• Published 7th Dec 2011
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Not Unless You Mean It - Donnys Boy



Pinkie Pie's crush on Rainbow Dash is possibly the worst-kept secret in all Equestria ...

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

The sky is almost always beautiful at night, but tonight, Princess Luna has really outdone herself.

Rainbow Dash lays on her back, her fore legs crossed behind her head, gazing up at the great black expanse of sky that's been speckled with a million twinkling lights. Next to her, Pinkie nestles close enough that Dash can feel every beat of her heart and every twitch of her muscles-which are twitching a lot, at the moment. The earth pony tosses, turns, wriggles, and kicks, never still for a single second. Every so often, she throws her forelegs around Dash's neck and buries her nose in Dash's mane, breathing in deeply.

On any other day, Rainbow would probably be annoyed by all the fidgeting. But it isn't any other day.

It's Friday. Her favorite day of the week.

Maybe she'll be annoyed tomorrow. She can't be certain. It doesn't seem particularly important right now, though, as out on this cliff, high above the rest of the world, tomorrow seems a lifetime away.

Finally, on Pinkie Pie's fifth or sixth mane-sniffing, Rainbow chuckles. "You do realize I haven't washed my mane in, like, days, right?"

The response is, unsurprisingly, completely nonsensical, as Pinkie explains, "Gotta make sure you're really real."

"Pinkie Pie, you are so random. Of course I'm real." Dash rolls her eyes.

"You're probably right. I mean, who would know better if you're real or not than you would?" A brief pause. "You taste like pickles, by the way."

Rainbow finally glances over to her star-gazing companion. "I … what?"

Pinkie nods at her. "I didn't think you'd taste like pickles. I kinda thought you'd taste like rainbows, maybe? 'Cause you're Rainbow Dash. Ooh, or maybe cupcakes." She's thoughtfully tapping at her chin. Her eyes are dreamy, far away. "Actually, it was more like I was hoping you'd taste like cupcakes, because I like cupcakes …"

The words just keep pouring out of the pink pony, like a happy, babbling brook. Dash mentally takes a step back and just lets the words wash over her like a warm rainfall. It's not unpleasant.

Then Pinkie smiles, that smile, her Rainbow Dash smile--and Rainbow tunes back in time to hear Pinkie whisper, "But you know what, Dashie? I like pickles."

Rainbow feels her entire body explode with a joy so intense it almost physically hurts. She grins back.

They both lay back down on the grass and return to star-gazing. After a few moments, restless as always, Pinkie starts playfully nipping at one of Dash's ear with her teeth and snorting warm air into it, which makes them both giggle. It also causes a tingling heat to spread throughout Rainbow's body. It's a strange sensation, but Rainbow thinks she likes it.

Of course, right now, right here, she likes just about everything and everypony in the whole wide world.

Time passes. Eventually, as she's staring up at the starry sky laid out above her, Dash starts to realize just how late in the evening it's become. She stifles a sigh. "We should probably start heading back," she suggests, albeit half-heartedly.

Pinkie pouts out her lower lip about as far as it can possibly go. "But it's fun looking at the stars with you! Don't you like being out here with me?"

"Hey, now." Dash tries on a faux-serious glare. "That's playin' dirty, and you know it."

Pinkie nods happily in agreement, utterly unrepentant. "Just … a few more minutes? Pretty please?"

Dash thinks it over. She does enjoys being here. Despite a bit of a chill in the air, she feels plenty warm with Pinkie nestled right up against her. And the stars really do look pretty.

"Maybe." Rainbow yawns in sleepy contentment. "Maybe just a few more minutes …"

---

She awakens when she feels something lightly brush against her head.

Instantly Rainbow's eyes pop open, and she glances around in sudden panic. Where is she? What touched her? Is it a dragon? She attempts to leap to her feet, to either fight or to prepare to take wing, but something heavy sits on her chest and keeps her pinned down.

Then the blob of yellow and pink that's floating in front of her slowly comes into focus, and Dash relaxes a bit as she finds herself gazing up at her oldest friend. Though it's a very weird angle to be looking at her, admittedly.

"Oh, hey there, Fluttershy." She plays it cool and casual. Panic? What panic? "How's it goin'?"

Fluttershy smiles a tiny, secret smile. Then she glances down at Dash's chest and back up again, and her smile widens.

Confused, Rainbow follows Fluttershy's gaze--and suddenly things start making a lot more sense. Curled up against her entire torso lies a peaceful-looking Pinkie Pie, snoring away and drooling all over Rainbow's sleek blue coat. It's kind of gross and kind of adorable, both at the same time. Dash reaches up with a hoof to gently stroke Pinkie's fluffy mane, and the earth pony mumbles something unintelligible in her sleep.

"When Pinkie didn't come home last night," explains Fluttershy in a low whisper, careful not to wake the sleeping pony, "Mr. and Mrs. Cake got worried. They asked if we could go look for her."

At that, Rainbow frowns. Mr. Cake is going to kill her when they get back ...

"Twilight cast a locating spell, and it led us to the base of the cliff. They asked me to fly up here to check for Pinkie."

Dash gives a slight nod, careful not to jostle Pinkie awake; it feels odd to be so slow and deliberate with her movements. "We, uh, kinda fell asleep by accident. Never meant to get everypony all worried."

"Oh, it's all right. The important thing is that Pinkie's safe." Bashfully, Fluttershy lowers her head, and her mane falls in front of her face a bit. "Would … would you like me to tell them that you're up here too? Or, um, just that I found Pinkie?"

It's a good question, and Rainbow carefully deliberates over it. She isn't even sure what last night means, really, in the grander scheme of things. It wasn't something that had been planned, after all. Nor has she had a chance to talk to Pinkie about it, either.

She glances down at the pony in question, cuddled up against her, and all at once the intense, simple happiness of the previous night comes rushing back to her. And she realizes that she can't pretend that things haven't changed, even if she wanted to. Because things have changed. Everything's changed.

"Go ahead and tell 'em I'm up here," Dash murmurs, her eyes still on Pinkie. "And, uh … could you let everypony know that I'll take care of gettin' Pinkie back to town after she wakes up?"

"O-okay. I mean, yes. If you're sure."

"Yeah. I'm sure." She glances up. "And, Fluttershy? I'm … sorry. For not realizing about all that stuff back when we were fillies and--"

But Fluttershy has a hoof pressed gently against her mouth before she can get any further, and when Dash raises an eyebrow in question, Fluttershy just smiles and slowly shakes her head. After a moment, Fluttershy takes her hoof off Rainbow's mouth. Rainbow smiles back at her.

They understand each other perfectly. It's one of the nicer fringe benefits of a friendship of such long standing as theirs.

As Fluttershy turns to leave, to head back down the cliff to where the rest of their friends are waiting, Rainbow remembers something. She calls out her friend's name, still mindful to be quiet for Pinkie's sake, and Fluttershy pauses to look at Rainbow in patient expectation.

Dash returns Fluttershy's look, never flinching, as she solemnly explains, "I just want you to know … I did mean it. I kept my promise."

"Oh, Rainbow." Affection and pride fill Fluttershy's gentle teal eyes. "I always knew you would."

---

"Faster, Dashie! Faster!"

From her place atop Dash's back, Pinkie Pie pulls back on Dash's neck in her excitement, and it chokes the pegasus just a little. Involuntarily they drop quite a bit of altitude before Rainbow can regain her bearings and control. After they've recovered, they resume soaring across the sky at nearly breakneck speed.

"I'm goin' as fast as I can, Pinkie," Dash complains to her troublesome passenger. "And if you had just told me last night that you were supposed to be having lunch with Big Mac today, I would have woken you up a lot sooner!"

"I forgot!" Pinkie sounds half-contrite and half-petulant. "Besides, last night I was kinda busy kissing you all over your face, and that seemed a lot more important at the time."

Dash snorts at that and rolls her eyes. But she can't quite fight back a grin, all the same.

They make it back to Ponyville in record time. As Celestia's sun reaches its apex the familiar houses, roads, and pastures of their town come into view. They touch down in front of Sugar Cube Corner just in time to catch Big Macintosh as he comes trotting up to the bakery, looking as large and stolid as he always does. Rainbow eyes him, a bit warily.

Mac looks from Pinkie to Dash then back to Pinkie. His face betrays nothing. "G'afternoon, Miss Pinkie. Afternoon, Miss Rainbow."

Dash mutters a hello in reply.

Meanwhile, Pinkie is unabashedly beaming at the stallion. "Heya, Mac! Sorry if I'm late!"

"Nnnnope." He gently shakes his head. "I'm a bit early. Force o' habit."

"Ah, gotcha," Pinkie says, with a brisk nod. "Well, in that case, would it be okay if I went up to feed Gummy real quick? I didn't get to give him his breakfast this morning, and he's a hungry little guy."

A small, almost imperceptible smile eases onto Mac's face. "Why, o' course, Miss Pinkie. You go right on up."

With a wave of thanks, Pinkie bounds off into the bakery, leaving the pegasus and the stallion behind. Rainbow stares down at the ground and kicks at a few pebbles with a hoof. She wishes she could just fly away, back to her safe cloud home, but some invisible force keeps her rooted to the spot where she stands.

Big Mac quietly clears his throat, and Dash gives a small jump.

"When Miss Pinkie said her heart already belonged to somepony else," the farm pony begins, in his slow, careful way, "I gotta admit that I took to wonderin' just what kinda stallion could be deservin' of her affections."

Dash says nothing and tries not to move a muscle. Tries not to breathe.

"Can't say I ever reckoned it might be you, though, Miss Rainbow." He chuckles, soft and low. "That little pink filly sure is full o' surprises …"

"Yeah. She really is." The words are out and in the open before Dash even realizes she's going to say them.

In response, Big Mac just makes a humming sound in the back of his throat. Rainbow hazards a glance in his direction and sees a thoughtful expression on his broad, solid face. She unfurls then refolds her wings, just to give herself something to do. She starts to feel a tiny bit bad about all the mean thoughts she'd had about him yesterday. Just a tiny bit.

For a few moments, the only thing to be heard is the chatter of noisy birds in the trees and the clattering of horseshoes from other ponies as they pass by.

When Mac speaks again, his voice remains perfectly calm. "I still ain't forgiven ya, by the way, for what ya put my baby sister through."

"Oh, yeah? Well, I still-" For once in her life, Rainbow has enough presence of mind to stop herself before she starts. She swallows the sudden surge of anger rising within her and cringes at the way it burns her throat going down. Her voice is much quieter when she finally says, "I haven't really forgiven myself, either. For what it's worth."

Macintosh blinks at her in surprise for a moment then gazes off into the distance at something Rainbow can't quite see. He doesn't speak. As he silently chews at the piece of straw in his mouth, Dash starts to wonder if he's playing mind games with her. Then, the soft tinkle of Sugar Cube Corner's door bell issues forth and, in unison, both ponies look towards the bakery. Pinkie Pie comes skipping out with a blindingly brilliant smile and a pair of saddlebags slung across her flanks.

Rainbow feels a sudden, irrational pang in her chest. Friend date, she reminds herself, sternly. It's just a friend date.

"I'm ready!" Pinkie announces in a sing-song tone. "How about you, Mac Attack?"

"Yyyyyep," the stallion replies, wearing that same small smile from before. "Can't wait to see what you baked up for us today, Miss Pinkie. I'm hungrier than a manticore."

Pinkie bounces a bit. "Whoo hoo! Then let's get this party started!"

Friend date. Rainbow Dash grits her teeth and tries to control her breathing. Friend date, friend date, friend date.

"See ya later, Dashie!" Pinkie calls out over her shoulder, in that absent-minded but friendly way of hers. She starts happily trotting away from the bakery.

Big Macintosh gives Dash an amiable nod as he turns to follow after his date. "Was real nice speakin' with ya, Miss Rainbow."

He sounds like he actually means it, too.

That just makes Dash hate him all the more.

She didn't kiss me good-bye. Why didn't she kiss me good-bye? Rainbow chews on the inside of her cheek to keep herself from yelling out the thoughts that are screaming inside her head. Her eyes stay trained on Pinkie's rapidly retreating figure as the two earth ponies continue down the road. Look back at me, Pinkie. Please look back ...

Eventually, she and Mac disappear from view around a corner. Pinkie doesn't look back even once. It's a small thing, though, and it shouldn't bother Rainbow.

Please, please look back.

It shouldn't bother Rainbow. But it does.

---
Author's Notes: Since I'm amusing myself with the musical companion songs for each chapter, I've chosen one for this chapter too, Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" (The Shirelles' version, probably the most well-known version, is also lovely, as is Amy Winehouse's cover.)