• Published 5th Feb 2018
  • 1,116 Views, 23 Comments

After Action - BlazzingInferno



Soarin has known thrilling victories and crushing defeats, some of them in front of thousands of spectators, and others in the company of only his closest friend. Sometimes it's the quiet moments that make all the difference.

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Virtue

Soarin leaned against the stone bench he and Spitfire had discovered. Half of the Grand Galloping Gala’s guests had fled, and the rest were complaining loudly to anypony within earshot. He couldn’t piece together what went wrong first, if the food fight triggered the animal stampede, or if the sudden blast of dance music led to the decorative columns toppling like dominos. The only certainty was that he and Spitfire were safe and undetected, at least for the now.

Muttering voices sounded over the hedges. “Simply dreadful! Dreadful! When I find the pony responsible…”

Spitfire groaned as another roving band of irate socialites passed by their hiding place, no doubt searching for somepony official-looking to tear into. “Who the hay invited those party crashers?”

Soarin scratched at his mane, worried that he’d pull out yet another lump of cake frosting covered in bird feathers. His eyes kept darting to the small gap in the hedge, the entrance to the garden that had become their impromptu sanctuary. Flower beds bursting with exotic flora flanked their every side, filling their noses with sweet scents. They couldn’t have picked a nicer looking place to hide.

“What do we do now, wait for the Princesses to fix everything?” he asked. Pluralizing ‘Princess’ still felt strange. He’d practiced saying it during his afternoon flight drills, just in case the topic came up. Going to the Grand Galloping Gala had sounded so formal and important, completely unlike the madness they’d just escaped.

Spitfire snorted. “As long as somepony fixes it all, somepony that isn’t us. Maybe we should just hit the clouds. The others can fend for themselves.”

Even as he nodded in agreement, a doubt stirred in him. This first year had passed by so quickly, the wonder of joining Equestria’s most elite fliers giving way to an unbroken cycle of practices, air shows, and special events much more subdued than this one. One of the few constants had been the words he repeated at the start of every day. Would a real Wonderbolt sit here and hide? Where was his integrity now? “Do you think anypony was hurt?”

“Not that I could see. I’m sure everypony’s fine… unless Fleetfoot really did sneak into the cider cellar like she was joking about. We’ll have to fish her out with a net.”

He couldn’t hold back a grin. “Think she’ll save us some?”

She shot him a grin of her own. “Heh, could you actually down a glass, or even a drop?”

A long, rumbling burp escaped Soarin’s mouth the instant he opened it. The platefuls of hors d'oeuvres he’d scarfed down were starting to feel like a bad idea. He still stood behind eating a whole apple pie, though. Getting genuinely homemade baked goods like that in the city was next to impossible.

Spitfire’s smile devolved into a laugh. “You’re going to turn into a blimp if you don’t cut back.”

“Hey, I’m in great shape! I almost beat you in the last fly-off.”

“And how many pies ago was that?”

“I—” he looked away “—I just like pie, all right? I can go wing to wing with anypony on the team.”

“Oh yeah? Prove it.”

He shot a glance to the sky, wondering how bad it’d look for a Wonderbolt to flee the scene with disaster in his wake and well-to-do pegasi on his tail. Instead of taking off, he flared his wings and puffed out his chest. “I do fifty wingups before breakfast, twenty laps around the field before team practice, sixty—”

And then he saw her smile, brimming with her usual confidence as well as something new, something like hunger. Her lips were parted and visibly moist, as if she'd just been licking them. She’d reclined across the bench, the lightning bolt pattern on her flight suit tracing a skintight path from her neck downwards. She raised one seductive eyebrow, beckoning to him. “Prove it.”

“Uuh,” His brain wasn’t working, which prompted his wings to take over. He floated forward, towards the gorgeous mare before to him, the mare that was about as far out of his league as Princess Luna.

Spitfire pulled him onto the bench beside her, wrapping a leg over him. “How about we forget about the gala and the Wonderbolts for a little while? Sound like fun?”

“Y-yeah. Yeah!”

She snickered and kissed his neck. “I knew you’d figure it out eventually, you hunky goofball… all the signals I’ve been giving you.”

For a second Soarin was speeding through the skies and also curled up by a fire: cool and warm, ecstatic and at ease. “Signals… You mean like how you’re always ragging on me to stay in shape?”

“Maybe like how I kept hanging around and training with you, even when you know all the routines? Maybe like how I stuck with you all tonight instead of palling around with Fleetfoot? Maybe like how just before the party went south, I did this?”

Her wing brushed his with a hint of flirtatious invitation known only to pegasi.

“I thought I imagined that… I never thought you… and me…” His hooves stroked her back, shaking slightly as simple hormones overwhelmed the pure incredulity overtaking all rational thought; she was the most beautiful pegasus ever. The Wonderbolts rulebook was the only reason he’d never told her.

“The rulebook!” he stiffened and nearly slipped off the bench.

She grunted and pulled him closer again, her lips finding his ear. “Rulebook?”

And then he couldn’t think again. He mumbled some half-remembered paragraph about on-team relationships being frowned upon as they pressed against each other with nothing but flight suits between. Forget the Wonderbolts rulebook. Forget the Wonderbolts.

“I know you two jerks are hiding around here somewh—whoa!”

Soarin fell off the bench, catching a glimpse of Fleetfoot standing at the garden entrance before landing face first in the grass. He sat up as fast as he could, but it hardly mattered. She stood frozen in place, her mouth agape, her balance unsteady, and her breath reeking of cider. Spitfire had scrambled into a more dignified position on the bench, but there was no hiding the blush on her cheeks or how she and Soarin had been positioned a second ago.

Fleetfoot gave her head a vigorous shake, as if she thought she’d only imagined finding her closest teammates, the other two thirds of the most famous Wonderbolts trio in the world, making out on a secluded garden bench. A grin spread across her face and laughter soon followed. “I can’t believe I caught you two goofballs… right in the middle of… and in the royal garden… ha ha! This almost makes getting trapped under that ice sculpture worth it!”

“Keep it down, Fleets!” Spitfire said, her voice barely more than a growl. “We’ll see you later.”

Fleetfoot saluted and then stumbled out of view, still laughing. “Carry on, Captain! Give me the after action report tomorrow! Ha!”

Soarin got to his hooves, his cheeks on fire and a knot forming in his gurgling stomach. “I—”

He didn’t know what he was going to say next, and he didn’t get a chance to find out. His abs clenched as tight as a vice and vomit drenched the flower beds. Maybe the pie had been a bad idea after all. He fell to his knees, head spinning and stomach aching.

Spitfire slid across the bench, as far away from him as possible. “This was a huge mistake.”

Seeing her scowl did nothing to ease his heaving stomach. “Sorry.”

“Yeah, me too. I shouldn’t have… anyway… Let’s keep this quiet. Just get yourself cleaned up, and I’ll see you back at the barracks tomorrow. We’re supposed to be a team, right?”

A flurry of wingbeats heralded her departure.

All he could do was sit while his stomach churned and his muscles ached. The mess he’d made of the flowers was nothing compared to the mess that was rest of the night.

“Supposed to be a team… Since when?”

He looked up at the night sky, hoping to catch a final glimpse of Spitfire leaving him and the rulebook behind. “Up there we’re a team… down here though… Did you miss the rule about heavy drinking too, and leaving ponies in distress?”

Blaming Spitfire for everything only took him so far. What good were those three words he repeated every morning if he forgot them after nightfall? Where was his integrity? Where was the teamwork? He couldn’t think clearly enough to judge perseverance, unless vomiting counted; he’d be persevering at that for at least another minute.

He hunched forward, downtrodden by his heart more than his stomach. He was a Wonderbolt all right, for all the good that did him.