Rainbow Dash sat in her haunches, with her forehoof on her chest and her breathing heavy.
Twilight had taught her this technique, something past down from Cadence, or something like that; all that mattered to Rainbow right then was that it worked.
As she got her breathing back under control, she cast her gaze upon the horizon. The sun had begun its descent, the late autumn sky filled with shifting shades of red. Red; just like her stallion, the reason she was here.
Her feathers ruffled as the wind whipped past her, the scarf around her neck snapping like a flag. Rainbow shivered, but it wasn’t from the cold.
The sound of heavy but deliberate hoof steps approached her from behind, stopping just to the side of her. “We don’t have to do this, if you’re not comfortable darlin.” He slipped his hooves around her withers, and rested his head atop hers. On any normal day, Rainbow would’ve kicked his flank for such a public display of affection, big or small; but today was no normal day.
Releasing a final heavy breath, Rainbow looped her forelegs around Mac’s. “No, I know how much this means to you. It is a part of you, and if I’m to spend my future with you, it needs to become a part of me too.”
Mac didn’t say anything, but Rainbow felt him settle into her back, and his muzzle shift atop her head. She couldn’t see it, but she knew Mac was smiling, and she wanted nothing more than to enjoy the feeling of contentment till she fell asleep. But there was something that needed doing. With daylight burning, Rainbow forced her way out of Mac’s embrace, and turned to face him. “I’m ready, lead the way.”
Nodding, Mac turned,and headed down the path, pausing only to allow his blue companion to catch up. The road lead them out of town, and the lowering sun cast shadows across their path. Neither said anything as they approached their destination; nothing needed to be. The grass grew wilder this far out of town, until the pair passed an invisible boundary. Then the grass became short, and well groomed, and its wasn't long before they passed through a wrought iron gateway.
Rainbow Dash shivered again, a cold chill running down her spine, and she moved herself closer to Mac. Following a route ingrained in his very being, Mac lead them around the fence line, before turning off and walking a short ways in.
Rainbow felt her breath quicken again, before a calming hoof settled on her shoulder. “I’ll go first.”
Mac moved with a hitherto unseen grace, before he sat down, facing two grey stones.
“Hey Ma, Hey Pa. The farm is doing well. Ah managed to finally get that south field to grow sumit. Granted it ain’t apples, but folks round ere need a little variety, un I know this corn will grow well; I cun feel it “Ya shoulda seen the cider haul this year, wat wit AJ’s friends pitchin in again. Largest batch we ever made, almost double from five years ago. Ee’yup.”
“Oh, Bloom went and got her Cutie Mark a few months back; reckon I shoulda told ya sooner. Her and her crusader pals went and got matching ones, all at the same time.” Mac sniffed loudly, his hooves slowly wiping across his eyes. “You shoulda… you shoulda been… there.”
And then the damn broke. The usually stoic stallion collapsed to the ground, and wrapped his hooves across his muzzle. Mac’s brain was overwhelmed, his emotions ran amok. Every year, he made the same trip, and every year he was reduced to an emotional wreck, who would lay in the dirt until he cried himself to sleep.
This year was different. Before he could react, Mac found himself wrapped in 4 blue hooves, and he felt a warm breath tickle his ears. He knew his family loved him, and he loved them; but when he came here each year, he always felt alone.
This year was different. His heart soared. Practically leaping to his hooves, he steadied Rainbow, and cleared his throat. “Ma, Pa; I’m not gonna lie. I’ve missed you so much. As each year goes by, and I see more of you both is AJ and Apple Bloom, I miss you more. I love them, of that there is no doubt, but I can’t deny your passing left a hole in my heart.” Tears were flowing freely to the ground, but Mac didn’t care.
“But something amazing has happened, something that, a year ago, I would’a said was impossible. But, I’ve gone and found myself not just a mare, but the best mare any stallion could ask for. She’s strong, independent, and loyal to her core. And even though she may deny it, she’s beautiful to boot.” His smile threatened to split his face open.
“And the weird thing? She’s the fastest pegasus alive, born to rule the skies, and yet it’s her that keeps me grounded. That hole in my heart may never fully heal, but I’d bet my collar that she’s the only mare that can give it a good shot.” Grinning from ear to ear, he pulled his companion into a side hug, and thrust her forward slightly. “Ma, Pa, I’d like you to meet Rainbow Dash.”
Still blushing heavily from Mac heartfelt confession, Rainbow bowed her head in greeting. “It’s nice to meet you both.” She grimaced at her own words. “I… I mean, I’m glad to have finally met you.”
She fidgeted, her wings twitching, and her eyes darted about looking for an escape route. It all stopped when she felt Mac loop a leg over her withers. She immediately felt calm, and at the same time strong enough to take on the world. Nuzzling into Mac shoulder, she found the strength to go on.
“I haven’t heard much about you two, and please don’t be mad at Mac or AJ for that. Talking about this sort of thing is hard for anypony. But what I do know is you must have been a pair of outstanding ponies; if the kids you left behind are anything to go by. But I swear, here and now, I’m going to find out everything about you I can, and visit every year with Mac.” She heard the stallion next to her start sniffling again.
“Forget what Mac said about me, it’s me who's lucky. Whatever you guys did, you did it right. Mac is the strongest, most dependable pony I have ever met; just don’t tell AJ - she’s a close second, but like me hates losing. I have never met a pony who makes me feel the same way; not just safe, but like I’ve found my place in the world. I thought I had achieved my life’s dream when I made the Wonderbolts display team, but I still felt hollow. Mac says that he think’s I’ll fill the hole inside of his heart, and that's fine; it just means I have my work cut out for me. But I know, I know he is going to fill the same emptiness inside mine.” By this point Mac’s entire frame was hitching from the soundless crying, and Rainbow extended a wing across his back.
“You did a wonderful job instilling your values into your children. I am going to learn everything you did, and if Mac plays his cards right, he might just get to work with me to pass them onto another generation.”
Coughing and spluttering, Mac lost his balance and fell over. Rainbow still had her wing over him, and she was dragged down with him. The big stallion lay there still spluttering, unable to respond, while the blue mare rolled around laughing her mane off. It took a few minutes, but Mac managed to regain control of his own body, and he moved to lay on his front hooves. Her face starting to hurt, Rainbow finally ceased laughing, and crawled up on top of Mac.
“You mean what you said?” Mac asked, turned his neck to face his passenger.
A rosy tint returned to her muzzle; “Well not for a few years, but yeah, I do.” She quickly buried her face in Mac’s mane. Mac smiled. It wasn’t a big smile, but one of contentment.
“Ya know they’re gonna hold ya to that, right?” Mac pointed towards the gravestones.
“I think I want them too.” The voice came from above him. Looking up, he found rainbow had shuffled forwards and was peering down from above. “Now that’s what they want to see!” Mac looked at her quizzically. “Your smile doofus. They don’t want you to come here every year to cry your eyes out, they want to see you smile.” He thought it over, before he hummed his approval and nodded his head.
Just as Rainbow hopped back onto her hooves, the sun took its final bow and disappeared below the horizon. The moon ascended from the opposite horizon, and cast a silver glow across the land. As Luna’s light hit the gravestones around them, they lit up with an almost ethereal glow.
Rainbow gasped. “Wow; Mac, did you know about this?”
He shook his head. “I’m a bit ashamed to say, but I've usually cried myself to sleep by this point.”
“Well I for one take this as a good omen.” She pulled Mac to his hooves. “Look.” Mac followed the blue forelimb, casting his gaze until it fell upon his parents gravestones. They glowed far brighter than any of the others. A pair of fireflies flew around them, appearing as if they were dancing, taking a lazy route. The flying motes of light flew over suddenly, catching them both off guard.
One firefly landed on Mac’s nose, the other on Rainbows. As quickly as they had come, they left, darting off and disappearing behind the hedgerow. Mac stood there, eyes fixed at where the lights had disappeared, his nose tickling slightly where one had landed. His eyes darted forwards, his nose was suddenly tickling again.
He found that Rainbow had put her muzzle up against his. Feeling that it was his turn to surprise her, he pulled her into a deep kiss, only breaking away when he needed air. He looked down; Rainbow was now a blue puddle on the floor, her face now scarlet.
Turning back to the gravestones, he smiled. “Ma, Pa. It was good to see you again, but I better get Miss Dash home, I seem to have broken her.” He lifted Rainbow onto his back, revelling in the now familiar warmth. “Ma, Pa. I’ll… We’ll see you next year.” He bowed his head for a few seconds, before stepping back, and heading home. He had never felt so loved.