[Chapter 3, part 1]
[Chapter 3, part 2] - coming
[Epilogue] - coming later
Late morning, two days after the party
Spitfire was lying on the exam table in the office of the Wonderbolts' field doctor while he was busy applying stitches to a rather long cut on her forehead. The pegasus had been performing her morning exercises when she had crashed into a tree on the side of the training field after barely avoiding a collision with Soarin'. Although she was on vacation, she still participated in some of the training exercises after breakfast with the other Wonderbolts to stay in shape. Soarin' was waiting by the door, leaning against the wall to his right with crossed forelegs and watching the process.
"Are you sure you're alright, Spitfire?" he asked.
Spitfire looked up at him and chuckled lightly. "Sure. It's just a cut. I've had worse."
"Yeah, I guess you're lucky that your uniform got most of the damage," he said with a look at the lump of fabric lying on the floor in front of him. What had once been Spitfire's uniform was now a mess of blue cloth with cuts spread across its length. The piece that was supposed to be on the back between the wings of the wearer had been torn off by a thick branch and was probably still hanging in the tree. "But that's not what I meant," Soarin' continued and looked up at his captain again. "You've seemed a bit out of it since yesterday. Is there something on your mind you'd like to tell the rest of us?"
"No," she said, which was not entirely a lie. There was indeed something on her mind, she just did not want to tell anypony about it. She closed her eyes and let out a short sigh before opening them again. "I don't know, maybe I'm just a bit stressed. I guess I really do need this vacation." Her answer did not appear to satisfy Soarin' since she saw that his frown had not disappeared. But he did not seem to want to press the issue and remained silent.
The unicorn doctor had finished with the stitches and looked at her wound one last time. "Alright, that should do it. I don't think it will leave a scar, but you should come see me tomorrow again just to be sure." He put the needle and twine into a drawer to the side of the table and went back around his desk.
"Okay," Spitfire said and got off the table. "Thanks, Doc."
"No need to thank me," the unicorn said smiling at her from behind his desk. "It's my job after all. See you tomorrow."
"Alright," Spitfire said also with a small smile and picked up her flayed uniform. "Bye."
"Bye," Soarin' said and the two Wonderbolts left the doctor's office. "I'm gonna head back to training. See you later," he said to her outside the doctor's office and began walking down the hallway to his right.
"Yeah, I think I'll take a bath or something. Later," she said and made her way in the other direction.
For the past two days Spitfire had found it difficult to concentrate on anything, be it flying, reading or even eating. Her thoughts were always drifting back to the closet in Rainbow Dash's home where she and Twilight had been drunkenly telling each other embarrassing stories about their friends, fellow Wonderbolts and finally about each other. Spitfire had then turned off the light in the closet and they had spent nearly a half hour kissing and fondling each other while occasionally drinking from their bottles of Dash's non-branded booze before being busted by Dash herself. During those times, when she was thinking about the party and Twilight, she was staring absently into the air with an idyllic smile on her lips and the other Wonderbolts were beginning to pick up on it.
Why can't I stop thinking about her? she thought. She had been at countless parties during her career and had spent many of those parties usually with a cute filly or sometimes a handsome colt, flirting, drinking, dancing, making out somewhere private, sometimes even spending the night with them. They had always been fans of her and it had not taken much effort on her part to wrap them around her hoof. Most of them were probably just waiting to brag to their friends about spending a night with the Captain of the Wonderbolts. So what's so special about that unicorn?
Spitfire had arrived in her room. She entered her bathroom and closed the door. Although the Wonderbolts were officially a part of the royal air force and therefore stationed on a military base, the amount of money they were making with their shows allowed them to have more luxury than other high ranking members of the military. Each Wonderbolt had an own room with a private bathroom. They were by far not as expansive or as decorated as the hotel rooms they were living in during their tours through the country, but Spitfire would take them over community showers any time. They had tiles on the floor and walls; entering them there was a sink with a mirror and cupboards above it to the left and to the right were a bathtub about twice as big as the average pony and a separate shower behind it.
Spitfire walked towards the other end of the room, opened the window and let the cool morning breeze flow through her mane and across her body. She went up to the bathtub, turned the faucet to let hot water flow into it and turned around to the sink in order to regard her appearance in the mirror. Standing in front of it she saw that her mane was a mess; small twigs were sticking out of it together with streaks of yellow and fiery orange facing every which way. She stepped closer and began examining the wound on her head. The cut began above her right eye and extended over to the side of her head, stopping about half an inch short of her ear. She spread her wings which, surprisingly, did not feel sore; she could not see any damage or wounds on them either. Turning to regard her sides and legs she did not find any other wounds on her body, but, not unlike her mane, small twigs and leaves were sticking out of her tail. She held up her uniform in front of her and silently thanked whichever engineer had designed them. It was torn apart to a point that repairing it would have cost more than replacing it. She did not want to imagine the damage she would have endured if she had not worn it. "So long, buddy," she said and hung it over the sink in order to give it to the quartermaster later. He would keep their old uniforms and sometimes sell them; some crazy enough fan could always be found who would buy those. Looking up into the mirror again she saw that her bath behind her was almost ready and she began shaking her tail and running a hoof back and forth through her mane to remove the remainders of the tree branch she had hit. Spitfire then walked back to the bathtub, turned off the water and tested the temperature of the bath with her hoof. Satisfied with it she stepped into the tub and lowered her body up to her neck into the water. The sensation of being immersed in the hot water caused her muscles to relax and her wings slightly to unfold, letting the liquid tickle every feather in them and stimulating the nerve ends at their bases. She turned onto her back, her head resting on the edge of the tub and closed her eyes, letting out a long sigh.
She thought back to those short encounters with other ponies. However enjoyable they had been, they meant almost nothing to her. She rarely even bothered asking for their names anymore, they would be forgotten anyway. But she also always made sure not to play with their feelings, never sharing anything too personal or telling them idioms like "I like you." She had found that the best way to not get those ponies' hopes up for a lasting relationship was to be very direct, sometimes aggressively so, asking them quietly "Wanna make out in the back?" or "Do you have a friend that would like to join us?" But those approaches had not worked every time. Spitfire remembered one young mare who did not get the hints. After they had spent the night at that filly's hotel room Spitfire had left the hotel with the other still sleeping, but somehow she had found the Wonderbolt afterwards, crying and telling her that she had felt a certain 'connection' between the two of them. Spitfire had explained that she had no such feelings for her and was truly sorry to leave the other mare so heartbroken. The pegasus knew that such experiences, especially at a young age, can leave emotional scars. Although Spitfire had stayed in contact with that filly for a while after and made sure that she was fine, she still remembered the event with a pang of guilt. That was an experience she did not want to repeat. From then on, if she had sensed her partner that night getting too emotionally involved or being too clingy, she would stop her advances and usually leave it at the level of a nice conversation.
She had intended these occasional one-night-stands to be purely physical, pleasure and entertainment were the only things she wanted from them. She did not want to be friends or engage in a relationship. Flying had always been her only passion. The Wonderbolts, the airshows, doing stunts and hearing fans cheer her name was what she lived for and it had taken all her life to get to where she was now. She had thought that too close relationships would only distract her from achieving her goals and fulfilling her dreams and had never given them much consideration. But now? She was the captain of the best team of flyers in all of Equestria. She was at the top. She had achieved her goals, was living her dream. Perhaps now I could she thought. No. She was getting ahead of herself. She did not even know if Twilight felt the same way. Hay, she had no idea what she even felt for the purple filly.
What was it about her that made her occupy Spitfire's thoughts? Is it her body, her looks? the pegasus thought. No, I've had cuter and more beautiful mares. - The adorable expressions on her face when she's embarrassed or nervous? That can't be the only reason. - Is it her magic? Spitfire had to admit that the purple unicorn could perform some impressive spells and tricks. But that was all magic had ever been to her - tricks. She did not care much for strong magic; such traits had never really attracted her. - Is it because she's Celestia's personal student? - Again, no. She did not care for the fame or popularity among the Canterlot nobles, who she thought were the only ponies Twilight could impress with that title. - Or because she's a friend of Rainbow Dash? True, that made her something special with respect to Spitfire's other party encounters. She would not want to use a friend of Rainbow Dash like that, not if she ever wanted to look her, Dash or herself in the eye again. But that would not explain why Spitfire's memories of Twilight brought a smile to her face, and not a guilt-ridden expression. After all, astoundingly to the pegasus, this time it had been Twilight who had actually started flirting with her. At first she had thought of her as a prude and inexperienced bookworm, but was surprised by what the young unicorn was willing to do as they got drunker and drunker. - Is it the combination of all of that? Spitfire sighed again and sank lower into the water. She opened her eyes and began to stare at the ceiling.
Maybe she's the only pony I've thought about like that, because she didn't treat me as just the Captain of the Wonderbolts. Remembering the conversations she had with Twilight, it occurred to her that, although she had asked some questions about the Wonderbolts, those had been focused rather about her life with them than about her shows or stunts, which was what her fans loved to talk about. Twilight had probably never seen one of her shows. She had been more interested in Spitfire the pony instead of Spitfire the Wonderbolt, something she had rarely, if ever, willingly talked about with anypony aside from her family and what few ponies she could call friends outside the military. Spitfire found that she had enjoyed talking so openly to somepony without a uniform - real or in thought - separating them. She hoped that by making out in Rainbow Dash's closet and embarrassing her in front of her friends she had not destroyed her chance of having, if not a romantic relationship, then at least a real friendship with Twilight. But she still was not sure about the nature of her attraction for the purple mare. Did she have a crush on Twilight or did she just want to be her friend? Either way it would be the first time she had felt that way for another pony for a very long time.
Spitfire just had to find out what she really wanted from her and if after the embarrassment at the party Twilight would even want to be her friend or something more. The easiest way to do that would be by meeting her again, maybe spending some time with her alone. Sober this time, Spitfire thought. She remembered seeing a flyer on her way to her room for a street fair in Canterlot that weekend. Ask her out on a date? No, that would be too early. I shouldn't call it a 'date'. But the street fair would be perfect for that. I'd just have to get her to go there with me. Spitfire imagined meeting Twilight again with the events of Rainbow Dash's party in the back of her mind, and Twilight's friends had without a doubt been teasing the unicorn with it since then. "That is going to be awkward," Spitfire said to herself before taking a deep breath, closing her eyes again and completely submerging into the warm water.
next day, mid-afternoon
Spitfire was standing in front of the Ponyville library, hesitating to knock on the door. She knew she had to, eventually, but a part of her was still indecisive. What if she isn't there? she thought.
What then? another part of her mind responded sarcastically. You go look for her, of course.
And what if she's with a customer, or worse, with one of her friends? Spitfire had wanted to talk to Twilight alone, but with one of her friends listening in on them the whole situation could become much more difficult.
Only one way to find out, came the answer from the other side of her mental debate.
Spitfire took in a deep breath and slowly let it out again before lifting up a hoof to the door and knocking forcefully. She heard Twilight's voice calling from inside, "I'm coming."
The door opened and the purple mare stood in front of Spitfire, looking at her expectantly. A moment later Twilight's eyes went wide. "Oh," she said and lowered her eyes to the ground between them with a nervous look and hanging ears. "Spitfire. I almost didn't recognize you."
Spitfire was not wearing her uniform and had not styled her hair, so that it was now lying flat on her head, brushed to one side and hanging down both sides of her neck. She did not want any of the ponies in Ponyville to recognize her and possibly interrupt her conversation. "Hi, Twilight," the pegasus said with a slightly lowered head, looking to the side. A quick glance past the librarian revealed a big room with books lying in heaps here and there, but otherwise empty of anypony. "Am I interrupting something?" she asked.
"Oh, no," Twilight replied lifting her head and looking at Spitfire. When hers and Spitfire's eyes found each other Twilight quickly lowered her eyes again and the pegasus turned her head to the side. "I was just, um, cleaning up a bit," she finished.
"Oh," Spitfire said, "good."
"What happened to your eye?" Twilight asked with her eyes still on the ground.
Spitfire lifted a hoof to touch the stitches on her forehead. "Oh, this?" she asked. "Just a training accident, nothing serious."
An awkward silence descended upon them for a few moments in which both ponies refused to look at the other, to be eventually broken by Spitfire. "Look, Twilight," she said, her eyes now directed at the unicorn, "I wanted to apologize to you for what happened at the party."
Twilight was now finally looking at Spitfire with a surprised expression on her face. "Oh," she said, "no, you don't have to apologize. I was just as much involved as you." Twilight was now blushing with a sheepish smile and began looking off to the side.
"But, still," Spitfire insisted. "I thought I was taking advantage of you."
Twilight let out a short, quiet laugh. "Funny," she said, still not meeting the pegasus' gaze. "And here I thought I was taking advantage of you."
Oh, Spitfire thought, so she is interested? She then mentally facehooved. Of course she is. After all we spent an hour together in a dark closet at her friend's party.
After another few seconds of silence Spitfire laughed nervously. "I guess I didn't get to spend that much time with Dash after all, huh?"
Twilight had a smirk on her face. "I guess not."
Spitfire was looking away again and biting her lip. A part of her mind kept telling her, ask her! Ask her already and get it over with. Clearly Twilight was not opposed to the idea of spending time with her. So why can't I just ask her? What's the worst that could happen, really? Her saying 'no, thanks'? Spitfire sighed and looked at Twilight. Ah, what the hay, she thought.
"Twilight, I'm sorry for embarrassing you at the party " Spitfire began.
"I already told you that -" Twilight interrupted her, but stopped as she saw Spitfire's raised hoof and a pleading look in her eyes.
"I'm sorry and I want to make it up to you." Spitfire finished in a determined tone.
"Oh?" Twilight raised her eyebrows.
"Yeah, there's a street fair in Canterlot this weekend and I thought, maybe, I could take you there and we could have some fun together." Spitfire explained smiling.
Twilight kept her eyebrows raised for a moment longer, probably thinking that this was an odd way of apologizing to her. "This weekend?" she asked. "Well, I don't have any plans yet "
Spitfire's eyes brightened up. "So you can come?" she asked somewhat eagerly.
"Yeah, I guess." Twilight still had an irritated look on her face.
"Great," Spitfire exclaimed a bit louder than she had planned. "Can I pick you up on Saturday at, say, 4 in the afternoon?"
"Sure," Twilight said, now also smiling.
"Okay so -," Spitfire started.
A loud buuurrrp came from inside the library, startling the Wonderbolt. "Twilight!" a young, male voice called. "Letter from the Princess! It says 'urgent'."
Oh, Spitfire thought, I forgot about her assistant. I hope he wasn't listening
"One second, Spike," Twilight called back and turned towards Spitfire again. "I, uhm, have to go now," she said. "I got an urgent letter from the Princess."
"Yes, I noticed," Spitfire said with an amused look past the unicorn into the library. "It was hard to ignore."
"Oh, hehe, right," Twilight gave her an embarrassed laugh, which put a smile on Spitfire's face.
"So," Spitfire said, directing her gaze at the purple mare, "see you on Saturday?"
"Yeah, looking forward to it," Twilight said, now with a friendly smile.
"Bye," Spitfire said and began trotting away as Twilight moved back into the library and closed the door behind her. That was easier than I expected. She looked around herself for anypony that might have recognized her or been overhearing their conversation. She found that nopony was looking at her like she was a celebrity, most of those who saw her did not even give her a second look and some were even greeting her and smiling at her, like she were one of them. Although Spitfire was used to fans surrounding her and her team and being in the center of attention, she found that she somehow liked the anonymity. She had a feeling that here she could be herself, show the real Spitfire, the one under the uniform. Just another pony in Ponyville. Even if it would not work out with Twilight, she could easily imagine spending the rest of her vacation in this town. But first things first, she thought before spreading her wings and taking off into the air above Ponyville.