Silence reigned supreme in Sugarcube Corner as the clock struck 12:30 PM. Mrs. Cake peered over the counter out the glass doors, narrowing her eyes as she glanced briefly to the clock. Any second.
Mr. Cake peaked out from the kitchen, a tray strapped around his neck. “Is it time?”
“Almost.... almost...” The clock ticked over; 12:31. Right on cue, a low rumbling sounded. Faint, and far in the distance, but it was there. At the end of the street, a blurry blob of dust could be seen, growing larger and closer as moments passed by. The rumbling grew, louder and louder until the dishes shook in the kitchen and the ground itself felt as though it were shaking.
At the base of the dust cloud could be seen a large pack of ponies, all charging down the street towards the sweet shop.
“Now...” Mrs. Cake muttered darkly, turning and giving a firm nod to her husband.
“Pinkie!” Mr. Cake shouted up the stairs. “It's here!”
In a flash a bouncing pink ball of energy appeared, grinning ear to ear as she looked out the door. “Woohoo!” She cheered. “The lunch rush!”
The first pony reached the front door of the shop, slamming it open and making the bell ring loudly for first time. Mrs. Cake cringed; at that rate they'd need a new bell in a matter of minutes. The pony, an earth pony with a golden coat and lime green mane, smiled happily as she rushed up to the counter.
“Wow, I'm the first one here? Awesome!”
Mrs. Cake smiled politely. “What would you like, dear?”
In the background, the bell rang again, and she looked up just in time to see a veritable sea of colourful fur pour into her small shop, flooding it with hungry ponies and noise. All the while Pinkie could be seen bouncing through the waves of customers, a cheery smile on her face all the while as she collected orders and jotted them down on the notepad held in her mane. She hopped back to the counter, dropping off a sheet of nearly indecipherable scribbled words . “It's a big one today,” she reported happily. “Let's get to work!”
Mrs. Cake panted heavily as she slumped over the cash register, the final bit being put away safely to the satisfying sound of the door closing. The bell had long since fallen off, lost in the crowd. She reached into a drawer, examining the collection of new bells before picking one out and placing it on the counter. “Pinkie dear, could you hang this for me?”
“Sure thing Mrs. Cake!” With a small flourish Pinkie snatched the bell into her teeth and hopped over to the door, only to stop half way as a violent shudder worked through her spine.
“Pinkie?” Mr. Cake asked carefully, coming out of the kitchen and noticing the frozen mare as her right back hoof twitched violently. “Are you okay?”
Suddenly Pinkie whipped around a huge grin on her face. “Okay? I'm better than okay! Oh... I wonder who it is! Could it be Cheerilee? Or Flitter? Maybe Thunderlane or-... Rainbow Dash?”
Rainbow shifted awkwardly, all eyes staring at her as she opened the door. “Uh... hey.... your bell's kinda missing...”
“Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh! This is great news, Dashie!” Pinkie rambled, the bell somehow still held in her mouth and jingling happily as she wrapped a hoof around Rainbow's neck and dragged the pegasus forcefully up the stairs in a blur of pink and blue.
“Carrot, sweaty,” Mrs. Cake started, pulling another bell from her drawer with a sigh. “Would you mind hanging this? Pinkie Pie might be a while.”
Pinkie slammed her bedroom door shut, tossing her prisoner onto her bed as she locked them in. “Now, tell aunty Pinkie what you need to tell her!”
Rainbow blinked, watching as Pinkie went over and locked the window as well, cutting off her only other escape route and making her wings fidget anxiously. “Uhh... Pinkie?”
“I'm really happy you came to me. Well, who else would you go to?” She giggled, drawing the blind and bathing the room in a cool darkness as she hopped onto the bed beside Rainbow Dash. “Now, go on.”
“What... are you talking about?”
Pinkie blinked, then again, before laughing. “Oh Dashie, you're so silly. You came to talk to me today, remember?”
“I remember,” Rainbow muttered. “But how the hay did you remember?”
“I got a back shiver, an itchy nose, and a twitchy leg,” Pinkie explained, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.
Frowning, Rainbow silently cursed her friend's weird sixth sense. “So... uh... what does that mean?”
Pinkie tsk'd, shaking her head. “Well duh; it means the next friend I saw needed to talk to me about-” she waggled her eyebrows suggestively, “-romance.”
Instantly Rainbow felt her cheeks flare an angry red. “And.... I was the next one you saw?”
“Yeppers! And with how twitchy my leg was, I'd say you're crushing on somepony pretty hard. So go on; spill the beans. Who's the lucky stallion?”
“Uh...” Rainbow trailed off, shifting around on the bed uncomfortably.
Pinkie tilted her head, her smile never once fading. “Mare then?”
“Hey, that's fine too. Ooh, you two will be adorable together, I just know it! I'll have to throw a party when you two get together,” Pinkie rambled excitedly. “But first you need to ask them out, and to do that we need a plan, and to make a plan I need to know who!”
Rainbow groaned quietly, falling onto her back. “That Pinkie sense of your can be really annoying, you know?”
“Nope! It's fun. Like this one time Applejack was working, you know; doing her whole apple bucking thing. Actually, why does she buck her trees to get the apples? Couldn't she just use a ladder? I know Cheerilee has one she could borrow. Or what if she hired a pegasus to help her? Like Ditzy or Cloudchaser? Oh, oh! What if she got a unicorn to help? Maybe Rarity, oh but she's always so busy . What if she asked Lyra? Hmm... oh I know, I bet Twilight would-”
Pinkie grinned. “So, it's Twilight huh?”
“W-what?!” Rainbow sputtered, a bead of sweat rolling down her forehead. “What are you talking about?”
“You stopped me when I said Twilight,” Pinkie said. “So it's Twilight, right?”
Rainbow shook her head. “N-no, of course not! Twilight's... Twi's just an egghead, Pinkie. Not exactly my style, even if she's a princess now and... kinda adorable.”
“Yeah!” Rainbow nodded. “I mean you should have seen her when I was teaching her how to fly. She kept falling, and she's really cute when she's embarrassed. But she wouldn't give up, either. I guess I kinda admire her about that. She's-... Pinkie? Pinkie why are you looking at me like that? I mean... oh... oh no.”
“You like Twilight, don't you Rainbow Dash?”
“I... I dunno about this, Pinkie,” Rainbow Dash said nervously, shifting her weight from hoof to hoof as she stared anxiously at the crystal tree in front of her. She sank nervously back into the bush she and her pink friend were hiding in. “What if she says no?”
Pinkie patted her on the back reassuringly – and probably harder than necessary. “Don't worry; Project PI is completely fool-proof!”
“Project PI?” Rainbow echoed sceptically.
Nodding ecstatically, Pinkie reached into her mane and pulled out a rolled up parchment. She laid it out on the ground and grinned. “It's easy! Project Princess Infatuation is guaranteed to get Twilight to fall for you in just one day! The secret's in the carefully thought out steps, designed to woo her without Twilight even realizing until she's already fallen for you! Oh, and the pudding; can't forget the super-secret pudding. The plan would be useless without it!”
Rainbow frowned, rubbing her chin and looking at the paper in front of her. “Okay... first, that's just a blank piece of paper, Pinkie. Second, what pudding?”
“Well duh!” Pinkie shouted, taking the paper and tossing it over her shoulder carelessly. “Of course it's blank! You can't just go writing down super-secret plans all willy-nilly, silly filly. And this pudding.” She reached her hoof deeper into the bush and extracted a large glass bowl of chocolate pudding.
“Uhh... why do we need pudding?”
The pink mare glanced around conspiratorially, leaning close and whispering; “It's a secret...”
Rainbow slapped an aggravated hoof to her forehead. “Remind me again why I came to you for help with this? I'd rather sit through Rarity's mushy romance spiel than deal with your.... Pinkie-ness.”
“Nonsense! Now get out there and do it just like we rehearsed!” Pinkie shouted, grabbing a bouquet of flowers and slapping them in Rainbow's mouth before shoving her out of the bush.
“Damn it Pinkie...” Rainbow muttered around the stems in her teeth, shifting from hoof to hoof uncomfortably and glancing back to the bush. Either Pinkie had turned herself green to blend in, or she was no longer there. Knowing that mare, both possibilities were equally likely. She sighed, taking the flowers from her mouth and stashing them under a wing. “This is ridiculous! Why can't I just ask her out like a regular pony?”
Rainbow nearly jumped out of her skin at the very recognizable voice of the alicorn who lived in the castle before her. She turned, rubbing the back of her neck awkwardly as her eyes met Twilight's before quickly looking tot he ground. “Uh... h-hey, Twi.”
Twilight quirked her head to the side, levitating a series of brown paper bags in her magic as she walked towards her front door. “What are you doing out here? I thought you'd be out napping on a cloud in this weather.”
“Uh... yeah... see, I was. But then I had a thought, right?” Rainbow's cheeks burned as every fibre in her body yelled at her to abandon Pinkie's plan and save what dignity she could. However, her hooves stood rooted in place as her mind fired back with the undeniable fact that she couldn't ask the alicorn out on her own. Sure, she'd tried – multiple times, in fact – but every time her nerves would get the best of her and she'd turn tail and run. So she swallowed her pride, clenched her eyes shut, and repeated the lines as Pinkie had told her. “I thought your castle was a bit... ya know, empty.”
Twilight nodded in agreement. “I know, I've been so distracted recently I haven't had time to really decorate the place. It's been on my list for a while...” she trailed off, glancing up at the sparkling structure.
“Well, I was flying around and I, uh... I saw these.” She held out the bunch of flowers in her wing, noting for the first time that they were a mix of purple and blue. “Subtle...” she muttered under her breath before quickly covering it with a cough and continuing. “I thought they might... uh... ya know... look nice... somewhere...”
Accepting the flowers into her magical grasp, Twilight brought them closer to examine. “Rainbow, these are lovely. Where did you get them?”
“I.... uh... found them... out under my house when I was flying around,” Rainbow offered, stunned by the fact Twilight hadn't even noticed the clearly romantic gesture.
Twilight raised an eyebrow. “There's a price tag,” she deadpanned.
Somewhere in the distance, Rainbow's ears swivelled to a loud smacking sound a shout of; “I knew I was forgetting something!” Twilight seemed to miss the noise.
“Ah-heh... you caught me. I uh... found them at a stall in the market,” Rainbow offered, mentally cursing the bubbly pink earthpony apparently hiding somewhere near by.
Twilight smiled, sliding them into one of her paper bags. “Well, bought or not, they are beautiful, and I know just where to put them, so thanks. Would you like to come in?”
Rainbow choked on her own breath at the offer, eyes widening and cheeks reddening. Out of the corner of her eyes she caught sight of Pinkie Pie, peeking around the corner of Twilight;s castle. The mare was making motions with her hooves, as though trying to resuscitate a dead fish. Rainbow raised an eyebrow at her, and Pinkie face-hoofed, nodding her head rapidly instead.
“Uh...” Rainbow shook her vision away from Pinkie. “No thanks, Twi; I got a few clouds to bust, just came by to drop those off.”
“Oh, okay,” Twilight smiled as she turned back to her castle, waving over her shoulder. “Some other time then. Bye, Rainbow.”
“See ya later, Twi.” The pegasus couldn't help but watch as Twilight opened her door and disappeared inside, offering a final smile and a wave before bringing her groceries with her and passing the flowers under her nose. “I know just where to put you... but first, I need a bath.”
Rainbow sighed as Twilight shut the door, turning away just in time to see Pinkie stomping towards her. “What was that!?” Pinkie shouted. “You were supposed to go and spend the rest of the day with her! I told you to stick to the plan.”
“You didn't say anything about that,” Rainbow argued. “You said to give her the flowers, and that was it.”
Pinkie rolled her eyes. “Well duh! That was all for step one.” Once again she pulled out a parchment from her mane and rolled it out. “See, right here; step 2: spend the day reading with Twilight.”
“Pinkie, it's still blank,” Rainbow deadpanned.
“I already explained this, Dashie,” Pinkie said with a suddenly exuberant giggle, rolling the so-called 'plan' up and tucking it into her mane. “It's alright, there's always plan B.”
Rainbow swallowed nervously. “Plan B?”
“This is plan B!?”
“Uh-huh,” Pinkie answered happily, squinting her eyes to try and line up her great wooden contraption.
Rainbow smacked a hoof to her forehead. “Pinkie, that's a catapult.”
“And you expect me to get shot out of it?”
Pinkie nodded approvingly as she went over to the crank and started pulling the arm back, the wood groaning in protest. “That's right.” She lifted a hoof and pointed at the castle. “Right into Twilight's bedroom window.”
“All so we can fake me crashing into Twilight's castle?”
“Wow, Dashie! You remembered the entire plan!” Pinkie giggled happily as she gave one final turn, the catapult fully wound up. “I would have used the party cannon but the confetti would have given it all away.”
Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “Why don't you just not add the confetti?”
“Oh silly, that would be like eating a cake without icing, or having a party without guests, or-”
Rainbow shoved a hoof into Pinkie's mouth. “Alright, I get it. But why I can't I just, like, fly in through the window or something?”
Pinkie didn't even seem to ponder the question. “If you flew in then it wouldn't be believable and Twilight would know you did it on purpose and if she knew then the entire plan would fall apart and then we'd have to resort to plan C – and nopony likes plan C.”
“Plan... C?” Rainbow asked cautiously. Part of her thought it might be better than getting shot out of a catapult.
Ominously, Pinkie reached behind her back and pulled out a shovel, her face becoming uncharacteristically serious. “Nopony should ever use plan C, Dashie. Nopony. Besides, where would we even find a Necronomicon at this hour?”
With a happy little bounce the shovel vanished into what many ponies swore to be her own private pocket dimension. Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “Necro-what-icon?”
“Just a book of unspeakable horrors and dark magic, but that's not important. If you wanna woo Twilight, we need some heavy artillery, and this bad boy is just the thing to do it!” Pinkie announced, patting her catapult fondly. “With an average launch speed of a hundred twenty-six cupcakes per cake-bake time, one out of one Gummy's say this is the best on the market.”
Rainbow blinked. “Oh...kay?”
“Okay!” Pinking shouted happily, giving Rainbow a shove and sending the pegasus sprawling into the cup of the catapult. “Ready when you are, captain!”
“Pinkie wait!” Rainbow began sitting up, only for Pinkie to giggle happily and grab a lever.
With an almost insane grin, Pinkie pulled. “Good luck Dashie!”
With a mighty groan and a feminine scream, Rainbow Dash was sent flying into the air, tumbling in circles and unable to right herself. As she flipped around, she looked up just in time to see Twilight's bedroom window pass right by her as she crashed through a different window entirely. Rainbow tumbled to the hard tiled floor, surrounded by shards of glass. A startled yelp brought her head up from the ground, and her cheeks turned a dark shade of crimson.
“Rainbow Dash!” Twilight shrieked, instinctively trying to cover herself as she lay in a bathtub full of water.
“Uh...” Rainbow barely managed to keep her jaw off the floor as she stared at the unicorn before her. “Hi...”
Twilight, calming her racing heart, took a breath before leaping out of the tub and hurrying over to her friend, trailing water from her dripping frame. “Are you okay? What happened?”
“I... uhh..” Rainbow shook herself, jumping back to her hooves and checking herself over quickly, turning around and keeping her eyes away from Twilight in an attempt to preserve the alicorn's privacy. “I'm fine...”
However, Rainbow turned back to the window when she heard the distinct sound of groaning wood. Her eyes widened as she saw Pinkie, hoof on the lever of a catapult fully loaded with some kind of thick, brown substance. “Chocolate pudding... no Pinkie wait-!”
“Pinkie? Pudding? What are you-” Twilight was cut off as she looked out the window just in time to get a face full of thick, chocolate pudding. In an instant her fur, mane, and tail were more brown than their usual purples, and Rainbow Dash fared no better. For that matter, neither did the rest of the bathroom.
Twilight sighed, lighting her horn and wiping the thick goop from around her eyes, levelling a glare at Rainbow. “Nice prank,” she deadpanned.
Rainbow recoiled, shaking her head and sending bits of pudding flying everywhere. “I didn't plan this! I swear I was just trying a new stunt when I crashed. I don't know what Pinkie was doing there... or why she had all this pudding.” She stuck her tongue out and licked at some of the incriminating substance, smacking her lips. “Although it's not too bad.”
Shaking her head, Twilight surveyed the damage. “Well this will take a while to clean... and I was just having a bath too. You'll need one as well.”
“Uh well I-”
Twilight held her hoof up, halting her mid-sentence. “It's alright, I have a spare bathroom just down the hall. The shower's big enough; we can share.”
“Sh-share?” Rainbow almost whimpered. If it weren't for the pudding coating her face, Rainbow swore her fur would catch fire.
“It's not a big deal,” Twilight said with a shrug, already walking to the door. “Besides, neither of us wants to be covered in this goop any longer than necessary. Spike!”
A moment later, Spike burst through the door. “You call-... sweet Celestia. What the hay happened in here!?”
“Pinkie Pie,” Twilight muttered. “Oh, and Rainbow Dash. Would you mind getting started on this while we clean up? I'll come help you when I'm not... covered in pudding.”
Spike sighed. “We really need to set some ground rules for her pranks. This is getting ridiculous. Yeah, I can start.”
“Thanks, Spike,” Twilight said, going for a hug only for Spike to step back. She giggled, looking down at herself. “Right... pudding. I'll be back in a few minutes.” With that she turned and started for the door, stopping only to turn and motion for Rainbow to follow.
Rainbow shook herself from her over-active imagination and followed Twilight, trying not to drip too much on the crystalline floors. “We're just sharing a shower,” she scolded herself under her breath. “Nothing's gonna happen...”
Despite what she told herself, she couldn't keep her thoughts away from all the what-if scenarios.
Twilight's sigh cut Rainbow out of her imagination as they turned at the end of the hall and walked into what could only be described as the biggest, most luxurious bathroom in Equestria.
“Yeah...” Twilight trailed off as her eyes trailed around the room. “It's a bit... too much, if you ask me.”
Rainbow couldn't help but nod in agreement. It not only had a large tub set into the ground, more akin to an indoor pool than a bath tub, but it also had a large, circular shower stall in the center of the room. It even had a small round island in the center, complete with a bench running around its circumference.
“Twi... this place is awesome!”
Twilight shrugged, wandering over to the shower stall and sliding the door open. “It's a little big, but I guess it's kind of... cool.”
“Kind of?” Rainbow echoed. “Twi, if this was in my house I'd never leave the bathroom!”
Giggling, Twilight motioned for Rainbow to join her as she stepped up to the center island. With a pudding-covered hoof she twisted a knob and the shower sprang to life. At least a dozen shower heads spaced through the roof turned on, already at the perfect temperature. Rainbow had to suppress a shudder as she felt the pudding start to slide off her wings.
“Ugh... I really wish Pinkie would use something a little less... sticky,” Twilight muttered, trying to scrub the chocolate gunk out of mane with both her hooves and her magic.
Rainbow turned just in time to see Twilight flip her mane back out of her face, and the pegasus's mind ran away with it before she could even try to get a hold on herself.
With a noticeable sway in her flanks, Twilight sauntered across the shower, the chocolate pudding vanishing from her coat as she stopped right in front of the pegasus, defenceless against her beauty.
“So, Dashie,” Twilight purred, licking some pudding from her upper lip in the most erotic manner possible. “Wanna help me... clean up?”
Rainbow's wings snapped open, sending pudding flying everywhere and drawing a shriek that broke her from her unwanted fantasy. Blush burning on her cheeks, she gave an apologetic smile to the alicorn next to her who had even more pudding on her than before. “Uh.... sorry...”
Twilight rolled her eyes, resuming her scrubbing. She paused as her magic turned to her wings, and she frowned pensively at the feather appendages. Rainbow caught sight of the alicorn chewing her lip out of the corner of her eyes.
“You alright Twi?”
“Yeah, yeah, it's just...” she sighed, hanging her head with an embarrassed blush. “I can't get my wings...”
Before her mind could run away again Rainbow planted herself firmly in reality. “You have magic, Twi.”
Twilight groaned. “I know! It should be easy, but... well...” her blush grew a few shades darker. “They're sensitive, and my magic is less than gentle when I'm... distracted.”
Rainbow's mouth formed a silent 'o' as she realized what her friend was saying, and she cough awkwardly as she rubbed the back of her neck. “Well... I uh.... have some experience in the wings department so... if you wanted....”
“Would you?” Twilight asked hopefully. “I never understood how you and Fluttershy keep your wings so clean. Princess Celestia gave me a few tips but I never could get the hang of it.”
Nodding, Rainbow motioned with her hoof for Twilight to turn around. “It's... fine. It takes a some practice to get used to cleaning the things. Most pegasi have their parents help them for the first few years until they get the hang of it.”
As Twilight complied with the unspoken request she groaned. “You take a couple years and I've had to learn everything in a few months...”
“Heh... you'll get used to it,” Rainbow said, coming up behind the alicorn and gently spreading her lavender wings. The pegasus examined them a moment, letting out a low whistle. “You've got quite the wings, Twi. I never really noticed before now.”
Rainbow nodded as she started gently massaging the pudding from between the feathers, glancing towards the center island and giving a small smile as she spotted a bottle of feather shampoo. “Yeah, really. Big, nice shape, pristine feathers for somepony who just learned how to preen, too. You could probably attract quite a few stallions back in Cloudsdale. Without the whole princess thing, that is.”
“Stallions?” Twilight echoed, glancing over her shoulder.
“Yeah, you know; a special somepony and all that,” Rainbow continued, squirting some soap onto her hooves as she jotted down imaginary checks on a mental list.
Remember, Pinkie had said, compliment her; she looks nice. She's smart. Ignore anything you don't like about her. Subtly imply the idea of romance. See if you can get her to say whether or not she's into mares.
“Ha,” Rainbow thought with a grin, “How's that for subtle?”
“I don't know about that,” Twilight said, her wing giving a twitch as Rainbow's hooves hit a nerve. “C-careful back there!”
Rainbow cringed sympathetically. “Sorry. What were you saying?”
“It's just that...” Twilight sighed, staring down into the slightly discoloured water flowing away from her into the drain. “Well... I've never really thought about having a special somepony before.”
“You never thought about having friends before either,” Rainbow noted, switching wings. She found herself relaxing into the gentle scrubbing rhythm she'd developed, and Twilight seemed to be enjoying her ministrations as well. For moment the shower was silent save for the water, and Rainbow worried she had said the wrong thing.
Finally, Twilight relented. “I suppose. Still, I don't think it'd be a stallion.”
Rainbow's ears perked and she struggled to keep the eagerness from her voice. “Oh?”
“Yeah... it's just that, well...” The alicorn fidgeted slightly, though she ended up pressing herself into Rainbow's relaxing hoof work. “Well, mares have always caught my eye more than stallions...” she trailed off awkwardly.
Meanwhile, Rainbow had trouble not jumping up and declaring victory right then and there. She quickly busied her mind by finishing Twilight's wing and taking a few quick steps away with a blush. “You're done.”
Twilight smiled as she ruffled her feathers beneath the water, rinsing out what little suds remained before turning around. “Thanks, Rainbow. How do you clean your own wings? Especially without magic?”
“Flexibility,” Rainbow said with a shrug, stretching her wing around in front of her to illustrate the point. She frowned, ruffling her feathers and knocking loose the small flecks of chocolate goo that had yet to be washed away.
“Huh...” Twilight leaned forward, examining the way in which Rainbow's wing was bent. “I didn't know you could do that... I wonder...” she trailed off, shaking out her own wings and trying to mimic Rainbow's pose. She got the tip almost half way in front of her before it stopped with a small shudder. Twilight cringed, gritting her teeth and trying again only to have a cyan hoof catch her wing.
“Whoa, easy Twi; you're going to pull something. Just relax the muscles and stretch; it'll take a few tries but you should be able to get it,” Rainbow explained, letting go of the wing when she was sure Twilight wouldn't immediately try again.
Twilight sighed, folding her wings. “I'll have to work on it. Anyway, I'm pudding-free, and I really can't ask Spike to clean the entire bathroom by himself when it wasn't his fault.” She paused, noticing the almost imperceptible frown on Rainbow's lips. Rolling her eyes, she added; “You can stay and enjoy my bathroom as long as you want.”
“I'd enjoy it more if you stayed...” Rainbow muttered, before instantly cringing as she realized she'd said it out loud.
“You say something?” Twilight asked, glancing over her shoulder, already half way to the grand sliding glass door.
Rainbow made a mental note to buy a lottery ticket with her current streak of luck, and gave a smile. “Nothing, Twi. I'll come help in a minute. I did break the window, after all.”
Twilight nodded, and with a gentle flourish of magic stepped out of the shower, closing the door behind her. The steam-fogged glass turned her into a fuzzy purple blob, and after taking a moment to presumably dry herself she disappeared out of the bathroom.
Waiting until the sound of the door closing rang through the sound of the shower, Rainbow groaned loudly, hanging her head. “What am I even doing?” She asked herself, looking into the rippling reflection cast by the thin layer of water on the tiled floor. “It was supposed to be simple; get Pinkie to help me plan a date, then ask Twi out. But no, instead I get shot out of a catapult through a window, find Twi in the middle of a bath. Then the pudding...”
She trailed off, blinking slowly. Before she even knew it she was nearly doubled over, laughing at the shear absurdity of what she'd just said. Her mirth died quickly, however, when she remembered why, exactly, her day had been so abnormal.
Rainbow's reflection returned her melancholic smile. “But you couldn't just mare up and ask her yourself.”
Giving a long, drawn out sigh, Rainbow reached out and fumbled a moment with the taps until she managed to shut off the flow of water. The steam still wafting through the air kept the room hot and humid as she stepped out, and the usually cold tile floor was, at the very least, bearable. Glancing around, she located a stack of towels on a small table pushed off to one side of the room.
A few minutes later she was dry and her wings were properly preened. However, upon finishing the last feather of the last wing, she noticed a easily identifiable smell wafting from her coat. Her nose wrinkled at the smell of the soap she'd used, and she realized with a mild blush of embarrassment that she smelled almost exactly like Twilight did, minus the paper smell from all those books.
As the smell assaulted her nostrils, seemingly getting stronger the more she thought about it, her mind started playing out the memories of every time she'd gotten close enough to Twilight to notice her scent. The embarrassingly-frequent group hug, the occasional one-on-one hug, and – most notably – the one reading session where they had gotten dangerously close to what could be considered “cuddling”. Totally on accident, of course.
It's not like she'd shifted as close as possible over the course of five chapters, or anything.
And she certainly hadn't been the one to suggest reading on the balcony despite knowing full well it was going to get cold that night.
No, she'd never even considered making the first move by offering a wing to the shivering alicorn.
Rainbow's teeth ground together as she realized just how many times she'd tried to do exactly what she was trying to do right then. With a furious snort, she steeled her resolve, and marched to the bathroom door.
This time her nerves would not silence her.
With a firm nod to herself, and a few deep breaths to gather her courage – not that she needed any more; she had plenty – Rainbow Dash reached up and shoved the door open...
Smacking Twilight right in the muzzle and knocking the alicorn to the ground in a daze.
“I nearly broke her nose, Pinkie!” Rainbow shouted angrily, pacing back and forth in front of the exuberant party mare, who seemed to be lacking much of her usual enthusiasm. “And that was after I broke through her window while she was having a bath and allowing you to cover her bathroom in pudding.”
Rainbow growled, more angry with herself than the mare she was yelling at. She rubbed the bridge of her muzzle, cringing in sympathetic pain at the memory of the sound it had made. “I don't think this is working, Pinkie. Maybe I should just give up on this romance junk and wait till this stupid crush goes away.”
Pinkie, for her part, simply sat quietly. If one who didn't know her were to see her, they could almost think she was lost in some kind of deep, philosophical thoughts about the origins of the universe. With her eyes closed and lips pursed, she seemed to ponder the tirade Rainbow had just unleashed on her. Eventually, she nodded sagely before speaking; “I think you should ask her to dinner tonight.”
“D-dinner!?” Rainbow stammered. “Pinkie, were you even listening!? I nearly broke her nose with her own bathroom door! Who would go to dinner with me after I did that to them!?”
“Twilight might,” Pinkie said with a shrug.
Rainbow stared agape at the mare for a few seconds, before shaking her head. “No... no. No! No way. I can't, not after what I did. She probably likes me even less than she did this morning!”
“Did you apologize?” Pinkie asked.
“Well, yeah, but-”
“And did she accept your apology?”
“And did you still help her clean the bathroom?”
“Of course I-”
“And did she seem mad when you left?”
“No... not really, she-”
Pinkie shoved a hoof into the pegasus's mouth. “Then there you have it; she's not mad at you, and she'd have no reason to say no to having dinner with you tonight. No 'but's.”
Smacking the hoof away from her face with a glare, Rainbow shook her head again. “Pinkie that's a terrible idea.”
“Have any of my ideas today been terrible?”
“Yes!” Rainbow shouted, throwing her hooves into the air. “You made me give her flowers that couldn't be less subtle if you put a love note in them, catapulted me into her bathroom while she was having a bath, and then covered us and the entire room in chocolate pudding. Have you had a single good idea today?!”
Pinkie grinned. “She liked the flowers though, right?” Before Rainbow could respond, Pinkie pressed on. “And she was worried about you instead of mad when you crashed. And covering you both in pudding not only let you spend time with her, but also got you in a shower together, didn't it? Where, might I add, she asked you for help washing her wings. AND she admitted she was into mares.”
“Well, yeah, I guess. But...” Rainbow trailed off as she realized she had no solid counter to the mare's points. Somehow, everything Pinkie had done turned out... good. Maybe... maybe the plan was actually working.
Swallowing nervously, she glanced out the window of Sugarcube Corner's upper floor towards Twilight's castle. “Are you sure? Would she even say yes?”
“Only one way to find out,” Pinkie sang, bouncing out of the room and leaving Rainbow alone with her thoughts.
Rainbow frowned, looking past her reflection in the window and out towards the crystal stall sitting on the outskirts of town. She snorted. “Where would I even take a mare like Twilight? She grew up in Canterlot, for Pete's sake! I can't get that fancy here in Ponyville...”
Giving a long sigh, Rainbow slumped forward, looking down at the few ponies milling about the streets. They looked so big when she was close to the ground. From her normal heights they were little more than ants below her. She looked up, and her eyes widened as she got an idea.
“Pinkie!” She shouted, scrambling to her hooves and racing down the stairs. “I need a blanket, now! And... uhh... I need to raid your fridge.”
Rainbow Dash stood on the doorstep of Twilight's castle, shifting her weight from hoof to hoof nervously. Everything was set up, ready for her to ask the question that had been weighing on her mind for months. The very question that she'd failed to ask so many times out of fear. Fear of what, even she couldn't say; the idea of their friendship crumbling was ridiculous. The thought of being turned down, while not pleasant, shouldn't have caused her hooves to shake as badly as they were.
By all logical rights, she had nothing to be afraid of. And yet, she'd been sitting outside that door for five minutes, double checking to make sure she'd set everything up. Now, it all hung in the by a single thread sitting on a razor's edge. Only one mare could take that razor away.
Taking a breath, Rainbow knocked. In her mind the noise sounded as though it could wake the dead, but in reality it hardly even made it past the front hall of the massive castle before her. Seconds ticked by, and for a moment she feared Twilight wasn't home. Where else could the alicorn be? Maybe Pinkie had tipped her off, and to avoid hurting Rainbow's feeling she left? Maybe she had gone home to Canterlot, to give Rainbow some space until her crush dissipated. Maybe-
“Hey, Rainbow Dash,” Spike greeted. “You know you really don't have to knock. This is technically your castle too... kinda.”
Rainbow shook herself from her panicked thoughts, pressing a hoof to her chest and realizing she was nearly hyperventilating.
Apparently she had more in common with Twilight than she'd first thought.
“Uh, h-hey, Spike. Is... is Twilight home?”
Spike gave a sly smirk. “Why, you wanna finish the job and actually break her nose this time?”
“What!? No! No it was an accident I didn't mean to-”
“Hey, hey, relax,” Spike urged, taking a step back from the door and motioning for the pegasus to come in. “I was just joking; I know you wouldn't hurt Twilight on purpose. She's up in her room reading... something I can't pronounce. Good luck dragging her out of it.”
Rainbow nodded her thanks and started her way towards the alicorn's bedroom, a path she only vaguely remembered even after a few weeks of visiting the castle fairly regularly. After navigating one too many long, straight, silent corridors, she found herself in front of Twilight's bedroom, the door already slightly ajar.
Taking a moment to pump up as much of her confidence as she could, Rainbow stepped through the door. Inside was lit by the sun hovering half way to the horizon outside the window,casting long shadows across the room. Twilight sat in a bed about twenty sizes too small for the room, legs curled up beneath her body, in front of a book. With a very distinct bruise forming under one of her eyes.
Clearing her throat, Rainbow started quickly. “Hey, Twi?”
The alicorn didn't so much as twitch.
Rainbow frowned. “Hey, egghead, you listening?”
Twilight's ear flicked as she turned the page. “What is it, Spike?”
“It's not Spike, Twi. It's me,” Rainbow called, raising her voice slightly with a roll of her eyes.
Twilight nodded. “Okay.”
Giving a long, frustrated growl, Rainbow marched up to the bed and waved her hoof between Twilight's book and her face. The alicorn shifted, at last, and Rainbow smiled victoriously. Her face practically melted, however, when Twilight simply swatted at the air as though a fly had buzzed past her ear.
“Hey, Twilight, the Princess is here.”
“That's nice,” Twilight responded obliviously.
Rainbow huffed, glaring daggers at the alicorn still sitting on the bed, completely unaware there was even another pony in the room. An idea struck, suddenly, and she smiled mischievously. “Hey, Twi.” she started slowly, sliding a little closer to the bed. “I got a question.”
“Okay,” she said, as predicted.
Nodding happily, leaned forward eagerly. “Wanna go on a date with me?”
Twilight turned a page. “Sure.”
“Great! I'll pick you up at six thirty, egghead. Be ready,” Rainbow shouted, dashing for the door and slamming it behind her. She counted down in her head, her smile growing bigger and bigger as the numbers got smaller.
“Three... two... one...”
“Wait.... what!?” Twilight screamed, her voice hardly muffled at all through the crystal walls.
Rainbow grinned and took off out the open window at the end of the all, disappearing into the sky before Twilight could catch her, giggling gleefully. “I'm holding you to that!” She shouted over her shoulder at the alicorn who had just appeared in the window, already a small dot in the distance.
When Ponyville's clock tower struck six thirty, Rainbow was sitting on a cloud high in the sky, looking down at the crystal castle that overlooked Ponyville. She'd been sitting there for half an hour. Preparations had been settled before she'd even asked Twilight out, and all that was left for her to do was sit and wait.
And think. And the more she thought the more concerned she grew. It was already a pretty uncool move to ask Twilight the way she did, and to hold the alicorn to something she had only barely agreed to was pretty low. With everything already done, however, she managed to push the guilt to the back of her mind, and was instead shrouded in the nerves she'd thought she bested when she asked.
Rainbow sighed, realizing if she took any longer she'd be late, and the last thing she needed was to make Twilight angry at her for being late... if Twilight even gave her a chance. That was still a maybe, too, and it was a big one.
Descending slowly, careful not to mess up her freshly-brushed mane, Rainbow touched down gently a few steps away from the front door. The wide open front door. The front door with a purple alicorn standing in the doorway.
In a dress.
Rainbow's jaw did its best to burrow through the ground beneath her hooves. In a feat of articulation she thought lost, she offered a quiet, stunned, “Bwagh?”
“H-hi, Rainbow,” Twilight greeted nervously, blushing and turning her head away. “This... this is what you're supposed to wear on a date? Right? I... only have a few books. Is it too much?”
Out of the corner of her eye, Rainbow caught sight of Pinkie leaning out of one of the castle's windows with a grin big enough to swallow a cake whole on her face. Rainbow tried her best not to scowl as she turned her attention back to the alicorn in front of her. “T-too much?”
“Is it?” Twilight asked, almost fearfully.
Rainbow blinked. There were many words she'd use to describe the mare before her. Some of the words she didn't even know the meaning of but they seemed to fit. Words like 'beautiful', 'amazing' and 'gorgeous' felt inadequate. The words meant to describe something that looked beyond good were undeserving of being applied to Twilight perfectly combed mane, shining gently in the light of the descending sun.
'Elegant' failed to capture the perfect, form-fitting figure of the dress, nor would 'perfect' accurately describe the way the dark purples matched her mane with amethyst highlights that drew attention to her stunning eyes.
Only one word came to mind for the mare before her, and however uncool and sappy it was, she couldn't keep herself from saying it.
“Y-you... you look... a-angelic.”
Twilight's cheeks burned a furious shade of pink as she tried to hide her eyes. “Th-thanks...”
Shaking herself from her stupor, and failing to pull her eyes away from the alicorn's beauty, Rainbow asked; “Wait, you're actually willing to go out with me?”
“Well... yeah...” Twilight trailed off, glancing over her shoulder before forcing herself to make eye contact. “I admit to panicking a little when I first realized that you asked me out but-”
“Yeah... I, uh... I'm really sorry about that,” Rainbow apologized awkwardly, rubbing the back of her neck. “I kinda... well, I didn't want to get turned down...”
“It's okay, though next time don't just fly away. To be honest though, I was going to ask you... eventually...”
Twilight bit her lip, scuffing her hoof along the floor. “Y-yeah... truth is I've kinda... had a crush on you for a little while now.”
It felt like the wind had been knocked from Rainbow's lungs as she stared agape at the mare before her. The pegasus's silence prompted Twilight to continue in a softer, shyer voice.
“You're just... so you. Infuriating and stubborn and...” she lost her nerve and looked away, “beautiful... I didn't know what I was feeling was a crush, at first. It took Fluttershy talking to me for an hour before she convinced my why I was having these.... um... thoughts... about you...
“Then she said I should go talk to somepony... else...”
Rainbow snorted. “How long was Rarity's lecture?
“Actually... Fluttershy said I should talk to Pinkie Pie.”
“I know,” Twilight said with a nod and a chuckle. “I thought she was crazy! But... well, she said Pinkie actually knew more about this kinda stuff than she let on, so I figured... well, if it would help me, then I'd try it. I was actually really surprised; Pinkie made a plan and everything. Called it Project P.I.; Pegasus Infatuation.”
Rainbow Dash's eyes trailed away from Twilight until they landed on the grinning face of Pinkie Pie, still sticking her head out the window. “Pinkie,” Rainbow shouted, glaring as venomously as she could. “I'm going to kill you!”
“I went to pinkie for help too!” Rainbow admitted, slapping a hoof to her face. “Even used the same damn name for the plan! I can't believe this... wait, so when you invited me to spend the day with you this morning-”
“Pinkie suggested it,” Twilight confirmed. “She actually gave me a lot of tips... including the... um... shower and... wing... things...”
Rainbow blushed as she recalled those particular memories. “This entire time... we were both trying to do the same thing...” she groaned loudly, before letting out a small chuckle at the situation. “Well, we shouldn't let her work go to waste, right?”
Returning her laugh, Twilight nodded. “No... although she could have made this so much easier; I was a little too distracted to make her Pinkie Promise not to tell you.”
“Aww, but that wouldn't be any fun! Besides, one of you had to ask out the other without knowing the answer, otherwise there's be no point!” Pinkie shouted from her vantage point.
Shaking her head in equal parts disbelief and humour, Rainbow sighed. “Thank you, Pinkie... but we've got it from here. A little privacy now?” By time she looked up the Pinkie mare had vanished completely.
“So, now that all that's sorted out...” Twilight started, her blush finally starting to die down. “I assume you have plans?”
Rainbow gave a cocky grin. “Oh you know it. Follow me!”
She leaped into the sky and spread her wings, motioning with a hoof for Twilight to do the same. While not quite as graceful as her friend, Twilight managed to get into the air and Rainbow lead them up towards the tip of the highest spire of the crystal tree. Around the very tip a small base of clouds had been constructed, just large enough for two ponies and a picnic blanket to sit comfortably on top.
Twilight landed on the clouds, grinning at the layout. Besides the simple, deep-blue blanket and picnic basket, a candelabra had been attached tot he tip of the tree, just barely poking through the clouds. The candles were lit despite the abundance of natural light from the setting sun, and seemed to ignore the wind blowing gentle across the clouds.
“Enchanted candles,” Twilight noted happily. “I'm impressed you thought about that.”
Rainbow smirked. “That wasn't all I thought about. This is... really important to me. I wanted everything to be perfect...” she trailed off as she glanced between Twilight's dress and her own, bare form with a mild sense of disappointment.
Spotting the look, Twilight was quick to react as she placed a comforting hoof on the pegasus's shoulder. “You look great, Rainbow. You don't need a dress to prove that.”
“Th-thanks,” Rainbow blushed, looking down towards the blanket. “But I still feel bad for making you get all dressed up if I wasn't going to. I was kinda going for a casual thing, ya know?”
Twilight nodded thoughtfully. “Well, if it's casual you want, I can certainly do that.” She lit her horn, and with a pop and a flash of magic the dress vanished from her body. “Better?”
Somehow, despite the lack of a beautiful dress, the mare herself still looked just as gorgeous. Rainbow grinned. “Perfect. Let's eat.”
Twilight groaned happily, one hoof resting on her belly as she laid on her back, staring up at the sky, set ablaze as the sun set beyond the horizon. “That.... was delicious.”
Rainbow nodded, sighing contentedly as she lay in the same position as the alicorn, their tails intertwined and their sides pressed together. “Thanks for giving me a chance, Twi. “
“Thanks for letting me,” Twilight answered back, turning her head tot he side and smiling fondly as the pegasus did the same. The candles continue to burn in the background, casting flicker shadows across both mare's faces as the sun's light slowly gave way to the dark of night.
It was, by all counts, a perfect moment, and Rainbow decided to take it. “Hey, Twi, I guess we both know the answer already... but I still gotta ask. Would you be my marefriend?”
There wasn't a moment's pause before Twilight nodded and smiled. “Of course, Rainbow.”
Rainbow blushed as she stared into Twilight's burning gaze. Before she knew it she was being drawn forward like a magnet attracted to its opposite half, and with a small start she realized Twilight was doing the same. In tandem their hooves reached up to gently cup the other's face. With a mere centimetre separating them, their eyes fluttered closed, and with a final push their lips met.
In the background the sun set, bathing the new couple in the silver glow of the moon as they kissed.