• Published 17th Sep 2015
  • 524 Views, 78 Comments

By Blood or Choice - Krickis

Rainbow Dash is the best. Top of her class, envy of her peers, she's really living the life. Except she must not be good enough yet, because they still don't notice her.

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3 – Nowhere but the Top

Chapter Three

Nowhere but the Top

Months went by, and things changed slowly. Mostly for the better, like Fluttershy’s visits becoming more regular. She grew more confident in making the trip to and from Ponyville, which meant in addition to visiting more often, she would stay later into the evening when she did.

Granted, with the frequency of her visits, Gale Force no longer let Dash skip practice. That was fine, though; she didn’t want to risk falling behind any more than she already was. And since Fluttershy was staying later, she was able to watch the team practice before their regular ice cream parlor visits.

She even got a little more acquainted with the rest of Dash’s team. Or at least, she was on friendly terms with them. She was too shy to get to know them, but they did affectionately refer to her as their unofficial cheerleader.

Windfall was the exception. He was still more of a friendly acquaintance to the shy pegasus than an actual friend, but he did occasionally go out for ice cream with the two young mares.

And somehow, he kept getting closer to Dash’s times in practice, even though she was improving again. It just wasn’t enough, though; she pushed her limits every single day to try and put more distance between herself and young stallion.

And then one day it happened.

“Time,” Dash said, coming to an uneasy stop. She almost didn’t want to know; it hadn’t been a good run.

“…four minutes, twelve seconds,” Gale Force said.

Dash was irritated before she even realized. Yesterday she had been faster. The day before that, too. She’d managed to do better than that every other day this month. Any second now, Windfall would chime in about how close he was getting, and then Fluttershy would tell her how great she was, either oblivious to the slow down or indifferent.

But nopony said anything. Dash looked at Windfall, ready for his cocky attitude, but he actually looked kind of embarrassed.

Dash was growing more irritated. It wasn’t that bad of a time. “What?”

Windfall kicked at the ground and didn’t meet Dash’s eyes. “Uhm… I got four minutes seven seconds.”

“You… did?” Dash looked around, waiting for somepony to correct him. That couldn’t be right. She hadn’t lost. He was just messing with her. It was impossible, nopony was faster than her.

But nopony said anything at all. Nopony had to. They couldn’t even bring themselves to look her in the eyes, and that was confirmation enough.

Four seconds. That was all it took. One bad turn, not angling her wings perfectly, even just getting a little sloppy with preening her feathers. Anything could’ve done it, it was just four seconds.

But four seconds was all it took for Dash’s world to crumble.

Everyone else, though? Everyone else’s world kept on spinning. Gale Force clapped Windfall on the back and said something. Probably congratulating him, Dash didn’t really hear. Soon other ponies did the same.

Dash just took a step back. What was she supposed to do now? This was all she was. She was the best because she had to be, because there was nothing else she could do but fly fast, because if she couldn’t even do this she would never get their attention.

Somepony was walking up to her. Dash tried to pull herself together, especially once she realized it was Windfall. She couldn’t look any weaker to him than she already did.

He had the gall to look sympathetic. “Hey, you did good.” He nudged her playfully, which Dash didn’t react to. “Maybe soon I’ll be able to beat your best times.”

“Huh? Oh, yeah…” Dash realized what she’d agreed to and shook her head. She couldn’t look weak. “I mean, yeah right! That’ll never happen!”

Windfall smiled a little. Dash forced a cocky grin, but she felt like she might throw up. She excused herself and walked over to the bleachers.

She watched Windfall. He was surrounded by ponies congratulating him, the way they used to congratulate Dash whenever she broke records. Not that she’d broken any recently… Maybe this was inevitable.

The weirdest thing was that Windfall didn’t even seem to enjoy it. He smiled awkwardly at the praise, but it was clear that he’d rather they just left it alone. ‘Well, that makes two of us.’

“It’s okay, Dash,” Fluttershy said as Dash took a seat next to her. “Everypony has off days.”

Dash sighed, knowing that Fluttershy would never understand. “I dunno. I just… I could of done better, I know it. I just couldn’t focus.”

Fluttershy pointed to Windfall. He was starting to look a little more at ease with the praise. Soon he’d be soaking it up, and then he’d seek it out more and more.

Of course, that’s not what Fluttershy noticed. “Look at how happy he is. Windfall’s your friend, and you know he works just as hard as you on his flying. This is the best he’s ever done, and you’re still faster on any normal day. Is it really so bad to share the spotlight, just a little bit?”

Of course it was. She had to always be the best, had to always be number one. The only way to get noticed again was to bucking earn it! But Fluttershy wouldn’t understand. How could she? Being noticed was the last thing she ever wanted.

So instead, Dash just tried to force a smile. “I guess you’re right. Windfall deserves this.”

Fluttershy nodded and smiled, clearly buying Dash’s lie. Dash herself just wanted to ditch this place.

Since practice had run late, she would have an excuse to go straight home at least. Otherwise, Windfall might want to hang out, and Dash really couldn’t stomach that. But on the other hoof, that meant Fluttershy wouldn’t be able to hang out either…

“So, uh, I guess you probably gotta get heading back home, huh?” Dash asked, hoping she didn’t sound too disappointed.

“Uhm, actually my friend said she’d check on the animals in the morning for me.” Fluttershy traced her hoof around the bleacher. “So… maybe I could stay with you tonight? If that’s alright.”

Dash had to stop herself from beaming. She settled for a small grin; couldn’t show too much enthusiasm. “Yeah, that sounds cool.”

Naturally, Fluttershy didn’t seem as concerned about her own reputation, smiling brightly at the plan. “We’ll have so much fun! I’ll make us snacks, and then we can stay up telling stories, and –”

“Yeah, it’ll be a blast.” Dash looked back towards the others and saw that they were done talking to Windfall. That was Dash’s cue that it was safe to return. “But first I should check in with my coach.”

“Oh! Sorry, I’m keeping you too long…”

“It’s fine. Be back in a bit!”

Dash flew over to the others just in time. Everyone was finished with their drills and were lining up for Gale Force to give them a closing pep talk. He told them all about how proud he was of their achievements and reminded Windfall to not let one day go to his head. Dash only half listened, already planning on how she could regain her edge next time.

He let them go without saying anything directly to Dash, which was for the best. The last thing she needed was another reminder. She tried to make her way back to Fluttershy, but she was stopped by the last pony she wanted to talk to.

“Hey, Dash,” Windfall said. “A few of us are heading out to grab some burgers. Since Fluttershy’s gonna be heading home anyway, you wanna tag along?”

No way. Dash was not about to endure his victory celebration. Fortunately, she didn’t need to come up with an excuse. “Nah, Shy’s staying in Cloudsdale tonight. I’ll, uh, see you around.”

“Yeah, alright,” Windfall said. “Later then.”

That should have been the end of things. On a normal day, that would have been the end of things. But it was far from a normal day, and as she walked back towards Fluttershy, Dash heard someone say, “Told you she wouldn’t come. Probably busy making out with her marefriend.”

Dash clenched her teeth. The only pony allowed to crack gay jokes about her was Windfall, and even then, including Fluttershy was a step too far.

“She’s not my marefriend.” Turning around, Dash saw the three ponies she knew would be the ones to start shit: Hoops, Score, and Dumb-Bell. That was another thing that had changed recently; the three bullies from the junior class had finally managed to graduate, and somehow they had struck up a friendship with Windfall.

“Why don’t you just own up to it, Rainbow Crash?” Hoops asked. “We all know it. Nopony really believes she’s your cousin.”

Score snickered. “Honestly though, why don’t you admit it? I mean, I could understand before, but now? She’s gotten pretty hot. I know I’d be all over her if, you know, she was into stallions.”

If bringing Fluttershy into it was a step too far, then saying shit like that was taking the concept of ‘too far’ and flying past it at full speed while blindfolded.

He was going to pay. Dash closed the distance and was in his face before anypony could stop her. “Shut the buck up! Don’t you dare talk about her like that!”

“Rainbow!” Fluttershy yelled from somewhere behind her, but she barely heard. All she was focused on was that Score was quivering in fear, even with all of his idiot friends around him.

Then the biggest idiot of them all had to go and get involved. Windfall got in between them and pushed her back. “Chill out, Dash.”

“Buck you!” Dash said. She turned away, but she slammed her shoulder into his as she did. It was less than he deserved for standing up for them, but she didn’t want to fight with Fluttershy watching.

“Yeah, fly away Rainbow!” one of them said. “Not too fast though.”

“Shut up, Dumb-Bell.” Windfall hissed.

Dash’s muscles tensed, ready to spring at any moment. She forced a breath, reminding herself he was just an antagonistic dick, that Fluttershy was watching her, and that she couldn’t fight anymore.

But apparently, Dash hadn’t intimidated Score enough for him to keep his mouth shut. “You think she’s slowing down ‘cause she spends all her time making out instead of practicing?”

“Oh I don’t know,” Hoops said. “I bet she’s doing more than making out. I mean, I heard her parents don’t pay any attention to her, so slipping a mare into her bedroom is probably pretty easy.”

The thing about flying blindfolded was that it could only end one way. Hoops crossed the line headfirst, and now, he was going to crash and burn.

Rainbow sped towards him, no longer caring that Fluttershy was watching. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Nothing except shutting his stupid bucking mouth once and for all.

Once again, Windfall moved to intercept her. She dodged him effortlessly. It seemed that Dash had finally found the motivation she needed to block everything out, because she flew better than she had all day.

She picked up as much speed as she could in the short distance, all so she could bring her hoof into Hoop’s face with as much force as she could manage. Watching him fall to the ground was so satisfying, it almost made up for having to listen to him in the first place.

Windfall finally managed to get himself in between them, so Rainbow shoved him aside. She didn’t want to hurt him, but she needed to teach the others a lesson.

Probably hoping to catch her unaware, Hoops lunged at her. Not that his ‘element of surprise’ did him any good, not when Dash knew exactly where he was the whole time. She just turned tail and bucked him right in the chest, sending him flying.

Now for the other two. She turned back to see Score take a step away, clearly realizing he stood no chance. She smirked and took a step forward. Maybe he’d realized his mistake by now, but Dash needed to make sure the lesson stuck.

“Rainbow Dash!” Gale Force yelled.

Crap. Dash turned to see him walking over from his office, Dumb-Bell in tow. She considered throwing one more punch before he could stop her, but stood down.

Before addressing her, he checked on Hoops. “You okay?”

“Ye-Yeah, just a little winded, Coach,” he said, although he seemed to have difficulty standing. Even in the face of Gale Force’s imminent punishment, Dash felt immense satisfaction at the sight.

Gale Force turned to the others. “Dumb-Bell, take Hoops home. Dash, Score, Windfall. I want all of you in my office. Now!

Dash was ready for whatever punishment he dished out, but on the way to his office, she caught a glimpse of the one thing she wasn’t ready for. Fluttershy was staring at her, and she looked horrified.

‘What did I get myself into now…’ Dash hung her head as she walked, not wanting to look at Fluttershy for a moment more than she had to. She had no idea what she could possibly say to her best friend after a spectacle like that.

At least there was no way to see Fluttershy once she was in Gale Force’s office. Windfall and Score sat down first, so Dash chose a seat as far from them as she could.

Gale Force sat down and stared at the three of them. He didn’t speak right away, instead letting the panic of what was coming sink in. Dash couldn’t look him in the eye and found herself staring off to the side instead.

When Gale Force did speak, he started with Windfall. “How’s your eye doing?”

That caught Dash off guard, and she took a good look at Windfall for the first time. Sure enough, his eye was red with some purple showing through. Dash grimaced, knowing it could only have happened when she carelessly shoved him out of the way.

“It’s fine,” Windfall said with a weak smile. “Probably looks worse than it feels. Besides, it was an accident.”

Yet another thing to feel bad for. Why did he have to try to make it sound like it wasn’t a big deal?

Gale Force looked at him skeptically. “Somepony accidentally hit you in the eye?”

Windfall looked around, clearly not sure what to say. “Well, I kind of jumped into the middle of things.”

“Hmph.” Gale Force let them sit in silence for a while more, occasionally moving his gaze between the three of them. Dash resumed looking anywhere but the other ponies in the room.

Gale Force sighed. “Okay, so one of you tell me what happened. I wasn’t gone five minutes when you started tearing into each other.”

Score was uncharacteristically quiet, either afraid of what Gale Force would do about his role in everything, or afraid of what Dash would do for telling.

No point in hiding it though, she might as well get it over with. “Hoops said something I didn’t like, so I hit him. Windfall tried to pull me off, so I hit him too, then I kicked Hoops in the chest. Score and Dumb-Bell didn’t really do anything.”

Gale Force looked at the other two. “Is this true?”

Score seemed to suddenly find his voice. “Yeah! Hoops was talking about how Windfall did better than her today, and she was just in his face all of a sudden, no warning or nothing.”

Dash rolled her eyes but bit her tongue. It was nice to know that even when she was willing to take the fall, he’d still kick her while she was down.

Gale Force barely reacted to the accusations, just idly glancing at Dash as she stared resolutely at the ceiling fan. “Alright, Score, you’re free to go. And since I know you’ll tell them all about this as soon as you’re out of here, let Hoops and Dumb-Bell know that I haven’t decided on any punishments yet. And that goes for everyone involved, not just Dash.”

Score hesitated, likely debating if he should try to argue his own innocence some more. But after a moment, he stood up. “Yes, Coach.”

“One more thing. Don’t hang around here until I let Windfall and Dash go unless you want to make things worse on yourself.”

Score nodded. “Yes, Coach.”

Gale Force waved a hoof to dismiss him, and Score didn’t waste another moment on his way out the door.

With two ponies left to address, Gale Force first looked to Dash. He didn’t say anything to her, however, turning instead to address Windfall. “So Dash wants to be Miss Martyr and pretend everything’s her fault, and Score thinks I’ll believe Hoops isn’t an antagonistic brat.”

Dash’s head snapped towards Gale Force. “What!? I’m not –”

“Not now, Dash,” Gale Force said sharply. She sunk back into her seat. “And I also doubt Score and Dumb-Bell are innocent here. So with the distinction of being friends with all four idiots, you get to tell me what really happened.”

Windfall looked to Dash, who glared a warning not to say anything. He sighed and frowned, giving her an apologetic look before turning back to Gale Force. “They were talking about Fluttershy.”

“Shut up, Windfall,” Dash barked.

“They were egging her on, Coach,” he said, ignoring her hostile tone. “She told them to stop, but they kept saying things to get under her skin.”

“I said shut the buck up!” Dash said, rising.

“Rainbow Dash!” Gale Force glared at her. “If you do not sit your flank back in that chair, you can consider yourself off the team.”

Reluctantly, she sat back down. He couldn’t keep her from staring daggers at Windfall, though.

They were left with another bout of painful silence. Dash was forced to consider if agreeing with Windfall would end it, but then she remembered the way Fluttershy looked at her. She had bucked up, and she would have to deal with the consequences.

Eventually, Gale Force addressed Windfall again. “Go on, get out of here. I don’t want to see you hanging around either.”

Dash didn’t look to see him go, but she heard the hoofsteps and the door. It was down to just her and Gale Force.

At least he didn’t leave her sitting in silence again. “Dash, what’s going on? I’ll be the first to admit you’ve got a temper, but normally you keep it in check better than that. Is this about the times today?”

“No,” Dash answered without looking.

“Then is it because of what they said about Fluttershy?”

“No.” Dash clenched her teeth, but kept staring at the wall.

“I could keep guessing if you don’t tell me.”

Dash remained silent.

Gale Force sighed. “Is it something going on at home, then?”

“No!” Dash stared at him defiantly. She could feel herself almost rise from her seat, but forced herself to remain in it.

“You know I went to school with your dad. We used to be pretty close.” Gale Force leaned forward in his chair. “Fell out of touch a long time ago, right about when you were born. He’s become quite successful since then. He must get pretty busy with work.”

Dash didn’t know how long she’d be able to keep from… she didn’t even know what she wanted to do, but she was sure she’d do it soon. “Everything’s. Fine.”

Gale Force held her stare for a while before shaking his head. “I don’t know what else to do with you, Dash. So here are your options. You can tell me what’s going on with you, or you’re suspended from the team.”

Dash stood up and slammed her front hooves on the table. Gale Force didn’t even flinch. “That’s not fair! I work harder than everypony else! I’m the best flyer you’ve got!”

“Dash, when you’re on top of it you’re the best flyer your age I’ve ever seen, and that includes me and your dad when we were younger. Quite frankly, if you aren’t a Wonderbolt in five years, it’s because you’re letting whatever’s going on infect your mind. Which is why my decision remains. Talk to me about it, or you’re suspended until after the next race.”

Dash just stared, moving her mouth and not speaking. Finally, she pulled herself away from the desk. “Fine. Your loss.”

Gale Force rested his head on one hoof, using the other to wave her away. “Get out of here.”

She didn’t hesitate for a moment. She was already flying out the door before he even finished his sentence.

She immediately made for the bleachers, but found that everypony was gone. She could live without seeing Hoops, Score, and Dumb-Bell again, but she did want to apologize to Windfall for hitting him.

Or to yell at him for getting in the way and telling Gale Force the whole story. She wasn’t sure which.

Still, his disappearance wasn’t too surprising. Gale Force had specifically told him not to hang around, after all. What she wasn’t expecting was for Fluttershy to be gone. She hadn’t even realized how much she was counting on her friend’s support until she realized she wasn’t going to get it.

Then again, when she remembered how Fluttershy had looked at her, maybe it was for the best. The memory hurt enough without needing a replay.

Dash sighed and flew off, making her way to her house slowly. She wondered if Gale Force was planning on telling her parents about the fight. Normally he was pretty cool about leaving parents out of things, but she actually hit somepony this time. Well, two ponies, but Windfall would probably cover for her.

Even if Gale Force didn’t want to tell her parents, she knew Hoops would probably tell his, and they’d want to talk to her parents about it. So on top of everything else, she’d have that to look forward to.

She wondered if they would even care that she was fighting again. Probably not. They barely even cared when she was a filly who used to fight any colt that said she couldn’t do something because she was a girl. They did eventually strike up a deal that if she stopped fighting, they would put her in Junior Speedsters, but she was pretty sure that was just because they were tired of hearing from other parents.

When she arrived at home, it was unsurprisingly empty. She walked in and lay down on the couch, too exhausted to even bother going to her room. It was only once she lay down that she felt the full effects of the day, which had already been exhausting before the fight.

She rolled over, lying with her face in the cushion, and she fell into a restless sleep.

Dash just couldn’t win. Even her poor attempt at a nap with all its tossing and turning couldn’t last, as there was a knock at the door.

She squinted at it, wondering who could be on the other side. Even Windfall didn’t know where she lived, so it was probably somepony looking for her parents. A glance out the window told her that the sun was setting, but she doubted she would have slept through them coming home.

Grumbling to herself, Dash rose from the couch so she could ignore the ‘don’t open the door when you’re home alone’ rule that her parents started when she was five and still occasionally reminded her of. Whether they acknowledged it or not, their daughter was growing into a mare; she was hardly put at risk by answering the door of her own house.

Besides, if she didn’t answer it, she wouldn’t have found Fluttershy waiting on the other side. “Shy? I thought you went back to Ponyville.”

“Oh, uhm, well… I went to the ice cream parlor with, uhm, Windfall,” Fluttershy said. “We… we thought you’d figure out we went there.”

Dash was used to Fluttershy tripping over her words with other ponies, but that wasn’t something she ever did when it was just the two of them. It was accentuated by the fact that she had her hair half in front of her face, which almost made it unnoticeable that she was blushing.

The only reason she could think of that would make Fluttershy act that way around her was the fight. But since she didn’t know how to talk about that, she decided to just try and keep things casual and hope the problem went away.

She stepped aside to let Fluttershy in. “Yeah ‘cause that makes so much sense.”

“I’m sorry, I should have waited for you…” Fluttershy said.

“Nah, it’s fine. I needed that nap anyway.” Dash jerked her head in the direction of the kitchen. “Want some real food? I’m starving.”

“Oh, sure.”

Dash led the way, stopping at the fridge. She was deciding what kind of sandwiches to make them, but Fluttershy pushed her out of the way. “Here, let me take care of dinner.”

“Uh, sure.” Dash took a seat while Fluttershy moved about the kitchen

She pulled out lots of things no one ever touched, like spices and stuff. She found some canned vegetables and pulled out a pot, adding her ingredients to it.

“I didn’t know you could cook,” Dash said while Fluttershy worked. After the day she had, not having to eat another sandwich felt like a victory, even if it was a small one.

“Well, I always did a little bit, but now that I live on my own, I don’t really have much of a choice.” Fluttershy grinned. “Besides, it’s better than eating sandwiches every day.”

“You know, I could say something about that, but this is smelling too good to argue.”

Whatever awkwardness there had been when Dash answered the door seemed to be gone. Fluttershy giggled at the compliment, and seemed perfectly happy as she cooked a hearty stew for the two of them.

Dash’s mouth was watering by the time Fluttershy served them. They didn’t bother going to the dining room to eat; no one ever did in Dash’s house. Instead, they went to the living room and sat on the couch.

That was where Fluttershy finally broached the topic on their minds. “So, uhm… did you get in much trouble?”

Dash blew on a spoonful of her stew and thought about lying, but she felt guilty enough. “Yeah, I’ve been suspended.”

“Oh. How long?”

“Until the next race, or until I talk to my coach about my parents.” Most ponies would tell her to just talk about it, but she knew at least Fluttershy would be sympathetic.

“I’m sorry. It’s all my fault, really.”

“What are you talking about?” Dash asked, swallowing and wiping her mouth with her foreleg. It tasted much better than her sandwiches. “I’m the one who threw the punch”

“But if I wasn’t there, they wouldn’t have said anything…”

“Alright,” Dash said, “so it’s partly their fault for saying shit, and it’s mostly my fault for reacting to it. None of that is your fault.”

Fluttershy still slouched with her head on her hoof. “But they only said any of that because… because…” Fluttershy closed her eyes tightly.

“Shy, it’s cool. Let’s just drop it, alright?” Dash said, which Fluttershy nodded in agreement to. She decided the safest way to keep off the topic was to remove herself from the conversation entirely. “This stew is really good.”

That got a little bit of a smile out of Fluttershy. “Thank you.”

“You learn how to cook it in Ponyville?”

Fluttershy nodded. “When she found out I live alone, my friend bought me a cookbook. She’s always doing nice things like that.”

“Oh, so you’re finally making friends in Ponyville then?”

“Well, one friend at least. She’s a unicorn named Rarity.” Turning the attention to Ponyville seemed like a good idea, since Fluttershy’s smile was growing.

Living in Cloudsdale, Dash had only ever met other pegasi, and a griffon once back in Junior Speedsters. “A unicorn? Don’t unicorns all think they’re better than other ponies ‘cause they can do magic and stuff?”

“Oh, she’s not like that at all. She’s so nice, she makes things for other ponies all the time. She made me that dress I wore the other day.” Fluttershy looked so happy while she talked about her friend that Dash might have been worried she’d been replaced, except she knew nopony could ever replace her. “Actually, it’s Cloudsdale ponies that always think they’re better.”

Dash’s first impulse was to declare Cloudsdale the greatest city in all of Equestria, and if anypony had a problem, there was no way it was them. But before she said it out loud, she realized that would probably just prove Fluttershy’s point. “Really? What do you mean?”

“Well, even though Ponyville was founded by earth ponies, lots of pegasi and unicorns live there now. All different types of ponies from all over Equestria live there. But Cloudsdale just has pegasi, and no other kind of pony can ever visit, so everypony here just makes assumptions about how other ponies are.”

Dash grinned. “Like thinking all unicorns are full of themselves?” Fluttershy nodded. “Yeah, makes sense. That’s pretty cool, actually. A town with all types of ponies.”

Dash kept Fluttershy talking about Ponyville so they wouldn’t get back to the topic of what happened earlier. It stayed on her mind, and she suspected on Fluttershy’s too, but at least they didn’t have to actually talk about it.

Eventually her dad came home, followed by her mom. The two were exhausted from work and, as she had expected, were indifferent to Fluttershy spending the night, although her dad did comment about her being a little old for slumber parties.

“I told you, she lives in Ponyville now, remember? It’s kinda late for her to fly all the way back home now.”

“Oh yeah,” Rainbow Blaze said. “Okay then, have fun you two. Don’t stay up too late.”

He left her rolling her eyes as she walked back to Fluttershy. It’s not like she talked about many of her other friends with them. It’s not like she had many other friends to talk about these days. They could at least remember that her best friend had moved to a whole different town.

“It’s cool, you can stay,” she said. “It’s getting pretty late, you ready to turn in?”

“I think that’s a good idea,” Fluttershy said. “I know Rarity said she’d be fine, but I don’t think she has much experience with animals, so I should try to get back early.”

They made their way up to Dash’s bedroom, and she wasted no time in throwing herself on the couch. She had at one point thought that having a couch in her room would be the coolest thing whenever she had friends over, but then she never wound up inviting friends over.

“You can take the bed,” Dash said. “I’m fine on the couch.”

Fluttershy stood in the doorway shaking her head. “Dash, it’s your bed. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

Dash grinned and put up her hooves. “Fight me for it.”

“Fine, you win.” Fluttershy giggled. She climbed into the bed, where even spread out she took up less than half. “You know, we could both fit easily.”

“Gay,” Dash said, drawing out the word.

Fluttershy gave her an annoyed look. “There’s nothing gay about wanting your friend to be comfortable in her own house.”

Dash laughed. “There is about sleeping with another mare though. You coming on to me, Shy?”

Fluttershy threw a pillow at her and turned away. “You’re like my sister, don’t be ridiculous.”

Dash kept the extra pillow, putting it behind her head. “Oh, so that’s the reason. You know, most ponies would say it’s because they’re not gay. Something you’re not telling me there, Shy?”

After a few moments of silence, Dash sat up to see Fluttershy facing away from her. “Shy? Hey, I was just messing with you. I know you’re not really gay.”

The yellow and pink lump on her bed breathed deep but didn’t look at her. “It’s okay, Dash, I know. I… I’m going to get some sleep. Good night.”

Feeling like a huge jerk but not entirely sure why, Dash fell onto her back. Just another mistake to add to the day’s list. “Yeah. Good night, Shy.”

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