Hurricane Force Winds...

by Skyblitz

First published

Spitfire and Soarin's lives are turned upside down with a certain unwanted complication in the form of a foal.

Nothing could be better for Soarin'. He's a famous athlete, he's rich, and has the mare of his dreams. Life seems to be perfect.
However, after a night of passion with Spitfire results in some 'complications', the blue Wonderbolt needs to make a choice between his love and his career...

Chapter 1: Passion

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Chapter 1: Passion

"Nothing in the world can ruin what we have..."

Rain hammered down upon the extravagantly built cloudhome, soaking the tall high windows with freezing water. The droplets left trails and streaks down the polished glass as they slid down onto the windowsill. The odd clap of thunder could be heard in the distance. However, the storm could not dampen the warmth and laughter that echoed within the building. In the artfully decorated living room, four pegasus ponies sat around an open circular fireplace upon luxurious curved sofas, drinks in hoof and smiles decorating their faces.

Soarin' nearly spat out his cocktail as Rapidfire reached the conclusion of his long winded story. The pale blue stallion laughed out in hysterics as his best friend buried his face behind a pillow in embarrasment.

"W-wait, you mean to say, that after Fleetfoot knocked the waitress over, you somehow got it into your head that it was a invitation for some kind of public threesome? Ha! I don't think I've ever been that drunk Rapid. Oh sweet Celestia, no wonder you were kicked out" cried Soarin' as he wiped away a tear of laughter with his free hoof. Rapidfire was blushing intensely as the light blue, white maned mare beside him looked at her coltfriend, shaking her head slowly as a small smile crept across her mouth. The golden maned grey stallion gave Fleetfoot an apologetic glance before beaming himself. The events of yesterday's flight show were nothing compared to the after-party.

Spitfire pouted beneath Soarin's wing as she realised her glass was empty, her burned amber eyes glaring angrily at the void where the alcohol should be. The fiery maned mare wriggled free from under the athletic stallion's feathers as she stood up to trot over to the bar that stood behind them.
"I know you've done stupid things in your life Rapidfire, but Celestia, you must have been pissed if you thought you could just try and mount both mares in the middle of a night club!" she giggled as she stumbled slightly herself, gaining a few chuckles from Soarin'. "Don't you laugh sir, I remember very clearly that night in Las Pegasus more clearly than you do" she retorted, causing everypony to direct their amusement at Soarin'.

"What? What did I do wrong?" he said jokily. I truth, he had gotten so drunk that night that he mistook Fire Streak, another memeber of the Bolts, for Spitfire. That was the first time Soarin' had ever kissed another colt, and he hadn't realised his mistake until both he and Fire Streak were halfway up the stairs to Soarin's suite in the hotel.

"Um, Fire Streak, kiss, going, to, buck..." said Rapidfire smugly, faking coughs in between each pause. Soarin' smirked slyly before quickly hurling the remainder of his cocktail directly into Rapidfire's face. Everypony stood silent for half a second before Rapidfire's face stretched into a smile. "How dare you!" the grey pegasus laughed in mock outrage as he flung himself across the sofa, barrelling into Soarin' and knocking him onto the floor. For a good minute the world descended into complete and utter hilarity as Soarin' play fought with his best friend, both their marefriends dying in fits of tipsy laughter.

After the conclusive 'win' from Soarin' and another round of highly alcoholic drinks, everypony fell back into the plushy couches, drunken revelry washing over them like a soft blanket. Fleetfoot had drifted off to sleep, much to the annoyance of Rapidfire, who attempted to wake up his heavily intoxicated marefriend with seductive kisses behind her ears and down her neck. He recieved a blindly aimed slap with an irritated hoof. Soarin' glanced lazily at the clock on the wall behind him. It was only two in the morning. Plenty of time to get blasted with yet more alcohol...

"Okaaaay everyp-pony, I wanna play a game. The f-first one, t-t-to finish all ten of their shot in ten seconds...gets to spend the n-night with me and Spitty..." Soarin' slurred, almost falling to his left as he stood up on his rear legs, waving an overflowing cocktail glass in his left forehoof. Rapidfire had finally managed to wake up Fleetfoot, and lifted his head up from nuzzling her tenderly.

"Why'd anypony wanna stay with you? You're so ugly" the golden maned stallion laughed, causing the gently moaning mare beneath him to giggle. Spitfire joined Soarin' in standing on the glass coffee table, a foreleg wrapping round his withers.
"Now Rapid, that wasn't very n-nice...just cuz you secretly want h-him" hiccupped the yellow mare, her normally styled mane falling around her face like when she was a filly. Her cousin snorted and continued to kiss and seduce Fleetfoot, who piped up next.

"What do get if we stay here, I don' wanna stay if you guys are just going to buck". Soarin' gazed at the white maned mare with drunken emerald eyes and smiled broadly.
"Who's ta say you can't join in?" he asked. Spitfire laughed, Fleetfoot giggled and Rapidfire gave Soarin' a look of mild disapproval before continuing to cause his marefriend to gasp in delight. Spitfire hopped off the table and started to fill the many shot glasses that were lined up on the bar. Seizing a bottle of triple distilled Stalliongrad Vodka, the orange maned mare poured in a continuous line until all the little cups were filled to their brims.

"Everypony get over here, I wanna see who'll be bucking with me and Soar tonight. But Rapidfire, if you win, which you won't, I'm not doin' anythin' with you. You be my c-cousin and I ain't touching you. I'll just let Soar work you over" she half said half spat. Slowly, the other three pegasi staggered towards the long line of glasses, Fleetfoot stumbling comically on the steps that led up to the bar. After everypony found a barstool to sit their haunches on, and after Soarin' had downed his current drink, Spitfire tossed each pegasus ten glasses without spilling a drop of the vodka. A remarkable feat considering that she was wasted herself. She scanned her amber eyes at the three before her before grabbing her first glass.

"Who's keepin' the time?" Rapidfire asked. Soarin' snorted before waving a dismissive hoof.
"Who cares? Lets just see who can hold their liquor without dying"
"But it was your idea to see who could do it in the fastest time" protested a rather over-impatient Fleetfoot. Soarin' shook his head. "I don't care any more"
"So you don't care that I m-might not be sharing your bed t'night?" Rapidfire laughed, thinking himself the best comedien that ever graced the land of Equestria. Soarin' gave his friend's athletic form a brief scan with his jaded eyes before shaking his head.
"I've had better"

Everypony laughed hard at that before being silenced by an impatient Spitfire. "Alright...on the count of three, okay? One, t-t-two...three!" The first four shot glasses went bottoms up in half a heartbeat, quickly followed by the next four as everypony downed their shots with a fury. Once everypony had reached number six, Fleetfoot suddenly fell flat on the floor. Rapidfire quickly followed. It was a sprint to the finish between Soarin' and Spitfire, like so many of their foalhood races together. Glass eight, glass nine, glass ten...Spitfire won by only a few nano seconds, but it was noticeable enough. The yellow pony whooped in delight as she raised her forelegs above her head in victory. Soarin' shook his head in protest, the vodka still burning the back of his throat.

"Nah, nah, I won Spitty, I won. Me! I...never lose!" he laughed as his marefriend almost fell over in her victory celebration. She spun round and collapsed onto her pale blue coltfriend, her muzzle buried in his coat.
"Well then, mister win-a-lot, whats my prize? What do I get for beating your sexy flank?" Soarin' locked gazes with her amber eyes. Dispite being absurdly drunk with stray strands of mane covering half of her face, Spitfire looked as beautiful as ever. The young stallion was soon reminded why he fell in love with this extraordinary, wonderful mare. She was beautiful, funny, sexy and fun loving. He smiled at her slyly.

" about we go upstairs, and then I'll give you your prize" he muttered seductively in her ear. Spitfire tensed in his hold and almost purred in fiendish delight. She winked a heavily lidded eye, making her look evilly innocent yet so naughty at the same time. Soarin' could feel the base of his wings tensing in excitement. It wasn't the only thing tensing...

"C'mon lovercolt, give me my reward" Spitfire pulled Soarin' by a forehoof towards the curved glass stairs that led to the second floor of Soarin's lavish modern penthouse. She stroked the underside of his chin with her tail, teasing the arroused stallion with split second glimpses of his prize. The two ponies staggered towards their bedroom, one thing on both their minds.

The bedroom itself was a wonderfully decorated room with a high vaulted ceiling. Tall windows offered spectacular views of Greater Cloudsdale, the city currently glittering with white and golden light despite the early pre-dawn hour. Cream coloured cloudsewn rugs lay across the room. Various works of modern art adorned the white curved walls, and elegantly styled furinture stood above the mounds of junk and general mess that seemed to follow Soarin' to every place of residence her lived in. An ensuite bathroom cut off to the far left, and a home cinema next to that.

The massive king sized double bed stood on a raised section of the room, its magnificently carved posts almost reaching towards the ceiling, where a large crystal chandelier loomed. Spitfire trotted towards the luxuriously cushioned bed, still teasing Soarin' with her tail. His wings were fully extended now, and his eyes showed a loving yet primal hunger. Once both ponies reached first step of the raised platform, the pale blue stallion then took over. Seizing Spitfire's head with forehoof, his pressed his lips forcefully against hers, gaining a moan of pleasure from the golden mare. Soarin' wreathed Spitfire's tongue with his own before pushing her slowly up the second step towards the bed.

"You gonna show me somethin' special t'night Soar? Better than your moves at the show yesterday?". Soarin' nipped her neck in response. Spitfire gasped before giggling like a little school filly. She loved it when he did this, forcing her as he made her body feel as if it was on fire. The feel of his body against hers was a sensation that Spitfire treasured and adored. Ever since that magical night three years ago on a small drifting cloud above Cloudsdale, Spitfire had loved her best friend with all her heart. His love coupled with the friendship and exhilaration of being in the Wonderbolts made her life complete. She had no doubt that he was the one, the one to spend the rest of her life with.

Soarin's mind and heart melted when he heard Spitty's gasps. He loved it when she did that, letting her walls down and letting him in. The sensation of her curved and athletic form beneath his was a feeling that Soarin' once only daydreamed about all that time ago during their time at the Flight Academy. But on that night, admist the starry host of Luna's beautiful moonlit hour, that was the moment when he realised how much he truly loved Spitfire, how he loved her company and her warmth, how he loved the sound of her voice and the sight of her smile. Being in the most prestigious flight team in Equestria was only a bonus in Soarin's eyes. So long as he had Spitfire by his side, nothing could ever bring him down to earth. He was flying in the stratosphere, and he intended to stay there. She was the one, the one to spend the rest of his life with.

As the two ponies moved against each other beneath the quilted covers of the bed, the rain clouds dissapted, letting in shafts of silvery moonlight through the high windows. The large bedroom was flooded with magical moonlight as both pegasi expressed their love - albeit more than a little bit drunkedly.

Rapidfire woke up groggily. His head hurt, and he pressed a forehoof to the source of the intense pounding that hummed through it. The grey stallion stumbled to his hooves, still very much tipsy. He almost tripped over the still prone Fleetfoot as he attempted to make his way to the curved sofas by the fire, now reduced to orange embers. It was then that Rapidfire's ears flicked in response to a faint sound coming from just futher beyond the top of the glass staircase. Still too drunk to register what exactly had woken him up, the golden maned stallion plodded up the stairs towards the source of the noise. He stopped when he came to the locked door that was Spitfire and Soarin's bedroom. Head still hurting, Rapidfire pressed his ear against the door.

"Oh Soar, oh Soar, yes, keep going, yes, yes, yes, oh Soar, faster, faster!"

Rapidfire quickly reeled his head back in sheer horror. He had nothing against his best friend dating his cousin, but bucking her whilst there were still guests in the house was a bit over the top.
"Yikes..." he muttered. Choosing to forget the whole experience, Rapidfire stumbled back downstairs to get Fleetfoot. It was time to go home.

Chapter 2: "You're joking..."

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Chapter 2: "You're joking..."

"Life doesn't give lemons, it gives grenades..."

The early morning sun washed over Soarin's face as he turned over in his slumber. The golden warmth caused the pale blue pegasus to groan in annoyance before he finally yielded to the dawn light by opening his eyes. His emerald orbs snapped open and faced the high vaulted ceiling.

"How the buck did I get in here?" he asked himself wearily, glancing around him as he took in his surroundings. He sat up, rubbing his head hard as the hangover raged through him. "Ahhh dammit" he moaned as his hoof circled the painful spot on his poll. Rubbing his eyes with a free hoof, Soarin' threw the quilted covers off himself and stretched his feathered wings. As he yawned, Soarin's eyes widened at the sight of his sleeping marefriend beside him, her fiery coloured mane scruffy and dishevelled from the drunken party the night before. Gently easing himself off the mattress as to not wake up Spitfire, the pale blue pegasus waddled groggily over towards the entrance to his ensuite bathroom.

The room itself was completely made of skystone, a harder, more durable substance used in the construction of cloudhomes. The bathroom was polished to the point where it gleamed like white marble. A fairly large curved bath tub was set against the far wall, big enough for two ponies to lay comfortably together inside. A full wall mirror was what greeted the sleepy stallion as he stumbled over what appeared to be a leftover box from the local bakery. Soarin' never lost his love for pie.

"Ahhh jeez, what a night" Soarin' mumbled as he saw his reflection. His uniquely spiked and windswept mane was even more messed up than usual. Random bits of hair jutted out at crazy angles, and the fur around his muzzle and neck was matted and tangled. Turning on the tap, Soarin' splashed the cold water around his face and mane. There would be time for a shower later, but he at least wanted his marefriend to wake up to something that was a little bit presentable. Thinking about Spitfire brought back some rather clouded memories for Soarin', memories of the previous night. A broad grin managed to stretch its way across the young stallion's face as he recounted the passionate events in the bedroom last night. At least now he knew exactly how he got into the bedroom last night.

"Mornin' handsome" came a sweetly cool feminine voice from the bathroom door. Soarin' jumped in shear shock and almost fell all the way to the skystone floor as his head spun round to see the fiery maned mare standing behind him. Spitfire giggled merrily as the sight of her coltfriend trying to regain some composure met her eyes.
"Dammit Spitty, what did I say? Don't sneak up on me like that!" Soarin' pouted playfully. The yellow mare smiled, a radiant smile that seemed to make the sun go dim in comparison. Spitfire lazily plodded into the bathroom and rested her head on Soarin's muscular shoulder. The pale blue stallion returned the gesture with an affectionate nuzzle and a warm kiss.

"How d'you sleep?" he asked, a wing wrapping around Spitfire as he was his mane and face. She didn't answer immediatley, choosing instead to let out a contented sigh before saying dreamily, "Wonderfully". Soarin' turned off the tap and faced his marefriend whilst leaning against the wash basin. He smiled as Spitfire traced her hoof around his muscular and athletic chest.
"That Soar, was proberly the best night of my entire life. You really know how to make a mare happy" she whispered before kissing him tenderly on the lips.

"Well ya know Spitty, you weren't to bad yourself...why don't we just skip breakfast today and go back to bed?" Soarin' asked playfully. Spitfire thumped him lightly on the chest before smiling.
"If only, but we got training with the Bolts this afternoon. I doubt Tempest would be to happy, especially after last time" she laughed
"Why? What happened last time?"
Spitfire raised an eyebrow, sometimes she couldn't tell if Soarin' was being playful or geniunely forgot some things.
"We were caught rutting in the showers Soar..." she giggled. She giggled even more when Soarin's eyes widened in rememberance of that rather lustful encounter. Looks like this was a genuine forgetfulness instant.

Both ponies trotted down the spiralling glass staircase that led back to the main living room and bar. Soarin' walked past oblivious to his surroundings whilst Spitfire gaped in shock at the scene before her. Empty liquor bottles, glass, cans, fallen nibbles, and stains littered the entire room. Spitfire picked up an empty Stalliongrad Vodka bottle from off the bar top, looking at it as iof she didn't know what it was.
"Wow, wild night huh?"
"Hmmm, whats that Spitty?" asked Soarin' as he removed his head from the fridge, a leftover dandelion sandwich in his hoof. The yellow mare shook her head dismissively and set the bottle in the cuboard where recycling was usually dumped, not that Soar payed much attention to recycling. The vodka bottle was greeted by banana skins and week old pizza slices instead of glass and cardboard as it fell into the bin.
"Ya know, I think we should hire a maid. That, or stop having these wild get-togethers every other day" Spitfire mused as Soarin' poured her a fruit smoothie.

"What time is it?" the pale blue pegasus asked curiously. Spitfire glanced at the clock above her before huffing in annoyance.
"Only five past seven" she grumbled. It would be hours before the training session with the rest of the Wonderbolts, and the only thing that the two ponies had to really entertain themselves for that amount of time was to clear the apartment of the wildly strewn debris from the previous night.

The hours passed slowly, and Celestia's sun crawled across the sky at a pace too slow for the two pegasi. During that time however they had managed to clear up the living area around the fire, clear out the fire itself, and remove the stubborn stains that somehow managed to seep into the plush cushions on the sofas.
"Its times like this that I wish I was a unicorn" Spitfire grumbled as she visciously attacked a stain on the bar top with a chemical soaked cloth. Soarin' chuckled before draping a wing around Spitfire's withers.
"You look like such a housewife" he teased, causing Spitfire to spin round and attack him playfully with the cloth. In truth, Spitfire was anything but. She was independant, fiery, determined and willful. She was her own mare, and Soarin' adored her for it.

Eventually, the clock chimed as the hands reached two o'clock. Both pegasi bounded up the stairs in excitment. They both bounded into their room like a pair of playful foals, and made their way over to the far side of the room. Two pony shaped manequins stood side by side, each one dressed in a brilliant blue flightsuit streaked with yellow bolts of lightning. Despite the mess that dominated the rest of the expansive room, the malevolent tendrils of untidiness and squalour could not extend its reach to these two suits. Soarin' beamed with pride was he traced a hoof along the tight lyrca like fabric of the uniform, remembering every trick and stunt her performed whilst wearing it. Carefully, both ponies eased the flightsuits off the manequins before neatly folding them. They placed the uniforms in their gym bags as if they were made of glass.

"Ready?" asked Spitfire was she zipped up her sports bag before swinging the strap around her back. Soarin' nodded as he tucked a water bottle into a side pouch. With a wink and a flap, Spitfire jumped into the air, circling the massive bedroom once before zooming out of an open window.
"Close it this time, for Celestia's sake Soar, please close it!" he called as her coltfriend sped out to meet her. Last time, the two pegasi had returned to find their penthouse the target of an attempted robbery, all because Soarin' had forgotten to shut the window before they left. Giving the tall glass pane a firm kick withouit breaking it, Soarin' flapped upwards to fly alongside his marefriend.

After a brief flight, the two athletes arrived gracefully at the Cloudesium, the massive arena which Cloudsdale prided itself on. Rapidfire and Fleetfoot were already waiting outside the gates, talking cheerfully with the two brothers Fire Streak and Lightning Streak. As Spitfire and Soarin' trotted towards the group of ponies, all of them turned their way before snorting with laughter.
"What...?" asked Soarin' suspisiously, "whats so funny?" Rapidfire coughed before smirking.
"Enjoy yourselves last night?" he asked, everypony else restraining hysterical fits of laughter. Soarin's eyes narrowed, as if trying to target the source of the amusement within the group of ponies. Spitfire raised an eyebrow.

"I think they know what happened last night Soar" she whispered with a slight giggle.

"W-what happened last night?"

Spitfire facefhoofed.

"Um, 'oh Soar, oh Soar, faster, faster'" snorted Lightning Streak as his brother burst out in hysterics. Soarin's eyes widened in realisation.
"Wait, how do you know?"
"Well Spitfire wasn't exactly quiet" laughed Rapidfire smugly. Fleetfoot hid her face behind a forehoof as her cheeks turned crimson with amusement. Spitfire shook her head slowly as he smiled.
"Ya know Rapid, just cuz you and Fleetfoot don't know how to rut, doesn't mean you can listen to me and Soar" she retorted slyly. This was met with simutaneous "ooooos" from the Streak brothers. Rapidfire started going red before puffing out his chest in pride. "I'll have you know that I know perfectly well how to reproduce with a mare" he said in mock arrogance.
"Oh we know, especially when you tired to mount that waitress at the after-party two nights ago" Spitfire cunningly replied. Everypony, including Fleetfoot, laughed at that.

Their banter was interrupted by the arrival of Tempest Wind, Surprise and Gusty. The proud but aging captain of the Wonderbolts nodded to his team mates before unlocking the gates to the Cloudesium. As the flight team filed inside Tempest paused behind everypony to stretch his wings, the feathers starting to grey just like his mane and tail. The storm blue crest was streaked with silver, and his piercing turquoise eyes had lines and bags hanging below them. Spitfire nudged Soarin' as she spotted her captain.

"Look, see? I told you he's not well" she whispered, deathly serious all of a sudden. Soarin' shrugged but still looked concerned.
"He's just tired, thats all. Its not like he's dying from something, is he?" the pale blue stallion asked. Spitfire shook her head, choosing not to continue the conversation as the captain trotted past them to catch up with the rest of the group. The yellow mare had noticed the rapidly declining state of Tempest Wind for a few months now, unsure of talking to the captain in case he took offense. But something needed to be done before he seriously injured or endangered himself.

Soarin' zoomed in next to Lightning Streak as the flight team formed into an arrowhead 'V' formation, arcing rapidly towards the clouds. Tempest Wind soared ahead of the arrow, leading at the point as he started to tip backwards slowly. The Wonderbolts mimicked his actions as the V fell into a loop. Soarin' kept his wings extended but still, gliding upon the wind currents as the team prepared for the next stage of the display. As the arrowhead righted itself, everypony apart from the aging captain jutted outwards in different directions, splitting off from their leader. The finale was the trickiest part of the new routine that they were practising.

Soarin' banked hard and upwards as he veered back the way he came. Everypony else neared each other as they all converged in the centre where the arrowhead had once been. At an unspoken command, all the pegasi jolted upwards sharply inches away from impacting each other. The eight ponies flapped furiously as they climbed higher and higher as a vertical column, spralling around each other as they did so. Tempest Wind suddenly appeared above the ascending ponies and dived straight down the middle of the column, missing contact by a bare few feet. As the captain rocketed towards the ground, the rest of the flight team broke away from each other sharply.

As they did so, trails of flashing storm clouds and thundering storm clouds rocketed behind them, making a glorious burning, flashing firework shape in the sky.

After Soarin' and Spitfire had been inducted into the team, Tempest had asked that they teach their special talents to the rest of the flight team. Spitfire had taught Rapidfire, Fire Streak and Surprise how to somehow ignite flames from their flanks at high speeds, and Soarin' had taught Lightning Streak, Fleetfoot and Gusty how to send furious storm clouds trailing behind them. The new tricks had soared the Wonderbolt's already high fame into the record books.

The rest of the team filed away laughing and chatting back to the changing rooms to shower, but the againg Tempest tapped Spitfire on the wing as she started to leave.
"Spitfire, can I have a word with private?" asked the greying stallion, something which sounded almost like remorse tempering his voice. The yellow mare nodded, and followed her captain around the corner away from the changing rooms.

Three weeks had passed since Tempest had spoken to her, and Spitfire had been sworn to secrecy on what the topic was about. She hadn't even told Soarin' or Rapidfire, something which she painfully regretted. But she kept her silence, honouring her mentor's request.

But that wasn't the reason as to why the orange maned mare now sat alone in the living room of her luxury apartment. Her amber eyes were read and puffy from tears, and tissue lay scattered around the room in large piles. Soarin' had gone out to the store, completely oblivious to what was plauging the mind of his marefriend.

"Dammit, dammit, can't be true" she wimpered to herself. She wiped away another tear with a tissue and closed her eyes in shame. How could she have been so careless? How could have he been so careless. The answer din't matter anymore, what did matter was how in Equestria Spitfire and Soarin' were going to deal with this new obstacle in life.

A loud bang and tuneless whistling heralded the arrival of Soarin', his hooves full with bags of shopping.
"Hey Spitty guess what? I went down to the store, and they got this huge apple pie in the pastry section. I took it over to the counter, but the pony there just let me have it for free! Just cuz she recognised me!"


"And then when I managed to get out the shop, I was mobbed by like, a dozen fan mares! I bet they were like waitin' for me or somethin'"


"I mean why wouldn't they? I'm just so sexy..."

"Soar" said Spitfire a third time, a little firmer. Her coltfriend looked at her confused before her noticed her eyes. Quickly dropping the bags, Soarin' fluttered over to his marefriend's side and draped a protective wing around her.
"Hey, hey Spitty, whats up? Whats happened?" he said lovingly, trying to calm her down. Spitfire tired to smile, but It wasn't working. Instead, she looked at the glass coffee table before her. Soarin' followed her gaze. Across the surface of the table lay around dozen empty cardboard boxes, their contents all over the floor. Soarin' looked with a confused look in his eye at the multitudes of small white rods, all red at one end with a tiny 'plus' mark adorning each.

"Wh-what is this Spitty?" asked Soar, still confused. Spitfire gulped heavily.

"Soar...I'm pregnant..."

Chapter 3: Stormy Horizons

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Chapter 3: Stormy Horizons

"I've battled hurricanes and blizzards, but this..."

"You're joking..."

"Do I look like I'm bucking joking?"

Soarin' sat there motionless, staring back and forth between his distraught marefriend and the positive pregnancy tests that littered the room. Spitfire was shaking slightly, her gaze half turned away from Soarin'. The pale blue pegasus shook his head in confusion before flinging his forehooves behind his head.
"Are you sure?" he asked out of desperation. He knew the answer as well as Spitfire did.

"Of course I'm bucking sure!" she cried. Her amber eyes streamed again with a fresh tide of tears, her feathered wings ruffling. "Soar...its our fault, we let this happen, that night...Goddess-dammit we should have used protection!" she threw the tissue in her hoof to one of the many piles standing around her like a mocking audience. With a final sob, more out of frustration than sorrow, Spitfire stood up and stormed out of the living room down the curved corridor that led to the balcony.

For a full minute Soarin' just sat there on the curved couch, dumbstruck and dazed. Pregnant? What? The pale blue stallion rubbed his temples in rhythmic circles and took several deep breaths.
"Okay...relax, it can't be as bad as you think" he muttered to himself. That was stupid. It was exactly as bad as he thought. If word somehow got out about this ill timed pregnancy, one or both of them would surely be kicked out of the Wonderbolts. Highly active aerobats didn't perform very well whilst a foal was growing inside them. Spitfire was devastated.

Not knowing what else to do, Soarin' stood up and cantered down towards the balcony. Spitfire was leaning out over the polished silver bannisters, her beautiful face hung down in shame. Timidly, Soarin' walked towards her, shaking slightly himself.
"Hey..." he whispered as gently as he could. Spitfire jumped slightly at hearing his voice, but soon turned around to face her coltfriend. She had stopped crying, but her eyes still held within them an innate fear and anger at the whole situation. Soarin' slowly walked up beside her and draped a loving wing around her. Despite all her anger and frustration, Spitfire yielded to Soarin's gentle touch, and buried her face in his soft coat.

"I'm just so scared Soar...what are we going to do?" she muttered, hugging her coltfriend tightly. "How can we have a baby, how can we cope? You only just turned twenty last month, you're too young to be a father, just like I can't be a mum...the Bolts..."
Soarin' hugged her before giving her a warm, loving nuzzle on her cheek.
"It doesn't matter, we'll get through this, like we've gotten through everything before. We won't tell the Bolts yet, not until we figure out what to do..."
"But we can't keep something like this secret! Sooner or later I'll start to show-"
"We will get through this. Look at me Spitty", he cupped her worried face in his forehooves, "I love you, and I will do everything I can to help us get through this. We'll deal with the rest of the team later". It was an improvised speech, but it seemed to lessen Spitfire's terrifyed expression.

"Thank you Soar...thank you..." she whispered.


Unbeknownst to the two pegasi on the balcony, their intimate and private conversation was being overheard. As the golden and blue pegasi embraced, three other ponies were zooming overhead. The Sky Wardens acted as the police force within the boundries of Cloudsdale and the other floating cities, consisting of highly trained and athletic ponies who were beaten only in speed and agility by the Wonderbolts themselves.

The three Sky Wardens were flying in an arrowhead formation as they shot over the penthouse district of the shining town. However, one pegasus in the three stopped when he saw the two ponies on a wide curved balcony. He recognised them, and not from their huge fame as memebers of the Wonderbolts.

"Hey, Hurricane! Stop gawping and hurry up!" yelled the commanding officer of the trio, his silvered helmet crowned by a sky blue plume. The strong white stallion snapped his gaze back to his superior before nodding.
"I'll be right there, just...I gotta do something first"
"What, exactly?"
Hurricane smirked briefly. "Its of a...personal nature. I'll be back at the Tower in a few minutes. Tell my dad will you? He'll know what its about". The other pony in the patrol, an athletic pegasus with a dark blue coat and light blue mane fluttered beside the larger white stallion.
"Ya know, I doubt Marshal Skyfire would be happy about you spying on two Wonderbolts, even if he is your dad. C'mon Hurricane, just let it go. It was over three years ago that all this happened, why are you still obsessing over it?" said Storm Rider, a little concerned for his friend.

Hurricane chuckled lightly before turning his dark indigo gaze to his friend. "Oh Storm, I'm still 'obesessing' over it because it shouldn't of bucking happened. I should be standing on that balcony. I should be living in that apartment, and I should be the one with her by my side, not that buckin' coltcuddler!" He raised his voice to emphasise his anger. Soarin' had been the one to cost him his future career as a Wonderbolt, and that Spitfire too. Hurricane didn't really care wjhat happened to the pale blue stallion, just so long as it was painful and hurled him as far away from Spitfire as possible. But the golden mare on the other hoof...the things Hurricane planned to do to her would give fully grown ponies nightmares.

"But that doesn't give you the excuse to break the law by breaching somepony else's privacy, despite who there are" called the commanding officer after listening to the two. Hurricane restrained an irritated growl before composing himself.
"Very well sir. I'm co-"

"All we need to make sure of is that the Bolts don't find out about the pregnancy..."

Hurricane's face twisted into a cruel smile as he heard Soarin's voice bounce off the curved buildings around his penthouse. The sound was amplified up in the clouds where Hurricane hovered.

"Actually sir, I think I've heard everything I need too..."


Soarin' and Spitfire flew in silence towards the Cloudesium. The Bolts had called for an emergency practice session at the last minute, something about trying out a new trick for the air show in Fillydelphia next week. The two athletic pegasi rode the wind currents, saddlebags on their backs.

"What do you think Tempest wants to try? We've got a full performance plan already, what d'you think he's thought of?" asked Soarin', trying to keep Spitty's mind off the monumental distraction of having a baby foal inside her. It seemed to be working, if just a little bit.
"I dunno, maybe he came up with a new idea. You know how he likes to grab the audience with both hooves. Maybe its some new display trick, like the Blazing Storm Burst".
Soarin' thought of the spectacular finale that they had been practising for the best bart of a month for this upcoming air show, and wondered what in Equestria could rival it in shear brilliance. Shaking the thoughts from his head as they neared the gates of the Cloudesium. The cream coloured mare by the name of Surprise was just trotting through the arched entraced as the two pegasi landed.

Surprise glanced at Soarin' and then at Spitfire, something in her gaze hinting at something along the lines of disappointment. The pale blue stallion paid the stare no mind, clearly oblivious to its hidden message, but Spitfire noted the strange look. Being a mare herself, she seemed more atune to the subtle and sometimes almost undetectable (for stallions anyway) signs and hidden meanings that some mares just seemed to radiate. Not choosing to pursue the matter any further, the fiery maned mare followed her team mate into the stadium.

"Listen everypony, before we start practice today, I want to go over some things with you all. Some things that a few of you seemed to have forgotten over the course of your stay here. What is means to be a Wonderbolt", Tempest Wind said to the flight team as they scrambled into their uniforms. Spitfire turned her head as her captain said those last few words, her ears perking up. The aging stallion sighed before continuing.

"Some of you are wondering right now, 'what does he mean?' Well, what I mean is that there are, or were, certain beliefs and creeds that the Wonderbolts before me held above everything else. I'm sure that everypony here is aware of our motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius?" Everypony nodded, "those words mean Faster, Higher, Stronger...and it is by those words that the Wonderbolts based their performances on, constantly battling with themselves to do even better then what was believed possible. recent days that motto as been forgotten, and that some of you have taken the fame and status that comes with the flight team and used it to gain selfish and self centred wealth!"

Everypony reeled back slightly at the captain's sudden rage. Never before in the three years that Spitfire had been in the Bolts had Tempest ever raised his voice to them. Something must of happened, something must have happened to the proud stallion. Surely...

It was then that Spitfire saw the look on the face of Surprise. She had her eyes closed, and shook her head slowly when she met Spitfire's gaze. What?

"Spitfire, Soarin', see me outside in twenty minutes" muttered Tempest icily, and left the changing rooms as Surprise trailed after him. "The rest of you go home, no practice session's happening today..."

Everypony turned to face the two startled pegasi, their faces twisted into a look of shock and confusion. Soarin's gaze shifted rapidly from one pony to another, as if seeking the answers to Tempest's dire summons somewhere on their faces, whilst Spitfire shuffled uneasily on her hooves. The silence that lingered was almost tangible until Lightning Streak spoke.

"What the hay was that all about?" asked the golden maned stallion, adding a slight chuckle at the end in an attempt to lessen the awkwardness. It didn't work. Rapidfire and Fleetfoot made hesitant moves towards the pair of named ponies, but neither of them made any attempt to say anything. Eventually, Soarin' and Spitfire simply decided to sit in the changing rooms and wait. As the time passed agonisingly by, Gusty and the Streak Brothers left to go home, but Rapidfire and Fleetfoot chose to remain behind with their friends, if only for a few minutes longer.

"So do you have any idea as to what Tempest wants? He seems pretty pissed at you two. I mean, did you do something to him recently or what?" asked Fleetfoot worridly, her green eyes scanning Spitfire's amber ones intently. Soarin' sat next to her, but didn't have a wing draped around her withers, or even a hoof at her side. The pale blue pegasus seemed incredibly reserved and uncharacteristically silent. Spitfire shook her head slowly, even though in her heart she knew. However, Spitfire refused to believe that the pregnancy was the matter at hoof. Soar and her had been alone when she told him, and there was no way that somepony could have found out. Surely?

The time soon came when Tempest called the two pegasi in question to him, forcing Rapidfire and Fleetfoot back to their cloudhome. Soarin' plodded behind Spitfire outside, the hoods on their flightsuits lowered. Despite the fact that there was no practice session, both ponies felt some measure of comfort when wearing the blue and gold uniforms. Their captain was sitting in the stands of the Cloudesium, whispering to Surprise, who still lingered with the aging stallion.

As Spitfire and Soarin' approached, Surprise leaned forwards and gave Tempest a small peck on the cheek before flying away. Both Soarin' and Spitfire were slightly taken aback by this, but both showed no signs of being. It was a rumour amongst the flight group. Surprise was the second oldest pony their other than tempest himself, and the Streak Brothers often joked about how the two were dating. It came as a shock to the two silent ponies that this little joke turned out to be true.

As the two young athletes came closer, Tempest turned a weary gaze towards them, his own hood lowered. With a hoof he gestured to the seats in the row before him. "Sit", he said sternly. Soarin' flicked a glance over to Spitfire before setting his haunches down on the cloud chair. The Wonderbolt captain sighed briefly before looking at the two team members before him.

"It has come to my attention that a certain unplanned...complication has arisen between you two. The source was anonymous, however they came to Surprise and told her of this issue, having overheard the two of you on your balcony yesterday. Under normal circumstances, I would be happy for the two of you. However, these are not exactly stable Spitfire already knows"

Soarin' turned to his marefriend, his mind still reeling from the fact that their intimate conversation had been overheard. Spitfire's head was downcast, looking at her hooves.

"You see Soarin'," the blue astallion's head snapping back to his captain at the mention of his name, "I'm not getting any younger, and I'm more than aware of my somewhat frail condition. I realise that i've been holding the rest of the team back due to my old bones. And that was why three weeks ago I came to Spitfire after the practice session. I had been watching her for the past few months, and I came to the conclusion that it was her who would be next in line for captaincy of the team. i plan to retire soon, and Spitfire will take my place as leader of the Wonderbolts"

"What?!" exclaimed the pale blue stallion, his gaze turning back to Spitfire. "Spitty, why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you say anything? Why the buck did you keep this in the dark?!" Spitfire was trembling slightly, and tears had begun to form in her burned golden eyes. Nevertheless, she met Soarin's confused and angry gaze.

"I was sworn to keep it a secret. Tempest Wind made me keep my silence. He was going to announce it after the flight show next week"
"But why? Why couldn't you tell me?"
"Because i knew you'd act like this!" Spitfire wailed. "You'd become all jealous and angry. I know how much you dreamed of leading the team one day...and I didn't want to keep that dream from you. I'm sorry Soar-"

The blue stallion threw his hooves behind his head and stood up off the seat, turning his back before breathing deeply. Calming himself, Soarin' turned back to Tempest Wind, who clearly had more to say.

"However...due to this untimely pregnancy, I may be forced to withdraw my decision. A pregnant mare can hardly be expected to perform highly aerobatic stunts, let alone lead a team of other ponies doing the same"
Spitfire gave her captain a weary look.
"What are you saying"

"I'm saying that I'm going to withdraw both of you from the Wonderbolts- at least until you manage to sort things out with this foal"

The entire sky fell silent.

The silence remained until Soarin' reached up to the top of his neck and drew down the zipper that held the flight suit together. With a comtemptuous and angry whinney, Soarin' hurled the skintight uniform into the stands.

"Don't bother, I bucking quit"
"What?! Soar, wait, you can't-"
"Don't say a word to me!"

Spitfire's heart broke. "Soarin' wait...we can sort thi-"
"What other secrets have you been keeping from me, huh? Have you been ruttin' the Streaks behind my back? Or what? How can I talk to you, if you told tell me anything?!" Spitfire suddenly felt anger boiling inside her rapidly. Standing up herself, she rounded on her coltfriend.
"Don't you dare talk to me like that, I have been nothing but faithful to you since he started dating three years ago. How can you even accuse me of doing otherwise?"

But Soarin' simply turned away...and took to the skies. "Nice knowin' ya Spitty" he hissed before zooming into the far blue yonder. Spitfire briefly thought about chasing after him before thinking better of it. He just needed to calm down, just let off some steam. With a sigh, she turned back to Tempest Wind. They had some issues to discuss.

Soarin' flew as fast as he could away from the Cloudesium, away from his cloudhome, away from Cloudsdale. he needed to think some things through. Looking around him, he spied the distant spires of Canterlot to the north. But it was the small quiet town in the valley below which caught his attention, it seemed more peaceful than the captial of Equestria. Adjsting his wings, Soarin' dived towards Ponyville.

Chapter 4: Fall from Grace

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Chapter 4: Fall from Grace

"Burning lust, soaring high. Temptation rises where virtue dies..."

The sun began to fall in the sky as the afternoon dragged on. Soarin' rode the light breeze that wrapped around the quaint town of Ponyville. The pale blue pegasus lazily hovered above the steep thatched roofs and slightly crooked chimneys, watching the small groups of diverse ponies plod around in the narrow streets. From what he could tell, most of the population were mares, varying massively in colour.

Soarin' slowly fluttered down onto the ground just outside the eastern boundaries, careful not to attract to much attention to himself. Despite being new in the town, he undoubtedly knew he would be recognised as a Wonderbolt. The pale blue pegasus crept up between the narrow alley that ran past two houses, wary of any passing ponies. All he needed right now was space to breathe, and the vast expanse of the open sky offered him no comfort now.

From what Soarin' could tell, Ponyville seemed to be primarily an earth pony town, which made sense considering the vast fields that lay around the central village. The pegasus stallion tentatively poked his head out from behind the corner of one of the houses. His emerald eyes started to scan the market square before him. Dozens of ponies sped this way and that, going about their lives without a care in the world. The sight made Soarin' fume with frustration. Why were they so happy? What did they have to look forward to in their lives?

Soarin's angry musings were interrupted by a loud squeaky voice to his right.

"Hey look everypony, its Soarin'! Soarin' the Wonderbolt!"


Soarin's eyes met those of a young filly, her orange mane tied in a little red ribbon. The foal's exclaimation had drawn the gazes of everypony in the market place. Without thinking, Soarin' made a run for it back down the alley. The air suddenly erupted with the excited screams and squeals as the crowd lunged after him.
"Goddess-dammit" the pale blue pegasus muttered. In hindsight, it was a stupid idea to come to Ponyville to escape Spitfire. The whole damn town knew who he was, how the hay was he gonna have time to think if everypony wanted his autograph?

As he reached the end of the alley, Soarin' was greeted by rollings fields of carrots and celery stalks. Seeing no other way out, the athletic stallion leapt back into the sky. He heard the shouts of dismay from the crowd below, and soarin' smirked to himself as he sped away.
Then something flashed in the corner of his eye. He reveal a second crowd of pegasi chasing after him.

"For Celestia's sake, just leave me alone!" he cried, and beat his wings faster. He knew he could get away easily- he was a Wonderbolt after all. As he began to pull away, the flock of pegasi behind him started to slow, clearly disheartened by the Wonderbolt's rapid departure. All except one...

A flash of a multicoloured mane heralded another unwelcome arrival. Soarin' glanced at his chaser, not thinking much of the audacious pony. However, when his gaze met hers, he almost stopped dead in his tracks. She was cute, very cute. Her fur was of a light cyan blue, and her eyes were rings of bright rose. But by far the most striking of her features was the vibrant rainbow coloured mane and tail. Six distinct coloured whipped behind her as she kept pace with the Wonderbolt, dazzling Soarin' with both her looks and speed.

"Wanna race?" Soarin' suddenly blurted, kicking himself mentally as the words tumbled out. Why the buck did I just ask that? The rainbow maned filly looked at him with a dumbfounded expression on her face.
"Y-you serious?"
This was his chance to say no. His chance to say no and get away from everypony.
"Yeah, why not?"
"Ohmygoshohmygosh really?"
Soarin' chuckled and winked at her. The cyan pegasus mare suddenly regained her composure, her face turning determined with a hint of mischief. Her rosen eyes narrowed.
"Okay Wonderbolt, show me what you got"
Soarin' couldn't help but laugh. Damn, she's a confident one.

With a sly chuckle, Soarin' dashed ahead of the rainbow maned filly with a single beat of his athletic wings. The wind rushed past his ears as he sped through the afternoon skies. He he this sorted, nopony could beat him save Spitty.

A whooshing sound sounded from Soarin's right, causing the pale blue stallion to turn in confusion. Coming up fast along side him was the prismatic maned filly, her sky blue wings beating in powerful controlled beats. Clearly she was no stranger to this. Picking up the pace, Soarin' gave the young mare a wink as he crept forwards. The rainbow maned filly narrowed her bright rosen eyes with a steely determination. Her wings began to beat faster still, and Soarin' found himself sweating. Damn, she's fast.

It wasn't long before the blue stallion felt the familiar tingling sensation running down his spine to the tip of his tail. he could almost hear the lightning crackling on his flanks. The filly beside the Wonderbolt was blazing level with him, leaving a sparkling multicoloured trail streaming off her tail. Refusing to let his pride be dented, Soarin' turned to the cute mare smiling broadly.
"Still think you can beat me?"
"W-what? Of course I can! I mean, um I think so" the blue filly replied.
Soarin' grinned at her. "Last one to that cloud buys the other a drink", the pale blue stallion cried, pointing a forehoof at a large towering cumculus cloud. The cyan filly stared wide eyed for a moment before returning Soarin's smile.
"You're on!"
Before speeding off to begin the race in earnest, Soarin' turned to the young athletic filly.
"So what's your name?"
"N-name's Rainbow Dash..."

Spitfire wiped her eyes for what seemed like the thousandth time that afternoon. She sat alone in her and Soarin's apartment, Wonderbolt uniform cast aside on the couch beside her. She had returned back from the Cloudesium with Tempest Wind. He had been courteous enough to fly her home and offer what little advice he had on the matter at hoof. it hadn't helped. Sniffing mournfully, the fiery maned mare turned to the glass table next to her and picked up a silver framed photograph. Her heart broke for the hundredth time.

It was a photograph of her and Soar from a flight-show after party a year ago. The corners of her mouth tugged upwards for half a second as she looked upon the comical face that Soarin' was pulling, his wing wrapped protectively around her.
"Oh Soarin', I'm sorry...just, please come back to me..."
The sun had begun to set.

Among the things that Tempest had told Spitfire, something above all others pushed its way to the forefront. The words were almost as shocking as Soarin's sudden departure.

"I understand this is a hard time for you both, but if you and Soarin' reconcile your differences within the next week...I will permit the both of you to come with us to Fillydelphia for the flight show. It would be your last for a while, but I promise that me and the team will give the two of you a proper send off"

Spitfire shook her head slowly. There would be no chance of that. Not when she didn't know where Soarin' was.
"Please soar, come home soon..."

"Is it that serious?"

The doctor nodded his head solemnly, black framed glass resting on his muzzle as he scanned over the most recent x-rays. With a sympathetic sigh the tan coloured unicorn turned to the aging aqua coloured pegasus sitting in front of him.

"The last set of stunts you carried out caused severe stress on your carpal joints and margins. This flight show you're planning next week is definitely not going to happen with the current state of your wings. The harsh reality is I'm afraid, is that you're getting too old for this. You've been in the Wonderbolts since I was a colt, and captained them since I graduated Med School. That's years of your life. With all due respect, I think you need to think about retiring"

Tempest Wind lowered his gaze to stare at the floor. His The two points where his wings bent in the fold were wrapped in white bandages. Surprise had told him to go to the doctor after the last practice session. The two of them were the oldest members in the team, over a decade older than the next- the Streak Brothers. Tempest ran a hoof through his silver streaked mane and let out another sigh.

"I plan to make this show my last. I've already selected a new captain, but whether or not she'll be up to the task will be an issue. Certain complications have risen. I need just a little more time to decide my successor, and I plan to that in Fillydelphia. Doctor, will I be able to perform one last time?"

The unicorn furrowed his brow harshly. "I'm sorry Tempest, but the risk is too high. If a single mistake was made, you could crash. And a crash at the speeds you fly at would most certainly do serious injury to you or anypony else around you. Doctor's orders: NO STUNT FLYING"

The Wonderbolt captain's heart wrenched at those words. It was through extreme assertion of will that he managed to restrain an angry outburst. He had been doing that more and more recently, and this situation with Soarin' and Spitfire wasn't helping his mind either. Grudgingly, the aqua coated stallion relented.


The doctor gave a firm nod of approval before exiting the room. Tempest sat there in the chair, his heart and mind both broken and fuming with rage. Of course he could still fly, he was captain of the Wonderbolts! Nopony could tell him what to do, only he could decide when it was time to stop. With a slight smirk, Tempest left the clinic. He had some training to do.

Soarin's jaw dropped as he saw the rainbow maned mare whistle past him before landing gracefully on the cloud before her. She had beaten him. She had beaten a Wonderbolt. Him! The pale blue pegasus fluttered down beside the panting cyan filly, his emerald eyes gazing in awe at her athletic body. Rainbow Dash turned her head to meet Soarin's face, flicking a stray lock of spectrum hued hair from her eyes. She smiled broadly.

"How'd I do?"
Soarin' stared at her before laughing, shaking his head slightly. He stepped closer to her.
"Absolutely amazing! You're the only pony other than Spitfire to beat me like, ever. You got tons of skill packed in there, and your control is fantastic. Did somepony teach you?"
Rainbow shuffled her hooves awkwardly as the Wonderbolt talked to her. Soarin' has patient. He remembered how he was when he first met Tempest Wind.

"Errr, nope. Nopony at all, just...practise everyday since when I was a filly" she exclaimed, suddenly regaining a bit of confidence. Soarin' grinned. She seemed like his type of filly. Confident, strong, fast, and had a competitive edge. A lot like Spitfire...

Soarin' drove his marefriend from his mind almost instantly. He was still fuming at her secret keeping, and he wasn't about to let his guilty conscience interfere with a possible friendship with an amazing young filly. Soarin' turned once again to the young mare before him.

"How old are you Rainbow?"
She blushed a little and let out a nervous chuckle before answering.
"Um, s-sixteen...but my birthday's next month"

Soarin's mind processed this new information carefully before shaking such thoughts from his head. Despite the argument with Spitty, nothing justified the brief flashes that just crossed his mind. Rainbow was cute,, he could never do that to Spitfire. Yet still, Soarin' found his tongue saying things which his mind screamed at it to stop.
"So, guess i still owe ya that drink. Know any place with a decent bar round here?"

Rainbow put a hoof to her chin as she thought. "Weeell, theres a really nice bar down by the river called The Three Horseshoes, but I don't think you'd wanna go there...I mean, you're a Wonderbolt!", her eyes widened when she thought of something else, "ohmygosh I just beat a Wonderbolt!" She she leapt into the air and somersaulted twice, squealing in delight. Soarin' couldn't help but laugh. As Rainbow Dash settled, her cyan cheeks deepened to the same tint as her eyes. "Hehe,, you wanna go?" she asked softly.

Soarin' didn't stop smiling as he nodded, a little too eagerly. The young filly beamed wildly, and Soarin' swore she batted her eyes at him as she did so. "Lead the way" he said, trying to remember his commitment to Spitfire as he tore his eyes away from Rainbow's athletic body. Dammit Soar!

The Three Horseshoes was a beautiful little building built on the banks of the Ponyville Canals. The bar was three floors high, two of which were supported by stilts over the water's edge. The basement floor extended out onto a floating wooden patio covered with tables and chairs. The sun had almost fully fallen below the horizon when Soarin' and Rainbow Dash landed at the double doored entrance.

"You sure you don't mind comin' here? Everypony'll recognise you"
Soarin' let loose a smug smile. "I know"
Rainbow giggled, still not quite believing that she was going for a drink with a Wonderbolt. She opened the doors, greeting both of them with a wave of laughter and chatter. Soarin' stepped back as the raucous wave of happiness smashed him full in the face. Ponyville was a small town, so he hadn't expected this many ponies in one place. As he and Rainbow trotted in, he found himself lowering his head. Despite his previous confidence, Soarin' didn't want a repeat of that afternoon.

Carefully shuffling behind Rainbow, the pale blue stallion edged his way up to the bar as the cyan filly sat her haunches down on a barstool. A unicorn mare behind the counter eyed the two new arrivals with a friendly glance that soon turned to a look of utter disbelief.

"Oh. My. Celestia, are you r-really Soarin', f-from the Wonderbolts?" Soarin' almost facehoofed as the entire bar fell silent. he could feel everypony's eyes boring into him.
"Urr, yep...thats me"

"Oh my gosh, will you sign my picture?"
"My foals love you!"
"Can I have a picture with you?"
"Pleeeease can i have your autograph?"
"Over here!"

Soarin' stood up and turned to face his adoring fans. Raising both forehooves into the air, he called for the crowd to be quiet. They complied without a fuss.

"Okay everypony, I will by everypony a round of drinks if you leave me and Rainbow here alone for a bit. How does that sound?" He was answered with a massive cheer. Dammit, thats a few hundred bits I won't get back. As the bar-staff poured dozens of pints of cider, cocktails and Germane-ian beer, the pale blue stallion finally redirected his attention to the cyan filly beside him. Rainbow looked almost pink with blush. In hindsight, maybe it wasn't the best idea to mention her. Soarin' was sure that there would be plenty of questions for her tomorrow.

"Here ya go" said the unicorn as she tossed two cider mugs towards the two pegasi.
"Thanks Bubble Froth" beamed Rainbow. Soarin' winked at the bar maid as he tossed her the last of his bits. he couldn't help but chuckle as she blushed deeply.

"So, tell me about yourself" he asked. Rainbow looked at him with reverence before clearing her throat.

"Um, well I...lived in Cloudsdale until I was seven years old, and err, I'm manager of the Weather Patrols here in Ponyville. I got the only cloudhome in these parts, and I love to fly. I practice every day"

Soarin' raised an eyebrow as he drank his cider. "Practising for what?"
"Um, I...I kinda had this dream that I, um,, and Spitfire and Tempest, the W-Wonderbolts" She gulped down a large swig of her cider before turning away, blushing heavily. Soarin' smiled, not mockingly, but in a tone which showed friendliness.

"Its a great dream, trust me", he said with a wink of his jaded eye, "and with skills like the ones you showed me today, i'm sure there would be an opening for you". The blue filly's rosen gaze locked onto him, making Soarin' feel a little bit uncomfortable.

"R-Really? Y-you mean that?"
"Um, yeah, don't see why not"

Rainbow almost look as if she was about to faint. The pale blue stallion took another deep gulp, draining his mug. Raising hoof to Bubble Froth he ordered a second. Whoever made this cider knew what they were doing. After a few seconds of almost tangible silence, Rainbow's mouth curled upwards into the biggest grin Soarin' had ever seen in Equestria. He stepped back as the blue filly suddenly launched herself into the air.


Everypony in the room turned to look at the overexcited filly before returning to their business, all however keeping awed gazes on the Wonderbolt in their midst.
"I take it you'll accept then?" Soarin' questioned, smirking heavily as Rainbow performed a miniature victory dance mid-air. Regaining her composure, the rainbow maned filly nodded stupidly.
"Do you KNOW how much this means to me? I mean, ohmygoshohmygosh this is MY DREAM COME TRUE! Oh thank you Soarin'!", she launched herself at him, her forelegs wrapping themselves around his muscular frame, "you have no idea how much this means to me!"

As she pulled away, Soarin' noticed that her magenta eyes had begun to water. Rainbow just stared at him before she suddenly realised what she had just done.
"O-Oh, I'm so sorry, I d-didn't mean, sorry i just err, I'm so happy" she said with a slight chuckle at the end. Soarin' shook a dismissive hoof at her.

"Nah, its okay. You give nice hugs" he laughed. Rainbow laughed awkwardly before shuffling her forehooves together.

"Um, c-can...we go outside? Theres a balcony upstairs that hangs over the canal. I k-kinda need some air"
Soarin' downed the remainder of his drink before nodding.
"Yeah sure thing, d'ya want another drink?" He didn't wait for her to reply as he ordered a second mug for her and a third for him. This cider was good.

Spitfire jumped as the doorbell chimed through the apartment. Making her way through the mountain range of tissues that stood around her. Soar, is that you? Please let it be you. But Soarin' had a key, so why would he use the doorbell? Spitfire placed a yellow hoof on the door handle and pulled, hoping against hope that it was he coltfriend that greeted her gaze. Her heart sank as the mysterious visitor revealed itself to be Tempest Wind.

"Evening Spitfire, has Soarin' come back yet?" The mare shook her head and sniffed.
"W-Would you like to come in, sir?"
"No need for formalities, this is your home and I your guest. I would of thought we learned that after three years as team mates" the older stallion chuckled. Spitfire managed a half smile and stepped aside. She noticed the dark bruises marking Tempest's wing joints as he walked past into the living room.

The open fireplace was burning with only a few lights on in the massive room. Moonlight shone through the massive window behind the curved sofas, making the modern abode look incredibly cosy and snug. Yet despite this, the Wonderbolt captain noticed the mounds of used tissues.

"So, um...Tempest...what did you need?" Spitfire asked quietly as she trotted up towards the kitchen that overlooked the living area on a raised platform. The aqua coated pegasus turned and shot a sympathetic glance at the golden mare.
"I needed to see if you were alright. And by the looks of things you aren't"
Spitfire gave a forced smile as she poured two glasses of apple juice for herself and her captain.
"I'm okay, just worried. Me and soar have had our disagreements over the years, and we've come through each and every one of them. But..."
"...None have been as bad as this one?"
Spitfire shook her head as she gave Tempest his drink. "I don't know where he's gone. He's never been away for this long without telling me where he is before. I'm worried about him". The aging pegasus sipped the juice before furrowing his brow in thought.

"I don't know Soarin' as well as you do, but I doubt he'll do anything stupid. He's a smart colt, if a little bit goofy. I'm sure he's just frustrated at the whole situation. I mean, fatherhood is a big milestone in a pony's life, especially somepony as young as Soarin', and it was wrong of me to swear you to secrecy on the captaincy issue. If you wanted to tell Soarin' I should have let you. I'm afraid I've just made everything worse. I'm sorry Spitfire"

The yellow mare smiled a little bit before taking a sip herself. "Thank you...but this is between me and Soar, so only we can fix it"
"Indeed, but there was something else I wanted to speak to you about this evening"
Spitfire looked at her captain, puzzled slightly. "What"
Tempest visibly became less sombre and more energetic as she asked. Setting his glass down on the counter beside him, the stallion raised both forehooves in front of him as he spoke.

"Now, as I'm sure you're aware, I'm not getting any younger. And it was for that reason that I decided to give the captaincy of the team to you. But as you can see here", he fanned out his wings to give Spitfire a proper look at the dark marks on his carpal and margin joints, "I won't have long before I'll be forced to retire. That is why i want you and the rest of the team to do me a favour".
Spitfire raised her burned amber eyes in interest. "Anything, I'm sure we could all help. What is it?"

Tempest smiled. "Ever since i first joined the team many years ago, I've always wanted to try out a trick of my own making. I've been meaning to do it ever since I became captain, but I never really got round to it due to the show schedules. I call it The Swirling Tempest"
Spitfire raised her eyebrows. "Sounds fancy, is it a flight move or a display showpiece?" Judging by the name, she could already guess.

"A showpiece, a finale to a great performance. I want to try it at the flight show next week. This will be my final performance, and it would mean the world to me if I could retire knowing that I finally achieved that dream. I know we planned to have the Blazing Stormburst as the final act, but this would be literally a wish fulfilled. So what do you say?"

Spitfire smiled properly for the first time in hours. Her captain looked like a young colt again when he got excited like this. With a nod she answered.
"Of course. It sounds pretty dramatic, what does it involve?"
"Well that was something else i wanted to ask you. I'm aware that you'll most likely say no, but i was hoping you could come out tonight to the Cloudesium. That way I can show you before hoof what I want to do"

Spitfire turned away for a second, thinking whether to leave the apartment or not. She didn't know how long she would be gone, and Soarin' could be back during that time. She would hate it if she missed him. She missed him so much already. But then again, it was already nearly eleven. If Soarin' was coming back, he would be so already. Quickly dashing off to get a pen and paper, Spitfire wrote a brief note to Soarin' explaining her absence. Setting down on the coffee table, she turned to her captain.

"Let's go"

The balcony of the Three Horseshoes was a wonderful place to be. The overhanging patio was suspended over the edge of the water. Hanging lanterns and fireflies were draped overhead of the few rounded tables and chairs on the balcony. Laughter and music could be heard from the inside of the bar and on the lower levels, but up top there was only the night sky above the two pegasi who sat on one of the tables closest to the water's edge.

Rainbow laughed hysterically as Soarin' finished telling her of one of the many humorous stories that seemed to occur at every Wonderbolts after show party. the pale blue stallion clopped his hooves on the table as he drank from his sixth mug that evening. Rainbow picked up her own mug- her seventh. the two ponies smashed the two drinks together.

"To the Wonderbolts!" they both said in unison as they quaffed down the remaining honey gold liquid.

Soarin' smacked his lips as Rainbow batted her eyes at him.
"And soon, you'll be doing all those things with us" he said cheerily, slightly slurring his words. The rainbow maned filly sighed contently as she wrapped her hooves around his.

"When Soarin', when can I join the rest of you?"
"Whenever you like" he answered, the alcohol causing him to not think about what he was saying. Dash giggled and pulled herself across the table until she was inches away from Soarin's muzzle.

"Oh really, well I'm not sure what Tempest would say about that, mister" she said playfully. Soarin' smiled. She was so cute...

Spitfire watched as the aqua coloured stallion before her raced round in a an ever constricting spiral.

From what he had told her, The Swirling Tempest essentially involved the entire team spinning round in an ever tightening series of rings. By doing this, the air pressure would suck in clouds, much like the Tornado Funneling used when transporting water to Cloudsdale. As the flyers grew faster and faster, the pressure of their wing power would literally squeeze the cloud caught within the tunnel of wind. The resulting rainwater could be suspended in the tunnel, until finally all of the flight team burst away in multiple directions, releasing all of the pent up water in the form of a colossal water jet, spearing high into the air like a geyser.

The golden mare watched carefully as her captain demonstrated, watching as he caught a small tuft of cloud within h is small wind tunnel. Spitfire smiled as she saw the water begin to seep out from the piece of white vapour.

But somehow...she knew something wasn't right.

Soarin' look a brief second to glance around him. The night was clear, Luna's stars shining magnificently against the black sky like crushed diamonds sprinkled on a black velvet blanket. The moon was a crescent tonight, and the hanging lanterns above Soarin' bathed the whole balcony in a soft golden light. The fireflies hovered around them looking like magical fairies as they danced lazily around the two drunken ponies.

But soon soarin's emerald eyes were lost in the deep rosen ones of Rainbow Dash. Not realising what he was doing, Soarin' leaned in towards her...

A howl of pain echoed throughout the Cloudesium as Tempest Wind was hurled from the miniature tornado that he had created.

"CAPTAIN! TEMPEST!" Spitfire yelled as her teammate veered off uncontrollably towards the stands. The golden mare brought both her forehooves to her mouth and gasped in shock and horror as the aging stallion crashed into the seats to her left. He landed on his left wing.

A crack echoed throughout the stadium...

Soarin' closed his eyes...and gently, ever so gently, pressed his lips to Rainbow's...

Thank you everypony for your patience, and I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter. I will continue this story in full once i have uploaded the next chapter to 'Our Saviour, Our Princess' :)

Chapter 5: Hard Lessons

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Chapter 5: Hard Lessons

"Oh my Celestia, Tempest! Tempest can you hear me?" Spitfire screamed as she ran towards her captain. The stallion had pinned himself down by landing on his wing, and from what the yellow mare could tell, he was barely conscious. Even though cloud was a fairly soft material, the base of the stadium's seats were made from skystone. A deep red gash on the Wonderbolt's head showed where he had come into contact with the hard material.

She skidded down next to her captain, hooves shaking in shock as she tried to find some way to move him. No! DON'T move him, I could make it worse, screamed Spitfire's mind as she withdrew her forelegs. Tears began to well up in her amber eyes. She felt so helpless, so useless.

"HELP! Somepony, anypony, we need help!" the golden mare shrieked, hoping that the acoustics of the empty stadium would amplify her voice enough so that somepony nearby could hear her. The silence that followed was almost painful.

"Ssss-Spi..." came a moan from beside the fiery maned mare. Spitfire's gaze locked in on Tempest. The wounded stallion was struggling to speak, and his uninjured foreleg groped around in the space above him for something to hold. Spitfire wrapped both her hooves around his, tears falling from her cheeks.
"It's okay", she lied, "I'm here Tempest, I'm here. J-just, don't go to sleep, stay with me okay? You stay awake, you hear? Help's on the way...j-just..." she trailed off, tears choking her as she looked upon the broken body of her captain and friend. The aqua coat on his poll had turned into a ruddy brown as blood started to seep from his head wound. His storm blue and silver mane was dishevelled and messy beyond belief, and his eyes were only half open.

But thankfully, Spitfire felt some small relief when Tempest's hoof tightened in her own. With a strained smile, Spitfire stayed by his side.

Around half an hour passed before a miracle happened. An orange coated pegasus stallion walked into the grounds of the Cloudesium from the main entrance. In his mouth he held a torch, and a white shirt and tie hung round his neck. The security pony barely stepped into the main arena before he was assaulted by a tearful and distressed Spitfire.

"Thank Celestia! Oh my Goddess, you have to help us. Please...i-its Tempest, T-Tempest Wind. H-he, had an accident...he fell...please just get somepony here quickly. He's hurt, just go an get somepony, anypony!"
The guard took a second to realise what the distressed mare had spouted before widening his eyes in shock. He bolted off into the sky faster than lightning. With a silent prayer on her lips, Spitfire returned to her captain. Her heart almost stopped.

Tempest wasn't breathing.

Soarin' slowly opened his eyes. Rainbow Dash was like a statue, her rosen eyes closed and her wings rigid with shock. It wasn't until a few seconds afterwards that Soarin' had realised what he had done. All of the drunken haze seemed to disappear in seconds as he saw the blushing face of the cyan filly in front of him. Rainbow had a look of sheer shock plastered on her face, her rosen eyes as wide as dinner plates.

"W-What w-w-was that?" she stuttered, moving away from the table slightly. She knocked over an empty cider mug with her hooves, breaking the awkward silence that had descended. Soarin' turned away in shame, spluttering over his words as he felt his cheeks redden. The pale blue stallion clopped both his forehooves together as he sheepishly grinned at Rainbow.

"Um...I'm sorry..?" Soarin' said painfully, squinting his eyes as he did so. Rainbow Dash looked at her idol in front of her, shocked beyond all logical boundaries at what just occurred. Soarin'...a Wonderbolt, her role model...just kissed her? The rainbow maned pony spluttered incoherently, tears starting to well up beneath her bright magenta eyes. She wasn't even sure as to why she was crying. The kiss was one of the most surreal feelings in her entire life, and it certainly wasn't a bad thing. But...

"S-Sorry? You kiss me and s-s-say you're sorry? W-What...?"
Soarin's green eyes darted back and forth nervously. What had he done? Did he really...? The pale blue stallion stood up abruptly from his chair, letting it fall with a clatter onto the floor. Pressing a forehoof over his eyes, he forced himself to look at the distraught young filly, her rosen eyes imploring for an explanation. it was easy to blame it on the alcohol, but Soarin' could not deny that he had felt an attraction with the feisty Rainbow Dash.

"Listen, um...I'm sorry, I, I shouldn't have done that. I'm gonna leave now" Soarin' mumbled. But as he flexed with powder blue wings to fly, Rainbow's cracked voice halted him.
"W-Where are you gonna go?"
"You m-mean Cloudsdale? But that's miles away"
"I'll manage"

Soarin' flapped once and launched himself into the air.
Damn it
he stopped in mid air, turning to look at Rainbow. She quickly wiped a moist eye with a forehoof and shook her rainbow coloured mane from her face. Soarin' couldn't help but watch her blush profusely.

"Um, do you, wanna s-stay round m-m-mine tonight?"

Soarin's mind raced a thousand miles a second. If he said yes, he would be betraying his trust to Spitfire and his foal, his friends and new family in the 'Bolts. If he said no, he would break the dreams of a young confident filly who he had stupidly guaranteed a place in the flight team's ranks, and be left with a long freezing flight back to Cloudsdale at night. And what would greet him when he returned? An angry and distraught Spitfire, an undoubtedly pissed Tempest, and most likely an equally pissed Rapidfire and a disappointed Fleetfoot. Against every sane thought process in his mind, Soarin' finally spoke.

"Fine...just until morning...and separate beds!"
"Well yeah? Who may be a Wonderbolt, but I'm not letting you in my room" Rainbow chuckled nervously. Soarin' let out a small grin and landed back onto the balcony of the Three Horseshoes.
"Lead the way"

Hurricane raced towards the Cloudesium, Storm Rider and his captain Silverfall soaring beside him. The silver armour of the Sky Wardens glittered spectacularly against the moonlight, blue plumes whipping behind the three pegasus ponies. They weren't alone. Behind them trailed a team of half a dozen Healers and medical ponies, two bearing a folded up stretcher between them. The emergency services had received the call only ten minutes before. A panting security guard from the Cloudesium had reported an accident involving one or more of the Wonderbolts. Hurricane secretly hoped it was Soarin'...

The team of ponies glided over the mighty arena before fluttering down towards two ponies in the stands. one was a distinct fiery shade of gold. Spitfire...
"Descend!" came Silverfall's echoing command. The three Sky Wardens and the Medical Ponies swirled round in a wide arc towards the pair of ponies in the stadium stands. Spitfire waved frantically to her captain's saviours as the Sky Wardens landed gracefully.

Silverfall marched towards Tempest before signalling the Medical ponies to perform their duties. He removed his curved silver helmet, revealing a mane of stunning white on a coat of shadow grey.
"What happened here?"
"H-He was practising a n-n-n-new trick...for the s-show next week. He fell...he" Spitfire faltered as she watched the medics perform a multitude of probing and tests. Silverfall nodded grimly before turning behind him.
"Hurricane, take her to the Tower. We'll need to know everything"

Spitfire froze when she heard that name. She turned her amber gaze to the other two ponies who had accompanied the captain. No way. Standing there in the gleaming armour of the police force of Equestria's floating cities, stood Hurricane and Storm Rider. The same Hurricane and Storm Rider who threatened to rape her three years ago.

"No! Keep away from me!" the golden mare exclaimed, causing Silverfall to stare at his two officers with confusion. Storm Rider lowered his head in shame, but Hurricane raised his higher, a sly smirk pulling on the corners of his mouth. The Sky Warden Captain turned back to the distraught pegasus mare, her eyes almost aflame with anger and fear.

"I have no idea what you are talking about" the white stallion said smoothly.

"Horseshit! and HIM! You threatened to rape me three years ago, Don't you dare make out that nothing happened. At the Academy, you would have beaten me if Soar hadn't of been there, you almost killed him, you almost killed all of us at the Wonderbolt track! Don't you dare touch me!"

Storm Rider at least had the decency to look genuinely ashamed of himself, the dark blue stallion lowering his head and wings as he refused to meet Spitfire's angry stare. But Hurricane's smirk almost twisted into a sneer. Silverfall stepped towards his two fellow Sky Wardens with a steely glare.

"Is this true? Answer me!"

"Of course it's not" Hurricane quipped, giving a beautifully forced tone of disbelief. "She's clearly mistaken us for two other ponies."

"Those were some very specific events she mentioned, like the Wonderbolt Track...?"

"With all due respect sir, I don't have to stand here and be accused of attempted rape, murder or beatings. The events of this evening have clearly affected her-"

"How dare you!" Spitfire spat, stunning even the cocky blue maned Warden before her. "I can easily have three other Wonderbolts testify against you, and you are damn lucky that we didn't report you straight away! It was out of decency that we didn't, against all common sense. You gave me nightmares for weeks after that night at the Spectrum Causeway."

Storm Rider winced at that. It was all Silverfall needed.

"The two of you are to report back to the Tower of the Iron Cloud. Wait for me there in the Hall of Sentinels to await my questioning. Until further evidence is gathered, the two of you are relieved of duty."

Hurricane's face remained neutral and unmoving, a perfect mask of composure. With an almost undetectable smirk, he simply said: "Yes sir." The pair of armoured pegasi lifted from the stadium stands and back into the starry sky. It was a long while before either of the them spoke again.

"Bucking bitch!"

The silver light of the moon was partially obscured by a stray ribbon of cloud, causing Rapidfire to squint his eyes as he continued his search for the suddenly missing Soarin'. He and Fleetfoot had arrived at his cousin's luxury cloudhome earlier that afternoon to ask what Tempest had wanted. What they found was a distraught Spitfire and an absent Soarin'. With absolutely no idea as to where he may have gone, Rapidfire had volunteered himself to find him in case the rather rash Wonderbolt got himself into trouble.

So far, after a good four hours of searching, Rapidfire finally decided to relent. The cold wind was biting at his fur and feathers, making the golden maned pegasus shiver and clack his teeth. Fleetfoot was waiting for him back in Cloudsdale, and Soarin' could be anywhere in Equestria. Groaning, the Wonderbolt began to veer back round the way he came.

It wasn't until then that Rapidfire noticed a small little town nestled in the wide dark valley below him. Thatched roofs pointed upwards into the night sky, and thin wisps of grey smoke trailed from the many chimneys. In the centre of the quaint village stood a magnificent oak tree, lights shining from the rounded windows jutting out from its boughs. If Rapidfire's memory served him, the town was that of Ponyville. He and the Streak Brothers had once passed over it whilst on a training flight. One last stop, thought the golden maned pegasus. Bending his wings, Rapidfire dived downwards. Maybe Soarin' was here?

It was almost midnight, and the streets of Ponyville were virtually deserted save for the few ponies gathered round a charmingly rustic old bar called The Three Horseshoes. The oil lamps that stood beside the wide cobbled streets shone brightly, and Rapidfire wondered how earth ponies could sleep at all with their yellow beams streaming into the houses. Thank Celestia for cloudhomes, he thought.

The grey coated stallion trotted through the streets, peering intently into the shadowed alleys that ran between the cottages, whilst still keeping a wary eye skyward in case of any sign of movement in the air. The pale moonlight offered a little illumination, but Rapidfire found himself straining his eyes just to see five yards ahead. And the wind was so cold.

"Dammit Soarin', where are you? I can't keep looking for you all night..."

But just as the Wonderbolt considered leaping back into the air, he heard a very familiar laugh. Ears perking up, he turned behind him and let out a relieved smile. Soarin' was gliding along the wind currents, heading towards the west end of town. However, as Rapidfire started to open his mouth to call the pale blue pegasus, his eyes caught sight of another. Even in the night time light of the moon, the vibrant rainbow coloured mane was as bright as a multicoloured candle. She was a mare, no older than seventeen by Rapidfire's guess.

They looked happy. Very happy.

Keeping his wingbeats silent and delicate, the grey coated stallion began to follow the merry pair.

Soarin' let out another - if slightly timid - laugh as Rainbow Dash finished telling him of her time at the Junior Speedsters Flight Camp. The pale blue stallion's mind flashed back to his first time there...where he met Spitfire for the first time.

"So anyways, Gilda and I are hiding behind the desks, and Mr. Steelfeather comes in. Everypony in the class knew what we did, but they all kept quiet. So when he goes to sit down, he sits on the pin that me and Gilda put there! I have never seen a full grown stallion jump so high in my life!" Rainbow gasped, and blasted out an echoing laugh.

"You think that's bad? Me and Spi-" Soarin' stopped. He couldn't bring himself to say her name, due to a strange mixture if anger and shame.

" and who?"

The Wonderbolt shook his head. "Never mind."

An awkward silence descended over the pair before Rainbow brought some much welcome news.

"Um, it is."

Soarin' snapped out of his rather pensive state of mind and looked up to see a tall conical cloudhome, vibrant rainbowfalls cascading down the cloud around it. It looked cosy. The stallion's jaded eyes watched as Rainbow pushed open the front door before stepping aside.

"Um...a- after you I guess" she mumbled with a little giggle on the end.

The pale blue pony smiled and stepped inside the tall cloudhome. He was pleasantly surprised at his surrounding. He was greeted by a spacious living room with a glowing fireplace, in front of which stood a plumb cushioned sofa. Various shelves stood around the fireplace, adorned with random bits of memorabilia from Cloudsdale and Canterlot. Soarin' grinned when he saw a bright gold Junior Speedsters Racing Badge sitting proudly on the mantle piece.

To his left stood a curved kitchen counter top not unlike his own at his apartment. The kitchen was in a state of minor chaos, glasses and cutlery scattered around the room. Rainbow Dash strutted in beside her idol and waved a forehoof in a sweeping motion before her.

"Well, this is home...err, my room's upstairs on the left, bathroom on the right. I got no spare bed or anything so the couch okay for you?"

Soarin' nodded. Maybe tonight wouldn't be so bad. He would fly out at dawn, leave a 'thank you' note for Rainbow, and slip back into his apartment in Cloudsdale. Then he and Spitfire could finally sort out the matter of the foal. With a heavy heart, the blue stallion finally realised just how much of a plot he had been at the Cloudesium. Spitfire hadn't deserved any of it. His thoughts were interrupted by Rainbow's voice.

"Um, can I get you anything...or?"

"No thanks, um...thank you Rainbow, I'll be fine."

"W- wait, I'll get you a blanket or something, hang on" The cyan filly zoomed upstairs, returning with a neatly folded quilt. As Dash shook it out, Soarin' let out a laugh. The blanket unfolded to reveal a stitched face of one Tempest Wind. Behind him stood Spitfire, and behind her stood Soarin'. The blue Wonderbolt beamed as Rainbow set the quilt down on the sofa.

"I think they got my eyes wrong" Soarin' chuckled. Rainbow blushed a little as she looked at the stallion's eyes to check. Despite the events earlier that evening, the pale blue stallion still found the feisty young mare to be incredibly cute. Shaking his head at his thoughts, The athletic stallion trotted over to the couch, setting his haunches down amongst the cushions. He couldn't be sure, but he could have sworn that Rainbow's hoof brushed his shoulder, if very lightly.

"So um, g'night I guess. Err, do want breakfast in the morning?"

"Um thanks, but I've mooched off you enough already. Thanks Rainbow, but I got to get back to Cloudsdale as soon as possible. Wonderbolt things you know? Among other things..."

The cyan filly looked a little downcast, but let out a small smile and nodded. With a wink and and flutter, she disappeared into her bedroom upstairs, leaving Soarin' alone in the living room.

Both ponies however halted when they heard a loud banging come from the front door.

Rainbow Dash hovered back down the stairs as quick as lightning.

"You expecting anypony?"

"It's your house"

The banging continued to boom the cloudhome. With a frustrated grunt, Rainbow Dash seized the door handle and pulled. The sight that greeted her eyes was that of a tall, athletic stallion with a swept golden mane. His grey coat shone in the dim moonlight.

"Hope I'm not interrupting anything."

"R- Rapidfire, what are you doing here?" Soarin' spluttered.

"I could ask you the same question."

The pale blue pegasus stallion shot a look at the cyan filly in front of him, and then back to his best friend. He realised suddenly how badly the situation must have looked. Here he was, standing in the cloudhome of an attractive young filly he barely even knew, about to curl up on her couch and stay the night.

"Rapid, I can explain. It seriously isn't what it looks like. I was j-"

"Well what does it seriously look like then, Soarin'? Cuz to me it looks like you abandoned my cousin cuz of your little bitch- fit, went off into the blue telling nopony where you were going, left all of us - especially Spitfire, completely pissed at you, and now you're trying to hook up with some random filly you don't even know! I thought you had standards!"

"Don't you dare talk to me of standards, buddy" Soarin' hissed back, adding an icy venom to the final word. Rapidfire's frown turned into a look of true anger, and the tall stallion shoved his way past the shocked Rainbow Dash, who was still in shock at the presence of two Wonderbolts in her house.

"You don't have any respect for anypony do you? You take everything you have for granted. When was the last time you thanked Spitfire for paying for the team's night outs? When was the last time you showed any appreciation after Tempest showed you a new move? Or when me and Fleetfoot got you that new pair of flight goggles for you birthday? You show nothing!"

Soarin' flared his wings up defiantly and marched to his fellow Bolt, Rainbow scuttling clear of the two angry stallions. But Rapidfire wasn't finished yet:

"I don't know what Spitfire sees in you sometimes, I can be a complete plothole! You've always been a plothole! Arrogant, self- centred, lazy, cocky, ignorant little foal! I bet you don't even know that Spitfire's there sometimes. What she does for you, what she feels about you. I bet you don't even love her!"

Rapidfire was silenced when a pair of strong forehooves smashed into his muzzle as Soarin' lunged at him. The pair of stallions hurled out of Rainbow's doorway and onto the cool cloud outside. Rapidfire growled and bucked Soarin' off him, sending the blue pony rolling onto the cloud. The golden maned pegasus leapt onto his friend and tried to pin down his hooves, unfortunately too late. Soarin' headbutted him off, switching positions by hauling himself onto Rapidfire.

"You bucking mule! How can you say that? You motherb-"

A grey hoof slammed into Soarin's head just above his eye. The blue Wonderbolt returned the strike with a kick to Rapidfire's stomach. From inside the cloudhome, the multicoloured form of Rainbow Dash looked on in shock, hooves to her mouth and eyes pushing on the edge of tears.

"Stop it! Just break it up, dammit! Stop!" she shrieked pointlessly.

The pair of pegasi continued to batter each other, Soarin' blocking his friend's kick with his expansive wings before his own punch was halted by Rapidfire's foreleg. The blows continued to rain down on both stallions, but the fight finally came to a close when Rapidfire raised his two rear hooves high before bucking Soarin's face with the force of an avalanche. The blue pony flew backwards, almost falling completely off the cloud.

With a heavy sigh, Rapidfire relented. He turned to the distraught Rainbow Dash.

"Not a word of this to anypony, you understand?"

A frantic nod was received before the cyan filly shut her door hard.

Limping slowly towards his beaten friend, the grey coated stallion felt a pang of self hate upon looking at what he had done. His best friend lay eagle spread on the edge of the cloud, his fur covered in bruises and bloody scrapes. A quick look at his own body showed Rapidfire a similar sight.

"Dammit Soar, dammit!" he croaked, the anger with himself eclipsing that he felt for his friend. As the standing Wonderbolt edged forwards, he heard something which surprised him hugely.

Sobs. Soarin' was crying.

"Goddess dammit...I'm sorry R- Rapid I- I'm so sorry..."

"Hey, hey come here" Rapidfire replied, suddenly overcome by a wave of remorse and sympathy. This was the first time he'd ever seen Soarin' cry, and he knew it wasn't from the buck. His friend may have finally realised just how much he had screwed up in the past. But despite everything, he was still his friend.

And friends stick by each other, no matter what.

The wounded grey pegasus knelt down with a wince. It was less than a second before Soarin' hugged him, burying his face into Rapidfire's bloodied coat. With an understanding sigh, the gold maned pony wrapped a foreleg and a wing around his foalhood friend. They had been through thick and thin together, for over fifteen years.

"I'm sorry too. I, I shouldn't of said those things..."

"No, n- no, you've made me see...I- I'm such an idiot...I'm sorry for everything" Soarin' broke as a fresh tide of tears overcame him. He had been so wrong, so blind. How could Spitfire forgive him? In a single night, Soarin' felt as if his whole world just came crashing down.

Rapidfire silently cursed himself as he felt his own eyes begin to water.

"C'mon buddy...time to go home..."

Chapter 6: Responsibility

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Chapter 6: Responsibility

"Stay by my side..."

The constant beep beep beep of the heart monitor droned on eerily, making Spitfire's already tense mood boil over to near and utter ruin. Her bright yellow coat was covered with sweat, clinging to the fur like a second skin. She rubbed her hooves together nervously, watching with red rimmed eyes through the glass of the double doors that stood guarding the entrance to the hospital ward where her friend and captain lay unconscious and broken.

How had everything collapsed so quickly?

Tempest Wind was lying still on a hospital bed, half covered in bandages. The white linen was stained ruddy brown, showing just how injured the aerobat was. Around him, two mares and a unicorn doctor darted around feverishly, taking readings and scribbling notes on curling, well used notepads. One of the nurses whispered something to the other, drawing the attention of the unicorn. Spitfire wondered what they had said, but everything that was spoken beyond the thick double doors to the ward came out as muffled murmurs. Spitfire almost didn't want to know what they had said. Another nurse rushed into the room, not giving a second glance to the yellow pegasus. In her mouth she carried a small clear folder filled with what looked like x-ray scans.

Spitfire turned her burned amber gaze downwards to the plain floor at her hooves. She was sitting on an uncomfortable chair in the middle of the central thoroughfare that ran through the Cloudsdale White Wings Hospital. It hadn't been more than two hours since Tempest had crashed into the stands of the Cloudesium, but to Spitfire it had felt like days. The doctors and medical ponies had done an exemplary job in treating the Wonderbolt Captain, but to the fire maned mare, it wasn't good enough. Until her captain was back flying in the skies again, nothing would be considered good enough.

Sky Captain Silverfall had been gracious in escorting the yellow pegasus to the hospital, and he had stated several firm and confident words on making sure Hurricane and Storm Rider would be punished if sufficient evidence was found for her accusations. She couldn't care less. Not when her captain lay crippled, her cousin had mysteriously disappeared, and her coltfriend had stormed off into the blue filled with rage. Coming face to face with a high school bully and highly unstable ex-coltfriend and would-be rapist had finally tipped things over the edge.

"Where did it all go wrong...?" she whispered out loud. Absently, she traced a hoof over her lower body and sighed. Oh yes, and on top of everything else, she was pregnant. What did I do to deserve this? For what seemed like the hundredth time that day, Spitfire began to cry.

The Tower of the Iron Cloud acted as the centre of all Sky Warden activity in the heartlands of Equestria. Perched atop one of the highest cloudbanks of the floating city, the Tower loomed above the many cloud-built streets and houses, casting an imposing yet comforting shadow in the fading moonlight. Made entirely out of skystone and stormsteel, the floating fortress was an intimidating structure, made up of many carved columns and separate turrets that grouped together to form firm tower clusters surrounding a central conical castle. Over a dozen arched windows glowed brightly in the darkness, one of which was obstructed as an extremely angry white stallion looked out at Cloudsdale below him.

"How dare she. The mule! I mean, how can she do this to me?" Hurricane thundered. Storm Rider, keeping a safe distance on the other side of the room, rolled his eyes. The rather pissed pegasus had been venting for most of the night, and seemed to be showing no signs of stopping. The dark navy blue stallion silently lay on his back upon a plain couch pressed up in the corner of the room.

After Silverfall had ordered them back to the Tower, Hurricane and himself had been directed to wait in a spacious room normally used to hold the families of witnesses or convicts. Storm Rider had never felt so helpless.

"Who is she to bring me down? I am a Sky Warden! She is nothing but a stupid, slutty little filly with an overpaid job with a group of coltcudd-"

"Dude, just shut up!"

Hurricane's glare was so sharp it could melt iron. He paused mid-monologue, turning his royal blue eyes to meet those of Storm Rider's own light azure. But the younger pony wasn't phased.

"You've dragged this grudge around with us for over three years, and I want to move on! I don't actually care about what happens to you, and I don't want to hear your boring little opinions!"

Hurricane turned round slowly, walking towards his colleague with deliberate lack of speed. He flared his expansive wings in an attempt to intimidate Storm. But the smaller pegasus stood up from the couch and unfurled his own pair of impressive feathered limbs.

"Okay, we didn't get into the Wonderbolts. Okay, Spitfire left you for Soarin'. But can you blame her? I mean, I was too scared to say back then, but when you told us of your 'plan' to threaten her like that, I felt sick! Before you came to the Flight Academy, I was friends with Soarin' and Spitty-" he stopped when he let Spitfire's nickname slip out. Only Soarin' called her that...

Hurricane marched into Storm Rider's face, snorting angrily. The dark blue pegasus expected some sort of strike against his head - it wouldn't of been the first time. But no such blow came. Hurricane huffed angrily and turned away. What he said next took Storm Rider off guard.

"You liked her, didn't you?"

"W-What do you mean? I was friends with her, yeah, but I don't get what-"

"Yes you do. You wanted her. I saw you hesitate at the race track that day at the Academy when she came to the stands. I saw how you smiled at her. But she never saw you. It was Soarin' she was smiling at."

The words stung.

"And what if I was? You were thinking the same thing."

"Oh but that is where you're wrong. I never wanted to 'love' her or 'care' for her. I just wanted a good buck. But seems you and that plothead Soarin' wanted all that silly stuff. Seems you lost out."

"W-Who said that I wanted all that? Sp-Spitfire was pretty, yeah...but I never..."

Storm Rider stopped himself. He knew he was fighting a losing battle.

"You're as transparent as this window. She would never have taken you, not when the great, athletic, wonderful Soarin' was around."

"Soarin' was my friend..."

"Of course he was" chuckled the white stallion cruelly.

Storm Rider sat back down flatly. He had never told anyone of his secret feelings for Spitfire. We never told anypony, but somepony did guess once, during a particularly hot summer...


"He was my friend..."

"Ha! Yeah, keep telling yourself that"

Storm Rider suddenly felt very small, like when he was a little colt growing up in the suburbs of Cloudsdale. He was never a confident foal, always left out of friendship groups, always the one ponies talked about behind his back, the last to be picked for the hoofball teams. Until one cloudy morning on his first day at the Junior Speedsters Flight Camp, two ponies reached out to him with smiles. They offered a pair of friends, two ponies to play, laugh, and cry with.

Soarin' and Spitfire.

But times change. As the pale blue colt grew closer to the bright yellow filly, they pushed the dark blue colt away. As the trio grew up, Rapidfire and the small mare Fleetfoot joined them. Rapidfire, being blood to Spitfire, was welcomed with open hooves when he moved to Cloudsdale from Las Pegasus, and Fleetfoot just seemed to 'click' in a way that Storm Rider never did. As the group of friends moved on to the Flight Academy, Storm Rider had almost drifted away completely from his only friends.

After the navy blue stallion had realised his feelings for Spitfire, Storm had confided in his closest male friend: Soarin'. But after Soarin' continued to draw closer, Storm Rider had completely detached himself. A week later, Hurricane had arrived.

How things change... he thought forlornly.

"So what happened after I left?" Soarin' asked, guilt dripping in his voice as he and Rapidfire graced the night sky back towards the floating city of Cloudsdale. The light grey pony sighed heavily before answering.

"Me and Fleetfoot stopped by your apartment to wait for you two to come back from the Cloudesium, but only Spitfire came back. She told us what happened, and I'll be honest buddy, I wanted to kick you in the head right there. The way Spitfire described it, it looked as if you just abandoned her. It wasn't a good decision, Soar."

Soarin' nodded solemnly.

"I'm sorry"

"Don't apologise to me, apologise to Spitfire. She needs you more than ever right now"

The blue pony's emerald gaze shot up. "She told you?"

"Damn right she did. Congratulations"

An awkward silence descended upon the pair of pegasi as they veered towards Cloudsdale. The night wind bore them lightly towards their beloved cloud-city, and soon the sky unfolded to reveal the shining towers of the pegasi capital of Equestria. Soarin' had never seen a more welcome sight in all his life.

Almost automatically, the pair made for Soarin' and Spitfire's apartment. As the two stallions fluttered down outside the lavish glass door, Soarin' could tell that the place was unoccupied. The curtains in front of the great glass wall that led to the balcony were drawn, the open fire was cold, and none of the upstairs lights were on. It was possible that Spitfire was somewhere in their home, sleeping a tear induced slumber, waiting for her coltfriend to return. But a gut feeling in Soarin' told him otherwise.

"Talk to her, and let her back in, Soar. She doesn't deserve this" said Rapidfire, wincing as he flexed his right wing. Soarin' nodded, and wrapped a strong foreleg around his friend's neck. As he pulled away, Rapidfire smirked. "What was that for?"

"For making me see sense" Soarin' grinned back.

The smile was returned, and Rapidfire leapt into the dark sky, leaving the blue Wonderbolt alone at the entrance to his luxury home.

As he stepped into the darkness, Soarin' fumbled clumsily around for the light switch. His hoof came into contact with the familiar button, and he winced away from the bright white light was the kitchen countertops lit up. The sweeping spacious living room was illuminated, revealing a single piece of folded paper lying on the glass coffee table. With a single powerful wingbeat, the blue stallion silently began to read as he picked up the note.

Dear Soarin',

If you get home before I'm back, I'm down at the Cloudesium with Tempest. He wants to show me something new for the flight show next week. I hope you come home in time to read this.



With a quick glance behind him, the Wonderbolt sighed as the time was just coming up to five. It wouldn't be long until sunrise. Dashing out of the door once again, Soarin' set off towards the floating arena.

The stars were bright and burning as the night lazily rolled across the sky. On the far eastern horizon, Soarin' could spy the first faint glows of daybreak emerging. The wind was soft tonight, and the fair silver light of the setting moon fragmented beautifully in the great falls of liquid rainbow. Few others ponies were awake at such a late hour, but Soarin' noted the presence of a lamplighter in the streets below, and a squadron of six Sky Wardens passing over the Storm Factory in the distance. As he flew, the blue stallion found himself letting his mind wander.

Is it still night, or is morning at this time? Is it late or early? When did I last sleep? Sleep. Bed. Bedroom. Come to the bedroom...

He shook his head. When he found Spitfire, he really needed some rest. His heart started hammering as he dove towards the great arena, blue and gold banners dancing in the breeze. With the skill and grace of an expert flyer, Soarin' swooped over the tall cloud-built walls and flew directly into the bottomless Cloudesium. His jaded eyes scanned the expansive stadium, but nopony met his gaze. But one thing did.

Diving like a falcon, the blue Wonderbolt fluttered down beside a set of crushed and ruined seats, clearly it by something big at considerable force. The chairs were bent and broken, and the cloud that they were set upon was twisted and irregular. But when Soarin' caught sight of the great dark brown smudge of blood racing across the skystone beneath the cloud, he began to panic.


He began to feel sweaty. His hooves felt numb, and he launched himself into the air in case his wings sized up fright. The stallion's breath came out in ragged gasps, and the world began to spin slightly. What had happened? Where was she? Where was Tempest? Why weren't they here? Whose blood was that? Everything was sickeningly out of place. Not knowing what else to do, Soarin' attempted to gather his senses. All his brain seemed to scream at him was: 'GET HELP.'

And so Soarin' zoomed off towards the only place he knew could help him:

The Tower of the Iron Cloud.

Silverfall marched into the sparten waiting room where Hurricane and Storm Rider were being kept, still dressed in his full Sky Captain armour. The two stallions turned as he barged into the room, setting his elegantly curved silver helmet down on a bare table that stood to one side of the door. The white plumage that fell across the wooden surface almost matched Silverfall's mane as he shook it from his eyes. He gave the other two officers cold glares with his cobalt blue eyes before clearing his throat.

"I sincerely hope that the two of you understand the seriousness of what these accusations could do to your careers. Luckily for the pair of you, we cannot prove the things that Ms. Spitfire said, otherwise the two of you would be down in the lower cells right now"

Hurricane had a sly smirk decorating his handsome, cruel face. Storm Rider simply sat on the plain couch, eyes downcast. Their captain raised his eyebrows angrily. "Do you understand?" he boomed.

"Yes sir..." Storm muttered.

Hurricane hesitated, relishing in his lack of punishment before repeating the statement. With a firm nod and a heavy sigh, Silverfall picked up his helmet with a foreleg and turned to leave.

"I've got more important things to take care of at the moment. I've got yet another Wonderbolt at the front desk screaming questions. Today really isn't a good day for them"

Both Hurricane and Storm's ears perked up.

"Which Wonderbolt?"

"I dunno, the blue, Soarin', that's it"

Storm Rider stood up from the sofa and pushed himself through the door past his captain.

"What's wrong with him?"

"Oh, I think we'll be in for one he'll of a show" the white stallion chuckled.

The sound of raised voices coming from the main lobby echoed across the corridors. With the speed of a windstorm, Silverfall and Hurricane darted to their sources. The sight that greeted them was one more akin to one usually seen in a bar. Storm Rider had the clueless Wonderbolt pinned up against the cloud-wall next to the front desk, two other Wardens attempting to drag him off.

"You knew! You knew and you took her away from me!"

Soarin' shoved the furious pony off him. "What the buck, dude? What are you talking about? Get away from me!" Storm wrestled free from the grasp of his fellow officers, but did not continue forward with his assault.

"You drove me away from her, then took any chance I had with her"

"With who? I haven't even seen you in three years! Who are you talking about, dude?"

Storm Rider opened his mouth to reply, but a heavy hoof belonging to Captain Silverfall landed on his shoulders, stopping him.

"Go back to your quarters. I'll deal with you there."

With a defiant shrug, the navy blue pegasus gave one final glare to Soarin' before storming away down the corridor. All eyes watched him as he left, Hurricane letting out an amused whistle to break the silence. Silverfall shot him a warning stare before turning to the ponies around him.

"Everyone about your business" he turned to the stunned Soarin', "and my sincerest apologies about my officer. He will be disciplined I assure you. Is there anything I can help you with, sir?"

Soarin' shook his head. "Just tell me what happened at the Cloudesium tonight"

Three minutes later, Soarin' was blasting across the sky towards the White Wings Hospital. Storm clouds rippled from his flanks as he thundered to see his captain. And his love.

The great cloud-built structure rose above the surrounding cloudhomes like a monolithic temple of hope and healing. Emblazoned above the pillared double doors was an illuminated emblem of a winged cross. The sun was beginning to rise higher, and the large clock of Cloudsdale Town Hall chimed six. Soarin' was going so fast he almost smashed straight through the glass doors of the entrance. Only through sheer power and skill did the blue Wonderbolt manage to avoid a rather painful collision.

The glare of the bright lights was an almost painful transition from the dark, comforting night, and Soarin' clumsily stumbled into reception. A light pink mare caught him, her jaw dropping when she realised she was touching the body of her most beloved heartthrob.

"C-Can I help you, s-sir?"

"Take me to where Tempest Wind is"

The nurse muttered something as she directed him to the designated ward.

Spitfire sniffed and wiped her nose again. Tempest was awake now, but could barely speak, and the yellow mare found herself wishing that he would simply sleep. At least that way, there would be a proper reason for him to not speak. He seemed so helpless, so hollow, it was painful.

"I'm so sorry Tempest. I, I should have done something quicker. Please don't leave us. The team needs you, now more than ever"

"No Sp-Spitfire, it's you. They need y- you to lead them now. You're ready."

"No! No, I can't. This is your team, the team you've lead for years. You can't give in now."

Tempest smiled. "Look at me Spitfire. I'm old enough to be your father, I'm in no shape to fly, I've run my course. Only Celestia rules forever, and don't know about you, but I don't look like much of a Princess. I chose you to lead the Wonderbolts because I saw in you the necessary skill, determination and commitment to bring them together like never before."

"But I'm pregnant! How can I lead a team when I'm gonna be a mother?"

Tempest fell silent again. He had no idea of how to answer that question. Spitfire was indeed in a difficult, cruel place in her life. He knew she felt alone, angry, and terribly sad now she thought her rock had abandoned her. Soarin' would come round, Tempest knew, but he wasn't sure if Spitfire did. It was a difficult position to be in.

But a large bang from the ward's entrance heralded a new sense of hope in the old flyer. The double doors swung open, open to reveal a tired, heavy breathing pale blue pegasus stallion with bright emerald eyes. Spitfire stood up from his bedside and stared at the sight before her.

"Tempest..." Soarin' began.

"Don't worry about me boy, I'll be okay. But you have got a lot of talking to do with your marefriend here. The flame haired pony looked at her captain, who simply nudged his head towards the blue stallion. Gingerly, she walked outside into the corridor. Soarin' closed the door behind her. And there the two of the them stood, facing each other after what seemed like an eternity apart, but both realised it had only been one painful day.

"Spitty-" Soarin' started.

Spitfire slapped him.

And again.

And then threw here foreleg around his neck and embraced him. Soarin' could feel her sobs shaking throughout her body as he returned the hug, tears beginning to form in his own eyes.

"I'm sorry..." he whispered.

"Me too, you big featherbrain"

"What happened? To you and Tempest?"

"I'll tell you later...just...don't ever let me go..."

And there the two ponies stood, for a long time. Tempest let out a sigh of relief and a broad smile. Maybe things were going to be okay after all.