Starswirl Academy - Original Rainbow Dash Route

by wolvenfire86

First published

The former RD story for the upcoming VN Starswirl Academy

Starswirl Academy is now under new management. This is a taste of what the original game was originally going to be like.

It is the unfinished story of a young man as he learns about the unfair truths of growing up, and an unlikely friendship between an Egghead and a Tomboy.

Note: These chapters have gone through heavy editing to ensure the secrets and surprises of the actual VN are protected and will remain that way until its release. Regardless of changes, the game is being rewrtitten from the ground up and thus this story will not be seen in gameplay. The only thing I know will be in this story and as well as the VN is the school itself.

I hope you enjoy.

-WF86

Intro: You have arrived! & Welcome Party of One

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You Have Arrived
Description: You (the protagonist) and Twilight (his childhood friend that has a secret crush on him) arrive at Starswirl Academy.
Note 1: When you see a blank space (like so: ___), that is the main character's name which will not be revealed in this story.
Note 2: This chapter, while written by me, was also a collaborated effort whereby the whole Starswirl team gave input, their revision and feedback.


The front of campus is beautiful, alive, pulsating with life. Everyone is moving, hurrying to where ever they need to go. Groups of young girls flock together and laugh, groups of jocks kiddingly shove each other as they check out said girls. The building looks like it has been here for decades. Classical marble statues guard the cast iron front gate.

“Wow. Look how big this place is! Look at the uniforms! And the books! I bet they have a huge library!” Twilight is so excited she almost jumps out of her shoes. She gawks at a few passing students. They look back at her like she was crazy. I roll my eyes as she sequels. "How can you not be excited?! We’re finally here!”

“I know, but…” I try to talk back, but she pouts, ready to fire a lecture at me. Typical Twilight. “…maybe I’ll like it more when I am inside.”

“Hmph. You could at least act like you care. This is a new beginning! A new chapter of lives is about to open up! And we’ll be…together. You and me. And I’ve just…I can’t explain it, but I have this feeling.”

“What feeling?”

“A feeling…that we're going to have the best year of our lives!"

“COMING THROUGH!!!” A high-pitched voice shouts at us. A blue blur riding a long board flies past us and knocks Twilight on the ground.

"“HEY!” Twilight jumps back up and shakes her fist at whoever hit us. “Slow down! The student handbook clearly states that skateboards and other related items are not allowed on school proper-”

“NEERRRRRRRDD!!!” The rider mocked my friend as she gliding out of sight.

“Hmph." Twilight crossed her arms. "What I was saying pertains to us, not necessarily other students.”

“Right. Of course..."


We met with Headmistress Celestia briefly. She welcomed up to the school, gave us our uniforms and told us that a tour guide would meet with us to show us around the school.

Twilight was enamored by her very presence, and wouldn't stop complimenting her. How nice her shoes looked, how smart she was, how happy she was to be in the school. Such a fan girl.

"DId this place get quiet all of a sudden?" I look around the hallways and no there are no students there.

“It's probably because class starts. It's okay. At least it's a little quieter now that there is no-"

"BWEEEEE~!"

Twilight: “AHHH!!"

A party blower screams in Twilight's ear and three bright balloons fly in front of both of us. A girl with curly hair jumped in front of us and a merry tune chimed out from her smartphone.

“Wel~come to your new school, we're so happy you are here! People call me Pinkie Pie and I like spreading cheer!
If you're older than a freshman, then you'll fit in just fine! I'm a super silly senior and I love to make-up rhymes!
Study hard and don't be late, but ‘member to have fun! And don't play hooky either cause you can’t leave until school’s done!
Don't forget it's high school, so learn new stuff every day! I hope you're both excited, hip-hip-hip-hip-hip-HOORAY!"

She jumped high in the air and clapped her hands several times.

"Um...who are-" Twilight starts to say something, but Pinkie pushes her nose right on Twilight's face and stares at her with a huge smile, effectively silencing her.

“Hiii. I saw you come into school this morning and I didn't say hi but I was really, really, really, really excited that new people came to school so I went and wrote a super-special-new-people-are-in-the-school-and-they-look-like-they-could-use-a-warm-welcoming song ready so you'd feel at home!"

Twilight and I both stare. “...Thanks?"

“Oh, no need to thank me. I do that for everyone!"

“Really?”

“Really, really, really! I'm Pinkie Pie, or Pinkie, or Sugarcube, or Pinkamina, or Pinkie P or "hey you!". Sometimes it's hard for new people to remember new names so I have a bunch of names to help people remember me. Have you ever talked to someone and went "oh my gosh, I forgot this person's name," and you spend like ten minutes calling him "pal" or "buddy" or not calling him anything at all? It's kind of funny but I still try to remember everyone's name and nickname as best as I can." She stood on the tips of toes and pushed her face close to ours. “So what's your name? Huh? Huh? I bet it’s like Lisa or Darlene or Marcy?"

“I-it’s Twilight."

“I'm ____." I pointed to myself with my thumb.

“Twilight and ____. Okay! I'm gonna practice that a whooole lot in my head so I won't forget it." She smiles widely. Her big round eyes glisten with joy.

“Well...thank you for the son. We should be going now."

“Oh cool! Where are we going?"

We are going to look around the school more."

“Oh, no, no, nononono. You can't just walk around the school. That's no fun. You'll be looking at everything and not really seeing anything." She gasps loudly. "I know! How about I show you around? I know everyone and know everyplace and know a lot about all the fun stuff to do here, so I'd be perfect!"

“I think we're good." Twilight tries to push me away.

“Well of course you’re good. We're all "good." But Headmistress Celestia said you’ll need to see the school. So lemme show you around."

“Wait, you’re our tour guide? AH-"

Pinkie grabs both of our wrists and pulls us down the hall, giggling loudly. “Okayokayokayokay, so this is the hallway. It's like every other hallway, except it's not like the others because it goes to one place and the other hallways go to some other places."

“Yeah. Great."

“This hall is called the...um...which way it that way?" She points.

“North."Twilight answers, scowling.

“Right, so it's the North Hall. Unless you are going the other way, then it is the South Hall. But the North Hall goes to club rooms and cafeteria."

“I guess I could use something to eat. I haven't had anything since last night "On cue, Twilight's stomach growls.

“Really? Oh, I have an idea! Let’s go to the Cafeteria! It’s down the north hall. And hey, lookie! The north hall is right here."

1 - Enter Rainbow Dash

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Track Star

Description: After meeting Applejack in the cafeteria, Twilight stays in the library while pinkie continues the tour. The two then meet Rainbow Dash, the school’s coolest athlete.
Note: This chapter, while written by me, was also a collaborated effort whereby the whole Starswirl team gave input, their revision and feedback.


Summer is not going away fast enough. I wipe the sweat off my forehead as Pinkie's much longer hair flaps around wildly. She skips happily as she leads me outside, unphased by the heat.

Maybe Twilight had the right idea staying in the library. I'll bet it was air conditioned. Then again, she'd probably be in there for hours just staring at the books without actually reading any. I can imagine her, browsing shelf after shelf, making mental notes of which ones she wants to check out later.

If Twilight was nothing else, she was predictable.

“Like, wha'cha thinking about?" Pinkie stopped skipping and tilts her head as she asks me a question.

“Uh, nothing."

“Well...it doesn't really look like you are thinking of nothing."

"I was just thinking about my friend."

“Really? What a co-wink-e-dink. Cause I was thinking about my friend too. But I have a bamillion friends so there's not much else to think about. Except maybe candy. And songs! Want to hear another song?"

"NO! Thank you, but no."

“Okie-dokie-lokie. But Twilight'll be fine. 'Member how happy she was when we got to the book-a-torium? Oh, wait. Like, of course you do 'cause you were just there with me. But some people have really bad memories. Did you know goldfish only remember things for like a few seconds? I read that on a website once so that means it’s gotta be true"

Does this girl ever slow down?

“I... didn't know that." I say to her softly.

“Didn't know what?"

“I didn't know that goldfish have such memories of a few seconds."

“They do? How do they remember each other's names, then?" She rubs her chin and thinks about it. I can't tell if she is kidding or not."Oh well. Forget about goldfish. We're here!"

“Where?"

“Here! I mean, we're always here, but now here is not where we used to be and we are in a new here. Like, here-here." Predicting that I wasn't going to get a straight answer from my bubbly tour guide, I took a look around myself.

We were on top of the small hill overlooking a large sports field. It had a track field, a soccer field and two posts at both ends for football. There were a pair of school banners hanging over two football goals and the track's lining was freshly painted.

A few leaves leaves were spread across the bright green grass. A cross-eyed girl with the gray sweater vest raked a few leaves into a small pile, whistling loudly to herself as she did. Guess some people enjoy manual labor.

I see the track and field team sitting on the benches and listening to the coach as he delivers a pep talk. I can't make out what he was saying.

“This here is where everyone plays sports." Pinkie starts up again. "They practice even when it's cold out, like in winter. Brrrr! Can you imagine running in short-shorts in the snow for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and-"

“Is the track team good?" I stop her before she hurts herself.

"They aren't bad. But Applejack and Rainbow Dash are the best."

“Who is Rainbow Dash?"

Pinkie gasps. "You don't know Rainbow Dash? Like, really? Like, really-really?"

“I'm new here, remember?"

“I thought everyone from everywhere knew Rainbow Dash. She brags a lot so it's hard to not hear her. She's super-fast and totally awesome, so she kinda deserves to show off a bit. OH! Pinkie bounced in front of me and points down to the track. “Lookie! Lookie lookie lookie! There she is now!"

I follow her pointing finger. The coach is still giving his pep talk. I heard him as he pointed. "Okay, this is for you new recruits! Pay attention! You can all learn a lot from this young lady!" He directs the crowd's attention to the second lane of the track.

I spot a girl with... Seriously? Rainbow colored hair?! I rub my eyes but...nope, I'm not seeing things. Her hair looks like it belongs in an 80’s metal band.

And even though we were a good ten yards away, I could see a bold grin under a pair of focused eyes.

"Ready, Dash?" The coach askes

“I was born ready." Her smile widens. The coach takes out his watch, blows his whistle and...

“Here she goes!”

Like a bullet flying out of its chamber, she fires down the track field faster than my head can turn. She finishes a full lap in seconds and abruptly stops herself by grinding her soles into the ground. I think I saw some smoke puff out of her heels as she came to a sudden halt. The younger track members applaud her.

She bows and shakes her fists victoriously in the air. Then bows again.

“Thank you! Thank you! The rumors were true. I am as awesome as you heard.” The crowd swoons and she bows a third time.

“See?! Isn't she fast?" Pinkie is clapping too, and whistles once.

“I didn't think people could run like that." I confess.

“Come on!" Pinkie grabbed my wrist again. “Let's go meet her!" Pinkie tugs me down to the field and shoves me on the field. “Daaassshie!"

The runner rolls her eyes, puts on a fake smile and nods at us.

I can get a better look at her now that I am close. She's very thin and kind of short, but in fantastic shape. Her legs are firm, her waist is trim, and her frame is sleek. She catches me staring. But instead of looking uncomfortable or embarrassed, she grins, like she knows she's in great shape and knows that I know. Her eyes, which are an exotic shade of violet that shimmer in the sun.

“Okayokayokay." Pinkie clears her throat. "Rainbow. This is ___. He just transferred here with his stuffy, book-wormy girlfriend."

Girlfriend? Who, Twilight?

“Uh, Twilight's not my-"

“And, ___...this is Rainbow Dash. The coolest gal around!"

“Sup?" She pushes her fist forward. I hesitate before bumping it. Her knuckles are like rocks.

“H-hey. Nice to meet you."

“Hehe, yeah. It is nice to meet me."

“Where’s Applejack? Did she come to show off to the freshmen too?"

“Nah. She’s probably just scared I’ll show her up again. Plus, I don’t show off. ‘Showing off’ implies that I need to try to look amazing." Yikes. Talk about an ego. Her pride takes me me off guard, but not as much as...

“She's been training super-duper hard, ya know?”

“Let her train all she wants. She’s not out Dashing me in this lifetime.” ...her voice. Wow.

“But Applejackk always beats you in the field sports, doesn’t she?" Pinkie tilts her head again.

“Well, uh, yeah. She beats me in those ‘cause she’s got lumberjacks ancestors or something."

“Haha." A laugh escapes from my throat. Rainbow's eyes glans at me quickly, then she continues.

“AJ's brother is proof that her family is part-tree. But I, as a compact and travel-sized sportswoman, have a more spunk than she does."

“Travel-sized?" Pinkie puts her finger on her chin and gets lost in thought.

“Haha-" I cover my mouth. Rainbow glares at me again.

“You better be thinking about something funny that happened earlier, small fry." Small fry? Yeah, says the one half my size. I try I stifle my laughter before continuing.

“I'm sorry. It's just... It's nothing."

“It don't sound like nothing. It sounds like something. Come on. I want to hear it. Tell me. What is sooo funny?" She aggressively calls me out. My instincts tell me she's the kind of person who'd be more upset if I did not tell her the truth.

“It's just... It's your voice."

“Yeah? What about my voice?" She suddenly looks genuinely angry. Perhaps I hit a soft spot? She takes a few steps towards me and I move back.

“You sound-"

“I sound...yeah? What?"

“You sound kind of funny."

“What?!”

“...uh, your voice is all. It’s a little squeaky and high-pitched and...”

“My voice isn't- cough-cough- My voice isn't squeaky." She tries to deepen her tone. I try not to laugh again.

"It's a little bit squeaky."

“Back of bub! I don't need to sound awesome to be awesome!"

“I believe you. I saw you run. You were really good." I try to change the subject. She keeps glaring. “Are you the star athlete I’ve heard about?”

“If you heard about a star, it must have been me." She points a finger-gun at me and fires with her thumb. "I'm as fast as a bullet, but a hell of a lot deadlier. So watch it with the insults.”

"Uh...right. My bad." I force myself not to gulp. I have a feeling that this girl wasn't one to give empty threats.

“So...you're new huh?"

“Yeah. This is my first day. Pinkie is showing me around."

“Pinkie? Pinkie is your tour guide? Oh God, I'm so sorry." She teases her friend, but Pinkie is still lost in thought.

"She’s been helpful and all. But…she can be a little…"

“Dude, trust me. I know what you mean. I’ve known Pinkie for years. Triathlons are less exhausting than listening to Pinkie explain how stuff works." She looks at Pinkie, who rubs her chin and keeps thinking about...something. "Haha, ask her where babies come from sometime. If you want a good laugh."

“Ooooh! I get it now. I get it! Pinkie suddenly snaps out of her contemplative trance.

"There, the lights are back on. What’d you get Pink?”

“What you said earlier about being travel-sized. I figured it out!"

“You're a quick one, ain't ya?" Rainbow rubs the brim of her nose.

"You were talking about your boobs, right?"

“Huh?!"

“Yeah, they’re travel-sized. Right? Isn't that what you meant?”

“What the hell Pink?! What the hell?!" Rainbow crosses her arms and blushes. She looks at me like she’s worried I’ll suddenly start judging her. Yeah, like I didn't notice her chest was small until someone else pointed it out. “We can't all be stacked bimbos like you!"Rainbow leans close to Pinkie, trying to intimidate her I guess. Pinkie just smiles widely and doesn't break eye contact.

“I'm not a bimbo. I'm a cheerleader."

“Tom-ay-toh, tom-ah-toh."

“I'm not a tomato either, silly. I'm more of a cupcake! Or a cake. Oh! Or a cake covered in cupcakes!" She giggles loudly again.

“I've- I've- Ugh. Never mind. I'm taking my travel-sized everything and hitting the showers." Rainbow walks away, embarrassed and annoyed. "Later ___. And watch yourself."

“Uh, yeah. Bye." I limply wave to her.

“Rainbow! Rainbow! You didn't say bye to me! Raaaainbow!" Pinkie waits for Rainbow to turn around, but she doesn’t. “…BYYEEEEE!"

2 - The Wrong Foot

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The Wrong Foot

Description: You have your math class of the school year, and your first argument with Rainbow Dash.


Math class. This place seems more my speed. The other class rooms were full of different types of students. But this being a chosen elective, most students here have unimposing body types, are gathered in groups, talking as intelligently as I hoped private school students sound like.

Except...for one outlier. One noticeable enough to make me think I’m in the wrong room.

Rainbow Dash is here. Sitting by herself.

I wouldn’t have recognized her if not for that obnoxious hair. I hadn’t seen her in anything besides her track uniform up until now. The skirt didn’t suit her.

She aimlessly stares out the window, her knee anxiously bouncing up and down, her chin resting on her open palm, eyes fixated on the sky.

There’s a pocket of empty chairs around her. I see a few peers glance at her then turn their away. Everyone is keeping their distance from her.

Still, she’s the only person I recognize, and most of the other seats are taken. Someone gives me a funny look as I approach her.

“Hey.” I say. She pivots her head in my direction, not lifting her chin off her palm.

“…John, right?”

“Um, ___.”

“Noted.”

“And your name is Rainbow Dash, isn't it?”

“The one and only. You can call me whatever. Dashie. RD.” She laces her fingers together and stretches her arms upward. Her knuckles crack loudly. “So… what’s up?”

“Nothing really. I just wanted to say hi. You know, be friendly.”

She snickers. “Is that right?”

“Yes.” I hear a whisper behind me, followed by a petty giggle. “Do you know if the teacher is difficult?”

“I don’t even know who the teacher is.”

"Um…but you picked this class, right? I thought the students got to pick the classes they wanted.”

“Hell no! If you don’t nab the ones you want early, the school just puts you in whichever classes are left.”

“So they put you in advanced math?

"It had open spots. Nobody wants to take this class. Except eggheads.”

“…eggheads?”

“Yeah. Brainy-bodies. Pencils and pens neatly bunched together in a pocket protector. The kids these days call ‘em ‘nerds’.”

I take a second to process that. She may have been making a general statement directed at the whole world and not just me, but I just happened to be next to her when she said it.

"I’m not a nerd.”

She snickers again. This time a high-and-mighty, condescending snicker. “Yeah, you kinda are.”

“You don’t even know me.”

“I know you’re dating a… ‘stuffy bookworm girlfriend.’” She mimics Pinkie Pie’s high-pitched voice. Spot-on too.

“Twilight is not my girlfriend. She’s my best friend. That’s all.”

“Twilight?”

“Yeah.”

“Waist-length hair? Little pink and purple thing on the bangs?”

“You know her?

“I bumped into her in the hall. She, uh, likes books a lot. I mean a lot! I’ve seen love-struck freshmen that are less obsessed than that huge nerd.

“Hey! Don’t talk about her like that.”

“I’m not insulting her. Just calling it like I see it. She goes on and on and on about books.”

“Twilight just likes reading. She’s…not obsessive.” I knew I was lying as the words came out of my mouth. “A-anyway, just because someone likes reading doesn’t mean they’re a nerd.”

“Riiight. Cause all the cool kids hang out at bookstores on the weekend.”

“That isn’t-”

“You’re getting’ pretty defensive for someone you’re not dating, John.”

“It’s ___!”

“___. Yeah, I meant ___.”

"And it’s not defensiveness. It’s called loyalty. Ever heard of it?”

Rainbow clenched her teeth at that comment. I think I touched another soft spot. “You really don’t know who you’re talking to, do you?”

“I’m just trying to be friendly and you’re insulting my girlf–my friend! My friend!”

“I’m not insulting you. Trust me, you’ll know when I’m insulting you.”

“Whatever. Forget I said anything. Have a nice day.”

Hoping to not make things worse, I leave. But Rainbow Dash laughs at me as I leave.

“Now I know Twilight isn’t your girlfriend.” She says it loud enough for the other students to hear. They all stop talking.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. She wouldn’t date you cause you’re not a book. Maybe you’d have better luck with her if you grew a spine.” I feel everyone stare at me. I ignore the loud brat and sit down on the other side of the room, pretending it doesn't bother me.

She laughs again.

Now I see why people avoid her.


---time passes---


The teacher turns to us after his lecture is over. “Okay, class is dismissed. But before you go…”

ZOOM! Rainbow Dash shoots out of the room like a bat out of hell, totally ignoring the professor.

“Wonderful." He shakes his head. "Well, everyone else will know what their assignment is tonight. Read the first chapter of the textbook. If you want, you can do the first thirty problems in at the chapter’s end. If you do , it will count as extra credit. But it’s early in the year, so if you don’t get it done. But we will be discussing the first chapter tomorrow, and I will be calling on people. So be prepared.”

I make a mental note of what he says and leave with the other students.

Still sore over that disagreement from earlier, I realize Rainbow and I had gotten off on the wrong foot twice already. Maybe giving her the homework assignment would help amend this? Or at the very least convince her I didn’t want bad blood between us.


I people watch as I searched for Rainbow Dash in front of campus. Groups of young people scamper over the bright green front yard. Cliques and circles of friends form and go their ways. Upperclassmen leave campus while younger students stay in predictable locales

That Trixie girl stays, surrounded by several adoring younger boys, probably all freshmen.

That Derpy girl blissfully skips along the walkway. I watch her trip then get back up without a second thought. No one seems to notice. This might be a typical occurrence.

I hoped Twilight would find me before lunch ended, but my gut told me she was in the library already.

I look for Rainbow’s easy-to-spot hair before setting off to find my friend, but don’t see her in any group. I search and search, but don’t see her in any group.

Finally, I spot her in the far corner of the field, lying on her back, snoozing under a shady tree, with one leg balancing on opposing knee and her backpack doubling as her pillow.

She even goes to sleep fast. I envisioned her rushing out of class, grabbing something to eat, scoffing it down, then dashing outside to catch a few Z’s before anyone else could get on line for food.

“How does someone like that get into this school?”

Her laziness irritates me. It’s probably best to let her sleep. I can remind her of the extra credit later.

3 - Confrontation

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Confrontation

Description: Fluttershy gets bullied. You choke.
Note: This chapter was a collaborated piece written by me and Seanessy (www.fimfiction.net/user/Seanessy). He’s a cool guy; you should go read his fanfics....after mine.


“Sheesh, where to now?” I ask myself after I leave the library. Twilight was pretty upset with me. But if I leave her alone with a few books and a few hours, she’ll be fine.

Suddenly with free time on my hands, I walk down the campus breezeway. A beautiful hand-crafted wooden frame over polished stone. This school has such an old feel to it, like the whole thing was imported from Europe and given a modern update when they reassembled it.

This place, though it made me feel like a strange, had a charm to it that wasn't in my last school.

Just before I start to reminisce down memory lane, I see something come from around the corner.

A tiny white blur runs my way. A little rabbit darts between my legs and circles my ankles several times before hiding by my shoe. I pick the little guy up and it buries its face in my armpit

“Angel! Angel, where are you?! Please come back!" Fluttershy shouts as she runs around the same corner. She looked worried and exasperated, like she had been chasing the scared animal for a while.

When she spots me next to her pet, she fearfully looks down. A clump of her hair covers half of her face.

“Uh, is this yours?” I ask, trying to be kind. She nodded, not making eye contact.

“Please don’t hurt him…” She whispers coyly.

“I…wasn’t going to hurt him. Why would I?” She responds with a timid squeal. “Okay, okay, here. Take him.” I stick my arms out and present her pet the rabbit. Her doe eyes glance up at me, then back to the ground.

Eventually, the fragile girl reaches out.

“Th-thank you.” She takes her pet…and in a flash she becomes a different person. A glowing smile, a gentle voice and a bright eyes appear from the scared child who was there a second ago. Her bunny nuzzles its nose on hers as she speaks to it. “Who’s a good boy? Don’t run away from me again Angel. I don’t have fast wittle feet like you do.”

A moment of happiness comes and goes. Angel fidgets and squirms, struggling to get free. A rough voice hollers for it.

“Come back Angel! Where’d you go?!” A rough voice calls out.

Fluttershy squeaks again. She tucks her head between her shoulders. The rabbit squirms and slips out from her grasp, then scampers through my legs again. This time he darts away. Fluttershy runs after him…but freezes in horror before she can get far.

Three burly jocks approach us, pounding their feet and dragging their knuckles. I knew these kinds of guys. I had seen their type before, in my old school. Slow, lots of power, and hard to stand up to.

The shortest one of the trio had messy brown hair covering both his eyes. He appeared cruelly holding Angel by his ears.

“A pet on campus? I think that’s against school rules, ain’t it Dumbbell?” He tosses the helpless rabbit to his friend, the most muscular of the three. His vest was a size too small. His slick gray hair and casually covered eye made him look like a grade-schooler on roids.

"Yeah, it is Score. As good, helpful students, what do you think we should do?” Dumbbell tosses Angel to Score, the second tallest. I could tell he was a lackey. His black hair also covers most of his eyes, probably to mimic the style of his comrades.

“Maybe we can introduce the little guy to the lunch ladies. Cook up some rabbit stew. Whattaya think Hoops?”

“I think that sounds like a great idea! Fluttercry, don’t you think that’s a good idea?”

Fluttershy looks at the ground, still frozen. The bullies wait. She says nothing.

But she does a glance towards me.

“You lookin’ at something kid?”

Oh god, they are focusing on me now. I feel my eyes widen as two of them step towards me. I want to say...something, anything! But my tongue dries up.

“I…I um…I…”

“Oooo, a man of many words!”

The three of them laugh. They continue tossing the poor bunny between themselves. Fluttershy trembles

I know needed to do something. Fluttershy needed someone to help her. But...I couldn’t. I was scared.

Suddenly, BAM, I was on my knees. Someone shoved me from behind hard and pushed me off my feet without giving me time to react.

Rainbow Dash walked up to the bullies, not flinching.

She was barely half their size and weighed probably less than what they ate on a daily basis, but that didn’t stop her from grabbing Hoops’ shirt, pulling him down to her level and shoving her nose right in his face.

Leave her alone. Ugly.” She ordered. I heard him gulp.

“Or what?”

“…guess.”

“Just leave these chumps alone man. They aren’t worth our time.” One of them says to their leader.

"Yes I am. I’m sooo worth your time. Come on Ugly, let me show you how much my time is worth.” Her grip tightened. I heard her knuckles grind on each other.

The two followers looked at their leader, waiting for him to do the work for them. Angel took that opportunity to leap out of their arms and hustle back to Fluttershy.

“…forget it. Let’s get out of here.” Score tried to pull himself from Rainbow Dash’s grip. She didn’t let go and he couldn’t budge. “Come on, let go of me.”

“Why?”

“I said let go.”

“I asked why.” She pressed her forehead to his and a villainous grin appeared under her nose.

“Um…Rainbow Dash…could you…I mean, if it’s not too much trouble…could you, um, let them go?”

“Are you serious?”

Fluttershy nodded, still unable to move.

“They, um, aren’t…n-not that I’m ungrateful but…fighting is not worth it. They aren’t worth it.”

Rainbow Dash stared at her friend, the gears turning loudly. She pulled ‘Ugly’ back down and poked his chin.

“You got lucky this time. Don’t let me catch you picking on my friends again. Ever. I’m gonna be watching you.”

“Yes ma’am.” His voice squeaked. Rainbow finally let him go. The trio tried to act like that confrontation didn’t bother them as they marched off.

“Um…th-thank you.”

“Yeah. Sure.”

“No really. That was…”

Rainbow Dash: “Shy-girl, it’s cool. That’s what friends are for, right?”

Fluttershy fidgeted…then threw herself at Rainbow Dash, smothering her with a big hug. Rainbow Dash groaned and softly patted her on the back.

The ordeal shocked and impressed me. Rainbow was a featherweight and still scared those bear-sized guys like she was the bear.

“Rainbow Dash. That was amazing-hey!” Before I could finish my compliment, Rainbow grabbed the collar of my shirt and pulled me close to her face as aggressively and threateningly as she did with Dumbbell. Her violet eyes stabbed through my heart. Anger oozed off of her.

I tried not to flinch as her…but it was hard not to with those hard knuckles grazing my chin.

She let me go after a few seconds, then huffed. And shoved me again. She walked away.

“What did I do?”

“I’m sorry. Dashie just-”

“Leave the loser alone Fluttershy! He’s not worth it, remember?”

Fluttershy looked at her friend, then at me. She rubbed both her pointer fingers on each while she hesitated.

“S-s-sorry___:.” She hurried off after Rainbow.

I looked around. A few kids were staring at me. Some looked concerned. Some gossiped. I turned my head and left.

I couldn’t blame Dash for being upset with me. I was upset with myself.

4 - Get Lost

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Get Lost

Description: The next day, you encounter Rainbow Dash…right after she is scolded by Head Mistress Celestia.


I hurry out of the bathroom, hoping I get back to class before I miss something important.

I jog down the empty hallway. But I make sure to slow down as I approach Headmistress Celestia’s office. Don’t want school authorities to hear me making noise.

But just as I safely make it past her door, it swings open and slams on the wall!

Rainbow Dash comes charging out. I don’t say anything, I don’t think she saw me. I watch her huff and puff, then pull her hair as she shouts through gritted teeth.

“GAAAAHHH!!”

“Are you okay?”

She spins around. Crap-crap-crap, that look from yesterday, crap! “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

“N-nothing. I thought something was wrong?”

“Nope. Fine. Everything is fine. Peachy. Just. Plain. Peachy.”

“I was only asking if you were alright. I didn’t mean to…uh…sorry?”

“Don’t apologize either! Dork!” She shoves me out of her way and walks.

“Rainbow Dash!”

“What?!”

I remember that she still didn’t know about the extra credit from yesterday. Reminding her might be a good way to make up?

“Uh…so yesterday…”

“Oh, you want to talk about yesterday? Sure, talk about yesterday. I’d looove to hear this.”

“You left before [the math teacher] finished. There’s an extra credit assignment, for the assigned reading. If you do it fast-”

“You. Have got. To be kidding. That is what you want to talk about?”

“Well, yeah.”

“You are just a great, big bundle of nerd, aren’t you? Why do you even bother talking to me? Quit while you’re behind, Loser.”

“Whoa, hang on. I’m not a loser.”

“You’re right. You’re worse than a loser. You’re a chicken.”

“What is your problem, Tiny?”

“…tiny?” I loomed over her. I had at least one foot on her.

“Y-you h-heard me.” She was still scarier.
“My problem is that I don’t like you! Or nerds like you. You’re always flaunting your grades and big brains, collecting scholarships and awards academic awards like they’re Nightmare Night candy. You’re just like your Egghead girlfriend.”

“Back off, you little creep! Twilight and I are just smarter than you are. It’s not our fault you don’t get graded on running around a big circle all day.”

“Well look who suddenly grew a pair. So you can act like man when you’re talking to a chick half your size, but what happened yesterday? Where were your balls when Fluttershy needed your help?”

“Wha-what?”

“You let three huge guys pick on a timid girl who can’t stand up to…anyone! And I had to handle a mess you should have been able to take care of yourself. You think I was called into Celesta’s office just to say hi? You think I like having suspension warnings waved in my face?”

“I…I don’t know Fluttershy that well-”

“Who cares if you don’t know her?! You did nothing! Nothing!! You just watched! All you had to do was tell those guys you’d rat on them. Or pull her away. Or do anything besides freeze up!” A welt of guilt hit my stomach. She got me. "I knew you were a dork the second I met you. I should have known you were a coward too. I don’t want to waste more time with nerds, you’re all the same!”

She bumped her shoulder into me as she walked away.

“Y-yeah. Well you…you’re not…”

Too late. She was gone.

I lost.

5 - Bullying

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Bullying

Description: You see Fluttershy being bullied again and redeem yourself.


I waited in front of the school for Twilight to come out of her library.

Ha. Her library.

She had claimed it. It was hers already. By now she had probably lectured the librarian on how to ‘correctly’ categorize books, driving him and the rest of the library staff insane.

She had a way of about her, that she could be annoying and adorable at the same time. Maybe it was a female thing.

I waited for her to come by.

And waited.

And waited.

Minutes passed, but no Twilight. The majority of the students had already left for the day. I was alone by the front gate.

“Well…this is boring.”

As I say that, on cue I heard laughter. Not the kind Pinkie would have liked. It was the harsh, mean laughing that no one wants directed at them.

Fluttershy ran by me, weeping, her face buried in her palms.

“Fluttershy, what’s wrong?!”

“Haha. That was great! We gotta write those jokes down.” Those jerks from before heckled her.

Fluttershy ran off to the far end of campus, towards the trees and bushes. The bullies (who had not spotted me yet) stayed in the center of the front lawn, unafraid of any repercussions.

I looked for Rainbow Dash, assured that she’d show up to avenge her friend again.

But she didn’t.

She may have had a track meet or maybe that warning from the Headmistress was her last one, but the bullies acted like they knew Rainbow would not protect Fluttershy.

Yeah, says the kettle to the pot, I thought. I didn’t protect her either.

But maybe she didn’t need someone to stand up. Maybe she needed a friend.

I looked to Fluttershy, who was far away, then back at the bullies, who were so close to me that I could almost smell them.


(There would have been a choice here, to either Go Comfort Fluttershy or Stand up to the Bullies. If you Go Comfort Fluttershy, you end up on her route. But in this case, the story will continue as if you selected Stand up to the Bullies)


[Stand up to the Bullies]

I didn’t know how long they have been bothering her, but one time was too many. If someone didn’t tell them to stop, they would not stop. And Rainbow Dash couldn’t protect Fluttershy at all times. This needed to end.

“H-hey!” I got their attention.

“Well, well, well. It’s the new guy. You’re friends with Fluttershy, right?” Score spoke to me.

“Yeah. I am. What is your problem?”

“Huh?”

“Why are you picking on her? Don’t you guys have better things to do?”

“We could start picking on you.” They all approached me.

“Why are you picking on anyone period? Are you that pathetic?”

“What did you say to me?”

“You know what I said to you. You just can’t think of a good answer.” I wasn’t scared anymore. I was angry. I knew what needed to be done. “What kind of sad, miserable asshole makes a small girl cry, and then laughs over it?”

“I think you’ve got a big mouth.”

“And you’re ugly. But I can stop talking and it’d solve my problem.” He picked me off the ground. Okay, now I felt scared again. As my leg dangles I realized that I didn’t think this through.

This is school kid. And you’re not learning the right lessons. I think we need to teach you a few.”

His minions laughed at me as he dragged me behind the school. I looked for a teacher, an adult…anyone. But when you need those people the most, they are never around.


He forced me against the wall behind the school. He squeezed my shoulder tightly.

“Hey. You don’t-” His fist flew into my stomach.

Then his other friend punched me hard in my right eye as I hunched over.

“Not the face dude. Don’t leave any marks or people will know.” They gave each other advice as they beat me up.

Score dropped me. I fell to my knees before I could catch my breath. One of them kicked my stomach, pointing the tip of his foot into my gut.

“Haha. Not so tough now, are you Loudmouth?”

“At…a...” I groaned.

“What was that?”

“…at least…I don’t picks on girls.”

He pressed his cleat on my knuckle and dragged it. A new scrape started bleed. His friends punched me a few more times before deciding I had enough.

“We won’t be so nice next time.” Dirt jumped into my eyes and mouth as he kicked the ground.

I waited for them to leave, not wanting to get up too quickly for fear they may see me stand and decide I needed more.

Breathing hurt. Dirt fell out of my hair as I staggered to my feet.

“…don’t cry. Don’t cry.” I whispered to myself.


I staggered through the hallways, limping on bruised leg. I made it to the men's room and judged their handiwork as I cleaned myself up. My eye had already started to swell and my left hand dripped red. Everything they hit burned.

I limped on my way back through the hallway.

It would have been easy to go to the Headmistress and tell her what had happened…but then I’d have to admit I lost. I’d have to snitch. Everyone would know I was humiliated, and those guys might come at me again.

Maybe Dumbbell was right. Maybe staying quiet was better.

6 - Bandages

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Bandages

Description: Rainbow Dash finds you after you got beat up.


Twilight was still not in front of campus. No one was. I didn’t see Fluttershy. Or the bullies. Thank god. I hoped no one would see me. Part of me wished that I’d never be seen by anyone again.

I watched my vision in the one eye blur. The soreness felt worse than the initial beating.

There was nothing to do now…but go home, nurse my wounds, try to recover. I contemplated calling in sick tomorrow.

As I limped forward, I heard a rapid scattering of soft footsteps behind me. I rolled my eyes.

“Great. Just what I need…” I said as Rainbow Dash flew in at top speed, stopping right beside me. Gravel sprang up from her screeching heels.

I didn’t smile. But she did. I had yet to see her smile that brightly.

“Nice shiner." She said. "Did you go ten rounds with a baseball bat or something?”

“I’m not a great mood. Can you go…anywhere else?”

"I could.” She balanced on the tips of her sneakers to get a better look at me. Still with that smile.

“Well, go then.”

“Did you hit them back?”

“…I didn’t get a chance.”

“That sucks. Next time.”

“Seriously, just go away. I don’t want any more-”

“Fluttershy saw what happened.” Rainbow Dash pulled a drawstring backpack off her shoulders. “She told me what you did.” She pulled out a travel-sized first-aid kit. And kept on smiling. “That was pretty awesome. Sit down.”

Not saying anything (not knowing what to say), I did I was told and sat myself on the curb. My stomach stung.

Rainbow nestled herself between my open legs, a bit too close for my tastes. Slightly hunched and legs crossed over one another, she looked unimposing…which was very different from her usual self.

She grabbed the tips of my fingers and pulled my bleeding wound towards her. "Wicked scrape. It may leave a scar! Then you can show it off.”

‘I didn’t-”

“You can make up a story of how you got it. That’s half the fun.” She laughed. Not letting me speak, she took out some disinfectant and squeeze my fingers. "This is gonna pinch.”

“Hey, wait a second.” I felt and heard the clear liquid sizzle as it fell on my scrape. “OOOWWW! Jesus!”

“That hurts?”

“Yeah it freaking hurts!”

“Weird how the after-wounds hurt more than the actual hit, right?”

"Yeah…I thought the same thing. Ahh, god! ”

Happy as a clam, she took out some gauze bandages next and began dressing my injuries. Without my permission. With no regard for my personal space either! Her face was inches from mine as she worked. I felt her breath on me.

Yet I did not resist.

She was surprisingly gentle.

“You can dress wounds?”

“Yeah. I learned when I took karate.”

“Rea-OW! Really?” She tore the bandaged in half with her teeth, then tied it off and slid the knot under my palm. The dressing was snug but not tight, and the pressure slowed down my bleeding down to a crawl.

“That’ll need to be changed tomorrow morning. It’s pretty bad man.” She scratched the back of her head. And kept on smiling. Like the Cheshire-Cat. It got on my nerves, especially since the myriad of insults she spat at me earlier today was still fresh in my memory.

Not slowing down, my ‘nurse’ took out a few a few band-aids next.

“Hold still.” She warned.

“Why?” She moved in close to my face again and placed a Band-Aid on my forehead. Her tongue stuck out as she focused on getting the Band-Aid juuust right. Her nose touches mine once or twice a she did. “I can do that myself!”

“Chill out Humpty. Let me put you back together again.”

“But-”

She pulled away before I could say more, and reassembled the kit lightning fast.

I only just met Rainbow Dash a few days ago and knew I didn’t get to see her good side during the choice encounters, but those meetings had I already given me an idea of what she was like. Certain adjectives popped into my mind…

Brazen. Arrogant. Rude.

‘Motherly’ was not on that list. Nor was ‘Gentle’ or ‘Nurturing’ or ‘Caring’.

Or ‘Humane’.

It’s strange how quickly a black eye can change what you see.

“So what did you say to them?” She asked curiously. I merely looked away, embarrassed to even rethink it. “Come on. You must have made them pretty mad if you got beat up that badly. What’d you say?”

“…I said they were pathetic for picking on a helpless girl.”

“Yeah?” I nodded. “Right to their faces?” I nodded again.

“But, they beat me in the end so it’s not worth bragging.”

“No, no, no, no! Dude, you beat them.”

“Huh?”

"They wouldn’t have gotten mad if you said things that were untrue. People only get mad at things that bother them. They broke your skin, but you got under theirs.” The insightfulness of that idea wasn’t as astonishing as was the fact that Rainbow Dash said it. I didn’t think jocks could generate complex thoughts.

“So…about the eye" Rainbow Dash pulled a small ice pack from her drawstring, cracked it, and threw it to me. I fumbled it and dropped it. "“Nice catch.”

“You carry these with you?” I asked.

"They help after a good workout. You can have that one. It’s disposable. And get some headache medicine. You’ll never get to sleep tonight without it.”

"Y-yeah. Okay.” I grumbled and put the pack over my eyes. It soothed my burn in seconds.

Rainbow Dash scooted next to me, leaning on her dirty palms. Her arm touched mine. She smiled when I looked at her, to a point of corniness. I artlessly smiled back.

She hated me earlier today. She called me a loser. Now…the way she sat, how she looked at me, with no aggression or judgment, suddenly eager to treat me with an uncomfortable amount of kindness…

...I did not like it.

“What else did they break?” She looked up at me. Even sitting down, she was small next to me.

"Well, nothing is broken. I’m just…not in a great mood.”

“Yeah. I feel ya.” We went silent. Rainbow Dash kicked a pebble away from her. I watched it skip across the parking lot.

“Uh…so…” She waited for me to say something. “…is Fluttershy okay?”

“Yep. She’s recovers from these things fast. Nothing some alone time with her…animal friends won’t fix.”

“Where is she?”

“Back in her room.”

And another long, painful silence passed.

My mind bounced with anxiousness as I tried to find a conversation topic.

“You took karate?” I say quickly.

“I sure did. Made it all the way to second degree black belt baby. Good times!” She jumped up and took a stance and threw a few fists as she vaguely described what it was like. “I was all like POW! POW! BOOM! And the guy in front of me is on the floor. Do that about ninety-thousand times and they give you a belt.”

“Are you still doing it?”

“Nah. I quit. It got boring.”

“Oh, punching people got boring? I thought jocks loooved throwing punches.”

“We do. Your face is proof of that.” She snickered. I didn’t like that comeback, but had to give her credit for thinking of it on the spot. “It got boring cause after a while the other people in class stopped sparing with me.”

“You were that good that people just stopped trying to beat you?”

“Honestly?.No, I wasn’t that good. I just didn’t give up. When I got knocked down, I got back up. And kept getting back up until there was nothing left for me to prove.”

Aliens. That must have been it! The real Rainbow Dash had been snatched up to a UFO and replaced by a clone with manners and interesting conversation topics.

I liked this Rainbow Dash a lot more than the one I met on my first day. She bragged without bragging, was confident now without being cocky.

“Are you going to do that with the track team?

"Do what?”

“Leave when you get bored.”

"Hmmm...."She rubbed her chin. “…I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of runner’s-high. But I said that about karate, so who knows?” She sat back down next to me. Too close again. “There is a huge inter-county race coming up in spring. When I inevitably get first place in every event, maybe I’ll try a different sport.”

She put on a goofy grin again, one that would look more fitting on a child half her age.

“How are you feeling?”

“Better than I felt ten minutes ago.”

“That’s a start. But seriously, headache medicine. Something with ibuprofen in it. It’ll keep the swelling under control.”

“Thanks,. but…why are-”

“Are you going snitch? Your eye is gonna turning black and they have a reputation. You could get them suspended easily if you wanted to.”

“Um…I’m not sure. I hadn’t really thought about it.”

“Wanna go beat em up? I’ll hold him and you hit them whilst quoting your favorite movie. It’ll be fun.”

“I think I had enough violence for one day.”

“If you say so.” She shrugged. “But are you going to snitch?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Why not? Nerds snitch all the time.” She didn’t sound mean when she said that. I don’t think she was trying to insult me by being blunt, or insults nerds as whole either. Maybe she was just a little dumb? She was a jock after all. Not her fault her ego was bigger than her brain.

“I guess because…it’s more important that Fluttershy is okay. If those guys keep beating me up, then they’ll leave Fluttershy alone. If I tell on them, they’ll know not to come after me again but then they will go right back to Fluttershy.”

Rainbow’s face lit up.

“Awesome! The nerds I know would have ratted in a second.”

“Why are you doing this?” I took the role of being the blunt one. Her smile vanished and she suddenly looked very uncomfortable.

“Uh…hehe, doing what?”

“Acting all friendly. You don’t even like me.”

“Who told you that?”

“You did. Like three hours ago.” She paused.

“…that was before.”

“Before what?!" I raised my voice a little. She responded by talking louder.

“Before you took a beating for a friend, okay! My friend. And she’s your friend too!”

“But WE are not friends. Fluttershy is a mutual friend.”

"So what?! You’ve got a busted-up-everything because you care about a mutual friend. That says who you are! You’re loyal.”

“Maybe I am, but so what? Dogs are loyal too.”

“I like dogs! And loyalty means everything! It can’t be replaced, so it is more valuable than money! And ya know what else? Life and loyalty are two things you can’t get back when they are lost, so loyalty is as important as being alive. And it makes you stronger. I don’t care what the critics will tell you, being loyal does not make you weak." Her passion rose up. She was almost yelling, but not quiet. "You got bruised so someone else didn’t have to. You bled because someone else was already hurting. Loyalty may not matter to some people, but it matters to me. And it definitely matters to people when they need it.”

She crossed her arms and huffed, bracing herself, like she was ready to argue with me if I told her she was wrong, like she was expecting it even.

Or perhaps she was bracing herself in case I decided to walk away and never speak to her again, giving me a grand performance in case it was her last one.

“…so…you’re not mad at me?”

“…seriously?”

“I’m just checking.”

“…hahaha! You know ___, you’re not completely hopeless.” She jumped up and extended her hand to me to help me on my feet. “You should probably go home and recoup.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“I know.” She pulled me to my feet gently. Her small hand fit easily into my palm, and yet still her fingers were weirdly strong. “You gonna be in class tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do it man. Show up. Let’em know they didn’t bother you. And show off the scars. Girls like scars. It gives off that bad-boy vibe.” She patted my shoulder. "I’ll see ya.”

Then she ran off like she had other stuff to do. She probably did.

Rainbow inappropriately levels of friendliness around me was probably a good sign.

But she was far away by the time I turned my head, so I didn’t get a chance to ask if she was insane or not.

7 - Aftermath

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Aftermath
Description: You go to class the day after being beaten up, and encounters a pleasant surprise from a new friend.


Twilight gasped when I met her in the hallway the next morning.

Twilight: “___!? What happened!?” Twilight touched my black eye before I could tell her that it was a freaking black eye!

“Ow! Don’t touch it!”

“I’m sorry! But, what happened!”

“Oh, just…uh…I kinda of…got beat up?”

“What!?”

“It was that Dumbbel guy. It doesn’t-whoa, what are you doing?” She ran behind me and pushed me with all of her strength. I tripped over my feet a few times. People stared at us.

“Hey! Twilight! Cut it out!”

“Get to Headmistress Celestia’s office now! She needs to know bullying is happening!”

“Twilight, calm down. Just-”

“Don’t tell me to calm down! You need medical attention. Do you need CPR? I read about CPR!”

“I don’t need CPR!”

“Stints! Uh, bandages! Antacids?”

“Twilight, I’m fine!”

“Get to Celestia’s office, right away!”

“I’m not going to tell Celestia.”

Twilight aburptly stopped pushing me. "Why not?”

“It’s…complicated.

“Would you like to explain why it is so complicated?” Twilight crossed her arms and gave me ‘the look’.

Ugh. I got like that tone from my mother when I misbehaved as a child. I didn’t blame her for being worried after so many years of her acting like a mother, it was getting annoying.

“Heya ___!" A random student shouted at me as he walked by. "Why to go man! Great job yesterday. He deserved it.”

“What was that about?” Twilight asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Nice work ___. I didn’t know you had it in you. You’re cool in my book man.” Another student said something to me as he rushed down the hall. Twilight grew more annoyed.

“What did you do yesterday?”

"Nothing!" I said, "I got my ass kicked!”

“Hiii ___~!” A group of giggling girls passed by and simultaneously waved to me.

“What. Did. You. Do?” Twilight shot me a…well “furious” doesn’t quite describe the look. If volcanoes had faces, they make a similar face like that right before erupting.”

“I swear, I don’t know what they are talking about.”

Suddenly the whole hallway went quiet.

The bullies walked inside. Score in front.

“Oh no.” I tried to cover my face. If I acted like I didn’t see them, maybe this would blow over.

“HEY! YOU!” Twilight screamed.

“What are you doing?!”

Twilight pushed me again, this time towards the refrigerator-sized jocks.

But they didn’t look so tough now. Their leader had a white clump of bandages and gauze was taped to the brow of his nose. The brim of his nose was very swollen too. His two accomplishes had a few cuts on them but weren’t as bad.

Twilight didn’t care. She pushed me in front of them, them marched in front of them and hissed.

“What is your problem!? You can’t just go around attacking people or making fun of them. The student handbook states on page thirty, paragraph two that violence and disrespectful acts like bullying are against the rules!” The one with the broken nose pushed Twilight aside and approached me. “Don’t ignore me! I’m explaining to you what you did wrong!”

“You…” He cracked his knuckles. I forced myself not to flinch.

“What is it?”

"I’ll leave you alone. And you leave us alone. Deal?” He held his bulbous hand out in a sign of peace. The other students gasped. Not one to question good luck, I ran with it.

“You leave Fluttershy alone too, okay?”

“Fine.” I shook his hand without looking away from him. He squeezed hard…extra hard…but that was fine. “Okay. Well…see ya.”

They left. One glanced over at me as they headed down North Hall.

“Good. They’re gone. Now let’s go tell Celestia!” She tried to push me again.

“Twilight, no. I’m not going to rat on them.”

“Of course you are! You have to! It says so in the book!”

“What book?”

“The student handbook. Haven’t you been listening?! Bullying needs to be reported immediately.”

“You heard them just now, they made peace. Everything is okay.”

“Okay? Okay?! It is not okay! They broke the rules and parts of you!”

“Calm down, you’re making a scene. Just relax. I’m not going to tell the Headmistress if I don’t need to.”

Twilight looked horrified, like she received a B on a test. Oh, the horrors! “…why not?”

Yeah, why not? At this point…Honor . I guess? Because I am a man of my word? Because Rainbow Dash thought highly of me now and I was proud of that? Something told me that no reason I could give would make Twilight understand.

“Just let it go, okay? For me?”

“Uh…I…I think you should tell on them.” Twilight flinched.

“I know. But it’s okay.”

Twilight’s face told me it was not okay, that she was not okay.

“If you say so.” She said with a huff.

The bell rang Thank god.


Everyone glanced at me when I walked into math class. One guy nodded at with respect.

Rainbow Dash was sitting near her window, looking up at the clouds. By herself. I approached her calmly.

“Hi.”

“Hey.” She spoke without looking at me.

“So...Score has a broken nose.”

“Yeah. You hit him really hard. And everyone in school knows that you did.”

I looked behind me. The other students were well within in ear shot. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

The teacher entered the room. I rushed to my seat.

8 - Spoils

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Spoils

Description: You buy Rainbow Dash lunch to say thank you.
Note: The Fall Festival is mentioned here. The Fall Festival is a town-wide event held at the school that hosts games, food, music and social events of all kinds. I do not know if it is still in the game. See the next chapter for more details


When classes ended, Rainbow Dash ran to her usual spot under the shady tree. I found her with her eyes closed, one leg resting on her knee like last time.

“Uh, hey again.”

“How you doing Champ?” She sung that movie's theme song as I said hi to her. Her eyes stayed shut. She sniffed the air. “Something smells good?”

“I just bought it. They gave me a bit too much to eat by myself.”

Rainbow Dash opened her eyes and lifted her head off her backpack. “I can help you finish it if you want.” I handed her an unused plastic fork and the whole my plate. She sat up, and started eating the overpriced meal.

“I…appreciate what you did.”

“I will not confirm nor deny any accusations of my whereabouts after we went our separate ways yesterday.”

“Okay. But…still, thanks.”

She nodded and kept eating. I expected her to eat quickly like a starving animal, but she took her time to eat. Slowly and carefully, still taking huge bites, but she paced herself and allowed herself to enjoy the flavors of every forkful.

The leaves overhead cause the sun to poke out in small freckles over up. The branches simultaneously blocked the breeze and the noise from the students, and they cooled everything slightly. I could see why Rainbow Dash liked this hidden nook.

“You think those guys are gone for good?”

“They may come back, but I doubt it. Hypothetically speaking, I think they’d prefer to have the school think a new guy beat them up than, say, a hundred and six pound, five foot four girl. “ She scooped up another forkful. “You know. Hypothetically.”

"I guess that makes sense.

“Plus, Rarity already spread the gossip around. And if the beautiful and fancy Rarity says something darling…” She imitated Rarity’s unique accent. Another flawless impression. “…than that mean must be the truth. A lady never lies or tells stories that she isn’t certain is factual. But a well groomed young man like yourself surely knew that already, didn’t you?”

She finished the imitation with a stuffy laugh.

She mocked a friend of hers behind her back, someone she liked and trusted, even though they had little in common. And then...it occurred to me then that she didn’t insult others or make jokes towards people she disliked. She only did it to people she respected.

...it occurred to me that Rainbow Dash had been trying to be my friend all along.

“So where’s your girlfriend?”

“I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Fine. Where’s your cute, smart and sweet second-half that always follows you around?”

"She should be coming by soon. She gets caught up.”

“Uh huh.” Rainbow Dash spoke in between bites. She sat like a boy; legs uncrossed, back hunched, shoulders up. “So…are you going to the fall festival?”

“I guess. Everyone else is. It sounds like fun. Are you going?”

“Absolutely. This year, that cider WILL mine!”

“The what?”

Before she could explain, Twilight appeared out of thin air. She scanned both of us, judging us in her own way.

“Hello ___ .” Twilight said with a flat tone.

“Hey Twilight. Did you meet Rainbow Dash yet?”

“Not officially. Hello.”

“Hey.” Rainbow waved to her, then shoveled more food in her mouth.

“Did you eat?” I asked Twilight.

“Yeah. I did. I was…going to the library and get some homework done.”

“Haha-ack! Cough-cough” Rainbow choked on her food as an obnoxious laugh tried to come out of her mouth.

“Do you want to come?” Twilight asked.

“Now that you mention it, I do have some stuff I’d like to catch up on. I’ll meet you there?”

Twilight glanced at Rainbow Dash before answering “Sure.”

Twilight used another familiar tone. Half mad, half sad, all suspicious. Why was she so emotional lately?

When Twilight was out of earshot, I heard Rainbow scoff.

“Why do you do that man?”

“Do what?”

“Work so hard? It’s lunch time and you’re still on study-mode. Why don’t you take some time out and enjoy yourself? Like me.”

“Uh, I do that sometimes. But I’d like to get homework done before the Fall Festival.”

“Riiight.”

“You don’t believe me.”

“Nope. I bet you read textbooks in your spare time so you stay ahead of the rest of the class.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Haha, I knew it.”

“Whatever. Think what you want.”

"Thanks for grub.” Rainbow folded the paper plate when she was finished.

“Did you like it?”

“Eh. Cafeteria food is okay. I gotta take you to this place off campus. It serves the best barbeque. You like spicy food?”

“Kinda.”

She stared at me, still hunched over like a guy.

“Well…I don’t wanna keep you.” She cleaned out her teeth with her nail and made a sucking noise.

“Yeah.” I brushed off my pants as I stood up.

“I’ll see you around Newbie.”

“Newbie?”

“Yeah. Newbie. That’s your nickname, until it gets old or until I think of something better.” She sat back down and shut her eyes. “See ya around.”

“Why do you do that?’

“What’s that now?

“Why do you relax constantly? You know, slack off.”

She laughed through closed lips. “God forbid I should enjoy myself, right?”

“I didn’t mean that.”

“God forbid you should have enjoy yourself then?”

“I didn’t mean that either.”

“Newbie…when was the last time you sat down and did absolutely nothing?”

“I…” Now that she mentioned it, I couldn’t remember the last time I slacked off. . I thought of how hectic the last week had been, and the last month. And the last year, ending my life at my old school and working over the summer.

That wasn’t a bad thing of course, right? It meant I had things to do.

“…I’m too busy to do nothing.” I say.

“Well that sucks for you. Doing nothing is the best way to make friends and memories.” A ray of sunlight crawled over her forehead. “You better go back to work. Don’t wanna keep your not-girlfriend waiting.”

The skin over my eyebrow twitched. I told myself to calm down.

“Bye.”

She nodded towards me again, but kept her eyes shut.


Hidden in the library like it was her temple, Twilight was once again surrounded by several stacks of book, hiding behind them like a fortress.

“Hi.”She ignored me and turned the page loudly. “Twilight?”

“...Hi.” She didn’t look at me. Oh great, now what?

“Do you need help studying?”

"No. I have my study time and work time planned out accordingly.”

“As usual, right?”

She slammed her book down and glared at me.

“What were you doing with Rainbow Dash, hmm?”

“Are you jealous again?”

Twilight’s eyebrow crumpled. “No! She’s not good enough for you anyway. I’m just worried she’ll bring down your grades if you spend too much time with her.”

“I’ll be careful. She’s just…a friend.”

“…since when?”

“Since…I don’t know, yesterday?”

“…hmph.” Twilight lifted the book back up and studied again.

She didn’t say a word to me for the rest of lunch.

9 - Cider

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Cider

Description: You attend the school’s Fall Festival, an annual event including outdoor games, music, foods and other school sponsored events.
Note 1: In the original story for Starswirl Academy, this event was in all routes but played out differently depending on which girl liked you the most. I do not know if it is still in the game.

Note 2: This chapter and several future chapters makes mention of a family owned store Applejack runs by herself. This idea was originally though of by Gold (http://www.fimfiction.net/user/Gold) and I was told wold no longer be used in the official Starswirl VN. Still, credit should be given to the man who came up with the idea.


Pinkie came bounding towards me and hugged me before I could turn around.

Protag: “Gah! Hi Pinkie.”

Pinkie: “Isn’t this awesome? It’s all sooo awesome! Everyone is here and it’s like a giant party for the whole town and there’s food and drinks and games and laughing and…did I tell you how much I love parties?”

Protag: “Yeah, you-”

Pinkie: “Eeeee! Look over there! Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey!”

And then Pinkie left as chaotically as she had appeared.

I was free to look around and take in the myriad of scents and sights that had sprung up on the track field overnight.

I heard kids laughing and saw families take pictures with scarecrows. I heard a band somewhere, with a violin and banjo merrily churning out country tunes.

I could smell cooked apples everywhere. Nearly everyone at the fair has purchased a piece of pie or a fritter from The Apple Family’s booth, carrying with them the aroma as they walked to the rows of novelty stands. I felt guilty as I sheepishly bought a piece of pumpkin pie from someone else.

After some exploring, I discovered the corner of the festival the Apple Family had claimed. Applejack told me about this. Apparently, she ran a store lose to the school that belonged to her family. They would send her what they farmed, and at night and early morning she would ship them to various shops and restaurants all over town.

It must have been hard work to balance a store, a stand and a semester. But that was Applejack I guess, ever the hard worker. And today was no exception. AJ was vigorously working to serve everyone she could, but the lines were incredibly long.

Lines. As in more than one.

One line was for food, but the other led up to an empty booth next to theirs. It stretched outside of campus and around the block. Some people bought apple pies from the working concession stand and immediately walked to the gigantic stationary line.

“NEWBIE!!"I heard a squeaky voice call my name. "Turn around!”

Far down the line, I saw a Rainbow. Her ponytail flicked back and forth as she waved me down. I scoffed down the rest of my pumpkin pie before Applejack could see me with it.

“Hey.” She bumped my fist hard. I endured it. “How goes the festival going?”

“I haven’t done anything yet, but it’s pretty cool. Haven’t you seen you seen it yet?”

“Nope. I’ve been on this line for hours.”

“Why? What’s it for?”

"It’s for the Apple Family Cider. Duh.”

“What is this cider I keep hearing about?”

“Jeez, you are new in town. Granny Smith is coming soon with some of her famous homemade apple cider.”

“So?”

“So Granny Smith is like a super-chef! She taught AJ everything she knows. She can boil a boot in a pot and make it taste like the best thing you’ve ever eaten.”

“Gross. Don’t tell me you’re waiting on a boot-soup line.”

“Ain’t ya listening? I’m waiting on her cider! I don’t know what she does to it, but everyone says that her cider is the most amazing…juicy…delicious…” She wiped the drool off her lips before continuing. “…best cider ever! And on top of that, she only makes it once a year so only a few people ever get to try it.”

“Sounds like a great marketing move.”

“Half of the town is lined up to try and get some.”

“Is it expensive?”

“Very. I don’t care, I’ll pay anything for it. I’ve been saving up all year, I’ve woke up early to get on line, and I’m going to some this time!”

“What do you mean this time?”

“Every year…every stinking year…I miss my chance to get this stuff. Freshman year, I was too broke. Sophomore year, I was too busy. Junior year, I had the money and the time, but they sold out before I could get some. But this year, that cider is mine.”

“It’s just cider. How good can it…”

“THERE! SHE’S COMING!!!” Rainbow jumped high off the ground and pointed. The rest of the line cheered as a beat up pickup truck rolled onto the field.

A decrepit woman as she slowly inched out of it after it can to a stop.

AJ rushed to her grandmother and carried several heavy cases of tall, brown bottles to the unmanaged booth while Granny Smith slowly…slowly…slowly moved forward with the aid of a rusty walker.

“Is she okay?”

“She’s got a heavy case of ‘The Old’s’.”

“How old is she?”

“She thinks light bulbs are a fad.”

“That’s really old.”

Eventually, Granny Smith arrived at her stand and spoke up, wielding the same accent as Applejack.

“Ahem…howdy everybody! Who wants some cider?!” The crowd cheered again. A few seconds later, the line started moving.

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Finally!”

“So, good luck with your cider.”

“What, you’re not staying?”

“I told Twilight I’d meet her somewhere.”

“…you mean like a date?”

Protag: “Why do I keep hearing this?! I told you already, we’re just friends!”

“Okay, okay. Geez, sorry. Where is she?”

“Not sure. I have to find her. It took forever to get her to agree to come out today. I had to practically beg. She would have stayed in the library reading otherwise.”

“Haha. What a dor-cough-dedicated student?”

“Yeah. Dedicated. She’s likes reading.”

“Why? Books are boring.”

“When was the last time you even tried to read?” She paused. For a bit too long. “Was it more than a year ago?”

“Actually, I can’t even remember.” She said that proudly, like not reading in years was an achievement.

You should try reading again. You never know, you may find something you like.”

“When books come with special effects and surround sound, I’ll consider it. Right now, I got me some cider to drink.” She took a few steps forward as the line moved. “Uh…I guess I’ll see you around dude.”

“Yeah. Guess so.”

"When you’re done, come find me. I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“Uh, sure.” Rainbow stepped forward again. The line quickly began shrinking as more people came away from the booth with cider-filled bottles and mugs. “It won’t be long, I think.”


Twilight said she’d meet me by the Spider-Tossing game, but I couldn’t find her. I swear, I thought to myself, if she got caught up with homework again…

But no sooner did I begin to worry that she forgot, my old friend appeared next to me, holding a tin mug in one hand and her handbag over her shoulder.

“Hi!” Oh good, she sounded happy.

“Hey Twilight. Where were you?”

“With Headmaster Celestia.” Her eyes lit up brightly as she recited her idol’s sacred name.

“Oh, of course. Cause it wouldn’t be a full day without a trip to see you secret crush.”

“Shut up.” She took a long sip out of the mug and loudly smacked her lips. She licked a few remaining amber drops off her mouth before they could fall off.

“Is that the cider everyone is talking about?”

“Yeah. It’s reeeally good. It’s like drinking candy.”

“That line must have had at least an hour wait. Where’d you get-”

“Headmaster Celestia.” Her eyes sparkled again. “She pre-orders two bottles every year, and I got some! Isn’t she incredible?”

“She gave you a whole bottle?”

“Well she didn’t. Her sister did. And it wasn’t a whole bottle. More like a quarter of one. Did I tell you about Luna?”

"I think you-”

“Luna is amazing too. Not as amazing as Celestia, but she’s still wonderful. She’s a bit loud but she tells the funniest stories.” Twilight pulled an almost empty cider bottle out of her bag. There was enough left to fill one cup. “Luna said I could have the rest. And, um…I wanted…to give it you.”

"No way! Really?!” Cider wasn’t my goal when I woke that morning, but since everyone within a dozen miles coveted this precious juice I wasn’t about to turn away a free sample.

“Yeah. Really.” She handed me the bottle and smiled softly.

“Twilight, that’s so nice. Thank you! You’re such a good friend.”

“…hehe…uh, yeah.” I took the bottle and sloshed the cider around. It had a yellowish, glittery glow to it. As I admired it, I noticed the sad look in Twilight’s eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“I…uh…nothing. I’m glad I’m your friend.” Well...at least she wasn’t upset with me.

I wanted to drink all of the cider right there, but a thought popped into my head.

“I’m going to drink this in a little while. Rainbow Dash is waiting to get her own. Let’s go find her and we can all drink some together.”

“Oh. Y-yeah. You could do that if you want. Did you see Rainbow Dash already?”

“Yeah. She’s been waiting on that line for hours. I told her I’d come find her when I found you.”

“…I-I guess that’s okay.”

“Cool. The line is this way. Then we’ll all do something together! The more the merrier, right?” Twilight nodded. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Imfine!” She answered quickly. I wasn’t sure what was bothering her, but I figured it’d be best not to pry. When she was ready, she’d tell me what was on her mind and I’d comfort her, as always.

And besides, though I’d always be there for Twilight, this festival only came once a year.


The line to the Apple Family's stands had diminished significantly since I left it, and Rainbow Dash was only three people away from the register. Her hands rubbed together in anticipation. I could see the drool hanging off her tongue.
“Haha. Look at how anxious she is.”

“Hmph.”

Twilight continued to be bothered without saying why. I ignored her stubbornness.

We watched Rainbow from afar. I didn’t want to ruin that moment she was waiting for, when she finally got what she wanted.

The line moved again. Dashie bounced on the tips of her sneakers, seconds from exploding with excitement. With her wallet in hand, she was only two people away from getting the popular brew…

Then, as Rainbow was one person away from the register, Granny Smith stepped down from her stool and cleared her throat. “That’s it everyone! We’re sold out!” The man in front of Rainbow cursed and kicked the stand. “Hey young fell’er. Don’t be sore. There’ll be plenty’a cider next year.” She complained. The rest of the line dissipated with a groan.

Rainbow Dash was frozen in place, her excited hands still touching her wallet.

In a few seconds, the line was totally gone…except for Rainbow, who stay in place. Motionless. I figured that was my cue.

“Hold this.” I said and gave Twilight the cider bottle back and walked over to the shell-shocked tomboy. “Rainbow?”

“…” Her right eye twitched a few times.

“Rainbow? I snapped my fingers in front of her nose. Nothing. "Are you okay?”

Her traumatized eyes became filled with anger in a flash.

“See ya.” She turned, throwing her arm behind her dismissively.

“Where you going?”

“I don’t know. Not here. Just give me my space.”

“It’s just cider.” Twilight chimed in, meaning well. But this comment only to enraged Rainbow Dash.

“Shut up!" Rainbow Dash yelled. "I woke up at eight for this. Eight! That is a really big deal for me. And I missed half of the festival and I saved up for a year months and I…”

“Dashie, calm down.” I said in vain.

“Don’t tell me to calm down! Do you know what it is like to wait that long for something and not get it?” Rainbow wasn’t pretending to be mad this time. She invested all that time into a failure. And I couldn’t blame her for being so upset. No one enjoys losing, especially when they get so close to what they want.

Sympathy got the better of me.

“Here.” I took the bottle back from Twilight and pushed it towards Rainbow Dash.

She stared at for a moment, then poked it to make sure it was real.

“When the hell did you get that?”

“Twilight gave it to me. There is enough in here for one mug. I’ll split it with you.”

“But...but.." Twilight stammered.

“Seriously? You’re serious?!" Rainbow Dash's eyes widened. "You’re not messing with me, right?”

“Yeah I’m serious. I’ll give you half and we can all drink together.”

All of Rainbow Dash's frustration and rage disappeared. I had never seen such a happy or relieved face as Rainbow’s face just then. “___ . Dude! Thank you. Thank you! I’ll get a cup. Er, two cups. And some ice! Wait right here!” She bolted off at top speed, nearly knocking both me and Twilight over.

“Looks like she doesn’t hate me anymore, right?” I chuckled. The distressed look on Twilight had grown.

“I…I saved that for you. Y-you know that right?” Twilight gulped.

“Oh. Oh! Yeah, I-I’m sorry. I know. But didn’t you see how upset Dashie was?”

“…Dashie…”

"It’s just cider after all, like you said. I’m sure it tastes good, but that’s why I want to share. Cause we’re all friends.” I tried to cheer her up. But Twilight lowered her head. Her bangs covered her eyes. “Are you crying?!”

Twilight: “What?! No! I’m fine. I’m…fine.” She smiled. Her face became warm and friendly again. I knew it was a mask.

“Back!” Rainbow threw her arm over Twilight’s shoulder, then tossed me an empty red cup. She once again used a tad too much affection, behaving like we were all suddenly the best friends in the world. "I couldn’t find any ice.”

“It’s okay. No big deal." I said as I lifted her arm off my shoulder.

“Right on. Let’s go up there.” Rainbow Dash pointed behind me, to the top of the hill that overlooked the festival. It was unoccupied. “We get some elbow room, relax a little. Your girlfri…your friend has her own drink so we’re-”

“Uh, I just remembered1" Twilight spoke up. "I forgot something in Celestia’s office. It’s…it’s really important.”

“Can’t it wait a bit? I haven’t seen you all day.” I said.

“Yeah, hang out with us.” Rainbow Dash smiled.

“I’ll see you later!” Twilight hurried off before I could stop her.

“What’s her problem?” Rainbow Dash asked, even though it was so obvious. Twilight didn't like her. But not wanting to hurt Rainbow’s feelings, I played dumb.

“Beats me. I’m sure she’ll be fine. Let’s drink this and have fun.”

“Yeah!” She punched my arm. Those karate-conditioned knuckles…ow! I wasn’t sure if that was intentional to punch hard or if she didn’t know her own strength. "Hey…thanks again. This is probably the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. Ever, I think.”

“Yeah. No problem. I know you’d do the same for me.”

She paused for a second. “…race you to the top?”

“Nah. You’d beat me.”

“That’s the point Dweeb.”

10 - Bad Badge

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Bad Badge
Description: “You and Rainbow Dash share the apple cider. You are given a gift, as well as some difficult food for thought.

Note: “All the students at Starswirl Academy wear a badge that is symbolic of their personality. For the Mane Six, it was their cutie marks. These badges can be clearly seen on the current concept art so no spoilers there.


"WOW! This is incredible!" Rainbow Dash savored the cider as we sat on the hill that overlooked the sports field. "It’s like sex and candy compressed into an apple…then crushed by a monster truck and its juices strained through a fountain made of gold.”

“…uh…it’s yummy?" I said. I was good, but she was overselling it. A lot.

I could see it in her face; it took Rainbow all of her willpower to not chug the cider down. But forced restraint, knowing that she wasn’t getting more for another year. Maybe longer given her pitiful track record.

I drank mine just as slowly. It was good. But she was overselling it.

“This is the best. Festival. Ever!” Mid-sip, her hand slapped my back.

“Ack!”

“Oops. You okay?

“I’m cough fine.”

She nudged me and continued drinking. Without apologizing.

The last time I hung out with a girl that wasn’t Twilight, I got nervous and said stupid stuff. I didn’t feel nervous around Rainbow. Maybe because she forced me to not be, because she demanded people pay attention to her, or perhaps because it was hard to be less awkward than she was.

That last thought made me wonder if I was a little being sexist. But sexist or not, it was a factual point that she didn’t act like other girls.

She handled the cup in her hands like it was beer, her jeans were torn at the knees, her nails weren’t colored, and if she wore makeup it was so little that I couldn’t tell.

She got to the point, didn’t expect anything, and treated everyone the same regardless of manners, expectations or circumstance.

She was so simple that it was confusing.

“Hey.”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t act like everyone else.”
“Nope.”

“Well…why not?”

“Why would I want to? That’s boring.”

“I guess. But fitting in…that’s nice too. Is being ordinary really that bad?”

Rainbow Dash stared at me like I had three eyes and antlers. “You’re a special kind of dork, aren’t you?”

“I don’t think I’m that much of a dork.”

“Haha, riiight. And I like to think I’m not that weird. But who am I kidding?” She finished off her cider with a loud gulp, a smack of her lips and cracking noise as she crushed the plastic cup in her hands. “You like being ordinary huh? You like fitting in?” Her voice was difficult to analyze. She was either a little mad or mocking me with sarcasm. Or maybe that was just the way she talked?

“I mean…I like feeling like I belong. And having a lot of friends.”
"You get your friends by being something you’re not?”

“Well no. I didn’t mean that. I meant--"

Rainbow Dash: “Remember the gentlemen that gave you that black eye? They fit in. They have tons of friends. They haven’t changed since they were kids. I know, I remember telling them to get bent back in second grade. They spent their time being assholes back then too. I was too busy being myself to make all of the ‘friends’ they made. If I have to act like them to ‘fit in’, then I’d rather be an outcast.”

"…when you put it that way, you make it sounds like only jerks can be popular.”

“That library friend of yours is a sweetheart, but how many fans does she have? Meanwhile, Trixie’s got guys are asking her out to the Gala already.”

“But…people can be nice and still liked. Why can’t they?”

Rainbow Dash: “That’s so not the point Newbie. I’m saying I am Me. Rainbow Dash. I’m not who am because of the people I hang out with, or because someone gives me permission to be what I want to be. I’m an objectively incredible because I define myself according to myself, and not because I am with anyone.”

“You really don’t care if you people like you?”

She growled in frustration. “Of course I do! You’re not listening.”

“I am listening.”

“You’re listening but you’re not hearing what I am saying.”

“Well, then what are you saying? Since I’m apparently not getting it.”

“I’m saying that if I changed to please everyone, I wouldn’t be worth knowing. I wouldn’t have any real friends if people got to know a fake me.”

It was hard to argue with that, but it was also hard to digest. I think everyone is told to ‘be true to themselves’ at least once growing.

But I noticed that older I got, the more people I met, the more responsible I became, somewhere in all of that messy growth, being myself had become a lot harder.

I was Twilight’s friend, the A+ student, the gifted boy my parents loved. I was defined by other people. I never thought that was a bad thing. Why would approval be a bad thing if it was from a person you cared about?

And yet, this unshakable presence sat next to me. A girl who received approval and hostility from all sides but refused to change.

She soaked in praise like a plant soaks in sunlight. I am sure she loved the attention she got more than she let on.

Whatever she was trying to tell me, I didn’t fully understand. It had been years since I was in this situation...where I didn’t comprehend what the teacher was teaching.

“Any other major question buddy?” That strange tone came back.

“No. I’m good.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. So what about you?”

“What about me?”

“You act just like everyone else. Why do you do that?”

“What!? No I don’t.”

“Yeah, you kinda do. You’re so well behaved that it’s painful.”

“Well be-…becau-…I’m just not a punk.”

“That’s for sure. But why do you always do what you are told?”

“I don’t!”

“When was the last time you said ‘No’, to anyone?”

“Eh....”

“...need a minute?”

...crap! I can’t think of anything. Why can’t I think of anything?!

“What do you even want?” She asked like she was challenging me.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Out of life man. What you really want? Why do you wake up in the morning? What makes you happy to be alive?” I couldn’t say. I hadn’t thought about it as much as I probably should have by now.

“Well, what about you? Do you even know? Does anyone really?”

“Trust me Newbie. I know what I want.” She looked up at the clouds. “I’ve always known what I wanted.” A breeze lifted her bangs up. She closed her eyes for a second, enjoying the feeling of wind on her skin. “Oh! I almost forgot.”

"Forgot what?"

"Hang on." Rainbow reached into her back pocket. Then the other one. Then the one on the side of her right leg. “It’s here somewhereeee…yeah! Got it! Catch!” She threw whatever it was towards my chest. I spazzed out and I tried to nab it without spilling my drink. “Hahaha! Hey, not that it’s urgent, but the basketball team is looking for new players. With reflexes like yours, you may be the next big thing.”

Protag: “Heh. Y-yeah.” A witty comeback didn’t pop into my head so I tried to brush off her mockery. I examined the gift she ‘handed’ me.

The palm sized object was a hand stitched badge of two yellow lightning bolts crossing over each other like clashing swords. Both had orange trim that enhanced their bright and bold colors. It appeared to be handmade; the colors ran a bit in a few places and the stitches were thick. It was partially crumpled on the edges because it had been in Rainbow’s pocket all day.

\“What’s this?”

“Gang signs, G.” She made a hand gesture.

“No seriously.”

“It’s a gift man. A badge, like the one on everyone’s uniform.”

“Really?! You’re giving me this?”

“No, I just want you to hold it for a few months and give it back later.” She rolled her eyes. “Yes, I am giving it to you.”

“Thank you.”

“We’re even now.” She gestured towards her empty cider cup, to say thank you I suppose. But she obviously made or bought the badge long before I gave her the drink. “Now don’t go telling people I’m a bitch anymore.”

“Deal! Wait, I didn’t mean…I never…”

“Wow, smooth save.”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to...”

“Relax. It’s water under the bridge. I wasn’t the friendliest of welcoming parties.” That wasn’t technically an apology. But it was probably as close as I was going to get.

“So…what does this mean?”

Rainbow said nothing for a second, and her eyes went up and body my body nervously. “Uh…what does what mean?”

“What does it mean? Pinkie said that they everyone’s badge has a special meaning to the person wearing it.”

“Oh! That. Right.” She shrugged. “Iunno.”

“What?”

“I. Dun. No. I don’t know.”

“…do the lightning bolts mean that you think I’ve got a lot of hidden power or something?”

"Pffft, hahaha yeah. That’s toootally it.”

“Um…are the colors a metaphor for something?”

“They represent ‘lightning’.”

“Y-yeah. But what does…”

“Oh for crying out loud, do you want it or not? It’s a badass pair of lightning bolts, what’s not to like? Geez.”

“Sorry. I thought that this was supposed to have a special meaning to it, that’s all.”
“Yeah, yeah, but that’s not my style. I’m not for that symbolism, astrology, ‘you’re a special snowflake’ mumbo-jumbo.”

“…oh.”

Well that was disappointing. I had hoped for a bit more than ‘just because’. Even if she made it up on the spot, forced sentiment is still sentiment.

After a few seconds of awkward silence and obvious dissatisfaction on my part, Rainbow sighed.

“Look. It’s a gift. From one friend to another. All you need to know is…I don’t think you’re a total dork.” She smiled softly. “And standing up for Fluttershy waaas pretty rad. So if you’re hungry for a special meaning, that is your official ‘I’m cool enough to hang out with Rainbow Dash’ Badge.”

“I guess that’s-”

“If those bullies ever come your way again, show them that and they’ll know you’re with me.” Another hard slap to my back. I had lost count of the bruises she gave me today alone.

But that made me feel better. Her elaboration, not the red mark on my spine. I didn’t get poetic meaning with it, but I got something else.

A friend.

And though she was stubborn, rude, confusing and a little weird, I could tell she’d be a loyal one.

“Wanna get food?” I asked.

“Wanna pay for me?”

"Not…really.”

"Meh. I’ll watch you eat.”

11 - Fear and Lotahing in Starswirl

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Fear and Loathing in Starswirl

Description: The festival winds down. You become unsettled after one last talk with Rainbow Dash and cannot find the peace to sleep.


The rest of the festival was quiet. Slow. Relaxing. I think that was the point of these things.

AJ kept selling apples. Pinkie popped up here and there in pink blurs as she ran from one candy stand to another. I hovered around Rainbow Dash and watched her play beanbag-toss with Fluttershy. She kept winning while her pink-haired friend passively applauded her.

I didn’t see Twilight again. She was probably fine. I might have be more concerned if I wasn’t so proud of my new flair. I kept finding new spots on my sweater vest where it could be sewed onto later. Fluttershy thought it looked great. Rainbow told me to get over myself.

“I win!” Rainbow shouted loudly as she beat Fluttershy for the third time in a row. “I won! Yes! Me! And only me! I won!”

“Good job Rainbow Dash." Fluttershy said happily. "That was a lot of fun. You’re such a talented athlete and I had a wonderful time playing.”

“…gloating isn't fun if you encourage me like that.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. What way should I encourage you?”

“Ugh. Nevermind.” Rainbow Dash forced a beanbag into my hand. “Come on Newbie, you’re up. I’ll give you a 2 point handicap. You’re gonna need it.”

“Yeah. I probably will.” I said modestly. But Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and shook her head. “What?”

“You need more confidence.”

“Huh?”

“Be more confident. You’re a boy for crying out loud. You sound as timid and fragile as Fluttershy. No offense.”

“Oh, none taken. I am timid and fragile. And not a boy.” Fluttershy gave me an assuring smile as I tossed my first beanbag. But Rainbow Dash didn’t let up.

“You’re so polite and cautious. It’s like you don’t want to upset anyone.” She said.

“That’s because I don’t. Why would I want people to be upset with me?”

“Cause. You’re not doing it right if everyone likes you.”

“Doing what right?”

"Anything. If you have no critics, that just means you’re not doing things worth criticizing.”

Was she was calling me out again? Or messing with me? I couldn’t tell!

“Just because some people don’t tryto make others angry, that doesn’t mean they are afraid to.” I said firmly.

“You’re right. But you are afraid.” She smirked.

"What?”

“You’re scared Newbie. You know you are. And I don’t know what it is or why, but something is scaring you.” She pointed to my black eye. “You weren’t you scared when those guys hit you. Most dudes would have been. And you’re not scared of talking to girls. But you’re still too shy to do anything risky, or do something that people might hate you for doing.”

“I just don’t like taking risks, that’s all.”

"Right. Cause you’re scared.”

I didn’t respond. My black eye suddenly felt sore.

I had a mini-staring contest with Rainbow Dash, while she smirked at me. The tension double every second.

“...ummm...” Fluttershy noticed the tension between us.

“Hahaha! I’m just messing with you Egghead." Rainbow Dash laughed obnoxiously again. "I’m sure you’re a reeeal tough guy underneath that neatly ironed uniform.”

"Haha. Right. Funny.”

I tried to stay compose. She tossed her beanbag, which landed right in the hole. Just like that she had forgotten about what she said and moved on.

I sneered at her. Those jokes weren’t funny. Accidental or not, Rainbow kept zoning in on my insecurities and poking at them. She made comments without caring if they upset me. Maybe she didn’t realize they did, but that didn’t matter.

Twilight never would have done that.

Then again, Twilight never would have stood up to those bullies.

I threw my beanbag and missed the target.

"Mulligan. Go again.” Rainbow handed me another one.

“You allow mulligans?”

“This time. No biggie.”

A few misplaced, hurtful jokes followed by a friendly gesture. She was either that socially awkward…or I really was that uptight.


Rainbow won. Predictably. And she bragged about her victory for a good twenty minutes after it was over. Also predictable.

We kept exploring the festival. Fluttershy smiled meekly as Rainbow boasted in between bites of an apple flavored sweet roll she bought from a stand. Fluttershy must have grown immunities to her brazen friend’s attitude. I was still getting used to her.

Well…I was still building a tolerance to her.

“Was there any doubt that I would be less than awesome?" Rainbow Dash said proudly. "Next time, we’re playing basketball. Newbie, you know how to play Fives?”

“Huh? Yeah, I like Fives. I was actually on the basketball team in my old school.”

“Whoa-oh. Who knew you had some jock in you.”

“I wasn’t a jock. That was part of the reason why I quit.”

“They weren’t your clique, huh?”

“...you could say that.”

“I feel ya. I played women's basketball for a year before quitting too.”

“Why did you quit?”

“Cause it’s women's basketball.” Rainbow Dash said with a straight face. Fluttershy giggled. “So yeah dude, I’ll play you sometime. But spoiler alert: you’re gonna lose.”

She turned to Fluttershy and prattled on about something else. I barely listened.

I was…preoccupied.

Those comments Rainbow made….about me not being confident, being afraid…my brain refused to let them go. I wanted to enjoy the festival, but I couldn’t ignore those festering doubts.


Even as the sun started to set and the festival workers started to pack up their baubles, I stayed in my head and Rainbow’s words haunted me.

“Um… are you alright?” Fluttershy kindly asked. “You look distracted.”

“Yeah, what’s wrong Newbie?” Rainbow Dash asked as she licked the ends of a sweet roll. I stared her down, trying to tell her with my eyes that she had upset me. She didn’t pick up on it. She licked her fingers, and covered her mouth as she burped.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m okay.”

“If you say so.” She shrugged. I got extra annoyed when she didn’t realize that I was annoyed at her.

“So…um, are you...coming with us?” Fluttershy asked shyly.

“To where?”

“I’m going over to Fluttershy’s place to see her…flowers.” Rainbow Dash groaned.

Fluttershy smiled. “I picked some daisies this morning. They smell wonderful. And they make the room look so inviting.”

“That sounds like fun but…” I started. Rainbow mouthed the words ‘HELP. ME.’ “…I’m not feeling up to it.”

“Well..." Rainbow Dash spoke up, "...if you are absolutely sure that you can’t come with me and see the flowers, then I guess you can’t come with me. Right? Can’t come with me if you’re not feeling up to it. If you were feeling up to it, I’d tell you to Come. With. Me.”

“Yeah. Real shame I’m not feeling up to it. Guess you’ll have to go without me.” I grinned at Rainbow Dash.

“That’s okay. I hope you feel better" Fluttershy took Rainbow Dash's hand. "Dashie and I will have lots of fun anyway.” She pulled her friend away from me, skipping. “You can tell me where you think they look the prettiest. Oh, and I can braid your hair afterwards too! It’ll be like a sleepover without sleeping!.”

Rainbow furiously mouthed something at me as Fluttershy dragged her away. I only caught ‘MUR. DER. YOU.’

Rainbow’s distress made me feel a bit better, but only for a bit. The ‘thinking’ wouldn’t turn off.

Her lectures, her comments, her annoying gestures…they masked over my other thoughts like an annoying child screaming for attention.

The remaining attractions helped distract me, as did watching them pack up one by one as the festival gradually ended.

I guess it didn’t matter. Rainbow didn’t hate me anymore, but I also wasn’t planning on hanging out with her a lot. She was a friend but a casual one. One who was loyal enough to stand up for me when I needed someone, which was nice.

And I got a badge!

But still, we were so different that I didn’t foresee us being close friends in the future.


I juggled the lighting badge she gave me in my pocket as I walked back to my dorm room. I felt good to have it, but getting it didn’t solve my problems as conveniently as I hoped it would. Things still felt awkward. I was still the new guy.

Regardless, this day meant I was one step closer to being somewhere. I made mental note to ask Rarity to sew my badge on my uniform first thing tomorrow.

Slews of students came back in packs. Some still nibbling on sugary treats.

My room was a quiet haven from the clamor outside my door. I had lost track of the time, only realizing it was past eight as I got in.

With no homework due, I looked for a book to read I picked textbook for math, to make sure I would be up to date with my studies and, even better, ahead of the rest of the class.

“Why do you work so hard?” Rainbow Dash’s mocking voice popped in my mind.The pages suddenly felt heavier. “Why don’t you take some time out and enjoy yourself?” Her squeaky voice echoed...and that laugh. "Hahaha!”

“Pain in the ass." I mumbled to myself and kept reading.

12 - Dreams

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Dreams

Description: A foreboding nightmare wake you up…


Note: The following is a dream sequence.

Darkness…cold.

“Haha. ___!” Twilight…as young as the day I met her….running….running

“ Hey! Twilight! Wait for me!” I shout....echoes...

“Run faster ___! I’m going to get away…”

“No! Stop it, I’m tired.”

“Hehe.”

“Twilight? Twilight, wait! Where are you going?”

“Haha!”

“Wait, stop it. Don’t go away! I can’t run. I can’t.”

“It’s getting darker because it has to!”

“But I don’t want it to get darker. I don’t want things to change!” Twilight faded away. Slowly…slowly…until she was totally gone. “Twilight? Twilight!!!”

“I’m far away…and you are still where you started…”

Note: Dream ends here.


“AHH! Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I didn’t know where I was at first. I was blindly disorientated.

I was shaking. It felt like I had a stomach ache in my head.

I was in my dorm room. Safe. Unsettled. Breathing heavily.

The clock said 3:19am.

“…where did that come from?”

---time passes---

I couldn’t go back to sleep. I paced, played my handheld game for a bit, read a few pages in various books, twiddled my thumbs, and only grew more frustrated.

Most of my dreams would fade away after I was awake for a bit. This one didn’t. I tried to erase it from my aching mind, but could not. The nightmare kept me my eyelids open.

There were no monsters or demons, no phantoms or death in my dream but my emotions went haywire. It felt terrifying. It felt like I was losing everything.

I tried to figure out what could have brought it on. The festival food, the over-stimulation…

…Rainbow’s lecture?

I liked that answer. It gave me someone to blame.

She always spoke the truth. At the least, she believed what she said was true. She couldn’t have said anything with such confidence if was lying to herself. But her truth wasn’t refreshing and it wasn’t setting me free. It made me question things. And apparently it kept me up at night.

Yes, part of my identity was my grades and school. Rainbow Dash sounded like she thought my grades were me. That I was a report card.

"Who was she to tell me…" I realized I was talking to myself and had been for a while. I stopped.

I remembered in my dream Twilight…or whatever Twilight represented to my subconscious…and that she was saying I was stuck where I started.

Twilight was ahead of me in many ways. And so was Rainbow Dash. And so was everyone it seemed. While the people around me knew where they were and what they wanted…I was still trying to figure out who I was.

I wouldn’t have come to Starswirl if not for Twilight. Was that a good thing? Was I unable to go somewhere without anyone else’s guidance? Did I just tag along on other people’s coat tails?

Now that I think about it, why didI come to Starswirl? Because Twilight was going? Because my parents wanted me to go?

I mean, when my grades, my good fortune and my friendship with Twilight were removed from the picture…what was left? What else was there?

Who was I?

I ended up remembering Rainbow’s speech more vividly than the dream itself, which further convinced me that my lack of sleep was her fault!

But what bothered most was how Rainbow said those things so casually, like it was not big deal it all, like that was who she was, like that rebellious confidence was as much a part of her as her left arm and any doubt she infected me with was merely a side-effect of being around her.

She drove me crazier now than back when we disliked each other!

I watched the sun slowly inch up over the horizon, gradually turning a purple sky to blue. If wasn’t exhausted I may have thought it was pretty.

I got dressed, knowing that trying to get back to sleep again would be pointless.


Campus was totally silent. The sun was moments away from rising, turning the sky a deep, dark blue. I had my backpack and wallet with me. I figured that I’d go straight to class after a short walk to clear my head.

Twilight would have to walk to class alone today. That was probably for the best. My head wasn’t in it right place. She’d ask me a slew of questions if she saw bags under my eyes.

I can hear her voice now...“What’s wrong? Why didn’t you get sleep? What is the matter? Is there anything I can do?” ...she always meant well with her nagging, but that was the last thing I wanted right now. Well-meaning inquiries can easily turn into sour pains-in-the-ass when someone didn’t sleep well.

At least the campus was empty for once. The air was cool and relaxing. Not a noise to be heard….

…except for the sound of a pair of feet quickly smacking against the ground in the distance.

“Great…” I knew who it was.

I follow the pattering to the track field and, unsurprisingly, Rainbow Dash was there. Even at this ungodly hour, she was able to run fast. I could see those focused violet eyes glisten as the rest of her body blurred across the field.

I walked down there, stamping my feet angrily, not thinking, ready to give her a piece of my mind. I made a note that frustration and sleepiness are bad influences for decision making, then ignored that note and kept going.

She kept flying around the track at full throttle, smirking proudly. She only noticed me after she passed the starting line.

Her sneakers shrieked as she abruptly stopped.

“What are you doing here?!” She looked worried (or maybe scared) that I had found her.

“I couldn’t sleep. I had bad dreams.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Rainbow looked around, checking to see if someone else was there. My random appearance must have creeped her out. But she swallowed that fear and put that annoying confident smirk back on.

“Let me guess…you were back in first grade and naked in front of the class?”

“No. This one was…a little spookier.”

“Yeah, cause you naked isn’t spooky enough, right?” I ignored that remark.

“Why are you here?” I asked her.

“…I couldn’t sleep either. I had a bad dream too.”

“Small world.”

“Great minds.” She grabbed a white cloth out of her pocket and rubbed the sweat off her forehead. “What happened in yours?”

“I was…what do you care?”

“Were you naked in second grade?”

“It was a dream about…I don’t know. I was running.”

“Sounds like my kind of thing.”

“I would have let you have my dream if I could. It wasn’t fun. It was…I don’t know, stressful.” Why is it so hard to tell people off in person? Hating someone is much easier when they aren’t standing in front of you! “What was your dream about?”

“It was an old cliché. I was falling. I was really high up and I just…fell”

“That sounds scary.”

“It is at first. But I’ve had that dream before, so I learned how to deal with it.”

“Deal with dreams? How?”

“It’s like, you just be cool with it. When that when that stuff happens…when you feel like everything is coming apart…you have to let it happen.”

“Huh?”

“You accept it. Sit back, don’t stress it and let whatever happens happen on its own. Sometimes laying back and doing nothing is exactly what you need to solve your problems.”

She said yet another comment that went against my basic beliefs. Rather than ‘try your best’ and ‘work hard’, she advocated passivity and laziness. And it was ironic because she seemed ten times more motivated than the average person, myself included.

“…you…you think that is a good thing to do?” I asked her, genuinely wanting her feedback.

“I know it is. I dream about falling a lot. If I am falling, there’s nothing I can do about it right? So might as well just enjoy the ride.”

“You have that dream often?”

“Every now and then.”

“Why?”

“How should I know? I’m not a doctor. But I am a dreamer. When I’m dreaming about falling…” She stretched her arms out and looked up, simulating a bird with its wings stretched out. “…I push my arms down and let gravity do the work. And sometimes, the dream changes.”

“How so?”

“When I’m going straight down, it’s scary. But if I put my hands down, it feels like moving forward. It feels like I’m flying.” She inhaled deeply with her eyes closed again. Lost in thought, imagining...something. “Could you imagine that? Flying? Taking off like a rocket? Soaring through into clouds like they were nothing? Like gravity was nothing?”

She was so...genuine. All the time. Even when talking about make-believe fantasies at six in the morning.

And before I realize it, my frustrations with her were gone.

Maybe it was a moment of weakness, but I took her advice. I stopped fighting the annoyances she put in my head, stopped shooing away the bad dreams. I let them come to me.

And, as conveniently as RD promised, it worked. I finally figured out what was really bothering me.

“Are you okay?" She noticed distraction, "You’re doing that thing when you space out again.”

“I’ve...been thinking.”

“Bout what?” Rainbow Dash looked over her shoulder again. Only the sounds of tweeting morning birds were there.

“About what you said earlier. At the festival.”

“What did I say?”

"That stuff about me not being confident, and not…being brave.”

“Oh! I didn’t mean to upset you or-”

“I think you were right.” I confessed. “It’s really hard for me to stand up for myself. And to try new things.” Rainbow didn’t put doubts in my head. She just pointed out ones there were already there. One I was afraid to confront. It wasn’t fair for me to blame her for my own problems or my own fears. “And I think...I want to change that.”

She blinked a few times. She smiled, but nervously, like I had just made her very uncomfortable.

“Mom and dad weren’t lying when they said you can do anything you want. You just have to move in baby-steps.” I nodded. She yawned. "I gotta finish my workout. Wanna chill after school?”

I hesitated.

I thought about what Twilight would say, what my parents would think if they saw me with such a delinquent, what my teacher’s might say, and the homework I would surely get that afternoon.

“Yeah. That’d be…cool.”

“Cool?” She tilted her head. “Yeah. I guess it would be.”

Before I could move, she stood on her tippy-toes, pressed her palm on the top of my head and rubbed my hair wildly, sprawling my hair in all directions.

“Agh! Hey! Don’t do that!”

“Lighten up. It’s not like you gelled it. Or even combed it, Mr. Bedhead.” The spunky little headache brought my frustrations come back in a second. “Later Newbie. Go get breakfast or whatever.”

“Uh, yeah. And after school?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll find you.”

I fixed my hair and watched her blast down the field again, gliding over the track ring like a jet through the sky. The wind picked up as she ran, pushing her forward, cheering her on.

And I watched…

“...flying…”

—END of ACT 1—

13 - Early Morning 1

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Act II


Early Morning 1

Description: A few weeks after the Fall Festival, your character is getting to get used to your new school.

Note: Students at Starswirl pick at least one elective class per semester. Because you were a transfer, in Act 1 you are put in Chemistry with Twilight until you pick a class according to the girl you are pursuing. The class you take is different on every route.
I do not know if this feature is still in the game or not but it is not plot essential so I left it in.


It was weird how fast the leaves changed colors. The Fall Festival seemed like it was only yesterday. Three weeks had passed by quickly.

My elders always said that time goes by faster as you get older. I didn’t know what they meant until just recently. Between work and adjusting to this place, time slipped away from me a bit faster than I expected. And though I was capable of juggling many things, that was starting to get to me. In little ways.

I was sleeping in a bit later on the weekends.

I spent my lunches and many days after school in the library to catch up on homework.

Studying late at night was ‘necessary’ these days.

Ever the loyal friend, Twilight stuck by me through the many changes we had endured. She seems to be adjusting better. We ate lunch together sometimes and I’d walk her to her homeroom every morning. On the few days when I overslept, she waited for me, even if she was a few minutes late herself…though those mornings were accompanied by a stern talking-to as well.

Lecture or not, she always had something to talk about. Homework, chemistry, the girl-crush she had on Celestia. And I would be a good friend and pretend to listen to her. It’s easier for to do that in the morning, when I am too tired to talk back.

But honestly, just having someone there to listen to was a Godsend. I would go in and out of her rants, picking up every other word, and she’d be happy with me occasionally nodding at her complaints.

Meanwhile, I’d be in my own world, thinking about how the leaves kept changing, how time seemed to be moving faster, how I was just moving through the rhythm of change.

“Um, ___?” Twilight spoke up. “Are you listening to me?”

“Yeah, but I’m also thinking about…um, class.”

“Is it about your elective? Psychology?”

“Yep. It’s really interesting, but it’s a lot of work too. Everything there is so new to me. ”

“…grmmguph…” She mumbled something.

“What?”

“…chemistry is a lot quieter without you.”

“Really? Even with Pinkie Pie next to you?”

“Hmph. That’s not what I meant.”

“What’s wrong? Miss me that badly?” I poked her shoulder. She kept pouting.

“…yes.”

“Really?”

Twilight moved slightly closer to me, but did not look up. A flashback of our past came to mind; I remembered when we used to be the same height. God, how does twelve years feel like yesterday?

“I’m still…meeting people. I’m trying to. It’s difficult when everyone else has a circle of friends and you’re by yourself.”

“Ah. Well, what about that Pinkie girl? She’s seems really friendly. Isn’t she worth spending time with?”

Twilight became more annoyed at that comment.

“You’re not listening! I wish…I wish you didn’t leave the class, okay?” She confessed the truth, then went silent. All things considered, we still spent a lot of time together. Why she was being so possessive?

“Oh Twilight…we’re not going to suddenly stop speaking to each other just because we are in different classes.”

“I know.” She looked mad still. I probably was still missing the point. “You’re making friends.”

“Are you asking me if I am making friends?”

“No. I know you are. That Rainbow Dash girl is your friend.”

“Haha, oooh. So you are jealous?”

“I am NOT jealous! But…you’ve hanging out with her a loy. She’s not good for you. She’s a wild-child. She doesn’t take her school work as seriously as she should.”

“If it makes you feel better, we’re not really friends-friends. I mean, we are friends, but we just hang out occasionally. And only for like a few minutes at a time. We’re like acquaintances. We’ve got barely anything in common.”

“So why do you spend time with her?”

“I usually don’t mean to. But…” The rolling wheels of a long board roared behind us. “…she finds me.”

“Yo Newbie, up top!” A high-pitched voice grabbed my ears’ attention.

Rainbow yelled just in time for me to turn around and high-five her open palm. She didn’t slow down as she slapped mine back, and kept gliding to the front entrance like she was surfing.

We had to practice that move afew times to get it right.

"See? We just say hello to each other and…Twilight?” I looked around but Twilight wasn't next to me. Stamping her feet loudly, Twilight stubbornly walked away. “Twilight! Wait up! She was just saying ‘hi’! What did I do now?!”

Great, another one of her moods.

14 - I need an Egghead!

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I need an Egghead!

Description: Rainbow Dash begs you for much needed help.


“When this happens, you must remember to carry over. A lot of people make the error of leaving the rounding up and being down with it…” I yawned as the teacher prattled on about trigonometry. I knew the subject matter by heart now. At this point listening to him talk about it was politeness.

“...zzzz…”

“…and there are many places you can use this equation, especially with your personal finances.”

"…zzzz!” My peers giggled. The teacher’s face flushed.

Rainbow had turned her book into a pillow and basked in the sun as it poured onto her.

Rainbow’s snoring went away after the teacher stopped lecturing, making me wonder if she was actually asleep or if she was intentionally trying to annoy the professor.

The frustrated professor walked over to her desk and hovered over her for a few seconds.

“A-hem!” He said. He got no response except for a twitching leg. He then slammed his hand on the desk. That got a reaction.

“Imup-Imup. I’m up!” Rainbow’s head shot up and her back straightened out. Her eyes were groggy, her bangs parted.

“Young lady…it is one thing that you chose to waste your own time so frequently, but it is another matter entirely when you interrupt my classroom with that irritating snoring. Disrespect is disrespect is disrespect!”

“Yeah…well…that’s just…like…your opinion, man.”

The classroom erupted with stifled snickers. I shook my head. I’m still amazed that she could be so lax at her studies and so rude to her teachers.

“See me after class. During your lunch break.”

“Yes ssthir.” She faked a lisped and saluted him. The second his back was turned, she rolled her eyes. He continued lecturing, telling himself the issue had been resolved.

Rainbow waved to me when I looked to, then made several inappropriate gestures towards the teacher’s turned back. I shook my head again. She thought my reaction was funny. I started taking notes, as a way to ignore her. And for a few minutes I succeeded.

But of course, RD wouldn’t allow that. A few minutes later, a paper football plopped on my desk. I took a few moments to get the courage to open it.

The note said “Grab me a sandwich. I’ll meet you in the library.”

No please or promise to pay me back I noticed. I also noticed her handwriting was surprisingly gorgeous, especially for a note passed in class.

I glanced at her again, but her head was back on her textbook, drifting off to dreamland.

---time passes---

The period bell rang and, instinctively, Rainbow Dash ran for the door.

“Don’t go anywhere!” The teacher barked! Rainbow Dash froze as she touched the doorknob. “Everyone else can go. Rainbow Dash, come here!” She groaned and walked back to her desk.

She slapped my hand as we passed each other. Money for her sandwich appeared in my palm.


By now, I had developed a habit of coming to the library during my lunch break to catch up on homework and studying.

My newest class had a lot of interesting concepts and ideas, but that meant a lot more work. And with the semester picking up speed, my assignments were piling up quickly.

Twilight, who spent most of her free time in the library, softly whistled a familiar tune as her fingers tapped wildly on the computer’s keyboard.

“Hi Twi-”

“Shhh…one minute.” She went back to typing.

One minute usually meant half an hour. I pulled out my lunch and sat down at the table behind her, and watched her busily drum away at...whatever she was working on.

---time passes---

“Ta-da! That was easy!” Twilight clicked a button and the old printer in the corner of the library chugged. She whistled as the clunky machine spat out her large assignment. “I think this is a good one.

“You seem proud of yourself.”

“I got a few good tests back today. Aaand they’re going to announce who won Miss Celestia’s Semi-Annual Academic Award of Excellence in a few weeks. I have a hunch that Miss Celestia will take noticed of this little masterpiece of an essay.” She tapped the thick essay a few times and giggled. Her eyes lit up. “It’ll be causal. But predictable. Professor Whooves will be so impressed by my paper that he’ll run into the Headmistresses office to show her my work. And Miss Celestia will call me into her office to congratulate me herself! It’ll be an extra bonus to the Dean’s List award that I know I will already be getting. And I can put both on my college applications!”

“What’s your essay topic?”

“It’s an analysis of Hamlet and everything Shakespeare did incorrectly. Only ninety-six pages too.”

“…uhhh.” Before I can point out the obvious flaw in that premise, the library door swung open with a force that caused pages to flip on the nearby open books.

“HEY!” Rainbow ran up to me before Twilight could bark out the ‘Be Quiet’ rule. Rainbow slammed both hands on our table, another loud noise. “You two are eggheads right?”

“What?”

“Excuse me?”

“I need an egghead. And fast! This is a red alert emergency.”

“Whoa, whoa, Dashie. Calm down. What is wrong?” I said soothingly.

“Look!" Rainbow reached into her skirt pocket and pulled out a paper ball. She tried to smooth it out by dragging it on the edge of the table before showing it to us.

It takes me a minute to recognize that it’s the most recent math test we took.

“That’s how you take care of your tests?!” Twilight harped.

“My grades fell. Again!” Rainbow whined.

“How badly?” I asked

“Look.” She shoved the report card in my face and…I see…her grades.

Ooooh boy.

“Let me see.” Twilight moved close, but I pulled the paper away so she couldn't see the grade.

“Trust me, it’s better if you don’t.”

“The professor said if I don’t get my grades up, he’ll call the academy!”

“What academy?”

“And I’ll get suspended from the track team too! I’m doomed! Doomed! If I don’t get the grades up, I’ll never get out of this lame one-horse town!” Rainbow, for the first time since we met, was panicking.

“Well," Twilight talked like an upset mother, "I’d like to tell you that you should have studied more, but–”

“You’re right.”

"Huh?” Twilight and I both said, bewildered.

“You’re right. My grades are lousy. I didn’t try hard enough…and…I need to do better...”

Twilight and I both say nothing, both of us surprised at her modesty.

For a moment. Then Rainbow said, “Or I’ll be kicked off the track team! I can’t let my fans down! And I can’t have that lumberjack AJ take my fan base away from me either! The freshman will be wondering where their hero went and they’ll all flock to Applejack instead of me! Can you imagine what she’ll do to those impressionable young twerps!? She’ll recommend apple flavored steroids or hay throwing or some other weird thing they do down south!”

“…yyyeah. Sounds terrible.” Twilight rubbed the brim of her nose.

“So I need an egghead. You guys are the only ones I know.”

“Usually, if you want someone to help you, you don’t insult them when you ask for help.”

“Did I insult you Twilight?”

“Well, ’Egghead’ isn’t exactly a compliment.”

“…okay, so you’re out. Newbie, help!”

“I don’t know Dashie." I said "I’m not a miracle worker.”

"I don’t need a miracle. I just need a push to get my math grade above a C.”

“It’s below a C?!" Twilight shrieked. "How could you…a C is…that is…I can’t believe you’d ever…when I was in kindergarten, I had better grades than that.”

“Kindergarten was like years ago. I need help now.” Rainbow Dash said. The puppy dog eyes turned on. “So…how about it? ___? I’m at the end of my rope here. Please? Pleasepleasepleasepleeeeeease!!?”

“Uh…” I glanced at Twilight. She shakes her head, warning me not to jump on a sinking ship.

“If I don’t stay on the team, I won’t be allowed to compete in the inter-country race and I won’t get into the academy! And I’ll never get my picture on a cereal box!”

“What academy?! What are you talking about?”

“Don't worry about it. If you do this, I’d owe you! Anything you’d ever need, I’d give it. Anything!” Dash looked so worried that was unbearable. Those big, round dog eyes and my own sympathy defeated my better judgment.

“Um…I guess I could help you study after class.”

“Awesome!” Rainbow Dash jumped up high and cheered. Then she grabbed my neck and squeezed. The awkwardness of her hug was as suffocating as my sudden inability to breath. "Thanks newbie. You’re cool in my book. I don’t care what everyone else says.”

“You're wel…what?”

“We should start right away. Is after school today okay? I’ll find you after school!”

“But I have to…” She dashed off before I could tell her that I had planned to study with Twilight that afternoon.

When Dashie was gone, Twilight gave me a cross look.

“Well...”Twilight crossed her arms. “...I guess you’ve got plans this afternoon.”

“Um…Dash kind of needs help. I mean, we get good grades already. She needs help way more than we do.”

“Makes sense.” Twilight puts her books away and leaves, pointing her nose in the air as she does.

“Now what did I do wrong!?”

BBBBBBRRRRRIIIIIINNNNGGGG

“Nothing. Lunch is over.”

15 - Study Session 1

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Study session 1

Description: You and Rainbow Dash have your first study session. It does not go according to plan….
Note: Long chapter, but this might be one of the best ones.


Psychology class started promptly as I ran inside. I just narrowly entered as the teacher closed the door.

The teacher talked about development this time, how people grow according to their DNA and their environment and how both are important to an individual’s growth.

As the class rolled on, I kept spacing out, thinking of what it would be like to study with Rainbow Dash. I imagined what it would be like sitting down with her for a few hours...trying to get her to focus....

…and then the magnitude of my mistake dawned on me.

With her personality and her lousy her grades, I doubted if I’d be able to help her at all.

The rest of psychology class was spent jotting down notes to help Dashie study. Tricks, techniques, even rhymes to help her memories equations.


I sent Twilight a text as I rushed to the library I invited her to come study with us. With her help, I figured we’d be able to make...some kind of difference on Dashie’s marks.

Except for one stuffy librarian with inch thick glasses and an old man smell that permeated around his desk, the library was empty.

I really hoped Rainbow Dash didn’t forget. Or ditch. She seemed like the kind of girl who’d quickly find other things to do.

My cell phone buzzed as Twilight’s response landed in my pocket.

Text message “No thanks. I have other things to do. But you two have fun studying in my library.”

Twilight was the only person I knew who could send her tone of voice via text message.

Now that I thought it over, it was probably best that Twilight didn’t come. Those two were so different that putting them in one room was sure to have had nasty consequences.

I grabbed a seat in the more secluded tables, ones perfect for studying and long assignments, one within eyesight of the entrance.

I got to work on my own homework and waited.

---time passes---

Five minutes after finishing one of my easier assignments, the library door flew open with a loud slam.

“Newbie, where are you?!”

“Shhhh!!!” I librarian hissed.

“Rainbow, for god sakes! I whispered loudly at her. She dashed to me, slamming her feet on the ground, earning a second hate-filled look from the librarian.

She didn’t have any books with her, or even her backpack. Just her regular outfit of a light blue hoodie and tight jeans. A pair of sunglasses covered her eyes. She looked like she was nursing a hangover or hiding from the cops.

“Okay…” She pulled up a chair and threw her dirty sneakers on the table. “…let’s do this.”

“Nice to see you too.”

“It’s always nice to see me.” She stretched her arms high over her head and yawned.

“You know, you could act like you want to be here.”

“Hey, I don’t like studying. I’m glad really glad you’re helping me, but I rather get a tooth pulled with a monkey wrench than learn more fractions.”

“Jesus, is studying that bad?”

“For me it is.”

“But…we don’t have to just study. I could correct your homework for you. That will bump your grades up a few points.”

Or I could just copy off your sheet.”

“Well, that’s cheating.”

“It’s only cheating if you get caught. Like speeding at 3am.”

“I…if you don’t learn the stuff yourself, the tests are going to be a lot harder.”

“Fine, fine. I’ll play along?”

“So, do your homework. I have to catch up on reading myself.”

Dash looked around the room.“...sooo you want me to just do homework?”

“Yeah. And I’ll correct your answers when you are done, then you can redo them so you can get a better score when you hand it in to your teacher.”

“…it’d be a lot faster if you just did give me the answers.”

“That’s not how a study session is supposed to work.”

“Come on~.”

“Not gonna happen.”

“Come on~~!”

“No.”

“Come on~~~!”

“Rainbow, I’m not giving you the answers.”

“You mean I actually have to do work?”

“You said you needed help studying.”

“I said I needed an Egghead. You assumed I needed help studying.” She grinned, but I was not charmed. I had agreed to help her, not to be taken advantage of. And just because we were friends, that didn’t make it okay to assume that I’d help her get away with something that could get us both in trouble.

“I’m doing you a favor. If you expect me to help you cheat, then you can forget this whole thing.”

“What?! Newbie, come on. Don’t be like that.”

“I’m serious. This wouldn’t be the first time a jock tried to take my homework.”

“Alright, alright. I’m sssor-…” She bit her tongue before an apology could come out. “I won’t ask you to cheat again. But please don’t go. I really, really need help.”

“And I’m more than willing to do that. But I don’t want to be...used.”

“You won’t. I promise. Okay?”

"Okay.” I only half believed her. But I was willing to give her a chance.

“So…just do homework?” She asked with a nervous look.

“Yep. And when it’s done, I’ll help you.”

“…fine.” She flipped open her binder and searched few a collection of loose documents, looking very annoyed. I guess putting effort into something that wasn’t physical was that bothersome to her. But that was fine by me. I’d only be hurting her if I show her the easy way to her goal. “Okay, here. Are they right?” She handed me her sheet.

“There is no way you finished that fast.”

“I did half of the questions in math class when the teacher wasn’t looking.”

“You did those in class?”

“It beats taking notes.”

“When did you do these? You were sleeping all day?”

“I did some problems when he handed them out at beginning of class, then I took a nap.”

"So, instead of listening to his lecture, you did math problems you hadn’t learn yet?”

“Yep.”

“If you don’t take notes when the teacher is telling you how to solve these problems, how are you going to know if you did them correctly?”

“…I don’t follow.”

“Ugh, god. Give me a minute.” I look over her sheet and once again I’m taken aback by her handwriting. Her name was penciled in flawless cursive, with quality comparable to a printer. Even the numbers were curved and graceful. “Did Rarity fill this out?”

“What? No. I told you, I did that. Why?”

"No reason.” Investigating more closely, her fancy handwriting was only distraction from the hodgepodge of mistakes scattered over the page. There were only a handful of right answers dotted in here and there, and she didn’t show work for any of them. “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

“I already know I suck at math, so skip to the good news.”

“The good news is that you’re making small mistakes from not double checking your work.”

“You can tell that just by looking at it?”

“Yeah. Like here. This answer is right, but you forgot to add the decimal behind the 2. See?” I held the sheet towards her and pointed to her error.

“I thought I did that.”

“You probably just went through it too quickly. Going fast isn’t always the right move. Math’s one of those things where it’s better to go slow.”

Rainbow’s eyes widened. “Uh…right.” She looked at me like I was suddenly speaking a different language.

“Try it again. And pace yourself. There’s no need to get it done fast. It’s better to take a bit longer and do it right.”

Still perplexed, Rainbow took the sheet and erased the answer sections. I started reading my psychology assignment.

I occasionally glanced at Rainbow Dash to monitor her progress as I read. Her eyebrow twitched each time she punched something into her calculator. Her pencil moved every so often, followed by either an aggravated groan or sigh of relief.

Aside from those frustrated sounds, the room was quiet. It was a much needed place of zen. I had been working so hard lately that I hadn’t given myself a chance to think about...nothing.

The Fall Festival was the last time I goofed off. Since then, I had been working, kept away from fun things. My social life had evaporated with the sudden changes in my life. Not that I had an active social life before Starswirl.

And those doubts Rainbow Dash brought to my attention…remained.

I looked back at my textbook and sighed, once again promising myself that I would have fun after things got less busy. I lost count of how many times I made that promise. And how many times I broke it.

“Hey.”

“Yes?”

“Can I ask you something? It’s been bugging me for a while.”

“Let me guess. Sine and Cosine? A lot of people get those confused.”

“Why aren’t you dating Twilight?”

“Wh…what?!”

“Did she turn you down or something?”

“C-can we not talk about that?”

“Oooh, I knew it. She broke your heart, didn’t she? Stuck in friend-zone?”

“No! She’s just…we just…”

“Hahaha! You’re blushing.” She pointed at my cheeks as she laughed, which of course made my face turn redder.

“You’re one to talk. Why don’t you have a boyfriend?”

“Cause I don’t need one. I’m objectively awesome single or not!”

“Yeah right. Like I’d believe that one.”

“Believe what you want. I have my reasons. Besides, don’t you know it’s rude to ask a girl about her love life?”

“I’ll keep that in mind next time I talk to one.”

I flinched as Rainbow Dash raised her fist.

“Alright, that’s enough out of both of you!" The librarian yelled at us. "If I hear one more outburst, you’ll be finishing that homework outside, or in Headmistress’ Celestia’s office!”

“Yes sir.” I humbled nodded.

“Tch. Yeah, yeah.” Rainbow grunted.

We pretended to work for a few minutes. A few long, agitated minutes.

Rainbow tapped her fingers against her book like woodpecker pecking at a tree. She stopped right before I could tell her to jump off a cliff.

“You okay?”

“Yeah. I didn’t mean to get mad.”

“…yeah. I didn’t mean to almost hit you.”

“Yeah you did.”

“Yeah. I did.”

Another few minutes of pretend reading passed.

“But…why aren’t you dating Twilight?

“I don’t want to talk about this.”

“I am only asking.” The clock on the wall ticked about dozen times. “Was I right about the getting-turned-down thingy?”

“No.”

“Did you turn her down?”

“No! Look, neither of us ever tried to be more than friends.”

“Why not? She’s cute, smart…she’s not crazy, not a bitch, not petty, not like one of those beach-zombies.”

“A what zombie?”

“You know. Beach Zombie. The girls with the fake tans who bleach their hair so much that it slowly eats away at their brains.” She cleared her throat, and then her body language and voice changed to match a spoiled valley girl. “Like, ohmygawd, that other girl’s outfit is less slutty than mine. She’s probably doesn’t have daddy-issues or money.”“Twilight’s isn’t like those girls at all. And she likes you.”

“If you think Twilight likes me, you’re crazier than I thought.”

“Trust me, I’m much crazier than you think. You two have got a ton in common. So why not?”

“I guess…” had to take a minute to think up a good answer. That worried me. “…I guess it’s cause she’s like my sister. We’ve known each other since….forever. And it’s hard for me to think romantic thoughts about someone when I knew what they looked like in grade school. And you know what else? If I lost that friendship…it would kill me.”

“R-right.” A crack of sorrow appeared on Rainbow’s face.

She stared at the clock on the wall. It ticked loudly as each second passed.

“Must be nice to have a friend that close to you.” She said somberly.

“What, you don’t?”

“I have…” She swallowed. “…I have Fluttershy. She’s my oldest friend. And there’s Applejack, but...” She paused and that crack of sadness got bigger. “...sometimes friendships don’t end well.”

“Um, did that happen to you?” I asked her, but she went quite again. "I'm just asking."

“...my best friend ever, like from when I was a kid…we…stopped being friends.”

“I’m sorry. Why?”

“We had a huge fight. Girls are crazy. If you were smart, you’d stay away from us.” She awkwardly laughed at her own joke.

"Aren’t you really popular? I thought you’d have lots of friends.”

“Of course I have friends. Just…I don’t know. Forget about it.”

“You sure?"

"It's just....it's stupid but...nah forget it!"`

"Come on, I told you a bunch of stuff."

Rainbow Dash looked at her notes and juggled her tongue in her cheek. I could see that she was debating if she wanted to tell me or not, like she wanted to tell someone , and doubted that I was the right one.

"Do you ever..." She started and stopped. "...do you ever feel like...because everyone knows who you, that no one knows who you really ]are?"

"Uh....you mean me? Cause I've never been that popular."

"Forget it." Rainbow Dash looked upset that I didn't understand. “Let's just get the math done.”

“…if you say so.” I went back to work…but noticed Rainbow wasn’t writing anything. Instead, she stared at the edge of the table and did nothing. "So…why don’t you have a boyfriend?”

She tapped her pencil on the table three times before speaking up. “…is this right? I think I got this one right?” She passed me her homework. I knew she was deflecting, but checked her work anyway.

“This is much better. This may have been a thirty percent before, at best. Now it’s about seventy percent.”

“Seventy?! Really?!”

“Yes, but you still have to…”

“Sweet! That’s higher than C! Can we leave now?”

“We’ve been here for ten minutes.”

“…soooo, is that a yes?”

“You still have to finish this sheet. There are more questions on the back.”

The back?” She turned the paper over and saw another pillar of math problems. “Ahhh man! I hate when teachers do that.”

“Why don’t you have a boyfriend?”

“Oh, you’re still asking that? I was hoping you’d forget?”

“Fat chance. I told you about Twilight. It’s your turn.”

“I told you. There’s no one awesome enough to be with me.”

“That’s it?”

“...yes.”

“You’re single because you think no one is in your league?”

“Well, I mean, uh...it’s kinda of personal reasons.”

“How personal?” I didn’t want to ask if it was a matter of sexual preference. You never know who you could upset with questions like that.

“It’s a goal thing.”

"A goal thing?"

"Yeah. It conflicts with a goal."

“it's your goal is to stay single?”

“Why do people think I’m weird when I say that" Her voice raised. "A teenage girl says she wants a boyfriend and everyone tries to hook her up. But if one says she likes being single, she’s a leper!”

“I-I didn’t mean it like that. I was just asking.”

“Yeah. Like everyone else. I don’t want a boyfriend, I don’t need one, and I have my reasons for why not, so that’s it okay?!”

“Okay!”

We got very quiet for a while.

Unbearably quiet.

Rainbow’s knee bounced. She refused to look at me.

Weird…she was able to push my buttons, and I accidently was able to push hers.

“If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s okay.” I calmly suggested Rainbow Dash sighed.

“That’s just it Newbie. I want to talk about it. But no one else does. They don’t want to listen. They just want to judge you. Even if they say they don’t.” She pushed her chair closer to me. “You’re lucky enough to be the new guy. You don’t know everyone yet. Not really. I’ve been in this school district since I was kid. These guys and gals are not as prim and polished as the school advertises them to be. Trust me on that one.”

“Aside from those jerks who beat me up, everyone here seems nice.”

“They usually are. To your face. ‘Popular’ doesn’t always mean ‘Liked’. Remember that one. A lot of people here think I’m rude, but at least I have the courtesy to tell people I don’t like them to their faces and not spread lies or rumors behind their backs.”

Right after she said that, Rainbow calmed down. She needed to get that off her chest.

“You okay?”

“I’m...” She cleared her throat and her grin returned. “...Newbie, I’m Rainbow Dash. I’m always okay.”

That didn’t convince me. But I also sensed that she didn’t want to talk about this more. So I changed the subject.

“...so...I don’t blame you for not liking math or school. But what do you want to do? Like after school.”

"You think about the future a lot.” She mocked me a little there, I could hear it.

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because, the present ain’t so bad. Why worry about the next year when the next hour is fine?”

“I don’t worry about the future.”

She chuckled rudely. “Yeah you do. You do all the time.”

“Why would you think that?”

“You’re never relaxed. You’re always thinking of what needs to be done tomorrow, and the day after that, and next semester. That’s why you always work so hard, because you want to be ready for something that hasn’t happened yet.”

“That’s not worrying. It’s called being concerned.”

“They call those ‘synonyms’.”

“...let’s move on.”

“No, let’s not move on. I talked about my thingy. Let’s talk about yours now. You worry about the future constantly. It stresses you out.”

“How do you know that?”

“Duh. It’s so obvious. It’s written all over your face. You’re a worrier.”

“Okay, so I worry where I am going. So what? Don’t you?”

“Nope. And I don’t plan to start.”

“You’re lying. You freaked out when your almost failed math today.”

“That was because I was scared and needed help badly. I didn’t sit still wasting my energy worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. I’m legitimately trying to get what I want, and don’t fret about what I might lose or what I am risking until I need to. And you know what? I don’t lose sleep at night.”

She put on this prideful grin. She knew she got me to think twice, and she was proud of myself for doing so.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think Rainbow could read minds, like she just knew how to bother me. Suggesting I relax more, pointing out my worries, encouraging me to do…basically everything Twilight said I should not do.

I couldn’t figure this girl out. One day she criticized my identity, the next my work ethic. She found a way to mock me and encourage me at the same time. She had been making me second guess myself since the day we met.

Slightly frustrated, I tried to regain control of the situation by talking about her now.

“What do you want to do after school? What plans do you have?”

“I’ve got goals. Not plans.” She grinned.

“Fine. What goals do you have?”

“Why do you care?”

“I’m just trying to make conversation!”

A ruler smacked on a desk behind us as the librarian hollered. “THAT IS IT!!! OUT! OUT! Both of you, pack your things a leave! Argue outside, I don’t care where, just not here!”

Rainbow froze and I both froze.

“Uh…we better go.” I whispered. Rainbow gulped.

“Y-yeah. Let’s get out of-”

“Out! Out! Out!” He kept smacking the ruler.

Rainbow’s hands blurred over my possessions and shoved everything into my backpack. She grabbed my backpack for me, pressed it to her chest, and hustled to the door, sneering at the bitter old man on her way out.

I scurried after her, feeling the eyes of the librarian on me as I trailed after her.”

16 - Different Perspective

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Different Perspective

Description: Rainbow Dash’s ill-fated study session continues outside.


Protag: “Dash, wait up!” I yelled to her as she walked through campus. When I caught up to her, he shoved my backpack towards me.

“That guy is a jerk." She declared. "It’s like he never heard kids talking loudly.”

“Yeah, how dare he do his job, right?”

“I know!”

“Even though you were yelling in his library?”

“Of course I was yelling. I had something to say.”

“He did what he was is paid to do?! The nerve of him!”

“Finally, you agree with me on something.”

Whoosh.

The breezeway between the library and the school was quite, peppered with the chirping of birds here and there but no other noises. The sports field was in sight. We would have seen a setting sun if it weren’t for all the clouds.

“So...what were you saying?” I asked.

“About what?”

“Seriously? We were just talking about-”

“Oh that? Ha, I was just messing with you. It’s funny seeing you get all bent out of shape. And it’s easy.”

“Ah. So the stuff about having goals...that was all pretend?”

“...of course not.” Her voice dropped. She looked mildly worried.

“Are you okay?”

“Forget about it.”

“What did I do?”

“Huh? Nothing, nothing. I just got a chill, that’s all. I’m cool.” She reassuringly shoved her elbow into my arm.

“Um, so we should probably find somewhere else to get this work done.”

Her eyes rolled. “Work-work-work. Where’s your off-switch?”

“I’m just doing what you asked me to.”

“Yeah, but we already did a lot of work.”

“It was like twenty minutes!” I complained to her. Rainbow ignored me and started looking around the path, like a curious child. “I’m sure if we go back to the library and apologize...”

“…come here.”

“Hey!”

Rainbow grabbed me by my backpack and ran down the hill, towards the sports field.


Some equipment was lying around the edges of the field. Unmarked lacrosse sticks, a soccer ball, a coat someone left behind. We were the only ones there.

Rainbow sat down on the bleachers, dug through my backpack and pulled out her assignment. I sat next to her. The coldness metal sent a chill up my back.

“You only have to correct my work, right?”

“Did you finish it?”

“All but the last question, yeah.”

I took the sheet and quickly scanned it for errors. She did much better this time. I circled the mistakes where I saw them, and made mental notes on where she still needed to improve.

“This is a lot-”

While I was working for her, Dashie has gotten comfortable. She had laid down on the belcher, on her back, her head hanging over the edge giving her an upside down view. Her arms and legs dangling limply over the side of the seat. Gravity pulled her bangs and ponytail down.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Looking at the world from a different perspective. You should try it sometime.”

“Can you focus on the homework?”

“Did I do good?”

“Yeah, much better. This is about an 80 percent.”

"Sweet!" Rainbow pawed at my back until I handed her the homework. She looked at it upside-down. “That’s a higher C+….right?”

“A bit higher actually.”

“Right on!” She tried to high-five me as her fingers pointed downward. I obliged her. “Now lock it.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind. So…is that it?”

“Well, we could study more. It couldn’t hurt.”

“We already got kicked out of the library. I’m thinking that’s a sign from the Egghead-gods to cut our losses while we still can.”

“Dashie, you’re not going to get better if you slack off all the time!”

“But this is just day one. And look how much progress we made!” All she needed to do was slow down and focus. I didn’t do much but coach her. Maybe she wasn’t a lost cause after all.

“Um...I guess I’d be okay if we stopped for today.”

“Awesome.”

“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re leaving?”

“Well yeah. What else is there to do?”

“Uh, you could hang out. Shoot the breeze. Veg for a bit.”

“…why?”

“Why not?.”

"Well..." I looked at the sky she was admiring. And remember those broken promises I made to myself. “…I guess a few minutes wouldn’t hurt.”

“There ya go..” I sat down...and said nothing. Neither did she. A bird chirped in one of the trees and another bird spoke back. “It’s getting’ colder.”

“Yeah. Winter is on its way.”

“I don’t like winter. It’s sooo boring. There’s nothing to do!”

“There’s stuff to do.”

“I mean stuff that’s not in a library.”

“There’s...sledding.”

“Yeah, if it snows enough. But doing that every day? Please. I can’t stick with one thing all the time.”

“Except napping, right?”

"Okay, so there’s one thing.” She stretched and yawned without looking away from the sky above.

“So...what do you do for fun?”

“Whatever I feel like. But it’s harder when it’s cold outside.”

“I wouldn’t know. I’m not into extreme sports.”

“Or sports period.”

“Not anymore.”

“Didn’t you say you played basketball?”

“Yeah. For about a year.”

“Why’d you stop?”

It just wasn’t my group.”

“Why not?” She liked asking that question. ‘Why not?’ Like a first answer was never enough.

“Schoolwork was more important. My other teammates didn’t feel the same way.”

“Of course they didn’t. They were there to play basketball, not talk about how Pie-thag-ora made the triangle.”

"His name was Pythagoras. And he made a theorem on triangles. He didn’t invent them.” Rainbow blinked. “How did you make it to senior year? Those theories are important.”

“To who?” She asked.

“To...a lot of people.”

“Name one person who isn’t a teacher or a student that thinks that is important.”

“…uh…”

“Ha! Gottcha!” She let her head fall over the edge of her seat again. Her world was upside-down.

“So...I’m still curious.”

“Bout what?”

“What you were saying in the library. About your goals.”

“Goal.”

“What?”

“I have...one goal. It’s never changed.”

“Just one?”

“Well, one official goal. I have plenty of smaller ones. Like be happy, enjoy where I am no matter what, not go to jail, that stuff.”

“But what is you big goal?”

Rainbow closed her eyes for a second and inhaled deeply. I saw her do that before, and like last time I felt the world stop moving.

“I want to go...” She raised her finger to the sky and pointed at a cloud. “...there.”

“Where?” I tilted my head and looked up, where she was pointing. I don’t think I saw what she wanted me to see…as usual

“You see that big blue thing?”

“The sky?

“Theee sky! Good job.”

"You want get your head in the clouds? You’ve done that already.”

“I want to live in the clouds. I want to fly. I’ve always wanted to fly. I’ve wanted to fly before I could ride a bike. Before I knew what a bike was. It’s always been my dream.”

Her face was practically glowing. She was not with me as she spoke. She had slipped back in time, drowning in a wave of nostalgia. The memories and experiences that made her who she was today swallowed her up for a minute.

“Flying?”

“Yep. Flying. I’m sending in my application to the Air Force Academy as soon as I can.”

“So that’s what you meant earlier. Those are hard to get into. You have to be almost perfect physical condition...”

“Check.”

“...and your grades have to be great.”

“That’s where you come in. I’ve got good grades in everything else. It’s just...math. I don’t need flawless grades. I just need it to be higher enough so my GPA is above a 3.2. I’m getting B’s in everything else. So...”

“Wait, you need to take an advance math class to get in the Air Force Academy?”

“Yep, and a bunch of other ones. A few sciences, I took an engineering class at the community class over the summer.

“So…you’re taking advance math willing? I thought you said you got put in that class because you didn’t sign up for another on in time.”

“When did I say that?”

“The first day of school.”

“Oh. Yeah well…but…I didn’t know you back then. I tell everyone that.”

“Why?”

“Cause. I don’t want them knowing I….” She turned her head and ended that inquiry before it escalated. “…it’s not important But math. Yeah. Not to sound desperate but…I kinda need you Egghead.”

As she told me that, she somehow looked smaller. Less invincible.

“If it means that much to you...”

“Oh man, you have no idea. I’m gonna be big, I know it. I’ll bet I even get in the Wonderbolts.”

“The Wonderbolts? The stunt flyers?”

“They are almost the best in the world. They’ll become the best in the world after I join.”

“You wanna get into The Wonderbolts? That’s pretty ambitious.”

“It is me we’re talking’ about. But it’s not even about the Wonderbolts. I could get in them, I could not. The Big Goal has always been to get into an airplane by myself and make it move!”

Her head teetered over the edge of the bleachers again. Then...suddenly, she kicked her legs in the air. They flew over her head!

She fell!

“Rainbow Dash!!” I moved to catch her, out of reflex, but before I could she landed on her palms and safely cart wheeled to her feet.

“I’ve spent enough time on the ground. I want to go up in the air and never come down.”

“Don’t do that again!”

“Don’t do what?”

“Fall off the bleachers.”

“Why not?” She smirked, teasingly. That question again...

“Cause, you might hurt yourself.”

You might hurt yourself. I’ve done that a million times.”

You can still get hurt if you do it. I’m too young to have a heart attack.”

Wearing that irritatingly smug grin, she climbed the bleachers again, this time perching herself on the highest one. The tips of her sneakers teetered off the edge of the tallest rung, over ten feet off the ground.

“What are you doing?”

“...guess?” She turned around and raised her arms in the air.

“Wait, Rainbow! You can’t do that!”

“I can’t? Oh, it’s a good thing you told me that, cause then I would do this.” She slowly fell backwards, not seeing where she was going.

“No, no, wait!” I thought the worst first, and waited to hear her neck crack. But like before she caught herself on her small hands, flipped backwards, and cart wheeled a few meters away. She pivoted back one her feet with her arms high, and bowed.

“Go ahead. Tell me what else I can’t do.”

"You could have-”

“Yeah, but I didn’t!”

“But you could have!”

“But I didn’t.”

“What if you hurt yourself?!

“I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try it.”

“Yeah, because trying something out is more important than safety, right?!”

“Precisely!”

“I was being sarcastic!”

“Sarcasm or not, that was the smartest thing you’ve said since I met you. Why would you want to be safe all the time? Nothing cool happens when there’s no chance of messing up.”

She jogged back up the bleachers, back to the highest one. She balanced on the edge with one foot in the air like a tightrope walker and used her arms to balance and play a game where switched feet as fast as she could without falling. Just to mess with me, I’m sure.

“How can...why....I don’t...ugh, you are just...”

“Why am I so cool? So awesome? So radical? I know I’m a lot to take in, so pace yourself. Bask in my stupendousness.”

“You don’t have to do that to impress me.”

“Yeah no shit. I’m not doing it to impress anyone. I’m doing it because it’s fun.” Again, she did a flawless back flip off the bleachers, safely landing on the ground. My heart raced.

“Stop that!”

“I’ll stop when I am dead. Or in a wheelchair. She paused, balancing on one leg for a moment. “Actually, I think I’d still do awesome stuff in a wheelchair. You can rail grind while sitting down, right?”

She jumped next to me and sat on the bleacher next to mine, once again on her back looking up towards the sky again. My heart was still pounding. Rainbow was relaxed. She had switched gears from ‘energetic’ to ‘calm’ before I had time to catch my breath.

“We can study tomorrow, right?” She asked.

” Yeah. Sure.”

“Awesome.” Another silent moment. The sky rumbled softly. A few drops fell on my forehead. “Did you feel that?

“Yeah.”

More raindrops fell on Rainbow’s face. She didn’t move. “If you could have a superpower, what would it be?” She asked as her face got wet.

“I don’t know. I don’t usually-”

“I think I’d pick weather control. I’d pick flying too if I could, but weather control would be equally awesome. I’d be like ‘Get out of here rain clouds!’. And they’d listen. Or if I didn’t want to go to school, I could make it snow. Or make it rain when it’s really, really hot out.” The drizzle picked up. Rainbow still didn’t budge. I covered my head.

“Yeah, okay.”

“Maybe I could make a tornado.”

"Why would you want to make a tornado?”

“I don’t know. If I can control the weather, why not? It’d be fun to ride one of those. I think. I haven’t tried it yet.”

“Now would be a good time to run inside.”

“Get out of here rain clouds!” Rainbow shouted at the top of her lungs. The sky answered with a soft growl.

“I don’t think they are going to listen.”

“Wait. Give them at least ten seconds.”

I waited. To humor her. “They must not have heard you.” I said jokingly.

Rainbow sat up. A splash of water flicked off her bangs.

“Is the rain bothering you?”

"I don’t like getting wet.”

A wicked smiled on her face appeared before she shook her head like a dog and flicked her hair around. “How’d that feel?”

“Wet.”

“Yep. That’s water for you.” Rainbow stood up and patted my shoulder.

“Thanks for the study session Egghead. See you tomorrow.”

"Yeah. See yeah.” She darted off. “Wait! I still have your homework!”

“Hold on to it!” She hollered back to me and kept running. I officially decided that that she was the weirdest girl I’ve ever met.

The sky roared at me again so I ran. I told myself I’d give her the assignment tomorrow.


The storm started dying down right after I got back to my dorm room. I replayed the odd conversation Rainbow and I had as I dried off.

Not taking the future seriously…what a ridiculous idea. She was supposed to study hard and get good grades. That was what you were supposed to do.

My phone buzzed again, this time with a phone call.

“Hey Twilight.”

“Hi. How did your study session go?” She got right to the point.

“It was...interesting. Rainbow is definitely going to be hard to teach.”

“Right. Um...I’m sorry I couldn’t show up.”

“You had things to do, I know how it goes.”

“...are...you...um…about Rainbow Dash and this study session. I think that...um...I...”

“...you think?”

“I’ll call you later.” She hung up. I shrugged. It probably wasn’t important.

I took threw on a dry set of clothes, then sat down to finished the homework I still had.

I swore I heard Rainbow Dash say “You’re such a dork.” as I opened my planner.

What a pain. Even when I was alone, she bugged me.

Why did she have to say things like that? Telling me I worry too much, making inappropriate jokes…ones I laughed at…and putting weird thoughts in my head, ones I wasn’t supposed to have.

“There is nothing wrong with getting good grades!” I argued out loud with my own anxiety. An argument I was losing.

---time passes---

I ended up pacing in my room for hours, only glancing at my textbook now and then. I don’t know why. It was habit, it was something I just did/. Because if whatever higher force up there saw me not studying, I’d be in trouble.

I hated that I thought that way. It was ingrain in my personality at this point. And I knew it, and couldn’t stop think about it now.

Rainbow Dash didn’t touch a nerve. She stabbed it until it bled.

“She’s just thinks I’m different because she’s not as smart as I am.” I bitterly rationalized the situation. That helped make the world more logical…for a minute.

Then I recalled that Rainbow Dash never cared. She never questioned things, she did them. She probably said all that stuff because they were the first things that came to her head, things that sprang from her soul. But that made me more annoyed because that means she was that confident.

It drove me crazy that someone, anyone, could know themselves that well and be that unabashed about it. I knew who I was, I think. I was sure I did. Rainbow was so confident and knew exactly what she was and it made me jealous…

“…oh…oh…” A ton of bricks hit me. The was it. “…I’m jealous.” Rainbow knew who she was. And I didn’t.

My identity had changed since I came here, but it honestly was never established to begin with. I wanted say it was because I was still a teenage and that my life was supposed to be a bit confusing, but that felt like an excuse.

Somewhere between being born and today, I had forgotten myself. Rainbow was everything I wished I was.

Before I knew it, it was 11 o’clock and I had spent hours stressing out over a few comments a girl made. It made me feel silly.

And as I closed my eyes and entered what was sure to be a bad night’s rest, I swore I could hear Rainbow laughing, smugly bragging of how incredible she was.

Rainbow Dash was so awesome. And I was just me.

17 - Reading

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Reading
Description: You discover Rainbow’s guilty pleasure.


The morning was rough. I still had homework to do, and I knew I wasn’t going to get it all done. Twilight scolded me when she found out, gave me a short speech on why that was a bad thing on the way to school.


“Hey.” Rainbow appeared next to me as I entered math class. “You got something for me?” She followed me to my desk and waited for me to pull her homework from yesterday.

“Here you go.”

“Awesome.” She stuck in under her arm and patted my back with a loud slap. “Thanks man.”

“You’re welcome.” I looked over my worksheet, to double check my answers. Rainbow didn’t leave. “...anything else?”

“Nah. It’s cool.” She leaned on my desk, casually assuming I was okay with it. “Looks like it’s going to rain again soon.”

“Yup.”

"I bet you like rain. You get to stay in and read all day, right Egghead?” She play punched me.

“You know, you could call me Egghead less.”

“There you go again.” She rolled her eyes and shook her head.

“What?”

“You’re kindly suggesting that I stop insulting you? How many times do I have to do it before you stand up for yourself?”

“Stand up for myself? I’m asking you to stop.”

“Don’t ask me. Tell me.”

“You’re…you’re trying to pick a fight me?”

“Yeah. Cause you won’t pick one on your own.” She punched my arm a second time.

“Why do you-”

“Just tell me to cut it out. We’re friends. I’m not going to get mad if you just tell me to stop.”

“Uh…stop.” Rainbow laughed and punched me a third time. “Dash, stop it!”

“There ya go. That’s more like it. I’ll stop.” And she did. “Don’t be so uptight. I don’t bite.” The teacher walked in and Rainbow play punched me one last time. “Later man. Oh, I forgot to tell you. I’m going be late for our little study session tonight. Cool?”

“Uh...sure.”

“Right on. I knew you’d be cool with it. Thanks man.” She sat back down just as the teacher started lecturing.


By the time lunch came, I was ready to throw all of my homework in the nearest ditch and bury it.

What a week! All of my classes decided to be extra long today. Between my teacher’s constantly nagging, the daily assignments from my routine classes, and dealing with Rainbow Dash, my homework had grown into a mountain-sized pile faster than I had predicted it would.

A little time in the library was what I needed. That always calmed me down.

Twilight was in the library, as usual. She was practically attached to this place by now. Most of her free time was most spent with her nose buried in between black and white pages. Aside from walking her to class, this was one of the few times I saw her during school hours

“Twilight, hey.” She stopped reading when she heard me. She looked very happy to see me, for some reason.

“___! Hi! How have you been?

“I’m fine. I’ve just been busy.”

“Busy, right. Me too. Everyone has been. With all the homework. Plus midterms are coming. I think the teachers are intentionally making everyone work hard to weed out the weaklings from the Dean’s List.” She giggled. “If you need me to help you with your homework, don’t forget I’m a phone call away.”

“Can you slow down time? That would be a big help.”

“Um...no. Can’t help you there. Sorry.” She waited for me to say something.

“...I bet you know this place like the back of your hand now.”

“Almost. I still have to alphabetize the reference books.”

“They have a librarian for that.”

“Of course they do. But he doesn’t alphabetize with a check list.” She pulled a pen off her ear and clicked it. I imagined a knight removing a sword from its sheath.

“Can you take a break from your lists to help me find a book?”

“Sure. For you, anything.” She gulped after saying that. "W-what book?

“It’s called The Psychology of Sports. I think it would make a good topic for my psychology research paper.”

“Not a problem. Give me one minute.” She moved to the other side of the library, all ready to show how good she was at finding books.

The size of Starswirl’s library still astounds. The tall shelves make me feel small. With no others students in it right now, my footsteps echoed clear as a bell.

“Haha. Awesome.” I heard someone laugh from one of the isles. Twilight was on the other side of the building, climbing a ladder so it wasn’t her.

I followed the voice, in the direction of the fiction novels. Nostalgia for my childhood came back as I passed the numerous stories of heroes and adventures. I passed a thick book, one of my old favorites, about a boy who gets sent to a faraway school for wizards where he meets all kinds of strange new characters. As a kid it was a fun read. Now I was in a strange new place surrounded by strange new people and found that I could relate to that boy-wizard in a new way

In the end of the aisle, hidden as far back as possible, I spotted a tuff of Rainbow-colored hair. Dash sat on a stool with her face tucked behind an open book.

The book’s title was written in gold that reflected light. [0]Daring-Do and the Secret Sarcophagus of Pharaoh Shu’a’Koh.

“Rainbow Dash?” I saw the chill raun down her shoulders as I said her name. The book in front of her face slowly lowered.

“…” She closed the book and put it back on the shelf. “Sup?”

“What was that?”

“…” Her eyes dart left and right. It’s the only response I get.

“...you’re still coming today, right? To study?”

“…yeah. I was planning to.” She throws a quick look at the book she placed back on the shelf. “...w-what?”

“You don’t have to be nervous. I like reading too.”

“Reading? Pfft. I was not reading.

“It looked like you were reading.”

“Yeah, well I wasn’t. I was...just looking at the book. For Fluttershy.”

“Fluttershy?”

“Yeah. Fluttershy.” She crosses her arms defensively.

“Can’t Fluttershy come get it herself?”

“She could! I mean, yeah of course she could. Why did I think of that? Thanks Newbie. Now I don’t have to waste anymore of my lunch break.” She juggled her tongue in her mouth…but didn’t move. Her sneaker rapidly bounced up and down. I had been paying attention to her odd quirks. She did that when she was anxious.

I step forward and grabbed the Daring-Do book off its shelf. Rainbow flinched.

I checked the front and back of the novel. The image on the cover reminded me of the old adventure movies from the 80’s, and looked like it was tailored for a young high school audience. It seemed like something Rainbow would enjoy.

“What’s it about?”

“How should I know? She grunts.

I flip through the first few pages. Rainbow watched me the way a hungry dog watches its master eat his dinner, hoping that I’d drop what she wanted if she starred hard enough.

Somewhere in the middle of the text, I stumbled upon a simple grey bookmark with a black tassel on it.

Rainbow’s eyes went wide when I found it.

I pull the bookmark off its pages. Rainbow keeps staring, her eyes practically popping out of her skull. A drop of sweat crawled down her temple.

I closed the book.

“AAAA!”
Rainbow jumped to her feet! “YOU...”

“...me?”

“...” She sat back down and looked away. She rested her hand on her palm, her elbow on her knee, and tried to act like nothing had happened.

“It was on page 188.”

She did not look at me. She just blushed heavily. “...I’m not an egghead.”

“…if you were reading this, and I’m not saying you were, but it’d be okay. I wouldn’t think you were any less awesome Her eyes turned to me briefly. “I mean, if people cared less about what everyone else did, they’d be cooler. Right?” That sounded like something she would say.

“Whatever.” The space between her eyebrows tightened with frustration. Or embarrassment?

“___? Where are you?" Twilight called for me. I place the Daring-Do book back where it belonged.

“I’m doing some homework. If you want to do some with me...or, I don’t know, hang out...that’d be okay.” Rainbow said nothing. “Well…I’ll be over there.” I heard her grab the book off the shelf the second I left the aisle.

“Where’d you go?” Twilight asked, holding a book under her arm.

"Oh, just...browsing.”

“Is that the...”

“Yes! One copy of The Psychology of Sports, at your disposal.”

“Great. Thanks Twilight.”

“No need to thank me. I’m just happy to help. Let me know if you need anything else.”

“I will. But right now, I should probably get started on my work.”

“Yep. Right. Work comes first.” I nod and sit down at the nearest table to study. Twilight goes to her own section of the library, to work on her own things.

I still hold the grey bookmark. Its plainness and lack of color is genius; no one would think this belonged to Rainbow.

I put the bookmark beside my notes in plain view and waited.

---time passes---

Eventually, Rainbow came out from her little hideaway and found me.

“Hey.” She said.

“Hi. Wanna sit down?”

“Uh...” I pretend I don’t see the novel under her arm. She looked at the bookmark, then back at me. “...I think I’m good. I gotta go do something.”

“Okay…I guess I’ll see you this afternoon?”

“I’ll be here. If you’re late, it’s fine.”

"Yeah." She pushed the book behind her back, hiding it like it was a Christmas present. She stands still for another moment. “Uh...thanks.”

Protag: “Thanks for what?”

A beat of silence passes between us again. “I’ll see you later.”

“Later.”

Rainbow tried and failed to keep the Daring-Do book from my sights. Twilight looked at me and expects me to say something.

“Um...so...I can walk you home after class if you want.” I said to her. Twilight smiled brightly.

18 - Study Session 2

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Study Session II

Description: You and Rainbow have a second study session. Things once again do not go as planned.


The sky was heavy again by the time class ended. Depressing, dismal. Yet Twilight was skipping as we walked back to her room.

“Let me guess. You got a good grade?” I asked her as she started whistling.

“How’d you guess?”

“Just a hunch.”

“Hehe, you're right! I got an A and a compliment from the teacher. The whole class glared at me afterwards. I bet they were jealous.”

“Um...yeah. Jealous. Totally” A gust picked up. Twilight caught her skirt. I pretended not to notice. "I wish it would just rain already and not tease us. It’s been cloudy all week.”

“...hey ___.”

“Yes?”

“...I have a question. About Rainbow Dash.” Twilight blushed a little.

“Um. Okay.”

“...do you...like her?”

“Yeah, she’s nice.”

“I...no, I mean...do you...”

“Oh, you mean like that? No. I don’t like-like her.”

“It would be okay if you did, really, I me-mean it. I mean, I don’t…uh…I just don’t think you two have a lot in common.”

“We don’t. We’re just study partners.”

“Okay.” Twilight looked relived.


I dropped her off at her dorm room and rushed back to the library.


The librarian gave me a nasty look as I walked inside. Guess he was not the ‘forgive-and-forgive’ type.

Rainbow wasn’t there yet, like she warned, so I made myself comfortable. I read through Lazlo’s work and highlighted the parts of his theories that sounded important.

Several minutes later, Rainbow Dash came into the library and was greeted by an equally sinister look from the old man. She noticed his angry eyes as she walked passed his desk…then walked back to his desk.

“Good afternoon sir~!” She spoke loudly. “And isn’t it lovely afternoon?”

“Please keep your voice down and be respectful of the other students.” He grumbled. He knew what she was doing.

“Sure thing sir. I’ll be quiet as a mouse. You won’t even know I am here. Promise. Not a peep. No sound out of me. As silent as a sunrise and as quiet as a-”

“SIT DOWN!” He shouted. Rainbow skipped away.

“Sup!”’ She said to me as she jumped in the chair next to mine

“I’m sorry sir. She isn’t usually like this.” I tried to explain.

“I’m usually worse.”

“Shhh!” The librarian scoffed. His head crept back behind to his newspaper.

“You don’t need to egg him on like that. He’s just doing his job.” I nagged her.

“So am I. I’m being awesome.”

“Uh huh. How is the pay for that ‘job’?”

“Not good, but the perks are great.”

“Can we just study?”

“Sooor-ry. What crawl up your butt?”

“I just don’t want the librarian to kick me out. Again.”

“Fine.” She stretched, reaching for the sky. I shook my head and turned back to my notes. Rainbow’s hand grabbed my textbook and she pulled it to her. “What are you reading?”

“It’s for my psychology class.” I pulled the book back to me, and she pulled it to herself again.

“You picked psychology?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Headmistress Celestia said I could pick any class I wanted and I thought this would be interesting.”

“Celestia said you could take any class in the school, and you didn’t take an easy one?”

“That’s not the point of school.”

“…I don’t think I’ll ever understand you Egghead-types. Why go for the complicated classes when you can go for easier ones that are more fun ones? I’m in shop class, and it’s awesome!”

“You’re also in advance math. And if you want to get into that Air Force Academy, you should get studying.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yes dad.”

---time passes---

For a while, there was nothing to say. Rainbow Dash made a genuine attempt to learn the concepts in her math book. The library was filled with a comfortable, welcoming quiet that admittedly felt odd with Rainbow in the room.

The stillness was broken only occasionally by the librarian’s cough or the crumpling of a page as it turned. Other than that…silence.

“…”

“…” Long, peaceful, silence.

“…you used to play basketball, right?” Dash's shrill voice broke the peace like a rock smashing through a glass window.

“Uh, yeah. Freshman year.” I answered without looking up from my book. I didn’t like talking about my brief time in sports.

“Why didn’t you keep playing?”

“Didn’t we talk about this already?”

“I don’t know, maybe. But whatever. Why didn’t you keep at it?”

“I’m not a huge sports fan.”

“So what? You don’t have to like professional to like basketball. Plus, exercise is fun.” I heard her knee bouncing, woodpecker-ish again. That quirk reminded me of Pavlov and his dog. Maybe the mere thought of sports might have been connected to Rainbow Dash’s increase in anxious energy.

Speaking of Pavlov, Rainbow Dash also reminded me of a word a female dog.

“I guess, I don’t know. It wasn’t for me.” I confessed.

“Do you play video games?”

“Not often.”

“I hate sports games! They are for fat people can’t go out and play with a ball, but have no problem playing with their own joystick. Wink-wink.”

“…uh…"

“That was a joke.”

“Yeah, I got it.”

“Tough crowd. What do I need to do to get applause, a cartwheel?”

“Please don’t. I’m still jittery from the ones you did yesterday.” She stuck her tongue out, then chuckled. “You’re in a weirdly good mood today.”

“And you’re in an extra crabby one. Seriously, what crawled up your butt?”

“What crawled out of yours?”

Can’t a girl be happy once in a while? Maybe I am just happy to see you.” She grabbed my cheek and pulled on it the way my overweight aunts used to do when I was seven.

“HEY!”

“Shhhhh!” The librarian hissed again.

“Sorry sir!”

“Lighten up Newbie," Rainbow laughed, "I’m just playing. Speaking of playing, wanna go find AJ and get a basketball game going?”

“We have to study.”

“We can study more tomorrow.”

“You said that yesterday.”

“The court is free right now. Derpy told me it’d be unlocked too.”

“I think this is why your grades are bad.”

“Darn! Looks like you figured out the mystery Professor. That psychology-learning is paying off.” She kept her grin on. I didn’t like it. She was just being nice. I think. She wanted me to play basketball, to have fun.

I looked at my textbook, then at her. And quickly grew frustrated with her lack of focus.

“We...really need to study.” I lifted the book up and covered half of my face.

Rainbow blinked in disbelief. Her smile vanished. She was, for a minute, unable to process that rejection.

“…tsk. Fine.” She crossed her arms and looked away.

She didn’t study. Or speak to me. Or turn her head. She looked outside and watched the clouds.

Rainbow’s leg stopped bouncing. I felt the temperature drop.

No, she’s just trying to make you feel guilty. Don’t give in.

But then again…she was happy to see me. And she got upset when I turned her down. Was she looking forward to hanging out with me?

Nah. She just wanted to play basketball and needed my permission to leave early. That must have been it.

Moments passed slowly. RD eventually leaned back in her chair, balancing on one leg, and grunting whenever I looked at her.

I fiddled through a few pages, pretending I was working, but I kept losing focus as empathy filled my head.

How would I feel if I wanted to hang out with someone and they refused me? How would I feel if someone else treated me the way I had treated RD?

An echo of my own voice popped up in my head…“I promise I’ll have fun, later.”

“Urrr. Fine! I’ll play basketball.”

Rainbow jumped up, caught her chair with her foot as it was falling, and poked her face inches from mine. Her smile reappeared.

“You will? Really?”

“…yes.”

“Awesome! And don’t worry, we’ll study tomorrow.” She grabbed her books and darted out the door before I could say ‘wait up’. As I stood up, Dashie poked her head back in the library... “Well, hurry up!”...then left again.

I stared at my psychology work for a few minutes, thinking of my research paper.

“….I’ll do this…later.” Wherever she may have been, Twilight growled. I knew she did, I felt it.

19 - Two on Two...plus one

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Two on Two...plus one

Description: You, Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Fluttershy play a game of basketball. An unwelcomed guest shows up.


I hadn’t set foot in the basketball court itself, even though I passed its entrance every day. It was impressive for a high school, with a heavily buffered floor and the scent of fresh paint fumigating the air. The court reminded me of the library. It was cold, quiet, had a mysterious peacefulness to it. And no one else was there.

“Hello?-oooo” No one answered but my own echo. My sneakers squeaked with each scuff I made, and also echoed loudly. They must have just renovated the room. I paced, intentionally making stupid noises to test the echo-i-ness of the room.

Mid-farty noise, AJ walked in, dressed in a fit gym uniform with a basketball tucked under her arm.

“Applejack?”

“Well howdy there ___." She said in her charming accent.

“What are you doing here? Don't you have a job?”

"I gave mahself a day off. Figure I'd unwind, relax a'little.You playing with us today?"

“Um…yeah. But I didn't think-"

“Yeah he’s playing!" Rainbow ran inside and snatched the ball out from under AJ’s arm. "I had to bend the Egghead’s arm to get him to come.” She spun the ball on the tip of her finger. She was dressed in her gym clothes too, her usual fitted track outfit. Her duffle bag hung over her shoulder.

“Meep.” Fluttershy poked her head in the gym but didn’t enter. “Um….hello.”

“Hi Fluttershy.” I waved to her. She nodded and slowly walking inside. Jesus.

Her outfit was…tight. It looked a size too small, like she bought quickly without trying it on. It showed a lot of skin, which didn’t seem to fit Fluttershy. The soft-hearted girl looked like she was about to faint.

AJ and Rainbow’s glanced at each other.

“...that’s a mighty interesting ensemble there Fluttershy.” AJ faked a smile.

“...uh...R-Rainbow Dash told me to...um...dress to s-sweat.”

“Did she now?”

“Whatever." Rainbow patted my shoulder. "We have even teams. Ready to play?”

“Did you just plan this out?” I asked suspiciously.

“I invited everyone this morning.”

“But you only asked me like ten minutes ago? What if I refused to play with you when you asked me?”

“But you didn’t.”

“But what if I did?”

“ But see, you didn’t.”

“But what if...forget it. It doesn’t matter, I didn’t bring my sweat pants.”

“That’s okay, I got some for you.” She chucked her duffle bag at my chest, then stuck her thumb to one corner of the gym. “Men’s locker room is that way.”

I unzipped her duffle bag and peaked inside. A pair of Starswirl Academy sweatpants were inside. Medium sized. They looked like they were from the track team.

“Where did you get these?”

"If you don’t ask questions, I won’t have to lie to you, Now get dressed! I’m itching to win.”

---time passes---

They were a snug, but did the job. My undershirt was enough to cover the rest of me.

AJ and Fluttershy did warm ups in center court. Fluttershy, who was in the middle of stretching her legs, made another ‘meep’ noise when she saw me return.

“Work those sweat pants Newbie!” Rainbow made a whistling noise as I walk out. She had perched herself up on the closed bleachers, and rolled the ball on the edge of her knee. She jumped to the ground with a thud, and slapped my shoulder hard once grounded. “Okay! I’m thinking…first to 12, 1 point per basket, 2 points at the 3 point line, loser’s ball, half court, bring it back to center?”

“Um…I think...that...we should play basketball.” Fluttershy said.

“Yes Fluttershy. I agree.” Rainbow rubbed the rim of her nose.

“Fluttasha’ can be on mah team." Applejack said, "I’ll tell her all the rules a’fore we play.”

“Oh…um…o-okay.”

“Fine. Newbie, you’re with me." Rainbow Dash dribbled the basketball. "You want defense or offense?”

“I’ll get defense. If you think you can score points.”

“Damn right I can. You just act like a third wheel and block.”

“Sure…what?”

RD proceeded to dribble the ball…to show off more. She knew how to handle it, that was forsure. Meanwhile, Fluttershy grew extra nervous as she watched her colorful friend perform, and heard Applejack assuring Fluttershy there was nothing to be afraid of.

“Uh...hey. One thing.” Rainbow stopped dribbling and moved in close to me. “Don’t be too aggressive with Fluttershy. I mean, don’t let her win, but don’t go overboard. Play nice, okay?”

“Yeah. No problem. Do you want me to do the same for AJ?”

“AJ? Dude, you could haymaker her jaw and she think it was a bug bite. Go nuts.”

“Alrighty." Applejack clapped her hands together. "Ah think’ Fluttasha’ is boned up enough to block a few shots. We’re all ready when you are.”

“Perfect! AJ vs RD, again. Check it on-”

“Rainbow Dash!” Just then the courtroom door swung open and a pair of small feet scurried inside.

“Ugh, great. Scoots found us.” Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes.

A small girl with purple hair ran up to RD and stood beside her like a loyal puppy. She looked like a middle school girl, but wore Starswirl’s emblem on her chest. She was a lot smaller for someone her age, in height and in thinness.

“Hi Rainbow Dash! You playing basketball?” She smiled widely as she tugged on RD’s pants. RD’s shoulder slouched.

“Yeah. WE are playing two-on-two.”

“Aw man! That sounds totally awesome! Which team can I be on?”

“…I’m sorry, that was my fault, I meant to say that last sentence in English. Let me try again.”

A-hem! Dashie!” Applejack gave the tomboy ‘the look’ and gestured to the tiny girl.”

“Uhhh, what I mean Scootaloo…” Rainbow Dash put a hand on the kid’s shoulder. "...it’s not that I don’t want you to play. It’s just…we got our teams already. It wouldn’t be fair if we-”

"Idonthavetoplay!” Fluttershy squeaked.

“Fluttershy!”

“Radical! Does that mean I can be on your team Rainbow Dash?!” She’s an eager little bugger, I thought. If the gymnasium didn’t have bright lights on the ceiling, the stars in kid’s eyes would have illuminated the room just fine.

“I…um…well, Newbie! Yeah, he’s already on my team.”

“Who are you?” The purple-haired twerp shot me a look of distrust.

“I’m ___. Rainbow Dash’s math tutor.”

“What? Tutor? But Rainbow Dash, you said that studying is for dweebs with no life.”

“Uh…I did say that, didn’t I?” Rainbow Dash gulped.

“And you said that math problems are stupid because no one cares how many apples you have left over after giving away five.”

“Hehe…y-yeah.”

“And you said that you have to be careful round boys who help you because nine out of ten times, they just want to get into your-” Rainbow covered Scootaloo’s mouth.

“Oookay, how about we forget about what I said for a while and focus on right now?” Dashie looked embarrassed.

“Fur pete’s sake, what in tarnation you been teaching this poor girl?”

“I don’t tell her to memorize everything I say, she just does!”

“Yeah," Scootaloo pushed Dashie’s hand off her mouth and said more. "I got a great memory. Like that time Rainbow Dash told me about Daring-Doo books...”

“SCOOTALOO!!!” RD’s hand flew over the young girl’s mouth again. “Alright, that’s it! I’m calling a timeout! I gotta calm this one down before she starts telling more LIES!” Rainbow Dash pulled Scootaloo by her arm and dragged her outside. The young girl’s grin stayed planted between her dimples.

Applejack picked up the ball Rainbow dropped.

“Who was that?” I asked Applejack.

"That there was Scootaloo. Rainbow Dash’s…fan.”

“She has a fan?”

“A better word fur it is ‘idolizer’. She don’t mean no harm. She’s just a tad star-struck.”

I watched Rainbow Dash lecture Scootaloo through the gymnasium sidelight. Scootaloo, much to my surprise, only grew more excited as Rainbow Dash grew…less frustrated? I saw her anger fade away as they both talked.

“Is she okay?” I asked either girl. Fluttershy answers.

“…Scootaloo...likes to, um, well...she and Rainbow Dash get along, but...”

“She’s like a little sister to Dashie." Applejack told me, "And Dashie’ll pout and moan and pretend to she don’t like the lil’ gal all morin’. But she does. And they both have a good time hangin’ out when they can. But Dashie don’t want people ta’ know she likes kids. Or reading. She gets a tad defensive.”

“Oh, so you know she reads?”

“Everyone knows. But she likes tah pretend it’s a secret. Ah think she’s read all of em. Cept the new one coming out in who knows when.”

“.....April. The new one…comes out in…April. I...um, like them too.” Fluttershy smiled.

Rainbow came back inside. Scootaloo ran over to the edge of the court, pulled a book out of her bag, and began reading it right away. ‘Daring-Doo’ was written on its cover.

I grinned smugly at Rainbow Dash. She pretended not to notice.

“Sooo…" Dashie scratched her head, "...the kid’s gonna sit this one out. And…cheer for me.” We all looked at Scootaloo, who waved back. Dash nodded. “Let’s just play. Applejack, check the ball.”

We moved to one half of the court. Scootaloo scooted to her right, following Rainbow Dash as she moved.

Rainbow Dash got the first ball, and charged towards the hoop. Applejack got right on top of RD, her hand firing all over to stop her dribbling. AJ looked like a giant compared to Dashie, but the little jock kept zipping left and right to avoid AJ’s advances.

“...h-hi.” Fluttershy said to me as we both defended the hoop. She was so nervous she looked like she was about to faint.

“Hi.”

“....eepp...”

“Better be careful. You’re on defense.”

“...um...”

Applejack slapped the ball out from under Rainbow’s hands, and it bounced my way. I grabbed it and tossed it at the hoop. AJ went for it, but I made it in.

“Right on.” Rainbow Dash high-fived me as I walked past her.

“YAY! Score one for team Rainbow Dash! Woohoo!” Scootaloo cheered. Rainbow groaned softly.

Applejack got the ball next and, mirroring her rival, performed an equally aggressive charge for the hoop. Dash tried blocked, hoping to use her speed to compensate for her size and AJ’s strength. It failed almost instantly. AJ charged through her.

AJ made a pass to Fluttershy…

“EEP!” …who ducked and covered her head. The ball went out of bounds.

“Awh, dang it girl.” Applejack pouted.

“Ha! That’s our ball.” Rainbow Dash announced.

“Er, one redo per team?”

“No way, we didn’t agree to that.”

“Yeah! You can’t change the rules mid-game!” Scootaloo backed RD up.

“What the twerp said.”

Fluttershy remained crouched over, immobilized, her hands clenching the top of her head.

“Uh...Sugarcube? You’re safe, ah promise.” Applejack said. I tapped Fluttershy shoulder gently.

“IDON’THAVETHEBESTREFLEXES!” Fluttershy sprang up, with beet red cheeks and sweating.

Rainbow Dash and Applejack looked at each other again. Then Applejack looked at Scootaloo.

“Please don’t.” Rainbow Dash begged.

“Fluttasha’. You don’t need to play if ya’ll not feelin’ competitive.” Applejack assured her timid friend.

“A-a-are you sure? I wouldn't want to break up the teams or...um...” Fluttershy rubbed her elbow. Her eyes glanced up at the ceiling, then down to her shoes.

“It’s okay." Rainbow Dash groaned."Scootaloo can play.”

“Awesome!” Scootaloo had crept up by Rainbow’s side before without us hearing and shouted when her name was called.

You be on Applejack’s team.” Rainbow Dash pointed.

“What? Aww! Then’s let’s pick the team’s again. It’s a new game!”

“No!”

“Pleeeeease?”

"I can be on AJ’s team." I said. "I don’t mind,”

“Shush you.”

“It’s fine by me." Applejack said. "He can switch so lil’Scoots can play with her hero.”

“Yes!” Scootaloo girl ran to me, assuming that she’d be on defense. “You’re going down!” Scootaloo tried to look aggressive, but she ended up looking adorable.

: “...let’s just play.” Rainbow Dash shook her head.

AJ grabbed the ball from Rainbow and passed it to me. I caught it. Scootaloo flailed her short arms around like a child stuck in the deep end of the swimming pool.

I felt bad scoring.

“One-nothing.” Applejack declared.

"I know!” Rainbow Dash growld.

“Relax Dashie. It’s just’a game.” Applejack whispered… “And it’s a game with a lil’kid, so let’s just focus on having fun, alright?

“Scoots..." Rainbow Dash snatched up the ball and grumbled. "...you want to play offense for a bit?”

“SURE!” Scootaloo forgot I existed and ran in front of Applejack. They checked the ball.

“...uh...just so’s you know, ah ain’t gonna go easy on ya. No sir-e. Ya’ll won’t be gettin’ any special treatment in this here game.” Applejack tried to lie. I’ve seen better acting in middle school plays. But Scootaloo bought it. She managed to dribble past Applejack and throw the ball towards the hoop...only to have it bounce off the rim. Rainbow blasted towards it when she got a chance, threw it up and earned their team a point.

“Yes! You’re amazing Rainbow Dash.” Scootaloo cheered.

“You’re not wrong kiddo." Dashie rubbed her hand on the top of Scoot’s head."But get back to half court, we have to win this thing.”

“You got it!” Scootaloo said. She awkwardly dribbled the ball back to half cout. Applejack just barely tried to beat her.

“...what are you looking at?” Rainbow Dash said to me as I grinned at her.

“I didn’t know you had a soft spot for kids.” I said slyly.

“I don’t.”

“Whatever you say. Egghead.”

“Excuse me?!”

“Think fast!” I ducked past RD and grabbed the ball as Applejack passed it to me. Up it went, into the hoop.

“N-no fair! I was distracted!” Rainbow Dash complained.

“No do-overs. ‘Member?” Applejack said proudly.

Dash put on a scowl and raised her chin as we got back in our spots.

“You missed-” I started saying

“Quiet.” Dashe barked.

“I just-”

“Shut up! Play!” Dash charged after AJ when she came close to the hoop, ignoring me, allowing Applejack to pass me the ball so I could get another score.

“That’s another point for us.” I said. "Eddhead."

“...Newbie...I swear, if you ever call me Egghead again, I’ll brain you.”

---time passes---

Applejack let Scootaloo get the last point.

“Game! Us!” Dash said.

"Woowhoo! We won!” Scootaloo applauded.

“Good game Scoots." Applejack patted her on the back. "Ya’ll beat us fair and square.”

“Thanks Applejack.” Scootaloo smiled, then turned to Rainbow Dash and begged for a compliment with her doe-eyes. Rainbow Dash stared at her for a second.

“...uh...who’s hungry?” Dashe clapped her hands together.

“Don’t we have work to do?” I reminded her.

“Yeah we do. I have to work on my appetite.”

“...y-yeah!" Scoots looked a little heartbroken when Dash did not give her a compliment. "Athletes have to recharge, right? Like everyone else.”

“Whatcha craving? Pizza, nachos, chilli dogs? Dash asked us all.

“How can ya eat that garbage all the time?” Applejack berated her tomboy friend.

“Oh, soooory. Are you in the mood for apples? Or how about apples? Or…oh man, does any place in town sell apples!?”

“I eat healthily, thank you very much missy. And don’t eat just apples.”

“I could go for anything” I said.

“OH! Ohohohohoh! There’s this place in town center that’s…” Scoots cleared her throat. “…I mean, there’s a diner over in town that serves everything. I dun know, could be cool.”

“Right on squirt. Why don’t you lead the way?”

“Sure. Whatever..” Scoots tried to act suave.

“You played a good game today.” RD rubbed the top of Scoot’s head again.

“I...I did? Really?!”

“Yeah. We won, didn’t we?”

“Y-yeah! We did win!” Scootaloo nearly tripped as she ran out the gymnasium. RD just yawned, not caring.

“That kid sure picked a peculiar role model.” Applejack shook her head.

20 - Eats

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Eats

Description: Applejack reveals that she is working too hard.
Note 1: This is my longest chapter, and contain plot points for future chapters.
Note 2: Part of what you are about to read was inspired by Gold - http://www.fimfiction.net/user/Gold.


“Bacon and chili on mine. With hot sauce. Spicy hot sauce. If it doesn’t come with the risk of spontaneously combusting, it’s not spicy enough.” Rainbow rubbed her hands together in anticipating as the diner waiter took down her order.

“I’ll take the same!” Scootaloo smiled.

“I like your style squirt.” Rainbow gave Scoots another pat on the shoulder. It sent her to nirvana for a moment.

“Ah suppose I’ll be havin’ the...uhh...the apple pie.” Applejack sighed, realizing that Rainbow’s previous assumptions were correct.

“With all the fixin’s, right deary?” Rainbow mocked her.

“Never you mind. At least it’s got something natural in it.”

“Um...salad please. No dressing.” Fluttershy said softly.

“Don’t you get tired of eating like a rabbit?” Rainbow asked Fluttershy.

“Don’t you never get tired of eatin’ like a pig.” Applejack asked Rainbow.

How were these three friends?

“I don’t eat like a pig.” Rainbow said, “Not all the time. I’m just celebrating, since we won. I think I deserve a burger.”

“Double-decker with four different cheeses and chili and what’not is not a celebratory meal.” Applejack complained.

“Um...what would you like young man?” The waiter asked me.

“I’ll just have the soup of the day. And some tea.”

“Pfft. You like tea?” Rainbow scoffed.

“It’s okay. I like it more than coffee.”

“Sounds like Rarity got to this one too. Next he’ll be swimming in gossip and admiring fashion.”

“Dashie, leave Rarity alone. She ain’t even here to defend herself.” Applejack sounded like she was losing her patience.

“Oh, forgive me darling…” Rainbow Dash mimicked Rarity’s high class accent. “…I should have been more considerate. After all, a Lady does not engage in pitter-patter behind people’s backs. That is something roughians like Rainbow Dash and that Apple girl from the south does.”

“Stop it!” Applejack’s raised her voice. The waiter scurried off.

“…you alright AJ?” I asked her.

“Ah’m fine!” Applejack crossed her arms and tried to ignore Dash.

“Are you sure?” Rainbow smiled. “You’re not sore because the dynamic duo beat you?”

“Yeah! The Dynamic Duo!” Scootaloo cheered again.

“Um...i-if she says she is fine...” Fluttershy started to say something, but Applejack interrupted her.

“Enough with all the insults. That actually is unladylike.”

“Ooooh. Excuuuse me madam Jack,” Rainbow kept making fun of Rarity, “I was not aware that we were in the presence of royalty. How can this filthy peasant apologize? I don’t want my head chopped off.”

“Knock it off!” Applejack sounded mad this time. Like, legitimately mad. But Rainbow of course did not pick up on the subtle changes in Applejack’s tone or her body.

“Are you sure nothing is bothering you Applejack?” I inquired again.

“Leave her alone Newbie. She’s just being a sore loser.”

“Ah don’t give a hoot about the game! I am sick and tired of …I’m…I’m tired is all.” AJ almost slammed her fist on the table. Her forehead crinkled. Rainbow Dash finally took the hint and stifled herself. “Ah...Ah need some air.” AJ left us, looking as stressed as I had ever seen her. She was so flustered that she left without her hat.

“What was that about?” I asked everyone.

“Beats me.” Rainbow shrugged.“She’s usually stubborn but not...angry.”

“Like you said. She’s just being a sore loser.” Scootaloo smiled widely.

I saw AJ through the glass window, rubbing her temples.

“I’m gonna go see what’s wrong.” I stood up out of my chair.

“I’ll bet you ten Bits that she uses an apple metaphor to describe how she is feeling.” Rainbow winked.

“Seriously, you’re not helping right now.”


Protag: “Are you okay?” I asked Applejack as I sat down next to her on the steps of the diner.

“I’ve...been better.” She sounded tired.

“I know Dash is a pain. But she was just fooling around. I think. She doesn’t know when to quit, that’s all.”

“Boy-hoowdy. That’s fur sure. Ah didn’t mean to snap back there. Ah just...been a bit extra stressed this week. And Dashie ain’t helpin’.”

“What’s wrong?”

“...it ain’t nothing I can’t handle.”

“What is?”

“Ah...” Applejack gulped loudly and closed her eyes, like every bone in her body wanted to vent but her pride tried to stop her. “Ah...”

“You can tell me. I don’t mind. I’m a good listener.” She gulped again, and let it all out at once…

“Ah’ve never been so stressed out in mah life! I haffta wake up at five, which ain’t so bad cause I used ta do that on the farm, but my family ain’t here to help no more neither! Ever since Big Mac went back home, it’s been harder and harder! And I just barely make it to class in the mornin’ and no one is there ta take up the shop when I’m gone so I haffta run back there during mah lunch break some times and I barely eat then and then ah haffta run back to class again, then back to the store and work more but Granny Smitth says the bills keep on pilin’ up too and ah just barely make enough money ta take care of mahself and…and…and ah needs a vacation.” She sat down on the cold stone steps with a thud. She looked like she was ready to pass out. “Ah went and played with ya’ll ah needed to burn off some steam. But it didn’t help much.”

“Is...there anything I can do?” Not knowing what else to do, I patted her back. She leaned her head on my shoulder.

“Listen’n is plenty, I tell you wut. But just promise me somethin’?” Applejack rubbed the soft spots under her eyes, then shook her head.

“Sure AJ. What is it?

“Don’t be tellin’ Dashie that ah went and got stressed. Just don’t. Fur me, alright?”

“Uh…yeah, I promise. But why not? She is your friend. Why keep it a secret?”

“Cause ah don’t want her flippin’ out and doin’ something crazy like she always does. Ah can handles this myself. Ah need a nap and maybe some choolates…and don’t be tellin’ her I eats chocolates neither.”

“My lips are sealed.”

When I first met Applejack, I got a sense that she was the kind of girl who carried weight of the world on her shoulders. That initial assessment had yet to be disproven.

But apparently she was also the kind who refused to let anyone help her, even when she desperately needed it. And she did need it. Her determination (or stubbornness?) was admirable, but the poor girl was at her wits end. It must have been hard for her to admit that.

“Shhh…” I heard someone whisper. I looked behind us, at the window next to our booth. Rainbow Dash was peeking through the partially opened screen, he face filled with concern.

“I won’t tell Rainbow Dash. I promise” I gestured RD to close the window, which she did quietly.

“Thank you.” I patted Applejack’s shoulder.

“But you don’t have to be afraid to tell us those things. We’re your friends. That’s what we’re-”

“Afraid. Ha! Now that’s a cute one. It ain’t bout fear or nothin’. It’s about...it’s about doing what needs ta be done. It’s work. It’s being responsible. Ah ain’t about ta act like mah problems are that much worse than everyone else’s just cause ah’m having a bad day. Or a bad month. Or two.”

“Applejack...”

“AJ is fine.”

“AJ. Right. AJ…no one is saying you’re not a hard worker. Or that you are an irresponsible one. But you haven’t even finished school yet. Don’t you think that is more important? Don’t you think this might be…a bit too much for one person.”

“Excuse me Mister, but this ain’t no ordinary person you’re talkin to.”

“I know, but it’s still just one person. Dash would never agree with me, but it’s okay to admit when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.” I preached and Applejack listened. “Giving up is not the same thing as knowing when to call it quits.”

It seemed that Applejack did not enjoyed what I said, but also couldn’t argue with it. What she wanted and what her body needed were in conflict. She was tired. And still so proud.

“How about we go inside and relax? That food would probably hit the spot right now.”

Applejack sighed again. Then nodded.


The three other girls sat in silence, all worried in their own way.

“What’s all the long faces fur?” Applejack’s smile popped back in place, acting like nothing was wrong.
“Don’t tell me ya’ll are worried bout me just cause I’m sore bout losin’ the game.”

“Are...you sure you’re alright?” Fluttershy broke the awkward silence among them.

“Of course Sugar-cube. Peachy. As happy as a hungry worm on apple harvest day.”

“Ha! An apple metaphor. Rainbow Dash wins again!” Scootaloo thought it was funny. Rainbow didn’t react. Her violet eyes were heavy. And her usually sly grin...gone.

“Dashie. Ya’ll alright?”

“Hmm? O-oh yeah…” Rainbow Dash sighed softly.

“That’s it? No comeback? No snarky remark?”

“…I got nothing. Maybe I’ll think of something after I eat.”

Applejack shrugged, sat down, and spoke to Scootaloo and Fluttershy like nothing had happened. It looked like those two bought AJ’s act.

But Dash stared out the window, as she usually did when lost in thought.

“...wonder how long till the food gets here? I could eat a horse. Woo-nelly.”

“Tell me about it.” Scootaloo said. “Nothing like a good game to work up an appetite. Right Dash?”

“….mm…” Dash grunted with out looking at Scootaloo.

“So Scoots, what classes do yah have this year?” Applejack tried to change the subject.

“I’m taking Literature and Biology and intro to Math.”

“That sounds interestin’.” Applejack glanced at Rainbow Dash briefly. “One minute. Ah gotta go to the little girls room. If the food gets here, start without me.”

“Um...I’ll...go with youy.” Fluttershy got up and followed Applejack. Why do girls always go to the bathroom together?

When they both had gone, Rainbow finally looked away from the window.

“You okay? I ask her. Instead of answering me, Rainbow Dash grabbed AJ’s brown leather handbag and pulled out her purse. “What are you doing?”

Rainbow pulled a few crumpled bills out of her own pocket and shoved them into AJ’s wallet. Then she put everything back where it was and crossed her arms.

“Neither of you say a word.” Rainbow Dash ordered us.

“Dash...”

“Not. A. Word.”

A pain in the ass tomboy, a rude headache…and every now and then, a saint.

---times passes---

“That was so good pie.” Applejack sucked on the prongs of her fork. “All sweet and warm. But Granny Smith still makes it better.”

“That burger ruled.” Rainbow Dash cleaned her teeth out with her fingernail.

“Ah still don’t sees how yah can shove all that grease in your mouth.”

“Burgers don’t have grease. That’s concentrated flavor in liquid form.”

Applejack: “Tell that to your arteries.”

“I will. I’ll let them know that I’m eighteen and could have a heart attack any day now.”

“Ya never know.” Applejack took out her purse to pay for her portion of the meal. “It’d be better to cut that greasy stuff out now a’fore it becomes a real problem. That’s…”Applejack stared into her purse, speechless for a second. Then she looked at Rainbow Dash crossly.

“That’s…what?”

Applejack pulled out the crumpled bills Rainbow had put in and laid them on the table. “Ya know, funniest thing…ah fergot what ah was gonna say.”

Playing dumb, Rainbow shrugged drank the last drops of her soda.


Thirty minutes later, we were back on campus and ready to call it a night. The sun was almost gone. I heard crickets talk to each other.

“I’ll see you later! Thanks for paying for me.” Scootaloo awkwardly shook Rainbow Dash’s hand.

“For the sixth time Squirt, you’re welcome.”

“I’ll pay you back. Scout’s honor.”

“You’re not even a scout.”

“Um…Scoot’s honor?”

“Oh god! Whatever. I’ll put it on your tab.”

“A...tab? I have a tab?!”

“It’s just an expression! Don’t worry about it!”

“Yes ma’am. I mean, no ma’am. I mean...I won’t. Uh, bye!” Scootaloo ran away before the rest of us could say goodbye back.

“Hmph” Applejack grunted at Rainbow Dash. “It must be nice to not haffta worry ‘bout paying someone back money they owe, right Dashe?”

“Yeah. I’m cool like that.”

“Of course you are.” Applejack looked angrily at Rainbow again, and Rainbow Dashie was either totally oblivious to it or acted like that way. AJ’s phone buzzed in her pocket. When she checked the caller, she sighed loudly. “No rest fur the weary. I haffta go.”

“Sure. Later.” Rainbow waved AJ away.

“Bye__” She smiled at me. “ And thanks.”

“No problem.” I said kindly.

Applejack left. When she thought she was out of our sights, she started running. Rainbow Dash stared as she left. He foot bounced up and down. I could tell she was trying not to show emotions.

“Poor Applejack.” Fluttershy looked sad. “I hope everything works out for her.”

“She’ll be fine. AJ is too stubborn to just give up.” Rainbow Dash tried to reassure us.

“Yeah, just like you.” I teased.“You two would make a great couple.”

“Ha. Ha. Ha. Like I have never heard that insinuation before. Reeeally original Newbie.”

“Insinuation?”

“Yeah. It’s the word-of-the-day on my word-of-the-day calendar. So what?”

“Oh no!” Fluttershy’s timid voice sprang up a few decibels. “Angel! I forgot to feed Angel! He’s going to be sooo mad at me. Last time I forgot to feed him, he didn’t speak to me for a week.”

“The rabbit didn’t speak to you for a week?” I asked. Fluttershy ran off without saying another word.

“Jesus.” Rainbow Dash stretched her arms. “Between Applejack’s problems, Fluttershy’s weird obsession with furry things, and Scootaloo being…Scootaloo, I’m starting to think I’m the last girl in this school with a normal life.”

“Modest observation, Egghead.”

“Oh my god! DON’T call me that!”

“Well, you like reading and-”

“I do not like reading!”

“I’m just kidding. What, you can poke fun at everyone but I can’t poke fun at you?”

Yes! That is exactly how it works!”

“Dashie, come on. It’s no big deal. It’s just a book.”

“This topic is closed!”

“Closed like a book?”

“Shut up!”

“Fine. Fine.” I had annoyed her. And I was proud of it. “I am going be up late trying to get my homework done.” I kicked a pebble at my feet.

“There you go again. We just had a good day with friends, playing games, and you still want to talk about work?”

“Well…I don’t want to…but, I still have to do it.”

“Of course you do. But why dwell on it? What good will that do?”

“What good will avoiding work do?”

“I’m not hanging out with my friends because I am trying to avoid work. I do it because they are more important to me. Waaay more important than algebra.”

“Okay, I agree with you there. But still, do you see where I am coming from with my points?”

“Not really. Later Newbie!” She left before our teasing turned into an argument. And, though I knew better, I teased her into starting one. This whole day was immature for me. Since I met Rainbow Dash, I was changing slightly. I wasn’t like the old me and I knew it.

And I kind of like it.


The sun was gone by the time I got back to my room. I was still wearing the sweat pants RD gave me. I wasn’t sure if she meant for me to keep them but what was she going to use them for anyway

My cell phone buzzed.

“Hello?”

“Where have you been!?” Twilight screamed when I answer. “I’ve been looking all over for you. I checked the library and around campus and the library again!”

“Twilight, calm down. What’s wrong?”

What’s wrong is that you were supposed to study today and I couldn’t find you. You went missing and didn’t answer your phone.”

I left my phone in my other pants! I didn’t hear it go off when I was playing basketball, and didn’t think to check it when I was eating.

“Oops. Sorry, I just didn’t hear my phone go off.”

“What were you doing? Where did you go?” She sounded more worried then angry.

“Rainbow…um…” Hmm, how to handle this? How do I tell Twilight that I ditched the session to play games? She’d kill me, or at least flip out over it for the rest of the month and never let me forget it. “Rainbow Dash got kicked out of the library. So we went to study in her room.”

Part of that was true. But I didn’t hear a response.

“Twilight? Hello?”

“…in her room?”

“Oh, you’re still there. I thought the call dropped. But yeah. We moved the study session into her room.”

“…and…you didn’t hear my phone go off?”

“Yeah. I’m sorry, total accident.”

“…you were studying…and you didn’t hear me call you. Right?”

“Right. I’m really sorry.”

I heard a strange noise on her end, a whimper mixed with a scoffing sound. “Okay. I mean, that makes sense. I guess…I guess I overreacted and…” Another whimpering noise came up. “…I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope.”

“Sure! I’ll walk you to homeroom, as always.”

“…okay.” She hung up.

My phone buzzed again. It said I had 38 missed calls!? No wonder Twilight was so worried.

I pulled out the assignment that I figured would take the longest and got started on it.

21 - What did you do?!

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What did you do?!

Description: You and Rainbow Dash have an argument.


Two hours or so after I started working, I heard a loud banging on my door.

I hoped it was Twilight, and hoped I could find out what was bothering her.

“Open!” A funny voice came from behind my door.

“Dash?”

“Open!” I unlocked the door. Dash flew inside before I could fully turn the handle. “What did you do!?”

“What?”

“What the hell did you do!? Giving up and calling it quits is not the same thing? It’s okay to admit when you’ve bit off more than you can chew? When did you suddenly become a life coach?”

“Stop yelling, calm down!”

“Applejack told Fluttershy about your little ‘pep talk’.” She quoted with her fingers. Her squeaky voice mocked me. “What the hell is wrong with you? Telling AJ to give up on helping her family?!”

“I didn’t tell her that.”

“You might as well have. Applejack is actually thinking about it now. You don’t know what that store means to her family.”

“If it means that much, why is she there all by herself? She can’t handle all of that work alone. She’s still a student.”

“She’s the hardest worker in the whole world and you told her it’s okay to quit. That’s like telling your Twilight friend that she’s weird for reading all the time. Shows how well you know your friends.”

“Applejack is exhausted! Lord knows what all this stress is doing to her grades or-”

“The grades! Again with the grades and the homework!” Rainbow Dash was shouting now, and without meaning to I started shouting just as loudly.

“Those are important and you know it! Stop telling me I’m wrong for thinking that. AJ should be taking care of her school work and worrying about her classes, not a job that an adult should be doing for her.”

“AJ should do what she wants to do!” Rainbow Dash stamped her foot hard.“And she should have the support of her friends while she does them. She shouldn’t hear that ‘it’s okay to quit’ B.S. She should hear stuff that motivates her to do everything, because she can it and has done it and she can do it again.”

“You always make fun of her! And challenge everything she does!” I started yelling now.

“That’s what I do! All that poking and prodding gets her off her ass and makes do awesome stuff! You don’t improve when someone tells you you’re fine the way you are. You improve when you know you can do better.”

“You are putting pressure on her!”

“And she kicks ass when she’s under pressure! You can't force someone to change. They have to want it, and that's how I remind AJ that she wants it.”

“Not everyone thinks like you do!”

“Well maybe they should!”

“Well maybe you shouldn’t waste your time yelling at me. Maybe you should do something about your friend’s problem, since you’ve done such a great job so far.”

“Well maybe I WILL!” The painting on my wall wobbled as RD slammed the door on her way out. She took my peace of mind with her when she left. Again!

God, what an infuriating girl.

22 - Early Morning 2

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Early Morning 2

Description: Deciding to put their differences aside to help AJ, you and Rainbow make a deal.


My alarm clock shouted me awake. I prayed for another hour of sleep, and rolled out of bed when my prayers were not answered.


I could barely keep my eyes open as I walked to class. The bad mood Rainbow put me in kept me awake for most of the night. I didn’t remember what time I finally got to sleep.

Oh, the nerve of her! The mere thought of what she said last night was enough to make my hair stand up. Where did she get the nerve of going off like that?

That genuineness about her, the initial awe of inspiration I felt when I first met her…it was a fluke. I was wrong about her. She was weird. And stubborn and too narrow-minded for her own good. Just like everyone else said she was.

Twilight followed me slowly as we walked to homeroom. She knew I was tired and I knew she was still upset I didn’t call her yesterday.

“Are you okay?” She asked without sounding worried.

“I didn’t sleep well.”

“Why not?”

“Rainbow Dash kept me up all night.”

“She…she…uuh-”

“Twilight!” She fainted! Thankfully, I caught her before she hit the ground.

“Uh, what...what happened?!” She rubbed her forehead as I helped her back on her feet.

“You fainted.” She shoved me when she was fully conscious “Hey!”

Twilight: “Why were you up all night with Rainbow Dash?!”

“I wasn’t! We had a fight. I mean, she yelled at me. For stupid reasons too. I couldn’t sleep after that!”

Twilight: “Oh…OH!” She smiled. “Well…then, forget about her. She is really rude and not a good student. I told you she was trouble. It’s not worth hanging around people who make you mad and start fights.”

“Why are you suddenly so happy?”

“No reason.” Twilight skipped as we walked onto campus. Some of the other students stared at her.“Um, are you...going to study with Rainbow Dash after class?”

“I don’t know. I’m starting to think the whole studying together thing was a bad idea.”

Twilight nodded a few times. “It was nice of you to try, but it’s good that you realize this before you wasted too much time on her.”

“…well, I wasn’t wasting time. I was trying to help. She needed it.”

“Er, yeah. I know. I didn’t mean…I meant…some people can’t be helped because they don’t want to be helped. Or because they don’t accept help the same way others do. You can’t force someone to change. You can only do your best and hope they copy you.” Rainbow Dash speech popped back in my head. “You tried but, like you said, it wasn’t working out.”

“It was….only for a few days..”

“That still counts as trying.”

Did it?

Now that I put it in perspective, the more I thought about it, the more I started seeing Rainbow Dash’s point.

“What was the fight about anyway?” Twilight asked me.

“I told Applejack-”

“Hey!” My headache in a skirt reappeared. Rainbow Dash ran to me from across campus.

“What do you want?” I reminded myself I was mad at her. Forget rational thought!

“Help.” She said bluntly.

“More help? You have to kidding?”

“Not for me. For AJ. I told you I’d find a way!”

“What are you talking about?”

“This!” Rainbow handed me a pile of flyers from under her arm. These were the yellow papers around school. A crudely drawn picture of an apple was rendered the middle of it, and, beautiful cursive exclaimed above the drawing “Eat your lunch at The Apple Family Store”.

“You can’t be serious.”

“We’ve got a school full of hungry students who like eating, and apple pies don’t suck. Plus, if we put them around town, the local stores could always use more food for shipments or whatever. So what are we waiting for?”

“Rainbow Dash, don’t you think you should at least ask ___if he wants to help?” Twilight tried to stand up for me.

“Nice to see you too Twilight. And ___is always onboard. Right dude?” Dash poked the badge sewed on my uniform, reminding me that she gave it to me.

“I don’t even get an apology for last night?” I asked.

“Nope. No time, we got work to do.”

“Dash, I know I’ve been your tutor for only a few days, but you’ve half-assed the whole thing since we started.”

“Are you still harping on about that?”

“Why should I believe you’re not going to half-ass this too?”

“Because it’s not about me.” Dash pouted. “It’s about helping a friend. And when your friends are in trouble, you’ve got to do something to help them. You have to! You just have to!”

“Rainbow-”

“And secondly, like you said, it’s only been a few days. Like four days total if you count this afternoon, which we’ll have to skip because we have to help AJ.”

“See, that is what I am talking about. You don’t care about your math grade or the study session. Why should I?”

“Here-here!” Twilight backed me up.

Rainbow only grew more frustrated with me. “What do you want from me, a signed contract? I asked you to help me study, I didn’t sell you my soul.”

“Okay, that’s it.” I turned my back on her. “You want to study math, do it on your own. Have fun bombing the next test.”

“What!?”

“You heard me.”

Newbie, come on, I need your help. And right now AJ does too. Don’t ditch.”

“We better hurry Twilight. Homeroom will be starting in a minute.”

“Lead the way.” Twilight looked proud of me.

“Wait, don’t…Newbie, come on!” I tried my best to ignore Rainbow’s whined. “…I’m sorry okay!”

“…what?”

“I’m…sorry.”

“…sorry for what?”

“…for…yelling at you last night?”

“…go on.”

“…and…for…not taking…studying more seriously. Even though everything about studying sucks.”

“...uh huh. And?”

What else did I do?!” I stared her down, waiting for more. Eventually, she sighed in defeat and whispered…“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.” She cleared her throat and looked over her shoulder. No one was listening to us. “Is that enough?”

She may have just said that to get me to calm down, and perhaps deep down she did not truly meant it…but it made me feel better.

It’s weird how much an apology can mean, especially when you’re angry.

“Okay. I forgive you.”

“Good. So will you help me? For AJ’s sake?” The bell rang. A stampede of students shuffled inside.

“Can we talk about this later?”

“I guess. I’ll find you.”

I followed Twilight inside. Rainbow stayed behind and handed flyers to the people around her, telling about AJ’s shop.

I still partially mad at the aggressive tomboy, but was willing to give her yet another chance.


RD wasn’t in Math Class when I got there. She ran in seconds before the teacher started talking, still grasping flyers under her arm..

“I’ll talk to you after class ends.” She whispered to me as she sat down She yawned at her desk. It looked like she had been up all night too.


The second class ended, Rainbow by my side.

“I figured the next step is to go around town and ask every small shop if they need extra food shipments and stuff.”

“Rainbow...” I tried to say something.

“Like bakeries, restaurants. Anyone who likes apples and sweets. We shouldn’t even ask them, we just tell them that AJ’s store is doing them the honor of offering to do business with them.”

“Rainbow, slow down.”

“And tonight, like at around seven...”

“Rainbow!”

“...yeah?”

“Okay, I know you want to help Applejack, but in all seriousness why do you need to bring me along with you?”

“Cause. Three people are better than two.”

“Three?”

“AJ, me, and you. We can do more work than one person.”

“And the studying thing?”

“What about it? This is more urgent.”

“I didn’t agree to help you advertise your friend’s shop.”

“A-hem! Our friend’s shop. Right?”

“Fine, our friend’s shop. What I told you was I’d help you study. That was all I promised. This goes a bit out of my jurisdiction.”

“Are you saying you won’t help?”

“I...” Another flash of empathy got the better of me. I imaged Rainbow Dash failing math and Applejack going back home to her farm a failure. “...I’ll only help you IF you promise…I mean it, you need to promise...you’ll start taking your studies more seriously.”

“It’s a deal!” Rainbow made a vile hacking noise with her throat, hocked a loogie into her palm and held it towards me.

(In the game, you could make a choice here: [Spit and shake] or [Gross!])

“So, we’ll study tomorrow afternoon.” Rainbow Dash said. “Tonight, we’re gonna be busy!”

“Fine. But you better show up tomorrow.”

“A promise is a promise. But after school…girl’s dorm, room 3-F. Be there after class Egghead.”

“You’re room? Why?”

“Just cause.”

“...a-alright. I will.”

“Awesome. Later.” She ran off again, continuing her crusade with her best foot forward.

23 - Getting Ready to Help

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Getting Ready to Help

Description: You and Rainbow Dash prepare yourself for a long night of work.
Note: This is a long chapter, but I think it’s one of the better ones.


Scene: Girl’s Dorm, Hallway

Floor 3, room F.

Boys were not officially allowed into the girl’s dorm. That rule was seldom obeyed. But I still got many suspicious looks from the other girls on that floor. Those suspicious looks transformed to freaked out ones when they saw me knock on Rainbow’s door.

“It’s open!” I opened the door slowly.

A feminine voice behind me giggled. “I didn’t think she had a boyfriend…”


Her room was as messy as I expected. Tank-tops and sweat pants from the week before were tossed casually on the ground, the bed was unmade with the sheets hanging off the edge. The room smelled like a locker room that had been sprayed with a bottle of perfume in a lazy attempt to hide unpleasant odors.

A Wonderbolt’s poster hung on her wall. Next to that was a bulletin board riddled with hanging papers and an Air Force emblem. The papers looked like registration forms.

A model fighter airplane hung over the center of her room, gently twisting in a half circle. It was one of those old bombers from the black-and-white movies. Somehow it fitted her.

There was a fish tank on her desk. A small pond was in its center and a few ferns decorated the edges. A collection of odd colored rocks were piled up in one corner, but I didn’t see any animals inside. Another oddity.

“Where are you?” I said loudly.

“Hang on!” She yelled from the bathroom. I heard a hacking noise, followed by a spelunking sound as Rainbow spat into the toilet. Charming.

After another moment, Rainbow stepped out of the bathroom, rubbing her wet hair with towel, wearing a thin white tank top and short-shorts. I kept forgetting how incredibly in incredible shape she was and had to force myself not to stare.

“Hey.” She threw the towel over her shoulders.

“Hi. Your place is...nice.” I kicked a dirty hoodie off my foot.

“I gave the maid a day off.” She threw her towel in a nearby hamper. It was overflowing with clothes already.

“Did you find the place okay? Didn’t get mugged or anything? None of the druggies asked you cash?”

“We’re...in the rich suburbs.”

“...maybe one of those rich folks can buy you a sense of humor.” She opened up her dresser and took out a tube of...something. Little brown pellets? She struggled to get the little plastic top open. “I spoke to Applejack. She was pretty mad that I handed out those flyers without asking.”

“…she didn’t know you were helping?”

“She does now.” POP! The tube’s lid came off. “One sec.” Rainbow moved to the fish tank on her desk and tapped the glass a few times. “Wake up Tank! Dinner time!”

One of the rocks started moving. A wrinkly green head poked out of a worn out shell. Its legs eventually flowed.

“You have a pet turtle?”

“Tortoise.”

“Whatever.”

“Not whatever! Tank here is the best pet in the world. He doesn’t need walks, he doesn’t need a litter box, he never scratches up my mattress, and he’s a really good listener.” She poured some of his food in his bowl. The animal moved towards his meal at about an inch a minute.

“Why a tortoise?”

“Why not?”

“Well, it seems a little…slow for you”

“Yeah. He takes his time with stuff.”

“So…why a tortoise?”

“Because. Tank is just like me.”

“Just like you?! I don’t see the connection.”

“No one does. Not at first.”Rainbow scratched the top of his wrinkly head after he took a few bites. I know that frogs and alligators and all others kinds of green smiley creatures are not capable of facial expressions, but I swore it smiled at her.

“Where’d you get it?”

“Fluttershy gave him to me. I didn’t want him at first, but the little guy grew on me.”

“Is it because…he’s thick-skinned?” I asked.

“Huh?” She sounded perplexed.

“I’m trying to figure out what you two have in common.”

Rainbow sighed. She lifted her tortoise out of its tank and held it to me. His stubby legs swayed back and forth, his mouth stuffed with food pellets.

“He has a shell.” She said plainly

“…I still don’t get it.”

Rainbow pouted and put Tank back down. “Hear that Tank, he doesn’t ‘get it’. But it’s alright; you’re still my favorite.” Tank took a bite in slow-motion. “So like I was saying. After Applejack calmed down, she said she could use our help with something else.”

: “...calm down?”

“You know she doesn’t like taking unwanted help.”

“Well, not to put a damper on everything, but if Applejack doesn’t want our help-”

“That’s the problem. She doesn’t want our help, but she needs it. You don’t know her like I do. She’s as stubborn-”

“As you are?”

“First of all, shut up. Second of all, she’s even more stubborn than me. You saw how tired she was. You know she needs a hand. Or at least a nap and a day off.”

“What happened to that rant last night, about how Applejack can do anything if she is under pressure?”

“...Applejack can do anything...but...a little help, couldn’t hurt?”

“So you’re saying you were wrong?”

“Nope. No, no. No. I didn’t say that. I just said that she needs a teeny bit of backup cause she’s overworked.”

“...so you were wrong.”

“I was not wrong. I just gave Applejack a bit too much credit. If it was me, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

“All I’m hearing is ‘I was wrong and yelled at ___for nothing’.”

“...I said I was sorry before, you know?” Her foot tapped up and down as she glared.

“You did. Thanks for that.”

She huffed. “…so this afternoon…Applejack’s gotta make some deliveries. Restaurants, caterers, those places. She could be out for a while. We’re going take care of Winona for her.”

“Who is Winona?”

“Her dog. She lives on the top floor of her shop with Applejack.”

“I can handle that.”

“Even though you like cats?”

“I’ll manage.”

“Good.” Rainbow looked at a nearby mirror. She combed her damp bangs with her fingers, styling it just enough so her split ends were hidden. “Eh, good enough.” She grabbed her long board and threw on her helmet on, defeating the purpose of fixing her hair in the first place.

“I’m set.” She said.

“Me too.”

“I’ll see you later buddy.” Rainbow put her hand back in the fish tank and gave Tank another pat on his head. “Don’t throw any crazy parties again.”

The tortoise nodded. It nodded. The lizard-thing actually nodded!


Rainbow circled around me on her long board as we traveled through town. I followed her closely, not sure which way was Applejack’s shop.

She rode her board as so naturally, like she learned how to ride before she learned how to walk. And she showed off the whole way there. She dragged her hands on the ground, spun around fire hydrants…occasionally she’d disappeared down a random blocks only to reappear seconds later.


“Are you going to join any clubs?” She talked to me while performing these stunts, maybe to show off more.


“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.”

She’d briefly say something, then she’d blast off again, to do some move that I couldn’t mimic if I tried.

“Do you want to join any?” And seconds later, she’d come back with more to say.

“Not really. None of the clubs caught my attention.”

“If you ask me really nice, I could put in a good word and make you the track team’s water boy.”

“Yeah? You’d do that for me? Wow, you are such a good friend.”

“If you play your cards right, I could make you towel boy too.” And then ZOOM, off she went down the street. After a few seconds, she glided back of with another question. “What was your old school like?”

“Um...it was kind of upscale. Nothing really happened there. Just the usual and predictable high school stuff.”

“Did you like it?”

“Sometimes. I didn’t relate to a lot of people in my class.”

She zipped away for a few seconds, then zipped back. “Why not?”

“I don’t know. Most of the students were different from me. I liked things they didn’t.”

“I know that feeling.” She moved around but stayed within earshot now. “Do you like this place more?”

“I’m still getting used to it. But it’s more interesting. I haven’t been bored since I got here.”

“Yes! Boredom is the worst thing! I can’t stand it. When you got a lot of energy and you’re ready to do something crazy but no one is around or you ran out of money so you can’t buy anything. So you stay in and do nothing. I hate that!”

“...does that happen to you a lot?”

“Applejack’s been working so hard that I rarely see her anymore. Fluttershy is…well, she’s fine but she’s not that ambitious.”

“Ooooh.”

“Oh what?”

“Is that why you’re so fixated on helping Applejack? Cause you miss her?”

“What?!” Rainbow nearly fell off her board. “No! I’m helping her cause she needs it! She’s my friend and…I…she needs help. I can do anything she can do but better, including working a shop!”

“I was just asking. You know, making conversation.”

Rainbow Dash’s face flushed. She skated away again, this time staying away longer than last time. When she finally glided back, she look annoyed.

“I mean it!” She said stubbornly.

“I believe you.”

“No you don’t. Cut it out!”

“No, I understand. Really.”

“Tch. Whatever.”

‘I enjoy poking at your weak points too Dashie,’ I thought to myself. It was so much fun to watch her squirm away from her feelings.

“Do you like it here?” I asked her when she calmed down.

“No! It’s so bo~ring. This place might be great when you are thirty-two and old and ready to settle down. But I’m light years away from that.”

“Thirty-two is not that old.”

“It might as well be. I’m getting out of here the second I can. Getting on in a plane, getting on the Wonderbolts and never looking back!” She grinded her wheels on the ground, finally stopping. “Did you know Soarin broke the altitude record for the team two years ago AND he has the best recovery time from spin-outs than anyone else has in the past twenty years.”

“I didn’t.”

Her ability to gear the conversation in another direction, just to avoid talking about her feelings, was a skill itself. She was open with all of her thoughts but rarely was she open with her emotions.

I didn’t understand why she was so hesitant to show that side of her, but it was nice to know there was a sensitive girl underneath that…hard shell…

…oh, now I get it!

“I bet you know everything about the Wonderbolts.” I said to keep the conversation going.

“Almost. I know Fleetfoot used to be an Olympic runner, but gave that up cause she wanted to be on the team. And Spitfire, man, she’s incredible. She’s moving away from the main team so she can focus more on recruiting and training cadets. She likes working with young people a lot.

“You sound like you met her.”

“I did. I have. I –I mean, I know her.”

“Really?!”

“Yeah. Spitfire is my sponsor.”

“Your what?”

My sponsor for the Air Force Academy. You need to have one to help you through the recruitment process, and they do letters of rec, legal processing, all that lame stuff.”

“You have a Wonderbolt for your academy sponsor?!”

“Dude, I’m getting in! I told you, I know what I am doing.”

“How did you manage to get a Wonderbolt as your academy sponsor?!”

“Dumb luck. She was on campus last year and saw me run, and she liked me. I just played it cool and worked it! She liked me and next thing you know she was my sponsor. I just need to plow through this school year and I am set for life!”

“That sounds pretty awesome.”

“Awesome is the only way I know how to be.” Rainbow pulled her gloves off with her teeth and tucked them in her back pocket. “Here we are.”

Her board clicked up as we stopped in front of a small two level house. It looked like a cottage with a bad paint job and large lower floor. A huge garage was sloppily attached to it with a few crooked nails. The windows inside betrayed the cheap exterior. I saw a much cleaner inside.

Applejack’s beaten up truck was parked by the side of the big garage, with several crates of supplies and deliveries tied down, ready to be shipped off to where they needed to go.

Rainbow put two fingers in her mouth and whistled loudly.

“ARFF! ARFF!” A brown and white dog jumped up and down at the nearest window.

“Winona! Hey girl.” Rainbow rushed up the small stoop and shimmied the door knob. “Come on, it’s unlocked.” The door opened maybe four inches before an energetic collie ran between Rainbow’s legs. Hey Winona, miss me?”

The dog rubbed her head into Dashie’s calf, demanding she pet her. But Winona forgot all about Rainbow when I stepped closer. She sniffed my leg, barked twice, then jumped up to my waist a few times.

Dogs never respect personal space.

“Say hi to her before she goes crazy.” Dash told me.

“...uh, hi. Winona.”

“Not like that. Pet her, show her you’re happy to see her.”

“ARRF!” I patted her head gently. She whimpered, so I did it more. And more. Eventually, she licked my hand and ran back inside.

“She’s fun to walk. Loves to run after people, cars, cats.”

“Great.”

“Ugggh. Be quiet Winona.” Applejack limped to the front door. Dark rings had grown under her eyes and her hair, which normally was straight and healthy, had twists and splits in it.

“Sup?!”

“H-howdy Rainbow. Howdy___.” She coughed and put her hat back on.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, you don’t look so good.”

“Ah don’t?”

“I mean, you’ve looked better.”

“Gee, thanks Dashie!” She threw a leash to the tomboy. “If ya’ll could just walk Winona for me, ah’d appreciate it. Poor girl’s been going stir crazy lately.”

Winona pressed her paws on Rainbow’s leg. She whimpered again.

“No problem.” Rainbow Dash saluted AJ. “If you want, Newbie could walk Winona and I could help you with-”

“Ah tolds ya’s a hundred times…ah don’t needs your help with nuthing but walkin’ mah dog!” Her accent flared up as she got angrier.

Applejack stumbled inside, forgetting to close to door. Rainbow rolled her eyes and closed it for her.

“She’s gonna pass out at this rate.” Dash said, then chuckled.“Timber, falling tree. Haha.”

“She looks terrible. I’ve never seen her like that before.”

You should have seen her in sophomore year when she had braces.”

“Applejack had braces?”

“Ah can still hears ya!” Applejack shouted through her window.

24 - Helping

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Helping

Description: With Applejack barely able to function, Rainbow Dash decides to take things into her own hands.


Winona tugged on her leash like a fish on the end of a line, darting all over the block and lurching backwards when the slack ended. Her nose sniffed as many things as she could. Her tail never stopped wagging. She hadn’t been walked in a while.

“I see why you were worried about Applejack.” I told Dash as Winona scratched her ear.

“She’s gonna crash and burn soon if we don’t do something.” Dash declared like it was a mission or something.

“But she told us she didn’t want our help.”

“What did I tell you? She stubborner than I am.”

“‘Stubboner’ is not a word.”

“Neither is ‘ya’ll’, but Applejack gets to use it.”

---time passes---

Our walk lasted a good hour. Poor Winona didn’t want to go home.

“Applejack!” Rainbow shouted through the closed front door as she twisted the door’s knob. Winona ran inside. “It’s unlocked again.”

“Isn’t she supposed to be out delivering the stuff? Why is her door unlocked?”

“Gee, maybe because she forgot to lock it? How did you even get into a private school?” Winona ran inside when Dash opened the door, but did not bark. “Come on.”

“We can’t just go inside.”

“Why not?” She went in before I could answer her favorite question. When she didn’t come back out, I gave in and followed.


Winona had crawled into her bed in the living room and fallen asleep already.

“Dashie?”

“Shhhhhh!” She hissed at me from the living room. “Over here...”

I crept over to her quietly.

Applejack was sleeping soundly on her couch, hat still resting on her blonde head. Her arms were sprawled out like limp noodles. A pair of keys jingled in her pocket as her leg twitched. Invoices were scattered over her nearby coffee table.

She must have sat down for a second and collapsed.

Rainbow stood next to her. She put her finger over her lips and signaled me to go back outside. I nodded and tippy-toed backwards.


“Should we wake her up?” I asked outside her house.

“I don’t know.” Dash looked like she was thinking about something.

“She has a lot of work to still do. Didn’t you see all the papers on her table? They were invoices for deliviers.”

“…yeah.”

“I know she’s out of it...but we can’t leave her here. She has to wake up.”

“Wake up…” Rainbow Dash paused. Then she grinned like the Grinch. “…no. No, she doesn’t.”

“Of course she does.”

“Not if all her work gets done while she’s asleep.”

“But...”

Rainbow tugged my arm. “I can drive a truck. You can do math for the invoices.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a minute. I’m all for helping Applejack, but taking her truck is stealing.”

“No it’s not. It’s borrowing.”

“Rainbow!”

“…okay, so it’s stealing. But it’s...uh...the...you know the thing about stealing bread to feed a starving family? It’s like that.”

“You mean it’s justified.”

“Yeah. All her paperwork is right there, the truck is stocked up with everything and Applejack just happened to fall asleep while we were walking her dog? It’s like God wants us to do this.”

“And you don’t think Applejack will be mad if we do this?”

I could hear the stone in Rainbow’s stomach fall. “Uhh…I don’t know, maybe. But how much do you want to bet that she hasn’t slept at all in the last two days?”

“Okay, Applejack needs help. But I’m...I don’t know, this is a bit much.”

“You’re thinking about doing it.” Rainbow smiled slyly.

“Yeah, thinking about it.”

“Admit it, you kind of want to do it.”

“Um...” I skipped studying more time in the last week than I did in the last year at my old school. And while my common sense told me to think twice about what we were about to do, a little voice in the back of my head was hollering, screaming that this sounded like a lot fun. A risk, the thrill of it, the daringness.

“Okay. Let’s do it.” I gave in. I didn’t think it through, for once.

“Yeah?”

“But it’ll stay our secret?”

“Promise!” Rainbow’s eyes lit up.“Wanna shake on it?” She got ready to spit in her palm again.

“THAT’S OKAY! Really, I’ll take your word for it.”

“Yes. Yeah, I knew you were cooler than you let on.” She punched my shoulder. It didn’t hurt as much as it used to. “There is one...teeny...little thing”

“What?”


Applejack: “....nnn...”

Rainbow stopped moving. She hovered over Applejack with two fingers on the cowgirl’s keyring.

“Slower.” I whispered as softly as I could.

“Shut up!” She moved Applejack’s key ring off her belt. Bit. By. Bit.

“...huh! I didn’t...” Applejack talked in her sleep. My heart stopped every time she did.

“Stop freaking out, you’re making me nervous.” Dash whisper-yelled at me.

“Don’t tell me to stop freaking out! Just get the keys!” I gestured her to hurry up. Rainbow stuck her tongue out at me.

“ARFF!!” Winona barked. I nearly dropped the invoices and order forms I was holding.

“...hush Winona...” Applejack rolled over and stuck her head in the curve of the couch.

Rainbow’s colorful hair stood up and spiked outward. It stayed on end for a few second until our hearts slowed down.

“Phew.” Rainbow wiped her forehead and heard a metal clinking noise. Rainbow had accidently ripped the key ring off Applejack’s belt as she rolled over. Like taking a band aid off fast.

She fist pumped victoriously, and fought the urge to throw the keys down like a football. She cusped the keys together so they wouldn’t make more noise, and waved me towards the door. We both crept out of the living room on the tips of our toes.


“Yikes, that was stressful.” I said as my heart rate went back to normal.

“That was awesome!” Dash jumped up and down. “Did you feel your heartbeat? And how freaky it was when she told Winona to be quiet?! What a rush!”

Thrill Seekers….you learn to love them.

“Let’s get the truck and go!” Rainbow ran to the truck before I could respond.

---time passes---

We counted the boxes in the back and compared them to invoices. Everything was where it needed to be, with matching address glued onto the right boxes

When we were ready, Rainbow put the keys in the ignition and started the old vehicle. If machines could cough, Applejack’s truck sounded like it had bronchitis.

Rainbow buckled her seatbelt and reached for the stick shift...then stopped.

“Hmmm…a clutch.”

“You know what you’re doing right?” I asked her nervously.

“Yeah, totally. Applejack showed me how to drive this thing a while ago.”

“How long is ago?”

“A while ago.”

“Yeah, I heard that part. How long specifically?”

“Uh, what day is it?”

“Thursday.”

Rainbow Dash: “It was about three years ago.”

“God dammit.”

The truck lurched forward as Rainbow jimmied the stick shift. I could feel the weight of our delivery pushing the truck down. This was probably going to take a while.

You got the paperwork?” She asked me.

“Yep. Looks like our first stop is...uh...56 Germain Avenue. A place called Tabitha’s.”

“I know that place. Rarity goes there a lot.”

“Is it nice?”

“It sucks! All uptight, snooty rich people stuff. What could Applejack be delivering to that place?”

“No idea.”

“Well when we get there, pretend like you do.” Rainbow hit a bump pulling out of the driveway and the compartment above her head opened up. A baseball cap and a few pieces of paper fell on her lap. “Ah great.” Rainbow hit the brakes and went through the stuff. “…haha! Oh my god! Check this out”

“What?”

“Applejack owns a trucker hat!” Rainbow held up the green baseball cap. It had netting in the back and said ‘Sweet Apple Acres’ on the front. Rainbow put it on, stuck her elbow out the window and started driving again. “Ah feels like ah’m queen of the road. Yee-haa!”

She did a perfect impression of Applejack, then laughed at herself. I found it a bit out of taste, making a white trash joke when we were stealing her truck in the first place. Or borrowing. Or whatever.

I grabbed the other items that fell off Rainbow’s lap and closed the compartment.

“Thanks. What’s that other stuff?” She asked as I went through AJ’s belongings.

The two pieces of paper that fell out were pictures. One was of a little girl and tall, muscular guy standing next to each other, both leaning on a wooden fence.

“Who’s that? I asked and Rainbow glanced quickly at the picture.

“That’s her brother and sister, Big Mac and Applebloom. Her brother graduated last year. If he was still here, Applejack probably wouldn’t be this overworked.”

That thought upset her. I heard it in her voice, and saw it in his knuckles as she squeezed the wheel harder.

---time passes---


Rainbow wasn’t kidding about the fanciness of our first stop. The outside walls were marble and everyone near the entrance wore fancy tuxedos.

Rainbow pulled the out-of-place truck behind the building. The stuffy members of the club scoffed at us as we did.

“Okay, follow my lead.” Rainbow pushed her ponytail under the trucker hat and rolled up her sleeves to her shoulders.

“What? What lead?” She stepped out without answering me. A sharply dressed man with a white mustache approached her.

“May I...eh, help you?” He spoke with a stuffy accent that was probably fake.

“Well, ah certainly hopes so mister. We gots a delivery to make, from the Apple Family shop.” Rainbow donned her impressionism skills once more and mimicked Applejack’s voice flawless. Hearing Applejack’s voice come out of Rainbow Dash’s mouth was shocking but sounded so natural somehow.

“Oh. Is that so?” He looked Rainbow’s shoulder.

“Yes sir-e. Ranch-hand, give the fella the thingy he’s a’posed ta sign,and fetch what he ordered.”

I had to resist rolling my eyes as I stepped out of the truck and handed the man the documentation.

“…oh, yes I see. The organic fruits for the hors d'œuvre for the banquet. Thank you for being so timely. We only have a few hours before everything begins.”

“O’course. At the Apple Family Shope, we pride ourselves on hard work and timeliness.”

Applejack had left trolley in the back of the pick-up for her deliveries. Thank God, those boxes were heavy! Applejack must have been the most stubborn girl on the planet if she thought she could move all of these by herself.

I listened to Rainbow act as I did all the work.

“And all of the produce here is organic, yes?” The rich man kept inquiring. “No hormones, no pesticides, that sort of thing?”

“You have my honest ta apple word that every-thang in that there crate is as fresh as mother earth intended it ta be.” She kicked the wooden crate for added effect. “Ain’t that right Newbie? Fresh as a mornin’ back on the farm, right?”

“...eeyup.” I wasn’t good at impressions or playing along, so I just kept my head down and said the bare minimum.

“Well sir, ah don’t mean to be rude but we have lots’a more places to go t’night.”

“Oh yes, I understand.” He nodded politely. “And thank you for the short notice. Would you mind if we send you payment directly to your bank account?”

“O’course sir. Thad be mighty fine.”

“Very good, I’m glad we could do business. Oh and please, take this small token of my appreciation.” He handed Rainbow two Bits.

“Thank you kindly sir. Ah hopes to see yous again real soon.” Rainbow got back in the truck. I threw the trolley in the back and hurried in with her. She drove off the second my butt was on the seat.

She said nothing…until we were down the block.

“Haha, rad! We got tips!” She tossed me one coin.

“Why the accent?”

“Cause when people remember this little event, they’ll only remember talking to a tom-boyish girl with a southern accent, and not a squeaky voiced girl with rainbow colored hair. No one will even think we were here.”

“That’s...pretty smart for you.”

“For me?”

“I mean for anyone. For thinking on your feet I mean.”

“Speaking of thinking on your feet…eeyup? That was the best you could come up with?”

“I didn’t know what to say, I can’t do accents. Or impressions.”

“I can.”

“Yeah, I noticed you’re pretty good at those.”

Applejack is the easiest one to do. I guess cause I spent so much time with her.” She paused. “Anyway, next stop!”

“Okay, let’s see...next stop is on Main Street. It’s a big one.”

“I’m sticking with the accent all night.”

“Fine. I’ll just nod and agree with you all night.” I responded calmly, but in my heart I was bursting with excitement. I had never done anything like this before, with a friend this bold. Or one this weird.

25 - Hard Day's Night

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Hard Day’s Night

Description: You and Rainbow Dash succeed in helping their friend.


It was already dark by the time the truck crept back into the driveway.

“What a night.” Rainbow put the trucker hat back where she found it.

“Tell me about it. My muscles are sore for all that lifting.”

“Thanks for doing the heavy stuff.” Rainbow turned the truck off and quietly dropped off AJ’s keys, while I tidied up the passenger seat.

“Thanks for doing the fast talking.”

We were in the clear. AJ was still sound asleep on her couch. I tried not to think of what her reaction would be tomorrow.


The stars were hidden behind those clouds, the ones that refused to go away, teasing us with threats of rain all week days.

Rainbow walked her long board back to campus. She said it was to not wake anyone. I think it was because she was finally running low on energy.

“Haha...” She stifled a giggle as we walked back to campus

“What?”

“Eeyup.”

“…shut up.” I said playfully.

She giggled more, then shoved me with her elbow. I shoved her back gently. With sleepy eyes half open, she smiled at me.

Crickets chirped. Rainbow whistled a few notes. Despite all she had done today, she didn’t have a worry in the world.

“Do you do stuff like this often?” I asked her.

“What? Joyrides?”

“Do you always do what you feel like whenever you want?”

“That’s the point of being alive, isn’t it? Why be here at all if you don’t live the way you want? She shoved me again, this time with her palm. “Hey look. Another smile.” She pointed to my mouth. I touched my dimples and, like she said, I was smiling. Without realizing that I was. “Sometimes If forget you know how to smile Newbie.”

“You know us Eggheads. If there aren’t any books around, there’s not much to smile about.”

“And you’re telling jokes now? Wow. Pinch me.”

The crickets kept talking to each other. We waited at the corner for the light to change.

There was calmness in Rainbow Dash that usually wasn’t there. Maybe today satisfied her rebellious urges for oncet.

I wasn’t angry with her anymore. But I wasn’t in awe either. Every time I assumed I knew enough about her, she did something to surprise me. An old teacher once said that the biggest mistake a smart person can make is assuming they know the answers to anything. I was not proud admitting it, but I had made that mistake with Rainbow. I assumed I knew who she was over and over again.

I didn’t understand. This was the first time in a long time when I didn’t know what was going to happen next. It was weird. It was intriguing.

“Living the life you want to live…is risky.” I picked my words carefully, trying to predict which ones would get a response out of her.


“Well yeah it’s risky.” Her head jolted in my direction. I predicted right. “But the cool stuff always is. I’ve never heard a good story start with ‘this one time I followed the rules’. The best ones start stuff that’s not ordinary.”

“And...ordinary is bad?”

“It’s not bad. It’s just boring.”

The only thing I could do now was try to understand. I was learning. Slowly.

She rubbed the flesh under her eyes and yawned. She was starting to fizzle out. I check the time and it was already close to midnight.

“I don’t like mornings.” She rested her eyes while standing up. I tugged her sleeve to make sure she stayed awake.

“Are you okay?”

“I just need to power down for a few hours.” She stretched her arms towards the sky and twisted her neck a few times.


Campus was dead quiet when we returned. Not a sound, except for those crickets.

“I can’t wait to see AJ’s face tomorrow.” Dash smiled.

“Do you think she’ll be upset?”

“Maybe a bit, but hey! We did all of her work for her and she got paid. That’s like giving someone the answers to whole semester’s worth of homework without asking…hint-hint.”

“Not happening.”

“I’m just teasing.”

“Now, you promised you’d be more serious about studying.”

“And I meant it. But...” She yawned again. “...I need to sleep.”

“Yeah. Well...I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She looked around quickly. “…thanks.”

“Yeah. What are friend’s for?”

“...heh. Yeah. Friends! So…good night.” I said good night back as she walked away, and crept back to my room before anyone could hear me.


I buried my face in my pillow. But memories of my adventure kept me awake.

I still couldn’t believe I did what I did today. It may have been the boldest thing I did in my life. And it was another thing I could to blame Dash for.

Except I didn’t blame her. I wanted to thank her.

That girl’s confidence was starting to rub off on me. Maybe that fight we had helped? I normally wouldn’t talk back or be assertive when someone yelled, but I had learned how to do so because Rainbow Dash. She was never passive aggressive when something went wrong. She forced people to be honest with her…

I caught myself analyzing Dash again and stopped before I could make another mistake in judgment. The only assumption I as confident in was that Rainbow Dash knew who she was and never apologized for it. That was reason enough to admire her.

26 - Apple-fight

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Apple-fight

Description: Applejack and Rainbow Dash have an argument.


My chest and arms ached when I woke up. Putting my clothes on hurt.

Twilight was not waiting for me. Odd. Maybe she overslept? Nah, that doesn’t sound like her. She probably went to class early.

I left without waiting for her. I wasn’t sure why, but something told me she wasn’t coming.


I had to fight to stay awake as I walked to class. My sore bones made walking a chore.

“Hey…” Rainbow slowly walked next to me. She looked as exhausted as Applejack did the last time we saw her. With her shoulders hunched over, her hoodie pulled up and two cups of coffee in hand, she looked like she was nursing a hangover.

“You look tired.”

“…I am.” Her voice sounded raspy. She coughed softly, then handed me one of the cups.

“I hope it’s the way you like it.”

: “You didn’t have to get me this.”

“I know that.” She pouted briefly. “…last night was…so…ugh, man, I need a nap.”

“You and me both. Everything hurts right now.”

“I think you’re a bad influence on me.”

“Me?!”

“If you had refused to help me, I would have given up and gotten a good night’s sleep.”

: “Oh yeah right. Like you would have given up just because I didn’t want to help.”

“I would have man, I would have so given up. But you put so much pressure on me…how could I say no?”

“Yeah, all that studying and math I tell you to do…how ever do you put up with me?” I figured it’d be more fun to playing along with Rainbow Dash’s teasing instead of arguing. And I was right.

“…haha. You should keep that.”

“Keep what?”

“That smile. It’s a nice change from your trademark mope.” I reached up and touched a grin. I was starting to smile around her without knowing it. “…um…so, I’ll be there today. Studying…”

“What in the heck were you two think’in!?!” Applejack yelled at us as she stormed up the walkway, stamping her boots loudly, fuming like an angry bull.

“Heya cowgirl. How goes it?” Rainbow Dash sipped her coffee.

“Ah asked you what were you two think’in?!”

“You mean right now or sometime earlier this week or…what?”

“I knows it was you last night Dashie! Ah can’t believe you’d think ah’d be alright with this!”

“I have to tell you, I don’t know what you are-”

“Stop it! Stop it right now! Ah didn’t think ah needed ta tell ya’ll not to steal my property!”

“Someone stole your stuff? When?” AJ looked so mad that I thought she was going to cry. Rainbow acted so casual about this that it seemed to make it worse.

“Dash-” I spoke up, but then Applejack turned to me!

“And YOU! I didn’t expect you ta be the breakin’ and enterin’ type! I wish ah could say I was surprised by this from Dashie, but ah’m not. Guess you can’t trust anyone, can ya?”

“Hey, hey, don’t pick on the new guy.” Dash stood up for me. “He didn’t do anything.”

“Be quiet!!!”AJ’s voice echoed. Other students looked at us. Yikes, she was angry. I had never rage like that in someone before. “There is absolutely no…ah don’t wanna any excuse! You both went behind mah back, just like that and….and…I know you talked ___ inta this!”

She pointed at Rainbow, who finally flinched. But the tomboy still stood her ground and batted the finger away.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Dash said to Applejack. “Maybe you should remember to lock the back door to your store before you fall asleep on your couch.”

Oooooh god.

“I knew it! I knew you did it! If it weren’t all them peoples tellin’ me they liked my new employees, it’s dem dang gloves you left laying in mah driver’s seat!” Applejack pulled one of RD’s long board gloves out of her pocket. Rainbow kept her guard up. “How can you just lie ta me like that?! How can you put yourself in danger and think I’d want you to do that?! I was this close ta callin’ the police when I woke up.”

“….gloves. So what? It’s not like I made those. You know how many thieves and burglars shop at the same fashion outlet?”

“Dashie, ah swears, you’re drivin’ mah patience so bad that a could….ah could….ah can’t even think straight right now!” Applejack pulled on the edges of her hat. I heard her teeth grind.

“AJ, calm down!” I begged her.

“Don’t you be tellin’ me what to do!! If I tolds yas a hundred times, you both wouldn’a listened ta me! You know what could’a happened!? Ya’ll could have been arrested!! What if a police office just happened to drive by and see two teenagers in a truck that wasn’t theirs?! What if they pulled you over?! Or if someone called the police cause the person who delivered their stuff weren’t me?! I wouldn’a been able to help either of you!!”

“AJ, stop yelling. People are looking.” I pleaded with Applejack as her eyes started swelling up with water.

“Let ‘em look. We didn’t do anything wrong.” And Dash stubbornly made the situation worse.

“How can you even…Dash, you don’t ever do this ta me again!” Applejack gritted her teeth. “You can’t just…you can’t just do whatever it is ya’ll feel like! Ah trusted you not to do something and you went and did it anyways!”

Dash narrowed her eyes and growled out a response. “Stupid. Riiight. Cause making you four thousand bits for you in a few hours is stupid. And making sure you can keep your stupid store just so you can work yourself even harder, yeah I admit that part is stupid.”

“Dash, maybe your should-” I tried to get them both to calm down, to now avail.

“This ain’t about mah store. It’s about you and that messed up head’a yours. I told yous I didn’t want ya to do anything.”

“You don’t always need to ask for a favor from a friend. Especially one that makes you richer.”

“AH! DIDN’T! WANT! YOUR! FAVOR!!!” Applejack screamed. She threw the glove to the ground and turned redder than a cherry.

And that was all as much as her eyes could handle. She started crying, only a little but tears came.

“What part of that don’t you get?!” She whimpered. Her normally strong attitude had been worn down to the bare bones.

“But you got it what you needed anyway. You’re welcome.” Rainbow Dash crossed her arms, like Applejack had offended her.

“Dash, seriously. Stop it.” I knew this was going to get worse.

Applejack: “Be quiet. Fur once in your life, be quiet!” Applejack ordered. Rainbow Dash ignored this command.

“I’m sooo glad this thanks I get for helping you something you couldn’t do yourself. This is my praise for wasting my night so your get to stay in school, so you don’t get sent back to the farm, back to that darling redneck family you like so much and-”

Applejack’s open hand swung at Rainbow’s face and cracked against her cheek.

Rainbow finally stopped talking.

AJ trembled. Her emerald eyes were burning, her tan skin pulsated with redness.

“You stay away from mah store…and mah family…and yous stay away from me. Ah don’t want nuthin’ do to with…with…” Applejack covered her face with her hat, then furiously ran off.

Rainbow stared as she left, her own eyes filled with bewilderment. Her fingers touched the pinkish mark AJ had left on her cheek. The rest of her face was white as a ghost.

“Dashie?” I didn’t know what to say. Or what to do. Or what to think. Rainbow bent down and picked her glove off the floor. She was shaking. “Dash?”

“Uh huh?” She dropped her glove and had to pick it up again.

“Dash?”

“Yeah. What?”Her voice was weak. I heard her foot tap up and down.

“…I….are you….um, that…”

“Hey, that’s great! Listen, figure out what you wanna say. Write it down. Mail it to me.” She patted my shoulder and left. Everyone stared at her.

This was another time when a teacher would have been great. And once again, there was none.


Rumors spread in minutes. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were both called into Celestia’s office to discuss the outburst.

I had to sit through homeroom and listen to the slew of gossip. Some girls said AJ punched Dash and the two had a full blown fight. Others said it was a lover’s quarrel.

These rumors made no mention of me. I wasn’t sure if I was grateful for that or is was bother by it.


Math class felt so much longer than usual. The professor taught Binomials. I didn’t take notes. Dash didn’t either.

She stared at her blank notebook with her pen limply in hand. Her face looked like a broken mirror, like a shattered reflection of her real self.

I spent most of class watching her, worrying, wondering what she was thinking. That frown didn’t belong on her face.

“…psst…” I tried to get her attention, but she didn’t move.

“Do you have anything you’d like to add?” The teacher caught me.

“Uh, no sir.”

He went back to teaching and I went back to worrying.

---time passes---

The lunch bell rang. For once, Rainbow Dash didn’t run to the door. She didn’t even get out of her chair. She sat like a lifeless doll with no one to pull her strings. Even the teacher noticed and raised an eyebrow.

The students whispered as they left, spreading more gossip.

I went to her before others could.

“Dashie…” I put my hand on her shoulder.

Rainbow Dash: “Yeah!” She sprung up out of her chair and grabbed her books. A grin popped back on her face. “What’s up?”

“Are you okay?”

“Fine. How are you doing?”

“You don’t have to pretend…”

“Pretend? Who is pretending? Come oooon. It’s Rainbow Dash you’re talking to. Let’s get lunch. You’re buying.”

“…yeah okay.”

She led the way. Her chin was up high. Her eyes looked hollow.


Rainbow Dash: “How boring was that class today? Bi-what-i-als? Why can’t he ever talk about sports?” She bit her carrot in two and chewed loudly.

“You seemed pretty out of it.”

“Yeah, cause I’m sleepy. And bored. Coffee only lasts so long. You gonna eat that?” She point to my brownie and grabbed for it before I could answer.

“…do you want to talk about it?”

“Nope.” She ate half of her chocolate treat in a few quick bites and rubbed her stomach. “Why is all the best tasting stuff so bad for you? I wish they made vegetables that tasted like chocolate.”

“Yeah.”

“You know what? We should do that. I bet we could figure out a way. We could mountain of cash if-” She stopped. Her face went pale again.

Applejack walked by us with her own lunch. She stuck her nose in the air and huffed, refusing to look at us. Rainbow Dash looked crushed.

: “…you know what? You’re right. A celery stick that tastes like cotton candy, why didn’t I think of that?” Rainbow Dash nodded limply. “We could ask Pinkie for the facts. She knows everything about sweets.”

“…she does.” Rainbow faked another smile. “I’ll be right back. Bathroom.” She tripped on the leg of her chair. “I meant to do that, I meant to do that! I’m…I’m….I’ll be right back.”

---time passes---

She didn’t come back. Lunch ended and her tray still had food on it. I took my brownie back.

27 - Study Session 3

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Study Session 3
Description: RD makes a confession.


I heard a soft rumbling above my head. The clouds were gathering again and this time they meant business.

A storm was on its way.

The dark and dismal sky made the library seem depressing, like a mausoleum for dead writers the world refused to forget.

I yawned loudly as I walked in. The librarian was thankfully absent.

“Hey dude!” Rainbow Dash was already waiting for me, with her books neatly spread out, and a pencil in her ear. That fake smile was waiting for me too.

“Hi. You…um…look prepared.”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” She took a folder out from her bag.

“Because…never mind. Let’s get started.”

“Right on! I do the homework first and then you correct it? Like the last few times?”

“That works for me.”

“Alright! You got it!”

“But…are you sure you don’t want to-”

“Yep. Yes. Sure. Nothing to talk about.” She poked her nose towards her assignments and started.

Not knowing what else to do, I started reading…while keeping one eye on her.

She looked incredibly stressed. Dashie looked like the new carrier for AJ’s contagious anxiety.

She cleared her throat a few times, kept scratching her head, and that damn foot tapped up and down like a small jackhammer. That emptiness still plagued her eyes. Looking at her hurt; she didn’t look like herself anymore.

I moved my seat closer to her. Rainbow Dash looked up at me.

Then I put my hand on her back.

Rainbow Dash: “What are you doing?!” She got looked angry, and defensively pulled her arms close to her body.

“I’m sorry.” She said nothing. “I’m sorry that this all happened.”

She still said nothing.

She quickly looked around the room to make sure no one else was there. When she was sure she was safe…it happened.

“..AJ’s really mad at me…” She rubbed her eyes with the sleeve of her hoodie as a few tears came out.

“I know. I’m so sorry.” Then she leaned towards me. I obliged her by gently hugging her.

I heard her weep a little. Just a little. Maybe she didn’t know how to cry. Or maybe she was fighting the urge to totally breakdown. Or maybe…she was crying the exact amount she needed.

But whatever the excuse, still she wept.

And I held onto her.

And surprisingly, she didn’t push me away. Instead, I felt her small hands clutch my waist and she hugged me. Really tightly. Her squeeze tightened so much that it hurt, but I didn’t tell her that.

“I…I didn’t mean…” Her face pressed into my chest and she spoke into my clothes.

“It’s okay.”

“I only…I just wanted to help.”

“I know. And you did.” I rubbed her back gently and her crying got worse. She felt safe enough with me to do this.

Minutes passed and she said nothing but a few mumbled moans and sniffling. Eventually, she calmed down. There was a watermark on my uniform.

“I really hurt her feelings.” She wiped the water away from her eyes on her sleeve again

“She’s worked up right now. Give her time. She’ll cool down.”

“What if she doesn’t? What if I really, really messed up and she never wants to speak to me again?”

“I doubt that. You’ve known each other for so long…”

“But what if she hates me!?” She bit down on her tongue, trying not to get worked up again. Her eyes were stained red, and her squeaky voice cracked.

“You know what? Why don’t we skip studying today? Math we’ll be here tomorrow.”

“…thank you.” She sniffled and cleared her throat.

I put everything away and led her out of the library, my arm over her shoulder. The sky rumbled again.


She led me to her track field and sat me down on the bleachers. She curled herself up like a ball on the edge of her seat, pressing her knees to her chest and her ankles to her hips. She stared at her sneakers and pressed her nose on her jeans.

The blowing wind had a bitter nip to it. It made Dash’s bangs swing left and right. We didn’t say anything for a long time. I waited for her to be comfortable again.

“I really thought I was helping.” She finally said, but her words made things more awkward.

“You just scared Applejack. She thought the worst first and then got mad when she figured out what happened.”

“It was…fun too.”

“I had fun.”

She went quiet again, for another long period.

I put my arm around her shoulder again. She inched closer to me. I thought was going to say that she did that because she was cold. She did not say that. Then she rested her colorful head on my shoulder.

“…I don’t… I don’t mean to cause problems.” She confessed. “I just do what I feel like. And it either works or it doesn’t. I never mean to make things worse.”

“No one does.”

“I don’t mean to hurt people. Or insult them. Or…or…anything. I’m not trying to be rude. I’m just…being me. I don’t like people thinking I’m weird.”

“AJ doesn’t think that.”

“That’s because she gets me. She’s one of the only people who does. And I really, really hurt her.” She curled up tighter. Her eyes disappeared behind her knees.

“I don’t think you’re weird.” She had no response to that. “Just wait a day and apologize. AJ wouldn’t turn down an apology.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I just can’t. I can’t. I can’t!”

“She doesn’t know you’re this upset.”

“I know.”

“She thinks that you think you did nothing wrong.”

“I hurt her feelings.”

“If you never apologize, then she really won’t ever speak to you again.”

“…do you…” She lifted her head out from her little ball of safety. “…think she hates me?”

“No way! She’s just mad right now, that’s all.”

“…are you sure?”

“She needs sometime to be alone, but that’s all. Like you said, you made her money.”

“…you helped.”

“You made me help.” I tried to tease her. It did nothing.

“I…kinda want to be alone.”

“Oh. Are you sure you’ll be alright?”

“…I don’t know. I just…want to be alone.”

She stood up and, holding the tips of her elbows, waited for me to leave. She still looked like a shadow of her self and I did not like it. I felt like I needed to say something to make her feel better.

“There was something I wanted to tell you. For a while.”

:“…what?”

“I wanted to thank you. Before I met you, I wasn’t that confident. I still have to work on it, but I’m learning. Because you’re showing me how.”

“Huh?”

“Ever since the Fall Festival, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things. And I want to be more confident. Like you. I don’t want to be full of myself, but I want to follow your example. I just wanted…you to know that.”

I expected Dashie to love that comment, that it would raise her spirits, or that she’d bow and say ‘you’re welcome’ Newbie. But instead of a grin, she fell into a deeper pit of despair.

“You…want to be like me?” She asked coldly.

“Well yeah. Not exactly like you, but a little.”

“Why? I don’t even want to be like me?” She looked like she was about to cry again.

My heart almost stopped.

Then she left.

All this time, I thought I was the ones with doubts. But it seemed Rainbow Dash wasn’t bullet proof, and she wasn’t perfect. Deep down, she had doubts bigger than mine.

I watched her cross the track field and disappear behind the bleachers, heading into the side roads. I wasn’t sure where she was going, or when she’d be back. I only hoped she would stay safe.

The wind picked up. My bones chilled.

28 - Forgiveness

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Forgiveness


Applejack: “Hmph.”

AJ stuck her nose in the air. She ignored me as she lifted box after box off her truck.

“I’m sorry for what we did last night.” I said to her as a light drizzle fell on us.

“Eeyup.” She barely acknowledged me as I stood under my umbrella.

“It wasn’t right of us to do that without your permission. We were only trying to help.”

“Eeyup.”

“Can you please listen? I’m trying to tell you Rainbow Dash is sorry too!”

She slammed a box down. “Is that right? Then why ain’t she hear tellin’ me that?”

“You know why. It’s hard enough for her to say she’s sorry about anything. Saying it to you is near impossible.”

“Sure it is.” She went back to moving her cargo. “But thank you fur being the bigger person. That makes me feel a teeny bit better.”

“I don’t want you to be upset. With me or Dashie.”

“Don’t misread this. Ah ain’t furgivin’ you, or Dashie.”

“Can you please do me a favor?”

“A favor?!” She crossed her arms and glared at me. “My, my, my. You certainly like pressin’ your luck.”

“When Dash comes to apologize, just listen to her. I can’t tell you how incredibly upset she is.”

“Ah ain’t gonna just get over it a’cause you ask me to.”

Protag: “You don’t have to get over it right away, but you mean a lot to Dash. The only reason she did what she did was because she wanted to help you so much. She risked her own safety to help you.”

“That is not the point ___!” Applejack yelled. The same look of brokenness I saw on Rainbow Dash appeared on AJ’s face. “Ah can do this. Do you understand? Mah family’s is dependin’ on me to handle all of this. They left me here, all by mahself, and ah can’t let them down. Ah can’t! Dashie took that from me.”

“Took what? What did she take?!”

“She took proof! Proof that ah make my family proud. I know they’re proud of me. But I needs proof fur mahself. Ah know ah’m good enough…because ah’m making them proud.” She gulped and stopped herself before she got too emotional.

“I’ve seen a girl cry today, and that is one too many. I can’t handle another heart breaking. Please AJ, for me, let Rainbow say she is sorry when she does. Please. You mean too much to each other.”

Applejack rubbed under her nose. She nodded without saying another word.

“Thank you.” What a relief. “And I’m sorry. And for what it’s worth, your family’s not the only ones who are proud of you. Rainbow’s proud of you too.”

Applejack lowered her hat to cover her face and waved me away. I took the signal and left.

29 - Thanks

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Thanks
Description: Rainbow Dash finds you after talking with Applejack.


They predicted rain all weekend and through Monday. My alarm clock stayed silent on Saturdays. After this week, I needed a day of rest.

My blankets shielded me from the cold air in my room. The mornings were getting chillier. Snow and icicles were only weeks away.

I enjoyed the safety of my warm, cotton cocoon and I listened to raindrop splash on the window in peace.

But then…a knock came at my door. Heavy, rapid, obnoxiously loud.

“...ugh. Why now?”

I knew Dash was on the other side of the door. These things always happen when you are most comfortable.

I counted to three, jumped out of my bed and folded my sheets on top of each other, hoping to preserve the heat. The bitter cold air pinched my skin and woke me up in seconds.

“Hang on.” I was just in my undershirt and shorts. I threw a hoodie on and pulled the door open. “What is it Das-”

Dash was dripping wet, shaking, eyes filled with sadness. Her hair was stringy; drops of rain fell off her bangs down to her mud stained sneakers.

“What happened?” I asked, worried.

“I....I...got caught in the rain.”

“You’re soaking wet. Get in here.” I pulled her in and grabbed a bearby bath towel for her. “Jesus, you’re a mess. How long were you outside?”

“...a few hours maybe?”

“What? Why?!”

“I needed to clear my head.”

“Outside in the rain?”

Rainbow Dash dried her hair off and rubbed the black circles under her eyes. Maybe Applejack’s exhaustion was contagious.

“I saw AJ.” She said coyly.

“....you did?”

“Yep. Late last night.”

“Take your hoodie off. You’re going to get sick.”

She rubbed her nose and obeyed. Her thin undershirt was so wet that it was see through. I didn’t stare, but I also didn’t mention it.

“We’re okay.” A limp smile appeared between her dimples. “She wants to be alone for a while but....we’re okay.”

“That’s a relief. What did you tell her?”

Rainbow shook her head, telling me their conversation was private and both girls wanted it to stay that way.

“I was really scared.” She gulped.

“Of what?”

“That she hated me. That she’d never want to speak to me again. That I’d lose years of great memories....” Dash scratched her head. “…I mean, years of decent memories.”

“Always a wiseass comment, huh?” I ruffled her hair with my palm, doing it on her for once. She smiled.

“AJ told me what you said to her.”

“Everything?”

“I think.” She took a minute to think. “T-thank you.”

“Dash. It’s okay.”

“It’s...” Dash sneezed. More raindrops fell off her.

“Um....let me hang this up.”

I folded her soaked hoodie over my arm, trying to keep the water from dripping on my floor, failing. I hung it over the shower curtain in the bathroom.

“How long were you outside?” I shouted, but she didn’t answer. “Dash? How long were you outside?”

Still no answer.

I stepped out of my bathroom…and Rainbow has fallen asleep on my bed. Her energy had finally run out.

She curled up into a little ball with her knees near her chest and her arms on top of each other. Her eyes were closed so gently, and her breathing was very slow. Almost the way a cat sleeps.

I pushed a twirl of wet hair off her face.

“…Applejack…” Her leg twitched as she talked in her sleep. She looked cute. She didn’t normally look like this. It was refreshing…though it would have been nice if she didn’t act that way on my bed.

I decided to let her sleep. I pulled my cozy blanket over her shoulder and tucked her in. I grabbed my keys, my umbrella, and went out to get some breakfast.

“…mm!…” I thought I heard her say something, but when I looked back at her she was still asleep.

---times passes---

When I came back an hour later, with some coffee and an egg sandwich for her, she was not there. Her clothes were gone and so was my umbrella.

I looked out my window, towards the track field, half expecting her to be jogging with an umbrella in one hand. But she was not there.

“I was hoping you’d stay longer…” I sighed in disappointment.

30 - Working Doubts

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Working Doubts

Description: You talk to Twilight about what is bothering you, and some of your doubts become more prevalent.


The weekend passed by without another word from Rainbow Dash or Applejack. And part of me was thankful for that. Everyone needed to calm down after tat fiasco.

It rained all weekend and the sky was still gloomy. Dry, but gloomy. My last class didn’t end fast enough. Even I was tired of all of that…drama.

Twilight was in front of me before I could leave campus. Skipping, whistling, smiling warmly.

“Having a good day, I see?” I say to her.

“I handed in my paper for Celestia’s Semi-Annual Academic Award of Excellence.”

“That’s the optional paper you were working on, right? The huge one?”

“Yep. I proofread it a bunch of times. I have a hunch it’s going to win.” She giggled and patted herself on the back in her head.

“Good luck. Let’s get going. Not to hurry you along, but I have to be back in the library for Rainbow Dash’s study session.”

“…I thought you stopped doing those.”

“It’s a One-Last-Chance scenario.”

“…I see.”

I lead her back to her dorm. My head buzzed with all the work I left undone, and how I was sure I’d never finish it all. This week had taken up so much time that now I was realy behind.

Still, it was time spent that I didn’t regret. Was that a bad thing?

“How are you handling all the work these days?”

“Same as usual.”

“Do you ever get overworked?”

“Sometimes. But not lately.”

“What is your secret?”

“Oh, that’s easy. I just avoid everyone.”

“Huh?”

“When you have to do work, you have to do work. So I just ignore my cell phone and pretend like I’m the only person in the whole world. And I don’t leave until everything gets done.” She said that very plainly. Her solution didn’t sound as appealing as it would have a year ago.

“Well…that’s…one way to do it alright.”

“Are you overworked?”

“Yeah, but…it was kind of my own fault. I was so busy with Applejack and Rainbow Dash that my own work suffered.”

“That’s not good ___. If you don’t keep your grades up, you’ll lose your GPA. And then you won’t get the best GPA you could get.”

“I know, but it’s okay. I have a great report card still. It would only be a teeny-tiny decrease.”

Twilight gasped. “Teeny-tiny is still a decrease! What if that teeny-tiny decrease cost you a scholarship to the college you want?”

“I don’t even want to think about college right now.”

“Why not?”

“Because. I have enough on my plate.”

“So? You still need to think of your future. No one else is going to think of it for you?”

“Yeah, but…what’s wrong with worrying about the present? Or at least enjoying it while it’s here?” Oh god. I sounded like Rainbow Dash.


“You can enjoy yourself when you have no more work to do.” Twilight huffed. “That’s how free time works. It’s for when you have no more work.”

“Okay, I know that but…I don’t want to add more stress onto an already stressful situation.”

“Who said anything about stress? Work is fun!” She smiled again, believing that she had won pur little back-and-forth, that she had convinced me she was right.

And she was right. She was right about working first and playing second. She was probably right about me needing to study more and think of my future. And she was probably right about everything else.

But somehow, Twilight’s usual, predictable advice sounded…scary.

Twilight said that the free time was supposed to be for when the work was done…but Twilight never stopped working. Ever.

Was that all I had to look forward to in my future? What that where my oldself was heading?!

I felt a twinge of pressure in my head when I thought of all of that, a pressure that was not there when I was hanging with Rainbow Dash. When I was shooting hops with her and AJ and Flutteshy, I wasn’t worried about anything.

I was happy.

“Uh…do you think…” I trailed off.

“…do I think what?” Twilight asked me.

“Nothing. It’s silly.”

“No, you can tell me.”

: “…have you every thought that working too hard is a bad thing?

“…HAHAHAHA! You’re right, that was silly.”

“Yeah. That’s what I thought you’d say.”

31 - Rained In

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Rained In

Description: You and RD study again, and end up musing about life.
Note: This might be my favorite chapter. It was one of the first ones I wrote, and one an old team liked a lot.


The thunder rolled so loudly that the drops of water on the library’s window vibrated. It had been drizzling for the last hour, an aftershock to the big storm cloud that had finally found its way over our school.

Dash amused herself by balancing a pencil on the tip of her finger while I read over her notes. The elegance of her handwriting was still surprising, but aside from her marble notebook being written in script, it was riddle with flaws. There were entire chapters of the subject matter missing.

Dash was back to her confident self. That bad mood passed through her like a dark cloud through a clear sky. I was relieved to see her at one-hundred percent again, but my image of her was not what it used to be. She wasn’t Supergirl anymore. And that was okay.

It was almost four o’clock and we both were ready to leave for the day, but the rain was starting to get worse. No one else was there, not even the stuffy librarian. Rainbow and I were trusted to study alone in the dimly lit library with no supervision.

And as usual, our study session became one of procrastination. I tried to keep her focused in the beginning, and before I knew it was slacking off with her.

“Whatcha thinking about?” She asked as she tossed her pencil high in the air and caught it like a small baton.

“Nothing really.”

“That’s a first.”

“I guess I am just sick of studying for today.”

“That’s another first. You and me both Newbie.” She glanced outside again and sighed. “I wish it wasn’t raining.”

“Did you have plans?”

“Training. I gotta be ready for the Inter-County Race.”

“The what?”

“Oh, it’s only the biggest high school race in this part of the country, that’s all. No big deal. Fifty schools, twelve events…they give out medals, college scouts show up. They announced the date today.”

“You have been running a lot lately.”

“Duh. What do you think I’ve been practicing for? Spitfire’s going to be there and I’m going be ready!” She rubbed her hand on the top of my head and laughed as she messed up my hair. I hated when she did that. It made me feel like I was a kid, even though we were the same age and I was twice her size.

“You’re really focused when it comes to sports. If you put half of that energy into studying, you’d probably have a 4.0 by now.”

“Probably. But then I would lose half of my energy in sports.” A bolt of lightning flickered across the sky. “Why don’t you start playing sports again?”

A clap of thunder separated our sentences.

“Besides basketball, I just…don’t get them.”

“I never got studying. Or school. Or reading.”

“Uh, Daring-Doo.”

“That’s the one exception. And I thought I told you not to bring that up.”

“Did you tell me that? I don’t think you did.”

“Well…I’m telling you now.”

Rainbow looked around the library to make sure no one heard her. We had been alone for an hour and she still didn’t want anyone to know about her little secret. When she was sure she was safe, she went back to play with the pencil dangling through her fingers.

Rainbow Dash was an expert on doing nothing and I was starting to get used to doing nothing with her. Maybe my friendship with Twilight had jaded me, but not working excessively was kind of nice. Just relaxing, just letting things happen by themselves…

…just talking. Even if it was about nothing at all.

At long last, these new hallways didn’t seem so strange. I remembered how much I missed my old school when I first arrived. Now I was beginning to get comfortable in these new, peaceful surroundings filled with strange and amazing people.

And as I thought of how this school had grown on me, I remembered an unfair fact: I was a senior.

My high school career had turned into a countdown and every day was one tick closer to that clock going off, when I would be leaving this place too. Desks and blackboard and lazy afternoons talking about nothing with a friend…they’d go away.

These thoughts ‘occasionally’ worried me. As the weeks rolled on, ‘occasionally’ started becoming ‘often’. It had been on my mind for the past few weeks and now that things between RD and me had calmed down, they came back.

“I am a little worried about life after school.” When I asked that, Rainbow dropped the pencil. She stared at me for several seconds without speaking.

“W-why?” She bent over to pick the pencil off the floor.

Rainbow Dash: “You’re an egghead. You’re going go to college so you’ll still have, like, years of school left.”

“Aren’t you going to college?”

She shrugged. “It’s either the Air Force Academy of nothing at all. But I don’t worry about it. I’m a free bird baby! I’m looking forward to spreading my wings and flying once I’m down with this place! Classrooms feel like cages.”

“I agree.”

“Really?” She looked surprised.

“I like learning. And I like school. But I sit at a desk all day here. And in college, I’d be sitting at a desk all day. And if I get an office job, I’ll be sitting at a slightly bigger desk all day.”

I sighed as I finally told her what was bothering me, what things she’d force me to think about when she teased me.

“Look at today, look at right now. It’s raining. We have an excuse to stay indoors. But tomorrow, it’ll dry up. Tomorrow, our excuse will be ‘we have class’. And my parents have work so they won’t be outside either.”

I took the pencil, which Rainbow had placed between us, and I started spinning it on the table. I went on.

“I didn’t play sports when I was a kid, but I used to spend hours outside and play. Just play. Explore, do stuff, make up adventures. I could still do that. I guess. But when? After class and during the weekend, but is that it?

As I spoke, Rainbow did something incredible. Something I didn’t expect her to do.

She listened.

She heard me, she understood, and she didn’t criticize me or make a stupid joke. She gave me her attention and let me say my piece.

“I don’t know. It’s just been bothering me lately. Graduating, college, a job one day. Sometimes I wish life wasn’t so…so…”

“Suffocating?” She asked, softly, gently, like she knew what I was feeling before I said it.

“Yeah.”

Her violet eyes were focused. Somewhere in my rant, I had struck a chord. The sky roared a few more times. It felt like an hour past before she said anything.

“That’s…depressing.”

“Yeah. But what are you going to do right?”

“I don’t know what you can do, but I could do plenty.”

“Like?

“Keep this under your hat slim…” She changed her voice to mimic an Italian gangster from the 30’s. “…but I’m planning me a jailbreak.”

“A jailbreak?”

“Yeah, see. I figure that if I start digging through the left wall in the girl’s locker room ta’morrow, I can be on the other side of town in three years. That beats that Shawshank Redemption fella by over a decade.”

“Haha. Or you could just run. You are really good at that.”

Her violet eyes met mine and she laughed. Her voice returned to normal and she smiled. “This is why I keep you around Newbie. You’re the idea guy. I am the pretty face, the charm, the talent and the awesomeness. We make a good team.”

Her phone alarm went off, signaling that our study session was over.

“Time’s up. I guess.” She glanced out the window. The rain hadn’t stopped. “You doing anything?”

“Just more homework.”

“Yeah. Nothing else to do.”

“But keep me posted on that jailbreak thingy. I’ll help you draw out a tunnel map.”

“Deal.” Rainbow punched my shoulder as she picked up her backpack. “I’ll be seeing you.”

She hustled outside and charged through the pouring rain like a bullet. I watched her run through the storm and thought of how she never let anything stop her.

Watching her run made me smile.

---times passes---

The rain started slowing down just as I finished my last algebra problem. I signed my name at the top page of the paper and victoriously put my books away.

“About time.” I said out loud when I finished.

It was still drizzling. Thankfully, I was smart enough to bring an umbrella…meaning I took back the one Rainbow Dash took from me yesterday.


I walked back to the dorm a little slower. Intentionally. Now that my work was done, I finally had the privilege of being outside and of enjoying myself.

Everything smelled fresher after it rained. There was a coldness to the world but not an unpleasant one.

I felt better now that I finally venting my frustration to someone. Those worries had been building up for a while. I felt lighter. Still worried, but my head didn’t feel cluttered anymore.

I passed the track field…and as I did, I saw something that surprised me and did not surprise me at the same time.

Splashing her running shoes through thick puddles, with drenched hair and soaked running shorts, Rainbow sprinted, defiantly telling Mother Nature that no one was going to stop her. Ever.

I smiled again, and kept walking.

32 - Ave-rage Morning

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Ave-rage Morning

Description: You and Twilight have a fight.


Someone banged on my door, far too early in the morning. I guess that it either Rainbow Dash or the building is burning down.

I stayed in bed.

“___! Get up!” Surprisingly, I hear Twilight’s voice from the hallway. She sounded upset. “Get up!” And impatient, almost yelling.

“Hang on! Give me a minute!”

I don’t think anyone likes to be woken up early, but have it happen an hour before your alarm goes off by an angry girl who is supposed to be your friend is a great way to instantly be put into a bad mood. That, accompanied by the horrible feeling of losing the warmth of a good night's rest as ones steps out of their bed, made it seem worse.

I struggled to get my uniform on as Twilight continued to bang on my door.

“Hold on Twilight!” ‘Like a few seconds won’t kill her’, I think.

I don’t spruce myself up. I can tell my hair is all over the place and my shirt is not ironed, and I am a mess when I open the door.

My ears were right; Twilight looks furious.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I didn’t get the award.” She growled.

“What award?”

“Headmistress Celestia’s Semi-Annual Academic Award of Excellence.” An award? Seriously? That’s why she woke me up? “Buy me breakfast.”

“Why?”

“I’m hungry. Buy me breakfast!” She extenuates her demand by stamping her foot on the floor.

“Yeah, I get that you’re hungry. But why do I…”

Twilight: “BecauseIammadandIneedtovent!” She hollers. She is absolutely livid, and I am catching up to her.

“Keep it down!” Someone in the room next to mine hears.

Twilight hears them and stops yelling. She crosses her arms and locks her eyes on me.

I know she is waiting for me to do what she wants. She knows I’ll cave, that I’d never resist her request, which was really an order.

And unfortunately, I knew it too. It pissed me off. Even if it was to a close friend, I still had trouble standing up to people. Some days my friendship with Twilight felt like it was all take and no give on her part. I felt that that aspect of our friendship had grown since we came to this school.

Forcing myself to not let my temper dictate my words…because I was a good boy who did what he was told…I grabbed my wallet.

“Fine. Breakfast.”

“Hmph. Thank you.” She didn’t look at me when she thanked me. She just turned and walked down the hall.

I thought I heard Rainbow mock me as I followed her.


The cafeteria was open early though most students didn’t use it. This was mainly for hungry teachers who had work to do.

“That brat Trixie got the award instead. That stuck up little cheat. I hate her!” Twilight clamped her teeth down on the bagel I bought like a gator biting into its prey. “No, she did cheat. I know she did. Why can’t everyone else see that? You know she made up half of the stories about her trip to Europe?”

“Really? You don’t say.” I speak sarcastically. Twilight didn’t hear my tone.

“Now I have to wait a whole semester for a chance to get it again. That’s one less thing I can put on my college application and one more thing I didn’t win.”

The way she vents to me like I am her unofficial therapist, how she nags me to do things her way, how she’s always work-work-work and no play except when it is scheduled and approved…I’m getting sick of this.

She’d probably wouldn’t know what ‘Fun’ meant if Webster didn’t put it in a book for her to read.

“And all the boys think she’s great just because she wears clothes one size too small. Big freaking deal. Like they think girls here who are more modest and talented aren’t pretty. Girls who don’t cheat!” Her head snaps in my direction and she glares at me again. She says nothing at first. I don’t feel like playing her games so I just stare back. “Well?”

“Well what?” She finally hears my aggravation and raises her voice with me.

“What do you think about her?”

She’s doing that thing again. I know that no matter what I say, I’ll never give her a correct answer. There is no response I can give that will calm her down and make her say that she’s sorry for waking me up and pestering me with this…nonsense.

I’m in bad mood. I’m not thinking straight. If I open my mouth I’m going to say something I will regret. I know I am.

Screw it.

“I don’t know Twilight. I barely know Trixie. Since we came here, I have talked to her maybe, like, two times.” I barked at her.

“Hmph, yeah. I’m sure you did–”

“And honestly, if you feel cheated because you have one less piece of paper that says you study more than sleep, it’s not fair to blame Trixie for that. So I really don’t care.”

“Hey! Don’t talk to–”

“But you know what I do care about? I’m short on cash this week. I wanted to sleep a bit later because my first class on Friday starts later. And you thought it was sooo important to wake me up early and demand a meal from me from my light wallet. That is what I care about.”

Her arms cross. “Well, excuse me for bothering to–”

“Bothering! Yes, that is a good word for it. Why did you feel the need to bother me? To make yourself feel better so that your day is less stressful? To make my day worse with more nagging and complaining?”

“S-stop yelling at me.”

“I am fed up! I have had it up to my eyeballs with homework and grades and hearing about mid-terms like they are the be-all end-all goal before winter comes. Maybe I just want to have a fun day, did you ever think of that? Or at least a day that doesn’t revolve around books. You’re a smart girl; did you ever think that good ol’ Me has had a lot on his mind lately? That I could use some venting?”

“…I…” She’s not mad anymore. She looks scared, sad even. I could stop now.

But I don’t. “I don’t know what your deal is. Do you even like me?”

“Of course I do! We’re…uh…friends.” She trembles. “Right?”

“Friends usually treat each other better. Maybe you should study how to do that! I’m sure there’s a book somewhere that teaches you how to be less…”

I bite my tongue. Anymore would cross into overkill.

Normally, I would have regretted saying all of that. Normally, I never would have said it at all. But rage has a funny way of blinding you to the obvious. Anger makes your real-self disappear and puts an ugly thing in your shoes, if only for a few seconds. But it can ruin everything so easily.

“I’m out of here. I have to clear my head. Do us both a favor and give me space.” I turned my back on her and try to leave.

“Wait! ___! I’m…I…” Twilight starts to say something. I stop. I don’t look at her. I wait for her to say she’s sorry. “I…I-I lo…uhh…” But I don’t hear the apology I believe I am owed. Even now, she hesitates.

So I keep walking.

She doesn’t stop me or say anything more. Bout time.

33 - I'm Not Cool Enough for This

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I’m not cool enough for this

Description: Rainbow Dash enacts her “jailbreak” plan.


I count the leaves as they fall off the tree outside the window. The tan grass is peppered in red and yellow spades. It’s chilly outside. Yesterday’s storm snatched away the last of summer’s heat.

I love this time of year.

The calming weather soothes me and beings to help me get over the fight, but slowly. I am still notable crabby.

I don’t regret talking back to Twilight. I wish it hadn’t have to come to that, but deep down I was proud I finally stood up for myself. Even if I did overdo it.

But regardless of a moment of bravery, my stress was still here, still bouncing around my head, still looming over me as I scribbled notes on my notes.

A little voice inside me screamed, begging me to run outside and do…something. Anything. As a long as it was outside, I didn’t care. Anything to feel one more day of freedom.

The teacher prattled on about history as my focus faded in and out between fantasy and reality. I heard a girl whisper a rumor that I can’t quite decipher and my imagination runs wild with that gossip. My peers were my inmates on days as lovely as this and we were all bored.

I remembered my conversation with Dash yesterday, how I shared my deepest worries with her and she listened to me more than Twilight did. She didn’t listen that intently all the time, but it still mattered.

I wonder what she’s doing…

I snap out of my daydream when I feel my cell phone vibrate. Thankfully, the teacher didn’t hear it go off, nor did she see me slowly slip my phone out of my pocket to read my new text message.

An unknown number reads “look 2 ur left”

I do as the message says and scan the parking lot in front. It takes me awhile to spot a sky blue hoodie crouched down between a two cars. A tuff of rainbow colored hair bobs over a pair of big sunglasses.

My phone goes off again. “come here when teh bell rings”

‘What is she doing now?’, I wonder. I notice she is not in her uniform, so that can only mean trouble.


When the bell eventually rings, it signals my lunch hour. I am allowed to leave school grounds to get a bite to eat, so the teachers don’t stop me when I walk off campus.

I find Rainbow at the far corner of the parking lot, between the exit and a few bushes. A black duffle bag that is too big for her hands on her shoulder.

“Bout time.” She tosses the bag to me and…wait, what the? It’s MY duffle bag.

“How did you get this?” I asked, annoyed with her.

“Wouldn’t you like to know.” She grins like a mischievous cat.

“Yeah, actually I would. Did you break into my dorm room?”

“No comment. But come on! We have to hurry before someone sees us.”

“Where? What’s going on?”

“…guess?” She flashes another impish smirk.

“I’m bad at guessing. Give me a hint.”

“Remember that jailbreak I was talking about?” The gears in my head turn.

“You’re ditching school ?!”

“I thought about it…and that tunneling thing? It was going to take way too long.”

“Rainbow, you can’t just leave school. It’s against the…rules.” It felt silly saying that in front of her.

“I can’t? Newbie, Newbie, Newbie…‘I can’t’ is just another way of saying ‘I won’t’. Of course I can. All I have to do…is walk that way…” She points off campus. “…and keep going.”

“Seriously, you could be expelled for this.”

“Only if they catch me. That is why you are coming with me.”

“Why me?”

“Cause, you’re wise to my plans, chief.” Her squeaky voice once again mimicked one of those mobsters from the old Looney Tunes cartoons. “Can’t have you stayin’ hear and rattin’ me out.”

“Rainbow…”

“That’s Ms. Rainbow to you bub. Folks on the street just call me Dash. No prison can hold me, no sir-e. I’ve busted outta bigger joints than this one.”

“Fine, Ms. Rainbow or Dash or whatever…you can’t do this.”

“Don’t be telling’ me my business. I’m a free spirit. I belong out there in the open range.”

Protag: “Stop talking like that!”

“Lighten up, I’m only kidding.” Her voice changes back to normal. “But seriously, come on. The longer we wait here, the more suspicious it’ll look. You wouldn’t want your little girlfriend to think you’re running with a bad crowd.”

“For the millionth time, Twilight is not my girlfriend. And if I go with you, then I will be hanging with a bad crowd.”

“Oops, did I say ‘little girlfriend’? I meant ‘surrogate mother’.” My usual impulse would be to stand up for Twilight, but our argument was still fresh in my head. “And a little adventure is good for you.”

“This is a bit too much for me.”

“Don’t wimp out on me. Just the other day, you were talking about getting older and being stuck inside all day and that stuff. I’m doing you a favor. When you are an adult, how many times are you going to get the chance to do something really stupid?”

“When I decide to get married?”

Hardy-har-har. Funny guy. Look around you. This is the last autumn of high school either of us are ever going to see. We don’t have much time left. Why not indulge a little? Why not be a little dumb? The kind of fun we’re not allowed to have. That’s the best kind.”

I contemplate what she says. I actually start to think about it for a moment. Me! The Egghead.

“…I don’t know Dash…” I hesitate.

“Hey. I’m not going to make you do anything. You want to go back inside and learn fractions, go on. Advanced math will be there tomorrow. And the day after that. And the year after that. And then one day, you’ll never have to use any of those equations again.”

“Or…” She turned her back to me and looked over her shoulder. “you can do something different. It may be stupid and you might regret it, but it’ll be different.”

“That’s risky.”

“That’s the only way to live. But I’m not saying drop out of school or anything crazy like that.”

“Then…what are you saying?”

“Good question. What am I saying?” She grins If you follow me, maybe you’ll find out.” She says nothing more. She flicks her hair around and walks away.

I watch her for a few minutes, certain that she’ll turn back, that any second she’ll yell ‘gottcha’ and start laughing. Of course she will, it is silly! Just ditching school when there are only a few hours left…why take such a bold risk?

But she didn’t turn around. She doesn’t come . She walks out of campus, proudly, like there is no danger to it. Like she owns the world.

No restrictions. No regret. No fears.

I think it’s impossible to determine if Dash’s actions come from a philosophy of being confident or a mentality of never thinking things through. Still, her sermon inspired me. Infected me? Either way, it got into my head.

My gut tells me to run back into school and sit back in my desk like a good student. But my head plays with Dash’s promise of adventure as eagerly as a cat plays with a ball of yarn.

The fear of getting caught mixes with the sensation of butterflies flapping around in my stomach. I feel a little sick. But I’m still in awe at how unstoppable Rainbow Das is when she decided she is going to do something.

As she walks away, not caring at all, I only think of one thing: if I didn’t run after her, I’d regret not following her.

I pull out my phone. I quickly send Twilight a text. “I went out to lunch. Please tell the teachers that I got on the wrong bus and will be late. Thanks. =)”

I pressed ‘SEND’. I brace myself as throw my duffle bag over my shoulder.

Then, close behind me, I hear Twilight’s ringtone go off.

I ignore it.

I hear Twilight gasp as she reads what I sent her.

I ignore that too.

I run after Rainbow Dash as fast as I can. I think she pretends to not hear me as I approach her.

“Race you!” I playfully dare her as I run by her.

“I’ll go easy on you.” Rainbow bolts after me and we charge to…somewhere. Anywhere. Not school.

34 - Hot, Fast and Dangerous

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Hot, Fast and Dangerous
Description: Rainbow Dash teaches you to play with what scares you.


My hands shook as I locked the bathroom stall door.

I still couldn't believe that I was playing hooky. I felt rebellious…but not confident. I was on high alert, worried that at any second I would be caught and my life would be over. How does Rainbow Dash keep her aura of invulnerability when she does this stuff?

I threw my uniform into my duffel bag in the bathroom stall and jumped into my street clothes as fast as possible. Everything but my loafers were tucked away in my duffel bag.

As I left the stall, my phone buzzed. Twilight had responded to my text. I felt my stomach twist with guilt, and put my phone back in my pocket without checking it.


The day was better than I thought! Enough cool air to not need a jacket, not enough hot air to sweat.

Dash took me to a barbeque lunch shack in the heart of town, one that she had mentioned was good a while ago. They had tables where you could eat outside, with blue and white umbrellas over top, and Rainbow Dash grabbed one of those for us. Road house music played out of hidden speakers.

Dash promised me that this was just the beginning, that more excitement was on its way. Playing hooky was exciting enough for someone like me, but she insisted on doing more than just getting something to eat.

“And when I say extra spicy, I mean extra spicy. None of that training-wheel hot sauce you put in the kiddy menu.” Rainbow Dash ordered our tattoo-clad waiter around like he was her slave.

I sat down quickly and quietly. The man was enormous, both in height and width, and looked like he would fit in a biker gang easily if not for the apron under his muffin top. RD wasn’t spooked by him.

“I’ll just take a burger.” I said to the heavy-set man.

“Put bacon on it!” RD barked.

“Ignore her. I don’t want bacon.” The waiter just nodded and waddled away.

“Pffft. What’s the matter? Not a meat eater all of a sudden?”

“No, I just…” I stopped answering and thought about it. “…I don’t need a reason. I want what I want.” Rainbow Dash smiled when I said that.

“So, I ordered this five Alarm Chili. It comes in a bowl the size of my head and it’s awesome! But if you don’t tell them that you want it extra spicy, they make it kind of bland. Ya know, for the lightweights who can’t handle excitement. Like you.”

“Hey, I can handle excitement. I came with you, didn’t I?”

“And you earned your brownie points for having the guts to ditch. But you don’t upgrade from Dweeb to Superstar just like that. You got a long way to go.”

I caught a few people glancing at Rainbow Dash as she lectured me. I’m still relatively new in town so most people don’t recognize me, but Rainbow Dash is the neighborhood’s loudmouthed athletic claim-to-fame. I didn't know how she planned to get away with ditching school when everyone here and two towns over knew who she was.

“What…um…where are we going after this?” I asked nervously. Whatever she had planned for the day, I hoped it was away from prying eyes. For her sake.

“Is it close by?”

“Why? Scared of getting busted?”

“Yeah. Very.”

“I’ll protect you from the wrath of Twilight if you need me too.” Her promise reminded me of the unread text in my pocket. “Just play it cool for now. Everyone thinks we’re just on lunch break, cause we are. Seniors are allowed to leave campus whenever, so we haven’t done anything wrong yet.”

“Yeah, but-“

“And we’ll get back late so no one'll know you went missing.”

“How is showing up late going to help?”

“If we go back around the time classes get out, everyone will see us walking back and know we were gone. But if we stay out a long time, it’ll look like we were hanging out after school like a normal day.”

“…You…have thought about this.”

“Maybe this isn’t my first time.” She smirked.

“Bluff! I call your bluff.”

“Fine, call my bluff.” She kicked her feet on the table and leaned back in her chair. Her eyes dared me to call her out again.

“…Have you done this before?”

“I’ve done a lot of things.” She tilted her head far back, stretching her neck. I heard her sigh loudly as she basked in the breeze, again not caring about anything but enjoying herself.

Everyone saw her, everyone knew who she was, and she loved that. She was crazy! This was crazy. But I still wanted her to think I was cool enough to hang with her.

“How are you this confident?” I asked as the wind picked up.

“Huh?” She straightened her neck. “What did you say?”

“Are you scared of anything? Anything at all?"

“Hmmm…” Rainbow’s smile turned into a pensive look that ‘serious people’ get when they think ‘serious thoughts’. It didn’t suit her. Eventually, she shrugged and smirked again. “Nope. Not a damn thing.”

“Really?

“Really-really.”

“You have to be afraid of something.”

“Says who?”

“You just…everyone is afraid of something.”

“What did I tell you about being like everyone else?”

“This is different, you know it is. You’re telling me that not a single thing in this world scares you? Not bugs or ghosts or the dark...or anything else?”

She didn’t answer. With an ice cold look, she stared at me...like I had frustrated her beyond words and she was forcing herself not to start an argument. For the first time ever, she reminded me of Twilight.

The huge waiter brought us our food before things could get more awkward. RD’s bowl of chili was pulsating with spice. I could feel its heat from across the table. Without asking if we wanted it, the waiter brought a pitcher of cold water with him.

“Thank you,” she said to the waiter, but didn’t look away from me. The icy eyes stayed fixated on my own until the waiter left. Rainbow Dash pushed her nose close to the bowl and inhaled deeply. “This is so spicy that my eyes are burning already.”

“That’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t eat it.” I joked, and that icy look came back. Jesus, what did I say?

“I disagree. Bonaparte.” She picked up her spoon.

“You mean bon appétit?”

“Hush up nerd.” She shoveled a spoon full chili into her mouth. She sniffled a few times and her face reddened, but those chilling eyes never melted. Nor did it look like the spiciness bothered her.

To avoid the awkwardness of that look, I pulled out my phone to finally check Twilight’s message. I braced myself for a paragraph sized text explaining to me why skipping class is wrong.

It only said, “Okay.”

She said it was okay? She said it was okay!

I hadn't expected Twilight to do that, but I wasn’t going to question it. I was in the clear! I doubted that she’d rat me out later; that didn’t sound like something she’d do. And even though she had been acting weird since I started tutoring Rainbow Dash, I was overjoyed that she was still willing to help me out when I needed it.

Then, as I put my phone back in my pocket, I wished Twilight had sent me a long message. The alternative was enduring the cold wind Rainbow was shooting at me.

Rainbow Dash continued eating with the gusto of a starving child, but she was obviously upset about something. And didn’t want to talk about it. I nibbled on my burger, trying to find something else to talk about.

“I…”

“I’m not scared of anything.” Rainbow Dash declared, like that whole sentence was the final word on the topic and the issue was officially closed.

“I’m scared of heights.” I admitted, hoping it would make her feel better.

“Yeah?” She took another bite.

“Yeah. It’s okay to be afraid of things you know.”

Then she smirked. “Oooh. I see.” And shook her head and laughed a bit.

“What?”

“Nothing. Forget it, you wouldn’t understand.” She laughed, like she knew something I didn’t. Before I could demand an explanation, Rainbow held a spoonful of her atomic chili towards me. “Want some?” I felt my sinuses sizzle just from the smell of it.

“…No, I think I’m okay.”

“What was that crock you said earlier about being able to handle excitement?”

“Uh…”

“I dare you to eat it.” That made me reconsider her offer.

“…No thanks.”

“Bwwraak. Bw-bw-bwraaark!” She flapped one elbow like it was a wing and kept making chicken noises. Why is that always so annoying? And so effective?

“That’s...not gonna-.”

“If you spill some on your purse, I’ll pay for the cleaning.”

“Alright, alright, give me that!” Frustrated, I took the spoon.

“No cheating.” Dash took my glass of water away from me.

Against my better judgment, I bit the bullet; I shoved the whole thing into the back of my mouth.

“…Hey! This is really good! It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

“…Yeeeah.” Dash juggled her tongue in her mouth and snickered. “Give that a second.”

“Why?” I shrug and…oh god! The spiciness had taken a few seconds to kick in, but when it did my mouth ignited. I physically felt a sensation of burning on my tongue. “Give me the water! Quick!” I begged.

“Mmmm…nah.” Dash pulled the glass off the table and held it in the air, far out of my reach. “Sweat it out a bit.”

“Dash, seriously, give me the water! This is the spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten!”

“Ask me reeeally nicely.”

“Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.” It’s so hot it hurt. How did she eat this?! Dash heard my plea…and merely laughed before moving the glass further away. She held it behind her head with the tips of her fingers, teetering it back and forth, threatening to spill it. “Stop it! This isn’t funny Rainbow! My mouth is melting!”

“Chill out. Ever try not fighting the stuff that hurts you? You might like it.”

“What? Now, you’re seriously doing this now?”

“Yeah, we're doing this right now! Just relax.”

“This isn’t…” Suddenly, the pain dulled. The spiciness was still there, but it was less intense. More bearable. “…It’s spicy, can you please not do this now?”

“I could.” She took a sip out of my glass and I felt like cursing. But the pain got duller. And duller. It never went away, but it wasn’t painful. It tingled. I calmed down and sat back in my chair, staring at Rainbow Dash as my nose cleared up and my eyes stopped watering.

Only then, when I was relaxed, did she give me my water back. And at that point, I didn’t need it anymore.

“How’d that feel?” She asked and, I’m sure just to annoy me, took another bite out of her chili bowl.

“Like a volcano blew up in my throat.”

“Did you feel the pain get less painful? Like bit by bit? That’s the endorphins kicking in. I read about those. If you eat a lot of spicy foods, your brain releases endorphins to dull the pain. That helps you build a tolerance.”

“…Yeah?” I didn't see where she was going with this.

“The same thing happens when you work out. Like when I do it. You can’t do that if you’re comfortable all the time. If you avoid the stuff that scares you or the stuff that's hard, nothing changes. Sometimes, you have to make life harder on yourself. Pain can be a good thing.”

I thought about it. “Too much pain can kill you.”

“Yeah, but so can too much comfort. And that’s a lot less impressive. I’d rather sweat my problems away than not have any.” She picked up her bowl, leaned back in her chair, and kept eating. “So, like I was saying…no, I’m not afraid of anything. And that’s why.”

She made her point.

RD took her spoon back and scooped up another sample.

“Seconds?”

“I’ll pass.”

She grabbed a fry without asking me.

After we ate, after we paid, as we left barbeque stand, I saw groups of Starswirl students heading back to campus. My nervousness returned.

Rainbow noticed and tapped my shoulder. “Don’t even think about chickening out on me,” she said calmly, not like it was a threat.

“I’m not going anywhere.” Despite my anxiety about breaking Starswirlian law, the thought of running back to school hadn’t crossed my mind. “What’s the plan?”

“We walk out of here. Act like we’re not doing anything weird and no one will notice.”

“Still keeping where we are going a secret?”

“Why ruin the surprise now?” she said and calmly walked out of the small shopping district. I followed her closely. No one stopped us, no one asked questions. It really was that easy.

I thought that…and then my phone buzzed with another text.

“I don’t like lying for you,” Twilight said. My stomach plummeted again.

“Come on!” Rainbow Dash yelled and hurried away.

35 - Skate Park

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Skate Park
Description: Rainbow Dash takes you to her comfort zone, and out of yours.

When you look at the cozy suburban town near Starswirl from the outside, most would think of raising kids, daily commutes, town gossip. From a superficial glance, you’d never think this neighborhood would host a grungy indoor skate park.

But I guess chaos attracts more chaos, and Rainbow had sniffed out a concrete covered skater’s paradise sometime in the past and made it her clubhouse. The outside was painted white and blue, and it blended it with the other houses around it. The only give away was the graffiti art outside, a mural that looked like Mt Olympus with a modern edge.

Rainbow scanned a card at the front desk and walked inside the way a queen walks into her throne room. I paid my cover charge after I signed a wavier.

The walls inside were armored from edge to edge with references from the Counter-Culture and the 80’s, giving it a bright welcoming feel without sacrificing that crucial hint of rebellion.

“Where are we?” I asked as Rainbow Dash pulled a skateboard out of a rented locker with her name on it.

“Heaven,” she said giddily as she strapped a helmet onto her head. “Welcome to Cloudsdale. My second home. Hell, if they sold rooms, I’d make it my first home.”

“Why is it called Cloudsdale?”

“Cause, you either come here to fly or learn how to fly. Those clouds aren’t up there for show. They're goals.” She pointed up. The ceiling was polished glass that showed the expansive sky. Still smiling, Rainbow tucked her colorful hair under her helmet and jammed her bag into her locker. “Isn’t this place sick?”

“It’s pretty cool.” I said just to acknowledge her. Words could not describe how out of place I felt. I didn't know one end of a skateboard from the other.

Thankfully, TV and movies had taught me the names of most of the things around me. There was a huge pit for street moves, two high ramps, and a collection of different sized rails in between both.

The only thing I couldn’t identify was a collection of padded blocks in the far corner. They looked kind of like small, colorful buildings designed for climbing. And they looked very soft, maybe for safety.

There was a small loft in the top corner of the expansive building, with darkened windows and no noticeable way to access it from down here. I assumed it was the business office, but who knows.

Before I could ask her what was on the top floor, Rainbow Dash tossed me a helmet.

“…What is this for?” I asked.

“In case it rains.” She said sarcasitcally, then walked over to the board rental station. She high-fived several employees as we walked in. One was thin as a rail and hand tattoos all over his arms.

“What are those padded block things over there?” I asked and pointed.

“That’s for parkour and free-running training. That might be the coolest thing ever. I’ve done it for almost a year and…oh!” She suddenly grabbed my sleeve. “Check this out!

She pulled me towards a trophy case in the corner of the park. It was covered with autographed pictures of famous skaters, rock stars, celebrities and several medals and awards.

“See there?” Rainbow pointed to a picture in the center of the case that showed several people in tight blue and yellow flight suits. I recognized them, but that didn’t stop Dash from telling me who they were. “That’s them! The Wonderbolts! They were really here!” She squealed and cupped her hands together. Expressions like that were rare with her. “They were here, they were here, they were once here!!! They did a thing for some charity event. For a disease I think. Or was it to prevent a disease? Whatever. But when they come back, it’ll be awesome!” She bounced on the tips of her feet and squealed softly. “Look! There’s Spitfire! She’s only like 20 years old in this picture. Back when she was on the flight team, she was the best ever!”

Two of the employees stared at us. One shook his head as if he had heard Rainbow Dash gush before and expected this. The other scratched his head, like he had never seen a girl in this place.

“Um…Rainbow?”

“My future career is going to be the coolest job in the world,” she said confidently.

“What are we doing here? Just admiring the pictures?”

“Pfft. No!” Rainbow Dash sounded offended. “We’re here to tear it up!”

“We?”

---time passes---

My vision blurred as I looked down from the top of the padded blocks. It didn’t look this tall from ground level. The parkour blocks were sturdy and stable, but that didn’t make me feel better. I was forty feet off the ground and Rainbow Dash expected me to jump from one block to another like it was no big deal.

“Come on, I don’t have all day!” Rainbow Dash pestered me. Her legs dangled off the edge of the high ledge.

“I don’t think I can do this!” I said loudly. “I’ve never done this before!”

“It’s easy. You just gotta bend your knees and jump from point A to point B. Like a cat.”

“This is dangerous!”

“Only if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

“I don’t know what I am doing!!!”

“It’s jumping! You’ve been doing that since you were a kid. Plus the stuff here is padded.” She knocked her fist on the block. “The worst thing that happens is you fall and break every bone in your body.”

“What!?”

“Calm down! I said that’s the worst thing that could happen. This is just another learning experience.”

“I’m seriously beginning to question your teaching methods!”

“Whatever man, just jump!”

I looked over the edge again. In my head, I heard the wind whistle and thought I was on a mountain top. I gulped loudly.

“I can’t do this.” My voice cracked a bit.

“You won’t know if you try.”

“Dash!!”

“Newbie…what did I tell you about fear?” She raised her voice, fed up with my attitude. “Stop telling yourself you’re afraid. You’re not. You’re excited! You’re looking at something that’s crazy and not running away from it...and that’s awesome!”

“This is not exciting! This is legitimate danger. I could get hurt.”

“Everyone gets hurt. You know who ends up winning? The people who don’t let that stop them. Boom! Find a flaw in that logic.” She chimed out another cliché that sounded like something a Disney character would say.

“I…I…” I looked down again. “No! Forget it! Let me go back down!”

“Newbie, trust me. You’ll be fine. Just go with the flow.”

Everything in my body screamed for me not to jump, to ignore Dash’s strange and confusing encouragements and get back on the ground. I couldn’t think.

I inhaled deeply, closed my eyes and…no. No! There’s no way this was happening! I gave up.

“I can’t do it!” I sighed.

“I disagree. Watch this.” Her hand touched my back. “Geronimo!” She pushed me!

“DASH!!!” I screamed. My voice echoed through the park.

Before I knew what had happened, I was on the ground with my face planted in the floor. My knees hurt. I wasn’t bleeding, but I could feel a few bruises on their way.

Rainbow Dash leapt gracefully from one block to another with the grace of an agile animal, and perched herself ten feet over my head. She looked down and watched me as I rolled over on my back.

“How did that feel?” Rainbow asked.

“It sucked.” I pulled myself up slowly. The wind was knocked out of me.

“I bet.” She flipped over, dropped down next to me, and helped pull me to my feet. “But the world didn’t end, did it?”

“No.” I brushed my knees off. “What was the point of that?”

“Did you die?”

“Obviously not.”

“You just fell down?”

“Yeah.” I nodded

“What now?”

“Huh?”

“You did something scary. It hurt. You fell down. You can go home now if you want.” She climbed back up the parkour equipment again and started jumping around, never resting for a moment.

By now, it was obvious what she was doing. Dash was showing me who she was, what she believed in, and how she lived, and expected me to get the message. Dash didn’t slow down to explain why she did things, she just did them.

What confused me was why she showed me these things at all. Did she really trust me? Really? This all could have been a strange way to pay me back for lessons I was teaching her when we studied. Or maybe she thought I needed help. Maybe she just wanted someone to have fun with, or maybe she just wanted somebody to show off to.

Either way, while I kind of understood the messages, I still wasn’t feeling them. I was still Me. Still…ordinary.

“So are you coming or going?” Rainbow Dash shouted at me when she got to the top again, and again without waiting jumped around.

‘Follow me and maybe you’ll find out’, she said earlier. And I followed. For once, I stopped thinking. I climbed after Rainbow.

I still didn’t know what I was doing.

---time passes---

Seven bruises later, I was able to jump from one parkour block to the other without trembling. My fear of heights, as it turns out, was justified because I my body always found a way to fall like a brick.

Rainbow Dash switched to the skate ramp and spent the rest of her time in Cloudsdale getting as close to the sky as possible. She didn’t do many tricks, and focused on getting all the air she could. Pretending to fly was all she needed.

I kept practicing my jumping and watched her as I climbed back up. When I got too tired, I explored the rest of the skate park and watched Rainbow Dash as I did. Eventually, as the sun started to really go down and my muscles grew weaker, I sat on top of the half pipe and watched her.

After 3:00pm, groups of teenagers came into the park. Many from Starswirl, some from the public school downtown. And they skated and grinded and hung out…but Rainbow Dash kept flying, like she belonged in the air and coming down, even for a rest, would be the wrong thing to do.

As the sun started setting, the glass ceiling became a beautiful mural or purples and oranges. And Rainbow Dash kept pushing herself physically, lifting off the ground every few seconds and never slowing down.

I couldn’t imagine what skating for hours felt like, or how fast her heart must have been beating after moving for so long. She was so athletic. I could never know how it felt to be that physically capable. I felt bad when I thought that Rainbow Dash could never know what it was like to be as smart as me.

When the sunlight disappeared, a man stuck his head out from the window on the top floor. He whistled with his two fingers, then shouted. “We’re closing! Everybody out!” The other kids started booing, but the manager closed the window and went back to…whatever he was working on.

The skaters left one-by-one. Only when told to leave did Rainbow Dash finally stop. She jumped off her board mid-air and plopped down next to me. She was dripping with sweat and panted heavily.

“That…was a…great…workout,” she said in bated breathes. Her clothes were soaked and her hair was stringy.

“You were going for almost five hours straight.”

“Yeah…wicked…run…man.” She huffed and puffed and sounded like she was going to have a heart attack.

“You gotta get out of here kids!” the front desk worker yelled at us from the bottom of the half pipe.

“Okay…one…sec…” Dash waved to him. This time, I helped her up. Her hands were wet. Gross.

---time passes---

“Isn’t that place radical!?” Twenty minutes later, she’s fine. Still sweat drenched, but energetic as usual. “I really wish I could live there. I’m one cot away from doing that.”

“Uh huh.” Rainbow Dash was so high off her endorphins that she wasn’t paying attention to where she was going. So I led us back to Starswirl.

“How’d you like your first taste of extreme sports?”

“It was…extreme?”

“Yes!” She slammed her hand on my back so hard I nearly fell over. “That is what you're supposed to feel.”

---time passes---

Campus was quiet again. This was the second time in two weeks that we both snuck back to our dorms at night, and the second time I was exhausted from wasting my day with Dash.

My knees felt better now. My ego was more battered up than my body.

"So..." I said softly, "...what now?"

"Wanna go play videogames? No sports games though!" she demanded.

"No, I mean...what do we do now? We just...keep quiet about all this?"

"Pretty much. Just act like nothing happened. We weren't gone all day. Just the last...what was it, two hours? Not even?"

"Okay." I nodded but couldn’t imagine how I could do that. "Does Applejack and Fluttershy know you play hooky sometimes?"

"The best way to keep a secret is to not tell anyone."

"But..." I stopped myself before I could point out that she was taking me out on her adventure rather than her old friends. That was a major compliment...I think. Maybe it was because she knew I wouldn't argue with her if she asked me to come.

"But what?"

"Nothing."

"Ugh. Again with that."

"Again with what?"

"Forget it. I bet you don't even realize you're doing it."

"What did I do?!"

"I'll tell you tomorrow. Right now..." She yawned loudly. "...I need to go home and forget to turn my alarm clock on. I'll see you in the library, okay?"

"S-sure." She remined me about studying before I could. Guess she meant it when she said she'd take her studying more seriously. "Right after class, as usual."

"Okay." She took a few steps away, stopped, then turned around and came right back.

"Forget something?" I asked. She fidgeted a bit, then coughed.

"So...thanks for...doing all that. It was pretty cool of you."

"I had a lot more fun than I thought I would have. Thank you for the invite."

She stared at me. We said nothing.

She stared some more.

Then she turned a left.

"Bye. Good night!" I said. She waved her hand behind her head without turning around.

36 - Technicalities

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Technicalities
Description: Twilight drops the ball. You panic.


"Stupid thing. Come on, why now?!" My locker refused to open. I tugged on it a few times as hard as I could but no dice.
Things like this always happen when you need to be somewhere.

“Howdy there,” Applejack said as she patted my shoulder. "Gotta issue with you rlocket Greenhorn?

“Oh, hi AJ.” I pulled my locker harder, growing more frustrated. " This stupid thing isn't-"

BANG. AJ hit the locker with the bottom of her fist and it popped open. My backpack fell out into my arms.

"...I loosened it for you."

"Ah course you did." AJ snickered. "Wanna go bug Fluttershy? She's been all excited 'bout Angel lately and…frankly, we need to get that gal outta her room. Too much time with the animals ain't good for ya."

"I'd come, but I can’t. I have to go study with Rainbow Dash again. She making some progress now."

"Huh?" Applejack looked confused. "What do you mean?"

"Our study sessions. You know, for her math grade. You know about those."

"Yeah, I knows you have them. I just figured that you weren't doin' it today is all."

"Why wouldn't I do it?"

"You didn't hear?!" Applejack sounded surprised, almost offended. "Rainbow Dash played hooky yesterday."

My heart stopped beating. "....What?"

"Celestia done near blew a gasket when she found out."

"What?!" Then it started beating again. Really, really fast.

"Yes sir-e. She gots in a lot of trouble. Real ‘last warning’ kinda stuff. You could hear Celestia yelling from down the hall."

I started panicking. Every worst case scenario ran through my head. Expulsion, transferring to a terrible school, explaining to my parents what had happened, never getting into college.

"That girl is a heap of trouble sometimes." Applejack shook her head. "You'd think she'd learn. At least you did. I'm glad you didn't get mixed up with her this time."

"....What?" My brain chugged for a second as I processed AJ's last phrase.

"You're askin' 'what' a lot, ya know."

"I know, sorry but…what did you just say?"

"Ah mean, how when Dashie did…you know, that thing a while back with my truck? You tagged along and helped her then. But you were smart enough to stay out of it this time."

“I-" I literally bit my tongue.

“Dash got in all of the trouble on her own for once. I hope this finally teachers her a few lessons.” Applejack sighed. She didn't know I was with Rainbow Dash! I wasn't called into Celestia's office so that meant the school didn't know either. I was in the clear!

...And Rainbow Dash wasn’t.

“What happened to her?” I asked and tried to keep my cool.

“I heard she got put on probation and has to clean the old part of the school up fur about three weeks. And she’s off the track team for a while. That’s a lot better than would could have happened.”

I started putting the pieces together in my head. How did Celestia find out?! Dash had planned things out relatively. The only one who saw us leave was...

"Twilight." I growled.

"What about Twilight?" Applejack asked.

"Give me a rain check on hanging with you and Fluttershy, okay?" I threw my backpack over my shoulder. "I have to go do something. Thanks for the invitation."

"Sure thang. Next-" I walked right past her. "-time."


Of course she was hidden behind a book. I marched up to her and pulled the novel away from her.

"Hey!" She tried to pull the book back to her face.

"What happened?!" I demanded.

"Wha-what's wrong?" She looked scared. My face was red with anger and I could feel it. The old librarian stared at us, ready to bark out a word of concern.

"Come outside. I want to talk to you."

Twilight gulped, put a bookmark in her book and followed me into the hallway.


Twilight coyly held both of her hands together and waited for me to say something..

"I thought you said you were going to cover for me yesterday!" I barked.

"I did! I swear, I didn't tell anyone! I promise!" She begged me to believe her.

"Then why did Rainbow Dash get caught?!"

"…you didn't tell me to cover for her too!"

"Are you serious?!"

"You didn't tell me to! Please don't be mad at me! I didn't tell on her, I just didn’t make up an excuse for her when you both left. I mean...she shouldn't have skipped school anyway. You either. If she didn't do it, she wouldn't have gotten caught."

"That's not the point!" Yes it was. I knew it was. Rainbow Dash got caught for doing the wrong thing.

But why did it feel like Rainbow was the victim here?

Twilight looked like she was about to cry. But I was so angry that all I could think about was how Rainbow Dash got caught and I didn’t.

“Forget it.” I turned and started walking away. “Never mind, this was a bad idea."

"Please! Don't hate me!" Twilight pleaded again as I left. I pretended not to hear her. Even if I had hurt her feelings…and I knew I had…I was way too angry. I was doing her a favor by walking away before things got worse.

This was favoritism, on everyone's part. Twilight protected me because she liked me more, and I stood up for Rainbow Dash because I liked her more. I got angrier, this time at myself for think such a cruel thought.

37 - Sent to the moon

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Sent to the Moon
Description: You visit Rainbow Dash as she serves her sentence.

I had to ask a lot of questions before finally getting some clear answers.

The building in the far north end of Starswirl had been closed for years. No one went there now, except for the occasional delinquents looking to sneak a smoke. Since I was still new, I hadn't known the place existed.

But apparently Startswirl once had a fully functional planetarium. In its heyday, kids from the elementary schools came to watch science shows and the science teachers here used it from advanced classes. But maintenance was a problem, and keeping it open was too expensive. They closed it, but the building itself was left intact...mostly. The moon cutout over the entrance was still hanging over the front door, hence the nickname the students gave it.

There was talk of re-opening it in a few years, so that meant a lot of cleaning up. And that was where the misbehaving students came in.

Whenever a student really messed up, they were “sent to the moon” and had to clean up some part of the planetarium. Celestia, not wanting to ruin a young person’s life, did this in exchange for not putting a mark on their permanent record. She seemed like a very merciful person, but I bet those who got punished still thought she was overreacting.

The building was so dusty that breathing was difficult. My footsteps echoed all around. There were no lights except for the sun peeking through the windows.

“Hello!” I yelled. No answer. I half expected a ghost to laugh at me.

There were a few dusty footprints on the ground that led up the nearby flight of stairs. A chill went down my spine as I looked up the haunting stairway.


The door to the actual planetarium was wide open. Rainbow Dash struggled to drag a heavy wooden board from one end of the room to the other. She wore work gloves and goggles over her eyes.

“Stupid Celestia…” I heard her grumble as she worked. Hoping not to scare her, I knocked on the door before going inside. But the opposite happened. Dash jumped and dropped the wooden board. She squealed and her hair stood on end.

“Sorry!” I said.

“Don’t scare me like that!” She took one of her gloves off and threw it at me. I ducked. “Like this place isn’t haunted enough.”

“Haunted?” I picked up her glove.

“That’s why they really closed it! I know a guy who knows a girl whose cousin died in this very room.”

“Such a reliable source.” I rolled my eyes and gave her back her glove. “How mad did Celestia get?”

“She doesn’t get ‘mad’. She just gets really disappointed. I’m stuck here for three weeks?”

“ I heard. And that you’re suspended from track.”

“For five weeks! That’s gonna be the worst. I’m gonna need to run like crazy after I’m done here to make up for lost time. I might as well be here for a thousand years!" She kicked the wooden board in frustration.

“I’m sorry.”

“…What did you do?” She looked suspicious.

“Nothing. I’m just sorry you got caught. That, you know, you’re being punished.”

“Nah, it’s cool. I’d be pretty stupid if I did something without expecting consequences. It just kinda sucks, ya know?”

“Yeah.” I coughed. “Thanks for not squealing on me.”

“No way Newbie. I’m no rat.” She play punched me. I was starting to get used to them; her punches didn’t hurt as much. “You know, I gotta be loyalty.”

“Yeah. I know” The planetarium’s ceiling was black and there were plenty of dusty seats encircling the broken star projector. “This place is a dump.”

“You should have seen it when I got here.” She kicked the wooden board by her feet.

“Need help?”

“Nah. I dug my own grave, so I’m going to sit in it.” She rubbed under her nose, trying not to sneeze from the dust cloud we were stuck in. “But…you can hang out while I work. It'd help pass the time.”

I nodded, and patted down a nearby seat. Dust flew everywhere. I decided to lean against the star projector.

---time passes---

Rainbow Dash worked and I listened to her talk about whatever she wanted to talk about. A fact about the Wonder Bolts here, a sport statistic there, gossip, opinions, mini-debates. She worked faster when she spoke and slower when I tried to help, so I did my best to stay quiet.

She smiled a lot. And seemed spunkier than usual. And when I chimed in to keep the conversation going, even if the topic was bit negative, she responded positively. The only thing missing were our math text books, otherwise this would have been like a regular “study” session.

“Hey, since you got caught, is that going to hurt your chances of getting into the academy?” I asked as she dusted the windows.

“Maybe. Maybe not. If it does, I'll just have to deal with those problems. Won't I?” She was only partially visible through the dust cloud and the setting sunlight.

“I know what's done is done, but not having problems in the first place is smarter. Right?”

"Not having problems? Well then you don't learn anything. If everything went right, you'd never know what to do.” She pointed at me and smirked.

“But is it worth it? What if you really blew your chance?”

“Honestly…I think I'll be okay. Celestia might be a bit stuffy, but she’s never mean for the sake of being mean. Besides, they like keeping athletes in school. We get a lot of breaks.”

“I know that’s right. There were guys on my old basketball team that never got in trouble. It’s not fair.”

“I know! Isn’t it awesome.” She paused. “For me.”

And nothing changed. These exchanges…hanging out…they felt normal at this point. They felt right.

---time passes---

A teacher came in to check on Rainbow Dash every hour, and in the final hour (four hours after she started) the professor said she could go home.

“Bout time! My arms are killing me.” She flexed a bicep that wasn’t there.

“You have to get your work-out somehow, don’t you Jock?” I shoved her gently with my elbow as we both left the planetarium.

“You know it.” She tried to rub the top of my head, but I stopped her. “You’re catching on.” She jumped half way down the stairwell, still insanely energetic.” I’m gonna go running for a bit. Wanna come?”

“Yeah. I guess so.” I don’t bring up the homework I had to do. I was catching on after all.

“This could work out now that I think about it. Muscle training here, cardio right after…maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”

“Or maybe you’re just rationalizing your misfortune.”

“Or maybe I don’t see the difference between one and the other.” She shrugged and smiled. And then, just as we left the creepy building, she got fidgety and looked nervous. She cleared her throat a few times and scratched behind her ear.

“What?” I asked, picking up on her cues. She was feeling again and didn’t know how to react.

“I kinda wanted…well, it’s not like I’m making a big deal about it or nothing but…you know?” She kept fidgeting.

“Uh…no, I don’t.”

“You don’t? Oh. Yeah.” She shrugged again. “You…I wanted to tell you…I mean, after all you did…”

“Just say it.” I ordered her.

“…it's lame. Forget it." She kept walking. I sighed and shook my head. Then I ran up next to her.

"I'm not going to think you're lame. Just say it. Whatever it is." I tried to make her feel comfortable.

"I just wanted to tell you...you’re...I like hanging out with you." She paused and gulp. She didn't look at me. "You're....kinda my best friend right now. So, thanks for that.”

Hearing that was somehow more valuable when it came from someone who is not an open book. People who never hold back their feelings are usually hard to take seriously, in my experience. And while Rainbow’s initial coldness turned me off, her shell wasn’t as tough as she first made it seem.

“I’m just saying this to make you even more uncomfortable…” I started, and she in term got really uncomfortable. Score. “…but you’re my best friend too right now.”

“Yeah?” She finally looked at me. “What about Library-Girl?”

“Twilight is…we’re kind of…growing apart.”

“Newbie, come on. Don’t let that happen. You’re old friends. You don’t get a lot of those.”

“Yeah, but we’re both changing. I don’t know if I want to hang out with her as much as I used to."

“Whoa-whoa-whoa! Back it up there. You’re going to hang out with her more because…take it from someone who knows…you don’t want a girl from your childhood hating you.”

“Hate?” Twilight’s face popped into my head. The way she looked at me when I yelled at her...now that I was calm, she looked really hurt. “You're right. I don’t want that.” I said softly.

Rainbow Dash stared at me for a few seconds before shoving my shoulder.

“What did you do now?” She demanded I answer.

“What? Nothing.”

“Don’t lie to me Newbie. Something happened. Spill it.”

“I didn’t…okay, so maybe we had a fight.”

“Yesterday, right?”

“Huh?”

“I heard about how you blew up at her in the cafeteria? I bet you still didn’t apologize for that.”

“How did you know about-”

“Derpy told Applejack who told Rarity who told everyone else.” Wow. Never underestimate a girl’s ability to spread a rumor.

“Uh…I didn't apologize for that yet...and we had another fight today.”

“Dammit! Why would you do that?” Rainbow Dash shoved me. “She’s your best friend. And she doesn't exactly have the confidence to deal with a confrontation.”

“I just said you’re my best friend.”

“I don’t want to be your best friend by default, you jerk!” She became noticeably angry, the only emotion she wasn’t afraid to express.

“You’re not! I didn’t mean it like that, I swear!”

“Yeah, sure you didn’t.” She scowled at me. “You didn’t apologize to her for the one today either, did you?”

“It happened like a few hours ago.”

“So?! Why did you hang out with me if your friend needed you!”

“Because I was mad. I would have just made things worse if I stayed.”

“Who cares! You’re not mad now, are you? What are you waiting for, go see her!”

“I can’t.” My pride answered for me.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know, I guess the same reason you said you couldn’t apologize to Applejack.”

“That is…that’s not the…that’s not the same thing!!!” Her yelling echoed over campus, which was thankfully empty. Oh man, did that set her off. She looked like a canon ready to fire and looked at me like my face was the target.

“How is it not the same thing?”

“Because you knew better!! You saw me screw up and then went and made the same mistake?! Twilight was in trouble! She needed you! When your friend is in trouble, you have to do something. It doesn't matter if you're mad at them or not. You have to do something!"

"Well, maybe I don't know what to do. We're not the same people as we were."

Rainbow Dash gave me this look like she could not, for the life of her, comprehend my confusion and doubt, like I was literally from another world and our thought processes were so drastically different that communicating was pointless.

"Ughhh! Forget it man!" She walked away from, walked away from the track field.

"Where you going?!" I shouted at her.

"Somewhere! I'll let you know! Jerk!" One last insult before going on her way.

I made a note that it was a weird coincidence that I was an idiot only when girls were involved.