• Published 9th May 2013
  • 10,482 Views, 176 Comments

Learning To Let Go - Timaeus

The Mare Do Well fiasco has hurt Rainbow Dash more than her friends initially realized. Will Rainbow be able to let go of what happened?

  • ...

Part 1: Cracking The Surface

Rainbow Dash gazed at the parchment paper in front of her, suspended by the mulberry glow of Twilight’s magic. She gritted her teeth against the quill she still held in her mouth, and glanced down to see her friends, two of whom were still donned in their Mare Do Well façade and she strained her smile even more. A bead of sweat trickled down the back of her neck as she raked her mind for something to write to the Princess for her “friendship report” under the expectant watch of her friends.

Try as she might she could not think of a single thing to write. She tried to force thoughts of her friends tricking her, going behind her back and lying to her, out of her mind.

“Rainbow Dash?” Twilight tentatively ventured, breaking the silence.

Rainbow didn’t respond, still stuck in her thoughts, trying to clear her head. She was confused, and still emotionally raw from the entire ordeal, and now she was trying to sort out exactly what she felt while expected to write a letter to Princess Celestia all at the same time.

“Hello? Rainbow Dash?”

This time Twilight’s voice was able to shake Dash out of her reverie, and she responded with a carefully articulated “Huh?”

“Are you okay?” Twilight asked, removing the hat from her ensemble, “You’ve been hovering there for a couple minutes now and haven’t said, written, or done anything.”

“Oh...uh, yeah, sure, of course I’m fine! You guys may have pulled a fast one on me with Mare Do Well, but I’m still the most awesome pony in Ponyville!” Rainbow adds with emphasis, trying to pull off some of her trademarked cocky air, floating back down to the ground. “I’m just a little tired from chasing you guys is all. I’ll write this baby up in ten seconds flat once I get my energy back.”

“Okay, if you’re sure,” Twilight said unconvinced.

“Eheh, ‘course I’m sure Twi’! Why wouldn’t I be? Ahem, umm, hey guys, what’re we going to do with these Mare Do Well costumes now? I mean, the whole town’s kinda waiting for us back there to start this parade thing, and they’ll be expecting to see Mare Do Well there too.”

“Well, after you left to chase after Pinkie in her Mare Do Well costume, the townsfolk started to disperse, looking for the two of you. The rest of us slipped away as soon as we could, but I do recall overhearing some of the ponies, especially little Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, mention that they hoped you would catch Mare Do Well so they could find out who their hero really was,” Rarity explained, looking around the alleyway they were currently occupying, “and now that I think about it, darlings, I’m quite honestly surprised we haven’t been seen by anypony.”

At the mention of Mare Do Well as everypony’s hero, especially Scootaloo’s, Rainbow visibly winced, but said nothing as she forced the feelings down. She knew that, no matter how much she wanted to, now was not the time to explode in everypony’s face, so she remained quiet.

“W-well, nopony knows about Mare Do Well besides us and Spike,” Fluttershy said, pawing the ground with a hoof. “I, uhm, would rather not tell everypony that is was us though, the crowds just frighten me. Unless you think that we should, of course,” near-whispering meekly at the end.

“No, you’re right Fluttershy,” Twilight continued, “I think it’s best that ‘The Mysterious Mare Do Well’ remain just that, a mystery,” waving her forelegs in the air for faux-dramatic effect, “but we will need a cover story to explain what happened here.”

“Well, if ya have any brilliant ideas, now would be a good time to share ‘em, sugarcube,” Applejack agreed, sliding off her own costume.

Twilight tapped a hoof against her chin in thought, “Rarity, how many Mare Do Well outfits did you make exactly?”

“I only made five. There’s the original prototype model that’s kept hidden at my store, away from the prying hooves and eyes of Sweetie Belle and her Crusader friends. Then there’s Applejack’s and Pinkie’s, as well as the one you’re wearing darling, and the pegasi-specific one that I made for Fluttershy, which is also back at my shop under lock and key,” she listed off.

“OH! I know what we should do!” Pinkie shouted as she popped back into existence from a nearby flower pot. “We should throw a party!”

“Uhh, Pinkie, I hate to burst your bubble, but why?” Applejack deadpanned, dirt from the flower pot covering her face.

“Well, duh silly filly!” she replied while patting Applejack on the shoulder, “to celebrate the unmasking of Mare Do Well and for Rainbow learning this week’s lesson!”

Again Rainbow visibly winced, and she prayed nopony noticed.

“Okay, well if we’re going to have a party, we should pick a good place to have it,” Twilight added, removing her costume now as well. “Everypony is still out looking for Rainbow Dash and Mare Do Well, and we need to get these costumes out of sight, not to mention plan and bring supplies.”

“If yer all so insistent on having a party, we could always have it at Sweet Apple Acres,” Applejack suggested.

“OH! A camping-sleepover-party-bananza!” Pinkie exclaimed, jumping several feet into the air. “I’ll need marshmallows, and chocolate, and graham crackers, and a harmonica, and a party tent, and-UMPH!” Her listing of materials was cut off by Applejack inserting her hoof into her mouth.

“Okay, we get it, you’re excited, now are we doing this or not?” Applejack exasperated, rolling her eyes.

“That’s not a bad idea! Sweet Apple Acres is close enough to Ponyville so that we can always come back if we need something, and distant enough to be out of everypony’s way. We can meet up there in the southern fields in a couple of hours. In the meantime, we can go back home, hide our costumes, and get our supplies ready,” Twilight suggested, a smile forming on her face. “Although we’ll need to distract everypony with something so we won’t get noticed with our outfits...Rainbow, do you think you can create a diversion for us?”

Rainbow, who had only been partially paying attention to the conversation, jerked at the mention of her name, “Huh? What kind of diversion?”

“Hmm, oh! I know! Do you think you could come up with a story explaining how you caught up to Mare Do Well, but she got away and isn’t ever planning on coming back? That way, we can get home unnoticed and it’ll clear up this Mare Do Well issue for good!” Twilight explained, clapping her forehooves together.

Rainbow Dash couldn’t believe her ears. She gaped slack jawed at the group in front of her, acting as if nothing had happened, like they were just hanging out at the market. After all she had gone through today, she was now being asked to come up with some story to explain why Ponyville’s “best hero” suddenly disappeared, how was that fair?

Do they really expect me to make that much of a fool out of myself?

Relenting, she sighed, “Fine. Yeah, whatever, I’ll get everypony’s attention. I’ll meet you all at the southern fields, alright?”

Twilight looked as if she was going to ask Rainbow if she was okay, but Rainbow never gave her the chance. Without a single warning, she took off into the skies of Ponyville and flew back to the town square where she could address the entire town. She blinked away the tears forming in her eyes as she flew at at breakneck speeds, still too confused and angry to talk to anypony right now, but she had to.

Sighing again, she flew down to the stage where Mayor Mare was waving her down. Head hanging low, Rainbow landed gracefully onto the stage, and almost didn’t hear the Mayor ask her what happened. She shook her head, trying to dispel the thoughts that plagued her mind. It wouldn’t do herself any good if she kept on getting lost in her own thoughts.

Ugh, I gotta get outta my head...This isn’t like me. I don’t think about things like this, I’m a pony of action!

“Miss Dash? Are you listening to me? What happened? Where’s Mare Do Well?” she asked again, a little more enthusiastically.

“Yeah, well, see...the thing is,” Rainbow scratched the back of her head with a hoof as she thought up a convincing story, “Actually, this might be easier if I just addressed everypony at once, is that alright?”

Mayor Mare nodded emphatically and gestured for her to begin.

“Yeah, thanks,” Rainbow said simply, turning to the group of ponies. Clearing her throat, she began. “Can I get everypony’s attention please?!” she shouted out to the crowd of ponies still waiting to begin the parade. After waiting a moment for the crowd to settle down, she started to tell her story.

“I did catch up to Mare Do Well. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I almost got her mask off, but before I could, she escaped. I chased her down the alleyways and eventually cornered her. Before I could make my move, she asked me to wait. I was kind of shocked and all. I mean, it’s not like she had ever said anything to anypony before. Anyways, she told me that she was leaving Ponyville and that she wouldn’t be coming back. I tried to go after her, but she teleported away and I lost track of her.” As Rainbow told her story she gauged the audience’s reaction. Many of the ponies looked sad at the news of their hero leaving them, especially the foals.

Guilt and anger conflicting inside of her, Rainbow almost exploded in emotional turmoil then and there. Gritting her teeth, she swallowed her pride and continue on with the story, “But she did mention that she left because this town didn’t need her anymore. She...she asked me to tell everypony that she’s seen the kindness, the courage, and the strength of every single pony in Ponyville, and that nopony should be sad that she’s leaving. Instead, she asked that we continue on with our celebrations today.”

“Rainbow Dash is right!” the Mayor proclaimed. “We should not let this news dishearten us from our celebrations! Now come on everypony, we have a parade to begin!”

The crowd erupted into cheers and began to organize themselves. Rainbow Dash, on the other hoof, turned away and took off once more without another word. She gritted her teeth as she flew towards her cloudhouse, not believing what she’d just said.

Ugh, what’s wrong with me?! Did I seriously just glorify the same pony that’s been showing me up for days in front of the entire town?!

Even more confused and angry than ever, Rainbow alighted down on her cloud house and stormed up to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. Being made of cloud though, the door shut with a barely audible thump, and didn’t sate her anger in any way.

She stopped in front of her mirror and watched as her reflection looked at her with a look of barely restrained fury. Rainbow Dash groaned and rubbed her temples with her hooves to try and sort out her feelings.

Rainbow opened her eyes and went over the day’s events again. She was angry that the whole town had forgotten about all of the awesome things she had done for them as soon as Mare Do Well showed up.

Rainbow felt her heart rate increase and her brow furrow.

How could they?! After everything I did for everypony they all completely forgot about me! I went from hero to zero in no time flat! Since Mare Do Well showed up, I went from being Ponyville’s biggest hero to some pegasus that nopony needed anymore.

Even though she told herself that she was still as amazing as ever, she was still all alone. It wasn’t being bested by Mare Do Well that got her down or the fact that maybe there was a better hero out there than her, but being abandoned by all of Ponyville, by all of her friends… When she needed them the most, her friends flat-out laughed at her and went on and on about the how “fantastic” and “amazing” Mare Do Well was. They were all so smug about how they managed to show her up without her even knowing it was them.


Her friends.

The realization hit Rainbow Dash so hard that she needed to place a hoof on her bedside table to keep her balance. Beginning to hyperventilate, Rainbow looked again in the mirror as she finally came to terms with reality.

Her friends, her closest and dearest friends in the world, had gone behind her back and showed her up in front of the whole town. They made her look like a total idiot in front of everypony! How could her friends humiliate her like that?! Sure, she went overboard with the boasting and bragging, but was all of that really necessary? For Rarity to go and make specialized costumes for each of them? To brag about how great Mare Do Well was to her face when she was obviously upset about it? Rainbow knew that she made it clear she was hurting from this whole scenario, but no, they kept up their little charade and toyed with her!

Before she even knew she was crying, she felt the tears stream down her cheeks.

No, Rainbow Dash does not cry.

She bit back a sob as she buried her face in her bed.

But why? The question burned in her mind, pushing away all other thoughts. Why would her friends go behind her back like that just to show her up?

She could kind of understand why Applejack might do something like that, she guessed. She was always competing with her, but she could not understand why she would do it in such an underhoofed way. Was she still sore over her tilting the odds in her favour during the Iron Pony Competition?

Pinkie could have just seen it as some kind of elaborate prank, not taking any of what they were doing really seriously. But did she honestly expect this to not phase Rainbow in any way?

It would have been a chance for Rarity to show off her sewing skills again, something she never hesitated to do. And even though she never technically put on the getup, she still knew what they were doing and only helped to humiliate Rainbow even more.

But Fluttershy and Twilight? Why would those two ever do something like this? She’d known Fluttershy since flight school, and she never would have guessed her capable of something like this. She even laughed at her earlier.

And why Twilight? She trusted Twilight more than any of the others. She had always been the kind of pony that would put anything aside to help a friend, she would always listen to her problems and help out in any way that she could. In a lot of ways, Twilight was just as loyal as Rainbow Dash was, and she was pretty sure she even heard Twilight say that she was awesome earlier on. So why would she stab her in the back like that? Why would she let the others do the same?!

She felt as if she was drownin;, her head swam with so many conflicting emotions that she needed to do something, sitting here was just going to drive her insane. Struggling to breathe, she nearly jumped out of her skin when her clock chimed from her nightstand. Calming her rapidly beating heart, she looked out the window to see that it was getting late in the afternoon, and she still had to go help set up the campsite with her “friends.”

She sighed and slowly made her way back to her hooves. Glumly, she decided to not bring up the Mare Do Well issue with the others. Rainbow rationalized that if she went off on her friends for going behind her back, they would all take offense and leave her alone again.

Rainbow Dash hated to be alone.

She thought back to earlier that day when everypony ignored her to go to see Mare Do well and shuddered at the memory. Not even her biggest fan would give her the time of day. The thought of it made it feel as if there was a pit in her stomach. If it meant acting like everything was fine on the outside just to avoid that horror, then so be it. Maybe she could just move on and pretend that it never happened in the first place.

Rainbow gathered a sleeping bag and a few other necessary supplies, doing her best to mentally prepare herself for what was going to inevitably be a long, sleepless night.

Out in the southern fields of Sweet Apple Acres, a campfire that once burned and roared gloriously now smoldered as a few small embers, the orange glow softly illuminating the group’s makeshift campsite. The six had enjoyed a night of partying, singing, and eating s’mores until the moon was high in the night sky, stars twinkling brightly overhead, and decided it was time to retire for the evening.

Rarity already had her extravagant tent set up and was resting peacefully within. She offered to share her tent with Fluttershy, as she found her tent riddled with holes after a few of her more mischievous animal friends found it. Pinkie and Applejack were sound asleep in their own tents, softly snoring into the night.

Twilight had elected to sleep outside under the blanket of the night sky. Even in Ponyville, free from the light pollution of the metropolis that is Canterlot, Twilight had rarely seen a night as clear as it was tonight. She thought she could do some stargazing, eyes filled with wonder as she took in every piece of Luna’s masterpiece. Though, try as she might, sleep would not come for the unicorn this night.

Her conscience would constantly repeat the images of Rainbow’s look of shock at her friends earlier that day when they were all unmasked. Just when she was about to drift off into the welcoming embrace of sleep, she would see Rainbow cringe and the hurt on her face that she tried to hide so well whenever the incident was mentioned. Twilight could not shake the grip of guilt that held her. She understood that Rainbow had been outright ridiculous with her bragging, but she couldn’t help but worry that perhaps they had gone too far in trying to teach her a lesson.

She told herself over and over again that if something was bugging Rainbow Dash, she would trust her friends enough to confide in them. But would she? Twilight’s head ached as she couldn’t help but go through the same circular argument for the umpteenth time. If Rainbow was hurting because of something she did, would she really feel comfortable approaching the very ponies that were the cause of her hurt?

She replayed the night in her mind’s eye. Rainbow had been distant all evening, and though she did her best to hide it, Twilight had been paying enough attention to her to notice that something was definitely bugging the normally abrasive and confident pegasus. She had tried all evening to find a good time her about the whole Mare Do Well situation... and maybe that other thing, but one never came up.

The others did not seem to notice anything amiss with Rainbow. Though Twilight had been paying special attention lately due to a crush she had been harbouring on the pegasus for the past several weeks.

Ever since Discord’s escape and after he had brainwashed all of her friends, Twilight came to the realization as she freed them from his spell as to how important each of her friends were to her.

She loved all of her friends dearly, but somehow, Rainbow Dash had managed to worm her way into her heart a little further than the rest. It made no logical sense, and Twilight had spent many a sleepless night, much like this one, thinking about the beautiful rainbow-maned mare. No matter what rationale she used or what argument she was able to come up with, she somehow ended up at the same conclusion: she had strong, romantic, feelings for one of her best friends; a mare no less. Not a day went by where she didn’t think of her, or steal a longing glance when she wasn’t looking.

It had been hard enough to keep her blush in check in close proximity to Rainbow Dash, but she had been able to keep her feelings unknown from the others. It was only a matter of time before Rarity or, even worse, Rainbow Dash caught on. She had just come to terms with her feelings for Rainbow, and she had never really had thought of another pony that way before. Twilight didn’t think she could handle the rejection, but keeping this to herself was just eating her up on the inside. A day didn’t go by where she would look to Rainbow Dash and feel her heart ache.

But how would she tell her?

Twilight quietly groaned and, defeated, rolled over onto her side, tired of staring up at the night sky she had grown accustomed to seeing. It never provided any solace for her before, so why should it now? Not only was guilt gnawing on her, but she was still torn up about her feelings for Rainbow.

She hugged her pillow close to her, a poor substitute for another pony, and saw that the sleeping bag formerly occupied by the cause of Twilight’s mental unrest was now empty. It lay sprawled about on the ground, its owner nowhere in sight.

Suddenly alert, Twilight, as slowly and quietly as she could, removed her own blankets and stood up, careful not to make any noise that would wake her still slumbering friends. Twilight’s head turned to and fro, eyes scanning for any sign of Rainbow Dash.

“Rainbow?...Are you there?” she whispered into the night air. Silence was her response, and she mentally chided herself. Of course she wouldn’t hear something so quiet if she wasn’t in the immediate area.

Moving carefully between her friends’ tents, Twilight walked the perimeter of their campsite looking for her missing friend, her concern and worry building rapidly, all the while flummoxed by her disappearance in the first place.

Where would she have run off to? Why did she run off in the first place? How did she slip away without Twilight noticing? She began to panic as there was still no sign of Rainbow Dash, and her blood froze as a thought popped into her head: Oh Celestia, was this their fault? Did they all drive her away with the Mare Do Well stunt? Never before had Twilight hoped that she was wrong.

A small part of her still hoped that Rainbow had just gone out for some night flying to ease some tension in her wings and that this had nothing to do with Mare Do Well. A much larger part of her screamed back that of course she was not okay with this and that this had everything to do with Mare Do Well. She asked herself if she really would be okay if somepony showed up out of nowhere and upstaged her at every turn, only to be revealed to be her friends playing a trick on her.

Now searching a little more frantically, Twilight left the safety of the campsite and ventured further into the wooded domain of Sweet Apple Acres. In most other cases, she would be more cautious about walking alone at night, but she had been to Applejack’s farm enough times to know that there was a simple layout to the seeding and planting of trees.

Though it was a cloudless and clear night, the tops of the trees darkened the area around Twilight. She channeled some of her magic into her horn to softly illuminate her surroundings. Her horn glowing, she walked through the farm, keeping a sharp eye out for her friend. She was about to return to the camp and wake the others when a shadow passed by overhead. Twilight raised her head to see Rainbow gliding through the night, nearly invisible in the shadows of the trees.

From the ground, Twilight followed the fleeting form of her friend, staying out of sight as she alighted in a small clearing. So far unnoticed, Twilight stood by and watched as Rainbow paced back and forth across the clearing, grumbling to herself. Straining her ears, Twilight slowly approached the clearing, trying in vain to hear what Rainbow was saying. Twilight’s eyes darted back and forth across the ground, planning out her next course of action. She decided that spying on her best friend and secret crush was probably not the best idea, and opted to make her presence known.

Twilight walked slowly into the clearing, Rainbow’s back still facing her, and stopped a few feet away from the pegasus.

She cleared her throat, and tentatively stuttered out, “R-rainbow?”

Rainbow visibly jumped, turning to face Twilight in midair. Clearly she was not expecting to see anypony up at this late hour besides herself.

“Jeez, Twilight! Aren’t you always telling Spike not to sneak up on anypony?! You nearly gave me a heart attack!” Rainbow yelled, placing a hoof over her heart as if to try and force it to slow down. “What are you doing up so late anyways? I thought you were sleeping.”

Twilight looked down at her hooves, thankful that the darkness of the night hid her blush so well. “I was staying up late to do some stargazing after the others went to sleep, but I couldn’t get any sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about... things,” she finished lamely.

“Oh yeah? What kinds of ‘things’?”

Twilight looked away from Rainbow, suddenly very interested in a tree off to her right, “Oh, umm, you know, nothing really important. Just some egghead stuff that you wouldn’t really be interested in hearing about, yeah.”

“Oh really?” Rainbow asked, not convinced in the slightest.

Twilight’s face was near beat red and almost let something slip before she remembered the reason she was out here. “Yeah, uhm, and when I rolled over I noticed that you weren’t in your sleeping bag. I got worried and decided to go look for you, and here I am. What are you doing up so late? And why are you so far away from the campsite?” she asked, redirecting the question over to Rainbow.

Twilight saw Rainbow’s confident demeanor shatter, her eyes darting back and forth as she grasped for an excuse, “I-I, uhh, I couldn’t sleep either, so I thought some night flying might help me relax.”

Twilight could tell there was some truth to that, but by the way Rainbow was acting, not making direct eye contact, and wings twitching as if she’s getting prepared to fly away at a moment’s notice, she could tell that there was something more to all of this.

She swallowed a ball at the back of her throat, and closed the distance between the two, her concern for her friend overriding her romantic inclinations towards her. Twilight placed a comforting hoof on Rainbow’s shoulder, and while the pegasus froze at the contact, she didn’t pull away.

“Rainbow... Please, just tell me what’s wrong,” Twilight pleaded. “I can tell something’s been on your mind all day, ever since the Mare Do Well incident this afternoon. I tried to bring it up earlier, but I could never get you alone. So please, let me help...” she whispered.

Rainbow looked in Twilight’s eyes, and Twilight saw fear and confusion and... Was that anger in Rainbow’s eyes?

She looked as if she was about to say something, but stopped herself and hung her lead low, shrugging off Twilight’s hoof.

“I...it’s nothing, really Twi’. Let’s just head back to camp and get some sleep before the others notice we’re gone,” Rainbow mumbled, her bangs hiding her eyes from view.

She turned to leave, her face still obscured by her mane. At a momentary loss for words, Twilight watched, a pit forming in her stomach as her best friend blocked her out. Twilight was determined to get through to her though, and steeling her resolve, she ran ahead to cut Rainbow off.

“Twi’...what are you doing?”

“Not letting you go like this,” came the response. She lifted Rainbow’s chin with a hoof so she would look her in the eyes. She was met with a look of sadness and despair that she had never seen in the eyes of the confident pegasus.

“Please Rainbow, I’m your friend, you can tell me anything, no matter what,” Twilight pleaded. “I promise that whatever it is I’ll be here for you, I won’t be mad or anything. You can trust me...”

“Trust you?! That’s a sick joke Twi’!” Rainbow snapped, the despair that flooded her eyes seconds ago replaced with a blinding rage. She slapped Twilight’s hoof away, making her cringe and stumble back, “You really think you can just waltz on over and say that sorta stuff, how ‘I can trust you’ and how ‘I can tell you anything’ after the stunt you pulled?!”

“B-but Rainbow, what are you-” Twilight started, still nursing her hoof. It didn’t really hurt, but the fact that Rainbow had just pushed her away and was now yelling at her that had really stung.

“BUT NOTHING!” she shouted into the night, silencing Twilight. “You really wanna know what’s wrong? I thought a pony as smart as you, oh ‘Faithful Student of Princess Celestia,’ would have been able to figure it out. But no, you’ve never really been good with other ponies, have you?!”

Shocked into submission at the rapid change in her friend’s demeanor, Twilight stood as Rainbow lashed out at her. Before she knew what was happening, she could feel herself crying openly as Rainbow paced in front of her, her onslaught ongoing.

“Well fine! I’ll tell you what’s wrong! It’s that my closest friends, those that I would never leave hanging and that I would HOPE would do the same for me went behind my back and betrayed me!”

Twilight’s breath caught in her throat at the accusation.

“Not only did you make up some ‘hero’ to upstage me at every turn, but you were all in on it! All of you! And when I needed a friend throughout this whole thing, you all just sat there and rubbed it in my face how amazing ‘The Mysterious Mare Do Well’ was. When I needed you, you pointed and laughed to my face!” Rainbow screamed, her voice breaking. “Sure, maybe I went overboard with the bragging, but was that all really necessary?! My ‘best friends’ humiliated me in front of the entire town! And when I needed you the most, you abandoned me!”

Twilight had sunk to her haunches by now, cringing as Rainbow continued her tirade. She was tempted to snap back, but she held her tongue. She could only think that this was all her fault...if she had just stopped everypony from going on with the plan, if she had just told Rainbow Dash sooner...

Rainbow’s rant ended, and she stood facing Twilight, panting as she caught her breath. Her wings were outstretched in typical pegasus fashion to make oneself look bigger and more threatening. Twilight could hear the tears as they dripped down to the ground from her chin.

“I...just, I don’t understand why,” Rainbow whispered faintly. “Why would you all do that to me? Why would you do that to me, Twi’? I can kinda guess why Applejack, Pinkie, and Rarity might be in on it. Fluttershy was in on it too, but she never really did anything except fly overhead, and it still hurt...but why Twilight? How could you? I...I thought we were friends...”

Rainbow’s sniffles filled the night as she barely held herself together, “After that jerk Trixie came to town last year, I never thought you of all ponies would go to such lengths to show me up. I trusted you all... I trusted you, Twilight... and when I needed you most you abandoned me.”

Her voice was strained at the end of her tirade as the pegasus bit back a sob. Twilight watched for a moment as Rainbow began to cry silently, bangs obscuring her face from view, before she gently reached forward and pulled her into a hug. After struggling weakly against her, Rainbow collapsed into the purple unicorn, sobbing into her coat as her emotional barriers came tearing down. Twilight was likewise crying into Rainbow’s shoulder, rubbing the pegasus’ back in small circles, trying to comfort her.

“We hurt you... oh my Celestia we hurt you Rainbow,” Twilight whispered in-between strained sobs, “I’m so sorry. I-I never should have put on that stupid costume. I’m such an idiot. I should have realized what we were doing was going to hurt you. I’m so, so sorry. I should have stopped the others instead of just standing by, but when the dam burst, I put the outfit on and just went along with it...”

Rainbow continued to cry into Twilight’s lavender coat as she let out all of her frustration, all of her anger, and all of her despair in the darkness.

“Oh my gosh Rainbow, you must hate me,” Twilight ended, tears unnoticed as her guilt tore her up on the inside.

“N-no, I don’t hate you,” came the muffled response from Twilight’s shoulder. Emotionally drained, Rainbow felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her chest. She broke the embrace and sat mere inches away from Twilight, who thanked Luna for the darkness that hid her blush. “I don’t think I could ever hate you... and look, I’m sorry I bit your head off back there... I just really needed to get that off my chest... It was eating me up, and I guess you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Twilight raised a hoof to wipe away the tears from Rainbow’s cheek, and smiled when the normally brash pegasus didn’t pull away.

“No Rainbow, you don’t have to apologize for anything,” Twilight said with a caring tone. “It was all of us that made the mistake. What we did was not justified by your boasting at all, and I’m so sorry. Can you ever forgive us?” she finished with a hopeful tone, tears beginning to well up in her eyes yet again.

Rainbow inhaled deeply, visibly calming down and relaxing, “Of course I can,” she said as she leaned in to hug Twilight again. “You know, I feel a lot better now. Thanks Twilight.”

Twilight, now blushing such a bright red that it would put all of the apples in the orchard to shame, was eventually able to mumble out, “N-no problem, Rainbow. But thanks for what? I didn’t do anything.”

“Sure you did,” Rainbow smiled. “You were there for me. Even if you weren’t before, you are now, and you let me vent and get all of this off of my chest.”

Rainbow sniffled and nuzzled into Twilight’s neck affectionately, “Really, thanks for listening. I think I’m gonna be okay now.”

Twilight, struck speechless for the second time that night, could only think to return the hug, her heart fluttering about in her chest. She couldn’t help but smile ear-to-ear as she shared this moment with Rainbow Dash. Giddily, she saw a spark of hope for her and Rainbow. Maybe they could make something work. Maybe, just maybe, she could one day tell her how she feels.

But not tonight, there had already been enough emotional trauma for one night, so she settled to revel in the moment, returning the nuzzle. Begrudgingly though, she knew this had to end at some point, and it was very late.

“Come on, let’s get back to the camp and get some sleep,” Twilight suggested, ending the hug that lasted an eternity yet was still too short at the same time.

“Yeah, okay,” Rainbow yawned. “I haven’t felt this tired in a long time.”

“Umm, I know that it’s still soon, but do you think you should tell the girls about this too? About the whole Mare Do Well thing?” Twilight ventured.

Rainbow stopped cold in her tracks, “I... really don’t know if I can Twi’. I mean, it was hard enough to come out to you about it... and that kinda ended with me shouting in your face. I didn’t talk to you guys about it... well, it’s actually a dumb reason.”

“You can tell me, I’m here for you and I won’t ever abandon you again, I promise,” Twilight said reassuringly.

Rainbow looked back into Twilight’s eyes, and Twilight saw hints of the same fear and confusion that she had seen earlier that evening.

“...okay. Well, I thought that if I told you about how upset I was, you would all leave me again, and I don’t think I could handle it if everypony left me...”

“Oh, Rainbow, we really hurt you, didn’t we?” Twilight asked, knowing the answer. “Listen, I know you’re scared, but I promise you everything will turn out okay.”

“How can you be so sure?” Rainbow asked, scared at the prospect of losing her friends.

“I just know. The girls will understand,” Twilight consoled. “I know we hurt you, but that wasn’t our intention, and once you tell them how what we did scarred you, they’ll all see. And I’ll be with you every step of the way. If you need help, I’ll be right there.”

“Okay Twi’, I trust you,” Rainbow smiled. “Now let’s get some sleep.”

Twilight giggled softly, “Okay Rainbow.”

The two made their way back to the welcoming warmth of their sleeping bags under the pale light of the crescent moon and stars above, walking a little closer together than normal, though neither noticed it at the time.

Author's Note:

And here it is! After weeks of planning, writing, editing, procrastinating, and crying I give you the first of 3 parts to my Mare Do Well contest entry!

Expect Part 2 to show up Friday/Saturday this week, and hopefully Part 3 Sunday/Monday once it is finished.

Comments and feedback are always appreciated.