One Night In Manehattan
In a cheap hotel room somewhere on the lower south side of Manehattan, curled beneath a thin blanket, a pony lay dreaming. At least she assumed she was dreaming. Finding herself wrapped in warmth and cuddled up against what felt distinctly like another pony wasn’t the sort of thing that happened in her waking life. She’d wake up any minute now, and be alone and lonely again in the shoddy hotel room the Wonderbolts’ management had booked for her as part of the arrangements for the current tour.
With a small grumble of annoyance, the pegaus rolled onto her side, curling more tightly around the warm coat that had been pressing against her side. This tour had been nothing but a disaster, and just the thought of it was enough to shake the wonderful sense of contentment her current position was bringing. Trying to push thoughts of work out of her mind, she slid a hoof over the withers in front of her, gently pulling her unexpected companion closer. She was rewarded with a sleepy murmur of happiness, and she buried her face in a soft mane and let her mind drift.
This kind of dream was becoming entirely too common, lately.
Slow, calming breaths pulled in the scent of sugared strawberries and warm fur as she just relaxed and let herself soak up the fleeting peace of the dream. It had been almost a year since she’d been home long enough to have the pleasure of just lying like this, cuddled up against the pony of her dreams, just listening to soft breaths. She craved it, needed it like she needed open skies and the rush of wind in her mane. But the scheduling just kept getting worse.
It was hard to tell time in dreams, but it seemed to her that this dream was lasting longer than the last few times she’d imagined it. Not that she was complaining. But usually something would have woken her up by now. Smiling slightly at her own pessimism, even in a dream, she drifted back into deeper sleep.
-= X =-
*BANG BANG BANG*
The thunder of somepony’s overenthusiastic hooves on her door startled her, and she had rolled out of bed and was halfway to the door before managing to her her eyes all the way open.
“M’ coming. Keep your saddle on!”
Fumbling at the door lock with all the dexterity a half-awake pony could muster, she finally managed to unlatch it on her third try, and swung the door open to glare grumpily into the hallway. The blue pegasus stallion standing at her door, foot still raised to knock again, wilted a little under her glare.
“Why the hay are you trying to kick my door down, Soarin’? I was sleeping!” She was clearly not amused at being dragged away from a pleasant dream.
Soarin recovered his usual cheerful grin quickly enough, and nodded. “Sorry, didn’t know you were still snoozing. We were just about to order some breakfast, and Spitfire sent me to see if you wanted in. We still need to figure out the formations for the last two shows, after all.”
Rainbow Dash snorted. “Sorry, didn’t mean to snap at you. I was just having a... good dream, and really didn’t want to wake up.”
At Soarin’s snicker, Dash poked him with a hoof. “Not like I get much sleep lately anyway, with you two going at it like rabbits next door!”
The pegasus stallion blushed heavily at that, slapping a hoof to his face with a groan. “You heard that?”
“Thin walls. I’d be surprised if anypony on the floor didn’t.” Grinning at his discomfort, Rainbow leaned against the doorframe nonchalantly, her grin widening as she watched her Captain stutter as he struggled for a response.
“I’m just messin’ with you, Soarin’. Must be nice having your marefriend on tour with you, though.”
They both laughed as the older Wonderbolt got his blush under control, and found his voice again. “Well, it does have it’s perks, but right now I’m more worried about what she’ll do to me if I don’t get back so we can order breakfast! You coming?”
“Yeah, gimme a few minutes to shower, and I’ll head over.”
“Sounds good, I’ll let Spitfire know, and get breakfast on the way.”
With a wave to Soarin’ as he headed back to his room, Rainbow turned back into her own, kicking the door shut behind her and rubbing at her eyes with a hoof. A rustling in the direction of the bed made her tense for a moment before dismissing it as just the blanket sliding, and she turned to head to the bathroom and a much desired hot shower. A few steps later, Rainbow Dash froze, her wings mantling in surprise as a cheery voice piped up from the direction of the bed.
“Ooo. Did somepony say breakfast?”
The cyan pegasus whipped around to stare wide-eyed at the curly-maned head now sticking out of the pile of blankets on the bed and blinking sleepy blue eyes at her.
The bright pink pony eyed the startled pegasus for a moment, her cheerful expression fading a bit as Dash’s shocked reaction to her presence registered.
“I... I got here last night, Dashie. Don’t you remember?”
Rainbow Dash could only stare, frozen in place by conflicting emotions. Her mind was reeling as she racked her brain for memories of the night before, coming up with dreamlike fragments and disconnected scenes, but no real explanation. Her heart, on the other hoof, had clearly decided to toss confusion out the window and was doing ecstatic loops of sheer happiness at seeing Pinkie again.
“I showed up and then we went out to party?”
The pink pony’s cheer had rapidly faded, and she now looked up at Dash through the drooping strands of her unruly bangs, her soft blue eyes pleading for some kind of reassurance from the startled pegasus.
“I guess you don’t....”
Pinkie sighed and looked down at her hooves, quietly berating herself. “This was a bad idea, I shouldn’t have come.” She sniffled. “You don’t even want me here...”
The party pony trailed off, just closing her eyes until a gentle hoof lifted her chin, and she opened her eyes to look up at Dash. Her heart skipped a beat to stop as Rainbow Dash smiled down at her, her own magenta eyes more than a little misty above a tremulous smile.
“I thought I was dreaming.”
The slow smile spreading across Pinkie’s face was like dawn breaking over Cloudsdale. Lunging from her blanket nest like an uncoiling spring, the pink party pony pounced upon the pegasus, wrapping her forelegs around Dash in a tight hug. Surprised at the sudden weight, Rainbow fell back against the headboard, bringing her own forehooves up to comfortably embrace her marefriend. Dash couldn’t help but chuckle as Pinkie Pie’s head settled on her shoulder, leaving her buried to her chin in unruly pink curls.
“I’m soooo sorry, Pinks. With all the shows, and the appearances, and the endorsements, and the bad sleep...” Rainbow Dash sighed, stroking a comforting hoof over Pinkie Pie’s shoulders. “I can hardly tell if I’m awake at all some days.”
“It’s okay, Dashie.” With her cuddled so close, the pegasus could feel Pinkie Pie’s words in her chest as well as hear them. “I’ve been reading your letters, and should’ve expected you to be a silly filly after so little sleep!”
They rested in comfortable silence for several minutes, both content to be exactly where they were. Eventually, a thought occurred to the pink earth pony, and she pushed herself up on her forelegs to look down at Rainbow Dash. “What do you remember from last night?” Pinkie asked, raising one eyebrow curiously.
It was a long moment before Dash answered. “Well, if I wasn’t dreaming after all... after you pounced me when I opened the door, we went out for dinner at that buffet around the corner, right?” She grinned up at Pinkie. “And they probably don’t want to see us again any time soon.”
Pinkie giggled and smiled. “It’s not my fault they didn’t really mean ‘all you can eat’!”
“They weren’t expecting a pro.” Dash laughed as well, before continuing. “Then... I think we went dancing, didn’t we?”
Pinkie nodded, slowly. “Mm hm.”
“Right... now I remember, there was this wicked cool DJ with the neatest shades!”
“Yep! That’s DJ-Pon-3, or Vinyl Scratch to her friends.”
Rainbow Dash blinked up at Pinkie. “Wait, you know DJ Pon-3?”
“Duh!” Pinkie Pie rolled her eyes. “I know everypony, Dashie!”
“Well, yeah. But how in the hay do you know her?”
The smile on Pinkie Pie’s face just grew a little wider. “I met her at a party in Ponyville, and suggested her to a few ponies who needed music for their parties a while back. She was so happy she asked me to do a song with her for her next album!”
“That’s just so... Pinkie Pie.” Dash shook her head, with a smile. “But yeah... so we were dancing, and then they closed down the club for the night so we were out roaming around Manehattan...”
The cyan pegasus trailed off, deep in thought for a moment, then shrugged. “Sorry, Pinkie Pie, that’s all I’ve got. After that, all I remember is waking up here cuddled up with you.” Leaning up a bit, she nuzzled the pink pony above her. “Best way to wake up ever.”
Pinkie returned the nuzzle, but leaned back again to eye Dash with what she thought looked almost like disappointment. “That’s all you remember?”
“Yep. Sorry, Pinks. I’m sure more’ll come back when I get a little more awake.” As if to prove her point, a yawn overtook Rainbow, and she covered her mouth with a hoof. “Only one way to do that, though. Lemme up so I can shower, then we’ll go get you something sweet to munch on, and get me a bucket of coffee.”
With a nod and a giggle, Pinkie Pie rolled off of Rainbow Dash, and the pegasus climbed off of the bed to head to the bathroom. Glancing back over her shoulder, she smiled at the absolutely adorable picture Pinkie made, lying on her back with her head hanging off the edge of the bed. Her upside down smile was still firmly in place as she watched Dash go, and the pegasus couldn’t resist taking a moment to stretch just to enjoy the little blush that came to Pinkie Pie’s cheeks when she realized Dash had caught her watching.
Not that Rainbow Dash minded. She gave the other mare a knowing smile and a little flirt of her tail before vanishing into the bathroom.
-= X =-
As hot water streamed down over her, Rainbow Dash felt the muzzy fog of too little sleep start to lift. As the heat soothed away all the little aches and pains that too much work and too many long weeks in a row had knotted into her muscles, she hummed with quiet pleasure. It was definitely time to yell at somepony about the accommodations, she decided. Bad enough to be stuck on the ground to ‘avoid the paparazzi’, but all these earth pony beds were a pain in the flank for somepony used to clouds.
On second thought, it wasn’t all bad. After all, she was pretty sure that Pinkie Pie couldn’t walk on normal clouds, no matter how she’d handled Discord’s little jokes a few years ago. With a grin, the cyan pegasus ducked her head under the spray to let the warm water run through her mane. She had to admit, a bed with an utterly adorable and super snuggly pink pony in it had a great deal of appeal, cloud or no cloud.
That image lingered, and Dash was perfectly happy to dwell on it until her attention was called back by the unconscious shifting of her wings, and she blushed and snickered before turning her mind to less risible thoughts; such as the previous evening.
Now that she was more awake, Rainbow remembered Pinkie’s arrival. She had been headed back to the hotel after a day full of trying to get the newer backup fliers of the team trained on their part in the showpiece for tomorrow’s performance, sore and tired. The only thought on her mind had been falling into bed and hoping to wake up less exhausted than she already was.
Dash had gotten the door unlocked on the second try, but barely had time to swing it open before a cry of “DASHIE!” rang out and a bright pink blur had tackled her. Before she could blink, she found herself wrapped up into an almost crushing hug by a cheerfully babbling Pinkie Pie.
“OHMYGOSHDASHIE!” The pink pony’s words were almost a squeal as she gleefully squeezed the startled Wonderbolt. A moment later, Pinkie pushed the other mare back out to leg’s length to smile hugely at her until the red lock falling in Dash’s startled face drew her eye.
“Oo.You let your mane get so long! It looks super awesome and I’m so happy to see you ‘cause it’s been way too long and you know I get lonely even with letters ‘cause you can’t hug a letter well not really hug it like a pony even if it’s still better than nothing so I figured you were probably lonely too so the Cakes let me have a few days off and I decided to come surprise you but then you opened the door and looked so down that I just had to hug you right now and are you surprised? Huh? Huh?”
Throughout her rapid-fire chatter, the party pony’s nose had gotten closer and closer to Rainbow Dash’s own, and Dash found herself staring into a pair of shining blue eyes at close range as she tried to find a proper reaction to the sudden arrival of her best friend and long-term mutual crush.
“Pinkie? What...” She sounded confused, but the corners of her mouth were already starting to turn up into a smile as she realized that the one thing she wanted more than a two-day nap was bouncing on her hooves a few inches away.
“You are surprised!” Pinkie Pie giggle-snorted, her nose crinkling adorably as she bounced in sheer glee. “I totally wanted to give you a super awesome extra special...”
The rest of the sentence was lost as Rainbow Dash’s confusion was overwhelmed by a rising tide of joy, and she opted to demonstrate rather than answer verbally. Pinkie Pie’s rant cut off with a surprised squeak as she fell back on her haunches. With almost desperate eagerness, the cyan pegasus pressed forward and kissed her, letting all the happiness and longing of a long-overdue reunion wash over them both as their lips met.
Several endless seconds later, Dash pulled away, grinning at the pink mare. “Breathe, Pinkie.”
Pinkie Pie gasped in a breath, then licked her lips. She looked thoughtful for a moment, then perked up. “Oo, cherry!”
They had both broken down in helpless giggles at that point, Dash remembered, reaching up to turn the hot water up. She’d had just enough time to toss her saddlebags in the closet before they’d decided to go get dinner and talk. She sighed. It was incredibly frustrating that they’d needed to catch up.
Dash loved being a Wonderbolt. It was what she’d always wanted to do, and the complicated aerial ballet of speed and finesse was something she took a very justified pride in excelling at. It wouldn’t be boasting to call herself one of the top five flyers in all of Equestria, just acknowledgement of the facts. But it came at the cost of several months on the road each year, and constant practice to stay in the kind of shape a world-class athlete needed to be in.
Scowling at an out of place feather, the cyan pegasus reached back to preen it into place with her teeth. The time away had been getting worse, lately. The Wonderbolts’ old manager had retired two years ago. The new stallion to the job, Silver Lining, had stepped up their scheduled appearances substantially. Normally, they would have been home for the season two months ago, but some big spender out here in Manehattan had talked him into a series of exhibitions that were going to keep them out for another month yet.
For most of the Wonderbolts, it was just part of the job. More chances to show off and maybe score a wealthy sponsor’s bits. Rainbow Dash found that whole business distasteful. Sure, ponies were willing to pay her lots of bits to say how cool some product of theirs was, but she got into this to fly, not to be somepony’s walking advertisement. Besides, the way those ponies looked at her, like something they could buy and sell, made her flesh crawl. But that wasn’t the worst part.
The worst part was that every minute she was here was one she wasn’t spending at home, catching up with her friends and glued to Pinkie Pie’s side. The ‘off season’ was only four months long in the first place. Losing most of it to this ‘prime fundraising opportunity’ was absolutely frustrating. But as much as she wanted to spend that time in Ponyville, she was part of a team, and she wasn’t giving up on the others. No matter how many nights she spent dreaming about being wrapped in the soft touch of pink fur.
Long distance relationships sucked.
The thought of Pinkie Pie served as a reminder that she was waiting, and Rainbow Dash reached for the shampoo. Enough time soaking, Spitfire and Soarin’ would have breakfast in by now, and no doubt Pinkie was starving. The pegasus smiled at that as she worked the lather into her mane with her hooves. Pinkie’s appetite was legendary around Ponyville, and it would be fun to see how her fellow Wonderbolts reacted to an earth pony who could out-eat three athletes.
She chuckled at that, then winced as her hoof caught on something that made her right ear twitch painfully. Blinking, Rainbow Dash felt around with a careful hoof, one eyebrow going up in confusion as something metallic clinked against her hoof.
“What in the hay?”
Ducking back under the shower to rinse out the shampoo, she poked at the strange object a couple more times, earning another wince when she tried to pull it and it took her ear with it. Hopping out of the shower, Dash wiped at the bathroom mirror with a wet fetlock before leaning her head to try to get a look at whatever was stuck to her. There was definitely something there, but the steamy mirror’s reflection was cloudy.
With growing worry, Rainbow snagged a towel from the rack and used it to clear the mirror. Gently, she pushed the riot of color that was her mane back, baring her right ear to find a small white gold hoop though the piercing she’d gotten back in flight school. She didn’t remember putting on any earrings last night, she thought.
Something was nagging at the back of her mind as she puzzled through her memory, and she idly stared at the earring as she thought. It was actually kind of cool looking, she thought. It wasn’t flashy, like the gaudy things Rarity so loved to wear. Just a simple band with some kind of small engraving and three tiny gemstones. Eyes widening in panic, Dash leaned closer, her muzzle almost pressed against the glass as she stared at the earring.
Three tiny gems dotted the band, two blue and one yellow, cut to the shape of balloons. Their tails wove together across the band in simple yet attractive scrollwork, showing the jeweler’s careful craft. A craft that was lost on Rainbow Dash, as memories flashed through her mind. Walking home from the afterparty last night, revelling in the slide of fur as Pinkie took every opportunity to brush up against her. She remembered wishing that every night could be like this, and a decision.
Pinkie Pie had made the bed, and was attempting to drag a brush though the mass of fluffy chaos that was her mane when the bathroom door crashed open and a still-dripping pegasus ran into the room. Startled, she let loose of the brush, her eyes widening as Rainbow Dash stalked quickly over to stand over her, ignoring the water her soaked mane dripped onto the blankets.
Her heart pounding and a little bit scared of the intense expression on Rainbow’s face, Pinkie Pie looked up at her and asked, “What’s wrong, Dashie?”
With a shaking hoof, Dash gently brushed the pink pony’s unruly mane away from her right ear. A matching band, gold with a tiny silver cloud trailing a lighning bolt of cleverly carved red, yellow, and blue gemstone gleamed against Pinkie Pie’s soft pink coat, as she had expected. Sinking down on her haunches, the shaky cyan pegasus gathered Pinkie’s forehooves in her own, and stared up into her softly puzzled blue eyes.
“Pinkie Pie?” She asked, her voice as shaky as her hooves.
“Yes, Dashie?” Pinkie’s own voice was soft, curious and a little scared of what could have shaken the brash mare this badly.
“Did...” Dash swallowed around a lump in her throat, then continued. “Did I ask you to marry me last night?”
Pinkie’s eyes widened at the question, and she blinked with cheerful relief. “Of course not, you silly filly!”
Dash’s heart felt like an iron vice had closed on it at Pinkie’s words, and she looked away, unable to meet the other mare’s eyes. So that was it, the one thing she could never find the courage to do, and she’d failed again. She barely heard the other mare move until a soft hoof on her chin pulled her back around to look at Pinkie, and her heart shuddered in her chest again.
The pink pony’s face glowed with happiness and love as she looked down at Rainbow Dash and smiled.
“I asked you first!”