I Still Don’t Wanna Gallop Home
by Doctor Dapples
She had expected the highlight of her trip to be hanging out with all of her friends again. Instead, she found herself getting the most comfort out of Ponyville’s new Donut Shop. In her absence, Pony Joe’s Canterlot location had seen enough business for him to open up a new shop in Ponyville, one which provided gainful employment to young ponies like the one currently eyeing Rainbow Dash nervously from behind the counter. She didn’t know his name, and she didn’t particularly care. She drained her mug and slammed it onto the hard wood.
“Gimme another! Double chocolate this time!”
“Ma’am, maybe you should...”
“Nooooo...” retorted Rainbow. “Maybe YOU should. Do what I ask. I am a paying pony and I expect to be treated as such.” She grabbed a few extra coins and tossed them into the clerk’s tip jar. “Will that cool your hooves, Sugarcube?”
“Ma’am, my name is...”
“Whoops! Don’t care! Less talking, more choc-ing. Choc-ling...chocolatoling...whatever. Another drink.”
The clerk, whose name was Roanoke, turned to make her drink. “I was just trying to offer you some friendly advice.”
Rainbow scoffed. “Well, don’t! The last thing I need is another ‘friend’!”
She turned upon hearing a familiar voice. Standing in the doorway was a purple unicorn she knew very well. “Hey, Twilight,” she said sheepishly.
“What are you doing here?” asked Twilight Sparkle.
Rainbow sighed. “I got a little bored. I can only take so many apple sweets. You know what I mean, right?” She laughed nervously.
“Yeah. I guess so.”
“So why did you leave?”
“Well, that was short.”
Twilight pulled herself into the next seat. “It lasted for three hours, Rainbow.”
Roanoke slammed Rainbow’s drink down in front of her, startling her. “One more cocoa, double chocolate,” he repeated. She would have glared at him, if she wasn’t too busy trying to smile away Twilight’s suspicious look.
“Hey!” she said, hoping desperately to steer the conversation in a different direction. “Didn’t Apple Bloom look so grown up in that dress?”
“Oh yes!” Twilight said. “I rather wish Rarity hadn’t made it accentuate her cutie mark so much, but after all the work it took Apple Bloom to earn it, I definitely understand.”
“She never thought she’s get it, did she?”
“And what about Applejack? Didn’t she look gorgeous in her gown?” Twilight beamed with happiness, remembering the outfit, even more beautiful than the one worn to the Gala.
Rainbow’s face fell, and she looked at her distorted, muddied reflection in her cocoa. “Yeah. Gorgeous.”
“What’s really going on here, Rainbow Dash? I can see that you’re not telling me something. What happened back there?”
She took a sip of her cocoa, which was starting to get cold. “It’s complicated, Twilight. You really don’t want to hear about it.”
“Yes, I do. Please?”
Rainbow forced out a small smile. “Okay, but you asked for it.”
Everything started out awesome. I was super excited when I got Applejack’s invitation! I still felt a little weird from time to time that my training with the Wonder Bolts took me away from Ponyville for such long periods of time, and even more so that I had been gone so long that Applejack had time to meet this colt she was head over hooves for. But I was stoked! I was telling all my new friends that my best friend since I was a filly was getting married. Even Soarin was excited, and he’s barely met Applejack.
But it was still training season, and getting away from the Bolts is no easy feat, so I wasn’t able to get away until right before the wedding. Just enough time to say “hi” to you guys before it started. And she waved at me on her way down the aisle. I was so happy for her!
And then they recited their vows. She kept calling him her “best friend” and talking about how wonderful he was. Everything was perfect now, and everything before was a hollow search leading to the moment when she found her “missing piece.”
“And?” asked Twilight.
Rainbow Dash threw up her hooves. “And what am I? Spoiled oats? I’ve always thought of Applejack as my closest friend! Now I’m wondering what exactly we were doing here in Ponyville! Because I thought we were having a great time!”
So after the ceremony, I finally spot an opening to talk to her, and I asked her to meet me in the barn. She caught up to me just a moment later.
“It’s great to see you, Rainbow! How you been? The Wonder Bolts ain’t working you too hard, I hope!”
“It’s pretty rough, but its nothing I can’t handle! How’s the apple business?”
“Better than ever! It feels like ages since we’ve had a harvest like this, and the money we’re pulling in has really helped with the wedding. Of course, our friends have really helped too. Fluttershy trained those birds herself! But what about you? I heard you’ve been seeing a colt yourself.”
“Yeah...you might remember Soarin. Wonder Bolt, shaggy mane, big appetite?”
“Heck yeah, I remember him. He was the only one who bought anything from me at the Gala! He doin’ alright?”
“Oh yeah. He’s great. So...I wanted to ask you something else, Applejack.”
“Go on ahead!”
“Your vows back there? Did you mean all that?”
Applejack laughed a little at that. “Of course I did. That’s not exactly the best time to be telling stories.”
Rainbow chuckled too. “No, I guess not. But that’s not what I meant. I meant all that stuff about your life before.”
“I’m not sure I follow you.”
“You know, your life before you met...whatshisname.”
“Now hold on a second,” Applejack said, her voice getting more serious. “You know his name, Rainbow Dash.”
She closed her eyes and tried to focus on getting the proper words out. “I know, I do. I just don’t understand what you mean when you say your life was empty before you met him. I mean, what about us?”
“Rainbow, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. I think you’re wonderful, but you know I’ve never been like that. We were never...”
“No, no, no!” she yelled. “That’s not what I mean at all!”
Applejack crooked her head to the side, subconsciously attempting to decipher her friend’s meaning. “Then what do you mean, Sugarcube?”
Her teeth were on edge. Her mind was racing. The words were getting harder and harder to find. Rainbow wanted to tell Applejack how badly she missed her, but everything sounded wrong. “All our competitions! All our adventures together! What about them? Why couldn’t we stay like that?”
The newly married earth pony lowered her head. She raised her eyes to meet Rainbow’s, and spoke in a soft voice: “You left.”
Rainbow swallowed hard. The next words came out choked, more pained than she had hoped. “We were best friends.”
Applejack smiled at the pegasus. “We still are friends, sweetie.” But her smile faded as she saw the violet eyes fill with tears.
“But you’re STILL my best friend! What am I supposed to do now?”
After that, we went back to the party. I tried my best to hang out with you and the other ponies, but I just couldn’t concentrate. You were all having these fun-sounding conversations, but I was just pushing an apple fritter around my plate. Sometimes when I looked up, I’d see Applejack looking at me. Not angry or upset, just kind of...sad. But eventually she lost herself in the party again, and she was able to enjoy herself again. Not long after, I decided to get out of there.
“End of story.”
“Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry,” said another voice. Rainbow Dash looked up and saw Rarity. Beside her were Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, both with concern on their faces. Rainbow chuckled.
“You guys snuck up on me. Sorry about all that. I’m not trying to depress anyone. Really, this is my problem, not yours.”
“Are you kidding?” jumped in Pinkie Pie. “We’re friends! We’re always happy to listen to you!”
“Even if you’re not feeling happy yourself,” said Fluttershy, smiling warmly.
Twilight spoke up. “Sometimes that’s just the way life is. Would you like to hear my thoughts?”
“Your friendship with Applejack...it’s not gone.” Rainbow opened her mouth to speak, but Twilight raised a hoof to silence her. “But it has changed. You can spend your life trying to change it back, but if you don’t get anywhere, you’ll just make yourself miserable. Or you can accept the change for what it is, and hold onto the great memories the two of you made together. Life is changing for all of us, including you, Rainbow. And you might have to make changes yourself someday. It doesn’t make either of you bad ponies.”
Rainbow nodded slowly, and pushed away her half-finished cocoa. “Yeah, I think I understand. But can you do me a favor, Twilight?”
“Please don’t send this to Princess Celestia.”
Twilight smiled. “Don’t worry. This lesson is just between friends.”
The five ponies walked out of Pony Joe’s together, and even Rainbow Dash was smiling and laughing. They made plans to spend the next day together, after they all got some much needed sleep. Unfortunately, Rainbow only had a few days to herself before she had to return to the Wonder Bolts, which meant that she would be gone before Applejack came back from her honeymoon. But right before she flew off, she left her a note inside a sealed envelope.
It read: “All the happiness in Equestria to you both.