• 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 24: What We Keep From One Another

What We Keep From One Another

Flying High, Falling Hard, by soundslikeponies

“—After that, Twilight left. She said we would talk about it later tonight, after she had some time to think about it. And I guess, well... I don’t really know what to say to her when I see her again. I mean, I want to stay with her and everything, but I don’t know how to explain my actions to her. I don’t even know if I can.”

“I see.”

Dash looked to Celestia for some kind of reaction—any kind of reaction—but the princess was a blank slate. The only way Dash could even tell she had heard her story was from the way Celestia seemed to be pondering what she had said. “I don’t know anyone here that I can talk to,” Dash said, fidgeting. “And, well, you know Twilight well, so I thought you might be able to help.”

There was a thick silence following her words. Celestia stared at her, and Dash couldn’t help but squirm slightly under her gaze.

“Do you still wish to be with Twilight?” Celestia finally asked.

“Of course!”

“Are you having trouble managing to tell that to her?”

“Well, no, not really. I told her before she left that I still want to be with her, I just don’t know what else she wants to hear,” Dash said. Her ears drooped as she sat down on the carpet of the Princess’ study. “What do I say when I go see her?”

“I don’t think I can answer that for you, Rainbow Dash. I’d imagine it hurt a lot to find out that you kissed Spitfire. Her faith in you is most likely shaken right now. You may never manage to regain her trust after the way you’ve broken it.” As Celestia finished speaking, her horn lit pearly-white, and a scroll and quill floated their way over to her. She began writing on the scroll.

“How do you regain somepony’s trust?” Dash asked, watching the Princess write. The deftness with which she guided the quill was a spectacle all by itself. “Should I just... try telling her how much she means to me?”

“No,” Celestia answered. “She could mean the world to you, yet that fact would not correlate to trust. Some ponies tell the most intricate lies to the ones they love just so they can be with them.” She set down the scroll on a desk. “To regain her trust you must simply be truthful and honest with her, and in time, she may come to trust you again.”

“May?” Dash asked, fearfully.

“She may never come to trust you again. Some things are irreparable.”

Dash glanced out the window. The sun sat above the mountain range in the distance, peeking out from behind a cloud. “Be honest and truthful to her... about my feelings?” She tested the words, seeing how they tasted. “I’m not sure if I can do that. What if the truth only hurts her more?”

Celestia let out a sigh. She rolled up the scroll she had been writing on and tied it with a purple ribbon. “I can’t tell you what to say to her, Rainbow Dash. As much as I don’t want to see my student hurt. Whatever it is you decide to do, please keep Twilight’s feelings in mind.”

Dash turned away from the window, her gaze returning to the Princess. “I’ve never been very good at knowing her feelings, you highness.” She scratched the back of her head, an image of Spitfire suddenly coming to mind. “Or anypony else for that matter.”

“When you see her, I would like it if you gave her this,” Celestia said, floating the parchment she had been writing on over to Dash. “It’s just a letter from me to her. I think it would be best if you gave it to her, though.”

Dash nodded. She plucked it out of the air with her mouth before tucking it under a wing. “I’m sorry to have bothered you with this, Princess.”

“It wasn’t a bother at all. I had been meaning to spend more time with the pony who caught Twilight’s interest.”

Dash blushed and stared at her hooves. “Actually, she was the one who caught my interest. Kind of took me by surprise really, since she’s so...”

“Studious?” Celestia supplied.

“Yeah. Studious.”

“I can see why my student likes you. It’s refreshing to meet somepony so direct and honest in their actions.” Celestia smiled at her. “If it wouldn’t be too much to ask, would you be willing to write me a letter about what you’ve learned just as I asked Twilight to? It would be most interesting to see how the two differ.”

“Well, I’m a flier not a writer, but I’ll try and put something together.” Dash glanced out the window again, seeing the sun sitting lower in the sky than before. “I should probably get going. After all, I need to give Twilight this letter!”

As Dash walked out the door, the Princess gave her a smile. “Good luck, Rainbow Dash,” she said as the door shut with a click.

Hooftap stood and closed the door, not wanting the baby dragon outside to overhear their conversation.

“That there’s dark magic you’re getting into, Twilight. Nothing good’s ever come of ponies who muddle in that sort of thing,” Hooftap warned in a dark tone as he sat back down at the table, where Twilight had just told him of her spell. “It’s dangerous. And we was both made to be unicorns, not pegasi. You shouldn’t go trying to change something like that.”

“Why not though? You can’t just say airships and hot air balloons are the same thing as flying with your own two wings,” Twilight protested.

“It’d sit uneasily on my conscious if something bad were t’happen and I was the one who let you in the library.” Hooftap lifted his clay mug to his lips and downed the last of his tea. He let out a loud cough, some of the tea sputtering from his lips, and thumped his chest. “The last sip always carries a bit of bite... You sure you don’t want any?”

“No, thank you,” Twilight said, seeing the small puddle of what looked like black mud at the bottom of his cup. “So there’s no way I can convince you to give me access to the library?”

“Sorry, Twilight. But I can’t just go n’ give permission with that being your reason,” Hooftap said, taking his cup to the sink and rinsing it out.

“I understand,” Twilight said, a bit of her disappointment seeping into her voice. “I guess I’ll just try and figure out the spell another way.”

“You’d be best off forgetting about it altogether,” Hooftap gruffly replied, setting his mug by the sink.

Twilight didn’t reply to his last comment. She stood and walked to the door, pausing with her hoof pressed up against it. “I have reasons for wanting this spell,” she said, quietly. “I will finish it.” With that, she walked out into the living room.

Spike sat on the living room carpet, munching on a sapphire. Twilight continued past him to the front door, turning to face him on the door’s mat. “Well, I’m glad to see you’re doing alright staying here.”

Spike stopped biting his sapphire. “Huh? You’re leaving already?”

“I’m afraid so,” Twilight said, bearing a smile for his sake. “I have a few other errands I need to take care of while I’m here, so I don’t have that much time.” She opened the door and stepped outside.

Spike rushed over to see her off. She could see a bit of sadness in his eyes from how brief her visit was. “I’ll see you back in Ponyville once you’re all done studying here,” she said. “Be a good dragon while I’m not around, and be sure to listen to what Hooftap says.”

Spike nodded, biting his lip. He ran up and hugged one of her legs, his tiny claws not even reaching all the way around.

Twilight’s gaze softened. She lifted a hoof and gently patted him on the head. “It was nice to see you again, Spike.”

Hooftap stepped out of the kitchen out into the living room, standing in the back and watching the two of them. Twilight spotted him lingering in the back as she turned to leave. “It was nice seeing you again, too, Hooftap.”

Hooftap gave her a nod and waved, and then after prying Spike from her leg, she left, closing the door behind her.

Hooftap shook his head as he went back inside the kitchen. Picking up his tea mug and taking it to the sink, he turned on the tap. “She always liked to stick her nose where it don’t belong,” he mumbled, a mixture of black tea and water spiraling down the drain.

Twilight couldn’t figure out the spell another way. She had only made a small amount of progress on it so far, and she was quickly growing impatient with it.

Tall pillars, reminiscent of pegasi cloud buildings, supported the high overhang on the building in front of her. A gold-plated plaque labelled the building as the magic university’s library. It was the single largest collection of knowledge to ever exist. It also had a restricted section that contained the only written copies of several works. Twilight was certain that what she was searching for would be in there.

Stepping inside, she looked around. Every hall, every shelf was like a familiar face. While she had been learning in Canterlot she had spent almost every single day in the building’s halls, gorging herself on the study of all its arcane books and magics.

A pair of ponies sat at one of the tables studying, a blue stallion and a light brown mare. Twilight darted behind a bookshelf before they could see her, the library’s main door falling shut silently behind her. From there she walked down to the other end of the shelf with the carpet muffling her hoofsteps, peering around the corner once she reached the end.

The two ponies faced the corner of the room adjacent to where she was. Not quite looking at her, but not quite looking away either. The door she needed to get into read “staff only” and was so close she could almost reach it with one hoof touching the bookshelf. Magic wasn’t an option.The two ponies studying over on the table would likely sense it if she used any magic at such a close proximity.

Then, an opportunity presented itself. The blue stallion turned to the mare to ask a question. Their heads were turned away from Twilight, so she snuck across the gap and opened the door, being careful to slowly pull it shut once she was through. The door’s latch didn’t make so much as a sound. Twilight let out a sigh of relief, before turning to the hallway she was now in.

She walked to the end of the hall and slipped into a door on the right. A left, another right, and two more lefts put her in front of the room she was looking for: the restricted section. Behind its door sat an entire room covered in magic designed to keep anxious and curious students from sneaking inside.

But she hadn’t been a student here for a while now. It was almost child’s play for her to disarm the protective barrier and cast a discrete short range teleport inside the room. Once inside, she immediately set about scouring the shelves for research materials. Doing so, she managed to figure out pretty quickly why the section was restricted. Every second book was about the manipulation of life and death, with the ones between being about time control, mind manipulation, or mass destruction.

Twilight looked at them all and thought about the spell that had been guarding them with a cringe. She made a mental note to speak to the Princess about the room’s security.

Then there was a title that caught her eye: “Star Swirl the Bearded’s Studies of Genetics”. It was something she’d read about recently, in fact. It had been briefly mentioned in one of the books she was studying with for the spell.

Twilight bit down on the spine of the book and carried it to a table, trying to keep the magic to a minimum to avoid being noticed. She set it down. It had a plain leather cover and worn pages that were stuck together slightly as she opened it. Some rough drawings of pegasus wings, as well as a few diagrams of the equine body sat right on the front page.

Twilight’s attention snapped away from the book, her ears swiveling around to the sound of somepony inserting a key into the door. The lock clicked as it came undone, and then the door opened to reveal a royal guard standing in the doorway.

But Twilight had already vanished.

Dash flew away from the palace with a lot to think about. The advice the Princess had given her cleared her head a bit, and gave her a slightly better idea of what she was going to do. It was a relief, really. She’d half expected the Princess to be mad at her for what had happened to Twilight.

Stiff, freezing wind blew past her. Canterlot was built up the side of a mountain, and the air was colder in the spring there than it was in Ponyville during the winter. Deciding to land somewhere, Dash spotted a tall roof and swooped down to it. Landing, her wings wrapped up at her sides for warmth. She sat down and looked at the horizon: from the roof she was on she could see all the way to the edge of the city, and to the sun lowering over the distant hills. It was nice to get a better look at the view Twilight had shown her earlier.

Her shoulders sagged and she let out a sigh. Twilight could have been more precise than “later tonight” when she had said to meet back at the study. “You’re an awfully stressful pony to be with, Twilight,” Dash mumbled to herself.

“Who’re you talking to?”

Dash whipped her head around. Spitfire stood on the roof a short ways behind her. “Spitfire?” Dash asked. “What’re you doing here? How’d you find me?”

“For some reason I figured you’d be out flying.” Spitfire shrugged, looking up at the sky. “It’s relaxing, isn’t it? It always helps clear my head before we put on a show.”

“Why are you here?” Dash repeated.

Spitfire walked up next to her and took a seat. “I wanted to say sorry for earlier, you chose a bad time to stop by. I didn’t mean to melt down like that. You came all the way out to Canterlot to apologize, and that means a lot.”

Dash rubbed the back of her head with a faint blush. “Yeah, well, sorry about the way I flipped out, too. And sorry about the kiss and everything. I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Spitfire said, waving her hoof. She paused, a grin tugging at her lips. “Actually, do you think I could get another?”

“What?! No!” Dash shouted, her blush intensifying as Spitfire laughed at her response.

“Well, it was worth a shot. I get it though, you’re with Twilight.” She grinned playfully at Dash, but there was a small touch of sadness to her eyes. She turned to look at the sunset and let out a contented sigh. “The view is great, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it is.”

“It’s one of my favorite things about Canterlot. Whenever we practice we get to see this beautiful view.”

Spitfire had had a far-off look in her eyes as she gazed out at the hills in the distance. It reminded Dash of how she felt every time she looked down from a cloud at Ponyville, that sense of belonging, of wanting to be no place else. “This is your home, isn’t it? Just like Ponyville’s mine.”

Spitfire turned to look at her, a bit of surprise showing on her face. “Yeah, I guess it is. I’ve called a lot of places home before, though. Every place I’ve been to has its own little charm that’s unique to it.”

“Oh yeah?” Dash said. “What’s Ponyville’s?”

You,” Spitfire answered. Dash quickly looked away, hiding a blush. Spitfire gave her a coy grin. “You’re really cute when you blush. You shouldn’t be so afraid of showing it. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with the color of your coat, but it looks really adorable on you.”

“Stop saying stuff like that!” Dash huffed, turning back to face Spitfire with her blush. The Wonderbolt grinned, only furthering her embarrassment. But she didn’t look away.

Then Spitfire’s smile waned. “Sorry,” she said with a half-hearted grin. “You’re with Twilight, I keep forgetting.” Spitfire stood, making Dash tilt her head to look up at her. “That invitation to join our team will stay open. I just wanted to clear the air between us before you went back to Ponyville.” Spitfire paused. She turned to talk to the sunset. “And if things don’t work out between you and Twilight...” She cleared her throat. “Well, I should probably get going. I guess this is goodbye.”

“Yeah...” Dash said, staring down at the marble patterns on the roof.

Spitfire leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. She smiled down at Dash. “It’s not goodbye forever, right?” Spitfire said with a grin, but it faltered as Dash didn’t reply. Spitfire leaned down and kissed Dash on the lips. She broke the kiss and looked at Dash in a way that seemed like she was searching for something in her eyes. “Sorry,” Spitfire said, before spreading her wings and taking off of the roof.

Dash watched her go with a heavy heart. It wasn’t fair. She had been so close to figuring out what to say to Twilight, but now she didn’t have a clue anymore. Conflicting emotions rose to the surface of her chest as she took to the air again.

It had been long enough. She needed to see Twilight. Twilight would have to take her back. If she didn’t, Dash didn’t know what she’d do.

The Canterlot buildings were cast a pale orange as the sun set. Skipping the stairs, Dash flew to the entrance at the top. She stopped for a moment, staring at the large double doors, and then, she stepped through them.

Twilight sat at the far end of the room by a giant window overlooking the city. The book she had been reading snapped shut, and floated back to a shelf on the other side of the room. Twilight, herself, didn’t move.

Dash hesitantly walked over and sat down beside her. They sat in silence like that for some time. Dash occasionally stole glances at Twilight, but couldn’t tell what the other mare was thinking.

As the sun began to disappear behind the hills, Twilight finally spoke.

“Thank you for letting me have some time alone to think... I’m willing to listen to what you have to say now.”

Dash looked at her, partially in surprise that she was the one to break the silence.

“Isn’t that what you came here for?” Twilight asked, turning her way.

“Oh! Well, yeah, it is.” Dash looked into her eyes. Even though Twilight sat next to her, it didn’t feel like she was close. She was distancing herself, and it hurt. Dash tried to think of where to begin; she decided the start.

“I was lying on the couch at Spitfire’s house that night... when you thought I broke up with you.” Dash looked down at her hooves, shifting uneasily on the subject. “When she told me that she liked me, it came out of nowhere. I was surprised, I had no idea she liked me in that sort of way. I don’t...” Dash cleared her throat, feeling her tongue go dry. “I didn’t push her off me because a part of me didn’t want to. Some part of me was excited at the position I was in with somepony I idolized.”

Twilight’s ears flattened against her skull. She cast a brief, hurt glance towards Dash. “I don’t understand. Why are you telling me this?”

“Because I need to tell you everything, and that includes exactly what I feel for Spitfire.” Dash shook her head and focused back on her story. “When I found out you had been there, I was furious at Spitfire—but not just at her. I was so angry at myself for not pushing her away, and for hurting you even more. I was up for hours thinking about it that night, after you let me into the library. But I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t push her away.”

“I spent that night wondering that, too,” Twilight murmured. “I thought maybe I just wasn’t good enough for you.”

Dash’s head snapped up to look at her. The orange light pouring in through the window painted her coat a rich maroon, and she would have looked beautiful if it weren’t for the sad look upon her face.

She cast her frown at Dash. “This relationship has just been one disaster after another. Maybe it was a mistake.”

Something in Dash snapped. Anger boiled to the surface as she stood up. “Don’t say that,” she said, and stomped her hoof. Twilight flinched at the tone of her voice, but Dash didn’t stop. “You can’t say that this was a mistake. I’ve made tons of mistakes in my life: dropping out of school, leaving home when I was really young, but I know that the only mistake here is what I did, and I’m trying to fix it right now, because this relationship was one of the best things to happen to me: the good, and the bad.”

“Is it really worth it to keep going?” Twilight asked, rubbing her shoulder, her eyes shying to the ground. “There’s been so much pain...”

“Yeah, there has,” Dash said bluntly. A bitter laugh escaped her throat. “Actually, I hadn’t cried for years, and then this relationship happened.” Her eyes met Twilight’s. “I don’t believe it has to be this way though, do you?”

Twilight didn’t answer, and broke the gaze. A minute passed, in which Dash hoped Twilight was considering her words, but all that came from the unicorn in the end was a non-audible mumble.

Dash let out a sigh. “I didn’t know what to feel on the train ride over here,” she said, watching Twilight. An ear swiveled in her direction to indicate she was listening. “I was nervous. Canterlot is a big city and everything, but I wasn’t really nervous of that, or even because of that stupid pony that made fun of us at the train station. I was nervous about seeing Spitfire again. When I’d been angry at her I was avoiding her because every time I was around her I felt confused. Then when I was apologizing to her at the apartment, something just clicked.” Dash paused as she searched for what to say next. “But I don’t... I’m not...”

Twilight sniffled, tears appearing in the corner of her eyes. Dash leaned forward and used her muzzle to wipe them away. The wet drops clung to the hair on her muzzle, tickling it. Twilight’s tears stopped and she looked up at Dash.

“But I don’t want Spitfire,” Dash said, touching their foreheads as her wings wrapped around Twilight’s back and pulled her closer. “I want you.”

Dash tilted Twilight’s chin up, and then kissed her. She poured all her passion and all her affection into the kiss, her lips pleading Twilight’s. And slowly, Twilight began to kiss back. It tasted sweet—not at all like the fleeting kiss they’d shared in the hallway, not like the kisses they had shared the night before. It was different from all the ones that had come before it. Dash’s fears of being alone, Twilight’s forgiveness, and their need for each other were all in the kiss. It said all the things that they wanted to say, but couldn’t, through the spark passing between them, causing their hairs to stand on end.

Eventually they broke apart for air. They stared at each other, their noses touching, as Twilight’s eyes softened and she reached a hoof up to Dash’s chest.

Dash placed her hoof on the one Twilight had placed on her chest, moving it over her heart as she stared into Twilight’s eyes. “It’s yours,” she said, squeezing Twilight’s hoof where she’d moved it to. “It has been for a while now.”

“Dash...” Tears welled back up in Twilight’s eyes; the emotional walls she’d put up between them had been torn down. She leaned in for another kiss, Dash’s heart rate picking up beneath her hoof as their lips touched. The feathers from the cyan wings wrapped around her, hugged her, and pulled her into the kiss. And as they broke apart, both of them yearned for more, their snouts just inches away from each other.

“Isn’t it worth it to try and make this work?” Dash asked. She let the hoof Twilight held against her chest fall away and took her wings back, folding them at her sides.

Twilight sniffled and reached up to wipe away the tears running down her face. She nodded with a smile, giving Dash a small peck on the cheek. “Yes, I think it is.” She paused and glanced out the window. Suddenly she cleared her throat and vigorously rubbed away the rest of her tears on her forehoof. “Now then, we have a train to catch” she said, standing and walking over to the door. She stopped and looked back over her shoulder at Dash. “Ready to go home?”

Dash nodded and smirked. “You betcha.”

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