• Published 26th Sep 2013
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Flying in Place - Atosen



Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash have been friends for a long time. Fluttershy has been in love with Rainbow Dash for a long time. Rainbow Dash is waiting.

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The Choice

It was a beautiful day. Squirrels skittered through the trees and bunnies scampered across the fields. Birds sang and bees buzzed. The Sun shone down on the village of Ponyville and everypony was smiling and happy.

Fluttershy sat on a fuzzy blanket on a hill just outside of town. The blanket was obviously newly bought and a bit obnoxiously colourful, but that was okay. Fluttershy liked colours. Beside her she had a picnic basket, but she wasn’t inclined to open it just yet.

A few feet away a small cloud hung just above the ground. Rainbow Dash lounged on the cloud, lying on her back with her eyes closed.

“So, um … This is Ponyville,” said Fluttershy.

“Yup,” said Rainbow Dash.

“I, um, I like it so far. Don’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess it’s cool. It’s nothing on Cloudsdale, but hey. At least here I can get a cushy weather job.”

Fluttershy kneaded the blanket beneath her hooves. “I’m really grateful, Rainbow Dash.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Rainbow waved a hoof in the air. “I wasn’t gunna let you move here all on your own. We’re friends, right?”

Fluttershy lowered her head still further, making sure her pink mane hid her blush. “I – I mean it. I’m really grateful. F-for everything you’ve done for me.”

Rainbow twisted in her seat and opened her eyes. “‘Shy?”

“You’re, um, y-you’re always there for me and you like me even when other ponies think I’m too shy and you’re so amazing and I r-really don’t deserve it and –”

“‘Shy.”

“– and I love you, Rainbow Dash.”

Fluttershy squeaked and flattened herself against the ground, covering her head. A few silent seconds passed.

Rainbow’s hoof touched Fluttershy’s shoulder, and she peeked up at the blue pegasus. “Wow,” said Rainbow. “I, uh. Okay.”

Fluttershy squeaked again.

Rainbow gulped a few times before speaking again. “This is gunna sound worse than it’s supposed to, but … Can this wait? We only just moved to Ponyville. There’s, you know, a lot of stuff going on. Maybe we can talk about this again in a few months. Okay, ‘Shy?”

Fluttershy gave a trembling nod, and Rainbow’s shoulders visibly relaxed. “Sweet. So, uhhh. What’s for lunch?”

Fluttershy nosed open the picnic basket, and, even months later, they wouldn’t say another word about it.



*



“Damn it, damn it, damn it!”

Rainbow Dash flung herself into a cloud. It broke apart with a totally unsatisfying puff. Dash twisted in midair, spotted another cloud, and darted over to punch it with all her strength. She almost wrenched her elbow when it failed to offer any resistance.

“Argh! Clouds suck!” Rainbow shouted. She flitted upwards, found a larger cumulus, and cannoned through it. “The sky sucks! Flying sucks! Rrrgh!”

With nothing left nearby to attack, Dash flapped her wings hard and launched herself northwards. In seconds Ponyville vanished, left behind as she raced across the sky. Houses and ponies were replaced by farms and woods. Rainbow Dash ignored all of it. She climbed higher, seeking thinner air so she could fly even faster.

Miles burned away by the dozen. Dash’s wings were hot with exhaustion, but she refused to let herself do anything but fly harder and faster. Her coat was matted with sweat. Her breaths came in sharp hisses through her gritted teeth.

She had never had a destination in mind, but she wasn’t surprised when she found herself orbiting Canterlot. She searched the walls of the castle, found the right balcony, and closed her wings to swoop down onto it. She waited until the last moment to flare her wings and brake. Her hooves landed heavily on the tile.

Inside, two ponies looked up at the sound: a purple alicorn with a tiara, and a fiery orange pegasus wearing sunglasses. The glass doors lit up in a purple glow and opened for Dash. “Rainbow Dash!” said Twilight. “I’ve missed you! Oh, ah, let me introduce you.” She gestured to her guest. “Rainbow Dash, this is Spitfire, captain of the Wonderbolts. Spitfire, Rainbow Dash.”

Rainbow stepped into the room, still panting, and nodded at Spitfire. “Yeah, we’ve met.”

“Nice entrance, Rainbow Dash. You just come from training or something?”

“Hngh? No.” Rainbow wiped her brow and tried to slow her breathing. “Just flew from Ponyville at, like, top speed.”

Spitfire raised her eyebrows. “Huh. That’s some impressive endurance, Miss Dash. I had you down as a sprinter.”

“Uh, I guess? I dunno. Sprinting is my focus, but I’m flying pretty much constantly. It’s no big deal.”

Twilight interrupted. “Uh, maybe you should excuse us, Captain. I think Rainbow came here to talk to me. Would you mind coming back another time?”

Spitfire nodded, her eyes still on Rainbow. “Not at all. I’ll be in touch.” She turned and let herself out.

After the door closed, Twilight frowned at Rainbow. “That was the captain of the Wonderbolts. I’ve never seen you react so calmly to anything Wonderbolts-related. Plus, well –” she looked Rainbow up and down, taking in her windswept mane, heaving breaths, twitching wings, and watery eyes – “you look kind of awful. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, sure. Fine. Just wanted to drop by.”

“You’re not a very good liar, Dash.” Twilight eyed Rainbow thoughtfully. She trotted over to her bed and hopped onto it, then patted the spot next to her. Rainbow gingerly climbed up and sat. “This is about Fluttershy, isn’t it?”

Rainbow blinked. “H-how’d you know anything about that?”

“Fluttershy sent me a letter the other day, saying she was thinking of moving to Baltimare. I figured that would hit you pretty hard, since you two are in … I mean, since you two have been friends for so long.”

“Yeah, well.” Rainbow looked down at her hooves. “Some friend I am.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s my fault she’s leaving.” Rainbow wiped her hooves down her face and gave a long groan. “‘Shy’s got this huge crush on me.”

“Yeah, I kinda figured. But isn’t that a good thing? Why would that make her leave?” She looked at Rainbow’s expression. “You do like her too, don’t you?”

“Well yeah, of course I like her.”

“The same way she likes you?”

Rainbow hesitated. “Yes. I mean, maybe. I don’t know.”

“… Dash, why did you come to me? I know I have the crown and all, but I’m really not the expert in this sort of thing. Why not somepony like Rarity?”

“I dunno. I wasn’t really going to anyone. I just –” Rainbow waved a hoof vaguely. “I was angry, I needed to fly. This is just where I ended up.”

“What were you angry about?”

“Fluttershy leaving, duh. Who wouldn’t be angry about that?”

“You weren’t that angry when I left. Rainbow? Rainbow, can you look at me?” Slowly Rainbow lifted her face and locked eyes with Twilight, who gave a gentle smile. “Were you scared?”

“What? No!”

“Really? I would be.” Twilight spread her wings. “You know, Rainbow, when I got these wings I was pretty scared at first. I really liked the way things were before, and I didn’t want it to change. Heh, do you remember that night? The first question out of my mouth was whether I’d get to stay Celestia’s student. I’ve always been her student. I was terrified of losing that.” She closed her wings and smiled at Rainbow. “There were a lot of sleepless nights and soul-searching, if I’m honest. But in the end I accepted the crown – and you know what? I’m so glad I did. Now I can stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest ponies in the kingdom. I can personally make a difference in Equestria. It’s incredible.”

“And then you left us and moved to Canterlot,” said Rainbow. She winced at the accusation in her tone.

Twilight nodded. “And after being here a week, I’m pretty sure that was a mistake. I forgot how empty this city is – there’s so many ponies but it’s as if none of them mean anything. The time I spent with you girls was the best in my life. It’s what got me the wings. I never should’ve left.” She grinned. “So I’m thinking about moving back! If anypony wants to visit my court, they can come to Ponyville.”

Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “Seriously? A princess living in Ponyville?”

“Why not? Stranger things have happened to the town.”

“Heh. Is that why Spitfire was here, then? Some Royal Military business for your safety in Ponyville?”

“Actually, she was here about you.”

Rainbow’s expression darkened.

Twilight spoke slowly, as if even she wasn’t entirely sure what she’d heard. “She said you refused an invitation into the Wonderbolts training squad. They don’t get a lot of refusals, apparently, so she came to me hoping to find out why you’d do that. I told her I had no idea. You’ve been trying to get in for as long as I’ve known you.” Twilight waited, but Rainbow didn’t respond. “Rainbow? Is it the same problem? You’re scared of the change?”

“I’m not scared,” Rainbow snapped. She turned her head away, facing a book-filled corner of the room. “But I can’t have both, can I? I’d have to move to the ‘Bolts base in Cloudsdale. I can’t be a Wonderbolt and be with ‘Shy.”

There was silence for a few moments. Then Twilight gently said, “I understand now. It’s not just the fear of change. You’re scared of choosing between Fluttershy and your dreams.” She put a hoof on Rainbow’s shoulder. “There’s no easy way to say this. Neither one is going to wait much longer, Rainbow. Maybe you need to ask yourself: if you’re out of time and you really, truly have to choose …”

“If I’m out of time and I really, truly have to choose,” said Dash, “then it isn’t even a question.”

Rainbow got to her feet and nodded at the alicorn. “Thanks, Twi’. I know what I’m doing now.” Dash stepped out onto the balcony and dove into the air.

Given how long they’d been talking, Spitfire couldn’t have left the palace long ago. She should still be – There! Rainbow caught a glimpse of the standout orange mane walking down a street just beyond the palace grounds.

Rainbow’s wings ached with exhaustion, but still they propelled her after her charge. She caught the fiery pegasus as she was turning onto a main thoroughfare. “Spitfire!”

Spitfire turned toward the voice and her eyebrows rose. “Rainbow Dash? Is there something I can do for you?”

“No,” Rainbow said as she landed in front of Spitfire and set her hooves proudly. “There’s nothing you can do for me. There’s no way I’m leaving Ponyville, so you can just forget having me on your team.”

Spitfire lowered her shades and stared. After a few seconds, Rainbow shifted uncomfortably. “Yeah, uh. That’s what I wanted to say.”

“You just flew all the way from Ponyville to Canterlot at high speed, right?”

“… Yeah.”

“You do that regularly?”

“Sure. I mean, not usually that fast. I’ve flown back and forth a few times to help Twi’ move in. It only takes like an hour with a good wind.”

“You frequently fly between nearby cities, and consider it routine travel, and yet you think you would be required to leave Ponyville to join the ‘Bolts. Seriously.”

Rainbow paused. Her ears flicked. “Don’t all the Wonderbolts live and work in Cloudsdale?”

“It’s typical, yes, but our typical trainee can’t fly like you can fly, Rainbow Dash. Even if it was in the rulebooks, which it isn’t, we are always willing to make accommodations for a good recruit.” Spitfire straightened her shades. “You can join the ‘Bolts and still live in Ponyville. You will simply be required to fly to base in the morning and return home in the evening, assuming, of course, that you can handle it after a hard day’s training. That’s your responsibility.”

“So … That’s it? That’s all my problems solved?”

“Far as I’m concerned, there never were any problems. Why? Do you want there to be a problem?”

“Of course not!” Dash stepped back and half-spread her wings. “Why would I want there to be a problem?”

“Rainbow Dash, if you don’t want to join my team, that's your prerogative. You don’t need an excuse. If you’re looking for an excuse, then it sounds to me like there’s something in your life you need to sort out. That’s on you.” Spitfire stepped past Rainbow, then paused a moment more. “Consider your prior invitation to be valid again. I await your written response. Excuse me.”

Rainbow watched in silence as Spitfire continued down the street.