Dawn of a new Day
It was the evening of the third weekend after Rainbow Dash's accident. Twilight was in her living room, which also served as the central room of the library, making some last minute preparations for today's treatment. She had taken the table out of the kitchen and into the living room between the fireplace and the couch. On it were now standing two small bottles of the energy drink that had worked quite well for her during her breaks and for Dash to regain some energy and lose the soreness in her muscles. She opened one bottle and poured the liquid into a glass with a straw in it, standing close to the edge until it was about half full and put the bottle back next to the other.
She went back into the kitchen and began making daisy sandwiches for her and Dash. Once finished with them she trotted over to the freezer and opened the lid. In it were lying several bags of frozen hayfries, all except one unopened. Rainbow wasn't so wrong about needing some change.
She released a sigh. After floating an empty plate over to herself and emptying the open bag over it, she closed the lid and flung the empty back into the trash can.
Back at the kitchen counter she divided the hayfries and four sandwiches evenly among the plates and took both of them with her into the living room. She put the two plates on the ends of the table at her and Dash's respective places. She was just about to go back to the medical book she had left on the couch when she heard the knock on the door. Opening it with her magic from where she was standing she saw the blue pegasus standing in the doorway, smiling uneasily at her.
"Hi, Twilight," Rainbow Dash said. "Can I come in?"
"Of course you can," Twilight chuckled. "This is a public library."
"But the sign said 'closed'," Dash replied entering and closing the door.
"Don't be silly." Twilight walked around the couch and towards the pegasus. "I told you that you can come by anytime you want."
"Yeah, sorry for not taking you up on that offer," Dash said scratching her head. "I'd have loved to spend some more time with you, but … you don't know what it's like to live with Pinkie."
That seemed like a bad excuse to Twilight. If Dash would have loved to spend time with her, then why didn't she? Was Rainbow Dash avoiding her? No,
she thought, let's not jump to conclusions.
But, still, something about Dash's behavior did not seem right to her. Twilight decided to drop it for now, trying her hardest to hide her disappointment. "It's okay, Rainbow. I guess she keeps you pretty occupied, huh?"
"You can say that. She's just everywhere at once. I mean, she's a really great friend and fun to hang out with, but … that pony has more energy than a pegasus on steroids. At first it was fun. We pulled a lot more pranks than before. She even showed me how to bake cupcakes, or tried to at least. And she loves to talk and talk and talk." Dash sighed. "She's just so … Pinkie Pie."
Twilight chuckled softly. "Well, for once you aren't here early, so we probably should get started."
Dash nodded. "Okay."
"I'll need to remove the bandages first." She began to remove the clips and unwrap the bandages and after a few moments, in which she had noticed Dash avoiding eye contact, she saw the new, bare wing again. On the outside it had barely changed apart from being slightly thicker than last week. "Were there any problems with it?"
Dash had turned her head and was now looking at Twilight examining her new limb. "No. Not really. But it was almost impossible to get Pinkie to put the bandages back on slowly and carefully."
Twilight laughed at that. "Yes, I expected as much. I also bet it took a lot longer, with her being an earth pony."
"Hehe. Yeah it did. Can you imagine Pinkie Pie with magic?"
"I don't want to," Twilight said and slowly shook her head, her wide eyes filled with dread. After a moment she blinked and shook her head. "Anyway, could you sleep on this side?"
"Yeah. It wasn't so bad, actually. It felt weird at first, but, well I guess I'm getting used to feeling weird." Dash gave her a nervous laugh and Twilight saw her inexplicably blush and look away.What was that about?
Trying to ignore that action, she continued her questioning. "Did it hurt again at some point?"
Twilight narrowed her eyes at her friend. "Did you try to move it?"
"No … maybe … just a little." Twilight rolled her eyes. "Sorry," Dash said with a sheepish smile.
"It's okay," the unicorn said with a small grin. "I didn't really expect you not to try. When was that?"
"Only once two days ago." A small pause. "And yesterday … twice."
Twilight was now giggling quietly and sighing after a moment. She saw Dash relax and smile calmly. "And it didn't hurt?"
"No. Is that good?"
"Yes it is," Twilight answered and stepped closer to the object in question, examining it closer. "That means it's going better than I expected." She lifted a hoof to touch the limb, but stopped closely in front of it. She turned her head towards Dash's. "May I?"
Dash gulped quickly and nodded. "Sure. Why not? I mean you made it, right? Hehe."
"Rainbow, is something wrong?" Twilight asked with lowered eyebrows towards the pegasus.
"Hm? No." Dash closed her eyes and slowly shook her head before facing Twilight again. "No. I - I guess I'm just worried about my wing, that's all."
That sounded like a legitimate reason to her, yet something still did not seem right to Twilight. But Rainbow Dash would not lie to her, would she? And she needed to focus on the treatment, anyway. "I promise, I'll be doing the best I can."
Dash sighed. "I know, Twi. And I wouldn't want anyone else to do it."
Twilight felt her heart pumping faster again like the numerous other times she had been talking with Dash. Damn it,
she thought. Just when I thought I had it under control. But no, you just had to say something like that again, didn't you? With that adorable smile and those beautiful, mesmerizing eyes of yours. Why do you keep doing this? How can you not see that you're tearing me apart? Okay, Twilight. Focus. It's not her fault. Just keep calm and you can get through this without another breakdown.
She noticed the pegasus looking at her with slight worry. She had probably been staring at Dash for a while without saying anything. Just when she saw Dash's mouth open, she cut her off. "Thanks, Rainbow. That means a lot to me." More than you'd ever think.
Twilight felt the tears coming again and she quickly blinked them away and returned her attention to the incomplete wing. "Anyway, let's get on with it." She once more lifted her hoof towards it and gently pressed against it, testing its firmness. "Do you think you can unfold it for me?" she asked without turning her head.
The limb slowly unfolded and now nearly horizontally hovered in the air in front of her. She carefully traced its length with her eyes, looking for any abnormalities. When she arrived at the tip she heard Dash's voice again.
"So?" she asked. "How does it look?"
"It looks beautiful - great! I mean great." Keep it together!
"Awesome." Dash folded the unfinished wing back to her side. "Today I get the feathers, right?"
"Right." Twilight gave her a quick smile and motioned for Dash to follow her to the table. Next to the table was the familiar blackboard. The previous drawings had been erased and it was now showing three detailed schematics of different pegasus feathers and the tissue surrounding its base and attaching the quills to the respective wing bones. "Today I'll be shaping your feathers. All the primaries, secondaries and tertials." She released a small groan. "Every single one of them."
"Uhm, sorry for having so many feathers?" Twilight gave her a small, amused smile. "I bet that's gonna take a long time?" Dash asked.
"Yes. I don't know how long exactly. Once I've done a couple of them I might get an idea, but it's probably going to take longer than last time. Again you'll be able to sleep during the procedure. Or maybe you want to read a book for a change? I could recommend you some."
"I don't know," Dash responded scratching the back of her head. "I'm not that big of a reader. But I'm not really that tired either."
"Well I'm sure we also have some magazines here. Or comic books," she suggested with a smirk and then gasped quietly. "Or a coloring book! Awww, that would be so adorable!" she squeaked and held a hoof to her mouth to suppress her imminent laughter. "I could get you some crayons," she finished in a high tone and her eyes were filling with tears before she broke into uncontrolled giggling and fell onto her haunches.
As the laughter was dying down Rainbow Dash was still shooting the unicorn a heated glare. "Hardy har har. Look who had a clown for breakfast. Just give me one of those comic books," she said and waved a hoof at a far bookshelf.
Twilight was wiping her eyes dry and looked around the library without standing up, her midriff still giving her small, random spasms. Eventually she found the right section and floated several books over to Dash, displaying the covers to her. "Pick whichever one you like." Dash began to read the titles of the various comic books. "But I think this one might spark your interest," Twilight said and one book moved slightly forward in the air.
Dash turned her head towards it and Twilight could see her jaw fall and her rose colored eyes widen. "You have first edition Batmares?" she exclaimed, apparently already having forgotten about Twilight's mocking earlier. The pegasus grabbed the book out of the air with her forehooves, ignoring all the others, and sat down as well. The rest of the books drifted back to the shelf they had come from. "I should totally come here more often." Dash was already lying on the floor, browsing the comic when Twilight turned her attention back to her.
"Hmm, if only somepony had told you that before." She tapped her chin in a fake thoughtful gesture before she looked back at Dash and noticed that the pegasus was still fascinated by her comic book. "Hey," she said. "Rainbow!" she nearly shouted, clapping her hooves together. Dash looked up from her book with an irritated expression. "Not yet," Twilight reminded her. "Don't forget why you're here."
"Aww, what else can there be?"
"Well you might have some questions before we start, for example."
"Hm, yeah I had one earlier. But I think I forgot it …" Dash looked away and frowned. "Oh, right," she exclaimed and her expression lightened up as she sat up on her haunches again. "Where's Spike? Shouldn't he be back from Canterlot by now?"
"Oh, Spike's upstairs. I asked him not to disturb us tonight. He's probably sleeping now, anyway. He looked a bit tired earlier."
"Okay. And is that our dinner tonight?" The pegasus motioned with her head towards one of the plates on the table.
"Yes. The sandwiches and hayfries last time weren't so bad, so I thought you might like them again."
"I don't have a problem with that. But the hayfries look still frozen."
"Oh, we can let them thaw in the next couple of hours. And if they don't I can use my expertly trained talents in heating them up again."
"Okay," Dash chuckled. "And what's that?" She pointed at a small bound book lying on the table.
Twilight turned her head towards the table and looked at the book. "Oh, that? Just a journal of this treatment and your progress."
Dash blinked and gave her a very confused look. "You're keeping a journal about me?"
"Only about your injury and how your wing develops. And I don't mention your name in it."
"Why?" Dash asked.
"Well, as far as I know this is the first case of somepony regaining something as big and complex as a whole wing through Tramping's Method. Nurse Redheart asked me to record our progress to possibly help doctors in the future."
"But I thought no doctor was as strong as you."
Twilight shrugged. "You never know. Somepony might one day find a way for more than one unicorn to work on the spell. Besides I don't really mind keeping a record of your progress." Twilight chuckled shortly. "Kinda makes me feel like a real doctor."
Dash raised an eyebrow. "Did you want to be a doctor at some point?"
"Oh, well, no. Not really. I bet doctors just see the most horrific injuries from time to time. That's no job for a pony like me. But we're trailing off again."
"Hm. I think those were all of my questions. I wouldn't mind starting now."
"Okay, if you want to. Oh, before I forget …" Twilight floated the glass she had filled with the energy drink towards the head of the couch. "You might want to start drinking it now. It should also keep you from becoming sore again in the first place. Just say something if you want it refilled."
"Alright. Is there any way I can help this time? I should probably try not to move again."
"That would help." Twilight nodded. "But other than that, not really. You should feel a sort of tickling sensation when I'm reshaping a feather, so if you want to say something or have a question, then please wait until I'm done with one feather or when I'm taking a break."
"I can do that." Dash took the book lying in front of her with her mouth and climbed onto the couch. Once on it she put the comic down next to the glass before stretching herself and lying down. She took a sip through the straw in the glass, opened the book and went on to support her head with her hooves. Twilight felt that she could have just sat there for the next couple of hours, watching the happily smiling pegasus on her couch in that adorable position. "Are you gonna start now?" Dash asked without looking up from her comic.
"Oh, yeah." Twilight shook her head and moved towards the pillow she had placed in front of the couch. "I'll need you to spread your wing, please. You can just leave it hanging off the side, if that's okay." The pegasus did so without another response and Twilight lay down in front of her and placed her head on the pillow. After a look towards the clock on the far wall and another smile at Dash she closed her eyes and her horn began to glow as she started the procedure.
Twilight opened her eyes and let go of the last magic for the spell until her horn stopped glowing. She sat up and looked at the clock again. It had been roughly an hour and a half since she had started, however she had begun the treatment by regrowing Dash's primaries - the largest and therefore most complex feathers on her wing. She looked at the wing and examined her work so far. Not half bad,
she thought and gave herself a mental pat on the shoulder. The fact that each of them could be individually rotated had not helped matters either. But now that they were done, she decided it to be time for a short break.
She sat up and looked at Dash. Her friend still had her head in her hooves and was still engulfed by her comic. The glass next to her head, however, was empty and she looked a bit tired. "Rainbow?" she asked and Dash turned her head towards her, eyes half closed.
The pegasus blinked and opened her eyes fully. "Hm?"
"I'm taking a break. Do you want me to refill your glass?"
Dash looked at her glass and back to Twilight. "Oh, yeah. Thanks," she said with a smile.
Twilight returned the smile and unscrewed the before opened bottle on the table before floating it over to the glass and emptying it. She brought the bottle back to the table and put the cap back on. Then she realized that she had forgotten a glass for herself. "I'm just gonna go to the kitchen real quick. I'll be right back."
Dash only gave a nod and a "mhm" as an answer.Absolutely adorable,
Twilight thought and made her way into the kitchen, swishing her tail more than usually as she did so. She took a glass and another straw out of one of the cupboards and returned to the table in the living room. Passing Dash she saw the pegasus keeping her eyes shut forcefully and she could have sworn to have seen a blush on the light blue face. Probably a saucy passage in her comic,
she mused with a slight smirk. She poured herself some of the tasty, yellow liquid and drank a good swag of it right away before putting it down beside the pillow. She walked back towards the blackboard and studied the feather anatomies again.
Next would be the secondaries, illustrated in the center drawing. They were shorter and thicker, and also more numerous and closer together as they would provide the main thrust for a pegasus. She had gotten considerably quicker towards the end while shaping the primaries, so she assumed that these would only take about two hours and the few tertials after that another hour at most.
She turned around to Dash again. "Rainbow?" The mare looked up with a questioning expression. "Do you mind if I light the fireplace? It's getting a bit cold in here."
Dash shook her head. "Nope," she said and returned her attention to her book. "Besides, pegasi don't really get cold."
Dash faced her again with a raised eyebrow. "Yeah. You didn't know that?"
"No, I've never read it anywhere."
Dash groaned and rolled her eyes. "Never read
it anywhere ..." she repeated and started slurping on her drink.
Twilight was somewhat confused at that. Where else would a pony get reliable information? Dash continued with the comic while she turned around and ignited the already prepared wood in the fireplace. Soon the calming sound of crackling timber was filling the living room and the flickering, orange light casting soft, dancing shadows on the table, the floor, the couch and both ponies. Twilight took a deep breath and slowly released it before floating her drink over, taking a bigger sip and returned with it to the pillow on the floor. Lying down and putting the glass next to her, she closed her eyes and resumed the treatment.
The second break came after roughly two hours, just as Twilight had predicted. But unlike the first it went by without both ponies exchanging any words. Instead the unicorn just sat in front of the fireplace, occasionally sipping her drink and watching the hypnotizing flames in an attempt to get her mind off everything – mostly the treatment, and Rainbow Dash herself – while Dash was resting her head on her legs crossed in front of her, still reading her comic, however through half-closed eyes as one or the other weak yawn escaped her.
Finally the last one of Dash's feathers was restored. Twilight shut down the flow of magic through her horn and kept lying on the floor with her head on the soft pillow for a few moments longer before she opened her eyes. Mentally worn out and having felt everything through her magic for the past few hours rather than seen with her eyes, it took her a good half minute before consciously recognizing the objects in her field of view. She saw the couch in front of her, higher than she had remembered, with a beautiful, sky blue pegasus wing hanging off the side of it. She followed the wing back to its owner, over the likewise colored body and found the pony's head with the most colorful mane attached to it.
Twilight squeezed her eyes shut and rubbed them with her hooves. She remembered the glass she had put down next to her and turned her and sucked the rest of the liquid through the straw. She lay her head back down on the pillow and took a couple of deep, long breaths. Eventually she felt ready to stand up. She took the empty glass by the rim in her mouth and put it on the edge of the table before yawning and turning around to the pegasus on her couch.
Rainbow Dash had not moved since she had finished the last feather and Twilight now saw that she had turned her head on the side and appeared to be sleeping. The comic book in front of her was still open on one of its last pages and yellow fluid was filling the glass next to her head up to a quarter of its height. Twilight walked around the head of the sofa and sat down in front of Dash. Her mouth was slightly open and her chest heaved gently up and down in a slow rhythm. It was one of the most peaceful sights Twilight had seen and she felt her mouth unconsciously form a small smile.
Twilight would have taken any excuse to simply sit there and watch Rainbow Dash sleep on her couch. But that was something she did not want to indulge in, if only because her fantasies would have come back to haunt her later.
She heard the clock on the wall announce the time. 9pm. Rainbow Dash had been there for about five hours and it was already well past Twilight's normal dinner time. She did not know when the pegasus usually took her meals. Probably whenever she wants.
However now it was time to wake her up. Twilight lifted glass off the couch and put it on the table next to Dash's plate and she let the comic book float back to its shelf. "Rainbow," she said softly. No response. "Hey, Rainbow," she said a tad louder. Dash's tail twitched and the pegasus closed her mouth, but kept her eyes closed. Twilight used her hoof to bump Dash on the nose. "Wake up."
Dash stirred slightly and let out a long yawn. "What is it?" she asked in an almost annoyed tone.
"Guess who's got her wing back," Twilight cheered, knowing that that would get Dash awake in no time. And she was not disappointed. Dash's eyes shot open and her body darted up, causing her to tumble slightly from the fast ascend and Twilight to giggle at her predictability.
Dash jumped off the couch and sat down on her haunches, regarding her new, outspread wing with the most joyful expression Twilight had seen in a long time. "Oh, I've missed you so, buddy," Dash said nearly teary-eyed and gave the limb a kiss. If it were physically possible, Twilight was sure that the pegasus would have hugged her own wing. After a long moment of smiling at her regenerated body part Dash faced her again. "Thank you, Twilight. Thank you so much. Oh, I could kiss you right now!"
The unicorn's expression fell and her eyes became wide, as well as Dash's own at the realization of what she had just said. Twilight felt the tears coming once more and she forcefully shut her eyes and turned her head to the side, not noticing Dash also turning away and blushing furiously.Again,
Twilight thought. You did it again, Rainbow. Every. Damn. Time. Ugh, why do I keep fighting it? I already know it's a lost cause.
She took a deep, ragged breath. But I can't put that burden on you, can I? I can't show you what you're doing to me as it's only my fault and mine alone. I have only myself to blame. You're just being you, everything I love about you, reminding me of what I can't have.I should just end it, leave, go far away and try to forget you. But you're the one pony who would come after me, wouldn't you? No matter how far, because that's you. The Element of Loyalty. Rainbow Dash doesn't have to think about things. Rainbow Dash just gets them done in ten seconds flat and deals with problems only when she can't avoid them anymore. I doubt you'd even understand what you're making me go through.
Another breath. And I'm not going to let you know. No. I can't let this break you, too. I'll keep my façade up for your sake.
Twilight released a deep sigh. It's not like I've ever done it for myself, anyway.
She faced Dash again and saw the pegasus with a lowered head, giving her a worried and nervous look, while rubbing a hoof against the other, standing foreleg. "Sorry," Dash said hesitantly.
Twilight did not bother putting on a smile this time. "No," she said in a tired voice, "it's fine, really."
"But you don't look so 'fine'."
"Prolonged use of magic does the weirdest things to you," Twilight responded in a tone that allowed no further argument. She held a hoof up to her forehead, closed her eyes, took a long, deep breath and released it slowly. She lifted her head to face the pegasus again, this time with at least a small smile. "Now, I'll need to look at your wing. Maybe I missed something or made a wrong feather somewhere."
Dash gave a still doubting look, but did not seem to want to bring the situation from before up again. "Shouldn't that be impossible?" she asked. "From what I understood - and I can be completely wrong here - you said that you'd just be guiding the process and use my memories for how it should turn out."
"That's largely correct, yes." Twilight nodded, slightly surprised. "However, your memories don't contain every last detail of your feather anatomy. You seem to remember where the quills in your wing were, which was a really big help, and also how long and wide they were. But other than that they're mostly about how they feel in the air when the wind brushes through them. With your muscles and bones it was different. Your mind knew how everything was supposed to work, how it should feel, which muscle needed to be where and in what shape. But I bet you never really paid attention to every last one of your feathers, did you?" Dash shook her head. "See? Now, stop arguing. It's magic, I ain't gotta explain jack." This got a short laugh from both ponies and Dash now visibly relaxed as she sat down and let her wing stand in the air next to her.
Twilight walked over to her and inspected the limb and feathers from the front with Dash nervously watching her, then went around the wing and repeated the procedure from the backside. When she was done she let out a sigh and started walking back around Dash to face the pegasus. "Okay, Rainbow. I have some good news and some minor bad news. Which would you like first?"
Dash looked uncertain. "Uh, the good news?"
"Alright," Twilight said with a smile. "I didn't miss any feathers, all the bones and muscles have the right shape as far as I can tell and you seem to be able to move it quite well already."
"Alright. And the bad news?"
Another short sigh escaped Twilight and she regarded the pegasus with a sad expression. "The bad news is … well, you remember the fourth session you saw on the blackboard? We're going to need that, because-" Twilight made a small pause before continuing, "-because you'll have to stay on the ground for at least another week."
"What?" Dash exclaimed standing up. "But you said you were finished."
"No, I didn't say that. Everything has the right shape, yes, but your bones are still somewhat weak, the muscles need to be stronger and some of the nerve ends haven't connected yet. Your body will do all of that on its own and Tramping's Method can't help there. My interference in that process could eventually do more harm than good at this point." She gave Dash a pleading look. "Please, Rainbow, trust me with this. You can't fly yet."
Dash looked defeated. "Another week," she groaned.
"I'm really sorry," Twilight said and put a comforting hoof on her friend's shoulder. "There's one other thing." She lowered her hoof and Dash looked up at her, the rose colored eyes staring directly into hers, making Twilight lose control of her heartbeat, however not of her voice. "You'll have to train your muscles in your wing, flex it every now and then. That's why we can't put bandages around it again to keep you from the temptation."
"Twilight, you know how I get sometimes. Honestly, I don't think I could do it."
Twilight sighed. "You have to. If you do try and fly off, you could seriously break something. Please, promise me you won't try to lift off."
Now it was the pegasus' turn to sigh. She looked at her wing and gave it a slow flap before looking at Twilight again. "Okay. I promise I'll do my best … for you." She drew Twilight into a hug before the purple mare could react. "Thank you," she said quietly.Stop it! Just stop it, Dash,
Twilight thought, however found herself returning the embrace. Oh, just once I want to lift this act. I don't want to play anymore.
"Just promise you'll take it easy, Rainbow." Dash loosened her grip and both ponies were standing on four hooves again. Twilight felt that she had become much closer to Rainbow Dash over the last couple of weeks. She could not remember any occasion where the usually cool-playing pegasus had been so emotional and open with her like on these sessions. Who knows, maybe once all this is over …
Dash cleared her throat and interrupted her introspection. "You said something about dinner earlier?"
"Hm? Oh, yes." Twilight turned her head in the direction of the table. "The hayfries shouldn't be frozen anymore. Oh, I forgot to ask." She looked at Dash again. "You don't look so worn out like last time. I imagine the drink helped?"
The pegasus gave her a bright smile. "Yeah, I guess it did. I mean I'm still tired like after another Running of the Leaves, but at least I'm not sore all over again."
"Great!" Twilight exclaimed and mimicked Dash's expression before looking at the table again and tapped her chin with a hoof. "Hmm, I can't shake the feeling that I forgot something. Oh, right." She hit herself with her hoof on the forehead. "Chairs. Hehe. I can't believe I forgot the chairs." Twilight faced the kitchen with her horn glowing in a purple aura as two chairs came floating through the doorway.
"Are you sure you should be using magic right now?" Dash asked, no doubt referring to Twilight's excuse earlier.
"Oh, don't worry." Twilight waved a hoof dismissively while keeping her eyes on the chairs. "Levitation comes to unicorns just as naturally as flying comes to pegasi." The chairs arrived at their positions at the opposite ends of the table, however the glow around Twilight's horn had not faded. "Now, for the hayfries …" She could see them become darker and shine faintly in the light from the fireplace before she heard the sizzling and a surprising *pop* as one fry from her plate flew into the air and landed between the burning wood. Twilight bit her lip and raised an eyebrow. "Ups."
"Maybe you're the one who should take it easy," Dash laughed and received a smile from the unicorn. "Now, come on. I haven't eaten in hours." Dash walked towards the chair closest to her while Twilight moved along the table and sat down.
It was already dark outside and the only light source in the library were the orange flames in the fireplace, adding soft shadows to their features while indulging Twilight with the sound of burning and crackling wood. It was so very much like the dates Twilight had had with Dash in her mind, all the countless times she had imagined them both together, sharing a romantic dinner. She knew this was not a date; Dash would not even consider it a possibility. For her it was just a meal between friends. But Twilight wanted to know what a date with Dash would be like. She needed to know what it was like to have Dash in her life, to share her secrets with her, to have her love returned. Sometimes it seemed to Twilight that the only times that she could really feel anything, when she did not look at the world through a numbing haze, was when she was with Rainbow Dash.
She knew her dreams were not real and that her fantasies were just that – imaginations of a love-sick filly. But right now she did not care. She did not want to care. She could still pretend, right? Her mind was still her own and she had become very good at pretending. She knew the tears would come later. There was nothing she could do to prevent them anyway. No. Reality could screw itself. This moment right now belonged to her. Now she could let her imagination run free, pretend her fantasies were real, if only for a short time. She was having a date with Rainbow Dash, she told herself. She suppressed and shut off the rational part of her mind, locking it far away. It would come back later, together with the pain, but not for now. She was on a date with the mare she loved. The tingling in her stomach came back, and her mind flooded with joy.
Dash began eating her sandwich immediately. Twilight smiled at that. The pegasus always did that on their dates and she was not about to stop her from doing it. She loved Rainbow too much to try to change her and Rainbow knew it was one of the features she adored in her, which was why she kept doing it. Twilight had told her everything, after all. She had confessed her feelings to her about three weeks ago and the pegasus had been willing to give her a chance. The best decision of her life, she had told her later. Rainbow looked particularly exhausted today. Probably from a long day of practicing her stunts, Twilight thought. Her mane was unkempt, her coat somewhat messy, but it was just how Twilight liked it. Rainbow was still the most beautiful filly she ever saw and her lack of care for her appearance was even more attracting to Twilight.
She realized she had been staring at her partner for a while as Rainbow looked up at her, but she did not seem to mind. Instead Rainbow Dash just gave her a bright smile, a gesture which made Twilight's heart flutter, and resumed munching her sandwich. Twilight looked down at her own food and decided to start with the hayfries. A long day of experiments had strained her magic, so she kept to eating them with her hooves. She was trying to start a conversation with Rainbow, something they had not talked about yet. She wanted to know more about her girlfriend's youth. Her own life seemed so dull compared to what the pegasus had to tell about the adventures she had had with her friends as a filly.
Suddenly she saw a faint blush on Rainbow's face and noticed that she was avoiding eye contact. Dash seemed awfully nervous. She never got nervous on their dates. Did Twilight do something wrong? Did she say something or do something to embarrass her? Did she forget to do something? She would ask her later about it, they were both too tired and exhausted to talk much now, anyway. They simply continued their meal in silence, the only sound coming from the crackling wood in the fireplace. Dash still seemed to refuse to meet her gaze and Twilight did not want to urge her to. She just kept to eating and pondering over what could be wrong with her girlfriend.
Eventually they finished their meal, both mares leaning back in their chairs, holding their stomachs. "Wow, I'm full," Dash said towards the ceiling.
"Yeah," Twilight responded, "me too."
After a while Dash began to stretch her legs outwards to her side and she stood up from her chair. "Well, I guess I'm off then."
Twilight looked at her somewhat sadly. "You're leaving already?" she asked with a hint of disappointment in her voice.
Dash looked a bit irritated. At what, Twilight could not tell. "Uhm, yeah. I'm really tired."
"I understand," Twilight said and stood up as well now. "It was an exhausting day for us both."
"Yeah, I guess it was," Dash said and yawned, beginning to head for the door.
Twilight followed her to the door and opened it for her girlfriend.
"Well, uhm, see you?" Dash said with a smile at Twilight.
The unicorn chuckled to herself. "Yes. See you, Rainbow. And don't forget." She nuzzled the pegasus softly on the neck. You promised to take me flying.
A deep blush appeared on Dash's cheeks and her wings stirred somwhat. "Uhm, yeah," she stammered. "I won't. I promised you, right? I wouldn't break a promise, hehe." She rubbed the back of her head. "So … Bye?"
Twilight giggled quietly. "Bye, Rainbow." The pegasus left the library and Twilight closed the door. She giggled at the thought that she could still cause Dash to become flustered by such simple gestures. She looked at the table they had just left. The dishes could wait for tomorrow. She smiled happily as she trotted up the stairs to her bedroom. They had not talked about anything during dinner, but that was fine. The pegasus' simple company was enough for Twilight. She opened and closed the door carefully to not wake up the softly snoring dragon in the basket at the other end of the room. She yawned and huddled under the blanket of her bed, remembering the nice evening she just had with Dash.
Going over the events of the day she felt something in the back of her mind, a sort of realization she could not fully put her hoof on, like a word sitting on the tip of her tongue, but refusing to come out. The strange feeling became stronger and the memories of her previous dates with Dash faded, eventually disappearing. She panicked, her heart beating faster and faster. It was as if they had never existed. What was happening? Had she been dreaming and was just about to wake up? Then the realization hit her. Oh, no,
she thought. Had she been imagining having a date with Rainbow Dash this evening? Actually being her girlfriend? Had she let her fantasies overtake her brain, turning away from reality? Was she going insane, finally losing her mind over that blue filly?
She remembered how joyful and happy she had felt during the evening. But now she felt nothing but panic, desperation and anger at herself. How could she let this happen? She wanted to be happy with Rainbow, but not like this. She did not want to lie to herself, suppressing a part of her mind doing so. Oh, but the fantasies could feel so good. She desperately wanted them to be real.
Why couldn't they be real? Why could she not have the pegasus in her life, this one pony she wanted to be with so badly that she was now losing her mind over it. The familiar pain was coming back to her and her heart sank as tears began to form in her eyes. She could only hope that she had not said anything stupid to Dash, blowing her chance with her as her mind was slowly falling apart and all she could do was sit by and watch, hoping that the pain would stop. She turned on her side and felt the still slightly wet stains on her pillow from the previous night. This pillow had taken up more of her tears than she had ever thought she could possibly cry out. And it was about to absorb many more.
She buried her face in it and tried to suppress her bawling sounds, but to little avail. At least Spike was a sound sleeper, she thought. She did not have to worry about him waking up and finding her crying her eyes out. After a while she stopped caring about toning down her sobbing and all she could do now was waiting for sleep to take her into another night of torturous dreams.
Rarity was sitting in the back end of her shop, working on her latest dress, when she heard the doorbell ring. A little annoyed at the interruption, but always glad over another customer, she called into the shop in a cheery tone. "I'll be right there." The designer applied the last stitches to the seam, put the cloth down and turned off the sewing-machine. She stood up from her chair and turned towards the doorway to the boutique. "Welcome to Carousel Boutique. How may I -" she started as she was entering the shop, but stopped in her tracks as she saw which pony had just entered her establishment. "Rainbow Dash?"
The pegasus just gave her a shy smile. "Hi, Rarity."
"Well, I must say you are the one pony I expected never to come here on her own. What brings you to my fine establishment?" Rarity gasped and her voice filled with delight. "Have you finally come for a makeover? Oh, I've been waiting to do something with that marvelous mane of yours-"
"No," Dash interrupted her. "That's not why I'm here."
The designer hid her disappointment well. "Why else then? Do tell."
Dash looked around the room and leaned slightly to the side, trying to peek into the area of the shop Rarity had come from. "Is somepony else here?"
"No," the designer responded. "We are alone. Why, what's the matter?"
The pegasus took a deep breath before continuing. "Rarity, I - I need your help."
"My help?" the white unicorn repeated. "With what would you require my help?"
"Well, I need your advice, actually."
"Oh, of course, dear. I could not possibly turn down a friend in need." She walked closer to Dash and offered her a comforting smile.
Dash was staying quiet and looked at the wall next to her with empty eyes. "Well?" Rarity asked. "What is it?"
Dash looked back at her as if just waking up from a daydream. She looked more nervous than before, eyes darting in various directions. "Can you promise that this stays between us?"
"You have my word," Rarity said and laid a comforting hoof on Dash's shoulder.
The pegasus took another long pause, but Rarity did not want to interrupt her this time. Eventually Dash sighed and closed her eyes forcefully. "I think … I think I have a crush on Twilight," she said, keeping her eyes shut.
Rarity's mouth stood open. Had she really just said that? "Could … could you repeat that?" she asked slowly.
"I have a crush on Twilight," Dash said with more force and opened her eyes.
"Why do you think you have a 'crush' on her?" Rarity asked through narrowing eyes.
Dash looked away and frowned, a tint of desperation in her voice. "I can't spend a minute without thinking about her. When I close my eyes, she's there. When I turn around I expect her to stand there. Everything purple reminds me of her. Every time I look at my wings I think of her. Of what she's doing to help me, how much effort she's putting into … making me happy again."
Rarity was surprised to say the least. Her friend was unusually open with her. Her eyes went wide and a wide grin appeared on her face. "Oh, Rainbow Dash, that's simply wonderful," she exclaimed and drew the pegasus into a hug.
"W-Wonderful?" a confused Dash repeated. She squeezed herself out of the embrace. "How is that wonderful? I don't know what to do!"
"Oh, isn't it obvious what you should do?" Rarity's grin had not disappeared.
Dash merely stared at her with uncomprehending eyes.
After a while Rarity put a hoof to her forehead. "Oh, of course." A sigh escaped her. "You don't know," she continued sadly.
"Don't know what?"
Rarity looked at her and turned her head away, biting her lip and groaned audibly. "Oh, that stupid Pinkie Pie promise," she said, frustrated, and stomped the ground with one leg.
"What? What promise?"
Rarity turned her head towards Rainbow Dash, her eyes darting back and forth between Dash's in thought. After a while she gave her a hard stare. "Rainbow Dash, do you think Twilight is beautiful?" she asked, rather blunt for her own tastes.
Dash's mouth stood slightly agape, gulping only a moment later. "Uhm … what? Why are you …"
"Please, just answer the question."
The pegasus narrowed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I - I guess," she said looking off to the side again. "I never thought about her like that."
Rarity was pleased with that answer. Well, that's not a 'no'. So it's not mere physical attraction,
she thought. "What do you feel when you think about her."
Dash looked back at her with a pained expression. "Is this going somewhere?" she asked rather angrily, probably thinking her friend was mocking her.
"Please, Dash," Rarity pleaded. "I need to know if I'm going to help you."
Dash glared at her friend for a moment longer, but eventually sighed and closed her eyes. "When I think about her I feel … happy." A small smile appeared on her lips. "I want to be close to her, see her smile at me, feel her touch." Dash paused for a few seconds before continuing. "When I'm with her I feel safe. I know I can trust her, that she'd never hurt me on purpose. I want her to talk to me more, hug me more; I want her to laugh with me, to trust me, to …" Dash gulped once more and looked up to the unicorn again, "to care for me," she finished in a weak tone.
Rarity had listened to every word. She had small tears in her eyes and wore a wide, satisfied smile. To the designer it sounded like more than just a simple 'crush', but she would not have expected Rainbow Dash to know how to discern between these nuances. She started turning her head left and right, scanning the room for a certain pony.
"What are you doing?" Dash asked her.
"I'm searching for places Pinkie Pie could hide in."
"Uhm, why?" Dash raised her eyebrows.
"Because I'm about to break a Pinkie Pie swear to Twilight."
"What?" Rainbow Dash looked shocked. "You can't break a Pinkie Pie swear!"
"No," Rarity replied with determination. "This is more important than Twilight's trust in me. You have to know this, especially now."
Rarity sighed. "Twilight … has a crush
on you, too, Rainbow Dash. The poor thing has had it for a long while now. She was just too scared to tell you."
Dash stared at her with an open mouth, trying to process that new information. Twilight? A crush on her? How? "But … what?"
"You are all she's been able to think about for weeks."
Dash closed her mouth, but her eyes kept their size. Was Rarity serious? "So … what should I do now?"
Rarity sighed again. "Is it still not obvious?" She looked up at Dash again. "Today you have one of your 'sessions', right?"
Dash gave her a hesitant nod. "The last one," she said.
"Well, then that's your chance." She grabbed Dash by the shoulders and gave her an encouraging smile. "You go there now, say your hellos and the next thing you do is you plant a big, long, sloppy kiss right on that filly's lips."
Dash just continued her baffled stare. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," the fashion designer exclaimed loudly and pushed her friend towards the door by pressing her head against Dash's chest. "If you want something and you know it wants you, what do you do? You take it!" She opened the door with her magic.
"I don't know." Dash said shaking her head and trying to resist Rarity's efforts to push her outside.
"Nonsense." She put a hoof on Dash's shoulder again. "I know you have it in you. Go to her and claim her as yours." She lifted her hoof in front of her and rolled it up, forming a fist if she had had hands. "Do it, filly!" She gave the pegasus a final, magical shove and closed the door behind her.