by Northern Lights
The twilight sky was bathed in a glowing palette of red, indigo and violet as the last traces of the setting sun left the sky. As she watched the shimmering stars appear, Twilight Sparkle reflected on how appropriate her name was. She loved the edge of night, and had always felt not quite one thing or another. Indeed, until she came to Ponyville, she'd wondered what her place in this world was, looking up into an evening sky much like this one. She smiled to herself and pulled out her camping checklist. Though some of the other ponies laughed a bit at it, it made sure none of them had forgotten anything important. Sleeping out under the stars was Applejack's idea, and she had to admit it was a good one. Consulting it, she talks to herself.
"Campfire, check. Marshmallows. ."
"Cfech?" said Pinkie Pie, before gulping the mouthful down with a wide grin. The other ponies giggled as Twilight noted, her voice peevish, "we're supposed to ROAST them."
She makes a little check. Pinkie smiled sheepishly and pulls out her stick. The other ponies were sitting around the warm cheerful fire. Rarity, as usual, had simply the most fashionable sleeping bag and had already unrolled it, surrounding it with her toiletries and sundries. Fluttershy was happily watching the fireflies, and had spent a rather quiet afternoon on their hike pointing out each rare flower and strange animal. Applejack was already roasting her marshmallows with Pinkie. She'd been placed in charge of the campfire, and did a great job. Rainbow Dash was chattering about how clear the sky was, which she made sure was the case earlier. As the sky grew dark she grinned and leaned over, the firelight adding a strange spooky look to her face.
"You know what time it is? Scary story time!" She let out an evil laugh. Yelping, Fluttershy dove into her sleeping bag. "No scary stories please" came her muffled voice, her tail twitching nervously. Twilight frowned to herself and noted, "They ARE traditional." Poking Fluttershy's rump with a hoof, Pinkie giggled" C'mon, sillyfilly, they're fun!"
Dash nods and adds, boastfully, "I know a million of them" Shaking her head, Rarity states, firmly, " I don't want any spooky stories either, and if we tell them dear Fluttershy won't sleep."
Tilting her head, Twilight cocks an eyebrow. "I guess we can move on to the songs?" Tugging at her saddlebags, she pulls out a book with" 101 campfire songs on the title. Bouncing in her seat, Pinkie squeaks, "Soooooongs! I love singing" Rainbow Dash groans audibly, and even Rarity makesa quiet face.
"Yes, we know" says Applejack, her lip quirking into a sardonic smile. "I done never met anypony that loves a songs as much as y'all does, Pinkie." Nodding, her cotton-candy mass of a mane bobbing, Pinkie gives a big grin and notes" It's cause I'm soooo talented!"
They all chuckled at this, and Fluttershy even edged her quivering body around so she was peeking out from her sleeping bag.
Rarity gives a knowing smile, and tosses her purple locks out of her eyes to say, archly,
"I did rather have a different idea. Do you remember the sleepover?" Nodding her head,
Twilight smiled a bit. The sleepover was part of the reason she had wanted to set up this camping trip. She'd felt bad that necessity had dictated she would only have 2 ponies over, impromptu as it was, and she'd been looking for a way to make it up to the rest of the gang.
"Well, I peeked at your sleepover book and I saw you skipped over part of your..ahem.. list" the white unicorn continued, a twinkle in her amethyst eyes. Puzzling for a moment, the violet mare wondered what she could mean. Then, a sense of dread filled her heart. Opening her muzzle to try and forstall the suggestion, she was too late as Rarity brashly continued,"you had down 'talk about our crushes' but had it crossed out."
Treacherously, Twilight felt a slow hot wave riding up her neck, over her snout and cheeks. From the delighted look of the other unicorn, she imagined she must be lit up like a spotlight with her blush. The suppressed giggles of the rest of the ponies only confirmed her fear. With a small, nervous chuckle, she says" We-ll, that's not really something I have, um, experience with, so.."
To her surprise, Pinkie leans over and pats her shoulder “Aww, don’t worry. Not every can be as lucky with the boys as I am, after all.” Giving the pink filly a startled look, she gapes for a moment.
Before she can regain her composure, Rarity stamps her hoof, “Well, I for one prefer talking about romance to scary stories.” A quick vote showed that Pinkie seemed to be fine with this, though in all honesty Twilight suspected Pinkie was unlikely to be not fine with anything on the trip, short of setting her mane on fire, and even then the unicorn would bet it’d be a close thing. Fluttershy agreed as well, volunteering that she in fact loved reading romantic novels. With a shrug, Applejack said she’d go on with whatever the group did, though she “ain’t one for the mushy stuff”, and that left Dash and Twilight herself as the only holdout.
Shrugging with quiet resignation, the purple mare murmurs,“Okay, but I won’t have anyone to talk about. I haven’t had a crush on anyone as long as I can
Considering this, Rarity said, “Well, maybe we can talk about our ideal stallions, then, the sortwe’d like to marry?” Clapping her hooves together, she adds, lashes fluttering, “I have the most WONDERFUL idea for a dress for that, you know...”
Applejack holds up her hoof and says, brows furrowed in annoyance. “Nu-uh. I don’t mind talkin’ bout boys, but I draw the LINE at dresses.”
It was finally agreed that, after s’mores were distributed and Dash coaxed down from the tree she retreated to, with much groaning and moaning, that they’d go around in a circle, starting with Rarity,given that this was her idea.
Clearing her throat, the white unicorn says, primly “First off, it’s a good thing little Spike is not here, since I am sure he’d be utterly heartbroken to know my ideal male isn’t two feet tall and covered in scales.” That broke the air of tension that’d been hanging over the group, and even Dash noted,with a sarcastic laugh “Aww, Rarity, how could yah? He even grew a MUSTACHE for yah!”
Giggling,Pinkie adds, “If you kissed him you’d have to fire-proof your lips.” Even Twilight smiled at that one. Everyone knew SPIKE’S crush, he certainly made that no mystery.
Continuing, the white mare noted,“I of course would settle for nothing less than the most handsome, sophisticated stallion I could find.”
“Well, it’s always nice t’have standards, but ain’t that a little high?” asks Applejack, tipping back her hat with a grin. Rarity snorts, and notes “I haven’t found him yet. It’s so hard to find a man that appreciates fashion, culture, style..”
“Likes getting bossed around..” says Dash, not quite under her breath.
Rarity stomps her hoof,
adding defensively, “I know what you think, and I AM very particular, but I want someone who shares my interest, not just someone who’ll tell me what I want to hear. There’s plenty of ponies who are happy to say anything I like, but I want someone who is like me, not just pretending to like the things I like because I’m lovely.”
As vain as that statement would sound out of any other mouth, the other ponies had long acknowledged Rarity was one of the most beautiful ponies in the town, if not the most.
Applejack gave the unicorn a slight nod of respect. “I reckon I know what you mean there. Still, I also reckon it’s gonna be a long time afore you meet this fella. Sounds like he’ll be one in a million.”
Flipping her mane back, Rarity nods. “One in a million is worth waiting for. I know I said I’d hope to meet him at the Gala, and maybe I will, but even if I don’t I know he’s out there, looking for HIS one in a million filly.” Smiling wryly, she adds, “I wouldn’t settle for anyone who’d settle for anything less.”
Fluttershy was next, and it took a few minutes to coax her voice loud enough to hear, but as often was the case with the meek pegasus, once she got started talking she had a lot to say and her own very distinct opinions.
“Um, well, I would like to meet someone who’s big and strong, but also really soft hearted and quiet, like me. ”Scuffing one hoof on the ground, she traced a little heart in the dirt. Her yellow cheeks touched with a pink blush, the filly adds, “H-honestly, someone like your brother, if he was a pegasus, is what I like best, Applejack. H-he doesn’t talk much and he’s not a bully and he’s very nice and sweet.”
The orange pony choked on her s’more, causing Twilight to slap her on the back.
“BIG MAC? Y’all ain’t SERIOUS?!”
Fluttershy’s mane covered her face for a moment, and then she nodded, slowly “Well, not maybe him, but someone like him. Who likes animals, n-not apples. But it’s really hard. M-most pegasus ponies a-are more like Rainbow Dash and less like, um, me.”
Dash’s head pops up, and she asks, indignantly “Hey, is there something WRONG with them being like me?”
Eyes wide, Fluttershy quickly goes “N-no! Well, maybe.. a little. If I wanted to date
them. They’re all so brave and they like flying and going fast and being um.. cocky. Sometimes. A little. Most don’t even like that I live in my treehouse and not somewhere high.” She shuffles her hooves again and squeaks out, “T-that’s all.”
A scowl still on the rainbow-maned pony, she shrugs, “Well, you’re really SHY, Flutter. How yah going to meet this mystery man?”
Perking up, her voice layered with the warm misty overtones of the incurable romantic, Fluttershy says, “Oh I KNOW we’ll meet. Maybe he’ll have a sick kitty he needs me to care for, or maybe we’ll both be stopping to smell the same flower, but I just KNOW I’ll meet him, someday!” Sighing happily, the filly rests her head on her hooves.
Seeing there was no more to be had from that avenue, Twilight nods to Pinkie Pie. “So, um, have you met YOUR ideal stallion yet? You.. um.. sound like you’ve met a few?” The unspoken question as to how Pinkie Pie, of all the ponies, managed this, quivered in the air around her.
The pink pony considers for a moment, tapping a hoof to her chin “Nooooo, I don’t think so, though I thought maybe this one unicorn, but turns out he likes popping balloons. Can you believe it? I couldn’t date a stallion like that. I mean,” she adds, with a trademark giggle, “It WAS kinda funny, but I can’t throw parties with POPPED balloons. Balloons are my THING.” Looking around at the quiet wondering faces of her friends, she adds “What? I dunno what’s so weird about me having balloons as my thing, it’s my cutie mark after all.”
“Um, no, sugar, we were kinda wondering how y’all have been, uh, lucky with boys, as yah called it.” says Applejack, the only one willing to be honest about what was on all their minds.
Her blue eyes lighting up, Pinkie goes “OOOOOooOOoh. Well, that’s EASY. If I like a guy, I’m all, you wanna go out and have cupcakes? And we can totally smooch!” Watching their jaws drop, she adds, “You’d be amazed at how often that works! Like, almost every time!”
Coughing to clear the silence, Rarity notes “That does sound like an.. effective technique, yes.”
Pinkie leans back, tossing some marshmallows into her mouth, and with her mouth full, says, “I dunno if I wamma efen mawwy sumnun” Swallowing, the pink filly rocks onto her back. “I just like having fun. I don’t think I ever wanna settle for just one stallion.” By now, the whole ring, even Rainbow Dash, was blushing at the implications of this. Oblivious, Pinkie leans over to tap Applejack.
“Tag, you’re it!”
Taking a long, pregnant pause, undoubtedly to clear the images from her head, Twilight thought, Applejack flicked her tail. then notes, shrugging a little, “I suspect all y’all’s will be a might disappointed. I already have an idea who I’m gonna marry.” Ears perked at this, and Rarity looked like she might explode with overwhelming femininity and interest.
“Oh my gracious!”gasped the ivory-coated unicorn, clapping her hooves together in excitement,”Why didn’t you SAY so, darling? Who IS he? When do we MEET him?”
Applejack cocks her head and uses a hoof to push a log deeper into the fire, where it popped and crackled, overwhelming Rarity’s joyful matrimonial chatter. “Now, you gals are gonna get the wrong idea, I reckon, but I gotta tell you, it’s a family tradition.”
“What is?” asks Twilight, an ear cocked in interest.
Grinning, Applejack says to the curious filly, “Now, you’re a smart one, ain’t yah ever wonder why EVERYONE in the apple family is all about apples? It’s cause it’s traditional for us to find other ponies with apple marks an’ especially apple orchards, afore we get hitched.” Noting their quiet puzzlement on why that was strange, she adds, more bluntly, “We all go in for ARRANGED marriages. I ain’t gonna get to pick who I marry outta any random folk, I got a couple o’ options an’ that’s basically it.”
“But.. that’s BARBARIC!”gasps Rarity, a horrified hoof to her muzzle.
Frowning, Dash flaps over to her pal and says, “What the heck sort of garbage is THAT! I can’t see my AJ lettin’someone tell her who she’s gotta marry!”
Applejack growls “I knew you’d take it the wrong way! It ain’t so bad.” The palomino filly watches their reactions, her annoyance and disappointment evident on her face. Only Fluttershy murmurs, softly, “We should l-listen.. maybe they’re nice boys?”
Applejack nods firmly. “Yeah, I gotta approve o’the final choice, o’course. We have it narrowed down t’two fellahs, an’ I’ve met ‘em both.. One lives really far south o’ here, an’ his name’s Pippin. He’s a might small but real gentlemanly. T’other, he lives north’a here, on an island, an’ his name’s Fuji.”
“So,” asks Twilight, quirkling a brow, “A pippin is..”
“And a fuji..”
“’nother type a’apple”
Watching their disbelief, the rodeo gal continues. “Fuji’s not really for me, but he’s still pretty nice an’all. His family really grooms their trees, like a work o’ art. Either you or Fluttershy can have ‘m, Rarity” she says with a wink to the indignant unicorn. “Pippins really nice, but, well...” She looks down, “I don’t think I’m gonna get married for some time, cause if I do, I gotta leave Sweet Apple Acres an’ move in with him. ”
“Oh noooo!” gasps Fluttershy, “You love that farm! What can’t you stay?”
“Well, it’s an Apple famil..”
“Tradition, I think we get it.” interrupts Dash, peevishly. “It’s a dumb one. You gotta find a guy who doesn’t mind moving to be WITH you. Your farm is like, your LIFE.”
Applejack nods. “Well, ‘taint no rush. Big MacIntosh is fine with that ifn’ I was t’find a guy mah family approves of. An’ until then, I ain’t worried. ” More firmly, she adds, “And nopony’s gonna get me offa THAT farm. ” The other ponies nod, feeling better for having heard that.
Twilight thinks for a bit, and adds, “I know there’s a lot of different cultures in Equestria, but I have to say, that one’s a little strange. I’ve only heard about royals and other such people doing it.”
Applejack looks proud, and says, “Well, we’re simple folk, but we got a lot o’history. I know it wasn’t the answer y’all expected, but it’s the best you’re gonna get from this filly right now. S’long as the guy loves mah farm and mah apples, he’ll do right by me, so I reckon it’s your turn, sugar.”
Twilight gulps, and realises that she can’t avoid this any longer, since the entire group was looking at her. She can feel the blush edging up her cheeks again, so, briskly, she notes, “I really don’t see myself with ANYONE. My studies have always been my life, and I can’t say I’ve even really fantasized about anypony else in my life. ”
Sniggering, Dash elbows her lightly and says, “So, you’re married to your books?”
Flushing harder, the unicorn snaps, “I’m just very dedicated. Princess Celestia isn’t married and no-one thinks less of HER.” Rarity starts, with an arch smile, “I did hear things
about that,” but Twilight cuts her off, a sharp look on her face.
She scrapes a hoof over the forest floor and wonders however to explain it to them all. It seemed like every pony had that ideal someone else, if only in their mind, but she never had that person she wanted in her life. Until a little while ago, the most she wanted from other people was to leave her alone and to let her study. She wasn’t even sure where she would begin letting someone into her life like that now. Watching her discomfort, the other ponies paused in their good natured teasing, and finally Rarity moved things along.
“Well, I guess we shouldn’t be wondering about the perfect stallion for YOU, Rainbow dear?” she asks with a mirthful, if not condescending, smile.
Rosey eyes narrowed, Dash snorts “I KNEW it. How many times I gotta tell you, just because I ain’t out making ga-ga eyes over boys doesn’t mean I like girls instead!” Snaping her wings in a quick, fierce motion, she glares over the fire at the unicorn.
“Truth is, I’m like Twi about this sorta stuff. I don’t really have time for all this romantic stuff, an’ most of the boys who DO like me end up trying to show they’re faster ‘n stronger than me.” With a smirk, the pegasus boasts, “Not that they ever ARE. But I’m just too competitive to be with someone. I don’t wanna have some guy who’s a pushover an’ I don’t want someone who’s always trying to be as good or better than me! So just LAY OFF!”
With that, Dash ended up back in the tree, her tail twitching 10 feet out of reach. Puzzled, Twilight looks around. “I don’t get it. Why is she so insulted?” she asks the other ponies.
Looking at each other, they frown a little. “Well, it’s not that there’s anythin’ WRONG with that, yah mind,”starts Applejack, then Rarity finishes, “It’s just not, well.. typical for here. Very uncommon, really. ”
Frowning to herself, the violet unicorn taps a hoof. “That’s.. that’s just silly. I mean, when I was a little foal, I remember hearing the story of two unicorn mares,”she says, then pauses, “Or sometimes it was stallions. It was a very old myth, who were so in love that their unicorn magic let them have a foal.”She smiled to herself, remembering how warm and happy it had made her feel, knowing how strong the magic of love was. Blinking for a moment, she realised she had forgotten that feeling after all these years of studies.
Continuing, less strident but still firm, “It was lovely. In Canterlot there’s no problem with mares or stallions being with each other. I wouldn’t call it common but it’s nothing any
pony would tease them about.”
Coughing, Applejack asks, “Canterlot’s basically full a’unicorns, right?”
Twilight nods. “M-mostly?”
“Ah, well, that’d go a long way to explain it.”
Twilight noted Rarity blushing, though in her case it was a flush of embaressed anger. With a touch of malicious delight, the earth pony notes “Stereotypically, y’see, unicorns are kinda thought t’be a bit.. funny that way, y’know?”
Pinkie Pie giggles at this and nods, “Oh yeah, everyone knows THAT!”
“Well, I guess because of the unicorn magic?”says Twilight with a hopeful smile, but Rarity cuts her off. After a quick whispered exchange, with a few gestures, Twilight feels like she now has even worse images in her mind that imagining Pinkie Pie, party pony and stallion snogger. “That’s NOT how you use a horn and you don’t put it THERE!”
Going an incendiary shade of scarlet, Twilight covered her face with her hooves. Quite obviously her cultural studies of Equestria had been lacking a lot of finer details, and for the moment she was really regretting she’d learned otherwise.
Finally, tapping her hoof over Pinkie’s laughter and her joking with Applejack, she says, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with anypony loving another, but it’s just.. just messed up to assume someone does because they have a horn!” Pinkie Pie and Applejack nod dutifully, though Pinkie snorts “You should see your FAAAACE... you’re almost as pink as ME... Anyways,
a horn isn’t as good as...”
“THAT.. is quite enough.” said Rarity, the unicorn, firmly, placing a white hoof over the chattering filly’s snout with a sharp warning glance. Twilight squirmed for a moment as she tried to banish her mind’s automatic tendency to fill in the blanks.
Gathering herself, she adds, “And it’s wrong to tease Dash about this sort of thing and make assumptions just because she doesn’t want to date anypony right now. It really upsets her.” Which, as she considered, was a notable thing in and of itself. It took a lot to really get under Dash’s skin. Leaning against the trunk of the tree, the violet filly called up.
“Come on, Rainbow Dash. It won’t be the same without you. ”After a few muttered curses that Twilight resolutely pretended not to hear, the cyan mare dropped from the branches, landing beside the flickering fire. “Fine, fine. But I’m sleeping over beside you tonight, Twi.” she muttered, prismatic tail snapping back and forth in annoyance.
The circle of romantic talk well and truly broken, Pinkie Pie grabbed the songbook, and soon, with much cajoling and joyful bouncing, got everypony singing along to a selection of campfire songs, plus a couple she made up herself. By the time ponies were starting to yawn, and Luna’s moon was high in the sky, everyone was in a much better mood, and the awkwardness of earlier was forgotten.
Twilight flicked an ear, listening to the soft voice of Fluttershy, from the other side of the fire, saying goodnight to each owl and cricket, before she dozed off in a quiet snore. The other ponies had fallen off to sleep some time back, and only the occasional soft snap and pop from the fire, which they had banked up with more logs before settling down, filled the night, that and the occasional soft cricket chirp.
Rolling on her back, the mare sighed to herself, staring up into the indigo sky, counting the stars and, as was her nature, tracking the constellations, as her mind ticked over what had happened earlier.It was strange how little she’d known about her friends when it came to dating and romance. She had always thought Pinkie Pie was funny, ditzy and would probably be somepony’s aunt, but never thought she was .. popular with stallions. Nor did she think Rarity had so much depth she’d insist on finding an intelligent partner, rather than just a pretty face with lots of jewels and titles. Even Fluttershy was a shock, since she basically thought the filly was too sweet to even think about kissing, let alone read what, as the unicorn had been shown after the sing-along, was quite a large and often rather steamy collection of love stories, and that was only the section of her library the buttercup-yellow pegasus brought along to the trip.
Deep inside, even she had to admit that she though Dash might have been.. well.. interested in other fillies ,and a tiny bit of disappointment had entered her heart for a brief moment when she heard the daring blue-coated pegasus insist she didn’t. Considering that feeling for a moment, she glanced over at her sleeping companion, curled tightly up, a wing over her snout, and smiled a little, her cheeks gaining a pink hue for a moment at that thought.
But she was even more surprised about something else, and, maybe if she awoke Dash, they could talk without the otherponies bothering the pegasus about the subject. Leaning over, she poked the gently snoring filly with a hoof on the flank.
“Dash.. psss... are you asleep?” she asks, knowing full well she is.
With a snort and “Whh.. whu .. wonderbolts?” the other girl awoke, and looked around blearily for a moment. Perking her ears, she frowns at Twilight. “Aww, man. I was having the best dream. You OK, Twi? Something the matter? We being attacked by pony-eating icewolves?” Her deep pink eyes dart around, as if this would be an excellent and totally enjoyable addition to the camping trip.
Twilight felt rather sheepish, but says, softly, “I just wanted to say sorry about how the other ponies were acting earlier, and say it’s nice to know you and I have something in common.”
Tilting her head quizzically, the pegasus asks, her voice low, “What do you mean? ”
A hoof playing with hersleeping bag, the unicorn notes “Well, you seem like you understand what I mean about romance. Fluttershy wants some big, strong stallion to keep her safe, and even Applejack and Rarity want a guy who’ll be a partner to them, equally interested in what they like, but I don’t really want someone who’s just like me. I like my thing to stay my thing. I wouldn’t mind a pony who understood that it was important to me, but I don’t really want somepony who’s just as studious as me, and you don’t want somepony who’s like you either. I.. think.”
Dash, smiling a little, nods, and says “I guess I never really thought about it like that, but you’re right. It’d just cramp my style. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be NICE to be with somepony sometimes, but I don’t want someone all needy and stuff, and I don’t want someone who doesn’t let me do my own thing. It’d be better if I found somepony who was just kinda interested in their own thing too. I mean,” adds the filly, placing a hoof on her chest “I do totally want somepony, eventually, who will love what I do, but they don’t have to be a racer.”
Grinning, Twilight teases softly, “So, no dating a Wonderbolt?” Dash considered it, and then shrugs. “Naaaah, probably not. Would keep me from focusing on being TOTALLY AWESOME.”
The two ponies giggle under their breath. After a moment, Twilight, with her tendency to notice details, says, tentatively, “We’re both saying.. somepony. Not some guy.”
Looking sharply around the campfire at the other ponies, still slumbering under the stars,, Dash nods. “Yeah, well.. you saw how it felt that people just assume what you’re like because of something about you. So I guess it’s fine if you know I do kind of like fillies. But I like stallions too. I’ve just never met anyone that I’ve felt all, you know, mushy and stuff about, like Fluttershy is.”
She adds, her voice soft “Years ago I kinda tried with Applejack, but that filly, wow, she’s really kinda uptight about that sorta thing.”There was a small, hot pause, Dash freezing for a second, lost in her own mind. After a moment, she continues, “Anyways. We’re good friends, and I think if we were anything more all the competitive stuff would really mess things up. It bugged me a long time ago but now we’re cool.”
Nodding, the amethyst unicorn asks, “Is she why everyone says..” but Dash cuts her off with a strong shake of her head “Naw, ponies were saying that even when I was in school. It has nothing to do with Applejack. She’s honest but she’s not mean. I know she teases me but I don’t think the other girls get how much it bugs me, you know? Cause I’m super strong and nothing’s supposed to bug ME!” She grins in the soft glow of the fire.
Twilight laughs. “And Pinkie?”
Rainbow Dash makes a face and says “She’s fun, but.. um... man, if she came up to me and asked me for cupcakes and kisses, I’d probably be off cupcakes for life. She’s totally obsessed enough as it is.”
Snorting, Twilight nods in agreement “Sounds like she’s VERY happy with the stallions of ponyville.” Her dark purple eyes twinkling in the firelight, she glances over at Dash for a moment, and the other pony asks, her voice suspicious, “What’s really on your mind, Twi. You can tell me, I won’t tease you, well, this time. Not unless you’re really in love with books.” She lets out a little snort.
Nodding, Twilight lets her voice drop even lower, and nervously rubs her forelegs together. “I thought.. maybe... that since we don’t have anyone else, and we’re both too busy with what we do...” she pauses, then blurts it all out in a long, run-on sentence before she can loose her nerve, “Maybewecouldsometimesbetogetherlikedatingorsomething.”
Gasping, she looks over at the other filly, her cheeks pink, heart racing and terrified. She couldn’t believe she even said that. She had to admit she was curious, both about what being near another pony was like, and what it would be like with a filly, rather than a stallion, but the jokes about unicorns made it clear why Dash fought so hard against what the other ponies said about her. Even if it is true, and even if you are happy with yourself, how other people see you can make something as simple as this feel shameful, and wrong.
But everything Dash said, everything they both said, seem to make this a good idea, maybe even a great one. Both a logical choice, and one that her heart was comfortable with. They were both such independant ponies, they didn’t need or desire somepony to care for them, or to aid them in their life goals. They just wanted someone warm, to listen when things got them down, and cheer them when things got them up, and to know when they needed their own space. Was that so wrong?
Dash’s eyes widened, and then narrowed, suspiciously, for a moment. Eventually, the pegasus settled for “WHY? Why me? Twi, you don’t seem like..”
The unicorn stamped a hoof and stopped the rainbow filly’s incredulous rant with a quick gesture.
“I know what you’re going to say. This is all very sudden for me too. But these things aren’t about what other people think you’re like or not. They’re about what’s inside.”
Breathing hard, her fear and embarrassment found a vent in this quick frustrated outburst. Calming down, she adds, her voice softer now, “Just.. just trust me, okay? I’m not trying to tease you, or trick you. I.. I just want to know if.. if we could try this? We don’t have to let the others know.” A small, quavering smile darts across her snout.
The moment of silent waiting expectation was long. Too long for comfort, as, in the failing glow of the warm fire’s embers, Dash seemed to think longer and harder than Twilight could remember seeing her have done before. The pegasus pony stretched her wings out, and then finally spat on her hoof and held it out.
Twilight shuddered for a second, then did the same, and hoofbumped the other pony. lightly. This seemed to ease up Dash’s mood of paranoia considerably, and shifting position, she adjusted her wings and smiled in what she probably hoped was a painfully cool manner, tilting her head back. The lilac-coated filly tried not to giggle but did grin, which her friend luckily took for approval.
Smirking, Dash says, with a cocky voice “Yeah, I know I’m totally hot.” After a moment, she winked, then, asking more candidly, “Soo, um... what does this mean, exactly. What did you, um, wanna do, anways?”
Twilight considered this question thoughtfully. The conversation around the fire had been the most she’d heard about boys and girls and dating and such for a long time. It was never something she looked into, and honestly, a year ago she would have called Fluttershy silly and impractical for focusing so much mental energy on mere romance novels. Even now, she’s not sure she could reads ome flightly Arlecchino paperback with saddle-ripping fillies in distress and muscular, blonde-maned stallions.
Finally, her eyes flicking from ground to Dash’s face, she says “I really just want to be able to be close to you. Maybe kiss?” The unicorn edged herself nearer to the pegasus, who’s ears folded back as the bravado drained from her posture. “You HAVE kissed before, right?” asks the purple-coated pony, a touch of worry in her face. She never had, and she wasn’t sure exactly how it worked. If only she had a reference book...
“Sure, a million times--”started Dash , before catching Twilight’s expression. “Well, um... at least a few?” Seeing the incredulous look on the other pony’s face, the cyan pegasus finally mutters “I played Spin the Bottle once and I’ve practiced on a cloud a few times, okay?” with an annoyed look, her blue cheeks turning pink for a second as she glances away, quite obviously ashamed of admitting she’s less than a total Romeo, in spite of her own admission she’s never had time for romance.
Frowning a touch, Twilight lets out a small sigh “Well, I understand. I can always check my library..”she starts, but Dash cuts her off.
“Hey, the only way to learn how to fly is to jump off the cloud!” She gives a rakish grin and leans over.
Twilight begins to point out “I think actually that’s the worst way to learn ho-”but the pegasus leaned forward and, clumsily but sincerely, presses her snout to the studious unicorn’s.
It was nothing she expected. Eyes wide for a moment, she slowly let them close, focusing on the strange feeling, her little inner scientist resolutely cataloguing how soft Dash’s lips felt, the unsual sensation as her horn brushed against the other pony’s mane, the awkward back and forth it took to co-ordinate with someone at something as spontaneous as a kiss. It finally gave up as it informed her how her heart was racing, how breathless she felt, and died completely in a silent squeak of flushed emotion.
After a long moment, their lips parted and her eyes slowly opened to find the deep rose ones of her partner starring deeply into them. Twilight Sparkle had never thought of pink as a beautiful colour, but right now she would surround herself in it to remind her of those eyes. “Wow” breathed Dash, her cheeks flushing. She leaned forward again and...
“OOooOOOooh! They’re KISSING!”
The two ponies jerked apart so fast Twilight swore she heard
a bone in her neck creak as they heard Pinkie’s gleeful exclamation. Looking around frantically, she saw the pink mare sitting happily, crosslegged and munching popcorn, heaven knows where she found that sort of thing, and watching them. The other ponies, in various states of wakefulness, were staring at the pair in shock and disbelief.
“DASH! I can’t believe y’all would take advantage of Twi like that,”started Applejack, a scowl of disapproval on her face.
“ME?!” retorts the pegasus, angrily, but Twilight held up a hoof and shouted
“STOP!”, before the whole thing could get out of hand. Mentally, she made a note she better ask AJ about her and Dash one day.
“This wasn’t even Dash’s idea, it was mine. I’ve never kissed any other pony before and.. and I thought I could try to practice with her.” This wasn’t totally true. It wasn’t even close to true. It was pretty close to a lie, actually, but she had promised to keep this agreement between the two of them, and unless Dash herself said otherwise, she wasn’t going to bring any more embarrassment on her friend.
“Oh, darling, NO, you can’t practice on Rainbow Dash, you just can’t” said Rarity, with an air of horror.
Twilight glared at her, and said, sharply, “Why not? Giving unicorns a bad name, am I?”
Tsking through her teeth, the other horned pony shakes her head “Heavens no, darling, but Dash simply has NO idea how to kiss..”The azure filly started to sputter a protest, but Rarity tutted impatiently. “If you simply MUST, I’ll have to show her how it’s done. It’s the only way.” To the other girls eternal shock and amazement, Rarity strode over to Rainbow Dash.
“FIRST”she says, “One must look deep into the eyes of one’s kissing partner.” A hoof cupped a blue-furred cheek, and she fluttered her lashes, coyly as only she knew how. The pegasus gulped, her ears going pink and her eyes widening. “Then, as the , ahem, gentleman, Rainbow Dash, you should dip..” The ivory mare did so effortlessly, “and then kiss..”Their lips met, Dash’s eyes growing wider by the second, and for a moment Twilight swore she saw steam coming out of her ears. As the two snouts parted, Rarily went “blech... oh lord...” before regaining her dignity, and giving the pegasus a small push towards Twilight. Dash wobbled unsteadily on her legs, as Rarity commanded “Now, you go and do this PROPERLY, young lady!”
Glancing around, Twilight saw the various expressions on her friends faces, still watching, and realised she would have to kiss Dash in FRONT of them. Fluttershy looked strangely interested, eyes wide and cheeks flushed. Applejack looked confused and slightly disgusted, Pinkie Pie seemed happy to treat the whole thing as a movie, and was still eating popcorn. She held up a “8” card after Rarity finished the strange kiss.
As for Rarity, she had an odd proprietary air, a smile on her snout. Catching her eye, she winks at the lilac unicorn, as if to share a personal joke.
Dash staggered over, and, with a more confident smile, followed the unicorn’s instructions to a tee. Already, Twilight felt herself getting lost in the other pony’s eyes, and when she went to try the dip, a foreleg instinctively ran around Dash’s strong neck. This time the kiss was much deeper and longer with, to a measure of personal internal confusion but eventual enjoyment, some tongue involved as well. When they broke off this time, they both found themselves flushed and panting softly.
Ears pinning back, Twilight murmured “That was nice, but.. um.. the others?”
Pinkie Pie started clapping enthusiastically and held up a 9. “That was WAY better! You’re almost as good as Clover.”
Applejack seemed rather uncomfortable, and notes “As I said, not that there’s
nothing wrong with that, but could y’all tone down the romantic stuff a little bit? It’s a might much for me.” Grinning a little, Dash turns and gives her a wink, leaning over. “Sorry, AJ, this train has SAILED.”
“Wait, that don’t even work...”started the earth pony in mild annoyance, but the rainbow-maned flyer was looking around. “Anyone else want to try?” Twilight had to laugh softly, a smile on her snout. Same old boastful Dash. “Anyone else decide they like the candy vag?”
“DASH!”gasps Applejack, before laughing out loud. “Damn, y’all will never change...” “A-actually,”murmurs Fluttershy, so soft she’s barely heard. “Um.. I always liked the term ‘moon-kissed mare lips’ better.. You know.. not, um.. c-candy vag.” The other girls paused in their laughter to look at Fluttershy with open amazement, who proceeded to try and hide behind her own mane. “It.. it was from one of my favorite comics, ‘Lady Lily’s Finishing School for Fillies’”
Rainbow Dash gasps, and says “YOU read that? It’s all.. all...well, fillies. With other fillies.”
Arching an eyebrow, Applejack teases “An’ how would YOU know what that there girly comic is about.” Flushing, Dash mutters “It was beside my Pegasus Power Squad comics when I was a kid. I mighta.. you know, looked. Once.”
Rarity coughs politely, and asks, “Let me suppose it’s full of unicorns?”
“Oh yes!” said Fluttershy, smiling a little, her eyes sparkling with shy enthusiasm.
“ARG!? Does everywhere in Equestria think we like the .. the candy vag?!” groaned Twilight, facehoofing. The rest of the ponies broke down in laughter, and they ended up joking until the first light of dawn started to paint the indigo night sky.
The sun was well above them and the birds singing riotously as the camp broke the next day. As Twilight was helping Rarity roll up the bedding, their magic making the work faster than hooves, and more neat that AJ or Dash would be, she turns to the other unicorn.
“I have to ask.. why DID you kiss Dash. You really didn’t seem to like it.”
Flipping her long violet locks from her eyes, the white unicorn gave a melodious laugh. “Darling, it’s all very nice and well that you’re happy, so don’t worry, but I didn’t do that for me. I did that for you, you know.”
Seeing her friend’s puzzled expression, the mare continues “Dear, the other ponies might not be versed in the ways of the heart, but I am. I saw how you looked when Dash reacted so badly and said she didn’t like fillies, even if no one else noticed.”
Speaking softer now, the sophisticated equine asks, “If I hadn’t done that, would you two be together? Would you even have kissed again? I gave her confidence, I gave you a chance at romance and.. well, I managed to save the day, if I do say so myself.” Winking, Rarity adds “All for the price of a kiss I didn’t care to make.”
Smiling, Twilight nods. How could she forget that Rarity, for all her snobbery and sophistication and perfectionism, strove to reflect generosity. She would gladly give of herself to help her friends.
“Thank you”said the lilac filly softly “You did save the day, and it meant a lot to me. I hope you find someone who can appreciate you as much as your friends do.”
Smiling and chuckling to herself as she moved away to finish packing, Rarity called over her shoulder “If I do, he’ll be one in ten million. Even I doubt I can find that.”
The sky was clear and blue and Twilight watched the birds soaring across the azure vault, high above them. Surrounded by her friends, their constant conversation is as comforting as any lullaby, and soothing as any balm on her soul. As a single cloud drifted into view, a flash of light, a prism of speed and colour strikes it to the cheers of her friends, keeping the sky clear, their day beautiful. Dash turned around high above to salute them, her, and she felt her heart glow.
She didn’t know how she could report this, because the feelings went deeper than words, and besides, she suspected deep in her heart, her teacher would know without telling. But one thing she did know, she was no longer between the darkness and the light. Not content to be in twilight anymore, she was finally walking in the full sun of her life.