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

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

  • ...

Chapter 27: A Date

A Date

Flying High, Falling Hard, by soundslikeponies

“I still have no idea what we’re going to do on this date. I mean, I was going to set it to be a few days from now, but when she asked if it was for tonight I just sorta said ‘yes’ without thinking about it.”

Ditzy Doo pushed away another cloud, her face scrunching up in thought. “Well... there’s, um...”

Rainbow Dash stared at her, expectantly.

She gave up with a shrug. “I don’t really know. It’s been... golly, I guess forever since I’ve been on a date.”

Dash deflated, hanging hopelessly by her wings as they flapped to keep her aloft. Straightening herself out, she banged a hoof against her forehead. “C’mon, Dash, think!” She sighed, turning to Ditzy Doo. “She wants to go flying, but she’s expecting me to take her somewhere before or after that. What if I don’t think of anything? What if this date totally blows?”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

Dash grumbled, flying over to a small cloud and giving it a particularly vicious kick, dispelling it. She crossed her hooves in front of her chest. “There’s nothing to do in Ponyville.”

Slowly, her anger spent, Dash slumped, staring down at the houses below. “Oh man, I can already see the look of disappointment on Twilight’s face.” She sighed once more. Then, suddenly, her face lit up with an idea, a grin split her face, and her ears flip-flopped with excitement. “There’s nothing to do in Ponyville!”

Ditzy raised an eyebrow at Dash’s sudden outburst and change in mood. “Um...” Her eyes went lopsided in confusion. “I don’t get it...”

Dash zipped away, kicking the remaining dozen or so clouds hanging in the air so that the sky rang blue, before darting back to her starting point and turning to face Ditzy.

“Don’t you see? If there’s nothing to do in Ponyville, then I’ll just fly her somewhere else! It could be part of the date! We could have a picnic in the valley, take a relaxing walk through the forest, no one but the two of us around, or have a romantic dinner by candlelight atop a mountain with—” Dash froze, spotting Ditzy giving her a strange look. She cleared her throat. “Or, you know, whatever sappy stuff Twilight’s into.”

Ditzy gave her a knowing smile and nodded. “Sounds like a great idea. I’m sure she’ll love it.”

“Well, I just cleared out the main part of our workload for today,” Dash said, gesturing back at the patch of blue sky she’d cleared. She checked the sun. It sat high and bright, still a long ways before it would even think of getting dark. “Think you can finish up if I clock out early?” she asked.

“Yeah, go for it,” Ditzy said, bucking a cloud into vapor. “Have a good time on your date with Twilight.”

“Yeah, I’m hoping she will, too.” Dash started flying down towards the weather center, calling out over her shoulder, “See ya, Ditzy!”

Ditzy turned and gave her a wave as she sped away. The weather center was just a filly’s flight away, and as Dash touched down outside its doors, she started humming a cheery tune stuck in her head.

The center was empty, save for the receptionist, who yawned and looked up at the first pony she’d seen in hours. Walking up to the clocks, Dash found her card and punched it in the out box.

“Three p.m.? You certainly finished up out there fast,” the receptionist said with a slightly disbelieving drawl, as she flipped through the pages of Canterlot weekly.

Dash just gave her a brilliant smile. “Ditzy said she’d cover the rest.”

The receptionist gave her a slow, single nod, clicking her tongue. “Got someplace to be?”

“I’ve got a date,” Dash announced rather happily.

The receptionist merely snorted. “Well, good luck with that then.”

“Thanks,” Dash said, as she trotted out the door.

The door closed behind her with a definitive click, and she looked up at the blue sky above her, pursing her lips. “Well, now I’ve got plenty of time to kill...” she muttered to herself, glancing around.

She spread her wings. There were a lot of good places on the outskirts of Ponyville she could take Twilight. And, she figured, it would be a better idea to look now, rather than be distracted by it later when they were actually on the date.

Twilight sank into her massage table, the hooves of the twin masseuses working their magic on hers and Rarity’s backs. While many late nights of studying had given her a high tolerance for stress, it still felt good to get a chance to let it all out. As the masseuse reached her shoulders, her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she let out a pleasure-filled groan.

Rarity, beside her, let out a giggle. “Everything alright, dear?”

“Ooph.” Twilight took a deep breath, letting her legs dangle off the sides of the table. “Yeah, just great. I didn’t realize how stiff my back had gotten from staying hunched over my books.”

“Oh, I know just what you mean. There is no good posture for a sewing machine. I oftentimes find myself too absorbed in what I’m doing to notice the way I sit.” She wore a cynical smirk. “Such is the life of dedication to one’s craft, I suppose.”

“Yeah,” Twilight agreed.

“So what happened between you and Dash in Canterlot?”

Eyes widening, Twilight’s sat up and twisted towards Rarity, before the masseuse gently turned her back and pushed her back down onto the table with a slightly irritated look. Twilight cringed. “Sorry,” she said, before lying her head down on the pillow sideways to face Rarity. “That was a bit of a sudden way to ask that.”

“Yes, I know, but it’s been eating at me.”

Twilight’s eyes shifted towards the masseuse working Rarity’s back, and then to the one working on her own. “Maybe when we’re at the mud baths.”

Rarity pursed her lips, as if to protest, but nodded. Still, it wasn’t long before the masseuses finished up, and the two of them left for the mud baths. Twilight stayed silent the whole way, carrying a wooden bucket full of soaps and creams that the two spa attendants gave them for the rest of their stay. It was a bit of a balancing act to keep it on her back, and she wound up simply using magic to float it alongside her.

Eventually, Rarity spoke up, seemingly knowing what was on Twilight’s mind. “So?”

“We took a late train to Canterlot because I was insisting that we go apologize to Spitfire.” Rarity arched an eyebrow. “Yes, I know, but when she apologized to me and helped Dash and I get back together again, I felt I owed her. And you should have seen how disappointed with herself she looked when she told me she was leaving.”

“Well, that certainly is noble of you.”

“Not exactly,” Twilight admitted. “I didn’t really feel that things were through between her and Dash, and I guess some part of me needed to know.”

“But this is Dash we’re talking about.”

Twilight snorted and cast her eyes toward the tiles. “Yeah, I know. Stupid, right? I thought so too, until she kissed Spitfire.”


“I didn’t see it, but I heard them talk about it afterwards from the other side of a door.”

Rarity wrinkled her nose and gave Twilight a skeptical raise of her brow. “Are you sure? I can’t picture Dash as being somepony who’d ever cheat on someone.”

A moment of silence passed between them. Twilight still had her eyes glued to the floor, her gaze distant. Rarity let out a sigh, noticing the effect her words had on Twilight. “But you two are still together, right?”

“Yeah,” Twilight answered, taking a moment afterward to think of what to say next. “She seemed genuinely regretful of what she did, of the fact that she had feelings for Spitfire. When I was sitting outside the door, listening to them, I couldn’t help but wonder, was I somehow to blame for that? Could I really blame her for not having control over her emotions? Could I really imagine myself breaking up with her?”

Rarity’s ears flattened to her head, a frown making its way across her lips. “It’s not an easy decision, is it?”

Twilight shook her head. “I couldn’t do it. I still wanted to be with her. When she came out of the room, she looked sadly at me and made no excuses for what she did, just apologizing, over and over.” They arrived at the mud baths and Twilight set her bucket down with a sigh. “But the whole time, I couldn’t even see her as Dash. She seemed like a stranger to me, and in a way, even after coming back, it still feels that way.”

Rarity slipped into her mud bath first and stared up at Twilight, her lips in a tight line. “Do you still love her?”

Twilight froze with one hoof in the mud, staring at her like a pony caught in a cockatrice’s glare. She eventually snapped out of it, and finished lowering herself into her bath. “Love?”


Twilight lifted a hoof to her chin and looked up at the ceiling. “I’ve never really thought about it. I mean, I loved her as a friend, but that’s a different kind of love, isn’t it?”

“Well, yes.”

“So how do I know if I love her in a romantic way? We haven’t even been dating for that long.” Twilight furrowed her brow, trying to sort it out as though it were some sort of puzzle. “And how do I know whether what I feel is real, or just wishful thinking?” She slumped down in her mud bath, exasperated from thought, and blew a dangling piece of her mane out of her face. “I wish love were quantifiable.”

Rarity nodded sagely, relaxing back and sinking down into her bath. “No doubt it would make all our lives easier if it were.” After taking a hooffull of mud and lathering it on her face, Rarity unwrapped a pair of fresh cucumber slices from her basket and placed them over her eyes. “But enough of troubles, do you have any plans for what you’re going to wear tonight?”

No one was happier than Twilight to have a change in conversation. She tapped her chin in thought. “Well, I was thinking I’d probably go without a dress, but I was thinking I’d do something with my mane...”

It was near night, nothing more than a small orange glow on the horizon. Rainbow landed outside the library with a bouquet of disgruntled roses between her teeth. Craning her neck back, she sniffed her coat and make sure the shampoo had gotten rid of the smell of sweat from flying around all day. Once satisfied, she cleared her throat, stood up straight, and put on a smile, before knocking on the door.

“Coming!” a voice called from inside. The sound of scattered hoofsteps came through the door, followed shortly by their owner opening said door.

The first thing Dash’s eyes were drawn to was Twilight’s mane. Whereas before she had a straight edged mane and tail, kept meticulously tidy and even in a way that suited her nature, now she had loosely curled locks that hung around her shoulders, bordering her face. The pink highlight was still prevalent down the left side of her bangs, and her tail seemed to bounce with each movement of her rump.

Twilight smiled, though it seemed the slightest bit uneasy, and held a hoof up to her hair. “Do you like it?”

Dash blinked, managing to nod dumbly. “Uh, yeah, itsh... wow,” she mumbled through the bouquet.

Twilight giggled, setting her hoof back down. “So...” She trailed off, looking at the bundle in Dash’s mouth. “Are those for me?”

“Oh!” Dash felt a small tug at her mouth and let go, letting Twilight’s magic take a hold of the roses. “Yeah, they are.”

“Um…” Twilight glanced back inside, then at the roses, and back inside again. “Let me just go find a vase for these really quickly.”

“Uh, right.”

As she stepped back inside, Twilight glanced over her shoulder. “You can come in if you want, though it’ll only be a moment.”

“Eh, I think I’ll just pedal around outside for a bit.” Dash gave a weak laugh. “Fresh air and all that.”

Twilight nodded, and disappeared inside with her bouquet.

In her head, Dash counted to three, then slapped herself hard across the cheek. “Stupid!” Rubbing the cheek she just slapped, she closed her eyes and took a meditating breath. “Play it cool, Dash,” she muttered to herself. “You are cool.”

Twilight came back outside, the bouquet of roses presumably put somewhere safe for now. “Okay,” she said. She took a deep breath not unlike the one Dash just took moments ago, and faced Rainbow Dash with a smile. “All set.”

Dash turned around and spread her wings, motioning with a wingtip for Twilight to hop on. “Is your mane okay for flying?” she asked, glancing back. “I wouldn’t want to wreck it. You know, what with how nice it looks.”

“It’ll be fine. Besides, it’s just for tonight,” Twilight said, as she climbed on Rainbow Dash’s back. The warmth of Twilight’s chest, and her hooves wrapping around her neck, were a secret comfort for Dash on their flights. While she might not have been able to pull out all the stops with somepony riding on her back, she enjoyed the closeness it brought.

“Ready?” Dash asked, once Twilight had situated herself.


After a pair of experimental flaps, Rainbow took off, flying just over a tree’s height above the ground. It was warm that night. Squirrels and owls and insects were all out in abundance and filling the night air with their sounds, and there were fireflies, as they passed over a pond, dancing near the water’s surface.

“I never realized how active the forests around Ponyville are at night,” Twilight said.

“Yeah. I didn’t know until Fluttershy took me out here to see it all one night.” Dash chuckled in memory. “Wouldn’t have ever done it if I didn’t accidentally promise to.”

“You? Not a fan of nature walks?” Twilight asked. Even though Dash couldn’t see it, she could feel her smirk. “I never would have guessed.”

“Well, yeah, I guess it looks cool and stuff, but I flew practically all over the place as a filly, after I left Cloudsdale, so I’ve managed to see a lot of things.”

“Like what?”

“Uh, well...” Dash scratched her head, trying to decide on one thing in particular. “Ever been to Scratchtooth Chasm?”


“Uh, Singer’s Valley?”

“Nope. But I know where it is on a map.”

“Mount Peril?”

Dash felt her shaking her head. “Geez, where have you been, then?”

“Just Canterlot and now Ponyville, mostly,” Twilight replied. “I vaguely remember visiting my grandparents in Manehatten when I was a filly.”

Dash couldn’t wrap her head around the idea of staying in one place all the time. “That’s it? You never even got to study a board or anything?”

Twilight stifled a giggle. “Study abroad. And no, I spent all my time in between bookshelves at the Canterlot Library. It’s not that I didn’t want to go see places, there was just never any opportunity to while I was a student there.”

“Maybe I’ll take you there someday,” Dash offered, as she angled down a hill, picking up speed. “We could go wherever.”

“But Cloudsdale was such a short trip, and you were completely winded by the time we arrived,” Twilight pointed out.

Dash winced, remembering how her wings had ached from that trip. “Well... yeah. But I could get stronger.”

Twilight shook her head, but gave Dash a small squeeze to let her know she appreciated her trying. “I’ve already gotten to see so much coming to Ponyville,” she said, adjusting in her seat. “Maybe once I get this spell working we can fly somewhere together.”

“Yeah,” Dash said, smiling at the thought. “If you do that, we could go anywhere!” She glanced back at Twilight. “Ever been to the ocean?”

Hugging Dash, a broad smile spread across Twilight lips. “No,” she said. “But I’d love to go someday.” Her eyes met Dash’s. She looked genuinely happy, happier than Dash had seen her for a while, but there also seemed to be a touch of lingering sadness behind her eyes, so deeply hidden that Dash almost didn’t notice it.

“Can we go above the clouds?” Twilight asked.

The question snapped Dash from her thoughts, and she broke the gaze. “Uh, yeah, hold on.” The hooves around her neck held on tight as they ascended. The forest disappeared beneath them, turning into great green felt that stretched into the distance and met the bases of the mountains. It became shrouded by wisps of cloud as they ascended farther still, eventually vanishing altogether. The air grew cold. The air grew thin. The air grew to be all there was, the rest forgotten long below the clouds.

Slowly, the scared, almost choking, grip around Dash’s neck relaxed. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Twilight, her eyes lit up by the stars as she looked around in wonderment.

“It’s amazing...”

Dash swooped down to a cloud, sticking slightly higher than the rest, and landed on it. There was a brief hum of magic, before Twilight climbed off her back and sat next to her.

Dash craned her neck to look up. Hundreds of stars were already out, hiding in the fading light of the young night sky. “They’re a lot clearer from up high, huh?”

Twilight blinked and gave her a startled look, before following her gaze up. “Oh, wow, I normally never see them out this early!”

“They’re usually out this early up here,” Dash said, rubbing her chin. “I wonder if it’s because we’re closer.”

Twilight nudged Rainbow in the side and pointed up. “Look, you can almost see all of Orion’s belt.”

Dash tried following Twilight’s hoof, but they all looked the same. “Eh... I don’t see it.”

“Here,” Twilight said, scooting closer to Dash. She threw a hoof around Dash’s shoulder, pressed the side of her head up against Dash’s, and pointed at a pair of bright stars sitting side by side. “Those two right there. The third star hasn’t come out yet.”

“Oh...” Dash looked around, spotting another small cluster of stars out. She pointed them out to Twilight. “What about those?”

“Those are the Gemini twins.”

Dash pointed to another. “And that?”

“That’s part of Leo, the Lion. It looks like most of his stars aren’t out yet.”

“Huh.” Dash looked up at the last cluster of stars, stumped. They didn’t look like a lion. They didn’t look like anything, really. “How do you remember all of them?”

Twilight smiled as she pursed her lips and stared at the stars. She thought for a moment, before answering. “I used to look up at the sky all the time. When I started learning magic, I thought that maybe one day I’d be able to fly up and touch them.”

Dash snickered, unable to help herself. Twilight gave her a hard shove. “Hey! I was four at the time! It’s not funny, I really thought I could!”

Dash shook her head as her snickering quieted down. “No, no, I wasn’t laughing at it.” She wrapped a wing around the pouting Twilight, rubbing her shoulder. “It sounds like a nice dream to have had. I was just thinking of all the weird stuff I thought I’d grow up to do when I was a filly. I once told all my friends I’d fly to the moon.”

Twilight stifled a giggle. “Oh, yeah? How did that turn out?”

“Well, let’s just say that the lesson we had that year about the atmosphere was a real bummer.”

Twilight’s cheeks puffed up with contained laughter. “How old were you?” she asked, barely keeping it together.

Dash’s cheeks grew crimson, and she looked down at the cloud. “I was eight,” she answered, in a small, embarrassed tone.

Twilight hid her face against Dash’s shoulder, her body shaking from the effort of holding in her laughter.

“Hey!” Dash said, her face hot. “No one ever told me there wasn’t any air up there! How was I supposed to know?” Despite her indignity, she couldn’t help the smile spreading across her face from Twilight’s barely contained laughter. “I seriously thought I could fly to the moon. I thought I’d be the first to do it, too.”

Twilight sat up and rubbed her eyes. They were red and puffy, almost as though she’d been crying, and there was an obvious but failed attempt on her part to force her smile down. She cleared her throat, trying to maintain her composure.

“Do you want to get something to eat?” she asked.

“Yeah, sure,” Dash said, happy to be off the topic. She stood and spread her wings, allowing Twilight onboard. “Ready?”

“Yep.” Twilight shifted, trying to get more comfortable on Dash’s back. “Where are we going?”

“I found a place,” Dash answered mysteriously with a smile.

“—So Silvertrail and Fleetfoot came out of the changing room with it and said, ‘We couldn’t find any spare uniforms, only this pink jumpsuit!’”

Spitfire’s lips curled into a smirk against her glass as she let out a laugh. “And then?”

“It was my only one,” Soarin’ said, tipping his empty wine glass, a light intoxication across his cheeks. “But the instructor hated me. If I didn’t show up in uniform, she would have had my head, so I wore it.”

Spitfire was forced to put down her drink as she burst into laughter. Soarin’ wore an embarrassed smile and put a hoof to his forehead. “They couldn’t get new uniforms until the end of the month, so for a week and a half, everyone called me ‘Private Periwinkle Pink’.”

Spitfire covered her mouth, a few giggles spilling out. “Ms. Howl was always nice to me.”

“She was a demon of Tartarus in disguise!” Soarin’ hissed, keeping his voice low as though Ms. Howl herself might hear him and make him do laps. “She made me repeat an exercise thirty times because I apparently wasn’t doing it right.”

Spitfire traced the rim of her glass. They ordered a short while ago, but truth be told, she didn’t feel very hungry. “You ever feel like those first few weeks at the Wonderbolt Academy are something you’ll never get back?”

“Huh?” Soarin’ asked. “What do you mean?”

“Well, those were probably the best days of my life. It feels like everything after those first few weeks has just been downhill.”

“What about being accepted into the Wonderbolts? Or being promoted to Captain?”

“Yeah...” Spitfire gave a nod of weak agreement. “But the reality of those set in before I could even get a chance to celebrate. They were both a humongous step up in responsibility, and I had to hit the ground running if I wanted to do a good job at either of them.”

Soarin’ hummed in thought. “Yeah, I guess things were a lot more carefree back then,” he said. “But so what? We’re on top of the world right now.”

Spitfire fell silent, staring at her unfinished glass of sparkling pear juice. Its tiny bubbles continuously floated up to the surface behind her reflection on the glass. “You ever think that, at some point in all the time we spent learning, we forgot how to discover things for ourselves?”

Soarin’ chuckled. From his look he thought she was making some kind of joke. “Can’t say I have.”

A frown marred Spitfire’s face. “You don’t feel like you lost something along the way, moving forward?”

Soarin’ put on a thoughtful look, though it seemed mostly for show. “No, not really,” he answered with a shrug after some time. “Why? Is something bothering you?”

“Well...” Spitfire stalled and thought back to all the times she’d flown recently. With the Wonderbolts. By herself. With Dash. She wound up shaking her head. “I can’t put my hoof on it.”

Their waiter arrived shortly after with their food and set it on the table. A pair of plates, with miniscule portions, sat in front of them, as the waiter hurried off to attend to what had quickly become a busy night.

Soarin’ looked at their meals and let out a shaky laugh. “I didn’t realize I ordered the small...”

Spitfire looked down at her own, three-bite-sized portion, and began to giggle.

Rainbow Dash touched down atop the flattened peak of a small mountain just a long glide away from Ponyville. Individual homes, and the light in their windows, were still visible at their distance.

Twilight climbed off her back and looked around at the small plateau, a slab of which stuck up and formed a flat, barrel-high platform.

“It’s a table,” Dash said.

“Huh?” Twilight looked around, before settling back on the rock she had been looking at. “That?”

“Yeah.” Dash hopped down to a lower ledge and brought up a cooler in between her teeth. She set it down at Twilight’s hooves. “I thought we’d have dinner up here.”

Twilight spun around, her smile growing as she took in the view. “From the way you were talking before, I figured you were going to take me to a restaurant.”

“Oh, were you looking forward to going to one?” Dash asked, as her smile faded and her ears flattened against her head apologetically. “Because if you want, we could just leave this here and go—”

Twilight interrupted her with a kiss on the cheek, a smile slipping across her lips at Dash’s nervousness. “It’s fine. I love it.”

Dash’s ears perked back up. “Oh. Well, in that case, great!” She darted away like a nimble ferret and began poking her nose through the cooler, bringing out a stack of plates between her teeth, and setting them on the land-made table. “There’s apples and strawberries, yogurt, fresh croissants with butter—or, well, they should still be sorta fresh.” She put the items out on the plates as she listed them. Rummaging in the cooler box one last time, she pulled out a few candles and a matchbox. “And candles. To, um, see and stuff,” she finished lamely.

Dash looked down at the food she’d set out, her lips forming a small grimace. “It’s not exactly restaurant food, but the strawberries are fresh from Fluttershy’s garden, and the croissants are really good.”

“I’m telling you, I’m fine with this,” Twilight said, smiling to reassure her. She glanced around at the forests down below them, and up at the stars. “It’s really nice up here.”

“Are you sure?” Dash asked. “You just sorta seem a bit... put off.”

Twilight chewed her lip, debating whether or not to be honest with her. “Can you promise to answer something honestly for me?”

“Of course. Anything.”

“What was flying with Spitfire like?”

“So, I gotta ask,” Soarin’ said, as Spitfire was about to take her first bite.

“Ask what?”

“Why’d you run off?” he said. By his tone he clearly wasn’t mad at her, but he did seem to feel slightly betrayed that she hadn’t been willing to tell him. “What happened in Ponyville?”

Spitfire wiped her mouth slowly, thinking. “It’s where that one flier we saw in Cloudsdale lives.”

“Rainbow Dash?”

“Yeah.” Spitfire stared at her plate, nudging her food with her fork. “There was something about the way she flew... Didn’t you feel it?”

Soarin’ shrugged. “She was pretty good, for an amateur, but her form was sloppy.”

“But she never even went to the Wonderbolts Academy. I’ve seen her pull off turns I couldn’t, even with all the training we’ve done on those. And she’s fast, Soarin’. Really fast.”

“So... what, that’s it? You left to do a scouting trip? You could have just sent someone. We have ponies who are paid to do that, you know.”

A frown tugged at Spitfire’s lips. “It’s not just that. I needed to go to Ponyville and have a chance to fly with her.”

“Did you get a chance to fly with her?”

Spitfire nodded.

Soarin’ shrugged, asking the next, obvious question. “Well then, what was it like?”

After almost a full minute of internal debate on what to say, Twilight’s stare piercing her soul, Rainbow Dash finally answered. “It was magical.”

Twilight remained silent after she said it. Dash wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but she took it as her cue to elaborate. “Nopony’s ever really been able to keep up with me. So finally getting a chance to fly with someone as good as me, someone who didn’t slow me down, was amazing. I was always looking for somepony who could fly with me, who shared my love of flying. And with Spitfire, that was just...”

Twilight’s eyes had grown watery as she spoke. Rainbow Dash flapped across the table and wrapped a wing around her. “But that’s something completely different! It doesn’t affect how I feel about you, or about us. What we have doesn’t need that. It’s perfect just the way it is, so why do you keep trying to change it?”

Twilight shook her head and pushed Rainbow Dash away. She turned to Rainbow Dash with tears in her eyes. “There’s a huge part of your life that I’m locked out of. Don’t you see? Without being like her, all I’ll ever do is slow you down.”

Rainbow Dash winced, hearing her own words. “You know I didn’t mean that! I’ve never cared about having to carry you places.” She let out a sigh, trying to think of some way to convince Twilight she was right. Moving closer to her, she tried to wrap her wing around her again. “C’mon, Twilight. Let’s just forget about this and finish the date.”

Twilight shook her head and stepped back. “I’m done.”

Spitfire’s food lay half-eaten, forgotten, on its plate as she spoke emphatically of her time with Dash. “—and there was just this feeling I can’t describe. It was like I was lighter than air—like I was completely free. I remember feeling something like it once, when I first learned how to fly. Flying with her, I felt as though I rediscovered that passion that made me want to fly in the first place.”

As Spitfire told Soarin’ of what flying with Dash was like, a realization slowly began to grow within her. Forgetting the crush, forgetting what happened between her and Dash, and forgetting the two kisses, she still wanted to be with Dash. Not romantically, but as wings.

“I think...” She paused, making certain she was really sure what she wanted. “I think I’m done.”

“Huh? Done with what?”

Spitfire stared down at her plate. The next words were so strange, they didn’t even sound as though they came from her. “I think I’m done with the Wonderbolts...”

What?” Soarin’s mouth hung open, his lips looking like they were trying to form words but had forgotten how. He leaned over the table, keeping his voice low in front of the other patrons. “B-b-but the team! You’re the youngest captain of the Wonderbolts, and you still have plenty of golden years left in you. Why quit now?”

“I just...” She tried to think of a good way to phrase it. There was none. “I found someone else I want to fly with.”

“And what about us? What about you and me?” Soarin’ asked, his voice filled with hurt as he glared at her.

Spitfire sighed. “Soarin’, we’ve been over this. I don’t—”

Soarin’ took a deep breath, running a hoof through his mane. He took a moment to cool down, though Spitfire understood it must have been difficult for him to do so. “I know, I know,” he said with frustration. “But I always thought we might be able to give it another shot, you know? Maybe even with tonight, with the restaurant and everything—”

“Wait, that’s why you did this?”

“Well, no, but—” He cut himself off. His shoulders slouched. “You haven’t seemed happy for a while. I just want to see you smiling again, whether or not we ever...”

Spitfire sighed, reaching across the table and rubbing the hoof he had resting on it. “I had a great time, for a while,” she said, stroking his hoof gently. “But I want to move onto something new.”

A mirthless chuckle escaped Soarin’s lips. For a while, he just stared quietly at the table cloth, a faraway look in his eyes. “So I guess this is it, then?”

Spitfire chewed her lip. “I’ll let the team know at practice tomorrow. Fleetfoot will take my place. I’ll keep showing up to practices for a week or so, to help everyone get settled in with the new setup.”

“This doesn’t have anything to do with what happened between us, right?” Soarin’ asked, staring at her uncertainly.

“This is about me,” Spitfire answered in a firm tone. “I don’t want you to think differently.” She looked down at her unfinished food, wincing as she was reminded of the lengths Soarin’ went to for this evening. “I’m sorry this night didn’t turn out so well.”

“Yeah...” Soarin’ looked down at his finished plate and snorted. “I guess I’ll see you at practice tomorrow morning then, huh?”

Spitfire gave a subdued nod as Soarin’ motioned a waiter over to bring them their check.

Rainbow Dash blinked and shook her head, like somepony had hit her snout. “You’re done?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t think tonight was a good night to have this date. I...” Twilight sniffled, wiping her nose. She smiled and let out a weak laugh. “I guess I’m not really over what happened as much as I thought I was.”

Rainbow Dash stared at the ground with her ears pressed flat and a guilt-ridden face. “Look, I know it can’t be easy getting over what I did. You have every right to feel hurt, or be mad at me, or not trust me.” She looked up and met Twilight’s eyes. “But we need to work through this together. Let me show you how much I care about you!”

Twilight bowed her head and remained silent, her hair covering her eyes as her body shook.

“Come on. Let’s just sit together and have something to eat.” Dash tried to give an friendly, encouraging smile, wishing that Twilight would look up and see it. “The fruit’s freshly picked. You could put it in the yogurt or something. There’s also a few slices of cheese to go with the croissants. I’m not really sure if you’re supposed to have cheese with them, but it always tastes good, so—”

“I’m sorry, Dash,” Twilight interrupted, turning away. “Not tonight.”

Before Dash could so much as open her mouth in reply, Twilight blinked away in a bright flash of pink light.

The smile Dash wore slowly faded as she realized she was alone, with only a cooler full of food she wouldn’t be able to finish by her side. Staring out at Ponyville, she let out a sigh as a light breeze tossed her mane. She reared back and stomped the ground with her front hooves.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

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