• Published 19th Nov 2015
  • 3,289 Views, 58 Comments

Glimpsing the Future - Minds Eye

Twilight Sparkle learns about Rainbow Dash's family as they vacation with her parents.

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Chapter 2: Home is Where the Heart is

Twilight kicked her dangling hind leg back and forth over the edge of the sofa cushion, brushing it along the carpet with every swing. She coughed, and the sound echoed through the quiet house.

Rainbow Dash looked down on her from the wall, flexing her foreleg atop a podium and smirking out of the picture frame. Next to Rainbow Dash hung the medal she was presumably wearing in the photo. Twilight strained her eyes to make out the inscription. Again.

The first three symbols were numbers, perhaps a two in the first digit, most likely two hundred all told. The event itself was tougher, being mostly in lower case letters. Twilight thought she could make out a W as the capital in the second word, four letters total. Wind, she assumed.

200-something-Wind-something. Subbing in the obvious middle word, 200 Meter Wind Something.

Exactly where she left off half an hour ago.

She tried to tackle the final word, but the capital in it was too vague. It was a B, maybe. Perhaps an S. Or even a D. Without that first link in the chain, she had no frame of reference for the rest. Unless she sat up for a closer look.

Her hoof kept brushing the carpet.

Is this relaxation or boredom?

She pursed her lips and blew out a heavy sigh.

Her breath kicked up a tangle of hair from the sofa’s fabric. She quirked an eyebrow at the collection of reds, yellows, and greens. It was a familiar enough sight, even this far away from Ponyville. Rainbow Dash was always welcome in the library, but every time she had one of her spirited crashes into a bookshelf, a few colorful strands always popped up on some poor unsuspecting book cover. Perhaps she could ask Dart how she managed to keep such loose, contrasting fibers out of sight.

Perhaps she could ask Dart, if she were ever able to ask Dart anything.

“I’m bored.”

No answer came, nor did she expect any from the empty room. Another puff blew Blaze’s hairs away. They must have been his. Rainbow hadn’t been anywhere near the sofa yet.

“Bored, bored, bored.” She rolled to her side. Her book lay on the floor under her, a bookmark sticking out about three quarters of the way through. It was too early in the day to finish it. She had brought others, not completely trusting Rainbow Dash to make a full schedule all on her own. Of course, she hadn’t anticipated having most of an entire day to herself, and had only brought enough to account for having enough time to read after everypony had turned in for the evening. She also had to keep something in reserve for the train ride home.

Yet here she was, bored and alone, with nothing to do but lay on the sofa and squint at Rainbow Dash’s medal to try and win the game she had started an hour ago. Maybe two. It felt like two.

She could sit up, but if she did that, then there would really be nothing left to do. Not available to her, anyway. She figured Rainbow’s parents didn’t have company over very often, but whatever entertainment was to be found in their home, it must have been behind the doors of their bedroom, where Twilight was absolutely not going to invade.

She wondered if Dart or Blaze and Rainbow would get home first.

The day had started well, at least. The whole family had been nothing but smiles and laughter over breakfast. While Dart had still looked... disappointed, was the word Twilight had finally decided was the best fit, that Rainbow was still set on going, she didn’t raise any more objections.

How long does a practice last? She probably should have asked Dart when she had had the chance.

Dart had been polite enough about leaving when it was her turn, or as polite as Twilight could expect. Twilight had noticed the signs when she tried making small talk: curt answers, twitching wings, eyeing the sky through the windows. Dart may have been Rainbow’s mother rather than Rainbow herself, but Twilight knew a restless pegasus when she saw one.

And, with a drawn out sigh, a pained smile, and touch of hopefulness in her voice, Dart had asked if Twilight minded if she stepped out for a bit of a workout. A grown mare had practically asked permission to leave her own home.

Twilight rolled back and pressed a hoof to her forehead. She hoped against hope she would never have to face that awkward situation again.

She heard the door open downstairs and sat up. “Hello?”

“Me, Twilight,” Dart’s voice called up. “I take it Blaze and Rainbow haven’t come back yet?”

“No,” she said. Twilight stood up and headed for the stairs. “Did you have a nice flight?”

The easy smile on Dart’s face when she reached the top answered for her, but she still spoke. “That was exactly what I needed. I haven’t flown in two days.” She looked over the sheen of sweat that covered her coat and walked towards the master bedroom. “Blaze and Dash probably stopped for lunch on the way home. Give me a moment and I’ll whip something up for us.”

Twilight sat by the counter. “Please, take your time.”

The sounds of Dart fumbling for something in the next room were followed by a laugh. “I’m sorry, you know? All the fuss I made last night about Blaze and the practice, then I abandon you here for no good reason. I’m no better than him!”

Twilight giggled. “If you don’t mind me saying, I knew it was coming.”


“Yes, Rainbow gets the same way back in Ponyville. I can tell when she wants nothing more than to fly off somewhere and stretch her wings a bit.”

Dart poked her head out, grinning and wiping off her chest with a towel. “Now you know where she gets it from! And if I’m any indication, I hope you don’t mind putting up with it for a few years. Or decades!”

“Not at all,” Twilight said. Decades? A slight heat crept up her cheeks. “N-no, I think it’s good for her. I have my books, and she has her flying. I think it keeps us ourselves.”

“And yet I got a letter from my daughter telling me how awesome this one particular book series was, and how I just had to check it out.” Dart tossed her towel away, and headed back for the kitchen. She extended a wing to brush against Twilight’s as she passed. “And you have these. Don’t be afraid of what the other enjoys.”

“I-I’m not really...” Twilight glanced at her wing and chewed her lip. “I can’t fly yet. At all, let alone like she can.”

Dart nodded. “Rainbow said as much in her letters. She’s teaching you, right? Believe me, you’re doing it the right way. I learned from my mother, and Rainbow learned from Blaze. It’s always best to only have one voice in your ear when you’re learning the basics.” She pulled some carrots out of the pantry.

Twilight’s ears perked up. “Do you need any help?”

“No, thank you.” She started to rinse them in the sink. “So how far along are you?”

“About five seconds hovering a few feet off the ground. That’s my record.”

To Dart’s credit, she didn’t laugh. “I’ve seen competitors last less than that when their nerves get the best of them. You want to hear something my mother told me? All flying is avoiding the ground for as long as possible. And the more you hit the ground, the more you’ll learn to avoid it.”

“I’ll try to keep that in mind.” Twilight watched her reach for a knife. One quick spell could take it for her, but Twilight restrained herself. Her mother never appreciated interference in her kitchen, and she thought it best not to presume. “Was your mother a racer as well?”

Dart chuckled past the handle in her mouth. She finished slicing the carrots into chunks before letting it go. “She was a dancer. Aerial ballet. She taught me the basics, and then I learned to go fast on the playgrounds. I had to fight her to stay on the Academy’s track team. Until I started winning, at least. Could you grab the vegetable oil for me?”

Twilight skirted around the counter and made her way to the pantry. Stacks of napkins and rolls of paper towels on the bottom, boxes of protein bars filling the shelves, she finally spotted and levitated a bottle of oil buried behind a few cans of soup. “What was it like being on the team?”

“The team... oh, wow.” She laughed and pointed at a frying pan she had set on the stove. “Could you grease that, please?”

Twilight poured in a bit, took the handle in her magic, and twisted the pan around until the oil slick covered the surface. It started bubbling and spurting soon enough. She stepped back and let Dart drop the carrots in.

Dart snagged a bottle with her mouth, and sprinkled some spices that filled the room with their cloying scent. She put the bottle down and sat with a smile across her face. “The team was a good bunch. We were strong top to bottom, even in the ground events. We could challenge anyone, and Coach Firestar knew it. He signed us up just about every week for any meet and competition he could sniff out.”

Say something good. Twilight had been sore across her entire body after the Running of the Leaves. The idea of doing that every week was... “That sounds exhausting,” she admitted. “How did you keep up with all that and your school work?”

“With C’s, in my case.” Dart chuckled. “I can tell you some stories over lunch, but for now, tell me about yourself. Were you ever on a team?”

Twilight fiddled her hoof on the floor. “N-not quite. I mean, sometimes I partnered up with other students for lab assignments, but my brother really got the teamwork gene of the family. Studying was kind of a solo sport most of the time.”

Dart doubled over, trying in vain to hold in her guffaws. “That has got to be the first time I’ve heard studying called a sport!”

Twilight joined her laughter in spite of the flush creeping up her cheeks. “It’s not exactly strenuous, granted, but I still set goals for myself! I worked for them, and I got them. Every time.”

“Good!” Dart grabbed a spatula and rolled the carrots over. “That’s the kind of attitude it takes.”

“To be a winner?”

“To be anything.” She added more spices and turned the heat lower. “So tell me about Canterlot. We never got to go there.” She scratched her head. “Actually, I don’t think I ever saw Canterlot field a team for anything.”

Twilight shrugged. “My brother’s high school had a mean polo team. As for Canterlot...” It occurred to her she had never really given herself the chance to see it. Home came to mind. Princess Celestia’s school, Donut Joe’s shop, the castle soon joined it, but nothing else pierced through that haze of memories. “I know Ponyville better than I ever knew Canterlot. I guess... I don’t really have much else to compare it to. I haven’t seen much of Equestria outside of a few towns and, well, now.

“I don’t even remember all that much of Cloudsdale.” She spared a glance at her wing. Now she stood for all of Equestria, including the city her host came from. “You’d think walking on clouds would mean something to a unicorn, but after all the excitement of the Best Young Flyers Competition, I just can’t recall it.”

Dart gave her a soft smile. “You should go back. I’ve seen a lot of Equestria traveling between competitions. It’s a nice place to visit, but Cloudsdale was always home. Cloudsdale... it just had this energy to it. A feeling. Nowhere else I’ve been to could match it.”

“A feeling? What do you mean?”

“You know the city floats, right? I got to see Equestria even before I joined the track team, because the wind would carry us somewhere new. Manehattan one day, a week later, Baltimare. I got to see them all from the sky. I even got to fly over all of them. If you think a city is big from the ground, try it from the air. It looks like the entire world under you is made of nothing but concrete and metal, and you forget that there are forests and plains just over the horizon.”

In spite of the mare’s green eyes staring right at her, Twilight didn’t believe Dart saw her anymore.

“Despite that... or maybe because of it, the best days were the ones in between the cities. I could spot all the little streams across the countryside, and there was nothing stopping me from diving down for a quick swim. Or training, trying to go upstream with wings only. Oh, I miss the mountains most of all. You’d think something that’s been there for so many years would be consistent, but the wind currents around them always shifted. Always. If you’re looking for a flying challenge, go find the mountains. Every day brought something new in the sky. No true pegasus could ever be bored in Cloudsdale.”

Twilight gaped at her, groping after any kind of response that would live up to the feeling in Dart’s words. Is this what she was expecting me to say about Canterlot? She never would have been able to match the gripping emotion in every word on her own. “It sounds—”

Dart’s hardening eyes stopped her short. “Now there’s just nothing. I mean, you’d think a city with this many ponies would have something to do. A rec league. Something. But no, San Franciscolt is San Franciscolt. Take it or leave it.” Her lips curled back to show her teeth. “But we have kelp.”

Twilight moved out of her glare’s way, but Dart showed no reaction. “Would you like to move back someday?”

Dart snapped back to attention like Twilight had thrown ice water in her face. She sniffed the air. “Oh!” She turned back to the stove, taking the pan off the heating element. “I hope you don’t mind if they’re a little brown. I’m sorry, I just get wrapped up in the old days.”

The door opened before she could answer. “We’re home!” Rainbow Dash’s voice cried out. “And we brought lunch!”

Dart sighed. “Of course.”

“I’ll never say no to a home-cooked meal.” Twilight levitated one of the carrot bits out of the pan, and popped it into her mouth. The piece practically melted when she bit down. Spices flowed out of the mush and coated her tongue, even climbing up her sinuses to change the scent of the world itself to match the sensation she was tasting. She was barely able to keep her jaw closed until she swallowed. “That is delicious!”

With a rush of wind, Rainbow Dash was at her side. “Aw, no fair! You were gonna give her spice carrots without me?”

Dart chidingly clicked her tongue and poked at the bag on Rainbow’s back. “It’s only fair, after you got donuts without us.”

Twilight levitated another morsel out of the pan, dangling it in front of Rainbow with a smile. “Here, even trade.” She took the bag as Rainbow snapped down on the carrot, and turned to search for a platter. “Did the practice go well?”

“Ohdaly! Euh shud hov—”

“Rainbow Dash!” Dart said, barely able to hold back her laughter. “I taught you to have more self-respect than that!”

Blaze came up the stairs. “You want to talk about respect? You should have seen her with the kids today! The kid here set the pace all day long, on top of demonstrating everything for them to see! She has more fans than I do now!”

Rainbow swallowed. “Oh, Twi, you should have seen this one colt. Star Tracks, I think? Kid had some quick hoofwork. The fastest unicorn I’ve ever seen!”

Twilight paused to glance at Blaze. “You train unicorns, too? I assumed you worked with just pegasi.”

He smirked. “Who in the world says I can’t work with the other ponies?”

“No one!” Twilight said hurriedly, opening more cabinets until she found a stack of plates. She pulled one out and started arranging the donuts on it. “We were just talking about Cloudsdale before you got back, and it sounded like you’d have a lot of athletes looking for help up there. The school must have made quite an offer to lure you away!”

Dart smiled with a glint in her eye that Twilight couldn’t put a name to. “He wrote to them first, actually. They’re a perfectly ordinary school with a perfectly unspectacular reputation and a perfectly average bunch of kids.”

“We’ll see about that when the season starts!” Blaze snapped. “I’ve got a good feeling about this year.”

“Exactly what you said before every year, and every year brings the same-old, same-old. Has one of your foals won a gold yet? Even a silver?”

“You know just like I do that there’s more to sports than that!”

Twilight tossed a look to the side. Blaze was standing right by the counter, blocking any attempt to slip out. She bowed her head and caught Rainbow’s eye.

Rainbow Dash cocked her head, an incredulous look on her face. Her mouth moved.

Twilight thought she made out “Really?” She nodded.

“Blaze, you don’t win by settling! Something has to change. Either you need to get tougher, or your kids need to get better. And the kids won’t get better by themselves in this city! This is as good as you can expect.”

“They are getting better! I’m helping them get better!”

Twilight looked at both of them and back to Rainbow. She tilted her head towards them one at a time. Say something. Please.

Rainbow took a breath, rolling her eyes. “You know he trained me, Mom. I think he knows what he’s doing.”

Dart flicked her tail, shook her head, and moved the remaining carrots onto a plate. “Let’s eat. Twilight, could you put those on the table, please?”

Twilight scooted her way past a statue-still Blaze with the donuts, thankful to let the matter drop for now. It was only stress, she told herself. Like Rainbow said. Dart was still sore about the practice. They just needed a little more time.

“—and then he said, ‘Velvet, I can say it all you want, but those earrings look like you’re trying to torture yourself.’” A round of laughter at her father’s expense sounded over the waves crashing into the shore, and Twilight’s voice gladly joined them. The cool water rushed over her hooves, and she raised one to block the setting sunlight from her eyes, watching the wave roll back to sea.

She wondered if Dart had come here during her flight earlier in the day. Dart had been the one to bring this spot up when Twilight mentioned she was ready to get out of the house for a bit, and the chance to see the ocean was more than Twilight could resist, especially when she mentioned it was so close.

The little cove past the end of the cul-de-sac was beautiful indeed, framed by a broken ring of rocks about a hundred yards from shore. More importantly, it was theirs, the four of them walking and laughing together without another pony in sight. Whether it was the fresh air or the short walk that burned the last bits of stress away, Twilight was grateful for another peaceful time to share with them all.

If she could only find a sand crab to observe in its natural habitat, her day would truly feel complete.

Blaze was the first to regain control of himself. “Well, you’re here with us, so I guess the story has a happy ending, but there are some things you just don’t say to a mare!”

Twilight chuckled, readjusting the towel draped over her back. “They kept the pictures from that date though, and I have to agree with him. The rings look like wagon wheels! I can’t believe her ears didn’t fall off!”

Dart shook her head. “No jewelry for me, please. Doesn’t do anything but get in the way. Slows a mare down.”

“Same,” Rainbow said. “Last thing you need in a divebomb is the wind tearing at something stuck on you.” She waggled her ears. “Or in you.”

“That’s my girl!”

Twilight smoothed out her mane against the ocean breeze, and let her hoof linger on the crown of her head for a heartbeat. She had never worn much before either, but that would soon have to change. All things in time.

Rainbow Dash stopped next to her, and another wave washed over their hooves. “Brr! Little chilly for a night swim, huh? So what else were you thinking about?”

Twilight fought down a sigh, and her thoughts of the future. She looked at Dart and Blaze a few paces ahead, waiting for them to catch up. “I was wondering if you could tell me about yourselves. I told you a story about my parents dating, so how about you?”

Dart and Blaze traded a look.

Rainbow snorted and knocked some mud into the water with a flick of her hoof. “Twi, I told you already! The wall, remember?”

Twilight started to walk again. “Surely there’s more to it than that. Cloudsdale sounded so wonderful this afternoon. You two must have done something together away from the track.”

Blaze nodded. “Of course. We usually sat together for lunch. Parties, too. Those were fun.”

Dart grinned. “The oaf here got it in his head one time that he was going to teach me how to dance. I humored him for a song or two, then had to threaten him to make him give me the lead.”

Blaze tried to look horrified at Twilight and Rainbow’s laughter, but the corners of his mouth betrayed his mirth. “Why does everypony laugh at that? She said she’d turn me into a gelding if I stepped on her hoof again, and then some of the ponies who heard her kept trying to bump me into her in the next dance! Rainbow, you would never even have been born if Light Streak had her way!”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Rainbow said, struggling to catch her breath. “Coach Light Streak? You two partied with the coach that made me fly a mile every single time I did a barrel roll in a wind sprint?”

Dart pulled her close with a hoof around her neck. “The same coach that taught you how to land without breaking an ankle with all that speed of yours!”

Twilight beamed at them. This was what she had been searching for. Friends—and family, from what Dart mentioned that afternoon—to go along with Rainbow Dash continuing their legacy at their old school. A strong foundation of memories to build a happy life from. “It sounds like you had everything in Cloudsdale. You must have been very happy.”

“We were,” Rainbow said. She took a deep breath of the ocean air and slowly let it out. “Gotta admit, this is pretty nice, but what in the world made you two come here?”

Dart fixed a pointed look at Blaze, and Twilight could almost sense the mood swept out to sea with the retreating water.

Blaze met his wife’s eyes, and something passed unspoken between them. He turned his attention back to Twilight and Rainbow, fidgeting under their gaze. “It was time for a change. Rainbow had left for Ponyville with Fluttershy, and the weather factory was just... the weather factory. It was the same thing day after day. There wasn’t anything there for us anymore.”

Dart sneered and turned around to head back the way they came.

Blaze pounded the sand. “You’ve never even given this place a chance! What have you done since we got here except fly around the neighborhood? You’ve never seen anything more than a few blocks away!”

She whirled around. “Because everything more than a few blocks away is exactly the same as everything closer!”

He jabbed a hoof to the horizon. “Look at that!”

Dart jabbed her hoof to the sky. “We’ve seen better up there!”

Twilight lowered her eyes to the sand, and to Rainbow’s hoof next to hers. She put hers over it, looking up at Rainbow while worrying at her lip.

Rainbow shook her head, voice dropping to a whisper. “Let ‘em get it out this time. Me forcing them to bottle it up isn’t helping.”

“Please, Rainbow. They listen to you. I don’t want this to be our entire vacation.”

Rainbow shook her head again, waited for another trade of jabs, and raised her voice. “Twilight wanted to do some sightseeing while she was in town, and tomorrow’s our last day here. We could go together! That’ll take us more than a few blocks, yeah Twilight?”

Blaze scoffed. “What good will that do? You heard her! She’s already decided.”

Dart set her jaw with a fierce glare. Her eyes lost little of their fire when she looked at Twilight. “What do you have in mind?”

Twilight cleared her throat. What do I have in mind? “The market, maybe? We could pick up some souvenirs for our friends back home. Um... maybe the university? They have a museum of nautical science dating back to their founding. I’d love to see that while I’m out here.”

Blaze hummed in thought. “Do you mean the market by the train station? That’s just a tourist trap.”

Rainbow draped a wing over Twilight’s back. “I’ll take her by the shops we passed by today. The two of us will have some fun, and then we can all meet up at—” She hid her grimace well. “We’ll be waiting at the museum for you.”

Dart and Blaze traded another look. Their faces softened, and they both nodded.

“Good! It’s a date.” Rainbow turned back to the water, tugging Twilight with her. The sun was already halfway down—painting the sky with gorgeous shades of violet and bright reds—and her wing curled around Twilight’s body tighter.

Twilight tucked her head under Rainbow’s chin. “Thank you.”

Twilight tossed and turned in bed, knowing and yet not caring that her movements would keep Rainbow awake, if not wake her up outright.

The uneventful dinner that night had still felt like a powder keg, nothing but a reminder that Dart and Blaze had sniped at each other all day. She was supposed to figure out the answer, find out what made their lives together special, and she failed. All she did was spark an argument. All Rainbow’s question at the beach did was spark an argument. Twilight huffed and rolled over once more, only for Rainbow’s foreleg to clamp down on her.

“Settle, girl.”

“I’m sorry, Rainbow, but I can’t just—”

“Don’t you remember what happened at your parents?”

“That’s different!”

“Is it?” Rainbow pushed herself up, her face barely revealed by the starlight outside. “Think about it, Twilight. Your Dad stormed off after you told them you were gay, you went after him, you talked it out, and everything’s fine now, right? So what’s different about this?”

Twilight couldn’t answer her. She wanted to, but her mind was a jumbled mess of worry and guessing.

“Just relax. It’s one more day, then we’re gone. Tomorrow will be great.” Rainbow leaned down and pressed her lips to Twilight’s forehead. “You’ll see.”

Twilight forced herself to smile, thankful that the shadows of the night helped mask her face—and the insincerity she felt. “I hope so, Rainbow. I’m sorry, I just wanted this weekend—”

“Sleep.” Rainbow eased herself back down, but kept her leg wrapped around Twilight. “You’re not going to be any fun if you keep dragging this around.”

Twilight stayed quiet and let Rainbow drift to sleep. She closed her eyes and listened to her soft breathing. In. And out. In. And out. Peaceful and tranquil. Twilight matched her, never letting go of Rainbow’s leg. It did her heart good to imagine Blaze and Dart doing the same—together, out of sight, holding each other the way she and Rainbow did.

Would they?

Her eyes fluttered open. The thought zipped unbidden from her mind to her stomach, twisting it in knots. Try as she might, she couldn’t see that image in her mind’s eye.

She had never seen Dart and Blaze share such a moment in reality, either. No reassuring touch. No kiss on the cheek. Twilight strained her memory, but she failed to remember a single smile that wasn’t aimed at her or Rainbow.

Twilight pulled Rainbow’s leg closer to her. She was right. She didn’t know what it meant, but she knew she was right. Twilight had no idea what to call it besides mare’s intuition, but as the night dragged on, her thoughts and memories failed to prove it one way or another.

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