surface and began back-stroking.
“Cloud swimming!” She announced. “Come on in! The cloud’s great!”
Applejack stepped into the blob, sinking in down to her shoulders.
“That’s it! Now paddle!”
After a few tentative strokes, Applejack soon got the hang of it and began swimming around. The two swam and dove, splashed and played, frolicked and danced. It was incredibly fun.
“Ya know,” Rainbow smiled fondly as Applejack continued to play, “I’ve never been able to share this with anypony.”
Applejack glided over, a look of pure happiness in her eyes.
“Well,” she said, “now you can.”
Aw, she was cute. Rainbow felt ready to take it up a notch.
“Hey, you ready to go flying some more?”
“Yeah! What do you have planned this time?”
“Oh, something special.” A mischievous grin overtook her nervousness. This was going to be awesome.
Once again, two began to climb the skies, only this time higher and higher even as the air became thinner and thinner. Soon the edge between sky and space became a fuzzy fade of color, and the air was thin and cold. It was as if a sight unseen was taking all their air, causing both girls to feel breathless and cold. But even through all this, Dash found the strength to maneuver Applejack off her back until she was holding her in her arms.
“What are you doin’?” Applejack’s large, green eyes were filled with worry and anxiety.
“Do you trust me?” Rainbow asked honestly.
“Do you trust me?” She repeated the question.
Applejack gazed downnervously at the world below, then back at Rainbow.
“Yes?” She finally replied.
With the right answer, Rainbow Dash let her go.
For that a split-second, time stopped. Applejack felt as if she was free. She floated in air, with zero gravity, free of anything to keep her there. She was just being.
Then time resumed and she began plummeting to her doom.
Rainbow watched as Applejack struggled and screamed as she fell faster and faster. Her heart throbbed as she saw the fear in her eyes, and heard the desperate pleading in her cries. But then Applejack turned around, and stopped crying. And that was when Rainbow started falling. It was just like the poem.
Applejack finally saw it. She understood the beauty that Rainbow loved so dearly, almost as much as Rainbow loved her. The feeling of flight was finally hers, and now they could fly together. Sure, the ground was beautiful, but this moment between them, this connection through flight was something far greater.
Dash dove towards Applejack, a cone of resistance forming around her as she did so. Tears from the wind passing by her streamed from her eyes. Her lips flapped wildly and her teeth chattered. But all this she ignored as she prayed for Applejack to turn back around.
An indescribable sound came from above Applejack and she watched in awe as a display of color exploded with the force of a thousand trains. She had been amazed when she had been above it the first time, but below was an entirely different story. The Sonic Rainboom glimmered against the bright blue background as it galloped across the sky in all directions. A beam of rainbow came reaching down to her, almost gently as she neared the ground.
Rainbow caught her in her arms and soared upward, her hoof just barely kissing a blade of grass from the ground below. Holding her tightly and catching her hat as she flew, Rainbow turned towards the sky and arched in her signature rainbow. Even as the wind rushed past, she could hear Applejack’s cries of joy in her ear. She was immortal, unstoppable, and invincible all in one shot.
She did it.
”So, that was that day.”
“Hey! Don’t ferget the end!”
“What end? You know what happened.”
“Ah’m not sure Ah do, Rainbow.”
“You don’t want to know my end of the story.”
“Yes Ah do. Tell me!”
“Fine. Here’s what happened.”
Dash took another bite of her dinner as she ate on the cloud beside Applejack. It had been a wonderful day soaring and diving with her, and overall it had been a lot of fun. But even after so much success, the nervous feeling was back. She still had one more thing left to do.
She gazed out in front of her. They decided to place the cloud over the orchard, facing the sunset. The sweet smell of apples filled the air and mingled with the smell of their dinner. The soft sounds of crickets were quietly beginning, and the wind rustled the leaves in the trees. Some spots had already been overrun with shadow, waiting for moonlight, but the tips of the apple trees were still golden with the fading sunset.
It was beautiful, but not as beautiful as the mare beside her.
Applejack seemed to radiate off sunlight, her coat resembling that of a setting sun, with her orange fur and blonde hair. She sat forward as she ate, looking up and down the scene, taking in her home. Her eyes glistened through it all, shining like fresh blades of grass emblazoned with morning dew. Never before had these eyes held so much joy as to have it spilling out their sides in the forms of smiles and laughter. Yes, the air had been blessed today with a full rainbow of different laughs from her, ranging from giggles to whoops, chuckles to cackles, and snickers to cries.
Even now she continued to speak, her golden country accent causing the clouds to blush with joy.
“That was the most amazing thing today.”
“It sure was,” Rainbow agreed. “How was flying with me?”
“Fast.” Applejack chuckled. “You fly faster than you know ya are, Rainbow. Today was the fastest I’ve ever done anything.”
“Well, that’s how I like it.” Dash smiled widely. “Fast.”
“Yup.” Applejack sighed as she continued to stare at the amazing view.
Rainbow felt sweaty again. She knew she had to tell her, but she didn’t want to. She liked where she was. She was safe where she was. But she also wanted more. She wanted Applejack to love her back. And she couldn’t do that until she came clean.
Honesty was the best policy. Especially with Applejack.
Rainbow sucked in a deep breath and spit it out. Here went nothing.
Applejack turned her head towards her. She was smiling, the kind of smile that reached up and sat on her dimples, giving her a pleased, happy look. She was so happy. And all Rainbow wanted to do was make her even happier.
Maybe she didn’t have to tell her after all. Maybe there was a way she could just show her. Just in that moment, Dash decided to do something she’d been longing to do for a long time, something she had been waiting for the right time to do.
So as the sun set over the orchard, casting its light on the pure white cloud, Rainbow Dash did something incredibly and unimaginably stupid.
She closed her eyes, leaned forward and kissed Applejack on the lips.
Her lips were warm, and velvety, but stiff and hard. And then they were gone.
Rainbow opened her eyes just in time to see a very surprised Applejack fall off the cloud.
Alarm bells ringing, she shot off the cloud and perused Applejack, trying to catch her. But Applejack swung her hoof right at Dash’s cheek, making its mark and causing her to veer off and into a tree.
Meanwhile, Applejack hit the ground.
The cry of pain echoed through the orchard as Applejack’s hind legs snapped on impact causing her to crumble to the ground and wail. Immediately, Big Mac came running, along with Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Granny Smith. Shouts of alarm echoed from each of them, and they all came swarming around her, scared and surprised.
“Somepony call a doctor!”
“Where does it hurt?”
“Git the wagon, we need to take her to the hospital!”
They carried her away, all the while she screamed and cried.
Rainbow’s limp body stuck through one of the taller trees, forgotten and alone. Well, almost alone.
“Rainbow Dash? Is that you?” squeaked Scootaloo.
Dash looked down at the crusader, who still had her cape on from a recent adventure.
“Do you need help?” questioned Scootaloo.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she processed what had just happened.
“Yes. I need help.”
Never before had anything been so honestly true.
”There,” Dash sobbed. “Now you know. I did something super stupid, and it got you hurt.”
“Ah thought you trapped me up there so you could kiss me.” Applejack’s voice was quiet, and slightly sad.
“Celestia no!” Dash yelled through her tears. “I was just trying to show you how I felt! How I feel! I thought a kiss would be better than words!”
“What in Tarnation gave you that idea?!” Applejack spat, her flame returning from earlier that night.
“I dunno!” Rainbow squeaked. “I guess I thought the scenario would have another end if I kissed you, a better one.”
“How’d that work out for ya?” Applejack mumbled curtly.
“Aw shut up and let me finish the story!”
Applejack stared at her.
“What else is there to tell?”
“Today.” Rainbow said it almost gently.
“Ah already know about today!”
Applejack sighed, losing her fight as the desperate plea caused her to cave.