• Published 8th Aug 2017
  • 894 Views, 46 Comments

Cascade! Clouds Above, Obfuscate! - WritingSpirit

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Night Eleven










Ten days.

They had only been gone for ten days.

She didn't believe it at first when she was told that this morning, having just woken up from what felt like the longest nap she ever had. Nevertheless, Rainbow knew better than to doubt the words of Twilight Sparkle, who, by a stroke of good fortune, decided to take the train here from Ponyville, initially just to retrieve the artifact so that she and Soarin' could spend a little more time around Vanhoover. Upon her insistence, there was a search party sent from Vanhoover to look for them, though it was apparently by sheer chance that the temple they were trapped in was even found in the first place. They were discovered in one of the temple's chambers, starved thin and severely dehydrated, not to mention trapped in some sort of magically-induced coma. Had they been left there any longer, they might not have made out of there alive. It was a miracle then that they did.

Nevertheless, they did not emerge unscathed.

"I made sure the toll was paid."

It was with that thought swirling in her head and a grimace simmering between her cheeks that Rainbow Dash sauntered aimlessly down the pristine hallways of Vanhoover General. They were alive, both Soarin' and her, that's a given, but it came with a cost unlike any other. She refused to believe it when Twilight first disclosed it to her. She wouldn't want to. She wouldn't dare. Still, Twilight continued explaining. Still, Twilight persisted, and... to put it simply, she shouted at her friend. Screamed even, at one point.

In the end, however, it wasn't her fault.

It wasn't as if she wasn't warned anyway. Twilight may have been the one who sent her to retrieve the artifact, but she was the one responsible for how it all went down. She knew that there might be something dangerous, she was well aware of the dangers that could lie in an ancient temple, and still... she should've been prepared for it, she just should've. Maybe if she treated this more like an expedition instead of a third date, then none of this would've happened. No one would've gotten hurt.

Sacrifices wouldn't have to be made.

"Mind if I join you, love?"

The sordid silence she served sufficed nevertheless.

The trotting from behind hastened, slowing down only once it reached her side. Her hefty glare rose to meet the troublesome grin of none other than Nightingale traipsing on the ceiling, free from the clutches of gravity, or anything else for that matter, being the intangible creature he was.

"What are you doing here?" she groused.

"Take a guess."

"I'm not in the mood, Nightingale."

"Wet blanket, this one," he snickered, hardening her stare. "Your dear friend Twilight sent me to see how you were doing. She had concerns that you might be doing something... drastic, let's put it."

Rainbow's frown darkened. "It's not like I can do anything anyway."

"That's what I told her, but that mare can be inexorably worried at times. You'd think a princess of her caliber would have some semblance of soundness in that sophisticated head of hers." Nightingale gave a mock sigh, flipping onto his back and paddling above her as if he was swimming in the air, his bright blue eyes glittering down at her. "You know, you ponies... what's the word... mystify me sometimes."

"Twilight can get serious too when she wants to," she scowled. "If it weren't for her, you'd still be trapped down there in that stupid temple, you know."

"That's what you'd like to think, but the reality is that it just so happened she needed my help. The reality is that even if you weren't sent by your friend to come here and retrieve me, I could've been saved by someone else instead of you. If I am not needed yesterday, if I am not needed today, then there is always tomorrow. That's the reality of this universe, Rainbow Dash."

"You're talking to the wrong pony for this," she responded bluntly, earning a chuckle. "Look, why don't you leave me alone and just... do whatever you and Twilight are supposed to be doing, alright?"

That made Nightingale stop in his tracks. "Wait, so you went ahead risking your life and the life of your coltfriend without knowing what's it for?" he asked, to which she shook her head. "Unbelievable. Un. Be. Lievable."

"Yeah, yeah. Bite me," she rasped.

The snide grin he proudly flaunted quickly faded from his cheeks. "How quaint. I do have a conscience, you know. I can tell if someone's been bitten one too many times." The shadows dancing behind his eyes leaped forward. "Your bitterness towards me will not change anything, you know that."

"Then what do you want me to do? Just act as if nothing happened?"

"Well, for starters, you should stop dawdling and go see that coltfriend of yours you were so eager to save. It's really, really hard seeing you trying your best to avoid him, you know that?"

"I wasn't—" Rainbow stopped short when she remembered where she was. "Look, I'm just... I'm figuring this out, okay? I'm trying to... I want to make it count."

"You being there counts, Rainbow Dash."

"And if it doesn't?"

"You think he cared so little for you that it wouldn't?" Nightingale's grin returned. "I'll have you know that I wasn't solely observing you back there in the forest, and from what I've seen and heard, I can say with absolute certainty that he cares for you deeply, no matter what you think of yourself."

Stunned at his sudden sincerity, if only for a moment, Rainbow's gaze soon tapered towards the floor. "I just..." she bit her lip. "I just wished things were different, that's all."

"Rightfully so. Nevertheless, this is the way things are. You had to make a choice, and it was losing a part of him to a parasite, or losing him entirely. From what I know, you've picked the better choice of the two, love. That's a fact. Now then, with that out of the way, I believe you have a visit to schedule, my love. When would it be appropriate, you think? Immediately, I believe? As of this moment, perhaps?"

"Okay, okay, I get it, now can you just tell Twilight I'm fine and go back into that statue of yours?"

"Awwww. You sure you don't need the company, love? I can make a good shoulder to cry on, should you need it."

"I don't want you pestering me all the time, so no! Go away!"

"Like I've said," he uttered with one last snicker before fading away. "Wet blanket."

With a gruff sigh, Rainbow Dash continued down the empty hallways, this time with a firm destination in mind. She soon came upon it after a few turns, and as she neared the door, the fuzzing crack in her chest widened. Hesitantly making her approach, she readied her quivering hoof, her mind broiling in search of something to say. What should she go with first? An apology? A hug? A simple, awkward 'hi'? Would he even want to see here anyway? He would want to, right? Nightingale said so! Then again, what would Nightingale know about him at all? About them?

"Rainbow?"

The muffled voice sent her thoughts veering themselves off the edge.

"Rainbow, is that you?"

Leaving a soft sigh at the door, Rainbow gingerly opened the door with a stiff smile at Soarin'. He was seated on the side of his hospital bed by the window, his eyes facing the glorious moon hanging high outside, before he turned his head to welcome her with a genial grin. A light seemed to have briefly flickered in his eyes, as if he had just went through an epiphany, though the uneasiness beneath it quickly swept over her instead. Meekly, she stood there, just a few steps away from his bed, the tension and uncertainty freezing her hooves in place.

"Hey, Soar," she blithely mumbled. "How'd you know I was outside?"

"Nightingale told me. Said you might be a little bit nervous and need a little push too."

"That stupid..." she coughed. "Didn't know you two were best buds already."

"Well, you know how he is." Soarin' chuckled. "Always poking his nose into other ponies' business."

"Ugh. Glad Twilight's the one handling him now."

"He's alright, I guess. A little... much, but he's a fine guy."

"Statue."

"That too." Another chuckle, albeit more cautious. "Still think it's strange. You know, that he's just this... small bird statue. Like, how does he even... become himself? How could he even exist? You know what I'm asking, right?"

"Soarin'?" Rainbow interjected with a shaky sternness. "C-Can we talk?"

Silence.

"Well uh... we're talking now, aren't we?"

"No, I mean about your..." Rainbow gulped, inching closer. "Your wings."

The smile he had been wearing began to fade.

"Straight into it, huh?"

Rainbow bit her lip. "You really can't... feel them anymore?"

"I can. It's just..." Soarin' squirmed in his sheets, his back shifting about. "It's just this feeling of... empty numbness that won't go away. It won't respond to anything I want it to do, it just... sticks out, you know? I tried everything with it, I tried stretching it, I tried fanning it all out... I couldn't move a feather even if I want to."

"But you remember using them, don't you? You remember that, right?"

"Yeah, I did. I remember how I flew with them. I remember my performances, I remember the moves, I remember everything that I've done with these wings, and yet..." There was a crack in his voice. "I don't remember how I did it. I don't remember how to use them. It's like it's all... gone... wiped out off the top of my head... like one whole chunk of my life that's just been eaten up while the rest had been spat out." A frazzled sigh. "That's just pretty much how it is right now."

"I... okay..."

"But look on the bright side!" he exclaimed, quavering nevertheless. "For some reason, I think my insomnia went out of the door with it as well! Stars above, haven't slept this good in ages! Like it was never there at all! Now that's on a whole new level of awesome right there, Rainbow."

"Okay... okay, but we can make this work. We can."

"Rainbow?"

"I can help you with that! Of course! Pretty sure I can! I mean, I'm probably the best flier around that could help with that! Sure! Why not, right Soar?"

"Rainbow."

"Well, we'll have to start simple and slow first. It's just like what they taught us in flight school, right? Just h-have to... have to follow whatever it is they taught us back then. Start with the basics and... and from there, we... we..."

"Rainbow." Soarin' bit his lip. "Rainbow, it's okay—"

"It's not, Soarin'."

She didn't shout this time. She didn't scream. She only whimpered. She — Rainbow Dash — whimpered. It was the one thing she hadn't done all day, so why not now? It wouldn't hurt anyone else any more than they've been hurt already anyway. Shouldn't hurt to try then. Still, she remained stoic. Even with the shivers grappling her body, she remained stoic. Even with the abundance of tears spilling from her eyes and streaming down her cheeks, Rainbow remained stoic.

She had to be.

For the two of them, she had to be.

However broken she might be inside, she had to be.

"It's not okay. It can't be okay."

"Rainbow, come on—"

"I can't... I c-can't let this be okay... this isn't okay..."

"Rainbow, stop it."

"You can't fly anymore, dammit! You can't fly, Soarin'! How the heck's that okay?!"

That's when Soarin' pulled her into a hug.

A gasp left Rainbow's lips when she felt herself being embraced by those tender hooves, a serene crimson wave of warmth erupting from within and blossoming across her from head to hoof. "Soar, what are—" she stammered, desperately wriggling in his grip. "Soar, I... I-I..."

"You don't have to apologize."

A whine. "But I-I let this happen... I did this..."

"No you didn't, Rainbow."

"I did thi—"

"No you didn't. You didn't, Rainbow. You didn't."

A trembling silence. "But I could've—"

"You couldn't have done anything even if you wanted to," he muttered assuredly, his own voice trembling. "Listen, Rainbow, this whole thing... is six degrees of messed up, okay? This isn't... this isn't right... I should be able to fly, but I can't, and I'm not okay with that, alright? I can't ever be okay with that."

"T-Then—"

"But you know what I'm not okay with? This being all your fault, because it's not. It's not your fault, it's not mine, it's just... it's just how it is, just how things happened... and this is just something we have to handle right now and that's... that's fine with me, okay? As long as we know there's a way out of it, that's fine! This is fine! We're fine!"

"Soar..."

"You know what I'm not okay with? You making it sound as if it should've happened to you."

Rainbow stopped shaking there and then, wide-eyed at the words that had left his mouth. Nevertheless, Soarin' flimsily pressed on, even despite the crackle in his throat. "I'm not... like you, Rainbow. I'm not as strong as you, I'm just not. Even back there in that stupid forest, I just... I gave in, Rainbow. I didn't want to go on like that down there all by myself, so when it came for me, I just... I listened. I knew it wasn't you and yet I... I just..."

"Soar—"

"But you? You kept going. Even when I'm gone, you just kept. On. Going." Soarin' let out a fluttering sigh, whether out of amazement or regret, she wasn't sure. "You got us out of there, Rainbow. You got us out. That's gotta make up for something somehow. You could've left without me too — and rightfully so, since I knocked you out of the sky and everything — but no, you went ahead and got me out as well."

"I couldn't just leave you down there!"

"I couldn't if it was you as well. But among the two of us, you're the one that really wouldn't come what may." Another sigh, this one tinged with the clear pigment of shame. "I'm not strong enough to do that, I'm just not. If it happened to you, I don't think I could've done what you've done."

"But still... your wings..."

Finally, a chuckle. "My wings? I'm a retired Wonderbolt, remember? I'm just happy enough that I escaped with my life. It just... it takes time getting a bit used to it, but look at me! I'm still living and breathing, happy as ever. Maybe I can relearn flying too, as you've said. Yeah, go back to flight school with the little colts and fillies. Spitfire and the rest of the gang would go nuts over that."

"Heh, can't argue with that."

Soarin' grinned. "That's the loveliest smile I ever had the pleasure to witness in a while, Miss Dash."

"Glad you liked it." Rainbow giggled. "I... I'm sorry, that's what I wanted to say. I'm just... sorry..."

"It's fine, Rainbow. Thanks to you, I'm fine. Oh, and one more thing."

"Huh?"

"Just.. thanks. For being here. For being with me."

A smile. "Anytime."

Once more, underneath the solace of mellow moonlight, the two pegasi leaned into each other's embrace, their shared breaths flourishing through the night air as they nuzzled their snouts together, a fuzz fizzling in both of their hearts. Their eyes echoed their sentiments of yearning, their cheeks glowing in unison, before Rainbow Dash leaned in to plant a brief yet equally bountiful and beautiful kiss on his lips; a kiss he all too cheerfully reciprocated.

"Love you," he muttered breathlessly.

"Love you too," she responded, beaming, if only for a moment.

Her gaze had grown despondent, having fallen towards the other bed in the room, with Soarin' soon following suit. There was a mare resting there, neck-deep in a destitute slumber, even despite all the noise they've made. She was a mare both of them recognized, yet she was certainly a mare neither ponies had expected to ever see again, especially not since her graceless exit. Nevertheless, if Nightingale's words were to be trusted, something had to be left behind. There was a toll that needed to be paid, the only surprise being that everything was all done with her consent.

"She'll be fine, right?" Soarin' scratched his head. "She... what's her name again?"

"Lightning Dust," Rainbow answered firmly and earnestly, watching said mare lost in her tranquility, her name still ringing as clear as it did on the day they've met. "Twilight said she'll be fine. She and Nightingale worked out a way to make sure she's fine, so she has to be. She has to be fine."

"Why... why do you think she said yes? She... she knew what would happen. She knew what she was signing up for. She knew, didn't she?" Soarin's gaze shimmered. "W-Why would she do that? For us?"

"I don't know," came her best answer, yet both Wonderbolts knew the best was always never enough.

"I don't know."
























"They're safe, right? Both of them?"

A little worse for wear, but yes, perfectly safe, my love. All thanks to you.

"Good... good... okay..."

Now then... ready, love?

"Ready as I'll ever be. What do I have to do first?"

Silence, before the brightest grin burst forth from his lips.

"Consider the clouds."









Author's Note:

Here it is! The final chapter of Cascade!

So yes, as I've mentioned somewhere before (forgot where though), this story ties in with the rest of the series, which is why it ended the way it did. Nevertheless, this is pretty much the end for our couple, except maybe for a few cameos in future Tales.

Once again, thanks to all of you guys who've read it! Had a lot of fun (and sleepless nights) writing it as well as learning your thoughts about it! Hope you guys had as much fun as I did!

Comments ( 12 )

How did you type the titles of chapters twelve and thirteen?

Ten out of ten.

8580430
Little bit of copy and pasting. :raritywink:

Defo one of my favourite stories! I loved the ending, seriously amazing job on this!

8581266
Really glad you've enjoyed it! Also, thought I should get it out since it's done: many thanks for the weekly comments! Always never fails to put up a smile on my face, so I'm grateful for that! :twilightsmile:

Well, this had a surprisingly pleasant end. As things were going, I honestly wasn't expecting a happy-ever-after.
It's a shame about Soarin's wings though. And poor Lightning Dust, she doesn't deserve to end like that. She has so much potential as a character.

8584547
Well, since you've mentioned it, there will be a future story in the series involving Lightning Dust in her little predicament, albeit with a set of differences considering Twilight and Nightingale's interference. It'll be happening chronologically a bit after the events of Cascade. I'm still working out the specifics for it, but I'm planning for it to come out as Tale VI.

I never have any idea what to expect from this series, and I mean that in a good way. You did excellent work with the atmosphere here, and capturing the voices of the characters was a major strong point and their romance was so easy to get invested in. I don't understand why such skilled writing like yours doesn't have more attention; you're by far one of the most underrated writers on this site.

10636747
Aw, thanks for the high praise. Really, I'm just glad that people seem to be enjoying my work, you included.

10638164
Well, any stuff from WritingSpirit sure puts me in the ReadingSpirit. :raritywink:

This story is seriously underrated.. just wow

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