• Published 10th Jun 2016
  • 6,434 Views, 494 Comments

Photo Dash - SS Nomad

Ever notice you've never seen Photo Finish and Rainbow Dash in the same room?

  • ...

Chapter 12: A Moment She'd Never Forget

“Oh, oh I’m sorry, you can explain,” Spitfire replied in a voice both sarcastic and angry, “Well, go ahead then.”

Photo’s perception of time slowed to a crawl in a way that only adrenaline can provide. Her body immediately began to process everything it could perceive. Her hoof still stung from the slap, and the spot on her chest where the hot locket had landed still ached from the singe. Spitfire was furious at her, her eyes welling with rage. The crowd was still watching, as they are wont to when a scene is made. Rarity was just sitting there, in shock, her drunken mind obviously struggling to deal with the situation as well. She felt a cold sweat starting to break over her body. Her ears were ringing. Spitfire was waiting.

“I…” Photo stumbled, covering the locket unconsciously, “She was…”

Spitfire tilted her head, eyes still locked in anger on Photo, “I don’t have all night.”

A murmur went through the crowd as those who saw what happened explained to those who had been farther away. A quick glare from Spitfire at the ponies assembled was enough to shut that down and begin dispersing them.

“She had grabbed my locket,” Photo stated with some struggle, “I… It looked like it vas going to break.”

Spitfire laughed incredulously, “So you hit her?”

“I… I didn’t know what to do,” Photo admitted, head hanging.

Spitfire’s expression turned to ice, “Photo. I heard that slap from the next room. How about you tell me what really happened?”

Photo’s body and mind locked up at once. What could she say? How much was she willing to admit? Her years of experience making things up was all rushing to her at once, but Rarity was right there, so she couldn’t just make shit up. She looked over her shoulder to Rarity, who had shifted from a look of shock to gently holding her cheek and thinking deeply. She still seemed out of it.

Photo looked down at her hooves, “It vas just that. I… This locket matters too much to me. I panicked.”

Spitfire stomped the ground in frustration, “That doesn’t give you the right to hit her.”

“But I…” Photo looked up into her eyes, surprised to see not just anger, but disappointment, “I didn’t have time. She was going to-”

“Just stop,” Spitfire interrupted, fire behind her voice, “You’ve got your circumstances, I get that. That doesn’t change the facts. I invited you here, and you turned around and smacked one of my best friends in the face. You can explain all you want, that’s not changing.”

Photo crumbled. There had to be something she could say. Something to cool Spitfire’s temper. Anything. The truth? Even that would do nothing here. Honestly it would probably just make things worse. Photo struggled, but no ideas came to mind.

Photo forced herself to hold eye contact with Spitfire and nearly whispered, “I’m just asking jou to trust me. It was ze only option.”

Spitfire staggered, caught completely off guard, “I… what?”

“There vas no time. I asked her to let go, but…” Photo clenched her jaw and looked away, “Zis locket matters more to me than I can explain, I just couldn’t risk it. I understand if jou don't believe me.”

Even through her anger, Spitfire could see Photo’s regret. She couldn’t decide how to respond. She was still furious, but a part of her was doubting herself. Her posture was still tense, but she was not bristling quite the same way as she had been seconds earlier. She silently walked around Photo to see to Rarity, putting a hoof under her chin to raise her head and look her in the eye. Rarity looked more lost in thought than anything.

“You alright?” Spitfire asked quietly.

“I…” Rarity mumbled, a look in her eyes like the slap had knocked the alcohol clean out of her, “I’m fine. It wasn’t… I’m fine.”

Spitfire was relieved, “What happened?”

“We…” Rarity started before shaking her head, “Nothing. Nothing happened, Spitfire. It’s fine.”

Spitfire took a confused step back, “Wh- Rarity, come on. What’s going on?”

Rarity sighed, gently rubbing at her cheek, “I was being a foal and she brought me to my senses. We honestly should be thanking her, not yelling at her.”

Spitfire looked at Rarity like that was the stupidest thing she’d heard in weeks before turning to Photo and explaining herself heatedly, “Look, I don’t care if she’s already forgiven you or whatever. I don’t care if you had a good reason. You hit her, and I’m mad. Even if I shouldn’t be, even if it doesn’t make sense, I’m fucking mad. I can’t change that just because you two want me to, and I’m not going to feel better about this until you get the fuck outta my sight. We-”

“No,” Rarity stated flatly.

Both Photo and Spitfire snapped to look at her, confused for their own reasons.

“No, she doesn’t need to leave, Spitfire,” Rarity continued, “You need to calm down. I think I understand something now.”

Spitfire looked for a few seconds like she was about to shout a response, but held herself back. Instead, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and faced Photo.

“We’ll need a moment.”

Photo just stood there in a mixture of shock and worry as Rarity and Spitfire walked off towards one of the hallways out of the courtyard. The ponies that had been watching previously were still there, if farther away and trying to hide their stares. Photo had nothing to say, and no idea how to proceed. She simply sat down at the bar and stared at her drink, the slowly melting ice.

A voice spoke from behind her, sounding like it was speaking as it passed by, “I do believe you’re about to owe me a favor.”

Turning quickly, Photo saw Hoity Toity heading off in the direction Rarity and Spitfire had vanished toward. She was confused at what he thought he could do, but watched intently. When all he did was stop in the hallway and lean against the wall, she was thoroughly stumped. After a few minutes passed, he simply walked away without having done anything.

Seconds after that, Spitfire and Rarity returned, and Photo finally got the picture. Glancing over to Hoity, he just looked at her sideways from behind his sunglasses and grinned. Despite everything, she couldn’t help but be amused with him.

Spitfire approached Photo and spoke like she was reading a script, “Look, I’m sorry. I should have gotten all the facts before flipping out like that.”

Rarity nodded approvingly behind her.

“It’s fine,” Photo mumbled, struggling to meet her eye, “I know how it looked.”

Spitfire chewed on the inside of her cheek before adding, “I should go check on the other guests, try to smooth things over with them.”

Photo thought for a moment before sadly offering, “I’m very sorry for making a scene, do jou think I should lea-”

“No,” Spitfire interrupted, her expression consoling, “just relax, try to get back into the swing of the party.”

Just the word was enough to bleed the tension from Photo’s shoulders. Seeing Spitfire walk off calmly left Photo immensely relieved. That could have gone far, far worse if Rarity hadn’t chimed in.

Photo turned to Rarity, who hadn’t walked off when Spitfire did, and flatly asks, “Vhy did jou cover for me?”

The clarity she had after being slapped had apparently started to wane, but Rarity still spoke with a level of seriousness, “Miss Finish. I know you’re the type of mare with her secrets and her reasons for keeping them such. As I’m much the same way… I just suppose I understood. Besides, no harm, no foul.”

Photo bowed her head slightly, “Thank you.”

Rarity’s smile turned conspiratorial, “And besides, I couldn’t let you fall out with Spitfire over me being an idiot. You two are far too adorable for me to let that happen.”

Photo went from grateful to horrifically embarrassed in a fraction of a second, flagrantly lying, “I haff no idea what jou’re talking about.”

Rarity simply patted her on the head and turned to leave, “I’m trying to help, I promise.”

“Wh.. Vhy?” Photo nearly slipped.

Rarity turned back to her, her voice teasing, “Now, now, I just helped you keep your secret. I think I’ll be keeping mine.”

As Rarity walked off, Photo felt her whole image of what was going on fall apart around her. She’d thought Rarity was trying to keep them apart, but… Photo just sat back down to think about all of the implications. All the pieces kind of still fit if Rarity had just been poorly, drunkenly wingmanning for Spitfire. Maybe she hadn’t been flustered and stressed over Photo just being there, but she’d been worried she was getting in the way. Then again, Photo still had no idea what was going on between the two of them.

Her mind traced back to Hoit. Maybe he’d overheard something useful. Quickly looking the crowd over for him, she managed to spot him subtly waving her over, standing in a less trafficked area of the room. Amused with him and his usual scandalmonger antics, she quickly moved to meet him.

Before she’d even fully gotten to him, Hoity Toity demanded, “I’m going to need your new model for one of my upcoming advertisements.”

Groaning slightly, Photo replied, “I’m not even sure I vant jour information. Jou know I don’t approve of how jou spy on ponies like this.”

“It’s particularly juicy though, darling,” he replied, sliding his sunglasses down his nose to look her square in the eye.

Photo stared right back, trying to get a read for him. A significant part of her wanted to clock him one for spying on her friend, but she’d gotten in enough trouble for that already tonight. There was still that nagging in the back of her head to figure out what was going on, but she wasn’t sure she could accept the means.

“Not interested,” Photo decided.

“They let something slip,” Hoity Toity replied, “I think I know what’s going on between them.”

Photo’s certainty wavered for a moment, but she stood firm, “No.”

Hoity just stared at her like she was being ridiculous.

She wanted to know, really she did. At the same time, this wasn’t cool. And with Rarity apparently trying to help…

“I honestly don’t think it matters to me, anymore,” Photo explained.

Hoity looked at her incredulously, “If you knew what I did, I’m pretty sure you’d disagree.”

“Then I’ll find it out ze right vay,” Photo retorted.

With a shrug, Hoity Toity slid his sunglasses back into place and wandered off, “Your loss.”

Somehow, everything settled down. Whatever damage control Spitfire had been running had apparently worked. She’d still been keeping her distance from Photo, but Photo didn’t let it bother her. After a scene like that, she knew she’d have needed a bit of time to calm down as well.

The hours passed, she spent her time chatting with the ponies she knew, and she took a few more dips into the hot tub, before Spitfire finally met her eye again. Spitfire just gave a subtle nod in the direction of the balcony door and started to walk off. Photo, intrigued, followed. The look had been a plain one, no hint of anger left, just a casual ‘let’s talk.’

Photo had nearly forgotten they were atop a tall tower as she stepped outside, the wind cutting by her as they looked out over the lights of Canterlot. Beside her, Spitfire, looking just the slightest hint embarrassed. Photo walked over to the railing and leaned her forehooves over it, looking out at the night. After a quiet moment, Spitfire joined her.

“Jou already said jou were sorry,” Photo mused, “Jou don’t need to repeat yourself.”

Spitfire looked surprised to be seen through like that, but retorted, “I do, though. I overreacted, I know that now.”

With a single awkward chuckle, Photo agreed, “Jou’re not the only one who did.”

Spitfire sighed and stared over the skyline for a long moment before speaking again, “Well, Rarity’s fine with everything, so I’ve got no decent reason to hold a grudge.”

“Jou care about her so much,” Photo mumbled hesitantly.

Spitfire stared off at the distant buildings, an indistinguishable look on her face, “I owe her a lot. I do what I can to make up for that.”

Tucking that odd little comment away for future thought, Photo decided to break the mood, putting on a joker’s air, “I thought she told me she almost killed jou once.”

Spitfire gave her a slightly shocked look before catching the tone of it, forcing a laugh, “Yeah… that happened. Long story, but it all worked out in the end. Glad we met then, though.”

“Strange thing to bond over,” Photo continued to tease.

With a light hearted shrug, Spitfire shot back, “Eh, I’ve seen weirder. You know, the only reason I opened up to this one mare is because I showed up on the wrong day for a meeting and she was real nice about it.”

Photo’s friendly grin spoke volumes before she even said, “That doesn’t sound very veird, more like good business.”

Spitfire smiled back, satisfied that they could both move on. For a moment, the two of them just stood there on the balcony, quiet, but together. It was that same feeling from before, both content to just be there near one another. The lingering awkwardness after what had happened was waning the longer they stood there, each of them coming to terms with the fact that it would be fine.

Spitfire was the one to finally break the silence, “You know, I’ve actually been following your work ever since you debuted.”

Photo took a moment to accept what she’d just heard before turning to Spitfire in confusion, “I… jou have?”

“Lemme guess, doesn’t fit your view of me?” Spitfire replied with a soft laugh, “Why would a Wonderbolt care about fashion, am I right?”

Intrigued, Photo pressed on, “I vill admit I’m surprised. Vhat got you interested?”

Spitfire lit up in a blush as she looked off into the city distance, “Well, I mean… I just saw something in the way you took pictures. I could recognize the passion and the craft of it all, even if it wasn’t my field. Then I started looking into who you were as a pony and… Well, you’re that strong, confident, dedicated mare I was still just pretending to be those days. I don’t know... “

Photo’s eyes went wide at the explanation as she slowly grew more amused, finally explaining with a smirk, “Spitfire… I meant fashion in general, not me in particular.”

“Oh,” Spitfire responded, ears pinned back against her head, but managing to barely hold an unphased expression otherwise, “Well… okay then.”

Photo couldn’t help but break into silent laughter, resting her forehead on the balustrade for balance and to not be so obvious. Despite her efforts, Spitfire definitely noticed, as her face turned the most wonderfully vibrant shade of red.

“Hey, quit it,” Spitfire complained through her embarrassment, “I was serious, you know.”

Photo looked up from her laughter, a few tears still in her eyes, “Ja… I could tell.”

“I dunno, I suppose…” Spitfire half mumbled, scuffing at the railing with her hoof, before forcing some confidence into herself, “I think I’d like to get to know you better.”

Photo’s heart immediately began to slam in her chest, “Jou mean…”

“You ever had Zebran food?” Spitfire blurted out awkwardly, “I know a good place.”

Photo’s mind ground to a halt, “A date.”

“...uh. Yes,” Spitfire replied with a sliver of hesitation in her certainty.

It seemed so straightforward, yet Photo’s mind couldn’t quite process it, “Even despite what happened toda-”

“Yeah,” Spitfire cut her off with a comforting smile.

After a moment of stunned silence, Photo asked, “Vhy? How can jou just move on so easily? We’ve only barely met.”

Spitfire looked like she was beginning to worry, “Is that a ‘no’?”

“N- I…” Photo cleared her throat awkwardly, “Of course it isn’t. But, vhy?”

Spitfire scratched at her neck, “Well, I was talking to a… a friend, I suppose. We were at a bar a few days ago, and I was still not really sure about things. In the middle of the rest of what she was saying, one thing jumped out at me. When you’re famous, you can just… do stuff. I’ve wanted to get to know you for years, so… here I am.”

Photo’s mind struggled with the familiarity of her friend’s comment for a second before it all snapped back to her at once. She was talking about Rainbow. That was the dumb thing she’d realized just days ago. Photo couldn’t help but shakily laugh at the absurdity of the circumstance.

“You alright?” Spitfire asked with a look of concern at the sudden bout of laughter.

“Ja. Ja, I am,” Photo sputtered out, “And yes. Zebran food is delicious.”

Spitfire lit up immediately at the response, unable to contain herself. They stood there, side by side, looking into each other’s eyes with shared happiness and excitement. Somehow, everything was just turning out right. They said nothing, because there was nothing to be said. They just stood there, together and hopeful for what was to come.

Staring into Spitfire’s eyes, Photo could barely think straight. Something in the way her excited golden eyes paired with the soft, confident smile she had on… She’d always felt Spitfire was beautiful, but it was so different from this close. Her heart fluttered. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She had dreamt of being this close to Spitfire before, but… this was real. They were standing there, mere inches apart, and it just felt right. She was close enough that she could-

“Oh my goodness, they’re about to kiss,” chimed Rarity’s poorly whispered voice.

Almost instantly, Photo and Spitfire could feel the heat radiating from each other’s faces as their cheeks went flush. Slowly turning to face the voice, they spotted Rarity peeking her head from around the balcony doorway, watching in hesitant excitement. A familiar grey hoof reached from behind her and pulled her out of the doorway by the face, leaving them alone once more.

“So,” Spitfire ejected awkwardly, “How long you think they’ve been listening?”

Photo thought for a second before replying, “I’m pretty sure that hoof was Hoit, so… most likely ze entire time.”

Spitfire sighed like she agreed, “Well, maybe we should get back to the party then. I’m sure ponies are starting to wonder what we’re up to out here.”

As much as Photo wanted to make Rarity right, she knew now wasn’t the time, “Of course.”

Photo passed the last few hours of the party in a haze of excitement. That or it could have been the alcohol. Or both. The important part was Spitfire seemed to have the same glow about her. The party drew along, ponies getting too tired or tipsy to continue and slowly filtering out. Eventually, it was rather clear things were finally wrapped up for the night. Taking her cue that it was time to get ready to leave, Photo sighed regretfully and stood from her seat. It was a good night, it was such a shame it had to end.

Before she could get far, Spitfire rushed over, “Hey, uh… what’s up? Leaving already?”

Photo could easily hear that Spitfire wanted her to stay, so simply reassured her, “I vas just about to get my dress. It’s gotten cold, ja?”

“Oh,” Spitfire said with a hint of embarrassment, “Yeah, that makes sense.”

Photo could tell Spitfire was asking funny, so she asked, “Is something wrong?”

With a bit of a blush, Spitfire admitted, “I was just hoping to get another good chance to talk to you.”

“Ve have time,” Photo reassured her as she started walking off towards the hallway, “Let’s talk.”

Spitfire followed her, looking like she’d forgotten that in order to talk, you need something to talk about. She just followed in near silence, clearly looking for anything remotely like casual conversation and finding nothing of use to her. As they both reached the door to the bedroom, the awkwardness hit a head. Both of them seemed immediately aware of how this would look, and slowly turned to face each other.

“I could uh… go get it for you, I guess,” Spitfire offered.

Photo shrugged, “It’s no problem, nopony here will care.”

Still, they hesitated to open the door. As they stood there staring, their contemplation was immediately interrupted by the echo of a resounding snore from within. After sharing a glance, Spitfire swung open the door.

Inside, Rarity had apparently snuck into the room and drunkenly collapsed, only the front half of her actually on the bed. The scene was amazing, Rarity just lying there, drooling on the sheets and snoring lightly. Photo shared a glance with Spitfire, each of them resisting laughing.

“She’s probably out cold,” Spitfire pointed out in a whisper, “she’s had a lot.”

Photo nodded, amused, and went into the closet for her dress. As she shuffled through the clothes, something slowly registered to her. Spitfire had way, way more fancy dresses than she’d have ever guessed. She found herself absently looking them over, rather amazed with the collection.

Spitfire lunged forward as she noticed Photo staring at her dresses, plucking Photo’s dress from the hangar and stammering as she offered it to her, “Oh, hey, yup, here it is.”

“These are beautiful,” Photo replied, picking one of the many dresses and raising it up to Spitfire, “Jou vould look amazing in this.”

For a second, Spitfire looked like she was about to be embarrassed, but rather suddenly shifted into a surprised, happy smile, “Wait, really? You think so? I mean… you think so?”

“Ja…” Photo mumbled with a hint of amazement, “I need to see you in this someday.”

Her smile growing ever wider, Spitfire replied, “You know, I think you might get a chance.”

Quickly shuffling her dress back on and straightening it as best she cared to, Photo could only think to respond with, “I’d like that.”

As Photo stretched and got ready to leave the room, Spitfire stopped her, “Hey… I do have one thing I was wanting to ask.”

“Ja?” Photo inquired as she halted before the door.

Clearly struggling to work up the nerve, Spitfire asked, “I know this is gonna sound weird, but could I come to one of your shoots?”

She wouldn’t have called it weird, but Photo was certainly surprised by the request, “I… Sure, if jou vant. They’re… not exactly interesting, but…”

Spitfire just shrugged as she trotted over to catch up, a little bit of uncertainty still in her eyes, “I’ve never got to see one, and I’m interested.”

“No problem,” Photo replied with a smile, “I can send jou my schedule, just tell me vhen you’d be interested.”

The excitement in Spitfire’s expression was almost too much for Photo to handle. She’d made countless mares’ dreams come true in her career, but this felt different. The usual detachment of ‘it’s my job’ wasn’t there to shield her from the feeling of joy pointed at her. She’d made Spitfire, somepony she’d spent so much of her life looking up to, so excited that she could barely function.

A loud snort from Rarity reminded them she was still over there, collapsed. Both snickering to themselves, Spitfire reached for the door, not able to think hard enough to say anything. They both stepped out, each glowing for her own reason.

“Tonight vas vonderful,” Photo whispered.

Spitfire smirked sideways at her, trying to act cool, “Glad you had a good time.”

Seeing the way smirk poofed out Spitfire’s cheek, Photo went for it. The sound of her heart thumping in her ears, Photo leaned over towards Spitfire. She was nervous, but she didn’t hesitate. Before she could give herself time to think, there was a feeling of cheek fur against her lips. It was a tiny peck, but in the moment, it felt like the most important thing in the world. She felt Spitfire freeze up in surprise, and even the warmth of a blush starting to form under her kiss. Everything just felt perfect.

In the distance, a pony loudly spat out their drink. In a flurry, Photo snapped her head around see who’d caught her. Hoity Toity stared back, his sunglasses half fallen off his face, looking like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The only valid response Photo could come up with was an obscene gesture. Hoity immediately raised his hooves and shook his head, the universal signal for ‘this is none of my business.’

With some worry, Photo slowly turned back to see Spitfire’s response. By the looks of it, she either hadn’t noticed Hoity, or simply couldn’t care. Spitfire was still locked up in amazement and excitement at what had just happened. All pressure gone, Photo just smiled back.

“So I’ll be seeing jou again in a few days?” Photo asked expectantly.

“Yeah,” Spitfire replied dreamily, “I’ll be seeing you soon.”

Photo yawned loudly, drawing a chuckle from Spitfire.

“Vhat,” Photo complained, “I’m tired.”

Spitfire shook her head, “No, no, it’s just… You even have your accent when you yawn.”

Photo scoffed at Spitfire before playfully pushing her away and making a frustrated pout, “That’s it, I’m leaving.”

Spitfire kept up her chuckle, replying, “Yeah, it’s late. You need a walk home?”

Surprised by the offer, Photo didn’t really have a response ready, “I… No. Jou still have guests. I wouldn’t draw jou from them.”

“How about I at least walk you to the door,” Spitfire offered warmly.

Photo didn’t respond, but she didn’t have to. They walked, the eyes of the few ponies remaining still clearly on them, but they had stopped caring. They both wanted this moment too much.

Spitfire opened the door, obvious in her posture that she didn’t want Photo to leave just yet. Photo regretfully stepped through the door, stopping on the other side to look back.

“Oh, calm down, jou’ll see me again,” Photo teased.

Spitfire forced a laugh, letting the joke hang as she stood there thinking, but eventually she just decided to say it, “Hey, Photo?”

A little surprised, Photo asked, “Ja?”

“You should let your wings out. You seem more relaxed when they’re not trapped under the dress,” Spitfire observed caringly.

Photo seemed shocked at the sudden declaration, but thought it over, “I… Jou might be right. Still, I-”

“You’ve got nothing to be embarrassed about,” Spitfire interrupted, “You look great.”

The weight of the compliment hit Photo, and she struggled for a response, “T… Thank you. I’ll think about it.”

Spitfire grinned, “I’ll see you again, some time.”

In the time it took Photo to blink, Spitfire’s face was inches away. She flinched at the suddenness of it, but immediately drew calm at the feeling of a gentle kiss on her forehead.

Photo couldn’t help but smile as Spitfire drew back, “Ja. I’ll see jou again.”

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