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

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

  • ...

Chapter 32: End


Flying High, Falling Hard by soundslikeponies

“Coffee? Tea? Pillow? If there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask. I can go get you it.”

Dash groaned. Rarity had made a fuss over her when she’d arrived, taking her back to one of the washrooms to clean Twilight’s blood out of her coat. “For the last time, Rarity, I’m fine.”

Rarity had the decency to wince. “Sorry,” she said, and for a moment Dash felt bad for snapping.

“Just give her some breathin’ room. She’ll ask if she needs something,” Applejack said, slouched in one of the chairs with her hat over her eyes. They all had dark lines marking how little sleep they had gotten. It was nearing 72 hours since they came here—longer for Rainbow Dash and Spitfire.

Fluttershy came back down the hall to the waiting room. Everypony there turned and looked at her. She merely frowned and shook her head. “No changes.”

Everyone gathered let out a collective sigh.

Ohh, it’s no fun getting hurt,” Pinkie Pie said, whimpering and covering her muzzle with her hooves.

“That it ain’t,” Applejack agreed. “I hope everything’s going alright in there.”

“One of the nurses told me the doctor here is one of the best there is—moved here from Canterlot,” Spitfire said.

Fluttershy chewed her lip. “I hope he is. It would certainly set my mind a little more at ease knowing that Twilight’s in good hooves.”

“I just still can’t believe it,” Rarity said. “Twilight is normally so meticulous, and by far the most magically gifted unicorn I’ve met. To think her of all ponies would have an accident such as this...” She took a seat beside Dash, sighing. “Poor Spike doesn’t even know.”

“She’ll tell him about it herself when she gets better, and then he won’t have to worry!” Pinkie said, an uplifting smile flashing across her face. It soon disappeared as she froze. “She is going to get better, right?”

Dash stared at the floor, her eyes distant and hollow. “The doctor said her chances were above fifty-fifty, but not by much.”

“That’s probably changed though, right? She’s made it this far, her odds are probably gettin’ better,” Applejack said, looking to anyone to agree with her. Rainbow Dash gave a clueless shrug, and following that, the room fell silent.

No one said much in the following hours as it neared midnight. Those who could began to sleep. Dash wasn’t one of the ones who could. Instead she restlessly paced the halls down at the end of the hospital wing, away from the others, just as she had the previous night.

In these moments she didn’t have to keep the others from worrying about her, and her composure fell.

She stopped pacing by a window. She lay her hoof across the glass, resting her forehead on it and staring out out the window. A thin line of light on the horizon marked the sun soon to rise. Tears slipped down her cheeks as she gazed at it, her ears pressed flat against her skull.

“My mom was in the hospital once when I was very young.”

Dash tensed at hearing Spitfire’s voice. She sniffed, wiping her tears away, and turned to face her. “Yeah?”

“At the time I was too young to really understand death. When my dad had to explain to me that my mom might not be coming back, it was the first time I ever saw him cry.” Spitfire stepped up beside Dash, looking out the window. “None of us could fault you for crying now.”

Dash sucked a sharp breath in through her teeth. “You know...” Her voice broke and cracked. “I think I love her, but I’ve only realized that now. What if I never get to tell her?”

Spitfire pulled her into a hug. Dash sat there with her whole body stiff, not sure what to do. It felt… safe, reassuring. The sting of the tears she shed, was about to shed, faded.

After a moment Spitfire backed away with a blush. “Sorry. You looked like you could use that.”

“Thanks. I…” Dash said, trailing off as a door at the other end of the hall opened. The doctor stepped out. He spotted the two of them and began walking over, his steps a measured march. They both fell silent as he approached. Dash sucked a breath between her teeth, tensing. She tried to prepare herself as best she could for the worst, her lips thinning in grim resolve.

The doctor approached them with a weary smile. “It was a success. She’ll be fine,” he announced.

Dash’s ears shot up. She held a breath. “What? Really?”

“I’d like to keep her here for the next 24 hours—to make sure everything starts healing properly, but after that she’ll be free to leave. She’s recuperated most of the blood she lost, though she might still be a bit woozy, so you’ll have to keep a close eye on her for the first 48 hours after she leaves.”

Dash could have hugged the doctor for delivering the good news. There were dozens of questions she wanted to ask him, but one immediately jumped to the front. “Can I see her?”

“Of course,” the doctor replied. “Same rules as before, she’s still healing, after all. Her anesthesia should wear off in the next hour or two, and once it does she’ll be free to allow the rest of your friends to see her.”

Dash nodded, about to run off, but first she turned to Spitfire. “Can you tell the others?”

“Yeah, I’ll go give them the good news. You go ahead,” Spitfire said, smiling.

With that settled, Dash literally flew to the other end of the hall, skidding to a stop in front of Twilight’s room. She opened the door to see Twilight right where she’d left her, and although her wings were still mummified in bandages and spotted with blood, she slept peacefully.

Dash stepped inside, closing the door behind her. The clock hanging over Twilight’s bed ticked past the seconds she stood there, not sure what to think. She was relieved, of course, though as she watched Twilight’s chest slowly rise and fall, she couldn’t help but wonder what came next.

And so, as she sat down by the foot of the bed and rest her chin, she found herself thinking about what would happen to them after all of this was over.

When Twilight first stirred, the most overwhelming sensation was one of being a statue. There was a steady, electronic beep beside the bed she lay on, and when she took a deep breath her nostrils were assaulted by sterile air. A hospital? It took her a moment to remember how to move, but once she did, she opened her eyes.

In a room she didn’t recognize, Dash sat by her bed, wearing a worn-out smile. Their eyes met, neither of them saying anything. Dash’s smile faded slightly as her eyes drifted to Twilight’s back.

Twilight followed her eyes and shifted, looking down at her sides. It was then that she saw her wings for the first time—and the bandages. What happened came rushing back, along with a stinging sensation in her new limbs, like someone had put lemon juice in the open wounds.

“The doctors want to keep you here for another 24 hours and make sure your wings are healing,” Dash said, her voice a bit quieter than usual. She managed a small smirk. “I’d hug you for finally waking up, but the doctor said hugging was off bounds. Might be for a while, too, if you have to keep those things all bandaged up like that.”

Twilight glanced down at her wings. Her voice came out raspy and dry. “Did the doctor say whether I’d ever be able to fly?”

Dash gave her a weak glare. “I’m in love with you, Twilight, but you’re an idiot for that being the first thing you say to me.”

Twilight blinked, opening and closing her mouth. It took her a few moments to realize what Dash just said. Her heart lept an extra beat. “You love me?”

“I had a lot of time to think about things while I was waiting for you to wake up.” Dash scratched the back of her head. “And so, yeah, I guess I do...”

“I...” Twilight paused. “I think I love you, too.”

Dash smirked, raising her eyebrows. “‘Think’?”

Twilight managed to force a grimacing sort-of smile. “Well, I’m not sure what kind of medication they have me on, so that could possibly be altering my state of mind in a way so that I think I love you.”

Dash’s lips tugged upwards as she shook her head, her body shaking from trying to hold in a laugh. “I can’t tell you how good it is just to hear your voice.”

Twilight stared down at her pillow. “Did things look that bad for me?”

Dash’s smile waned. She pressed her ears back and cast her eyes downward. “When I found you in the library, you were in a pool of your own blood.” She stepped forward, resting her muzzle in Twilight’s bed sheets and shutting her eyes. “Sweet Celestia, I’ve never seen so much blood. I really thought you were going to die.”

Twilight reached out, ignoring the pain in her wings, and brushed her hoof against Dash’s muzzle. “I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you like that.”

Dash sniffled, leaning into her hoof. She opened her eyes. They met Twilight’s. “You don’t have to try changing yourself—you don’t have to fly for me to love you.”

“Flying is such a big part of who you are.” Twilight sighed. “I just wanted to be a part of that.”

“But you already are,” Dash said, shaking her head. “You know what happened back at the Best Young Flier Competition? When I was trying to pull off that sonic rainboom, I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to make it, that I was going to screw up like all the other times, and I nearly gave up, but as I dove by the stadium, I saw you, and you made me keep trying.”

“Rainbow, I—”

“Hold on a sec, I’m not finished,” Dash said, cutting her off. “The time when me and Spitfire went flying in Ponyville, you told me to impress her without showing her the sonic rainboom. So I didn’t. What I did was I flew with her around the clouds, all the while thinking about how you really believed that I was more than just one trick, and that I had what it took to impress the Captain of the Wonderbolts.”

“Of course I did,” Twilight interjected. “You’re the best flier I’ve ever seen—I meant that.”

The corner of Dash’s lips twitched upwards. “I haven’t flown a single time since our first date without thinking about you.”

“Really?” Twilight asked, finding herself smiling.

Dash nodded. “Absolutely. And if it means that I get to keep flying like that, I’ll turn down Spitfire’s offer and we can stay in Ponyville.”

Twilight frowned, her gaze averting. “I meant it when I gave Spitfire my answer. Being on a world-class flight team is your dream, isn’t it?”

“Well, yeah it is, but I don’t want to live that dream without you.” Dash stared at the ground, kicking her hoof back and forth. “You sure about this, then? We won’t go anywhere until you’re healed, but still, we’ll probably wind up spending a lot of time away from Ponyville, y’know... off adventuring and stuff...”

Twilight let out a chuckle, her lips settling in a smile. “I didn’t think you’d be willing to back down from an adventure. I thought you were more of the Daring Do type.”

Dash wrinkled her nose. “Daring who?”

“Just a book I need to get you to read,” Twilight said, shaking her head.

Dash snorted. “Yeah, like that’ll happen.” Dash took a deep breath.

An easy silence settled between them, interrupted only by the beep of the heart monitor and the whirring it made to keep running. As it stretched on, Dash’s smile seemed to slowly fade, until she wasn’t smiling at all.

“Can we just stop doing this?” Dash said. “Both of us making such a mess of things, I mean. You asked me once whether or not it has to be this way, and I said it didn’t. I still think it doesn’t.”

Twilight turned into her pillow, her mane falling in front of her eyes. “I believed that when you first told me, but now I just don’t know...”

Dash walked up to the bed, placing her hoof over the one Twilight had stretched out to the edge of the sheets. “We can still do it. I spent all this time waiting in the hospital trying to figure out what changed since we were friends. I wanted to believe it was all just a string of bad luck, it’s what I did believe for the longest time, but it wasn’t.”

Twilight turned to face Dash, as much as she could with her wings. “What was it then?”

“Us. We changed. We never talked when there was a problem. You ignored me when I said I wouldn’t leave the library until I apologized. I threw a tantrum and left when you felt insecure about our relationship.” Dash glanced down at where she was holding Twilight’s hoof. “It just kept going back and forth. We didn’t listen to each other.”

Twilight fell silent, staring at Dash’s eyes, noticing for the first time just how tired they looked. It wasn’t the darkened lines beneath them, nor the cracked, red, and irritated lines at their sides, but a look at the very center of them, one more tired than the days waiting at the hospital would allow. It was a look of pain, stretching on for weeks, hidden, because that was who Dash was.

Dash’s gaze broke away, dropping to the floor. Twilight pulled her hoof out of Dash’s grasp and raised Dash’s chin, wanting to look at it one more time. Did I do that? she wondered. Dash pulled away once more, and this time Twilight let her go. Another silence stretched, but it wasn’t one of ease where things needn’t be spoken, it was one of things neither could say, echoing off the walls.

“I’m sorry,” Twilight said, but her words felt hollow. She tried again. “I’ll listen from now on. If that’s what you think it takes, I’ll believe you, and if there’s a problem, I’ll let you know. We’ll be able to talk about it together.” It still didn’t feel quite right. She chewed her lip, thinking of what else to say. Then, she had it.

“And I don’t want to go anywhere with Spitfire right away. I think we should wait a bit, maybe let things settle before we do anything too wild.”

Dash stared dumbly at her, blinking. Her lips began to quiver, then turn into a smile, and Twilight thought, for a moment, she saw some of the fatigue in her eyes slip away. “Yeah,” Dash said, her smile growing as she rubbed her eyes, “that sounds like a better idea.” Her smile dipped. “I don’t want you to do anything further with this spell you made.”

Twilight’s first instinct was to protest, thinking of all the time she spent working on it, but as she sat up to do so, a slicing pain shot through her wings, making her wince.

Dash jumped to her hooves, eyes darting between Twilight and her back. “Should I get the doctor?”

Twilight shook her head, looking back at her bandaged wings and staring at the places where the blood seeped through. She lay back down, her head lying sideways on the pillow facing Dash. The rings under Dash’s eyes made it look like she hadn’t slept for at all since coming to the hospital.

“I think you reopened one of the wounds. It looks minor, though,” Dash said, letting out a sigh of relief. “Still, I should probably get the doctor to make sure.”

“I promise not to do anything else with it,” Twilight blurted.

Dash gave her an odd look, but then smiled as she realized what Twilight was talking about. She opened her mouth, then closed it, hesitating. “I know how hard you worked on it,” she eventually said, her eyes falling to the edge of the bed. “It does mean a lot that you tried to fix things, it just wasn’t in the right way.”

“I guess,” Twilight said. She sighed, glancing at her wings. “How am I supposed to explain any of this to Princess Celestia? I broke into the restricted Canterlot archives and took a book without permission. What if she expels me?”

“Woah, wait, you what?” Dash asked. A wide grin spread across her face. “I didn’t realize how much of me rubbed off on you.”

Twilight narrowed her eyes. “Dash, it’s not funny.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Dash replied, fighting her grin. Eventually she got it under control. “If it helps, I don’t think the Princess would expel you. Everypony makes mistakes, and your heart was in the right place. Surely she’ll see that. And hey, if she doesn’t, I’ll march up to her myself and pick a bone with her about it.”

“Pick a bone with the Princess?” Twilight tried not to crack a smile at that, but found her lips curving upwards in spite of herself. “You’re actually serious, aren’t you?”

“Well, if I can get around her guards,” Dash said, smiling.

Twilight giggled harder than the joke really deserved, causing a sharp pain at the base of her wings. She flinched, but the fact that she managed to hurt herself laughing caused a second fit of giggles. “Ow… I think I broke a stitch,” she said, wincing through a smile.

Dash shook her head, laughing as well. “I guess we better avoid anything funny until you get better.”

Twilight clutched her stomach, trying to stop it. “Just—” She was cut off by her own giggling. “Just do me a favor and stop talking,” she said. “Please.”

Dash’s smile stretched her cheeks. She looked at the red spot by the base of Twilight’s wing. “Right, I was supposed to get the doctor.” Dash opened the door. She paused in its arch to throw one final comment over her shoulder. “It’s good to see you up, Twilight.”

The door closed as Twilight was finally beginning to get her laughter under control. Wiping the tears from the corner of her eyes, she glanced down at the door, her smile softening into gentle contentment.

Her wounds burned as she turned over and sat up. Movement was not kind to her torn skin, she was all too painfully reminded, but she managed to find a position in which her wings and back rested against the bed’s headboard. The sun peeked just above the horizon. Staring at it, and her wings, she thought of all the stories she’d read with ponies whose reach exceeded their grasp. It was a lesson she’d forgotten.

With a few moments to herself, she looked at one of her wings. It was bent and broken through and through, and the two wings were disproportionate to each other. She couldn’t imagine anything flying with wings so misshapen. It didn’t take Dash telling her to know she’d never be able to fly with them. The failure stung more than the wound ever could, but less than it stung knowing the grief she’d put her friends through. Especially Dash…

No. She couldn’t imagine being in her place. Her eyes began to tear up the more she thought about what she had done, what she had put Dash through—and not just with the spell, but every other moment of their relationship. She hadn’t once thought of placing herself in Dash’s hooves. She watched herself run away, she watched herself turn away, she watched herself shut Dash out.

The door slid open. “Hey, the doctor said it was probably just a torn stitch, and he’d get to it as soon as he...” The rest of the words died in Dash’s mouth as she saw Twilight on the bed, crying. Dash walked over to the side of her bed. “Hey, you alright? Is it your injuries?”

Twilight sobbed. “Dash, I-I’m so sorry. I got… got so caught up in it that I… I didn’t mean to…” She couldn’t finish. Dash got up on the bed, sitting with her body turned to Twilight. She carefully wrapped a hoof around Twilight’s shoulder, avoiding her bandages.

Twilight buried her muzzle into Dash’s chest, her head turned to her side with her horn pointing sideways. She wept, and she did so in a way that she hadn’t done since she was a filly. “I do want to change,” she mumbled as her tears soaked Dash’s coat. “I want to be a better pony. I don’t...” Her voice broke. “I don’t want you to hate me.”

Dash held her. “I never will.”

Those three words were all Twilight needed to hear. She wrapped her hooves around Dash’s midsection, clinging to her. Minutes of silence passed while they held each other, Twilight taking comfort in the softness of Dash’s coat. In Dash’s hooves she found an island, and on it she took refuge, sobs rocking her like waves. She squeezed Dash tighter.

Their embrace eventually came to pass. The door opened with the doctor, ready to see her. With some reluctance they separated, and the doctor came around the opposite side of the bed to inspect Twilight’s wings.

Unwrapping the bandage where she was bleeding, he pushed his glasses up and leaned down, inspecting the wound. Dash fidgeted nervously off to the side, rubbing her hooves against one another. After a moment he straightened his neck. “Looks like your movement tore the bottom stitch.”

“Sorry,” Twilight said, wincing.

The doctor shook it off. “It looks like the bleeding has almost stopped. Just to make sure it doesn’t tear any further, though, I’m going to have to ask you to fold your wings at your side so I can bind them.” He opened a drawer by the bed, pulling out a roll of gauze tape.

Twilight tentatively tried to close one of her wings. She let out a hiss of pain.

The doctor and Dash both assisted her, carefully holding her wings up and guiding them closed. There was a bit more bleeding from the motion. The doctor quickly began wrapping the tape around her upper chest, holding the wings to her sides. Once he was done, he bit off the tape and tossed the roll back in the drawer. He began writing a note out on his clipboard.

“Take this note to the nurse at the front desk. She’ll prescribe you some painkillers and a set of spare bandages.” He ripped the note from his pad. Pausing, he tilted his head and looked at her. “Can you stand?”

Twilight was still biting her lip in pain. She gave a hesitant nod. Dash held a hoof out to help her down from the bed. She took it.

She stood, her legs wobbling, but Dash was there with a hoof to steady her. She took a few tentative steps, her balance steadily improving. Eventually she brushed Dash’s hoof aside, standing on her own. “I think I’ve got it,” she said, experimentally pacing back and forth. When she finished, she turned to the doctor. “Thank you.”

The doctor smiled, his cheeks wrinkling. “No need for thanks, just make sure you rest and let your injuries heal. When you come back in a week I don’t want to find myself redoing any more stitches.”

Twilight nodded. She turned to Dash.

“Ready?” Dash asked, resting a wing lightly across Twilight’s back. “The others are waiting for us.”

Twilight sucked in a deep breath and nodded and they stepped out into the hall.

“Look, everypony! She’s here!” Pinkie shouted, pointing down the hall. All the friends gathered in the lobby wearily raised their heads, their faces breaking out in smiles as they saw Twilight and Dash walking down the hall towards them.

They all rushed up to her, making sure she was alright. Pinkie wrapped her neck in a death grip. “Oh my gosh! You’re alive!”

Twilight winced. “Pinkie. Wings.” She nudged her head towards her bandages.

Oooh.” Pinkie gave a sheepish smile, letting go of her. “Right. Sorry.”

Twilight gave a smile to show she wasn’t upset by it. “It’s alright.”

“Goodness, you gave us all such a fright,” Rarity said. She looked her up and down with concern. “Should you really be up and walking about?”

“Doctor said it would be fine,” Dash answered for her. “Just needs someone to keep an eye on her for the next day or two.”

“Does it hurt?” Fluttershy asked, staring apprehensively at the blood on the bandages.

“A little,” Twilight admitted, “but they’re going to give me something for the pain.”

Applejack stepped up to Twilight, giving her a nod and smile. “It’s good to see you bouncin’ back. Forgive us for crowdin’ ya and such, but you had us worried to heck.”

“Sorry. I never meant to make you all worry like this.”

“It ain’t nothing,” Applejack said, offering a smile. She playfully poked Twilight in the chest. “Just don’t go doin’ it again, ya hear?”

Pinkie Pie and Applejack were all smiles at seeing she was alright, giving her hugs and cautious pats on the back. Rarity and Fluttershy, on the other hoof, couldn’t stop making a fuss over her wounds, asking where it hurt and what the doctor told her. Having already had her turn, Dash watched at a small distance, a soft smile on her lips. As Twilight glanced around, a smile of her own spread across her face. She was surrounded by caring and happy friends, and there was no place else she would rather be.

After a while, Twilight noticed that Spitfire hadn’t joined them. She sat slouched in one of the chairs, staring at her hooves.

Twilight approached her. “Hey,” she said, giving her a small wave.

Spitfire glanced up. Then went back to staring down at her hooves, her look riddled with guilt.

Twilight took a seat next to her. She stared down at her own hooves letting out a sigh. “I’m Sorry for what happened back at the party.”

Spitfire looked up, surprised. “Sorry?” she asked. “Sorry for what?”

“The way I said I’d be your friend and then left,” Twilight replied. “You must think I was just lying to get out of there.”

Spitfire opened her mouth to object, but then closed it. Twilight could tell from the look on her face that what she had said hit the mark. “I thought that what I said to you drove you to run away and cast the spell,” Spitfire finally said. She gritted her teeth. “I can’t stop beating myself up over it—that what happened to you was at least in some way my fault.”

“All you did was tell me what I already knew from seeing Rainbow fly all by herself,” Twilight said. “My mistakes were my own. You had nothing to do with them.”

Spitfire looked like a pony unconvinced. Her mouth set in a frown.

Twilight shifted in her seat and tried for a different approach. “Well, if my saying so isn’t enough, how about you make it up to me by being my friend?”

“You really think that’s a good idea after everything that’s happened? At this point I feel like I’ve screwed up enough things to last a lifetime.”

“Dash asked me if I believed things could change and I said yes,” Twilight said. She held out her hoof to Spitfire. “I think we could be friends.”

Spitfire stared at the hoof for a few moments, glancing between it and Twilight, caught on what to do.

After a few moments with her taking no action, Rarity stepped up in front of her. “I would like to extend that offer. Should you ever need a dress, a spot of tea, or a sympathetic ear, the Carousel Boutique’s doors are always open.”

Applejack nodded and took a spot beside her. “I’m sure my family would love havin’ you visit for dinner sometime. Granny bakes the best apple pies around and she’s always eager to get new ponies to try them.”

“Ooh! That reminds me! I’ve still got to bake you a ‘Welcome to Ponyville’ cake! You can help bake it!” Pinkie Pie said, bouncing from hoof to hoof. She froze, pursing her lips in thought. “Wait, which do you like better: cakes or cupcakes?”

“Um…” Fluttershy stepped forward, adding to the line. She stared down at her hooves, kicking one of them back and forth. “If y-you ever feel like… Um… Well…” She blushed. “I’d be happy to have you visit sometime—if you want to.”

Even Dash stepped forward, despite already knowing her. “There’s one or two flying spots around Ponyville you gotta see,” she said. “I could probably show you around them sometime when I’m not busy.”

Twilight glanced around at all her friends and smiled before turning to Spitfire. “I know you probably left behind some friends back in Canterlot. I’m not saying we can replace them, but we could be your new friends, if you want.”

Spitfire looked at each of them in turn, staring dumbly. She looked down and rubbed her eyes. When she looked up, her lips were stretched thin by a smile. She let out a laugh. “It’ll probably take me a while to take you up on all those offers.”

“Well, that’s no biggie,” Pinkie said. “No rush or anything.”

Dash hummed as she went about cooking dinner. Yes, actual cooking. Though to those more intimate with the craft, you probably couldn’t call boiling water for pasta ‘cooking’. To Dash, however, it was a big step up.

She finished slicing and crushing the tomatoes and garlic and set the cutting board next to the plate of grated cheddar, then checked the time. With a solid six or so minutes still left for the pasta to cook, she decided to go see how Twilight was doing.

“Hey,” Dash said, stepping into the main library hall. Twilight lay on a bed of pillows in the center of the floor. It had been a day since they left the hospital. Her bandages had been changed twice, and were a far better shade of white now.

Dash walked up beside her, looking at the letter she was working on. “How’s it coming?” Dash asked.

Twilight nostrils flared and she snorted. “I can’t figure out a closing note,” she said. “‘Please, oh please, don’t send me back to magic kindergarten?’”

Dash shrugged. “I wish I could give you advice, but I’m no good at letters and you know her better than I do.”

“I don’t have a clue how she’ll react. I’ve never broken a rule this serious before.”

Dash knelt down beside her. Avoiding her injuries, she wrapped a wing around her. “Well, I’m here thick and thin, whatever happens.” She gave Twilight a quick peck on the cheek.

Twilight smiled, a warm color rising to her cheeks. Her eyes lit up. After chewing her lip for a moment, she glanced back down at the paper and began to write.

Dash read aloud as Twilight wrote. “‘I’m sorry to have broken your trust. I know as much as anyone how that feels.’” Dash paused, glancing at Twilight. She opened her mouth, an apology leaping up her throat, but it died down as Twilight kept writing and she continued reading.

“‘So I’ll trust your judgement, whatever punishment you may give. I wish to remain your faithful student, through thick and thin, and one day regain that trust. All I ask is a chance.

“‘Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle,’” Dash finished. Twilight looked at her with a smile.

Twilight returned her peck on the cheek from earlier. “I got the idea from you.”

Dash stared at her stupidly for several moments. She tried to come up with something to say, but couldn’t. “How are your wings?” she asked.

Twilight glanced back at them. “Throbbing slightly—it’s not very noticeable.” She shifted in her seat. “The bandages are really uncomfortable, though.”

“Well, they weren’t changed that long ago. Maybe after lunch we can go up to the bathroom and I’ll help you change them.”

Twilight nodded. “Speaking of lunch… how long has it been since you checked on it.”

Dash’s ears stuck straight up in alarm, swiveling like a pair of sentinels towards the kitchen. She could hear the tell-tale clacking of a pot lid on a pot that’s boiling over.

“Aw, crap.” She carefully withdrew her wing from around Twilight, then turned and ran into the kitchen.

A billowing pillar of steam rose from the element. The water dripping down the sides of the pot hissed as it met the heated iron. Dash grabbed the towel hanging from the stove handle, lifted the pot using the towel between her teeth, and turned off the element. It wasn’t until the stove had cooled that she set it back down.

The pot lifted, surrounded by a pink glow. It carried itself over to the sink and drained itself into the sieve waiting there.

Dash snorted indignantly. “I had everything under control.”

“I know,” Twilight said, trotting over to get a closer eye on what she was doing. “I just wanted to help.”

“Well…” Dash said, putting a hoof to her chin. “Okay. But I’m letting you help because you want to, not because I need you to.”

Twilight rolled her eyes with a small smile. “Of course.”

They worked together to finish the meal off, Dash holding the cutting board in her teeth, and Twilight scraping the tomatoes and garlic into the pot. Dash added the olive oil, and Twilight supplemented it all with a few spices. Dash served the meal out onto the plates, and Twilight poured them each a drink.

Dash sat down at the table opposite Twilight. They shared in a satisfied grin at the home-made meal laid out before them: the first of many.

Twilight lifted her fork and giggled. “Bon Appétit.

“Time to chow down!” Dash said, rubbing her hooves together. The two of them took a forkful, Dash’s a fair share less modest than Twilight’s, and stuck it in their mouths.

They chewed. And chewed. And as they did so, their grins slowly faded. Dash swallowed hers, wiping her mouth with a napkin. “It could probably use a bit more…”

“Salt?” Twilight prompted, after swallowing. Dash nodded. “Agreed. It could also probably stand a bit less…”

“Garlic?” Dash finished for her. She nodded. Dash ran her tongue along her teeth with a thoughtful look. “Well,” Dash said, “it’s not that bad. I mean, it’s not that great, but it’s certainly edible.”

“Oh, most definitely!” Twilight said, jumping in. She dabbed the corners of her mouth with a napkin. “And it tastes better in a way. Since we both made it.”

Dash busted out in a grin, shaking her head. “We really need to learn how to cook something.”

Twilight hid her smile beneath a napkin, though it still reached her eyes. She let out a stifled giggle. She stood up from the table, setting her napkin down. The two of them stared at one another across the table, matching blushes forming on their cheeks. There was a silence over the dinner table. It was a silence of wandering. It belonged to the two of them, lost in each other’s eyes.

After some time, the spell broke. They’d barely touched their food and it had since grown cold. Their blushes grew as they realized just how long they’d been staring.

“You know…” Twilight said as she sauntered her way around to Dash’s seat. She moved her mouth close until her hot breath tickled Dash’s ear.

“If we have something with this much garlic, we won’t really be able to...” She leaned down until her lips were touching Dash’s ear and whispered.

Cheeks going red, Dash’s wings and ears both stood on end. Some of the suggestions were far more... imaginative than anything she would have ever expected to come from the book worm. She coughed, running a hoof through her mane and forcing her blush down. “You, uh… sure we should be doing that with your wings?”

Twilight’s hips swayed ever so slightly as she walked over to the door. Dash couldn’t tell whether she was imagining it.

Twilight stopped in the doorway, a playful smile on her lips. “You’ll be gentle, right?” she asked, passing through the archway.

Dash chased her into the main hall, and then chased her upstairs.

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