• Published 30th Jun 2020
  • 2,121 Views, 103 Comments

Not My Rescuer (but not bad either) - HapHazred

Rarity discovers a connection she never knew she had with another pony.

  • ...

Blind Date

It had been a while since I had gone on a romantic rendez-vous. There were reasons for this, naturally. I kept myself impossibly busy maintaining the Boutique and trying to expand the brand across Equestria, which is a task not for the faint of heart! Indeed, at times it seemed only my passion for fashion and art is what kept the dream alive.

On top of my unyielding responsibilities to my business is the matter that, quite frankly, I’ve not had the best of experiences with romance. I was once a naive creature, more enamoured with the allure of a heady, fairy-tale story than a real connection with another pony, and each time I had tried to dive into such a connection, at the Gala, and later with Trenderhoof, the whole thing would collapse into an embarrassing mess. I had even at one point thought towards making advances towards Fancy Pants, but this was also a doomed endeavour. How was I supposed to know he was gay?

For a long time it seemed that it’d be best to just shelve the whole thing, but as one thing led to another, Rainbow Dash gave me an offer I, in a moment of impulse (where wine may not have been entirely uninvolved) accepted. She had said that I might need a pony whose ambition matched my own; a pony who could 'keep up with me' as she put it. As I prepared myself for the task of putting her down gently (Rainbow is a dear friend, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it, but alas she is also too high-maintenance for me in my opinion, and also has no respect for my things), she explained her proposition. She had a friend who was also single and highly ambitious, driven, and in Rainbow's own words, ‘cool’.

I had also apparently met the pony in question before, Applejack told me. Oh, yes, Applejack was there too. It was a sort of gathering, a private party for the wine-drinkers among our group... but I digress.

For clarification, this encounter took place mid-way between winter and spring, as Ponyville and the nearby towns were preparing to clear away the snow, gathering seeds, recalling the birds and wildlife, and begin heating up the environs. A pleasant, if chilly time of year, providing gentle encouragement to go outdoors but just enough bite to keep one from being fully comfortable. A time when scarves, hats, and even fluffy little mittens (of which I had designed a series which was in vogue in Canterlot, not that I wish to boast) were commonplace.

The place of our meeting was a restaurant, a high-society place allegedly suggested by my would-be partner. The Griffon’s Delight it was called. A charming rural location with fresh ingredients sourced from the nearby Whitetail Woods, Ponyville, and the local Cloudsdale outpost, Cloud Nine. It had a truly delightful wooden and carved stone aesthetic, combining urban chic practicality in the hard edges of the carved stone with fanciful traditional wood and wickerwork. I was taken in immediately!

All I wanted from the date was, if I must be entirely frank, for it to not go terribly. I must remind you that my current bar was set at not having a cake land on me and above all, not having the object of my affections be stolen by Applejack. I stress that last point especially. I didn’t really mind who I was going to be sharing a meal with. High-class stallion or quirky mare, I just wanted to get out of the ordeal without being overly shamed and publicly embarrassed. I had no high expectations, and had even prepared several large tubs of ice-cream for when everything inevitably turned sour.

Though I had intended to get there fashionably early, I was ‘beaten to it’, as it were. It was when I saw the mare in question that I had deduced exactly why Rainbow had thought me such an appropriate mare to push into this blind date.

The table was larger than a table for two perhaps warranted, owing to the large, slab-like furniture and desire for comfortable space. Sitting comfortably on the far side of the table, a single candle obscuring them only slightly, was a pegasus mare I recognised.

All at once memories of embarrassing myself at the Junior Flyers Competition came hurtling back to me. I had let my own ego get to my head and tried to outshine Rainbow Dash and, well, all the flyers with a pair of magical wings I had been gifted by Twilight… and at high noon, when the sun was at its highest and my performance at its most spectacular, they had burst into flames and dissolved into ash. The agonising sting of embarrassment was only slightly overshadowed by the overwhelming terror caused by hurtling down to my likely death. The prospect of being smeared on the ground like jam on a pastry has that effect on a lady's priorities.

The one to rescue me had been Rainbow Dash, but the first to try had been the mare sitting at the table opposite me. She was the current captain of the Wonderbolts, flight instructor and general leader of Rainbow’s famous flying team. She was Spitfire, subject of dozens of magazine articles and a good few interviews, something of an icon. Her lithe, svelte body was coveted by many in the fashion industry, myself included. What I would give to have her model for me in a dress of my own creation!

Her coat was instantly recognisable, the colour of a setting sun or hearth-fire on a cold, dark evening. Her eyes were as golden as she was, and her mane, typically slicked back, was drooping gently forwards like a flame in a breeze. She looked up at me, putting down what appeared to be a report of some kind. In hindsight, I might have felt slightly insulted, to have her bring her work to our date, blind though it was, but I was still working through various stages of emotional distress at having to relive the shame and terror of nearly dying as well as covertly avoid letting on to Spitfire that I was imagining putting her in a variety of dresses that I had designed for an athletic pegasus like herself.

Oh, and there was another time when Spike turned giant and trapped her as she tried to rescue me again... I try not to think about that day, though. It was… strange, and when those memories had returned to me I felt even more troubled. I stood in front of the table, stunned into silence by the explosion of inner thoughts and memories.

“Hey there,” Spitfire said. “I recognise you. You wouldn’t happen to have been sent here by Rainbow Dash, would you?”

On top of everything else, horror stories that Rainbow had told me about her boss flooded back to me. Tales of gruesome training and drill-sergeant attitude inflicted upon Rainbow by this mare. I was no longer certain if this was a blind date or a sort of prank. Had Rainbow held a grudge against me for making her wear that outrageous wig that one time? I couldn’t blame her. I don’t know what I was thinking, making it that tall… Regardless, I knew from Rainbow’s stories that Spitfire was… harsh. I think that is the most delicate way of putting it.

Still, I was a gracious pony, and still am, and decided to go through with this honestly and in good faith, even if I was already imagining the taste of my consolation ice-cream once I got home. It was a forest berry mix. My favourite.

“Yes, I was,” I said, and sat down, smiling as sweetly as I could manage. “I’m Rarity, but we’ve technically met before, miss Spitfire.”

Spitfire flashed me a smile… more genuine than I had expected. Most instances I had seen her, she always had a serious look on her face, or otherwise seemed to be putting on an act… she was a Wonderbolt after all, and she had an appearance to maintain.

“I remember. Sorry I wasn’t at my best on… well, I think any of the occasions that we met.” She swallowed, betraying a hint of nervousness. “You know, I probably wasn’t going to do this, but Rainbow and Soarin pressured me into it, so…”

“Oh, I’ve had quite the same experience with Rainbow and Applejack, believe me,” I confessed. “Rainbow is very pushy when she wants something.”

Spitfire snorted, but not in a mean-spirited way. Perhaps I had been wrong about her, I thought. “You can say that again. It’s what makes her a half-decent ‘Bolt.” Spitfire tilted her head. “That and she keeps winning races, which is a nice bonus.”

The waiter, a small, mousy pegasus mare, approached out table, bowing gently with flawless adherence to local etiquette. This truly was a well-to-do restaurant.

“Would you ladies like to see our drinks menu before orderin’?”

Oh, and the waiter even had a cute Trottingham accent. How quaint.

“No need; the Château Solaire will be perfect,” Spitfire said, and then glanced towards me. “If that’s all right with you?”

I was taken aback. Not just by the forthright manner in which she dismissed the menu, but also in her choice of wine. Château Solaire was an excellent decision; it was full-bodied with a mild hint of cinnamon in the back of the throat, a fine option for a colder time of year. It was a choice that could only have been made by a pony accustomed to drinking finer wines and that was familiar with the drinks menu of the restaurant itself. I was impressed. I hadn’t expected a sporty type like Spitfire to have that level of sophistication.

However, I now felt I had something to prove.

“You don’t think that a Marelot is a little pedestrian for a romantic rendez-vous?” I asked, letting a dash of my competitive side take over. “I am not familiar with the drinks here, but perhaps a wine from the McLauren Vale would be a good choice. It is especially fine this time of year.”

Spitfire flashed a small smirk. “Nice, I like it.” She turned to the waitress. “Can you handle both?”

Both? I had to admit, that was one way to resolve the conflict. Spitfire then turned back to me as the waitress trotted away, nodding and smiling at the instruction.

“So. I heard you do fashion.”

What I had wanted was for the evening to not go terribly, and that low bar had been met. I had never thought of Spitifre, or indeed any of the ponies that Rainbow surrounded herself with as being, well, ‘my type’. Why would they be? Surely they’d be like Rainbow herself; sporty, sweaty, a bit crude… But instead, Spitfire appeared sophisticated, intelligent, and composed at all times. Too composed, even.

Time dripped by, second by second. Food came and went, but I found myself increasingly mesmerised by the pony opposite me. Not that I want to sound like I had become overwhelmed like a young school-filly; much of my interest was out of curiosity.

“I got into the Wonderbolts really early,” Spitfire explained. “I’m actually the youngest Captain ever, but I managed it by being an independent instructor and flyer first before being scouted during a kinda’ difficult time for the ‘Bolts.” She took a long sip of wine. “I had helped train Fleetfoot and Misty Fly, who were already joining the ‘Bolts, so when they became members they recommended me, and then I kept on acting as an instructor, then flyer, then captain.” She smirked. “So I guess I kinda’ skipped the usual procedure.”

Rainbow had been right; if there was a pony who could easily keep up with my own rise through the world of fashion, it was Spitfire. The way she described her becoming a Captain… a role that one would typically pick up close to a decade later than when Spitfire did… she made it seem like it was natural. Just a product of a few smart decisions.

“That’s quite… well, impressive,” I admitted. “I got to watch Rainbow slowly tackle every single obstacle in her way to become a Wonderbolt, but you were already one when she was still in the Junior Flyer’s Contest if I recall…”

Spitfire nodded. “I was. I had just joined at that point and they wanted to show me off.”

“How much older are you compared to Rainbow?” I asked, seeking to satisfy my curiosity further. She must be only five years older, I suspected, given her youthful looks.

“We actually flew in the same classes. I was only, oh, about two years older? I got held back a year.”

I nearly choked on my wine. It was then that I realised what I was sitting opposite; some kind of prodigy. What she was describing was the equivalent of me managing to already have an empire of boutiques across the continent, or being an established authority delivering commands and setting trends instead of always hunting for a niche to exploit. She was in control, and I wanted that.

Spitfire held an expression that didn’t seem to realise how extraordinary that was. All the stories Rainbow had told me about her illustrious captain were put into a new context for me. How was I meant to compete honestly with that?

“You’re doing pretty well for yourself as well, right?” Spitfire asked. “Rainbow said you owned shops or something.”

“Well, one,” I admit, though compared to Spitfire’s rise up her career’s ladder, it seems weak to say. “Though I am very close to opening more in Manehattan and Canterlot!” I add, a little too enthusiastically.

“That’s pretty awesome,” Spitfire went on, appearing to miss my awkwardness-come-jealousy. “You know, I was actually hoping to get your opinion on the ‘Bolt uniforms. Can you do aerodynamic stuff?”

“More-so than what you already wear?” I asked. “I would imagine a lot of it comes down to material selection, since as it is I’m not confident in saying that your current suits can be streamlined further. As it is, it’s as if you’re not wearing anything besides changing the friction of air and… flying things I’m convinced I don’t understand properly, no matter how many times Rainbow absent-mindedly explains them me.”

Spitfire nodded with interest. Genuine interest. That was a new one. Trenderhoof had been distracted and barely noticed me, and Blueblood hadn’t really cared about me one way or another.

“Yeah, the suits are already pretty smooth. The material is actually pretty expensive. Any thoughts on the pattern?”

“I suppose I could brainstorm something for you… perhaps something to draw attention to the front half…”

Spitfire reclined gracefully, disappearing into the wide, spacious chair whilst taking a sip of wine. “See, I knew I should have a chat with you. Rainbow always said it’d be a waste of time because you’d do lots of big awkward additions.”

“Oh, she did, did she?” I asked, pursing my lips.

“Yeah. I guess that shows what she knows. Me, I like having a basic awareness of a lot of things. The details kinda get away from me, but at least knowing they exist is already a big step up from having no clue, you know?”

I am, I must admit, weak to being given attention. I struggle with my friends sometimes, since it’s hard to talk fashion with them too much on account of them not being as connected as I am in the correct circles. I do get some decent conversations out of Fluttershy sometimes, but in reality, that might just be because I don’t get interrupted as much.

Even if she doesn’t know much about it, Spitfire is interested. In me. I liked that.

There’s a flash of anxiety I detected in Spitfire’s expression. She turned away slightly, looking for something else to attract her attention away from me. I barely had time to wonder why before the second bottle of wine arrived.

“Your other selection, madam.”

Spitfire gratefully accepted the wine. I didn’t mind that she was taking charge of the date. There’s an appeal in being taken care of, and whilst there are plenty of instances where I will insist on being in control, at that time I thought that I liked watching the confident captain deliver instructions on my behalf.

“It must be quite fun, being as confident as you are,” I told her.

Again, a moment of hesitation flashed across Spitfire’s as she raised the glass to her lips. It quickly vanished. “Yeah, well, you have to learn that to be a captain. Confidence is like a superpower. Once you have it, stuff just… starts working out more.” She glanced my way out the corner of her eye. “I bet that’s something you know about.”

“Oh, I’m hardly as confident as I appear, darling.”

Spitfire burst out in a chuckle. “Darling? Where’d that come from?”

A little embarrassed, I wave my hoof nonchalantly. “Oh, just… a force of habit. What would you prefer to be called?”

“Pet names so soon?” Spitfire clicked her tongue, looking up as she thought. “Y’know, I think my friends mostly just call me ‘Captain’.”

“Captain Darling it is, then.”

Spitfire shook her head, an amused smile playing her lips. “Not sure that’ll stick.”

“Not with that attitude it won’t,” I counter.

In response, Spitfire just takes a long sip of wine, shaking her head slowly, her smirk plastered on her face as she appraised me once again. “I see now why Rainbow likes you.”

I smiled back at Spitfire, and she returned it. I think that was when my curiosity was replaced by genuine attraction.

A part of me expected this to be the time when everything fell apart somehow. Maybe a jealous lover would erupt into the restaurant and whisk Spitfire away. In a worst case scenario it’d be Applejack. I didn’t want things to fall apart, though. I had entered into this situation blindly and with trepidation, hoping for only the most marginal of successes, but now, I felt rather… dazzled. She wasn’t just like me… she didn’t just want to climb to the top of her career and forge a path for herself. She was what I wanted to be. The dream version of what I could have been if things just worked out, if I had more drive, more smarts, more cunning and more charm. She was overwhelming. I was overwhelmed.

There was something else, though… something I couldn’t quite put my hoof on. An anxiety I had only barely detected through the wine and pleasant surprise. Something curious that drove me to press on more.

“I see why Rainbow likes you, too,” I told Spitfire. Of course, that was code for ‘I like you’.

I knew Spitfire took that hint given her smile and noticeably flirtatious lean forwards, towards me. “I’ll have to thank her for this later.”

It was not, admittedly, a short distance from the Griffon’s Delight to my home, and I had expected to spend a nice long walk back whilst lamenting a difficult evening. As it turned out, however, the journey was made much faster given that I was able to ride Spitfire (please, don’t snicker) on the way back.

Maybe the view from the sky would have been more appealing were it not night-time, cloaking the Whitetail woods below in darkness, but it was pleasant nonetheless. The cold air was held at bay by close proximity to Spitfire, and I let myself sink into the depths of those small feathers and thick, smooth mane.

“It must be a fine change being able to carry me,” I began in a joking tone, “Without me kicking you in the mouth this time.”

There was a brief pause before Spitfire replied.

“Yeah, last time was a bit less fun. Maybe it was the near-death experience. Who knows.”

Spitfire then went quiet. Perhaps it was not a very sensitive joke, I mused. Perhaps the intoxicating proximity to her had tricked me into being too comfortable for my own good.

We drifted down, invisible, towards the Carousel Boutique, where Spitfire landed gently, almost imperceptibly. Whenever I had gone along with Rainbow to see the shows, the Wonderbolts often landed heavily, decelerating faster than I could follow with my eyes, but now, she was slow and smooth for me.

I dismounted, stumbling a second to get my bearings, and then adjusted. Spitfire turned to me.

“So, uh, want to schedule another one?”

I was delighted at the prospect. Why wouldn’t I be? For the first time in a long time things started to feel like they were going right. Only now that I was so close to another pony romantically had I realised how lonely I had been.

“I’m perhaps not a terribly good pony to date,” I admitted, fighting against my own inner desires. “I’m frequently very invested in my career, but if you want to put up with that… I’d be very glad if you did.”

Spitfire chuckled. “Lady, look who you’re talking to. I’ll probably be too busy to add holding you back from your career tomy schedule.” She softened slightly. “I don’t think either of us want… pressure. Just somepony to be with. Right?”

Yes. That was exactly what I wanted. I didn't long for the feeling of being whisked away any more… I had worked so long for control over my own destiny, and I wanted to keep it. I just didn’t want to keep it on my own.

I shivered in the cold, and moved towards the door to my house. “It’s freezing out here. Do you want to keep talking about this indoors?”

“I’m a pegasus pretty accustomed to high altitudes,” Spitfire said. “I’m not bothered by the cold, if me getting home is what you’re worried about…”

“Not in the slightest, but we do seem to be striking up a conversation again and I, for one, do not have your… resilience.” I stepped into my house. “If you’d rather leave, though, I’m convinced that we can arrange another meeting through Rainbow…”

Spitfire considered a moment. “No, it’s fine. I can talk.” She looked up at the sky. “I could do with a rest after carrying you back anyway.”

We didn’t end up talking much. In the end, I had cracked open one of my remaining bottles of cider that I have imported from Fillydelphia (don’t judge me. Applejack doesn’t have hers preserved, so I have to get it from elsewhere).

A little giddy, I had convinced Spitfire to sit still long enough to start playing with various fabrics on her.

“You said something about air friction?” I asked, throwing a pile of silks and stiffer, speciality fabrics onto Spitfire, who was sitting on the couch whilst giggling. Sweetie was with our parents, so I had the boutique all to myself, thankfully. “I have all of these.”

Spitfire pulled a sheet of a refined giant spidersilk fabric (that I had acquired at great personal cost, and keep well away from Sweetie Belle) off of her face, which tickled her nose and caused her to sneeze. “Ugh! Not that one. What even is that?”

“Giant… um. Are you afraid of spiders?”

Spitfire shrugged as I bounced onto the couch next to her. “A bit, why?”

I delicately removed the spidersilk from her. “Oh, no reason. Let’s shelve that topic for now.”

Spitfire rolled onto her side, folding her wings against her as she took a sip of cider. “You going to make me play dress-up?”

"Please don't tempt me. You must have an idea of how many fashion designers would kill to be able to play with that body of yours." I paused a moment. "I mean that purely professionally, of course," I added, attempting to salvage the statement.

"Pity," Spitfire quipped.

Feeling somewhat hotter than before, I thrust a piece of bright yellow fabric onto Spitfire’s chest. “What about a big lightning bolt symbol right there? Where everypony can see it?” I glanced at Spitfire’s physique, who was eyeing me with faint curiosity. “No, yellow is out. Blue is in! Oh, yes. What about switching the colour scheme around? Blue lightning, pale golden… perhaps dandelion… yellow base?”

Spitfire tilted her head to the side. “Sounds a bit ostentatious?”

“Well,” I spluttered, “A little ostentatiousness never hurt anypony. Least of all me.”

“I can tell.” Spitfire rummaged through the various fabrics. “What’s this? It feels tough. And... expensive.”

“Sea serpent scale,” I said, holding the shimmering garment up. “You have a very good eye! This is immensely rare. Flexible and outrageously durable, and look how it shimmers in the light!”

“Are you trying to show off to me?” Spitfire asked, folding her forehooves playfully.

I reeled, and quickly tried to reassert myself, projecting as much confidence as I could. “Is it working?”

“A bit. Where’d you even get these?”

“I negotiate for them here and there. The giant spider silk I got as an apology from Fancy Pants for… reasons best left undisclosed.”

“Spidersilk?” Spitfire asked, stiffening. “Giant spidersilk?”

“Hmm? No, nothing like that,” I lied, and took another gulp of cider. “Moving on, Captain Darling.”

Spitfire groaned.

“What’s this sea serpent scale do?”

“Well, they shed naturally, but it takes many years to make a complete sheet like this. It’s immensely resilient, like I mentioned, but also shock-absorbant, and waterproof!”

“So… not very breathable, then?”

“Not so much, no.”

“Too bad,” Spitfire said, running her hoof over the material. I grinned gleefully. It was nice to have my work be appreciated. I realised that I hadn’t shown many ponies my collection of fabrics and materials… not the special ones, anyway, but Spitfire had said she was interested in an alternative Wonderbolt uniform…

“Anything good for shock absorption? That is breathable?”

I scratched my chin. “Is this for a stunt?”

“More like crash or rescue considerations.” Spitfire shrugged. "A pet project, let's say."

I raised my eyebrow at the term ‘rescue’. It wasn’t one I associated with the Wonderbolts much. They were, after all, largely stunt-ponies. Yes, I knew they had a military background, but I also knew that it was largely defunct, and even when they would take part, it would be as a long-range, reconnaissance, or communication role, not direct combat.

What? I read books and know things outside of fashion.

“Perhaps these…” I began, getting up off the couch, my tail brushing tantalisingly against Spitfire’s wing, sending a small shiver up my spine. I pushed it aside for now, and trotted to a box where I kept some more rigid components. “Chitin. Very beautiful; look how they reflect the light!”

I held up a pair of small, cup or bowl-shaped pieces of liquorice black material, letting the dim light of my Boutique shimmer across their surface.

“Nice,” Spitfire said. “Not sure I like how far away you are, though.”

I began to feel very hot and sweaty again, things that no lady should be caught being in public. I then reminded myself that I was not in public, so perhaps a little heat was all right, and approached Spitfire again.

“What do you think?” I asked, tossing the pieces to Spitfire. “Unfortunately, they’re all I have.”

“They’re heavier than I expected.”

“Well, they’re not made of card.”

Spitfire twirled the pieces of chitin in her hooves. “I didn’t figure you for having such… weird stuff.”

“Inspiration comes from many places, but whenever I’m in doubt, I like to return to nature.”

Spitfire sank backwards, draping herself across my canapé in front of me. “Not a bad strat’. Old Wonderbolt once said that they came up with tricks and stunts sometimes based on weird flight movements birds did.”

“Oh really?” I asked, shifting and inserting myself next to her, collapsing into her. I could smell the faint whiff of perfume on her mane, a brand I didn't recognise. “Who was that?”

“My predecessor, actually. She was nice, but kind of easygoing. Too easygoing.”

“Not like you, I assume?”

“I’m nice.”

“I meant," I laughed, "You’re not very easygoing. You look like you always endeavour to improve.”

“Yeah, I guess I am a bit of a try-hard,” Spitfire muttered, glancing at me with an awkward look, very unlike her stoic, confident facade. I was increasingly convinced that it was just a mask for something deeper inside, though. I wondered what her confidence was hiding?

I could hardly help myself any more, and moving closer still, I pushed the remaining pieces of fabric aside that formed a final barrier between my and her. I let my lips brush hers.

“I hope Rainbow doesn’t get too full of herself after this…” I muttered.

“I doubt there’s any way of stopping that now,” Spitfire replied, breathing out heavily onto me. “Come closer.”

I did.

It must have been closer to morning than evening when I turned, the sheets sliding over me, towards Spitfire. I felt movement from her side of the bed, which whilst large, wasn’t so spacious that I could ignore the tossing and turning of a pony with a wingspan as considerable as hers.

I slid towards Spitfire, noting a contorted expression on her face, and beads of sweat on her brow, long after they should have disappeared. I put my hooves on her, careful not to overly startle her.

“Spitfire?” I asked, trying to shake her awake from whatever nightmare she was trapped in. “Spitfire!”

Without a sound, Spitfire stopped moving. I saw her eyelids drift open, her pupils focusing and her breath steadying. She glanced towards me then closed her eyes again. She looked momentarily peaceful. The smell of perfume I had detected earlier was gone, or perhaps I was simply inured to it as it had rubbed off onto me.

“Sorry. Bad dream.”

I tried to lighten her mood. “I wasn’t that bad, was I?”

Spitfire snorts. “Ha.” She breathed out. “It’s my bad. I should have told you I’m not really a gentle sleeper.”

I decided to try to ease the conversation towards something else to calm her. I could feel her muscles stiffen, and they became more stiff the closer I came to her. “I have a minor question,” I began, my breath noticeably haggard despite my attempts to be-still it.

Spitfire opened one eye as she adjusted herself, propping her head up with one hoof. “Shoot.”

My pulse had since slowed, and whilst I was still tired and in the space between needing to sleep and being so out of it that I couldn’t help but be awake, my curiosity had returned. Perhaps now was a time to ask the questions that I hadn’t pressed thoroughly earlier. “You mentioned that you became a captain very early because you were an instructor.”

Spitfire nodded, and I felt her hoof slide up my side enticingly as she evidently became more relaxed, the movement causing me to sink deeper into my pillow. “That’s right.”

“I find that a bit strange. It’s still something of a dramatic jump to go from a third party instructor… I presume you were initially brought in on a sort of trial period, perhaps?… and then become a captain. Certainly in such a small window of time.” I smirked. “I can’t imagine everypony was as immediately impressed with you as I am; you must have done something special to climb the ranks so fast.”

Spitfire chuckled. “Yeah, it’s not… usual.” Spitfire frowned slightly, and swallowed. “It’s a bit… embarrassing.”


“Yeah. I kind of became a captain based on a failure, which is still weird to talk about.”

“What failure was that?” I asked.

Spitfire pulled away slightly, withdrawing as she talked. The easing of contact between me and her was unpleasant and cold.

“The, uh, Junior Flyer’s Contest, actually,” Spitfire admitted.

“You mean, when you heroically flew down to rescue me?” I asked, running my hoof along the base of her wings.

“Heroically? I guess. It was still a failure, though.” Spitfire’s eyes became hard, businesslike. Perhaps this was the Spitfire that Rainbow and the other Wonderbolt saw every day? Serious and sombre. “I realised that we were... unprepared for work outside of stunts. I pushed, hard, to increase training and preparedness. I insisted on performing safety drills, rescue operations, the works.”

I could tell by Spitfire’s eyes that this was something she took seriously. I hadn’t realised. I had certainly imagined to an extent that she took everything seriously, but perhaps this was something she felt more sincerely than most.

“It didn’t make a difference in the end, though. No matter how much I pushed, we still weren’t prepared for the incident with the giant dragon. We responded quickly, immediately, but it didn't change anything, so I pushed harder still. The more I pushed ponies to excel, the worse it got, and the more addicted to pushing boundaries we got. Looked great on paper, but not so much in practice." Spitfire breathed in. "Later, we had an incident at the academy. A recruit used a tornado to achieve extraordinary results, but endangered civilians.”

Realisation dawned upon me. “These are all instances I believe I was there for." I took note of Spitfire's pained expression. "I didn't realise I had such a... noticeable effect on you.”

Spitfire swallowed, and nodded. “Yeah. I don’t know what you think of me, but it’s not exactly… fun to repeatedly fail to save the same pony over and over, and then mess things up so bad you end up creating a situation where you’ve made things worse.”

She hesitated for a second, then turned away, the feathers of her wings brushing against my stomach as she put distance between me and her.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to get gloomy. Anyway, I was made a captain because I was pushing for more safety, better training, and higher standards. The former captain couldn't keep up, so I was promoted. That's just how it was. It’s too bad I wasn’t a great choice.”

I took the distance away again. Perhaps I was being pushy, but I was getting the feeling that even before our date that evening, there had been a connection between us. On two occasions, she had tried to save my life and failed both times, and on another, it was a Wonderbolt cadet that had almost taken my life with a rogue tornado… a cadet that she had trained, and even encouraged. Strange though it might seem, these were not events I took terribly seriously. I had lived each time and gone on as usual; what else was a lady to do? Then again, I never had to feel as much responsibility for it... unlike the one who took it upon themselves to bear the burden of failure.

Yes, I could tell at that point that I meant a lot more to her than just some blind date. I was not being egotistical or self-centred; I had seen the anxiety reveal itself during dinner, and again when I had joked about knocking her out at the Junior Flyer’s Competition. I was not so enamoured that I could miss such signs when I had been so close to her as to spend the night together on our first date.

“What was your nightmare about?” I asked, though I could already guess at the answer. “It’s good to talk about these things.”

Spitfire sighed.

“I think you already know.” She became limp in my hooves as she talked. “The last thing I remembered at the Junior Flyers Contest before losing consciousness was the feeling of falling, out of control, and… your face. I see it again, every few nights.” Spitfire swallowed. “All I want is to be in control, because right then... I wasn't.”

“I’m confident you want a little more than just that.”

Spitfire’s head curled inwards. “...Yeah. I guess I want a lot of things.” She twisted back to face me. “I’ll sort it out one day. I just don’t know when.”

“Hurtling ahead as fast as you do doesn’t always mean that things work out perfectly the first time,” I said. “For me, I seem to get setback after setback, and I’m not as… well, fast as you.”

Spitfire’s eyes locked with mine. “You don’t seem to be doing that bad.”

“Not right now.”

I dove in close to kiss Spitfire, properly. It occurs to me that I’ve kissed very few ponies in my life so far. A coltfriend here and there, none of whom lasted long. Obviously I had kissed Spitfire a few times that evening as well, but this time felt more real.

I was exhausted when I woke up the next morning. Of course I would be. I had experienced a… late night, and on top of that had been woken up in the early hours of morning before dawn.

Spitfire was already fully awake and functional, adjusting her mane in the bathroom next door when I emerged, wearing my dressing gown. She looked beautiful, and I’m sure by comparison I must have seemed a monstrous creation considering my messy morning-mane and ghastly grey bags hanging beneath my eyes. I would need a coffee or two as well as a healthy amount of time spent preparing my face before I could hope to compete with anypony else, no matter how naturally stunning I was.

I wondered if perhaps this routine of being woken up in the middle of the night was common for Spitfire, hence why she seemed so on top of things. I crept up behind her and snuck my hoof around her.

“Good morning, Captain Darling.”

“Please let that not stick,” Spitfire returned with a flash of emotion halfway between irritation and endearment. “Sorry for being all mopey last night. Kinda spoiled the mood.”

“It’s all fine,” I reassured her. “You just needed an opportunity to loosen up. Besides, perhaps I rather like taking care of the secretly vulnerable sort.”

Spitfire burst into a small cackle. “Well, I felt pretty loose,” she said. “In more ways than one, too." She glanced at the light outside. "I’ve got to fly. I didn’t want to run off without saying good-morning first, but it’s a long way to Wonderbolts HQ.” She turned to me and planted a small kiss on my lips. “Can we pick this up, say, at the week-end?”

“Schedule willing, of course. You can talk to my agent.”

The Wonderbolt looked momentarily confused. “Agent?”

“Rainbow Dash, dear.” I offered her a wry smile and playful, yet gentle, nudge on the shoulder. Perhaps unladylike conduct, but I had spent most of the evening partaking in unladylike conduct and felt I had very little to lose with Spitfire.

“Oh, right.” Spitfire nodded. “How could I forget." She groaned." Rainbow is going to make such a big deal of having set this all up.”

“I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it,” I said. “Do try to remember that you don’t need to change the world all in one go. You can take your time too, if you like.”

Spitfire swallowed, and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”

I rolled my eyes. “Oh, please let that not stick. Rarity is fine. Miss Rarity if you insist on being facetious.” I pull away, letting Spitfire leave, but not before brushing against her flanks as she does so with my tail. “I’m sure you’ll be able to save me one day.”

“Hopefully not soon,” Spitfire replied. “I mean in the sense that, you hopefully won’t be in danger soon, not that I wouldn’t be able to—”

“I quite understand.” I shooed her out of the bathroom. “Now go! You have important Wonderbolty, captain-y things to do, I’m certain.”

Spitfire trotted out. “Good luck with your projects. I’ll see you around.”

I was left alone in the bathroom to do my makeup and make myself presentable. I felt a sort of inner warmth at having had a romantic experience that wasn’t wholly emotionally devastating. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do with all the ice-cream I had stockpiled. Donate it to Sweetie Belle, perhaps? If I was going to be dating an athlete, I needed to watch my figure to avoid any unflattering comparisons...

I heard the front door open and close, and saw Spitfire fly off into the clouds from the window. I decided to sigh wistfully, a conscious choice that I felt was appropriate for the situation. It felt very satisfying.

I then heard my front door open, and the sound of hooves clattering up the stairs to the second floor of my house. I narrowed my eyes, turned gradually towards the door, glaring furiously at the intruder.

Rainbow was bouncing gently in place, a sly smile playing her lips.

“So… how’d it go?” she asked, not even a hint, a smidge, a droplet or particle of subtlety gracing her tone.

“She’s already on her way to work,” I said, “So you should hurry or she’ll know you’re late.”

The deflection was enough for Rainbow. “Okay. Sounds like it went very well.” She sniffed the air. "Hey, did you guys drink cider? Why don't you ever bring that to our wine parties?"

I sighed dramatically. I should have known I was being spied on. I narrowed my eyes further as I watched Rainbow from the corner of my eye, still adjusting my unruly mane.

"No ulterior motives in setting me up with your Captain, then?"

"Nah, none." Rainbow picked up one of my speciality creams, gave it a sniff, and made a big show of retching before she put it down (this is why I only very briefly entertained the notion of a tryst with her; no respect for my things at all). "Well, other than that she has an absolute fixation with you. And like AJ always says; if you can't fight it, fu—"

"She does not always say that," I snap, interrupting Rainbow's crude tirade, "And when she does, it's when she is drunk, and not in that context. Anyway, regarding Spitfire's 'fixation'... I did get that impression." I applied my eyeliner with magic with an expert touch. "How did you find out?"

"I hear things."

"Of course you do. Whilst suspiciously 'napping' on a convenient overhang, typically."

"They're the most comfortable spots. Look, Spits has been getting progressively angrier ever since I met her at the Junior Flyers contest... and that was right after she almost died, so, y'know, that's a pretty high bar to clear. I heard her talk about all these rescue exercises and not 'letting another one down' and stuff, which was weird, because usually she doesn't let anypony down... except you." Rainbow tilted her head. "Which I think was unfair, because you basically knocked her out, but Spits takes stuff like that real personally..."

I glanced at Rainbow incredulously. "Are you telling me you just... put two and two together? Just like that."

"Something like that. I mean, I did have a talk with Soarin and Fleetfoot about it to make sure. And for the record, I thought you'd like her too; Spitfire's got that whole 'ambition' thing going on." She shrugged. "What? I'm not dumb."

I shake my head in mild disbelief. "It appears not." I sniff. "Well, underhanded though your strategies are, I cannot say I mind this time."

"Yeah, I bet you don't. Downstairs was a mess." Rainbow turned to leave. "Please treat her nicely. When she gets angry she takes it out on me, and I don't wanna' have to do more laps."

"As she well should, given how much trouble you cause me!" I retort playfully. Rainbow ignored me as she flies down the stairs and out the door, disappearing into the sky with a flash of vibrant colour.

I must confess that everything had gone somewhat more... enjoyably than expected, and that fact had put me in an ecstatic mood. I hum a tune as I trot downstairs to work, and reel somewhat when I see the mess I had made with all the exotic fabrics and materials I had thrown about the place.

When I was a young filly, I had always dreamt of a prince charming, as it were, to rescue me and sweep me off my hooves. Instead I got a pony who had tried twice and failed both times. I smiled as I levitated the mess back into its proper place. It was a romantic notion, but I found grace in Spitfire's failures. I was quite happy with how things had turned out.

Author's Note:

EDIT: Howdy. Hap from the future here. This story started as a one-shot for a contest which I enjoyed writing so much I expanded it. It's become something of an anthology of slice-of-life snippets of Rarity and Spitfire's relationship that I update when I have a fun idea for a chapter. As such the story is somewhat irregularly updated despite having the 'complete' tag. So long as folks enjoy it and I enjoy writing it, I'll likely keep returning to the story, so if you're new, be sure to comment and let me know if you want to see more.

Hope you enjoyed the story. Have a good one.