• Published 5th Dec 2011
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Flying High, Falling Hard - Soundslikeponies

Twilight, Dash, and Spitfire have a trainwreck of a relationship.

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Chapter 23: A Split in the Sky

A Split in the Sky

Flying High, Falling Hard by soundslikeponies

Spitfire backed up as she stared at the door that had just been knocked upon. She wiped her eyes and glanced down at the teardrop stains that appeared on her hoof.

Someone banged on the door again. “Hey, Spitfire, you in there?!” Rainbow’s voice called from the other side.

Spitfire’s rear hit the pale blue walls of her apartment as she ran out of room to back up. She let out a shaky breath, and for a couple of seconds, she didn’t hear anything from the other side. She was about to let out a sigh of relief, thinking Dash had left, but then she heard hushed whispers from outside her apartment as Dash talked to a second pony.

“Maybe she’s not here.”

“She’s bound to show up here at some point,” a second voice replied. From the sound of it, and considering it was accompanying Dash, it had to be Twilight’s.

“You sure?”

“Of course. She’s probably just out running a quick errand. You heard Soarin’. She isn’t practicing with them today. And besides, this is the only place we have to look for her.”

Spitfire made a mental note to tan Soarin’s hide later as she let her rear slide down the wall until she sat on the floor, not daring to move in case the two ponies outside hear her. Every now and again she had to resist the urge to sniffle. Her eyes felt dry and irritated, and they were probably bloodshot, and the last thing she wanted was for Dash to see the state she was in. So she waited, staring at the door, feeling as though any minute they would barge through it.

Then, Dash’s voice came from the other side of the door. “This is boring,” she whined. “Isn’t there some way we can go find her instead of waiting?”

“Not really. There isn’t anything short of breaking into her place to look for clues on where she went that we can—” Twilight cut off as somepony began to fidget with the doorknob. “Hey! No, Rainbow. We are not doing that!”

“Relax, Twi. We know her. And besides, I’m not breaking into anything; the door’s unlocked.”

Spitfire tensed, a lump forming in her throat as she stared at her door.

“That’s still breaking in if we don’t have her permission!” Twilight hissed.

“Come on, it’ll be quick. We’ll just poke around a bit. Nopony will be wiser.”

There was an ominous silence as as Twilight hesitated in her reply to Dash. Please, please don’t come in, she begged Twilight, hoping the unicorn would make Dash turn away.

After a few moments, there was a reply. “Fine, but only because we’re still in a hurry,” Twilight said.

Spitfire’s heart leapt into her throat upon hearing Twilight’s reply. Her eyes widened as the doorknob turned slowly, in what felt like the longest second of Spitfire’s life. Then the door opened to reveal somepony she had spent all of last night and this morning trying not to think about.

Rainbow Dash stood there, her mouth dropping open as she saw Spitfire. “What? Spitfire? You’re here? Why didn’t you answer the door—” She paused, suddenly taking note of the vinyl records that had been strewn across the floor from Spitfire’s earlier breakdown. “Hey... are you okay?”

Twilight’s head poked around the corner, her eyes widening to see Spitfire inside.

“Just leave me alone,” Spitfire said, looking down at the carpet.

Dash blinked cluelessly at her. “Huh?”

Spitfire didn’t reply, instead looking past Dash at Twilight, who was watching from her doorway. Dash followed her gaze to Twilight, and motioned for her marefriend to give them some privacy.

“Oh. Right.” Twilight blushed. “I’ll just go wait down in the lobby until you’re done, then.” She turned to leave, but not before giving Dash one last worried glance, biting her lip and giving Rainbow a nod before she left the two of them in the room. Alone.

Spitfire took the moment while Dash was slightly distracted to gather herself, patting her mane down and wiping the remnants of her earlier crying away as Dash turned back to her. She stood and took a deep breath.

“Listen,” Dash said. “I know it must have been frustrating when I wouldn’t listen to your side of things—and I should have listened to your side of things. I mean, I totally know how bad it feels to have somepony ignore you like that since Twilight acted the same way to me after... well, you know.”

Spitfire groaned and shook her head. “I’m not mad at you. I just want you to leave so I can try to forget I ever even had this stupid crush on you.” A faint blush steamed up to her cheeks.

“Huh?” Dash gave Spitfire an incredulous look, opening and closing her mouth as she tried to process what Spitfire just said. “W-well, yeah,” she cleared her throat, “moving on’s probably for the best and all that, but, well, forgetting it entirely? There’s no real need to do that.”

Do you have any idea how much being around you has messed with my emotions?” Spitfire snapped, her tone coming out far harsher than she intended. Still, she didn’t back down. “I screwed up team practices for everypony because I was too distracted! I couldn’t fly without thinking about you! I wanted so badly to forget about you, to stay focused on the team, and on practices, but I couldn’t. The worst part was knowing that you were taken. You have no idea what it’s like wanting something so badly, but not being able to have it without hurting somepony else!” Her voice rose to a shout by the end, tears reforming in the corners of her eyes, and she could hear her heart pounding in her ears.

Then, Rainbow Dash kissed her.

Dash didn’t know what came over her. Spitfire had been seething, crying, as she’d shouted at her. Then something in Dash had just snapped, triggered, clicked. A foreign impulse that she’d acted on without thinking, and without realizing what she was doing. She only vaguely recalled moving forward. She recalled that Spitfire’s eyes had widened.

Their lips had met. That much she definitely recalled.

Backing away from the stunned Wonderbolt, whose mouth was still hanging open in shock, Dash reached up and touched her lips, not quite believing what she’d just done. A flood of emotions hit her all at once, but before she could make any sense of them, Spitfire spoke.


Spitfire’s eyes gained a glossy sheen as tears welled up in the corners of them. She pointed a quivering glare at Dash.

Rainbow Dash looked away, a wave of guilt punching her in the stomach. She couldn’t do anything but stare at the ground with her legs quivering. “I... I’m not sure. It just... happened.”

“I can’t believe you’d do something like that! After I just got through saying how—and what about Twilight?”

The sickening guilt continued to build within her. Suddenly, she was on the verge of tears. “I don’t know I don’t know!” she cried. “One moment you were shouting and the next I was kissing you. Like I said, it just happened!”

Spitfire bit her bottom lip to stop it from quivering. “Did it mean anything at all to you?” she asked, her voice shaking. “Are you just trying to string me along? Is that what you do?” The last question came out bitter and angry, and Dash flinched.

“Yes... No... Maybe.” She let out a long sigh. “I think I have feelings for you, but I just don’t know.”

“What about Twilight?”

“I have feelings for her, too,” Dash quickly answered. She lay down on the floor and buried her head in her hooves. “I’m so confused.”

Spitfire took a seat. The heat in her glare was gone, but replaced by a condescending coldness that seemed stuck somewhere between sympathy and disgust. “So what are you going to do now?”

“I really don’t know,” Dash said, letting out a groan. “Maybe go fly up Mt. Earthshire and live out the rest of my life in seclusion up in the clouds.”

Spitfire narrowed her eyes. “I can’t believe you’re joking around at a time like this.”

“Who said I was joking?” Dash bit back with a glare. She realized a second later what she was doing and went back to staring at the ground. “Sorry.” She stood, making her way to the door. “And I’m sorry about everything that happened. And that kiss.”

Spitfire stayed quiet as Dash passed in front of her and walked towards the door. “I don’t want you to be sorry about that,” she muttered to Rainbow Dash’s back.

Rainbow caught it, and glanced back over her shoulder at Spitfire. “Yeah?” Dash asked. “Well, that doesn’t change the fact that I am.”

Spitfire grit her teeth. “Just go.” Her mane shadowed her eyes, but Dash could see tears start to flow down her cheeks. “I’ll take your apology. Now get out of my apartment.”

Dash stormed out of the apartment and slammed the door with a huff, more angry at herself than anypony else. Tilting her head back, she put pressure on the bridge of her nose with one of her hooves, closing her eyes and trying to wish the world away. But a slight shuffle nearby made her blood freeze. She peeked with one eye, looking where the noise came from, and spotting Twilight sitting down against the wall beside Spitfire’s apartment door.

“So you do have feelings for her after all,” Twilight said, her tone carrying no emotion one way or the other, just stating fact.

“Twilight...” Dash said, trying to say more, but feeling her words die in her throat.

Twilight stood up and walked past her, stopping once she was head to tail with her. “I’m sorry I didn’t really trust you enough to be alone with her,” she said, turning to look back at her. “But can you really blame me?”

Dash looked back and met her eyes, but she wish she hadn’t. There was hurt deeply buried within her eyes; the kind from someone who expected to have their heart broken, and did. “I never meant for that to happen.”

“I know,” Twilight said. “I heard everything you two said. It makes me happy to know you still have feelings for me. I just don’t understand why that isn’t enough, why you have feelings for Spitfire, too.” Twilight let out a hollow and bitter laugh that sent a shiver down Dash’s spine. “I guess I’m just not that interesting. I’m boring, and I spend my time reading books, not flying. I wish so badly that I could fly like you do.”

“That’s not it at all!” Dash shouted, stomping the ground and turning to fully face her. “That’s not why I...” she trailed off, her words tripping over her guilt. That’s not why I kissed her.

Twilight closed her eyes and shook her head. “If you say so, Rainbow Dash.” She walked to the end of the hall and opened the door to leave, but stopped and gave one last look over her shoulder at Dash. “I’m going to visit Spike. Alone. If you still want to be with me, I’ll see you at the palace tonight.” She looked away and hung her head, her voice cracking for the first time during their encounter. “I’ll understand if you don’t.”

Dash darted across the hall up to Twilight and skidded to a halt in front of her. “Of course I still want to be with you!”

Twilight glanced back at her, shaking her head again and continuing to open the door.

“Wait!” Dash shouted, running up to Twilight. When the unicorn turned her head, Dash wrapped a wing around her and pulled her into a kiss. She poured her longing, her regret, her need into the kiss, trying to bring Twilight back to her. But Twilight didn’t respond to the kiss the entire time their lips were locked. Dash pulled away in defeat and sighed as she rested her forehead against Twilight’s.

A hoof reached up and rested on her cheek. Dash looked up into Twilight’s eyes, seeing them soften slightly.

“We’ll talk at the palace. But right now I want time alone to think. Please give me that.” Twilight slowly let her hoof fall from Dash’s cheek, and turned away again to leave the building. Dash didn’t try to stop her from going. But watching her walk away for a third time was one of the most painful things she’d ever experienced.

Twilight walked down the upper district streets, on the fringe of the Magic University’s campus.

She felt dazed, like somepony had cast a befuddling spell on her. Dash had kissed someone, someone who wasn’t her. What logically followed somepony in a relationship cheating on the one they’re with, was a breakup. But despite what Dash had done, she still didn’t really want that for either of them, even if it meant she was letting Dash walk all over her. Despite all the “should”s, she didn’t want things between them to end.

Spitfire. She would admit to being jealous of her, knowing that the wonderbolt held some part of Dash’s affections that she did not. Dash had explained that Spitfire had come onto her, that she’d had no part of it, and Spitfire had told Twilight about the way Dash had turned down the Wonderbolts offer just to be with her. Twilight had believed it all. She had trusted Dash because of that, and had felt indebted to Spitfire because of her part in helping them get back together. Now, she was beginning to regret ever coming to Canterlot.

As she stepped onto the University’s grounds, she found herself wishing, not for the first time, that she’d had wings. At this point she would almost be willing to give up her magic in exchange for becoming a pegasus, a realization that surprised her, that she would be willing to give up being the Princess’ student in order to be with Dash, and to follow her wherever she goes.

But she didn’t necessarily have to give up one for the other. There was a section in the Magic University Library, which contained books and scrolls on forbidden and dangerous magic deemed unsafe for public inquiry. Only a strict few ponies, and those they gave permission to, were allowed access to that part of the library, and that permission was not easy to get. But she’d become stumped in her current research on creating a true wing creation spell, and there was a good chance that the answers she was looking for would be in the restricted section.

Twilight stopped, coming to one of the outer fields on the campus. It was just as she remembered it: patchy yellow grass leading up to the cliffside of Canterlot mountain, and a straw thatched building, similar to the ones in ponyville, that stuck out like a sore hoof on the university campus.

She walked across the field and came to a stop in front of the house’s oak door, which towered over her. Chewing her lip, she knocked on the door and waited for somepony to answer it.

Rather than a pony though, a small green and purple dragon answered it, his eyes widening as he saw who was at the door.

“Twilight!” Spike cried out, leaping and hugging the unicorn’s neck.

Twilight brought up her hoof to return the embrace and nuzzled his cheek. “It’s good to see you, too, Spike.”

Spike pushed her away once the nuzzling got to be too much, letting go of her and dropping back to the ground. “Not that I’m complaining, but what are you doing in Canterlot?”

Twilight stepped inside. “I had a few errands to run. I wanted to stop by and check up on how you’re doing.”

She glanced around the hut. Its walls were lined with shelves and its shelves were lined with everything from exotic feathers to oddly shaped skulls. She took a sharp sniff, the smell of pungent incense making contact with her nostrils.

“So how has it been staying here?” Twilight asked.

“It’s been pretty cool. Hooftap knows a lot about dragons. Hey, did you know that dragons have really fast growth spurts?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yeah,” Spike said, crossing his arms in front of himself. “I figure it could be any month now that I hit mine. Hooftap said that I could grow as much as a foot overnight.”

“Well if that’s the case, we might have to move you out to Applejack’s barn once you get back,” Twilight said with a teasing smile. Spike gave her a flat look in return. “Relax, I’m only kidding.”

Spike uncrossed his arms. “Hold right here for a second,” he said, leaving Twilight by the door and disappearing up some stairs and into another room. He came down a moment later carrying a wooden box half his size and put it on the floor in front of Twilight. With a small click, the latches on it opened and revealed that the box was almost filled to the brim with purple gemstones.

“I saved every amethyst I found from the mountains. I wanted to give them to Rarity when I got back. Do you think she’ll like it? I tried to find ones that matched her mane.”

Twilight gasped, looking at all the gems. “These are beautiful, Spike! I’m sure Rarity will love them!”

Spike blushed and rubbed the back of his head with a claw. “Thanks—but I’m only half done. I was going to try filling the box all the way up.”

“Well, I’m sure Rarity will absolutely love it,” Twilight said. She glanced up from the box at Spike. “Is Hooftap here? I wanted to ask him something.”

“Ask me about what?” a deep, burly voice replied. A giant stallion, even bigger than Big Macintosh, walked up behind Spike. A long, curly black beard hung from his muzzle. “Twilight! I haven’t seen you in a windigoes’ age. How goes it?”

“Um, great!” she lied. “Still doing lots of magic and stuff. Wanted to look up a few books while I was here to help with a spell I’m working on.”

“Ah, well that’s good, that’s good. Still doing magic and all that,” Hooftap replied.

He rocked back and forth on his hooves. His size quite nearly made the whole house rock back and forth with him. He stopped, glancing toward one of the back rooms, and then motioned to it with a hoof. “Kettle’s boiled if you’d fancy yourself some tea.”

Twilight cringed, remembering the last time she had tried a cup of Hooftap’s tea. She hadn’t recognized any of the herbs he’d used, and the tea they made had been a tar that no amount of honey could cure. “No, thank you.”

“Suit yourself.”

He walked back to the tiny kitchen. Twilight and Spike following him, barely fitting into the room with him, and sitting down at a small round table that barely fit in the kitchen. Hooftap picked a black steaming kettle off the stove and poured himself a mug, taking it and sitting down opposite them.

“So,” he said. “Tell me what this spell you’re working on is.”

Rainbow Dash loitered on the roof of Spitfire’s apartment building, sitting by its edge and basking in what little sunlight slipped between the clouds overhead. She watched ponies walking on the streets below with a sigh, wondering what to make of the whole mess she had just created.

She took a step back, taking a deep breath and staring straight ahead at the city. There was a tense moment. Then, her legs pumping, she ran at the edge of the roof. In two large bounds she leaped off the building, hanging weightlessly in the air for a split moment.

But then gravity began pulling her towards the earth, and the feeling of weightlessness disappeared.

Reflexes kicked in. She extended her pegasus-born wings, the wind running through them and stroking her feathers. Slowly, she began to stop falling, and then gravity disappeared.

She couldn’t imagine being born without wings. Flying was all she ever knew and it was all she ever did growing up. The sky was practically a part of her, and she had no idea how Twilight must have felt, being a pegasus born as a unicorn.

She’d be lying if she said that Spitfire’s flying wasn't part of the reason she was attracted to her. It felt amazing to fly with someone as good as her—no, even better than her—and she never felt so much fun as she had flying with Spitfire. But Twilight offered her something completely different from excitement. She brought her back down to earth, relaxed her, and gave her resolve. She knew Twilight would support her in anything. It was strange how she liked the two of them for such completely different reasons.

Rainbow Dash arced and flew down into the royal palace grounds, landing on the soft grass at a canter. She needed advice, yet she didn’t know anyone in Canterlot who she could go to for help. So the only option left was someone that she probably shouldn’t have gone to for help.

Walking up to the gates of the main palace, she addressed the two guards standing watch, sucked in a deep breath, and said one simple thing:

“I request an audience with Princess Celestia.”

The two guards glanced at each other, one of them raising an eyebrow.

“Name?” the guard on the left asked.

“Rainbow Dash, Element of Loyalty, and a friend of Twilight Sparkle,” Dash answered, puffing up her chest and trying to seem impressive.

The two guards glanced at each other with stoic expressions. “One moment, please,” the guard on the left said. Opening the gate, he walked off towards the palace and disappeared behind a large, ornate purple door.

Dash took a step to follow him, but the other, much larger, guard quickly stepped in front of her path, blocking the gate.

“We will wait here until his return with the Princess’ reply,” he said sternly, intimidating Dash into taking a step back. Dash nervously gulped and nodded to the guard to show she hadn’t meant anything by it.

Anxiously peering through the golden bars of the palace gate, she waited with the guard quietly for his partner to return. She looked up at his face, her eyes tracing a scar running down through his lip. His eyes were still staring straight ahead with a trained discipline.

“So...” Dash said, trying to make conversation while they waited. “Does that armor chafe at all?”

“It works,” he answered flatly.

“Well, yeah, but is it light or heavy? Is it itchy or comfortable? That’s the sort of thing I was asking.”

“It is what it needs to be.”

Dash snorted, deciding to give up trying to make conversation with the palace guard. Thankfully his partner chose that moment to return.

“The Princess will see you now,” he said, signalling for his imposing partner standing in front of her to step aside.

Dash stuck her tongue out at the guard’s back as she walked past, following the shorter guard inside. They passed another set of guards standing watch outside the audience room doors, but all that paled to how many guards stood inside the audience room itself. She saw the Princess standing at the end of the hall up a short series of steps. The guard escorting Dash stopped and turned to face the Princess, giving her a nod before turning to leave. Dash watched him go, her eyes following him until the door swung shut behind him.

“You sought an audience with me, Rainbow Dash?” she heard Princess Celestia ask.

She snapped her attention away from the guard, looking up at the Princess and trying to remember what little etiquette she had learned as a filly regarding princesses. “I did...” She bowed, glancing around the room at all the guards standing watch with them. “Uh, I was wondering—if you wouldn’t mind, Princess—if we could talk somewhere a bit more... private?” Dash asked, causing Celestia to raise her eyebrows. “Erm, it’s about Twilight... your highness.”

A look of understanding dawned on Celestia’s face. She turned to address the guard nearest her. “Miss Rainbow Dash will accompany me to my study. Please see to it that we are not disturbed,” she ordered the guard, receiving a stiff nod in reply. She turned back to Rainbow Dash. “Follow me.”

Dash nodded, following Celestia to a side door in the audience chamber and down a red carpet hallway. Dash found her eyes wandering to gold-woven embroidery on the carpet and the golden lamps that lined the walls on either side of her.

Celestia stopped and turned to open a door, before looking back at Dash. “We may talk in peace inside here,” she said, walking through the doorway.

Dash nodded once again and followed. The room was gigantic. It reminded her of Twilight’s study, only it had elegant details etched into the surface of every wall and furnishing imaginable, making the room look like one gigantic piece of art. She was willing to be the shelves of books taking up half of the room held as many books as the whole of the Ponyville Library. Her eyes stopped scanning the room as she noticed Princess Celestia facing her with a thin smile.

“Now then, what is it you wished to see me about?”

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