“Come on Applejack, you said you were going to help me practice my new trick today.”
“Ah’m sorry Rainbow, but I…uh…I gotta help Big Macintosh with the harvest today. Ah’ll help you out later sometime. So sorry but, bye!”
Rainbow Dash watched her friend turn around and practically gallop away. She was beginning to wonder what in Equestria had come over everypony. Each one of her friends had abandoned her today in their own way. She’d made plans in the morning to teach Fluttershy how to clear clouds, but Fluttershy had made up some lame excuse about teaching the birds a new song. After that, Rainbow Dash went to Rarity’s dress shop. Her dress for the Grand Galloping Gala was fraying around the edges. Dash knew she shouldn’t have worn it so often before the actual day, but its design had really grown on her. Rarity had been sitting at her drafting desk, coming up with new designs. Yet when Dash walked in, suddenly Rarity had a “rush of new orders”. Even Twilight Sparkle had some new and unexpected, “pressing research into friendship” that would take her at least the rest of the day. And now Applejack was breaking their appointment.
“What is wrong with everypony?” Dash said to herself as she floated above Ponyville. “Ever since last night all my friends have been acting so strange. It’s almost like they’re avoiding me. Pinkie Pie would never do that, though.” She thought, getting a flash of inspiration, “I’ll go ask her what’s going on.”
Flying off to the Sugar Cube Corner, Dash tried to remember what happened last night. She invited all of her friends over to her new house. She still had a house in the sky, but was feeling bad about always imposing on the other ponies when they wanted to have a get-together, so Rainbow Dash had taken many, many weeks to build her own house on the outskirts of Ponyville. She saved all the money she made from working in Celestia’s weather brigade to buy the supplies, and did most of the construction herself. The other ponies had initially been quite impressed during the tour, as Dash made sure to point out the kitchen, hallways, living space, the study, and party room. She was especially proud of the basement she had dug out herself, and the sturdy rock foundation of the structure. It wasn’t until later that night that her friends had started acting uncomfortable about being there. She didn’t know what it was, but they all had seemed very shy and anxious to leave by the time the tour ended. Did something happen that Dash simply wasn’t aware of?
“Better not to think about it.” Rainbow Dash said to herself. “If Pinkie Pie won’t tell me, no pony will.”
Rainbow Dash landed on the street just outside the Sugar Cube Corner. She knew Pinkie Pie was working there today, and she couldn’t get rid of Dash easily. Mr. and Mrs. Cake would be upset if Pinkie tried to get rid of a paying customer. As Dash approached the front door, a teal-colored unicorn came out of the shop. She had light blue hair on her mane with a white stripe down the middle. It was a pony Dash knew, but wasn’t one she would call a “friend”. More of, a friendly acquaintance.
“Hey Lyra!” Dash greeted her, “Nice to see ya. How is everything going?”
“Oh! Rainbow Dash.” Lyra said, appearing rather flustered. She blushed slightly, dipped her head and brought one of her hooves up near her face. “I didn’t expect to see you here. Are you doing some shopping?”
“Um, yeah.” Dash replied, surprised at the unicorn’s reaction. “Do you know if Pinkie Pie’s working right now?” Dash already knew the answer to the question, but was trying to make polite conversation.
“Why yes, she is. We just had a very pleasant chat.” Lyra said with a slight giggle. “And just so you know, Dash,”
“Hm?” Dash muttered. Lyra was stepping closer, and started to invade Rainbow Dash’s personal space. She placed her snout right up to Dash’s ear and whispered, “Bon-bon’s been ignoring me, lately. If you ever need somepony to…you know…feel free to come over any time.”
With that, Lyra giggled again and skipped happily off down the street. Dash, now incredibly confused, pensively pushed her way into the shop. Nearly the moment she nudged the door open Pinkie Pie leapt over the counter and bounded to her friend’s side.
“Rainbow Dash!” She declared happily, “I’m so glad you’re here. I was worried you might go away for a while but now you’ve come back. I wanted to talk with you and now I can!”
“I wanted to talk to you too, Pinkie.” Dash said, “What is up with everyone? No pony seems to want to be near me today. Did I do something wrong or what?”
“Oh, so you don’t know.” Pinkie began, lowering her voice and slowing her speech, “Well, it’s about last night…”
“Yes? What happened?” Dash asked.
“We…saw them.” Pinkie said.
“The magazines. The ones under your bed.”
Rainbow Dash flushed immediately. Under the bed? Her magazines? These were supposed to be an ultra secret thing to never show another pony in her life never ever no matter what forever. They were her stash. Her *ahem* rather extensive stash of all-female pony-on-pony porn. These were not things you wanted your friends to see, especially when you hadn’t told them that you were only interested in other female ponies.
“Pinkie, it’s not like that.” Dash started to get out, “It’s-”
“No Dash, don’t deny who you are.” Pinkie Pie began, “No pony needs to live in fear of themselves or their own desires. In fact, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
Dash gulped and looked her friend square in the face. Was this what she thought it was? Was Pinkie about to…?
“Since the incident with Nightmare Mo…I mean Princess Luna, I’ve always been admiring how strong and loyal you are. You gave up your dream of being in an elite flying team for us, and you’re always there for your friends. Over the past few months, I’ve started to wonder if it wasn’t just admiration I’ve been feeling. Every time I see you a lump rises up in my throat, and it gets hard to talk. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long, but I was afraid you’d laugh at me. Now that I know about you, I think the time is right. Rainbow Dash-“
“Pinkie Pie, stop.” Dash said, stomping her hoof on the ground. “Those magazines, everypony saw them?”
“Yeah Dash, but don’t you want to hear me say that-“
“So that’s why my friends have been acting so strange.” Dash said, “Pinkie Pie, thank you. I’ve got to go talk to the others right away. See you around.” Dash yelled and bolted back out the door.
Pinkie Pie slouched next to the counter. “She didn’t even listen to me.” She said sadly before returning to her work.
Rainbow Dash flew quickly to the Ponyville library. Everypony knew it was Twilight Sparkle’s house now, but every once in a while a pony would forget and simply barge in hoping to borrow a book. Thankfully, Twilight wasn’t too upset about this and had even taken to loaning out the books again. She was beginning to run quite a successful little library. Because of this, Rainbow Dash felt no remorse in simply entering her house unannounced. Walking through the door, Dash saw her friends Rarity and Twilight Sparkle talking in hushed tones with Spike, Twilight’s pet dragon.
“I still don’t see why it’s a problem.” Spike was saying, “Why should anypony care what she likes to…Oh. Hi Rainbow!” The dragon said, waving to the new arrival. “Twilight and Rarity were just talking about you. I wanted to let you know that I support your decision to be-OOOF!“
“Dash! How good of you to come,” Rarity said while nudging Spike silent a little too forcefully with her back hoof. Twilight was standing quietly with a somewhat embarrassed look on her face. Rarity by contrast appeared to be her normal self, other than her aggressive means of shutting up Spike. “We were just talking about…um…your dress. Twilight was going to let me borrow one of her books on dress fixing so I could be certain of the proper technique to make it good as new.”
“Why---that’s right!” Twilight chimed in. “Oh look, here it is.” She continued, using her magic to levitate one of her books over to Rarity. “Well now that that’s taken care of, I’d best get back to my studies.” Twilight turned to head back deeper into her house when Rainbow interrupted.
“You don’t have to pretend anymore. I know you both saw them.” Dash said impetuously. Just how stupid did her friends think she was? “Listen, I just want everypony to know this doesn’t change anything. I’m still Rainbow Dash. It’s not like I’m gonna start acting crazy and going after everypony. I’ve been this way my whole life, and it doesn’t change who I am. I didn’t share it with you guys because I was afraid you’d act like this if you knew. And before you try to make ME out to be the bad pony in all this, just know I wasn’t really hiding from you, you never asked and I never thought it was something we really had to talk about.”
“Dash I, I understand.” Twilight said after a few moments of stunned silence, “It was just such a shock to us, we didn’t know how to react. I suppose I thought if we just ignored what we saw, everything could go back to normal. I’m sorry Rainbow Dash, I didn’t mean to make you feel unwelcome. You’re still my friend, no matter what other things you may be interested in.”
“I agree,” Rarity said, “I wasn’t thinking clearly earlier. Come by my shop tonight and we’ll fix that dress up in no time. Oh you’re going to look simply resplendent at the Gala.”
“Thanks, both of you.” Dash said, “But I’ve got one more stop to make. Tell Spike thanks too when he wakes up. I know what he was going to say and it does make me feel better.”
As Dash left, the two other ponies turned to look at the baby dragon. Apparently Rarity’s kick had been more forceful as either of them thought. Spike was lying down next to the back wall, a small welt on the back of his head showed where he’d made contact with the sturdy surface before falling unconscious next to it.
Back at Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack was indeed working on the farm with her big brother when Rainbow Dash flew in. They were placing all the best and shiniest apples in their cart to bring to market tomorrow. They needed to make sure their apples shone and sparkled in the sun to attract customers. The less than perfect, but still perfectly good, apples would go into bags to be sold in bulk in the big market stores, like those found in Fillydelphia or Canterlot. The less desirable ones would go into other creations like apple pies or apple strudel.
“Applejack, we need to talk.”
“Ah’m busy with the apples. Can’tcha come back later?” Applejack said with a slight tone of annoyance in her voice.
“No, I need to tell you this now.” Dash replied.
“Go on, sis. We’re almost done here anyway.” Big Macintosh added, signaling to the door with his snout.
“Well, what’s on yer mind?” Applejack asked her friend when they were off a ways.
“I know you all saw my hidden magazines last night. I just wanted to let you know I don’t want this to change our friendship. I’m Rainbow Dash, I love flying, being cool, and spending time with my friends. I want you all to know that I’ll never do anything to ruin our friendship, so why can’t we just hang out like before you all knew?”
“Ah suppose…” Applejack began. “Ah suppose ah can handle that. Yer still mah iron-pony, after all.” Applejack said, smiling slightly. “We jus’ didn’t know how to act. It was shocking to find out that way. If you’d jus’ told us right off, it wouldn’t a been such a surprise.”
“I understand.” Rainbow Dash said, “But now everypony knows and I don’t want it to change how they treat me. You are still my friend, right?”
“Ah sure am, Dash. Let’s say we go work on that new trick?”
“Sure thing, Applejack.”
Later that evening, Twilight Sparkle wrote her weekly note back to Princess Celestia, outlining her findings on friendship:
I think everypony learned something about friendship these past few days. Friendship is not simply going on adventures with ponies, or even about sharing interests and doing activities together. Friendship means accepting every part of a pony’s personality, even a part that you didn’t know about before, or that makes you uncomfortable. Being a true friend makes a pony willing to share all aspects of themselves, safe in the knowledge that their friend will still respect them, no matter what secret seems so dark and terrible to them at the time.