• Published 3rd Dec 2011
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Assumptions - EminenceGris



Misunderstood and rejected, Rainbow Dash finds support in the most unlikely of ponies.

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Chapter II: It's an Illusion

Assumptions II: It’s an Illusion

Caramel woke up. He did not open his eyes yet, but tried to remember what happened. There was still a lingering pain in his ribs. He still remembered the muddy smell that filled his nostrils, as well as the freezing cold and the water saturating his coat before he fell unconscious. But wherever he was now, it was dry and warm, except maybe his nose, which felt a little cold. He took a deep breath and winced at the pain in his ribs. He breathed normally again, and the pain subsided. All right, nothing seems to be broken. Slowly, he opened his eyes, only to be met with two pairs of emeralds, both hovering menacingly close. The smaller, lighter pair of eyes had a distinctly unfriendly look, the brows above them furrowed. The other pair was halfway closed and mellow.

The beige colt had then realized where he was. Lying on the floor in the Apple living room, he quickly gathered whose eyes had been watching him. His face became red the instant when he realized that Applejack had been watching him sleep. He only hoped he did not say anything embarrassing in his sleep as he sometimes did.

“Good morning?” he said, forcing a feeble smile.

“Mornin’,” Applejack barked.

“Mornin’,”said Macintosh, his voice calm as ever. “Now sis, don’t go losin’ yer temper,” he warned his younger sibling.

“Fine,” she retorted, but nevertheless continued with her planned interrogation of Caramel. “What the hay were you doin’ on our land? And what the hay happened to ya? Why were you sneakin’ around the clubh…” Macintosh threw his sister a stern look and she stopped with that particular line of questioning. “Well, explain yerself, mister!” she challenged and took a step back, still throwing Caramel murderous looks.

Caramel gave a little cough and wiped the cold sweat off his brow..

“Well you see, I, ehm, always walk that way when the shop closes. I live just over the hill, and it’s one of the most scenic routes to go home. I guess you could say it has become a… habit? So I always walk that way… As for the injury, I really don’t remember that much,” he felt his aching ribs and another jolt of pain raced through his body. “Ouch! I mean it was really quite dark when it happened and I could barely see through the hail. If you’re suggesting that I did this to myself, whether knowingly or, I don’t know, falling from a tree that you think I was attempting to climb, you’d be wrong,” he said bitterly. Now that he thought back on it, it did feel like a pair of hooves knocked him down. He finally sat up and the sheets fell down to his waist. And the side of his narrow chest, two dark blue hoof-shaped bruises stood out against his light coloured coat. He looked down at his injuries and said with a relish in his voice at the moral victory: “This wouldn’t have shown up right away, so you wouldn’t see it when you found me. Do you still think I did it to myself?”

Nonetheless, he was wondering what the pony that knocked him down was doing at that moment.

>>

And precisely at that moment, Rainbow Dash lay underneath her fluffy cloud sheets, her mouth half open, drool dripping on the mattress, her rainbow mane tussled.She gave a loud snore and turned clumsily, landing her cheek in the small puddle. She would eventually wake from her alcohol induced slumber. But she gave another satisfied snore as her face contorted into a painful smile and continued dreaming.

>>

Applejack waved Caramel and Big Macintosh goodbye. She still could not believe she made such a fuss, but in her world, it was better to be safe than sorry, and while she did feel a little guilty for treating Caramel so harshly, she convinced herself she was only trying to protect her family. After her little scene, she had apologized profusely, and made both Caramel and her brother breakfast. She sat in the corner while Caramel and Macintosh chatted away. So he’s not a foal-fiddler after all. As the Element of Honesty, she knew that Caramel wasn’t lying when he described the events of last night. Still, he sure did get along with her brother. Whenever she tried to interject, or ask him something, Caramel would either start stuttering, or quickly stuff another pancake into his mouth, giving her a sad look. Too bad he’s got no chance. While Big Macintosh could just as easily have been called Big Softy, she knew that his barn door didn’t swing that way. In fact, she had a sneaking suspicion he had been eyeing a filly for quite some time, but he was too shy to confess… Anyhow, the way she saw it, Caramel was heading straight for a broken heart.

>>

Applejack insisted that Macintosh accompany Caramel to town. The large red stallion was breathing quite heavily as the fully-laden apple cart had gotten stuck in the mud again. Caramel trotted around nervously, observing Big Macintosh who was straining every muscle in his body to get the vehicle moving.

“Can I help?” Caramel asked once again.

“Don’t worry. ‘Tain’t nothin’,” Macintosh puffed as he the carriage started moving again. “Ya don’t wanna over work yerself after with them bruises,” he finished a he picked up pace.

“Uhm, Macintosh… Please don’t read to deeply into this, but why are you being so nice to me? Despite what ponies say about me? I don’t like the way your sister treated me back there, but I would say that’s what I’ve become to expect in this town,” Caramel finally asked the question that has been on his mind since the morning.

“What ponies say and what really is can be two different things,” Macintosh answered and rolled his signature sprig of hay in his mouth as his eyes welled up at the memory, but he didn’t elaborate.

Caramel just nodded, feeling it inappropriate to pry any further.

As they entered the outskirts of Ponyville, some of the mares started pointing hooves and whispering into each other’s ears, one or two even giving a silent squeal. Oh boy, here we go again, thought Caramel. Here he was, all bruised and battered, walking into town alongside the most eligible stallion. Against his better judgement, he started blushing again and secretly cursed his fair complexion.

“Thank you, Macintosh, I can take it from here,” Caramel said as they approached the chocolate shop where he worked.

“No problem. Listen Caramel, if ya ever feel down, come down to the farm. I’m sure Applejack feels plenty guilty to fix you dinner sometimes.”

“Really!?,” Caramel exclaimed at the prospect of dinner with Applejack, perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

“Eeyup.”

>>

It was two in the afternoon and Rainbow Dash’s head was pounding. She tried to open the drapes and winced at the unforgiving sunlight. The pain cut through her brain like a knife. What a horrible, horrible night. She looked around her, and in the semi-darkness she saw the room was a mess. Her table overturned, mirror smashed, and her signed Wonderbolt posters ripped to pieces. On the floor were two empty bottles of Jack Daneighles, the third one still half full, but lying in a pool of what had formerly been inside it. Rainbow dragged herself out of bed. She needed something sweet, greasy and needed it stat. She walked over to the kitchen and opened the fridge. A single stalk of celery displayed itself, mocking her. She would have to leave the house for sustenance, but before she would go, she needed to go. She quickly ran to the bathroom and hugged the porcelain vessel. Today was going to be an interesting day.

After a shaky descent to Ponyville, Rainbow Dash had already had enough. But abandoning her mission would mean flying back up, so she just dragged her hooves to Sugarcube Corner. While normally, she was quite able to deal with Pinkie Pie’s antics and her helium-pitched voice, she was starting to have second thoughts. Maybe her energetic friend was not what she needed at this very moment. She was just about to turn around, when the door to the Sugar Cube Corner swung wide open, hitting her in the forehead. When she finally dared to open her eyes, her frizzy-maned pink friend’s face hovered barely inches above hers.

“Hi Dashie! Ooh, are you all right? You seem sick. Well, there’s nothing you can’t fix with a good cupcake. Talking of which, I have this new recipe, do you wanna help me bake? Well? Do ya? Huh?” Pinkie squealed in one breath.

“Hi Pinkie Pie,” Rainbow Dash replied weakly, placing her hoof on her throbbing forehead. “I’m just here to grab a quick lunch, and yes, I do feel kinda ill.” She did not have the heart to tell her friend to stop, and figured it probably wouldn’t be possible anyway.

“Well come in then, you silly filly,” Pinkie Pie said, already pushing her friend inside. “Would you like the usual?”

“No, I might prefer something more substantial this time. Do you have donuts?”

“What kind do you want? We have plain, sugary, extra sugary, banana sprinkles, strawberry sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles. Ooh or maybe you’d like…”

Rainbow Dash placed her hoof over her friend’s mouth. “Pinkie… please, one of each,”

The pink mare was barely gone for a second when she returned with a tray piled high with donuts of all sorts. Dash grabbed one from the top of the pile (strawberry glazing) and began chewing. With every bite, her hangover seemed to subside. Pinkie Pie just watched as her colourful friend had silently wolfed down a portion that even she might have trouble with.

“Soooo, it must have been quite a wild party with your Wonderbolt friend last night. Shame I wasn’t there. I really like parties. Maybe next time you go, I could party with you? What do you think?” Pinkie asked, as Rainbow Dash had laid her hoof on her full stomach.

“There was no party. I blew it. Or rather, it blew up in my face. But it’s OK now. I’ll move on.” Plus, if I did ‘party’ with Soarin’, I wouldn’t want anypony else to be there. Her friend could be so random and naïve sometimes.

The pink mare’s frizzy pink coiffure suddenly drooped a little bit. “No party? My bestest friend in the whole wide world didn’t get to party at all last night?” And then as though a light bulb went on in her head, her hair had rebounded with even more volume. “I know Dashie, let’s party together, you and me! Oh it will be so much fun. Who needs that big-meanie Wonderbolt? We don’t!” And she embraced her blue friend so tightly she lifted her off her seat.

“UMFWOOOPFGHAAAGH,” Rainbow Dash let out a muffled sound. As she wrestled from Pinkie’s deadly embrace she gasped for air. “I can’t breathe!” But she could not stay mad at Pinkie Pie. She was just being herself. In a better mood now than the rest of the morning, she just beamed at her hyperactive friend and said. “Thanks for cheering me up. You’re the best gal pal I could ask for. And don’t worry, next time a ‘party’ goes wrong, I know I can count on you to cheer me up.”

As the colourful pegasus cheerfully waved Pinkie goodbye and trotted out of the little shop, the pink mare closed the door behind her and let out a disappointed sigh. “Oh Dashie, if you don’t want to party with me, which other filly in Ponyville will?”

>>

Caramel’s day, apart from the morning, had been uneventful. During his lunch break, he had just enough time to visit the clinic. Despite appearances, his wounds were in fact nothing major: just two hoof-shaped bruises and some scratches, but nothing that would require medicine or surgery. So all in all, his day had gone well. Sure, Applejack verbally assaulted him when he had woken up, but she had then made him breakfast, and if Macintosh was right, she might make him dinner one of these days. And speaking of Macintosh, he had found himself a new friend. Maybe he could give him some tips on how to talk to mares. Everypony knew that Big Macintosh was the most well-versed when it came to mares. With a sheepish grin, Caramel had decided to go celebrate. Perhaps after he finished his work, he could celebrate with a drink or two.

>>

While Rainbow Dash was never a punctual pony, turning up at work at four o’clock in the afternoon had set a new record. Needless to say, her boss, an imposing gray pegasus stallion, Storm Cloud, was not pleased.

Rainbow Dash carefully opened the door to his office slowly, her mane obscuring her eyes, her head hanging low. “You called, Mr. Cloud?”

The Director of Cloudsdale Weather Patrol, Ponyville Division sat behind his desk, his large corner office overlooking the village down below, his eyebrow raised slightly.

“Ms. Dash, I don’t know what to do with you. Sure, you are one of my best weather ponies, but your results are inconsistent. Last night’s storm, for example…” his voice quiet, full of something far worse than anger: disappointment.

“Last night’s storm wasn’t my fault,” the young mare interjected. “I told them to go over the calculations again. You never need cumulonimbus for a short downpour, especially with the cold temperatures we’ve been having…” Rainbow Dash might not have found a calling in her current occupation, but at least she knew enough to cover her flank.

“That may be so, but why didn’t you check up on them. You always come in late and leave early. Surely, you could have stayed in for an hour or two to showl the junior team how to do their job properly…”

“I had a prior engagement in Canterlot that evening,” Rainbow Dash replied, hoping not to go further into any details.

“That is still no excuse to come to work at four in the afternoon the next day. You’re a grown mare, you should take responsibility…”

Rainbow Dash just sat there, unable to look her boss in the eye, yet not willing to apologize.

“I’ll make it really simple for you. I’ll dock today off from your vacation. Plus, I want you to assess the damage in Ponyville caused by… the hailstorm last night. I expect the report tomorrow by lunchtime. Please don’t let me down again, unless you want me to report this to the Weather Services Inspection Agency.”

“Yes sir,” Rainbow Dash murmured. She knew full well this was her punishment. And while compiling damage reports wasn’t a difficult task, and data gathering in small town like Ponyville could be done within a few hours, it was the most boring job for an active pony such as herself.

I’ll just collect the data tonight and write it up in the morning, she thought. I’ll have a good night’s sleep, and by lunch time I’ll be in Storm Cloud’s good books again. With this final thought, she said goodbye to her superior and flew to Ponyville once again

>>

It was barely half past ten, and Rainbow Dash had all the information she needed. As usual, she went first went to see Mayor Mare. The mayor, although officially ended her work at five, often slept in her office and frequently lent a helping hoof to Rainbow Dash. She was the first one to whom the ponies complained about anything, last night’s unexpected hailstorm being no exception.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay the night… you know, working on your report. My new assistant could give you a helping hoof. Why, I’m staying in as well, so we could have a late night session at the office?” the mayor chuckled as she asked for the last time as the blue mare was about to take off.

“That’s very kind of you, mayor,” Rainbow Dash replied, making a mental note to visit the mayor only during broad daylight the next time she needed something. “But I really need to catch up on some lost sleep”. She stuffed the last of the documents into her saddlebag and took off.

The mayor looked slightly dejected as she watched the filly depart, but as Rainbow Dash became a distant dot on the horizon, the mayor just waved her hoof. “Maybe she’s not… Naaah. As if she wouldn’t be…!” she chuckled again and briskly closed the door behind her.

>>

Caramel was on his third cider and started feeling dizzy. The cider wasn’t particularly strong, but he never had built up much tolerance. The bar was almost empty, save for one pegasus at the other end of the counter, and couple of ponies sitting near the windows. It was a weeknight after all. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, two large, leather-clad stallions, about the size of Big Macintosh came behind him.

“Hey gorgeous, come here often? Lemme get you a drink,” one of them offered as he leaned towards him, arching his eyebrows.

“Not really. I have to go now,” Caramel whimpered, and his pupils shrank.

“Come on, hon. The night is still young, here, have another glass.” The other one pressed, taking a step closer, placing a glass of cider in front of Caramel.

“Back off, the lady’s not interested!” Caramel heard a slightly raspy, but surprisingly high pitched voice for what he could only suppose was a stallion behind them.

“Oh yeah, says who?” The first stallion said as the three of them turned to face the pony who had just spoken up.

“Oh and I suppose you wanna try and have a go?” the second stallion burst out into laughter as he saw the rainbow-maned mare standing opposite them.

“No, but I think it’s disgusting the way you’re trying to take advantage of this unfortunate filly,” Rainbow Dash asserted again, her brows furrowed, her yes full of anger.

“But I’m not…” Caramel interjected, but the other three ponies just shot him a look that clearly said “shut up”.

“Oh Celestia, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…” One of the stallions finally said. “It was a dumb idea to come to Ponyville anyway. Picking up random colts is so much easier in Manehattan. Come on, let’s get out of this lame town.” And with that the two stallions withdrew, their eyes still locked with Rainbow’s.

“Colts?” Rainbow Dash blinked, bewildered. She turned around to see the filly she just saved. As she turned to face Caramel, he waved his hoof at her and let out a silent ‘Hi’.

Not this loser, again, the cyan pegasus thought. Sure, from the distance and in the darkness, he looked a bit like a filly. Sure, a larger one, and maybe not very pretty, but you never know with those out of town stallions. And then, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Rainbow, so proud of her good deed now realized she might have done the opposite of helping.

“Sorry for ruining your night. I really thought those guys were trying to take advantage of some helpless filly. I guess I’m a bit night blind,” the mare smiled as wide as she could, hoping Caramel would forgive her.

“So if you knew they tried taking advantage of a colt, you wouldn’t have stopped them?” Caramel asked, appalled at the hypocrisy.

“Well obviously, but we’re talking about you here, so… Sorry I ruined your night?”

“You know, just go away…”Caramel wasn’t in the mood to explain himself for the umpteenth time. “I’ve had a pretty good day up until now, and I might have gotten rid of those sleazy stallions by myself, thank you very much.”

“Really, you think you’re so tough?” Rainbow Dash gave a little contemptuous laugh. “Lemme buy you a drink. Don’t worry, I’ll order it here, and it’s not like you’re my type anyway… By the way, name’s Rainbow Dash, in case you didn’t already know.” She finished and gave him a smug smile.

Not her type, huh? I probably don’t look feminine enough, Caramel thought. He had indeed heard a few things about this particular mare, but decided that he shouldn’t bring them up now, seeing as she had just saved him from a potentially embarrassing and painful episode. “Caramel,” he muttered reluctantly, avoiding looking at his unwanted companion.

“Yo, two glasses of cider!” Dash shouted to nopony in particular and turned to Caramel. “You know, I almost got fired today, so I guess trying to help a pony like you is just me hoping to scrape up some good karma or whatever... Wow, that was fast” She picked up the nearest glass on the counter and drained it in one go. As she put down the glass with a resounding ‘thud’, Caramel let out a terrified squeak as his jaw dropped.

“What are you starin’ at?” she demanded as she saw Caramel’s face twisted in shock.

He just sat there, his eyes closed, embracing himself and shaking to and fro. No sooner that the pegasus understood what had happened, her mind went strangely blank. She just drank from the glass that the two out-of-town stallions initially offered to the colt. After that, darkness...