• Published 5th Jun 2014
  • 4,891 Views, 255 Comments

Wear Flowers in Your Mane - jkbrony



On a day she spends with her surrogate little sister, Scootaloo, Rainbow Dash receives news that will change her life forever. Everypony must deal with loss at some point or another....

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Chapter 3 -- The Party

Rainbow Dash stared down miserably at a plate of haysteaks in front of her, finding no desire to eat in spite of how hungry she was. It had been a long day, consisting of nothing but darting straight up high into the sky, and then coming back down with up to six times the velocity in the hopes of making a sonic boom burst through the sky in a spectacle of colors. Except that it never happened. Not today, not yesterday, and there was no reason to expect that it would happen tomorrow either. Regardless, she had to keep trying. The stakes were just too high: an instant spot into the Wonderbolts when she reached a mature age. She had done it once before, and she simply needed to do it again, even if it was for the very last time. But with every failure, the fear that she would never be able to pull it off again only sunk in deeper and deeper, and she did not exactly find herself in the best of moods.

"What's the matter with you? Eat," said a voice from across the table.

"I don't feel like it," Rainbow Dash replied dejectedly.

"Well, I wish you had told me that before I fixed your plate," said the voice with irritation. "What's wrong?"

Rainbow looked up from the plate into the eyes of her father.

"I still can't do it," she said. "I don't understand why."

"Do what?"

"The Sonic Rainboom," answered Dash.

Rainbow Blaze rolled his eyes with frustration.

"Isn't it bad enough that you were suspended from Flight Camp? Why do you insist on humiliating me further?"

"Why do you always have to bring up Flight Camp?" Dash snapped. "I was suspended for helping a friend. I didn't know that was such a crime."

'"Helping a friend?!'" he roared, nearly jumping up from his seat. "You could have put those ponies in the hospital! And who do you think would have had to pay their bills if you did?! You should have just tended to your own business and not gotten involved."

Rainbow Dash looked back down at her plate, now fighting the urge to throw it against the wall.

"Why do I need to go to Flight Camp anyway? None of those ponies can fly half as well as me! I'm already good enough for the Wonderbolts."

Blaze shook his head. "You can hold onto that fantasy all you want, but sooner or later, you're going to have to choose a career for yourself."

"I already have chosen a career," Dash said defiantly. "I just have to do a Sonic Rainboom one more time and I'm guaranteed a spot in the Wonderbolts when I get older."

Blaze shook his head again, his patience wearing thin.

"They wanted you to prove that it wasn't just a fluke. Clearly, the fact that you're struggling to do it again means that it indeed was just a fluke."

"No, it wasn't!" retorted Dash. "I can do it again. I know I can."

"It's impossible," said Blaze, staring hard at her.

"Yeah, it was impossible. But guess what? I did it. And I have the cutie mark to prove it."

Her father grunted with frustration, resigning himself to the notion that he may as well have been arguing with a rock.

"It was a one-in-a-million occurrence," he said. "It's never going to happen again, no matter how hard you try. All you're doing is wasting time that can be better spent on something more constructive."

Rainbow Dash's eyes lowered once again. "I don't want any other career. I want to be a Wonderbolt..."

"You and many other pegasi out there. But the odds are stacked against you. You might just have to accept that it's not meant to be. Because it's probably not."

He turned back to his own plate of haysteaks and continued eating, completely ignoring Rainbow Dash as she removed herself from the table and ran up to her room. She slammed the door shut from behind her and threw herself onto her bed, silently beginning to weep...

****

Rainbow Dash awoke to a knock at her door. She found herself lying flat, facedown on her bed. It had been a long and largely sleepless night, with her mind still heavily weighed down by thoughts and memories that refused to leave her alone. On nights when sleep did not come easy, she often took to the skies in a moonlight nighttime fly to put her mind at ease. Yet unfortunately, even that had failed to grant her much sleep. The light of dawn gradually rose through her windows. Rainbow's eyes failed to adjust well to the light as she lifted her head. Her her mane was wildly disheveled and bags hung under her eyes, representing how little sleep she had managed to get.

As she stumbled out of bed, the knock was heard again.

"I'm coming!" Rainbow grumbled irritably.

She flew down to the front door and opened it to see Thunderlane, who blinked twice at her less-than-presentable appearance.

"What?" she demanded.

"Oh, umm...it's...uhhh...well, if you remember, you had Saturday's rain rescheduled to Monday. Well...it's Monday."

Rainbow blinked. "It is?"

She had lost any and all grasp on time from the moment her life had come to a standstill. However, she now understood why Scootaloo had told her that she needed to go home since she had school the next day.

"Yeah, it is," answered Thunderlane with a cock of his eyebrow. "Are you all right, Rainbow Dash?"

She shook her head instantly.

"I'm fine. Just...go and get everypony started. I'll be out soon."

Thunderlane nodded and flew off. Rainbow Dash closed the door as the events of the previous day re-entered her mind.

And she suddenly remembered the letter.

She hurried back to her bedroom to find it sitting upon her bedside table, still unopened and unread. She picked it up, as though simply seeing it with her eyes was not enough to prove its existence.

To my daughter, Rainbow Dash

That was his writing, beyond any doubt. Surely this meant that the letter inside had been written by him as well. The internal struggle that had plagued her from the moment she had received the letter rose up within her once again. If she wanted to, she could open it and read it now, just to get it over with. Regardless of what was written inside, it would not change the fact that he was gone forever. However, she was still filled with worry as to what his final words to her would say. They would surely have a lasting affect on her, and she would remember them for the rest of her life.

She turned the envelope around and began to open it. When it was half-open, she stopped instantly, as though suddenly under the impression that she was making a terrible mistake. She placed it back on her bedside table, slowly shaking her head.

Not right now.

Also sitting upon her bedside table was the Wonderbolt letter, which had been opened and read through multiple times. She picked it up to read through it once again.



Dear Rainbow Dash,

Your journey to the Wonderbolts has nearly reached its end. As mentioned in the previous letter, we will need you to come to our headquarters in Cloudsdale for some basic exercises. These exercises may seem simple for a flyer of your caliber, but they should be taken seriously nonetheless. After all, this will be the first time you will be flying for the Wonderbolts. They will take place next Saturday at 2:00 PM sharp. We would advise you not to be late.

Also as mentioned in the previous letter, now that you're in the Reserves, you have earned the right to wear an official Wonderbolt uniform, which must be worn for the exercises. This is an honor that should not be taken lightly, as it signifies that you are now part of the Wonderbolts. You will receive it when you come in, along with guidelines for taking proper care of it which you shall be expected to follow.

Once again, we congratulate you for making it this far.

Sincerely,
Stromm Skyrider
Membership Division
Office of the Wonderbolts



There would not have been adequate enough words to describe even a fraction of her excitement had she received a letter like this before a few days ago. She had finally made it—she had secured a long overdue spot into the Wonderbolts. And yet, even after her fourteenth time reading through the letter, excitement failed to settle upon her nerves.

Instead, it almost felt like a cruel joke. It was as though some malevolent force had stripped away her wings and laughed maliciously as she crawled about aimlessly, with no direction or purpose. Becoming a Wonderbolt was her dream and her life's goal—there was no doubt about that. And yet, it had come too late. Far too late.

She would finally be wearing a Wonderbolt uniform, but instead of showing up on her father's doorstep, she would be attending his funeral the very next day. Being so close to fulfilling her five-year dream only to have it ripped away from her at the very last minute was unspeakably irritating. She had been so close, and yet now it was to be lost forever in the field of dreams long broken.

She placed the letter back on the table and sighed deeply. You've made it. You're practically in the Wonderbolts now. You've proved him wrong, even if he won't ever know it. Just let that be enough.

With the shock of her father's death passed, Rainbow now felt that it was time to get her life back on track, and performing her daily job seemed a good enough place to start. She took several minutes to restore herself back to her normal state, and then finally headed out into the cool, morning air to create the day's weather.

****

Turning a nearly cloudless morning into a rainy day was always a daunting task. Covering every last inch of Ponyville's skies with clouds took a mountain of effort, and it often consumed up to three hours to accomplish. Busting clouds was not only much more fun and less time consuming, but Rainbow Dash found that it was a fantastic way to relieve stress and take her mind off of anything that had been bothering her. There was something mildly therapeutic about kicking a cloud with enough force to make it burst and vanish into thin air.

The Ponyville Weather Team was spread about every corner of the sky, filling it with clouds until they moved closer together and eventually merged. As tedious a task as it was, Rainbow was unusually content to be doing it. She finally felt as though she were gaining her life back and pushing it back into motion. But it was not enough to rid her of the lingering thoughts that had kept her awake, as they still consumed every crevice her mind. She thought about the funeral and whether or not she would truly be comfortable with going through with it. She also thought about the letter, and wondered if she should open it before or after the funeral took place...or if she should even open it at all. And she thought about when exactly she was going to tell...

No. They were not going to know about this—not if she could help it. It was not a conversation that she wanted to have, nor one that she even ready to have. They would not understand, just like Scootaloo did not understand. It would simply be better if they never found out.

After three and a half hours, there was hardly a single trace of the sun to be found through the thick clouds. The air was much cooler, and the wind had picked up significantly. Rainbow regrouped with the Weather Team just as the first tiny droplets of rain began to fall.

"Great work, guys," she said. "I guess that's it for today."

The team dispersed, with many of the pegasi heading back home to regain their lost sleep. Rainbow did not expect many ponies to be out on the streets of Ponyville today. The flower ponies in particular were often content enough when the rain was doing their watering for them.

Within minutes, the tiny droplets became full-fledged raindrops, and it soon began to pour. The rain splattered down upon Rainbow's head as she wondered what to do next. She usually took her afternoon naps earlier whenever she was tasked with a time-consuming cloud job. Yet for some reason she could not explain, she felt perfectly content beneath the clouds, as though the rain was finally washing away her thoughts and granting her mind peace. She lowered herself to the ground and laid down upon her back, her forelegs spread out wide, staring emotionless into the sky as the rain showered down upon her. She felt a sense of belonging, as though taking a nap here would strangely seem more comfortable than a nap in her own bed. She closed her eyes as the chill of the wind made her shiver.

Without a reason that made any logical sense to her, Rainbow Dash began to sing in a low voice.

"So many clouds scattered across the sky
The softest of pillows lying way up high
Twisted and formed to the whims of a dream
Like fortresses of the heavens or castles of ice cream
Whiter than snow, and lighter than air
Casting shadows everywhere

But today they cry
Today they weep
Today their agony darkens the sky
The sun is gone, the air is cold
Because today they cry"

As though awakening from a nightmare, she jolted upward. She looked around frantically, as if worried that she was being watched. Much to her relief, there was not a single pony in sight. Rainbow picked herself off the ground and flew back home, suddenly feeling utterly embarrassed.

****

A saddened Rainbow Dash was curled up upon her bed, staring outside her window into the starry night. Never in all her young life had she felt so much disappointment. She had spent months getting hyped up for the possibility of the Equestria Games being held in Cloudsdale, only to find out that they would be going to Fillydelphia instead. It had been a colossal blow, as Cloudsdale would not be up for selection again for several years. As Rainbow looked squarely into the face of the moon, she suddenly heard her door open.

"Are you alright, hon?" asked her father.

Dash said nothing as he entered the room and took a seat on her bed, her eyes remaining fixed onto the moon.

"Are you still mad at me for making a scene?" she asked.

"No," he answered, gently stroking the top of her head. "This wasn't the first time Cloudsdale was passed up for the Games. It happened when I was a little older than you, and I felt the exact same way."

"It's not fair," grumbled Dash.

"I know," her father nodded. "But that's just the way it goes sometimes."

Rainbow Dash sighed. "I don't understand why it isn't always held in Cloudsdale. It's most for pegasi anyway, right? What does Fillydelphia have that we don't?"

"Well, it's on the ground, for one thing. That makes it a lot easier for non-pegasus ponies to attend."

Rainbow scoffed, accepting that notion as ridiculous.

"You're young, so I doubt you'll understand this now, but you're going to have to get used to disappointments like these," said Blaze. "Life is full of them."

"But why?" asked Dash, suddenly filled with hopelessness.

"Because life isn't fair," he answered. "That's why...she isn't here."

Dash solemnly lowered her ears.

"Many parents try to shield their kids from the realities of life," he continued. "That's what my parents did to me. But I don't believe that would be a benefit you, especially since you're growing up without a mother. I don't want you to go through life thinking that everything you have your heart set on is going to work out."

Dash removed herself from her curled position and sat beside her father.

"But some things work out, don't they?" she asked, staring up at him.

"Of course," Blaze answered, wrapping his foreleg around her. "I could have lost you, too."

Dash leaned against him and they sat silently reflecting in the comfort of each other's company. The death of Sunstreak Shine had frequently taken its toll on both of them, and at this point, they were now the only family each other had. Rainbow Dash had so longed to wonder what her mother was like, and during moments like these, she would often ask her father to tell her a story that had either occurred during the brief time she was alive during her infanthood, or about a time before they had married. But at this particular moment, she did not feel that urge.

"I think I know something you would be excited about," said Blaze after a minute of silence had passed.

"What?"

"Well, younger ponies are designated as flag-carriers in the Equestria Games to represent the passing of generations. You might get the chance to carry Cloudsdale's flag in the Games if you can put on a good enough routine."

"REALLY?!" Rainbow beamed.

He nodded. "That's right."

Rainbow jumped off the bed and looped around in midair. "Oh yeah! I'm totally gonna carry that flag!"

"Remember what I just told you," said Blaze. "The more you get invested into something, the more painful it will be if you don't end up getting it. Most of the ponies in your class will likely be competing for the chance to carry the flag as well. It's fine to be optimistic, but you have to expect that it may not be you."

Rainbow lowered herself to the ground and nodded, her excitement partially faded.

"Okay, okay. Do you think it'll be me, though?"

Blaze stared at her for a brief moment and nodded. "Of course I do."

Rainbow Dash grinned widely and her wings fluttered involuntarily.

"Now, come on, it's time for bed," said Blaze. "You have Junior Speedster Camp tomorrow."

Rainbow Dash climbed into bed and her father tucked her in beneath the blankets.

"Goodnight, Dad."

"Goodnight, sweetheart."

He kissed the top of her head and left her room.

****

Seated at her kitchen table, Rainbow Dash stared down at her last bottle of apple cider, silently debating upon whether or not she should gulp it down. She knew that if she did so, she would not be able to get any more until cider season, and that was several months away. Strewn across the table were six empty cider bottles that she had just finished gulping down without much hesitation. Now that she was on her final one, the reality of going the next several months without cider presented itself with unbearable vividness.

She sighed with frustration as she kept herself from opening the bottle. Keep it together, Dash. Stop doing this to yourself. You just have to give it some time. Things will feel normal again soon.

Her eyes trailed to the window and she silently watched the raindrops fall. It was nearly impossible to believe that only two days ago she was sitting in this very spot, checking the window every few seconds to spot the arrival of the mailpony. The atmosphere seemed on an almost entirely opposite wavelength. Where before she had been filled with excitement, she as now filled with uncertainty. Where before the weather had been hot and sunny, it was now cold and rainy. And where before she had been enjoying the company of Scootaloo, she was now all alone.

Pushing the bottle away, she folded her forelegs on the table and buried her face in them. Gulping down all that cider had filled her with exhaustion, and she was already deprived of sleep as it was. Though before she had the chance to silently doze off, there was yet another knock on her door. Groaning with frustration, Rainbow Dash trudged over the door and opened it to see a soaking wet Fluttershy.

"Hi, Rainbow Dash," she said.

"Oh...hey, Fluttershy," Rainbow replied with an indistinguishable sense of nervousness in her voice. "Come in."

Fluttershy stepped inside the foyer.

"How have you been? We missed you this weekend."

"Oh, I've been...fine," Rainbow answered, shutting the door.

"So, what's new?" asked Fluttershy.

"Uhhh...nothing, really," Rainbow replied. "Why do you ask?"

Fluttershy raised a suspicious eyebrow. Rainbow Dash stared blankly at her, trying not to show that she was hiding something. She was suddenly struck with a strong discomfort, as she briefly considered the possibility that Fluttershy might have found out somehow.

"Uhh, you know, I visited Cloudsdale yesterday," she said in an attempt to alleviate her discomfort.

"Oh. We wanted to invite you to a picnic yesterday, but we couldn't find you anywhere. I guess that explains why," said Fluttershy.

"Yeah, sorry about that," Rainbow replied with relief, as it appeared that Fluttershy did not know after all.

"Umm, anyway, we're all meeting at Sugarcube Corner to wait out the rain," Fluttershy explained. "I'm here to invite you to join us."

Rainbow's eyes dropped to the floor. "I...I don't know, Fluttershy. I was kinda...in the middle of something."

"Oh, please won't you come?" Fluttershy begged. "We haven't seen you all weekend, and it won't be as much fun without you."

Rainbow sighed under her breath. "All right, fine."

Fluttershy let out a subtle squeal of excitement.

They left the house, and flew out into the rain. Rainbow Dash could feel no more comfort from the raindrops; they now felt as cold and unpleasant as ever. The wind once again chilled her to the bone, as did the prospect of seeing her friends for the first time since she had received the news of her father's death.

Come on, Rainbow Dash, calm down. You're just going to see your friends. There's absolutely nothing to feel nervous about.

Within minutes, the two pegasi landed just outside of Sugarcube Corner. Rainbow Dash walked up and slowly opened the door.

"SURPRISE!!!"

Rainbow jolted with shock as she stared mystified into the grinning faces of her five friends, Spike included. Hung high between two opposite walls was a banner that read "CONGRATS, RAINBOW DASH!" and two tables in the room were laden with cupcakes, punch, and other such sweets, including leftover rock candy that they had not used during Maud Pie's visit.

"W-What is this...?" asked Rainbow, utterly bewildered.

"It's a congratulatory party!" answered Fluttershy, stepping into the room and shutting the door behind her.

"For what?" asked Rainbow. She was struck with several looks of suspicion and confusion, much like the one Fluttershy had given her.

"For getting into the Wonderbolts, duh!" exclaimed Pinkie Pie.

"Or at least for finally gettin' to wear one of their uniforms," said Applejack. "You only mentioned it to us about fifty times over the past week."

"Oh, right...," said Rainbow, still reeling in shock. "You guys really didn't need to do this."

"Of course we did!" said Twilight. "You've been trying to get into the Wonderbolts for as long as any of us have known you, and now you're practically there. What kind of friends would we be if we didn't celebrate your success?"

"We couldn't be more happy for you, Rainbow Dash," said Fluttershy, smiling wide at her.

"I, for one, cannot wait to see you in your uniform," said Rarity. "It's high time you've had a style all your own."

"Well, don't leave us in the dark," urged Twilight. "When does your lifelong dream finally come true?"

Every eye in the room fell directly on Rainbow Dash, anticipating her answer. But as she opened her mouth to speak, her vision suddenly blurred and her ears lowered. Before she knew what was happening, she felt a wet sensation run down her right cheek, and not two seconds later, a similar sensation ran down her left cheek. It was a sensation that she was not very familiar with, nor very fond of, yet it had now thoroughly overtaken her as the tiny, wet droplets continued to slip from her eyes.

"Uhh...Rainbow?" asked Twilight.

"Oh my goodness, what's wrong?" asked Fluttershy, putting a hoof around her neck.

Rainbow looked up to see the now-concerned faces of her friends through her wet, blurry vision.

"I...I can't...," she said softly.

And Rainbow Dash turned and rushed back out the door, quickly disappearing into the rain.

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