• Published 19th Nov 2015
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Glimpsing the Future - Minds Eye



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

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Chapter 3: Parting Shots

Twilight kept her gaze focused on the vessel mounted outside San Franciscolt University’s museum. The stained wood of its hull stood testament to years of wear and tear, and a few of the more rotten pieces had already been removed or fallen away. The information marker labeled the ship as a submersible—the first one to sail in the western ocean—powered only by the pedaling of the two ponies inside.

She wondered what it would be like inside the bulbous cap of plastic mounted on top, wondered what it would be like to be away from it all, under the surface of the water, alone save for one other pony and all the creatures of the deep. She wondered if such an environment would feel any different at the moment to Rainbow Dash, whose hooves continued to pound the sidewalk leading to the museum entrance.

Rainbow’s head swiveled around as it had for the last half hour. She scanned the sky, the road, and every pony—student, tourist, or otherwise—that walked by. “They’re not standing us up! I can’t believe they’d stand us up!”

“I didn’t say—”

“You were thinking it!”

Twilight learned that the primitive submersible had served over twenty-five expeditions before being replaced by a newer, more robust model. It had taken four years since the university’s founding before the first metal vessels had been tested and approved for use by the Equestrian Labor Safety Committee.

“Aw, Twi, don’t clam up like that.” Rainbow ran a hoof down her back. “I’m sorry. They were never late for anything up home, but now it’s just—” She vented a breath, something between a snort and a cough. “I don’t get it. The train was one thing, but they knew we were expecting them today. We agreed on it yesterday. Yesterday!”

Twilight took Rainbow’s hoof in her own. She looked in her friend’s eyes, her lover’s eyes, as they flashed a warning in the glimmering sunlight—and said what she knew to be true. “Something’s wrong.”

Rainbow yanked her hoof away. “There’s nothing wrong! Why are you still talking about this?”

“I don’t mean to pry—”

“Then stop asking!” Rainbow stomped and snarled at a pair of nearby stallions. “What do you want?!”

They hurried past Twilight on their way inside, and she took a step closer to Rainbow to try and keep her voice down. “I just want to know if your father said anything strange to you yesterday.”

“Ask him yourself! That’s all you wanted to do, right?” Rainbow slapped Twilight’s empty saddlebags. “You didn’t buy anything! You barely even looked at anything! All you wanted to talk about is how much my mom and dad hate each other.”

“I don’t want there to be a problem, Rainbow.”

“Good, because there isn’t one!” Rainbow started her pacing again.

A group of mares with books stuffed in their bags gave Rainbow quizzical looks as they passed her by. Twilight watched them go in, and then studied the meager skyline of the city past the museum. “Did he sound happy here?”

Rainbow groaned. “Why wouldn’t he?”

“Something your mother said when she told me about Cloudsdale.” Twilight thought it best not to repeat the exact thought. No true pegasus could ever be bored in Cloudsdale. Yet Blaze had wanted to leave for a fresh start. “You heard her at the beach last night. I don’t think she wanted to leave.”

“So what? She’s here now, isn’t she?”

Twilight flicked her eyes to the ponies on the street over Rainbow’s shoulder. “No, and neither is he. Something’s going on, Rainbow.”

She stopped her walk, and buried her face in a hoof. “I thought you wanted to drop this. Didn’t you say you didn’t want arguing to be our whole vacation? What could possibly be going on?”

“I know that arguing about where to live is a lot bigger than a petty lovers’ quarrel.” Twilight raised a hoof before Rainbow could respond. “And I don’t care how much you tell me they’ve always argued. That doesn’t make it right, Rainbow. It doesn’t add up.”

Rainbow whirled around, nose-to-nose with Twilight, eyes blazing. “This is my family you’re talking about! We aren’t some numbers on a chalkboard for you to mess with!”

Twilight shrank away from her. “It doesn’t add up...”

“Fine!” Rainbow turned and walked away. “You want answers this bad? Let’s go get them.”

Twilight slunk after her, eyes fixed on the ground.


The feeling of peace and quiet surrounding the yellow homes stood in stark contrast to the veil of tense silence between Twilight and Rainbow on their way back. Twilight almost felt as if it were a physical force field Rainbow had put around herself. She always stayed a few steps ahead the whole way home, and every time Twilight tried to pull even with her to say something, Rainbow’s brisk pace had sped up all the more, repulsing her away.

The only times Twilight managed to speak were calls that Rainbow had marched to the wrong home twice. Each time, Rainbow had not even thanked her, only lowered her head and pushed on. In her haste, she walked right by the ground floor window of the correct building, and the elderly mare sitting behind it.

Twilight noticed her. Rather, she noticed the look on the mare’s face. She watched Rainbow go by with her mouth pulled in a thin line, and her brow creased over her eyes with concern. The mare looked to Twilight and nodded after Rainbow, almost pleading with Twilight to follow her.

She didn’t understand until Rainbow opened the front door.

“I always hated this city!”

Dart’s voice ripped through the doorway and past Twilight’s ears. Her jaw dropped, as did Rainbow’s as she turned to look back.

“Then why did you follow me here?!”

Blaze’s booming answer echoed through the neighborhood, and Rainbow Dash bolted inside, Twilight hot on her trail. She stopped long enough to close the door behind them, and long enough for Rainbow to fly ahead.

“ENOUGH! What are you two doing?!”

Twilight hurried upstairs to find Rainbow hovering over her parents, both Dart and Blaze looking crestfallen, averting their eyes from their daughter’s glare. Dart glanced at Twilight for a split second before lowering her gaze to the floor, but not before Twilight saw the tears streaking her face. A quick glance aside at Blaze showed his eyes were red too. “Rainbow—”

“You stood us up today for this? Just to scream at each other?!”

Twilight reached up to her. “Rainbow, you need to calm down.”

Rainbow shrugged off the touch. “You’ve been doing this all weekend! You’ve been embarrassing us, and making her think we’re just crazy, and now you’re screaming at each other for... for-for-for what?!”

“Stop!” Twilight yanked Rainbow to floor with a burst of magic. “That’s enough! Shouting won’t help anything!”

Rainbow blinked, eyes glazed.

Twilight blinked back.

Four ponies panted for their breath in the calm, and a faint song floated up from the floor, a stallion’s voice singing and a swift fanfare of trumpets rising between choral segments, all with the tinny quality of an unsophisticated recording. After all was still for a few moments, the music faded away.

“I saw her,” Twilight said, gesturing to the floor, “in the window, before we came up. She looked...” Twilight ran a hoof through her mane. She saw the mare’s face again, not shocked, but almost resigned to what was happening above her very head. “She didn’t look surprised. How long? How long have you been fighting each other like this?”

Dart hesitated a long moment before raising her head at last. “Constantly. This wasn’t the first time we’ve bothered them.”

“They’re good ponies,” Blaze added. “The stallion was a psychiatrist before they retired here. They’ve been helping us get along, and we’ve... uh, we’ve needed it.” He tried to flash a smile, then stepped over to drop a wing over Dart’s shoulders—but the light Twilight had seen in his face over the last couple days was dimmed, and the stiffness of Dart’s body at the moment he touched her reminded Twilight of a block of granite. “We’ll have a talk with them when you two leave tomorrow, and everything will be fine.”

Dart laughed—once, and without any trace of mirth, and stepped out from under his wing. “Everything will go back to the way it was. It’s over, Blaze. Drop the act.”

Twilight shared a confused look with Rainbow. Act?

The last of the light in Blaze’s face vanished with his smile. “No. No, now’s not the time! This was your idea in the first place, and we both agreed to write her after they got back.”

Dart walked to the bedroom, tossing her head back to say over her shoulder, “Either you tell them, or I show them.”

Rainbow frowned. “Dad, what is she talking about?”

Blaze stammered for a moment, looking back and forth between his daughter and retreating wife. He settled on Rainbow after Dart dipped out of sight. “We... we needed a change. After you left. I wanted things to change. That’s all.”

Twilight covered her mouth. He was shaking. Even Rainbow looked taken aback, but Blaze was shaking right in front of their eyes.

Tears welled in his eyes, and he made no move to wipe them away. “Nothing changed. I just wanted a fresh start for us, but nothing changed.”

Rainbow’s face softened. “Dad... I told you guys everything. That I kissed Fluttershy. That I wrecked the house trying to do a rainboom when I was fifteen. That I was dropping out of flight school to go to Ponyville. Talk to me. What’s going on?”

Dart walked back in, head held high and a wing curled at her side. For a brief moment, Twilight imagined that she looked on her husband with pity, but Dart’s impassive face gave her very few clues. She tossed a small stack of papers onto the table with a flick of her wing. “Your father and I are separating.”

Twilight felt the room chill, her own body feeling a few degrees colder, but she didn’t shiver. She couldn’t if she wanted to. It was as if a block of ice sprouted from the floor to ensnare her, and it would never let her go.

No...

She misheard. Dart had said something else, and her own paranoia surrounding their relationship played a trick on her mind. There was no way... her hosts couldn’t be separating. They had a daughter. They had memories of their life hanging a few feet away from her. They had a daughter. Twilight had seen their wedding photo, seen the cloth tied around their necks. Three knots. Impossible to come undone.

Unless there was a deliberate attempt to untie them.

They had a daughter. Her lover.

Twilight peered through her sheet of invisible ice to see Rainbow trapped in her own. Rainbow stared straight ahead at her mother, not even seeming to notice or care about the papers that had been put before her. Twilight wondered if her heart was even beating, Rainbow was so still.

She needed... something. The world. The world needed to move again. Twilight lowered her eyes to the table.

In accordance with

A phrase, leading into legal jargon most likely. But she recognized it. Twilight followed it, reading on and on. The world came back with every word, each one jolting her brain awake to remember its meaning. While Twilight failed to make sense of the page as a whole, she had recovered enough of her wits by the end of it to recognize the ink insignia at the bottom: the same image of the Royal Sisters found on the Equestrian flag.

She had seen the legal stamp of approval from Ponyville’s town hall before, and while the signature belonged to a High Desk rather than a name she was familiar with, the stamp meant the paperwork had been approved all the same. So Twilight turned the pages.

There was a copy of the marriage license from Cloudsdale. Duplicate forms, one signed by Rainbow Blaze, the other by Cloud Dart. A financial agreement—filled with numbers Twilight ignored as best she could—signed at the bottom again by both Blaze and Dart, this time with a public notary stamp. A waiver signed by Cloud Dart alone in which she forfeited the right given to females under Cloudsdale law to challenge their mate in trial by battle.

Twilight paused at that one. She had never heard of such a thing, but the military tradition in pegasi society was one of their oldest qualities. The waiver’s presence ultimately served to prove what she already noticed. Every I, dotted. Every T, crossed. Save one. The final page. It was just one more form, this one blank save for several red arrow seals pointing to several lines that needed to be filled, signed, and dated by a judge.

It was as good as done if he saw what Twilight had just seen.

Dart’s hoof tapped the empty page. “There’s just one more step. Next week, we have a hearing with Judge Fairwind to go over everything and give his approval. We didn’t mean for all this to come out while you were here, but...”

“N-no.” Rainbow’s voice was smaller than Twilight had ever heard. The smile on her face was even weaker. “This is a joke. Payback. Y-you wanted to get me back for taking so long to get here, right? I get it, I screwed up. I shouldn’t have waited so long to visit. Or to bring her with me. You’re in on it, aren’t you Twilight? They... they scribbled on something. Told you to act shocked. That’s not... there is no judge. There’s nothing to approve. That’s fake.”

Twilight caught her eye, struggling to find two words. She watched the smile fade from Rainbow’s face with every agonizing heartbeat until she succeeded, her voice raw. “They’re real.”

A small sound escaped Rainbow’s open mouth, and she looked at the papers. Back to Twilight. “But that means... what happened to...” She roared, charging her father. “Who was she?!”

Blaze sprang away, but Rainbow followed, never letting him get more than a few inches away. “What are you talking about?”

“This wouldn’t happen without a reason! You did something, didn’t you? You cheated on my mother! Your wife! Who was it?!”

The hurt that came into his eyes broke Twilight’s heart.

Dart leapt to his side. “Rainbow Dash, don’t talk like that! I promise you he didn’t do anything of the sort.”

“Then it was you!” Rainbow set her glare on her mother. “What, you found some new hunk close by? Or did you regret leaving one behind in Cloudsdale?!”

Dart held her ground, but she glared daggers at her daughter.

Twilight inched up behind her. “Rainbow, please think about this. There’s nothing about infidelity in any of the papers.”

Rainbow turned on her. “What are you upset about? You were right! This is what you wanted, isn’t it?”

“No! No, I never wanted this.”

“Neither did I!” Rainbow spun between the three of them, glaring at each in turn as she screamed, “I didn’t want my dad to lie to me yesterday when he promised everything was okay! I didn’t want my mom to hide this from me for weeks! Or months! And I don’t want to hear about papers!” She stamped a hoof and turned back to her parents. “I want the truth! Tell me what’s going on!”

Blaze tried to place a reassuring hoof on her shoulder, but Rainbow slapped it away. He sighed. “There’s nothing going on.”

“You’re lying! Something had to have happened!”

“Nothing happened,” Dart said. “That’s almost the problem. Rainbow, we don’t... there’s nothing to us anymore. We grew apart.”

Rainbow clenched her teeth, and a hiss escaped from them. “That’s it? That’s... that’s it?!” She swung a leg to the wall. “You did all that! You’ve been together for years! Don’t you dare stand there and tell me you just can’t be together anymore. My parents would never do that. They’d never just stop. They’d never look me in the eye and admit that.”

Dart looked her in the eye. “We can’t be together anymore.”

“There’s a void between us, Rainbow,” Blaze said. “We can’t cross it. We can’t fill it. We don’t know what else to do.”

“We don’t quit!” Rainbow bucked the table, and it crashed into the wall, the shock of its impact knocking some of the pictures to its surface and some to the floor. She was gone before Twilight could take another breath, the wind in her wake blowing down some of the hanging medals to join the broken glass and frames below.

Twilight raced downstairs—far too late. The street was empty of anypony else by the time she charged through the open door, and the skies were clear of anything but a few dark clouds on the horizon. She turned back and caught sight of the old mare once more, still sitting at her window. When she had Twilight’s attention, she pointed her hoof up. Twilight looked over the roof of the house, but even those skies were empty.

Her wings twitched under her saddlebags, useless things that they were. She could have followed if she were stronger. She could have at least searched. But she wasn’t stronger.

Twilight searched her memory, but she failed to think of any clue to where Rainbow would have gone. San Franciscolt was still too strange, too foreign, to predict where Rainbow would go to get away from everything. Only that she found comfort in the sky. She could have been on her way back to Ponyville for all Twilight knew. There was nowhere Twilight could go to catch up.

The open door corrected her. There was one place left to go. The only place, in fact, unless she wanted to try her luck and wander around the city until she ran into Rainbow Dash. Or until it was time for their train to leave in the morning. The tickets were still upstairs, past the ponies that must have been just as angry and brokenhearted as their daughter.

They might as well have been on the other side of a mountain.

All was quiet, however. Twilight took a tentative step inside, but the voices upstairs were hushed and muffled. She trudged up the stairs, not even sure if Blaze and Dart knew she was still there. Or if they cared. She couldn’t blame them if they hated her for her interference. They had a plan, and her meddling forced it out before they were ready.

She reached the top and saw the two of them drag the table back to its place. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—” But she did. She meant to drag out the truth. She meant every second of it. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea.”

Dart almost managed a smile, but it faded, and her ears wilted. “You couldn’t have. We decided to do this weeks ago. It was our fault for dragging it out over your visit.”

Blaze shook his head. “We should have told her. This wasn’t right!”

“How?” Dart challenged. “How were we going to tell our daughter her parents were splitting up when she was planning to come visit with the mare she’s dating?”

“I wanted to be honest with her!” Blaze snapped. “Avoiding it wasn’t helping. We’ve never hidden anything like this from her. It wasn’t right to string both of them along.”

“It wasn’t right for you to hide the fact you took a job here from me either! I should have just let you go. But no, I had to be stubborn. I had to try to save what we had.”

Blaze scowled, cocking his head to stare at his wife in disbelief. “You tried? When? Oh, I wanted you to try. We were at each other’s throats as soon as Rainbow left for Ponyville. All we knew, from when we were to kids, to raising her, all we knew was the track. We could have done something special here! Together! We could have taught so much to these kids!” He jabbed a hoof towards the door. “And now our daughter hates both our guts! This is you trying?!”

Twilight bowed her head as he stormed past them both, his pounding footsteps soon fading into the bedroom. She watched Dart move to the wall—stiff and graceless—and bend over to pick up one of the pictures. Twilight crept to her side as she dusted it off.

Dart held it out for her to see. Father and daughter had taken the ready stance for a race, but rather than focusing on the track, each of them had contorted their face at the other—Blaze letting his slack tongue hang out of one side of his mouth, and a filly Rainbow crossing her eyes with puffed out cheeks. “He always loved her more than he loved me. I knew, but I never minded. She was everything to us. For so long, she was our entire world.”

Twilight surveyed the chaos at their feet. Everything—every memory, every triumph, every moment—lay in a heap. She wanted to pick it all up. She wanted to leave it alone. But all she had really wanted was to understand.

A cracked sob came from the bedroom.

Dart hung her head. “A good wife would go to him, wouldn’t she? She’d talk to him, listen to him. Tell him what happened today had to happen, and everything will be fine.” She smiled. “Yes. That’s what a good wife would do.”

A few words died before Twilight could force them out. “So would a friend.”

Dart lifted her gaze to what remained on the wall. She swept her eyes over it, her lip starting to tremble every inch of the way.

Talk to him.

Twilight sucked her lips in. It wasn’t her place. Not anymore, not after what she had done. She walked away and left Dart to her decision. The hallway seemed a mile long, and almost an eternity seemed to pass until she could shut the door to her room behind her.

“Stupid!” She clutched her head, sinking to the floor. “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” Her eyes burned, and the hot streaks of her tears soon traced her cheeks. “Stupid fool! Look what you did!”

All she had needed to do was nothing. If she had just kept quiet, none of these things would have happened. Because she pried into their business, a family had turned on itself and left nothing but tears and heartache in the place of a long-awaited reunion. Because she had to find her all important answer, Rainbow Dash had raced away, hating Twilight with every flap of her wings for all she knew.

What are you upset about?

Rainbow’s accusation, the desperate anger in her eyes when she said it, brought a bitter smile to Twilight’s face. Rainbow was right. Her objective was complete, and now there was no need for her to do or say anything else as long as she was in the house. She found the answer she had searched for all weekend. She figured out the foundation Blaze and Dart had built their lives together around.

She only hoped that foundation would realize how much she meant to them.


Twilight pulled her covers tighter to guard against the wind carrying the chill of the ocean through the open window. The breeze was strong enough to bring the scent of salt from the nearby little cove to her nose. She had watched the clouds gather until nightfall, and knew the rain would come sooner or later, but she couldn’t shut the window. Not yet.

She closed her eyes and listened to the mournful howling outside, surprisingly more noisy and chaotic than the remains of the day had been. Dart hadn’t challenged her new vow of silence over a tasteless dinner, nor had Blaze joined them until he came out to announce he would sleep on the couch that night. Just in case Rainbow came home. It was an unnecessary gesture now that the charade was over.

Thunk.

Her eyes shot open. “Rainbow!”

Rainbow moved away from the window and threw open her side of the bed.

Twilight sat up. “Are you okay? You had us—”

“Not now.” Rainbow climbed in and pulled the sheets back over herself. She turned her back to Twilight.

“They love you.”

“Just...” Rainbow clenched her eyes shut. She let out a sigh and shook her head. “Not now.”

Twilight closed her mouth. She had been trying to do it again. Rainbow didn’t want any discussion, so Twilight settled for lowering her head to rest on Rainbow’s neck. Her coat smelled like fresh rain, and the gentle patter of taps on the window started soon after. They love you, Rainbow. So much.

The rain fell for what seemed like hours, then it simply wasn’t there. She didn’t remember it stopping, nor did she remember falling asleep, but daylight broke through the cloudy sky outside the still-open blinds inch by excruciating inch. At the same time, she didn’t feel any more rejuvenated by her rest. Time moved on all the same, however, and they had a train to catch. Before that, there were two ponies to bid good-bye.

Rainbow was the first to get up, and Twilight watched her pack up the few things they had brought, including all her books. “What are you going to say to them?”

“Bye.” Rainbow shrugged, and tossed Twilight’s saddlebag onto the bed. “We’re done here. I’m gonna take a shower. You get your stuff out of there when I’m out.” She left the room before Twilight could answer.

Twilight rolled out of bed, thankful she had taken hers the previous night. She found both Dart and Blaze waiting in the kitchen when she went out. Neither seemed surprised when they heard the shower running, and Dart gave her a small smile and nod. Twilight left Rainbow’s plan unsaid. She was through interfering.

She smelled fresh bread in the oven, but it did nothing to stir her appetite. Dart studiously retrieved a platter for serving while Blaze busied himself with setting the knives, plate, butter, and jam on the table. Twilight sat by the counter, next to a pile of the fallen items from last night. The glass and frames of the pictures had been removed, but there were still gaps in the wall from the missing medals that were laying right beside her.

Perhaps they were thinking like their daughter, ready to pack up everything for the inevitable move. Twilight kept her thoughts to herself, but she couldn’t ignore what was happening around her. Blaze fiddled with the plates, twisting and turning each one multiple times. Dart engaged the stove’s hatch in a staring contest.

Don’t they deserve to talk with their daughter?

But she was through interfering.

The shower eventually stopped, and Twilight went to collect her things. Please talk to them, she thought as a still-wet Rainbow Dash slipped into their room. She mimicked Blaze by slightly nudging her hair and tooth brushes around until she heard something drop behind her. Her saddlebag was waiting for her by the door, and she caught the tip of Rainbow’s tail before it moved out of sight. She kept her ears up while she packed her toiletries, but didn’t hear a thing. Please, Rainbow. Give them a chance.

She occupied herself by making the bed to give the family more time, but there was still no sound coming from the kitchen. Twilight looked over the room once more for any straggling items, but it was clear of anything that belonged to them. She hoped Blaze would use it instead the couch that night. Perhaps he had, until she and Rainbow finalized their plans to visit. Regardless, they were packed and ready to go home.

Twilight went back out to breakfast and sat next to Rainbow, standing still and watching her parents’ every move.

Dart pulled a tray of biscuits out of the oven and started to tray them up.

“Don’t bother,” Rainbow said, stepping forward. She took one and popped it in her mouth. She tossed another over to Twilight as she chewed and swallowed. “You ready to go?”

Blaze stepped between her and the stairs. “Talk to us, kid. You can’t leave like this.”

Dart wrapped a leg around her shoulders. “We love you, Rainbow. You’re the most important pony in our lives. We just can’t love each other like that.”

Rainbow shook off her mother’s touch. “You can’t expect me to solve your problems for you.” She shouldered past her father and headed down the stairs.

Twilight shuffled after her, biscuit levitating in tow, but where Rainbow headed straight out the door, she stopped.

Blaze stood next to her, and put a hoof on her shoulder. He watched Rainbow walk away, not looking back a single time. “Please... do what we can’t.”

Twilight nodded and looked to Dart. Thank you came to mind. For her hospitality. For speaking with her. For sharing with her. I’m sorry quickly followed. For what Twilight did with her generosity. For letting Rainbow leave this way. Neither seemed appropriate.

Dart gave her an understanding smile. She closed the door without a word.

Twilight trotted after Rainbow towards the city proper, eating on the run until she caught up. “Rainbow—”

“They won’t do it.” Rainbow looked back to the house. “They said there’s another step, right? Take it to a judge?” She waited for Twilight’s nod, then fixed her gaze on the road ahead. “That’s their out. They’ll take it to the edge, but they won’t go through with it. They won’t.”

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