• Published 6th Sep 2022
  • 289 Views, 8 Comments

Lightning Dust's Third Act - Pip232

After a long stay in the hospital, Lightning Dust decides she and her team need a new approach.

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2: A Homecooked Meal

After being bedridden for so long, the freedom of the open sky was just what Lightning Dust needed. The wind in her face and seeing the ground far below were always welcome, but the trio didn’t exactly race home so much as her friends hung around her in case she needed any help.

Even so, there was definitely something lacking. No matter how hard she flapped her wings her speed hardly exceeded anything other pegasi could do. If her friends wanted to they could’ve easily outflown her. She grimaced at the thought of what her anemometer would read, and how long it’d take to build up her wing power again.

After some time, a familiar cloud house began to come into view. It had started out as nothing but a bare-boned and cramped living space, but as the Washouts began to take off they quickly put those bits into expanding their house into something more spacious.

When Lightning Dust finally landed on the doorstep, the feeling of plush clouds under her hooves was just like she remembered, complimenting her long-awaited homecoming.

Stepping through the doorway, Rolling Thunder wrapped a wing around her friend’s side in a quick hug. “Glad you’re back. Go on and get a shower, Dust. Fusie and I will get started on lunch.”

Short Fuse’s mouth contorted into a crimped smile of barely restrained annoyance as he shut the door behind him. “Hey, what’ve I told you about volunteering me for things without asking, or that nickname?”

“You want to eat lunch, too, don’t you?” She asked with a smirk.

Short Fuse sighed, “Yes.” His face fell, knowing the verbal ultimatum he’d just been given.

“Great, then you can help me cook.”

Lightning Dust smiled, watching them off into the kitchen before heading upstairs. She rounded a corner and headed through a wooden door adorned with her cutie mark. When she entered she was surprised at the state of her bedroom.

Her bed was made, her desk and wardrobe were both tidy and free of dust, the latter with a small pile of mail on it, and the trophies in her display case were all spotless. It warmed her heart to see her room had been kept clean in her absence, but the warmth vanished as her eyes settled on the most contentious of the room’s decorations.

Hanging by a hook and bathed in sunlight was a legless blue and gold uniform, a prominent tear in the left side. Lightning Dust’s eyes narrowed as she unconsciously rubbed a hoof against the overgrown fur on her chest.

Keeping her trainee uniform had been a tough decision at first. It was a painful reminder of being so close to achieving her dreams, and their brutal demise marked by tearing fabric and pulled fur. Over time though, it came to be a powerful motivator, especially after forming the Washouts. It had transformed from a symbol of failure into a constant reminder of what, and specifically who she was working against.

She turned away from it and headed into the bathroom. For now, a shower awaited her.

Rolling Thunder stirred a pan of soup, the smell making her mouth water. “How’s it coming over there?” She glanced over, seeing Short Fuse spreading some butter on bread.

“Don’t rush me, I’m working on it.” He muttered, tossing the bread on a griddle with a sizzle before putting cheese on them.

“It’s so nice to have Lightning Dust back. It just wasn’t the same without her.”

Short Fuse nodded, getting some plates out of the cabinet and setting them next to the griddle. “I know but even I could have outflown her, and I’m the weakest flier out of all of us.”

“She’s been in a cast for over two months, it’s natural she’d lose some muscle mass.”

As Short Fuse busied himself with setting the table, Rolling Thunder kept an eye on the sandwiches. “That’s why we’ll need to provide her with love and support during her rehabilitation. Just you wait, I think Dusty’s gonna bounce back faster than you think, and it starts with a good home-cooked meal.”

Lightning Dust stepped out of the shower, pulling a towel off the rack and draping it over herself.

While she had missed flying the most, it was many of life’s simplest pleasures that were a close second. The freedom of movement, a hot shower, and soon the ability to eat through her mouth.

She reached out a hoof and wiped the fog off the mirror, getting a good look at herself. Her overgrown fur wasn’t as shaggy as she expected, but it definitely still needed to be trimmed.

After getting herself completely dried off she started heading back downstairs. The scent of grilled cheese and tomato soup greeted her, and Lightning Dust found herself practically drooling in anticipation.

There’s our favorite fluffy hairball. How ya feeling?” Rolling Thunder sat at her spot, gesturing her friend over. “I know you probably wanted one of my famous cheesesteaks, but your first solid meal after so long on a feeding tube should be something light.”

“Hey, something to look forward to, right?” She chuckled at her unintended rhyme and sat down, eyeing the food in front of her. She swallowed her drool before it could leak out, barely able to keep her appetite in check as she waited for Short Fuse to join them. As soon as he sat down, it was game on.

Rolling Thunder chuckled at the sight while she dipped her sandwich in soup. “Slow down there, Dusty, I don’t wanna have to heimlich ya.”

Lightning Dust blushed, seeing she’d eaten practically a quarter of her sandwich in just two bites. She sheepishly set it down, glancing over to Short Fuse. Whereas she’d eaten a quarter of her sandwich, he’d already eaten half. Normally she’d call Rolling Thunder out for hypocrisy, but something else drew her attention. Now that she was getting a good look at him, he seemed thinner than she remembered.

“Have you lost weight, Short Fuse?”

“Uh, a bit. I didn’t think it was too noticeable.” He looked uncomfortable, shifting around in his cloud chair like it was suddenly made of cheap, splintery wood. “I’ll probably gain it back now that you’re home again.”

She nodded, a bit relieved. He was still a healthy weight, and she was flattered she meant that much to him, but she didn’t like the idea of him losing weight over her absence. “I’m glad, and now that I’m home, I can share the plans I’ve been working on while I was in the hospital.”

“Oh?” Rolling Thunder leaned forward. “Do tell.”

“As much as it pains me to admit it, Spitfire was right: our motto of leap before you look was a recipe for disaster. You saw it with me, and if we keep going the route we are, it'll eventually happen again.”

“So what do we do, then? We’re stuntponies, we can’t just stop, or we’re nothing!” Short Fuse interjected.

Lightning Dust nodded in understanding. “Relax, we’ll still be a stunt team, but to avoid repeating our mistakes and take ourselves to the next level, we’ll have to fundamentally change how we perform. From now on our stunts will be designed to give the illusion of danger when in reality everything about it will be tightly controlled and thoroughly practiced beforehand.”

She dipped her sandwich and took another bite while she let them process that. The crisp bread, melted cheese, and tomato soup combined to form a heavenly taste that she was happy to savor before continuing.

Short Fuse gave a noise of discontentment. Stunts just weren’t the same without an element of danger to them.

“We’ll keep doing what works: we’ll keep doing shows on the ground to draw in as big of crowds as possible, not just other pegasi. We might also keep our eyes out for other top talent to recruit. But the biggest change is that we’ll stop presenting ourselves as Wonderbolt dropouts, but as rivals.”

“Rivals, eh? I like the sound of that.” Rolling Thunder took a long drink from her glass. “But we’re already calling ourselves the Washouts. If we want to change the way you suggested, we kinda screwed ourselves with that name.”

“That name is now a placeholder. For us to be better, anything can and will be changed except for the three of us. What do you guys think?”

“I don’t like a lot of this!” Short Fuse looked right at her. “We’re meant to be different from the Wonderbolts, our own team, but what you’re suggesting will make us just like them!”

“I know, but hear me out.” Lightning Dust had prepared to handle this exact objection, and she’d gone over the reasoning to counter it several times in her head. Now it was time to say it aloud.

“I thought that at first, too, but if we want to be the best, a degree of mimicry is inevitable. The Wonderbolts didn’t get to be Equestria’s number one aerial team by accident. Over the years they made mistakes along the way, mistakes we can learn from without having to make them ourselves. We should draw on the wisdom gained from these lessons, not ignore it purely out of spite.”

Rolling Thunder nodded along in agreement, but Short Fuse still didn’t quite seem convinced.

“Short Fuse, look at yourself.” Lightning Dust wasn’t going to beg, but she had other ways of getting through to her friends. “You’ve been so stressed while I was hospitalized it got in the way of you eating, and I can tell just by looking at you that you’ve lost weight. Do you really want to go through that again, or have one of us go through it if it’s you?”

Short Fuse sighed. He’d been backed into two verbal corners in less than an hour. “Alright, you win, I’ll give this a shot.” He stuffed another hunk of sandwich in his muzzle to muffle his discontentment.

“Well, now that that’s settled, what’s next on your little to-do list?” Rolling Thunder asked as she began to clear her plate.

Lightning Dust shrugged. “It’s still early afternoon, which gives me plenty of time to run some errands. First up is getting my fur trimmed.” She picked up her bowl and drank the last of the soup before Rolling Thunder took her dishes away, too. “I can take care of my own dishes, you know. Just because you’re the oldest doesn’t mean you have to dote on us so much.”

“Someone’s gotta make sure you two remember to eat and get to bed at a reasonable hour.” She teased with a laugh. “Besides, I was already up. You need either of us to come with you?”

Lightning Dust wiped her mouth off, getting up from the table. “No, I’ll be alright. I made it from Ponyville to the house once, I can do it again. I’ll be back later.”

Author's Note:

Next chapter we're going to see ponies besides the Washouts, I promise XD

Hope everyone is having a great day and I'm glad I got this posted just in time for the weekend! See you next time! :pinkiesmile:

Comments ( 3 )

I kinda think it would be interesting to see later in the story when the washouts popularity starts to rise again with the new safety protocols that they end up snagging several headlining acts and shows that the bolts usually perform for

Aww! This chapter is so sweet! It's nice to see how close they are to each other.

It's also nice to see Lighting Dust taking her situation seriously, and trying to learn from it.

I can't wait to see where things go from here.

Awesome read, can't wait for more! :heart:

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