Bifrost

by Leaf Blade

First published

What's a forlorn fashionista to do when a rainbow-haired ruffian who made her teenage years miserable comes crashing back into her life? Join a fighting tournament to beat the hay out of her, of course. There will be blood... and smooches. [Omniship]

What's a forlorn fashionista to do when the rainbow-haired ruffian who made her teenage years miserable comes crashing back into her life? Join a fighting tournament to beat the hay out of her, of course.

There will be blood... and smooches.


A slow-burn, Raridash-flavored Omniship adventure.
Cover art by Xenon.

Content Warning: Depiction of suicidal thoughts.

01. Wake Up, Makeup

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The small apartment in which Rarity now snoozed was modest and humble— ‘homely’, Rarity would describe it— but her bed was wonderful. It was her haven at the end of a monotonous day and on this early winter morning it cradled her in its warmth like a child in their parent’s embrace.

Simply marvelous.

That is, of course, until the sudden impact of a pillow hitting her in the face abruptly roused her from her slumber, a disturbance which was nothing compared to the clattering of her body falling out of bed and onto the thinly carpeted wooden floor.

“I’m awake!” she said deliriously as she tried to grab hold of something to help her onto her hooves, but she only managed to grab the blanket off the bed and pull it down on top of her head. “I’m blind!”

“Silly, you overslept,” the tender, albeit teasing, voice of Twilight Sparkle was a great comfort, almost as much as her delicately taking the blanket off of Rarity and placing it back on the bed.

“Thank you, darling,” Rarity chuckled bashfully, putting her hoof onto Twilight’s as Twilight pulled Rarity up and helped her get onto her hooves.

“My pleasure,” Twilight giggled, a little fang sticking out the side of her mouth when she smiled.

Rarity couldn’t help but smile at the sight of Twilight, a thin and slender lavender pony whose smile always brightened even Rarity’s dreariest days.

“I’m fine now though,” Rarity hummed, brushing a hoof through Twilight’s lovely bangs.

Twilight’s mane was one of Rarity’s favorite of Twilight’s many stunning features; immaculately kept and straight as an arrow, falling across the unicorn’s back and down in front of her shoulders, framing Twilight’s pretty lavender-coated face with a beautiful complimentary indigo, the streaks of violet and rosy pink only further highlighting Twilight’s awkward but dazzling beauty.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be today?” Twilight tilted her head, ears perked up and tail swaying behind her, completely oblivious to Rarity’s fascination.

“I do, I do indeed,” Rarity grumbled dramatically as she stretched her weary bones, which were no more ready to be awake than her mind was, and headed for her meager vanity, her nose curling up as she brushed her hoof across it, chipping some of its ugly pale pink paint.

The dresser and mirror combo also came with an uncomfortable and squeaky wooden chair that Rarity needed to sit in, and she squeezed herself between the chair and the vanity which were crammed into the dimmest corner of the room, the only place they would fit.

“My sweet companion Fluttershy has requested my assistance with a matter that she assures me is most urgent,” Rarity spoke casually as she applied moisturizer to her hooves and rubbed them across her cheeks.

“Oh?” Twilight, ever the inquisitive one, bit her lip and let her tail wag behind her as she sidled into the corner alongside Rarity, even her slender frame becoming cramped in this compact environment. “Do tell?”

“Darling, I wish I could,” Rarity sighed theatrically as she dried her face with a towel, speeding the process along with her magic, before brushing her face with the foundation brush, using her magic to move that process along quite nicely as well.

Rarity was never terribly good at magic, but she was infinitely grateful to Twilight for at least teaching her how to use it to ease her morning makeup routine.

She then grabbed her hairbrush to arrange her mane into its naturally perfect, gorgeous style with its distinctive curl, and as she finished, she gave yet another melodramatic sigh as she delighted in the feeling of being beautiful.

Her body was weary and at times rather difficult to look at, dysphoria being what it was, but her mane was perfect.

The clearing of Twilight’s throat clued Rarity in to the fact that she had gotten a tad distracted, and she hummed a little tune to play her pause off as somewhat intentional.

“Unfortunately,” Rarity said slowly as she carefully applied her eyelashes, “dear Fluttershy is rather tight-lipped about these sorts of things. I suspect she’s afraid of me judging her harshly if she’s forthright with me.”

“Huh, that doesn’t sound like you,” Twilight said ponderously, scratching her hoof against the wall, tearing at the tacky mauve wallpaper until an aside glare from Rarity forced her to stop.

“Of course not! I am as trustworthy as they come!” Rarity harrumphed and blinked several times, smiling at how pretty her eyelashes were. “That said,” Rarity muttered, delicately dressing her eyes with her favorite light blue eyeshadow, “Fluttershy is a nervous sort, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how that can play tricks on one’s mind.”

Twilight, ever anxious herself, let out a sad sigh of her own, though her eyes quickly lit back up as she refocused on the present. “You should really introduce me to her sometime. I bet we’d get along really great.”

“Ah, yes, of—of course,” Rarity gave a soft giggle and thanked her luck that Twilight was not one to pick up on certain social cues like ‘forced laughter’.

Fluttershy had been a faithful companion of Rarity’s for a year or two now— from before Twilight had moved in with her— yet in all that time, Twilight and Fluttershy had never actually met each other. This was, unfortunately, by design.

At first it was simply a matter of Twilight never leaving their apartment for any reason ever, but after about a few months or so the awkward pony began reluctantly leaving the humble dwelling every so often, usually to go to the library, check out more books than Rarity thought was even possible for a single pony to read in a lifetime, and then come straight back home and read them all within a fortnight at most.

However, the sad truth of the matter was that Twilight and Fluttershy were both anxious, awkward ponies, bless their hearts. Being out and about with either of them took a certain amount of mental energy from Rarity to make sure they felt safe and comfortable, and the idea of having to manage both of them, and the fears of what if they didn’t get along, and what if they didn’t get along because of her

As was the case with an ever-mounting number of issues, Rarity never seemed to have enough spoons for it.

Rarity yawned rather dramatically and dismissed Twilight with a wave of her hoof. “Darling, can you grant me about ten more minutes of beauty sleep?”

“Uh, okay. If you’re sure?” Twilight said hesitantly, and as Rarity smiled and nodded, Twilight bowed her head, nearly bumping her nose into the vanity.

She slunk out of the room and closed the door behind her, reminding Rarity of the wooden door’s ghoulish green paintjob and the way its hideous coat was chipping away in clumps, but also leaving Rarity alone with her thoughts in a room that somehow felt even more stifling despite the so-called breathing room left in Twilight’s absence.

Rarity crawled back into bed, into her little haven, but she knew no sleep was coming.

She opened the blind above the bed to look out over the horizon and the beautiful cityscape of Dodge City. Unfortunately, all she could actually see from her window was the wall and dumpster of a neighboring apartment building.

Rarity buried her face in her pillow and groaned quietly—a pitiful mewling grumble of a bitter and hopeless pony. She would have loved to cry had she still the capacity to shed any tears, but she was quite certain that she had cried herself dry many years ago.

She didn’t dare look at the clock as she awaited Twilight’s inevitable return to ‘wake’ her. She simply remained on her bed with her face buried into the pillow, only lifting her head periodically to breathe before the weight of her circumstances forced her back down like a crushing hammer of gravity.

When a younger Rarity would retire for the night, she occasionally entertained the notion that she wished to never wake up again. As she grew older, those occasions became more frequent.

And now, she made that wish every night.

02. Lunch Money

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Rainbow Dash slumped out of her cramped hammock onto the concrete floor of the alleyway she called home.

She slipped her wings through the holes of her dusty brown bomber jacket, stretched her achy bones, a mix between a growl and a sad groan coming out of the pegasus’ lips as she stretched and ached, that hammock having done a number on her body these last few years.

Rainbow tapped a hoof against the rusty pole that held up the rain canopy above the hammocks, and then again on the pole that held up the canopy above the television, and both responded with a satisfying ‘clink clink’ sound, instead of the creaky death knell Rainbow was expecting.

She looked up, and the canopies were still standing too, and Rainbow allowed herself a smile at her handiwork. She wasn’t sure they’d hold up, but the ugly green and orange sheets she made into makeshift rain shields kept her and her partner dry through last night’s rainfall.

And more importantly—Rainbow clicked the knob on the television, and a bright smile erupted onto her face when the thing turned on with no problem. The TV was her and her partner’s pride and joy, they’d dug it out of somepony’s trash and it was a miracle the dang thing worked; if a little measly rain was enough to do the thing in, Rainbow had half a mind to kill herse—

Ahem.

Well, she wouldn’t be happy.

Speaking of Rainbow’s partner though; Rainbow peeked up at the hammock above hers and it was empty. Made sense, it was Pinkie Pie’s turn to scavenge food money today, which meant Rainbow was free to do whatever she wanted.

Whatever…

…she…

…wanted.

Which meant… time to go to the library. Again. Just like her last day off, and the one before that, and… the one before…

Hm.

Skulking through Dodge City’s dusty streets was a chore on the best of days, but the biting winter weather meant this day could hardly be considered the best at anything, other than being frustrating and cold.

There weren’t many ponies on the streets—who other than the homeless Rainbow Dash would want to be walking the streets in this weather?—and even though Rainbow was notably smaller than most of the ponies who were out and about, Rainbow radiated big ‘don’t mess with me’ energy and nopony thought twice about staying out of her way.

Rainbow paused as she caught something out of her awesome peripherals in a nearby alley, though it wasn’t super easy to make out since the alley was already drenched in shadow and it wasn’t helped by the dreary gray clouds in the sky.

That said, Rainbow knew a fight when she saw one.

Two girls; one was lying bloodied on the ground, the other stood over her with a sneering grin. The grounded girl had a cream-colored coat and looked like an earth pony, and a pretty small one at that; she had blood coming from her lip and bleeding scratches on her body.

The other girl was a griffon, with brown feathers covering most of her body but stark white feathers on her head, but Rainbow’s eyes were pointedly drawn to the blood all over her talons.

It didn’t take a genius to see what was going on here.

“Hey,” Rainbow’s voice was as cold as the chill in the air as she walked into the alley, and she scraped a hoof along the concrete for good measure. “Should’ve thought twice before roughing up somepony on my turf.”

“Who asked you?” the griffon girl spoke with a gruff, smug voice. “You tryin’ to start somethin’?”

Rainbow clicked her tongue; didn’t look like the griffon was taking Rainbow seriously, but her annoyance at that was quickly snuffed by her eagerness to bloody the griffon’s face, and she let out a single wheezy chuckle.

“If you got somethin’ to say, try—”

Before the griffon could even finish her lousy taunt, she was already sucking air thanks to Rainbow’s hoof colliding with the top of her head at freakin’ light speed. The griffon spread her wings and jumped back, coughing up a bit of blood and wiping it off on her cheek.

“Not bad, but it’ll—”

That girl needed to talk less, and Rainbow was more than happy to teach her that lesson with a firm kick to the side of her head that sent her to the ground.

“So,” Rainbow stood over the griffon and sported a huge grin as she flicked her feathers in the griffon’s face, “you wanna stick around and see me get serious?”

Dense as the griffon obviously was, even she got the point and didn’t say another word; all she could muster was a pitiful show of defiance by spitting blood at Rainbow’s feet before she made a break for it, flying away from the alley with her tail between her legs.

The bloodied pony, who Rainbow had nearly forgotten was even there, stumbled to her hooves but tried to play it cool with a cocky grin. “Hey, thanks a lot! That was—”

“Don’t sweat it,” Rainbow cut the girl off with a shrug. She looked her over to make sure the woman’s injuries didn’t need a hospital, but Rainbow was pretty sure the woman would be fine on her own, so she just got ready to bounce.

“I owe you one!” she called as Rainbow walked away from the alley, and Rainbow raised a hoof to acknowledge her, just hoping the earth pony didn’t see Rainbow flinch at the undeserved praise.

As Rainbow got back onto the sidewalk and away from the alley, she grunted in frustration and slapped her forehead.

“Dang it,” she huffed, “I should’ve tried to snatch the griffon’s wallet or something.”

True it was Pinkie’s turn to gather lunch money today, but that wasn’t an excuse for Rainbow not to pull her own weight. And the way Rainbow saw it, beating up other creatures was the only thing she was good at.

03. A Little Kindness

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Rarity’s eyes darted at every single passing pony, even as her head was held high.

While she was certain that—

Well, fairly certain—

Moderately cert—

She hoped.

She hoped that none of them would clock her as trans, the worry gripped her heart at all times when she trotted through the Dodge City streets all by her lonesome.

Put it out of your mind, Rarity, she thought to herself as she centered her eyes on the path in front of her, It’s just paranoia. You’ll be okay.

The one comfort that allowed Rarity’s anxiety to ease—somewhat— was that everyone in Dodge City was as dirt broke and miserable as she was, and just trying to make their own way; so long as you didn’t get in said way, most ponies wouldn’t give you much trouble.

At least, that was the hope that she clung to for fear of becoming yet another trans woman horror story, of which she’d heard far too many.

Still though, with her mane perfectly coiffed and a dashing teal scarf billowing behind her in the soft breeze, Rarity looked hot and felt confident.

At least, confident enough.

The walk from Rarity’s apartment to the public library wasn’t long, and while it felt infinitely stretched by the constant war being waged with her own brain, she was there before she knew it, and any thoughts she had been battling with were brought to a screeching halt at the scene that greeted her in the courtyard in front of the library.

A slender, almost skeletal thin, yellow pegasus, with a waterfall of pink hair falling across her shoulders that acted as a picturesque backdrop for the affection and joy on the pretty mare’s face as she was lying stomach on the ground playing with a stray squirrel.

“My apologies for keeping you waiting, sweetheart,” Rarity kept her voice quiet and pleasant so as not to startle the easily frightened mare, or her little furry friend. “Have you been here long?”

“Not at all,” Fluttershy said with a smile, a single sharp fang poking out her upper lip in a most adorable fashion. “I’m just glad to see you.” Fluttershy turned her head away from Rarity to smile at the fleeing squirrel, waving goodbye as it scurried off back home.

“Likewise!” Rarity gently took the young lady’s forehoof and gave it a kiss, and the amused giggling that Fluttershy responded with was music to Rarity’s ears.

Even as Rarity felt herself drowning in her own life, her one constant reminder to keep swimming came in the form of her deeply valued friendships with Twilight and Fluttershy. Rarity was always quick to muse that said friendships were probably the only things in her life that had value.

“Did you oversleep?” Fluttershy asked, hopping up onto a nearby short brick wall and perching atop it. “You’re usually so punctual.”

“Ah, yes, I apologize,” Rarity awkwardly brushed back a curl of her mane. “I’ve been sleeping later and later these days it seems.”

“Something the matter?” Fluttershy leaned toward Rarity, practically closing in nose to nose, and Rarity felt a painful throb in her chest at the prospect of burdening her friend with her misery.

Instead of the ugly truth, Rarity simply gave a half-hearted frown and an apathetic shrug, though Fluttershy’s concerned glower only deepened at this.

Rarity took a deep breath of the crisp air and gathered her thoughts; if anyone deserved to hear her honest thoughts, it was Fluttershy, but Rarity had to weigh the catharsis of speaking her mind against the guilt of dropping her burden on Fluttershy.

And that was before even considering the knowledge that Fluttershy had no means to genuinely help Rarity, even if she knew what was going on with her. But would Fluttershy be offended if Rarity kept her thoughts from her? Rarity knew that she would be rather incensed were the positions reversed—

If only to make the voices in her mind shut up, Rarity found herself speaking—or rather, blurting out a confession.

“I have a lot weighing on my mind. That is all.”

Some confession.

But how could she tell Fluttershy about how her inability to get work was wreaking havoc on her anxiety? Or about how her inability to even gain disability payments made her feel useless, what with Twilight covering most of their rent with her own disability? Oh, or what about how she had thought that leaving her family behind would allow her to break free of the chains of misery that bound her but she hadn’t realized until she had left them that those chains had smothered her half to death already?!

The weight on Rarity’s mind, when she really boiled it down, was simple. Rarity wanted nothing more than to simply stop living. And no one needed to be cursed with that knowledge but her.

“I suppose it all just gets a little draining,” Rarity said with a weak chuckle that hid the resounding headache she was getting as her brain felt like it was trying to literally tear itself apart.

“I understand,” Fluttershy whispered with a sympathetic smile and leaned back onto her perch, and both the kind intent and utter falseness of her statement made Rarity smile in turn.

“So anyhow,” Rarity cleared her throat, eager to get the conversation back to the topic at hoof, “you were requiring my assistance on some matter?”

Fluttershy hopped off the brick wall and trotted toward the library, motioning for Rarity to follow her, which she was all too happy to do if only to get out of this blasted cold. A dashing scarf and illustrious coat of silvery fur could only do so much.

The inside of the humble library was as drab and tasteless as a bowl of unseasoned beans; ugly moss green carpeting clashing hideously with the decrepit bookshelves whose shades of brown varied only in the amount of visible decay on them, all wrapped up with absolutely gaudy pale-yellow wallpaper.

Rarity wondered how poor Twilight managed to even stomach such a dreadful place.

There were but a scant few patrons walking about or sitting in chairs, but Rarity’s eyes instantly locked onto one among them who stood out like a shining beacon.

Inside a small seating area in the exact center of the library, sitting on an old wooden chair barely padded with a thin dark green cushion, was a blue pegasus reading a book in one hoof while her other foreleg dangled limply onto the ground, and her long mane of rainbow hair that clashed miserably with her dirt-brown bomber jacket struck Rarity like the tricolored bolt of lightning that decorated the pegasus’ flank.

The crawling in Rarity’s stomach was accompanied by an appropriately disgusted sneer at the familiar woman, which was only made worse when an aside glance to Fluttershy’s tepid smile clued Rarity in that she was the reason Fluttershy wanted Rarity’s help to begin with.

Fluttershy was far too kind for this world, and nopony deserved her kindness less than that pony.

“You know her, don’t you?” Fluttershy asked meekly. “Didn’t you two used to be friends?”

Rarity shot Fluttershy a poisonous glare but upon seeing the color drain from her friend’s face, she sighed her anger away and smiled softly as she put her hoof on Fluttershy’s cheek.

Oh Fluttershy, if only you knew.

Fluttershy was Rarity’s number one confidant, so she knew about Rarity’s history with Rainbow Dash— vaguely. It was not a period of the unicorn’s life that she recalled with any fondness, and anecdotes from that time—especially regarding the rainbow-haired mare—could only be choked out of her in fleeting moments of incredible stress, apathy, or nostalgia.

“Why?”

That was the single most important question that Rarity needed to ask, and the bitter growl she asked it in was just loud enough to get a shush from a nearby patron.

“Why her, Fluttershy?” Rarity hissed.

“Everypony deserves a little kindness,” Fluttershy said with a timid smile, and Rarity frowned even deeper as she refused to be charmed by the cute little fang poking out of Fluttershy’s mouth, “and I don’t think she has anyone to show it to her. I see her around sometimes on my daily commute, and nopony ever looks at her or gives her a smile. I have you, you have me and your friend Twilight, but I don’t know if Rainbow has… anyone.”

Rarity looked back at the rainbow-haired barbarian with her hind legs resting on the arm of the chair, idly flipping pages through her books as her wings twitched awkwardly while they were splayed out behind her.

Rarity looked back at naïve, innocent Fluttershy, whose teal eyes were bright and full of hope somehow.

“People don’t change, Fluttershy,” Rarity’s voice, as cold as rusted iron, caused Fluttershy’s ears to clamp down on her head. “Hardship and failure shape them into the people they are, and they don’t change once they’ve been set.”

Fluttershy stared blankly for a moment, but a very mischievous little grin crept onto her face and took Rarity by surprise.

“Then you know you can’t stop me,” Fluttershy cheeks were tinted pink as she stuck her tongue out to tease Rarity, “I guess I have to show her kindness because it’s just in my nature.”

Rarity let out an ugly snort that echoed through the quiet library, attracting the other patrons’ ire and burning Rarity’s cheeks.

“I suppose I can’t argue with that,” Rarity hung her head in embarrassed defeat.

“Besides, trans solidarity, right?” Fluttershy said with a pained smile, and her words tugged at Rarity’s heart and forced her to look at Rainbow again. “If we don’t look out for each other, who else is going to?”

“I can’t argue that either,” Rarity’s words were calm and her tone measured, careful not to betray the bitterness with which they were spoken. You really had to hit me right where I live, didn’t you, Fluttershy?

Memories of Rainbow Dash made Rarity nothing short of violently ill, yet there was an infuriatingly persistent part of her brain that simply could not give up on her because of the identity that they shared.

“I’ll be your self-esteem team here,” Rarity said shortly, “but I’m afraid that’s all I can offer.”

“That’s all I need,” Fluttershy nodded and bit her lip as she looked over at Rainbow. “The fair’s in town, and I want to ask her to go with me tonight. It’ll be a nice, pressure free place for us to maybe learn a little bit about each other.”

Fluttershy’s ears flicked up and she looked at Rarity with concerned eyes and a slight pout. Rarity simply rolled her own eyes and sighed quietly but theatrically.

“Yes, I’ll be there too,” she said grudgingly. Fluttershy squealed in delight, tapping her hooves on the carpet before embracing Rarity in a hug, which Rarity happily reciprocated after with some mock reluctance. “Now go ask her before I change my mind.”

“Wish me luck,” Fluttershy squeaked as she took a couple of shaky steps toward the center of the library.

“Good luck, sweetheart,” Rarity waved at Fluttershy with a strained smile and waited for her to turn her full attention to Rainbow before sighing in disgust.

I sincerely hope that you have better luck than I had.

04. Hard Sell

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Rainbow Dash’s hoof twitched as it rested uncomfortably over the arm of a creaky old wooden chair, Rainbow’s wings splayed in either direction as she laid half falling off the chair, reading the same Daring-Do book for the bajillionth time.

She’d never really been bothered in the library before, something about almost always having blood on her face or hooves must’ve made her seem ‘unapproachable’.

Today was different though. Today, Rainbow’s miserable lounging was disrupted by a faint squeak of a voice, almost like a mouse had suddenly got the ability to talk.

“E-excuse me?” the voice said.

Rainbow didn’t look up from her book. No one ever bothered her before, so the voice must’ve been talking to somepony else.

“Ex… excuse me? R-Rainbow D-Dash?”

Okay, now Rainbow was confused.

She tossed the book onto the nearby table, watching anxiously as the thing nearly slid right onto the ground, and she sat up straight—well, straight enough— and found herself peering just over the head of a graceful-looking yellow pegasus with really cute pink hair that just went on for days.

The mare was standing in front of the chair’s arm and looking at Rainbow through the corner of a single uncovered eye, the other eye shielded by a waterfall of pink hair as she hung her head down anxiously.

“Yeah?” Rainbow cocked her head, confused more than anything by the sudden interruption. “What’s up?”

“I was wondering if, um, if you wouldn’t mind, if it’d be okay with you that is, if um—”

The girl trailed off, and she started breathing heavy like she was about to have a panic attack. Rainbow sucked air through gritted teeth but tried not to make it too obvious just how much secondhand embarrassment she was feeling.

Poor girl just stood there shaking like a leaf, stammering and kicking shyly at the ground, trying to come up with anything that resembled a sentence, but no luck.

Rainbow tried to think of something to say or do to help, or at least get her to calm down for pony’s sake, but she didn’t have the foggiest clue who this girl was or what she wanted, so Rainbow was kinda at a loss.

Finally the awkward pony stamped her hooves loudly on the thinly carpeted wood floor and said for the whole library to hear, “Will you go to the fair with me?!”

She immediately covered her mouth with her wings and her entire face turned red, tears welling up in her eyes as she looked around at all the people who were giving her really pointed stares.

Rainbow paused for a sec, just to take in the total absurdity of her situation, but when she saw the trembling girl’s tears start falling down her cheeks, she flashed a sly grin. “Well I can’t really turn you down after that, can I?”

“Y-you don’t, if you don’t— uh, or rather, you can’t, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to, I mean—”

“Bup!” Rainbow jumped onto the arm of the chair and put her hoof on the girl’s muzzle before she could start spiraling again. “It’s no biggie. Not like I have any plans. So yeah, I’ll go to the carnival with youuuuu…”

Rainbow’s hoof went limp as she shot a curious glance at her new acquaintance. When the timid girl did nothing, Rainbow moved her hoof in an expectant half circle, but the girl just stared blankly, causing Rainbow to sigh and roll her eyes.

“What’s your name?”

“Oh!” the girl’s cheeks turned bright red and her eyes widened like they were staring down an oncoming train. “Um, it’s F-Fluttershy.”

“Well F-Fluttershy,” Rainbow said with a chuckle and playfully nudged Fluttershy’s chest, “I’ll meet you there at eight. Sound good?”

Fluttershy nodded, and even with her face still half covered by her wings, her bright red cheeks were as plain to see as the relief washing over her smile.

“That said,” Rainbow cleared her throat, tapping her hoof against her chest, “why would you wanna ask me to the fair anyway? You not got a lot of friends or something? Desperation maybe?”

“W-what?” F-Fluttershy yelped, taking a step back and whitening up like a ghost, or one of those cheap ghost sheet costumes. “N-no, I honestly just wanted to—um, I wanted… to…”

She trailed off again, and you’d swear the ugly carpet was the most interesting thing she’d ever seen the way she was staring at it. Rainbow rolled her eyes and almost felt like she should give the girl a tap on the noggin to grab her attention back.

“Ahem,” Rainbow said flatly instead, and that did the trick as F-Fluttershy sprung up stiff as a board, eyes locked with Rainbow like she was prey in a hunter’s scope.

“U-um, the truth is—” Fluttershy closed her eyes and let out a slow breath, the color washing back into her face before opening her eyes again. “The truth is, you remind me of somepony I used to know. Somepony I miss.”

“Déjà vu, huh?” Rainbow nodded, a withered chuckle escaping her lips. “I feel that.” In fact, Fluttershy’s feelings were mutual; she reminded Rainbow of someone she used to know, someone she really looked up to.

“I wanted to ask you as a way to respect their memory,” Fluttershy said grimly, slowly shaking her head back and forth, “I didn’t do right by them, so maybe this is my way of trying to apologize to them? I don’t exactly know, but I do know… that you seem like somepony that I would like to know better… if that’s okay with you.”

Rainbow grinned ear to ear, baring glistening fangs, and if she wasn’t conscious of the quiet library setting, she would’ve busted out laughing.

“That’s a hard sell, Fluttershy,” Rainbow said gleefully. “You seem like somepony worth knowing too!”

“R-really?” Fluttershy bit down on the edge of her hoof, her wings twitching behind her and Rainbow couldn’t help but think she looked pretty cute.

“Yeah,” Rainbow nodded to a beat only she could hear, “so I’ll meet you there around eight, just try and chillax until then, okay?”

“Okay,” Fluttershy bowed her head quickly, pink hair flying every which way. “Thank you, Rainbow Dash!”

Rainbow gave her one last grin before the girl bounced, Rainbow happy to get back to her book in peace.

She felt really bad for Fluttershy; she knew what it was like to be that nervous, and she wondered if it was even a good idea to go with her to the carnival or fair or whatever. Rainbow had no idea who she was or what her deal was—though Rainbow couldn’t help but feel they had met somewhere before.

That said, the one Rainbow felt really concerned for was Fluttershy herself. Her life wasn’t exactly gonna get improved by having Rainbow in it.

But it didn’t matter now. Rainbow was a lot of things, most of them bad, but she stuck to her word at least.

Who knows, Rainbow thought as she settled back into her book, maybe this’ll be a good thing for the both of us?

05. Invitation

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What was it, six o’clock? Seven at night? Sometime around there that Rainbow Dash returned to the miserable little alleyway that acted as her home; setting sun’s light reflecting off of slowly parting rain clouds painted the whole sky a pale yellow.

Rainbow fell into her hammock, and every bone in her body rebelled immediately, making their strain of trying to get comfortable in the old worthless hammock known by crying out all at once.

Once Rainbow was settled, a head peeked down from the hammock above hers; pink fur and the most adorable set of sky-blue eyes, and a wild mane of curly pink cotton candy hair.

“I brought you a cosmic brownie,” Rainbow said, handing up the plastic-wrapped treat, the pink pony beaming as she snatched it out of Rainbow’s hoof.

“Thank you kindly, Rainbow!” Pinkie Pie giggled, and her infectious enthusiasm was almost enough for Rainbow to forget how cold and achy she was. Almost.

“Some girl asked me out today,” Rainbow said nonchalantly.

Pinkie gasped dramatically. “No kidding?! That’s so great!” she stuck her head down to look at Rainbow, brownie held firmly between her teeth. “Was she cute? Who was she? Did you accept? Tell me all the deets!”

“Her name’s Fluttershy,” Rainbow slunk out of the hammock; she didn’t know why she thought laying in that thing would help her relax. “You should’ve seen how pathetic she was— that sounded bad. I just mean she looked so, uh—”

Rainbow tried to think of a nicer word than ‘pathetic’, but she came up empty.

“It was sad,” Rainbow said, trying to sound a bit less mean, “so I told her I’d go to the carnival to make her feel better.” Rainbow pondered for a sec, and a quick glance at Pinkie’s pensive expression confirmed that no, that did not sound less mean. “That also sounded bad. I don’t want it to sound like I accepted her offer cuz of pity.”

“I should hope not! You hate pity!” Pinkie dropped out of the hammock, her big plump body landing on the concrete with a thud, but she sprung to her hooves like nothing happened before Rainbow could ask if she was okay.

“So where are you going? When are you going? When can I meet her?” Pinkie hopped up and down excitedly as she asked a million other questions that Rainbow pretty much tuned out for the sake of her own patience.

“We’re going to the carnival at like eight,” Rainbow yawned, stretching her back muscles and splaying her wings, “or was it the fair? Eh, either way, there was an actual reason, not pity related, that I accepted her offer.”

“Oh yeah?” Pinkie said curiously, standing up on her hind hooves and leaning her face close enough to Rainbow’s that their cheeks touched, before getting swatted away by Rainbow’s hoof.

“Yup,” Rainbow groaned as she looked over at the hammock, knowing she wouldn’t get any rest in it but also feeling totally antsy and seriously needing to chillax. “She was really nervous when she talked to me, like she was super worried about saying or doing the wrong thing.”

“That… sounds familiar,” Pinkie shifted uncomfortably and kicked awkwardly at the ground.

“So you see where I’m going then,” Rainbow snickered. “You remember how I used to be, super nervous and shaky and awkward. I couldn’t just, y’know, to go up to some girl and ask them out, that’s something I never could’ve done back then.”

“You couldn’t do it now!” Pinkie giggled and as much as Rainbow hated to admit it, Pinkie was totally right and that made Rainbow laugh.

“You’re not wrong,” Rainbow gave a wry smile, lying on the ground and letting her nose come mere inches from Pinkie’s, a smile finding its way onto Rainbow’s face like it always seemed to when Pinkie was around. “I guess what I’m saying is, I owed it to her to take her up on that offer. I couldn’t let her bravery go unrewarded.”

“A little kindness goes a long way,” Pinkie’s smile turned from devilish to sweet and right back to devilish again, and Rainbow couldn’t help but laugh again.

“Exactly,” she nodded, “plus she reminds me of an old friend I had. Like an old old friend.”

“Someone from before we met?” Pinkie cooed, head cocked and ears upright.

“Yeah,” Rainbow sighed. Her childhood, especially from before Pinkie, wasn’t something she had a whole lot of fondness for. “My old man’s right-hoof guy, an old man named Torch—guy practically raised me more than my old man did,” Rainbow clacked her hoof against concrete as nostalgia welled up in her stomach, but she quickly cleared her throat and got back on topic.

“Anyway,” Rainbow tapped against concrete twice, “old dude was in charge of training me and a bunch of dragon kids my dad thought would make good fighters. Sometimes he’d bring in other dudes to help us sharpen our fangs on, and one of those guys was a pegasus who I really hit it off with, had the same yellow fur and pink hair this girl Fluttershy has. So she reminded me of those old days, that’s all.”

“So,” Pinkie hummed, “what happened to your old friend?”

“They got out,” Rainbow muttered; remembering the day she got left behind brought back the same jolt of pain like it’d just happened yesterday. “They actually had the guts to. I didn’t.”

“You did,” Pinkie rubbed her mane against Rainbow’s neck and purred, Rainbow’s face turning pinker than Pinkie’s hair as she let out a hoarse laugh, “eventually.”

“I guess,” Rainbow awkwardly stumbled away from Pinkie, eyes crossed and cheeks flaring up. “E-either way—”

Pinkie cut Rainbow off with a dramatic gasp, Rainbow looking behind her and arching an eyebrow to see if Pinkie had something to say or if she was just being Pinkie.

“What if this Fluttershy is the same person!” Pinkie hopped in place, and Rainbow humored her with a grin.

“Maybe,” Rainbow shrugged, “stranger things, I guess. And I mean, I changed gender since then, maybe they did too.

“That said,” Rainbow bit her lip until she couldn’t hold back her excited grin anymore, “there’s one other reason I wanted to go to the carnival with that girl.”

“Why’s that?”

“Bifrost is almost here.”

“Ohhhhh snap!” Pinkie said emphatically, hopping over to Rainbow and wrapping her foreleg around Rainbow’s. “What are you talking about?”

“A carnival that visits a dump like Dodge City, it’s bound to be full of all kinds of shady characters,” Rainbow grinned, fangs peeking out the sides of her mouth. “Shady characters that may have a way for me to get an invitation to Bifrost. I mean, I know it’s a long shot but, it’s better than nothing.

“I don’t get how that works,” Pinkie huffed, puffing up her cheeks. “Bifrost is like, the biggest martial arts competition—heck, the biggest competition period in all Equestria! How is it invite only?!”

“Cuz everyone and their mother is gonna wanna get involved!” Rainbow said excitedly, flapping her wings and hovering over Pinkie. “If just anypony could join, they’d have literally half of Equestria competing! By the time the tournament was over they’d have to start the next one right after!”

“So that’s why there’s only like a hundred invitations?” Pinkie grumbled, apparently not satisfied by Rainbow’s answer.

“Yup,” Rainbow sighed desperately, lowering back down onto the ground in a slump.

There was nothing more important to Rainbow than joining Bifrost—than winning Bifrost. She needed to prove that she was stronger than anyone else, that she could defeat every other team and prove that she could stand above everyone.

That was the only way she was going to defeat him.

“And it’s a hundred and eight, to be specific.”

“Right,” Pinkie whistled. “Welp, nopony wants this more than you do, so I just know you’ll get your hooves on an invitation! Tell you what, while you’re hanging out with your cute date, I’ll skulk around the carnival and try to find the shadiest of shady characters and see if I can’t rustle an invitation out of ‘em!”

“That’d be awesome, Pinkie,” Rainbow gave Pinkie a bright smile and lifted her hoof toward Pinkie, who pounded her hoof against it with a delighted giggle. “What would I do without you?”

“Uh, be extremely lonely and sad?” Pinkie scoffed. Rainbow just looked at her in bewilderment. “Too much?” Pinkie chuckled nervously, making Rainbow sigh and shake her head before grabbing Pinkie in a playful headlock and ruffling up her hair, Pinkie giggling the entire time.

Rainbow didn’t want to say—she couldn’t bring herself to say it— but Pinkie wasn’t wrong.

06. The Horizon

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“Now I’ll be around the whole time,” Rarity said to a fidgety Fluttershy as they arrived at the fairgrounds together, the array of paper lanterns decorating the myriad vendors, games and rides cutting through the blackness of the night sky to bathe the ponies jetting to and from each attraction in bold orange light.

“Thank you, Rarity,” Fluttershy said with a slight nervous giggle as Rarity brushed some hair out of Fluttershy’s face.

“And if you feel uncomfortable at any time, for any reason, you come find me, okay?” Rarity said sternly but caringly, standing firmly in front of Fluttershy, though it was difficult to feel like the reasonable adult when Fluttershy easily trumped her in height. “I won’t be out of sight.”

“I know, Rarity,” Fluttershy must have caught on to how Rarity was doting on her because she chuckled and pat Rarity on the shoulder. “I can do this. I want to. For her sake and for mine.”

“Okay,” Rarity took a deep breath and let it out as a weary sigh. And with that, it was no longer just Fluttershy who was nervous but Rarity as well. It wasn’t long before the pair ran aground of the rainbow-haired ruffian in question, and Rarity could feel her heart falling into her stomach with a loud SPLOOSH.

Rainbow Dash was leaning against a wall and pushed herself off with her wings to walk over toward Fluttershy and Rarity, stopping abruptly as she looked at Rarity— looked through her— for barely a second before concentrating her gaze solely on Fluttershy.

Rarity couldn’t shake the feeling Rainbow was ignoring her on purpose.

“Hey, you made it,” Rainbow said with a self-amused smile. “How’re you feeling?”

“I feel okay,” Fluttershy said bluntly, an awkward smile on her face.

Was she getting cold hooves? Rarity couldn’t exactly blame her.

“I’m—” Fluttershy took in a deep breath and her smile seemed a tad more relaxed. “It’s good to see you, Rainbow Dash.”

“Of course it is, I’m awesome,” Rainbow chuckled and patted herself on the chest, eliciting an eye roll from Rarity, but an amused chuckle from Fluttershy.

“So, you ready to go?” Rainbow hopped next to Fluttershy and winked at her, nearly shoving Rarity aside with her wing. “I have a friend who gave me like, all the best info on how to squeeze as much as you can out of a place like this. Which is great cuz I have like no money.”

“Me neither,” Fluttershy laughed softly as the two of them walked away, Fluttershy giving Rarity one last smile as she headed off with her new friend.

“Take care of yourself, Fluttershy,” Rarity whispered as she watched Fluttershy and Rainbow set off to have their carnival fun times, leaving Rarity alone by herself. She let out a disgusted sigh and grumbled under her breath, “I hate that girl.”

“What girl?”

Rarity gasped and nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of Twilight’s voice, and her very unexpected presence directly behind Rarity.

“Twilight Sparkle!” Rarity huffed, turning around to see the awkward, slender unicorn’s eyes darting this way and that as she scanned her environment; Rarity figured that Twilight had just gotten here herself. “Honestly, you’re bound to give a lady a heart attack.”

“S-sorry,” Twilight said bashfully, rubbing a hoof against the back of her neck and giving the ground a mournful look. Rarity had known Twilight for quite some time, so she really shouldn’t have been so surprised by Twilight’s mastery of the puppydog eyes, yet it caught Rarity off-guard every single time.

“It’s quite alright,” Rarity put her hoof up to Twilight’s cheek, Twilight humming contently as she let her muzzle melt for one moment into Rarity’s gentle touch, “you big dork.”

Rarity cleared her throat and took her hoof away, her cheeks feeling rather hot all of a sudden, which was certainly just an aftereffect of standing under all these paper lanterns, and definitely not a reaction to anything—or anyone—else.

“I’m glad you made it though,” Rarity said softly. “I would be dreadfully bored if I had to spend the entire night here by my lonesome.”

“Happy to help!” Twilight chirped, grinning ear to ear and her face just looked so bright and full of joy, it warmed Rarity’s heart before jealousy kicked in.

“You saw that, by the way, didn’t you?” Rarity hummed bitterly, turning her head and looking into the distance where she could still make out the silhouette of Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. “The way Rainbow Dash shoved me? I didn’t imagine that or anything, did I?”

“Sorry, I must’ve missed it,” Twilight muttered, walking past Rarity and squinting her eyes in the direction Rarity was looking, a satisfied smirk crossing her lips as she spied the object of Rarity’s attention. “That’s Fluttershy, huh? She’s cute.”

“Oh?” Rarity smirked, sitting beside Twilight and needling her in the ribs with her hoof. “Is that your takeaway?”

“Uh! I just mean—she’s, y’know—I, uh—” Twilight hastily scuttled back, jumping to her hooves in alarm as her face turned red like a jalapeno pepper, Rarity unable to hold back her giggling at the poor dear’s expense.

“So what’s your deal with Rainbow Dash, anyway?” Twilight said, and Rarity was so impressed by the seeming effortlessness with which Twilight switched topics that she felt inclined to follow along.

“She was a bully I knew in my teen years,” Rarity said coldly, careful to keep her tone steady and her face from twisting into an ugly frown at the thought of that time in her life, “nothing more.”

“Maybe she’s changed?” Twilight suggested, and the hopeful gleam in her eyes was as endearing to Rarity as it was completely alien.

“Do you honestly think-” Rarity hissed, a snarling grin etching itself across her face “-that people can change?”

Twilight was silent; a charge of cold electricity flashed between the two.

“I’ve been thinking about it lately,” Rarity continued, undeterred by Twilight’s silence. “I never thought Fluttershy would ask another pony out, not in a million years, yet here we are. And she sees something in Rainbow that I cannot, no matter how much I might want to.

“I don’t think ponies can change,” Rarity scraped her hoof against the concrete. “I think we can bend, and stretch, and pretend to be something we’re not-” Rarity lifted her forelegs above the ground “-but in the end-” and brought them down forcefully, the harsh clatter of her hooves hitting concrete making Twilight wince “-in the end you’ll always just be the person you are. Hardship and failure form you, and once you’re set there’s no changing the person that you are.”

“Maybe,” Twilight said distantly, and Rarity turned her head to see Twilight sitting down, expression ponderous and her eyes darting back and forth like she was reading some invisible manifesto placed before her. “But I think… I think if the person you want to be doesn’t match your actions, then you can change those actions until they do match. I think, at the end of the day, you’re at the helm of your own ship.”

Rarity was silent. She could tell the pressure of her gaze weighed on Twilight’s heart by the twitch of the poor girl’s ears and lowering of her head. Rarity had not meant to stare quite so coldly, but Twilight’s answer left something to be desired.

In Rarity’s mind, she had long ago lost control of the ship of her life, the waves of fate having caused her ship to move into unfamiliar waters, and she could not see a way out of them. The life that she lived was one controlled by circumstance, not by choice.

But perhaps…

Rarity scanned the horizon, spying Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash chatting in the distance, and she elected to turn back to Twilight with the brightest smile she could muster.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,” she said softly, a tiny glimmer of hope flickering in her heart. “Perhaps Fluttershy will drag something out of Rainbow that will surprise me after all.”

“That’s the spirit!” Twilight cheered, jumping to her hooves and bouncing toward Rarity until she was practically on top of Rarity.

“Now,” Twilight added, scratching at the ground and biting down on her lip, “you wanna grab some gross, overpriced carnival food?”

“Darling,” Rarity put her hoof underneath Twilight’s chin and stroked it gently, “you read my mind.”

07. Cup Castle

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Things with Fluttershy were going about as well as Rainbow had figured, which is to say not great.

As soon as Fluttershy’s friend was away, even though she was never totally out of sight, Fluttershy started to clam up instantly. She awkwardly kicked at the dust, her eyes darted nervously at the ground and her wings flittered about like she was doing everything she could to stop herself from just bolting into the sky and bailing.

She basically did everything but speak.

Rainbow knew she had to say or do something to get Fluttershy to open up, but Rainbow’s social skills were about as good as her reading comprehension. The wall of silence between her and Fluttershy was a real downer, and it was getting more impenetrable by the second, and Rainbow couldn’t blame Fluttershy for it for one second.

Because to be fair, Fluttershy wasn’t the only one who was nervous. Rainbow wasn’t exactly a dating master or anything, and it was hard for her to get out of her own train of ‘wow you sure are showing her a good time, you freakin’ idiot!’ thoughts.

But even still, Rainbow just kept thinking, I can’t let her down, I can’t mess this up for her.

Fluttershy reminded Rainbow of how she used to be as a kid, and that realization gave her an idea; if Rainbow were in Fluttershy’s position, what would she want herself to say?

“Do you like, uh—”

Rainbow looked around at the various carnival games, her eyes scrunching up to deal with the harsh orange lighting all over the place, which was frustrating cuz she felt like she’d probably just see better in the dark.

Anyway, about those carnival games, Rainbow knew she could win some of them, but she also knew a lot of ‘em were straight-up rigged and if she blew this chance it would pretty much tank the whole night, so she did the most reasonable thing she could and immediately choked on anxiety.

Aagh, screw that! she thought as she swallowed her nerves.

“Do you like stuffed animals?”

“I-I, y-yeah, I do,” Fluttershy nodded with a sweet but shaky smile, though her eyes were still glued to the ground.

“Want me to win ya somethin’?” Rainbow grinned and gently bumped her elbow against Fluttershy’s shoulder. “I’m pretty good at some of these games.”

“O-okay.”

Great, she’s a people-pleaser. Trying to figure out how she actually feels is gonna be way harder than winning a rigged carnival game.

Rainbow took a deep breath and tried to shake off the growing anxiety as she and Fluttershy walked up to one of those ‘shoot the thing at the cups and knock ‘em all over’ type of games, which was perfect for Rainbow.

There was a little mounted pellet gun with a couple of levers, but Rainbow recalled that the stupid gun was always jammed in a way where it would shoot to the left of where you aimed, then to the right, or— or maybe the other way around? Rainbow couldn’t remember.

Didn’t matter. Rainbow had a little rig of her own up her sleeve.

“What do you think of that bear?” Rainbow pointed to a giant stuffed bear that was practically twice her size.

“I-I already have that one,” Fluttershy murmured.

“Ah. Well what about the possum?” the possum was also pretty big, like one of those stuffed toys that you can use as an oversized pillow.

“I actually—” Fluttershy looked at the collection of prizes and started giggling, which was the first sign of any emotion other than ‘anxious’ she’d shown all night, so this was already a win so far! “I already have all these!”

“Whoa, seriously?” Rainbow gawked, looking over the fifteen or twenty prize animals. “That’s dedication!”

“I collect a lot of stuffed animals,” Fluttershy tilted her head and her hair fell over one eye.

“That is rad to be honest,” Rainbow snickered and she could see Fluttershy blush and smile, but the anxiety choked the emotion right off her face as quick as it came. “Okay, how about… that?” Rainbow pointed to a small teal butterfly charm, which didn’t look like much, but Rainbow thought it was cool.

“That’s—” Fluttershy bit her lip, which Rainbow hoped was a good sign, and gave a sly grin, which Rainbow figured was definitely a good sign. “I like it. Okay.”

“Alright then! Fluttershy, prepare to own that charm!” Rainbow was trying to sound cool but the jerk behind the counter snickered at her and that got her all flustered. She was absolutely gonna destroy his little cup castle now.

So, how this game is supposed to go; you get five shots and three castles, and the gun’s supposed to misfire in a wrong direction just enough that you’re too disoriented to hit all three castles. Like, you can’t analyze the system at play without putting in a ton of money.

Buuuut with subtle use of Rainbow’s wind magic, even if the bullet doesn’t hit the castle, the force behind it does. And with that on her side, it was no problem taking out three castles in three shots.

The counter guy looked totally flabbergasted and Rainbow figured that he suspected her of foul play, but what was he gonna do? Make a big scene? No way he was paid enough for that.

“That was incredible!” Fluttershy said, hopping excitedly up and down with a big smile, and Rainbow proudly grinned ear to ear.

“You don’t want to disappoint her, do you?” Rainbow said smugly to the counter guy, Fluttershy beaming at him and holding out her hooves. The man sighed irritably and handed the charm to Fluttershy.

Fluttershy blushed and tried to thank Rainbow, but she was getting a little bit blubbery. Rainbow was starting to get little hot too, so the pair walked over to someplace where they could get some frozen treats. In early winter, but whatever there was no such thing as a bad time for ice cream.

They sat on a bench and ate some cheap ice cream popsicles, Fluttershy weirdly fixated on the charm that she insisted on holding in her hoof instead of wearing.

“Do you not like it?” Rainbow blurted out awkwardly, taking a bite of her ice cream as Fluttershy turned her attention to Rainbow.

“It’s not that,” Fluttershy bit her lip, looking at Rainbow for half a second before darting her eyes back to the charm. “Actually, I think—um, I actually think it would look good on you.”

“O-oh,” Rainbow stammered, and she was sure her face was all red all of a sudden which kinda sucks when you have blue fur, makes it really obvious.

“Would you mind?” Fluttershy gently held her hoof out to Rainbow. “Putting it on, I mean? I’d like to see how it looks. I-if that’s okay with you, of course!”

“Y-yeah, yeah it’s fine,” Rainbow gave a weird smile; she was super not used to anyone saying she would look good in anything. Like, she always just kinda figured she looked like a goblin, and even though Pinkie would compliment her sometimes, Rainbow figured she was just being nice cuz they were fr—uh, cuz Pinkie was polite.

Rainbow slowly took the charm from Fluttershy’s hoof, attaching it to one of her feathered ears and—

And it felt really good actually???

Like, it was such a small thing, but the teal color of the charm complimented the icy blue of Rainbow’s fur, and it made her feel kinda cool actually.

“W-what do you think?” Rainbow said, fidgeting with the charm with her hoof.

Fluttershy put her hooves on Rainbow’s hoof, gently lowering it before Rainbow accidentally knocked the charm off of her ear or something.

“I think it looks lovely, Rainbow.”

“Y-yeah? Heh, well I guess you said it would,” Rainbow squeaked, trying and failing to keep her smile under control. “Geez, look at me grinning like a big idiot. It’s just like a cheap charm, it’s probably stupid to—”

“I don’t think it’s stupid,” Fluttershy said casually, licking her ice cream, “I think it’s nice. I’m glad you like it, Rainbow.”

“I—I do like it,” Rainbow scratched the back of her neck and took another bite of her ice cream, which she immediately regretted as the shock of icy coldness rocked her teeth.

Despite that though, for once in her stupid, worthless life she managed to feel pretty good about herself.

The two pegasi sat in relative silence for a few moments while they ate the ice cream, but it wasn’t the kind of incredibly awkward pregnant pause that they started on. This time there was like, a warmth between them.

“Hey, Fluttershy?”

“Yes, Rainbow?”

“Can I ask a weird question?”

“Okay?”

“Have we met before?” Rainbow didn’t know how else to say it but to just say it, and the longer she waited the weirder it was gonna get, and she just couldn’t shake this weird feeling of déjà vu she felt the whole time she was hanging out with Fluttershy.

“Y-you actually remember me?” Fluttershy gasped, and Rainbow nearly choked on her ice cream cuz she sure wasn’t prepared for that answer.

“I think so,” Rainbow said, her hooves trembling. “We met like a bazillion years ago, right? When I was part of Torch’s crew?”

“Oh my goodness,” Fluttershy covered her mouth with a hoof and looked away from Rainbow, her hair hiding her expression from an increasingly nervous Rainbow. “It really is you!”

“Ohmygosh!” Rainbow flew up into the air excitedly, hovering over Fluttershy with a big grin on her face. “You’re the cool pony from back then! Holy heck, I thought I was just going crazy or something, but it really is you, huh?”

“It is,” Fluttershy said softly, looking up at Rainbow and brushing the hair away from her face. “It really is.”

“It’s great to see you again, Fluttershy,” Rainbow gently floated to the ground, her heart overflowing with nostalgia.

Even though they both looked so different—especially with the whole gender situation—knowing that it was really the same person made Rainbow’s anxiety suddenly melt away like it was never even there in the first place.

“You too, Rainbow,” Fluttershy gave a smile that showed off her awesomely sharp teeth, and Rainbow had half a mind to just grab Flutters in a hug right then and there. “I’m sorr—”

CRACK!

Rainbow’s ears flicked up at the sound that tore through the night air and she darted around to look for the source, her confusion growing as the noise was followed by the clattering of a large metal object and the crackling of fraying electrical wires.

Whatever Fluttershy was about to said had to wait, as Rainbow threw herself into the air and faced the direction of the sound, catching a glimpse of someone with lightning crackling around their talons and throwing it at the ground in random directions.

It was a woman, a brown and white feathered griffon who looked vaguely familiar. It took a second, but Rainbow recognized her from the beatdown Rainbow’d given her earlier.

Rainbow smirked. If the griffon wanted a fight so badly, she was about to get way more than she asked for.