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Uncommon Ground (Anon x Rainbow Dash, EQG, complete)

By MagnaAnon
Created: 2021-07-16 21:31:33
Updated: 2021-05-09 12:01:25
Expiry: Never

  1. >Friday afternoon.
  2. >It's the end of another school day.
  3. >And you're spending it in the Principal's office.
  4. >Not exactly the place you want to be right now.
  5. >You are Anon, and your body is aching, including your head.
  6. >You're leaning forward in your seat, wringing your hands.
  7. >You hear mumbling and grumbling from the seat next to yours.
  8. >You turn your head to look at the source of this noise.
  9. >There she is...
  10. >The one responsible for your current predicament...
  11. >A girl about your age and temperament, with six-colored hair in a ponytail...
  12. >She currently has tissues up her nostrils to stop blood from flowing.
  13. >Rainbow Dash, as she likes to call herself.
  14. >You'd be calling her something else right now...
  15. >...but you'd rather not make things even worse...
  16. >Especially in front of Principal Celestia.
  17. >She's drumming the knuckles of one hand on her desk as her focus shifts back and forth between you.
  18. >The expression on her face is a mix of anger and annoyance.
  19. >It almost feels like a pair of daggers being poked into your scalp.
  20. >Speaking of scalps, that's what it looks like Celestia's after.
  21. >“What am I going to do with the two of you,” she finally says in a disappointed tone.
  22. >Both you and Dash continue to stare straight ahead.
  23. >“Well? Can either of you care to explain what happened?"
  24. >Neither of you respond, instead turning your heads to look at each other.
  25. >It's a game of chicken, trying to see who will crack first.
  26. >How DID you end up in this mess?
  27.  
  28. Let's back up a bit...
  29.  
  30. ------
  31.  
  32. A half hour ago...
  33.  
  34. >Gym class.
  35. >It's soccer today, and several of the students are strutting their stuff.
  36. >That includes Rainbow Dash, of course.
  37. >It's as if she's great at any sport she's thrust into.
  38. >And she loves letting everyone know at the top of her lungs.
  39. >And by god you hate her for that.
  40. >She's always so smug, but she at least has the talent to back up her claims.
  41. >This still doesn't change the fact you'd love to kick her ass.
  42. >It's penalty kick drills, where students are paired up and take turns as kicker and goalie.
  43. >Everyone gets ten kicks, which is enough to get a good success average.
  44. >You got the short end of the stick today, as you're stuck with you-know-who.
  45. >“Okay, light-weight,” Dash says from across the way, “ready to get your butt handed to you?”
  46. >Yes, that short end up the stick is a nasty one, as you're starting as goalie.
  47. “This isn't a contest,” you reply.
  48. >“It's ALWAYS a contest,” she says, bouncing the ball between her knees. “The sooner you get that, the sooner you'll dig me.”
  49. “I'd like to dig you an early grave,” you mutter.
  50. >“'scuse me?” Dash asks, having clearly heard you.
  51. >You narrow your eyes, not answering.
  52. >“What, you think you're better than me? Let's make a bet – whoever gives away the most goals has to buy me lunch for a week.”
  53. >It takes a second to register how she said that, and it makes you even madder.
  54. “Wow, overconfident much? Like I'd let you win that easily.”
  55. >“Trust me, you don't stand a chance against me,” Dash replies. “I'll prove it.”
  56. >You take a defensive stance, readying yourself for the drill.
  57. “Let's just get this over with,” you say.
  58. >Dash grits her teeth as she lets the ball drop to the grass.
  59. >“Fine...”
  60.  
  61. >Dash takes her position, her eyes laser-focused on the objective.
  62. >She charges and kicks the ball.
  63. >It's fast, almost too fast for you to see.
  64. >It gets right by you and into the net.
  65. >“HA! That's one!” She shouts.
  66. >You frown as you toss the ball back to her.
  67. >Round two isn't much better, with her faking you out and kicking in the opposite direction.
  68. >“That's two!”
  69. >You shake your head in frustration and prepare for the third.
  70. >When the ball's kicked this time, you're finally able to get your fingers on it.
  71. >Problem is, it's only the tips, and it's not enough to stop the ball from going in.
  72. >“What's the matter? Afraid you're gonna get beat by a girl?”
  73. >You're losing your cool, but you try your best to keep it under control.
  74. >The next six kicks go about as well as the past three.
  75. >With one to go, Dash looks ready to give it her all.
  76. >She charges.
  77. >She kicks.
  78. >The ball shoots to your right, and you react swiftly.
  79. >At last, you're able to knock one away, causing it to bounce away from the goal.
  80. >“Took ya long enough!” Dash shouts. “I'm still gonna be burning a hole in your wallet next week!”
  81. “We never made a bet,” you growl, as you grab the ball and head out of the goal.
  82. >Dash stops you before you pass her.
  83. >“Tell you what – there's no way you can beat me here, so I'm gonna make a new bet with you...”
  84. >“If you can get even one kick past...I'll let you have your way with me for a night...”
  85. >You look back at her with a confused look.
  86. “You can't be serious...”
  87. >“Deadly serious.”
  88. “Again, overconfident, much?”
  89. >“It ain't overconfidence if I know I'm gonna win.”
  90. >You don't answer, shrugging her off as you take your turn as kicker.
  91.  
  92. >Dash reaches the net and crouches, stretching her legs.
  93. >“Alright, Tiger, hit me with your best shot!”
  94. >You respond by charging and kicking the ball.
  95. >Dash easily intercepts it, a grin on her face.
  96. >She yawns as she tosses it back your way.
  97. >Attempt numbers two through five are about as successful.
  98. >She's not even breaking a sweat.
  99. >”Come on, at least give me a challenge!”
  100. >Kick number six flies in, and Dash once again deflects it, although it's closer than she'd like.
  101. >Kick seven is also a bust....
  102. >So is eight...
  103. >And so is nine.
  104. >She throws the ball back one more time.
  105. >“Last shot at glory, you bum!”
  106. >You catch the ball and let it fall to the grass.
  107. >You back up from it, trying to plan out your 'attack.'
  108. >It's your last chance, so you need to make it count.
  109. >“Hey, don't think with your head. Think with your you-know-what!”
  110. >This causes you to buckle before you can make your move.
  111. >Dash laughs at your reaction, shutting her eyes as she slaps her knee.
  112. >You use her distraction as an opportunity to quickly run and kick the ball as hard as you can.
  113. >The sound of the kick gets Dash's attention...
  114. >...but it's too late.
  115. >Unfortunately, your aim is off, and the ball is sent careening towards her.
  116. >It hits her square in the face.
  117. >The 'thud' of the impact is enough to get the attention of every student around you.
  118. >Dash falls over backwards as the ball slowly bounces into the net.
  119.  
  120. >You're not sure what surprises you more.
  121. >The fact that you actually got a goal past Dash...
  122. >...or the fact that she got shot in the face in the process.
  123. >She sits up, then staggers back to her feet.
  124. >There's blood coming out of her nose.
  125. >She can feel it, and she wipes it away with a wrist.
  126. >She turns her head and sees where the ball is.
  127. >Then she turns to you, her eyes wide in shock.
  128. “Uh.........oops?”
  129. >Dash's eyes become slits as she snarls.
  130. >“That's it...”
  131. >She charges with a primal yell.
  132. >You take a step back, but you hesitate and don't go any further.
  133. >Dash pounces on you, forcing you to the ground and pinning you.
  134. >She proceeds to wail on you, dropping several hay-makers.
  135. >You raise your arms up in front of you in defense, but some of the punches still connect.
  136. >Other students run towards you in excitement.
  137. >“FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!”
  138. >You've finally had enough, pushing Dash off of you and pinning her yourself.
  139. >You raise a fist, ready to give her a taste of her own medicine.
  140. >The look on her face is now one of fright.
  141. >Again, you hesitate, though you keep the fist up.
  142. >“Do it,” she says, her look changing back to her usual smugness. “I dare you.”
  143. >Before you can do respond, you hear a whistle blowing.
  144. >The gym teacher pushes his way through the crowd and pulls you off Dash.
  145. >His orders are like a drill sergeant's.
  146. >“Anon! Rainbow Dash! Principal's office! NOW!”
  147.  
  148. ------
  149.  
  150. >Which brings us back to where we started.
  151. >Still, neither of you are giving an answer.
  152. >Celestia shakes her head.
  153. >“It's fine if you don't want to talk. I got enough of an explanation from some of your classmates.”
  154. >“There's still the matter of how to deal with you.”
  155. >“As you know, violence at this school will NOT be tolerated.”
  156. >“I have it in my right mind to suspend you right here and now.”
  157. “She started it,” you mumble, breaking your silence.
  158. >“Shut up,” Dash says.
  159. >“Quiet, both of you,” Celestia orders. “I don't care who started it. You're equally as culpable.”
  160. >You and Dash cross your arms in frustration, turning away from each other.
  161. >“Now, given this is the first major offense for the both of you, I'm willing to show some leniency.”
  162. >“That being said, you'll both be serving two weeks worth of detention, and you're suspended from any after-school activities.”
  163. >This doesn't affect you that much – you're not in any school clubs, anyway.
  164. >Dash, on the other hand...
  165. >“What?!” She reacts in shock, standing up. “But we've got some big games coming up next week!”
  166. >“You should have thought of that before getting into your fight,” Celestia quips.
  167. >Dash sits back down, dejected.
  168. >“During this time,” she continues, “you'll also be paying regular visits to our guidance counselor.”
  169. >You sigh. You've met this counselor in the past, and they're anything but pleasant.
  170. >“And one more thing - you'll be serving these detentions together.”
  171. >It's your turn to react.
  172. “What? No!”
  173. >The last thing you want is to spend any amount of time with HER.
  174. >“Oh yes, Anon. This way we can get to the bottom of the issues you have with each other and find some kind of resolution. My word is final...unless you'd rather face stiffer discipline...”
  175. >You grit your teeth as you slump into your chair in defeat.
  176. >“Your punishment starts on Monday. For now, you're both dismissed.”
  177.  
  178. >The two of you walk through the empty halls to where the parking lot is.
  179. >Dash matches your pace, but keeps her distance.
  180. >“This is all your fault, you know,” she says.
  181. “How the hell is this my fault? You're the one who attacked me.”
  182. >“Wouldn't have happened if you didn't hit me in the face.”
  183. “That was an accident, and you know it.”
  184. >“Yeah right. You had so much blood rushing down below that it drove you to kick like that.”
  185. “You're just pissed that I actually got a ball past you.”
  186. >“Just a fluke. Could have happened to anyone.”
  187. “Not to you, Little Miss Perfect Athlete. You had me down for the count, and you blew it.”
  188. >Dash's temper is rising again as you make it outside.
  189. >“You wanna finish what we started?”
  190. “And risk getting expelled? What would your friends say?”
  191. >“If I spin things just right, they'll all back me up.”
  192. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not gonna stoop down to your level.”
  193. >“You're a wimp...”
  194. “Believe what you want. Let's just focus on these detentions. It'll hurt you more than me...”
  195. >“I can make it hurt,” Dash replies. “Just you wait.”
  196. “Whatever, Dashie,” you sigh.
  197. >“Don't you DARE use that nickname with me,” she growls.
  198. >You pay her no mind as you go to your car.
  199. > “Don't you walk away from me!” She yells.
  200. >You make a 'blah blah blah' gesture with a hand as you get in and turn the ignition.
  201. >You see Dash yelling at you as you drive away.
  202. >“WE'RE NOT DONE YET! YOU HEAR ME?!”
  203. >You groan as you finally get out of earshot.
  204. >The next two weeks are going to be FUN...
  205.  
  206. ------
  207.  
  208. >When you get home, you are all but chewed out by your parents.
  209. >This isn't the first time you've been in front of the principal, but certainly the first for getting into a physical fight.
  210. >And with a girl, no less.
  211. >You try your best to explain yourself, but they aren't having it, much like Celestia.
  212. >You aren't grounded, at least, but they expect you to be on your best behavior and follow through with the instructions and punishment you were given.
  213. >You shrug it off, just wanting things to go by as quickly as possible.
  214.  
  215. >By Monday, it sounds like a good amount of the school has heard about your altercation with Dash.
  216. >Several students approach you and ask to hear your side of the story.
  217. >Probably so they can compare it to her side.
  218. >You're not about to get into the details, especially not the 'wager' Dash made beforehand.
  219. >Instead, you give the cliff notes version, just enough to provide a suitable answer.
  220. >At lunch, you sit on your own, as you normally do.
  221. >From the corner of your eye, you see Dash several tables away with all of her friends.
  222. >She's telling a story of sorts, perhaps her 'side' of things.
  223. >She includes a lot of exaggerated movements to add to the effect.
  224. >One of her friends is constantly gasping in shock.
  225. >Another, a farm girl from the looks of it, keeps cracking her knuckles.
  226. >At different points, she sets her sights on you, staring daggers.
  227. >It makes you wish you had taken her up on that dare...
  228. >Near the end of the period, one of the friends stands up.
  229. >She's purple-haired with glasses, and from what you could tell she wasn't reacting like the others.
  230. >She turns around and starts to make her way towards you.
  231. >“Hey, where are you going?” You hear Dash asking her with a shout.
  232. >“To get some balance to all this,” she replies, taking a notebook with her.
  233. >Dash is clearly mad, and one of the pink-haired friends has to calm her down.
  234. >You shift your focus back to your lunch until the girl sits in the spot across from you.
  235.  
  236. >“You're Anon, right?” She asks you.
  237. “Yeah, I am,” you reply, looking up at her.
  238. >“Twilight,” she says, reaching out a hand.
  239. >You look at it for a moment before taking it in a light shake.
  240. “Nice to meet you. Can I help you?”
  241. >“If possible. Can you tell me about your fight with Rainbow the other day?
  242. “I figured she told you already.”
  243. >“She did, but I wanted to hear your side of things.”
  244. “And the rest of your friends?”
  245. >“Well, some of them have already made up their minds.”
  246. “Not exactly a surprise. Dash said you'd all back her up in a situation like this.”
  247. >“In some cases, maybe, but I like to get as many viewpoints as I can before coming to a conclusion.”
  248. “A nice change of pace. You're a rarity.”
  249. >“No, that would be the other purple-haired girl over there,” Twilight says.
  250. >You give a questioning look as she chuckles
  251. >She tells you that's another of her friend's name, and you nod your head in understanding.
  252. >She opens up the notebook and pulls out a pen, while also adjusting her glasses.
  253. >“But back to the matter at hand. What happened?”
  254. >Well, another quick explanation to give.
  255. “Dash kept making bets with me, thinking I couldn't beat her in the penalty kick drills.
  256. “The first one was bad enough, but the second was even worse, and I'd rather not discuss what it was.
  257. “I didn't take her up on either of them, as I thought it was her ego acting up as it usually does.
  258. “Near the end, she made a comment that caused her to laugh it up and lose her focus, and I tried to take advantage of that.
  259. “Unfortunately I made a bad kick, and the ball got her in the face before it went past her.
  260. “That's when she came after me. Not sure what more I can say beyond that.”
  261. >As you talk, Twilight jots down several notes.
  262. >She doesn't interrupt you, instead taking it all in.
  263. >After a moment, she comments.
  264. >“I'm glad I'm hearing this. There are a few discrepancies between the two versions...”
  265. “Do tell...” You say sarcastically.
  266.  
  267. >“For one, Rainbow claims YOU were the one making the bets.
  268. >“Second, she claims you attacked her first, not the other way around.”
  269. >You knew Dash was a braggart, but a liar on top of that?
  270. >Although, she's probably arguing that the soccer ball to the face counts as an attack...
  271. “So...who do you believe?”
  272. >“Given Rainbow's personality, and how she plays the victim when things don't go her way...I don't believe much of her story.”
  273. “Wish the rest of your crew felt the same way,” you reply.
  274. >“You have to understand, Anon - we're a tight-knit group, so it's hard for us to believe that someone in it would be lying, but...”
  275. “But?”
  276. >“...Rainbow is an exception to that...”
  277. “But why would she be lying about this if she knows it could get her in trouble?”
  278. >“She probably thinks it won't. She's been like this even before I knew her.”
  279. “Great. So it's going to be a game of he-said, she-said...”
  280. >Twilight sighs. “I'm sorry. Wish there was a way to reverse all of this.”
  281. “Nothing we can do about that,” you reply, shaking your head. “Besides, the principal's punishing both me and Dash, so at least she's not getting off scot-free.”
  282. >“So, is there anything we CAN do in the meantime?”
  283. “Well...is there way you can get it through to your friends that I'm not entirely at fault here?”
  284. >“I'll try. Some of them are stubborn, so it'll be a challenge.”
  285. “Anything you can do is better than nothing. Just do the best you can.”
  286. >“No problem. Just be careful around them for now, especially Rainbow.”
  287. “Easier said than done, given I have detention with her for the next few weeks...”
  288. >“I'm sure you'll manage. If you can survive a fight against her, this will be a cake walk.”
  289. “Thanks...I appreciate the confidence...”
  290. >Twilight nods as the bell rings.
  291. >“Best of luck, Anon,” she says before rejoining her friends.
  292. >You certainly weren't expecting this, but you welcome it.
  293. >Still, it doesn't change the fact you'll have to put up with more of Dash's antics moving forward...
  294.  
  295. ------
  296.  
  297. >Later, as you're getting to your last class of the day, your teacher is waiting for you at the door.
  298. >She tells you you're excused from attending right away, as you'll be seeing the guidance counselor.
  299. >You shrug and head off in that direction.
  300. >When you arrive at the office, the secretary directs you a door down the hall.
  301. >You open the door to a midsized room, with several paintings adorning the walls.
  302. >There's the counselor's desk and several chairs, as well as a couch that makes it feel like a psychiatrist's office.
  303. >You may need a psych evaluation once all of this is over and done with...
  304. >Then there's the guidance counselor, herself, a middle-aged woman with graying hair and a thick pair of glasses.
  305. >“Hello, Anonymous,” she says. “Thank you for coming.”
  306. “Any time, Mrs. Bellum,” you reply. “You can call me Anon. Everyone who knows me does.”
  307. >“Of course. Have a seat.”
  308. >She directs you to one of the chairs, which you sit at.
  309. “So...is a certain somebody else going to be joining us?”
  310. >“If you mean Rainbow Dash, not today. I wanted to meet with the two of you individually on different days first.”
  311. >Delaying the inevitable, but that's fine for now.
  312. >“With that in mind, why don't we talk about her? How long you've known her, the kind of interactions you'd had, those sorts of things.”
  313. “Well, I guess I've...'known' her for a little over two years. My family moved to this city the summer before I started the ninth grade. She was one of the first girls that caught my attention that first year.”
  314. >“What about her?”
  315. “The hair, mostly, but also how she acts. She's always showing off however she can, be it sports, music, or anything else.”
  316. >“Has she always been antagonistic with you?”
  317. “I wouldn't say that. She doesn't bully, but she always tries to one-up whoever she's paired with.”
  318. >“I understand she's very competitive.”
  319. “You have no idea. She has her small group of friends here, but it doesn't feel like she's one of the most popular girls around.”
  320. >“Oh? Why do you say that?”
  321.  
  322. “In classes I share with her, no one really wants to be her partner for paired projects, and they only relent when it's groups of three or more.”
  323. >“I take it you get stuck with her most of the time.”
  324. “Given I don't have many friends myself, yeah. We'll work together and tolerate each others existences for a good grade, but that's about it.”
  325. >“And she still treats you the same way?”
  326. “To the point where she'll try to take the credit when we do well, or blame me when we don't.”
  327. >“Let's jump back over to the sports subject. Your gym teacher told me you two have been butting heads for a while.”
  328. “Again, it's her trying to prove she's the top dog. I do what I can to keep up with her, but sometimes it doesn't feel like it's enough.”
  329. >“Does she beat you at everything?”
  330. “Just about.”
  331. >“And how does that make you feel?”
  332. >You can see where this is leading.
  333. “It's frustrating, both because she almost always wins, and also that there's little I can do to stop her from doing so.”
  334. >“And did of all that frustration boil over last week?”
  335. >You figured she'd take this stance.
  336. “Not at all. It was Dash being Dash, as usual...”
  337. >You go on and explain the incident from your perspective.
  338. >You mention the lunch wager, as it highlights Dash's ego.
  339. >You say there was a second wager, but not what it was about; only that it was something more private.
  340. >Mrs. Bellum absorbs all of this as she writes her own set of notes, much like Twilight did.
  341. >“That soccer ball to the face sounds like the catalyst here,” she says.
  342. “Either that, or the fact it went into the net after. Given the other bet she made, she had to have been really mad.”
  343. >“And that's when the fight started?”
  344. “Yeah. I'm not proud of what happened. Part of me wanted to take the chance to get back at her for everything she's done.
  345. “I was able to pin her down, and I could have easily punched her lights out, but...I couldn't...”
  346. >“Why not?”
  347. “It didn't...feel right. I didn't want to be the bad guy, I guess...”
  348. >“If there was nothing stopping you, and you wouldn't get in trouble for it, would you have?”
  349. >You pause.
  350. “We...all have our morals...and physically hurting a girl is a line I'd rather not cross, even if I hate her guts as much as she hates mine...”
  351.  
  352. >Mrs. Bellum nods her head.
  353. >“That means you're a good person deep down. I'm sure Rainbow is the same way.”
  354. “She has a weird way of showing it, then.”
  355. >“Have you thought that perhaps she's projecting some of her own insecurities on you?”
  356. “Insecurities?”
  357. >“You know, how some people feel bad about something and forces it onto others.”
  358. “You mean how she tries to win at everything?”
  359. >“Precisely. She wishes to show she's the best, even if it doesn't matter to anyone else.”
  360. “She's captain of the soccer team, isn't she? That has to count for something.”
  361. >“That may be true, but we're not talking just in terms of sports. It's also about the personal relationships she has.”
  362. “That doesn't explain why she singles me out most of the time.”
  363. >“You said it yourself – not many people outside of her friends want to work with her, and most of those times she's stuck with you.”
  364. “You think that's why she hates me so much?”
  365. > “I don't think it's hate. It's more like resentment for her position and wanting to cast it away.”
  366. “So...she just puts people in their place and makes them feel bad to make herself feel better.”
  367. >“That's how I'm reading this right now. I'll be able to verify this once I've spoken with her.”
  368. “And when is that going to happen?”
  369. >“Tomorrow, most likely around the same time we're having this conversation. Later in the week I plan on having the two of you here together so we can have a group discussion.”
  370. “Oh joy...”
  371. > “Please try to keep an open mind, Anon. I'm not here to take sides with either of you. I want there to be a peaceful resolution, just like Ms. Celestia does.”
  372. “It's not if either of you want it...it's whether or not Dash does...”
  373. >“Let's not approach this negatively. That being said, I believe I have enough to work with for now. You can head back to class.”
  374. “Thanks,” you say, standing up. “I'll say this – watch out for her playing the 'victim' card.”
  375. >“Trust me, this isn't my first rodeo, or Rainbow's first visit here.”
  376. >You nod with a grin, and head out of the office.
  377. >This lady may not fully have your back, but it's a step in the right direction, at least...
  378.  
  379. >At long last, the moment that nobody has been waiting for...
  380. >Detention...
  381. >You head to the designated classroom where it's usually held.
  382. >Wouldn't you know it, it's the Gym teacher's turn officiating.
  383. >When he sees you, he directs you to a desk to sit at, which you comply with.
  384. >As you take your seat and pull out things to do, Rainbow Dash walks in.
  385. >You stare at each other for a moment, although yours is more of a 'whatever' gaze.
  386. >Dash gives a huff and rolls her eyes as she takes her spot a desk away from you.
  387. >It doesn't look like anyone else is in trouble today, so it's just you two.
  388. >“Alright, you knuckleheads,” the Gym teacher says. “I've got you for the next hour. Just keep quiet and keep busy, and we'll get through this.”
  389. >You nod, while you see Dash rolling her eyes for a second time.
  390. >You spend the first half-hour or so focusing on homework.
  391. >Math and History are a breeze, and they are completed in short order.
  392. >Every once in a while you look over at your 'partner in crime.'
  393. >She's got a sports magazine of some kind out.
  394. >From the looks of it, she's really focused on what she's reading.
  395. >Given how much time she spends doing sports of all sorts, it's not much of a surprise.
  396. >At one point as you watch, she looks up at you with a questionable stare.
  397. >You refocus on your work, but you can still feel the visual daggers being poked at you.
  398. >Eventually, the Gym teacher stands up from the main desk.
  399. >“Listen up,” he says, “I need to take a quick leak. You better be on your best behavior until then.”
  400. >He heads out, leaving you to your apparent fate.
  401. >The door shuts behind him, the sound echoing through the room.
  402. >You and Dash again turn your heads to face each other.
  403.  
  404. “How you feeling?” You ask, breaking the ice.
  405. >“If you're worried about my nose,” Dash replies, “it's getting better, no thanks to you.”
  406. “At least it's not broken.”
  407. >“Shows how weak of a kick that was.”
  408. “Are we still going to go on about that? I told you, that was an accident.”
  409. >“I don't care if it was or not. I wasn't ready for it.”
  410. “Someone like you should be ready for anything, right? You've bragged before how you can beat people with your eyes closed, and you had them shut there.”
  411. >“Maybe that's a bit of a stretch...”
  412. “Look, I'm sorry for what happened. I just want this put behind us so we can move on...”
  413. >“Easy for you to say,” Dash says, crossing her arms. “You don't have a good reputation like I do.”
  414. “You have a good reputation?” You ask sarcastically.
  415. >“Duh! Being the best athlete in school! I'm gonna miss a lot of games because of all this.”
  416. “I'm sure your teammates will do just fine.”
  417. >“They'd do better with me out there with them. I'm their top goal-getter, after all.”
  418. “A single player a team does not make, as they say.”
  419. >“You know, that's one thing I hate about you.”
  420. “Go on,” you say, leaning forward while resting an arm under your chin.
  421. >“You always make everything sound like a team effort, when sometimes just one person can make all the difference.”
  422. “And you know this from personal experience?”
  423. >“Got that right. It always my job to take something that's crap and make it into something good.”
  424. “Is that why you treat ME like crap all the time?”
  425. >Dash laughs. “You're crap no matter what I do with you.”
  426. >You feel your hands balling up into fists.
  427. >“Hey, don't get mad at me. It's not my fault you suck on the field.”
  428. “While we're on the subject," you retort, "how you're acting is a problem I have with you."
  429. >Dash grins. “Oh, this oughtta be good...”
  430.  
  431. “You're always a bitch with people not in your little circle, even those who try to help you with things.
  432. “And when those people try to prove themselves to you, you brush it off like it doesn't matter.
  433. “That includes the way you treat me. No matter what I do or say, it's never good enough in your eyes.”
  434. >“You'll never be good enough in ANYONE'S eyes,” Dash replies.
  435. “There you go again. You know, I REALLY wanted to take you up on your dare during our fight.
  436. “And I could have easily spilled the beans today about that second bet of yours – to Twilight, to the guidance counselor, and to the principal.”
  437. >Dash's eyes widen, and for the first time there's a look of concern on her face.
  438. “But I didn't do either. You wanna know why?”
  439. >“Cause that would get both of us into even hotter water?”
  440. “No...because I wanna prove to you that I'm at least better than you at one thing – knowing when to hold back punches.”
  441. >Dash chuckles. “Well, you got me there. I always go in and out swinging no matter what.”
  442. “That's another of your problems. How often do you wind up with tissues up your bloody nose?”
  443. >“Depends on if the other person does well at fighting back, which isn't often.”
  444. “Bragging it up again. Typical Dashie.”
  445. >“Hey, what did I say about using that nickname?”
  446. “I'll stop using it when you stop being an ass.”
  447. >“You're an even bigger ass,” Dash growls.
  448. “So you admit to being one,” you quip. “Step one to the road to recovery.”
  449. >“Laugh while you can. Like I said, this isn't over.”
  450. “Believe what your feeble little mind wants,” you reply.
  451. >Before Dash can respond, the door opens, and you both shut up as the Gym teacher walks back in.
  452. >He can feel the tension, and looks back and forth between the two of you.
  453. >“Hope I didn't interrupt anything,” he says in his normal tone as he sits back down.
  454. >You both shake your head 'no,' going back to what you were doing.
  455. >You look at each other from the corners of your eyes.
  456. >She mouths an expletive at you, and you shake your head in disgust.
  457. >Just what can you do to put an end to this little rivalry of yours...
  458.  
  459. ------
  460.  
  461. >You arrive at school the next day a little earlier than normal.
  462. >Maybe you wanted to get an early start on things.
  463. >Or maybe you wanted to avoid seeing a certain someone until it was absolutely necessary.
  464. >As you reach the common, you see one of Dash's friends up against the main statue.
  465. >She has long, fiery red and yellow hair, and piercing teal eyes.
  466. >She turns her attention to you as you're about to go by.
  467. >“Hang on a second, Anon,” she says.
  468. “What do you want?” You ask, stopping in your tracks.
  469. >“Answers,” she replies. “Twilight spoke to me yesterday about her little chat with you.”
  470. “Still trying to figure out who to believe?”
  471. >“I'll say this – I know Dash better than I know you. I also know she exaggerates a lot, but the same could also be true with you.”
  472. “Why would I lie about something like this?”
  473. >“Dash says the two of you hate each other royally. Wouldn't surprise me if this was a way of getting back at her.”
  474. “If I wanted to do that, which I don't, I'd come up with something that has more impact.”
  475. >The girl eyes you curiously. “Like what?”
  476. “I don't know...start a nasty rumor that would get her kicked off one of her teams, find the means of beating her at one of her own games, those sorts of things.”
  477. >“You don't look like the kind of guy who'd start a rumor, and you don't exactly have the build to do that good in a lot of sports.”
  478. “Hey, you asked for examples, not necessarily ones that I'd be able to pull off.”
  479. >She grins. “Fair enough.”
  480. “But seriously, this is all one big misunderstanding, and we're both paying for it.”
  481. >“What happens after this?”
  482. “That's for Ms. Celestia and Mrs. Bellum to decide, I guess. I want to forget any of this happened, but Dash won't have that...”
  483. >“She can be a handful, especially when she holds a grudge.”
  484. “This is much more than just a grudge. She's practically been at my throat since we really met.”
  485. >“I can understand that...all too well, actually.”
  486. “Oh? How's that?”
  487.  
  488. >“When I started here, I aimed to be the most popular girl in school, and I wasn't shy with how I went about that.
  489. >“I bullied many other students, harassed even more, and downright dominated anyone that tried to stop me.”
  490. “Guess I never really paid attention to those sorts of things. I don't exactly have a 'bully me' target on my back.”
  491. >“No...but Twilight and her friends took the brunt of my bullying at one point, especially Twi.”
  492. “Seriously? And you're friends with them now?”
  493. >“It's a long story for another time. Let's just say they helped me see the error of my ways.
  494. >“They also helped me to better myself in other ways, and became friends with me in support of that.
  495. >“I've been trying my best since then to rebuild my image into one that's good for everyone.”
  496. “I'm glad to hear that. Still doesn't say how that connects to what Dash and I have going on.”
  497. >“She has trouble connecting with people that aren't her friends. She'll either push them away, or do what she's doing with you.”
  498. “Kinda wish she'd push me away, in that case...”
  499. >“Don't say that, Anon. If you've put up with her this long, maybe there's more to it.”
  500. “Like what?”
  501. >“Have you tried doing anything with her outside of school?”
  502. “Can't say I've felt the desire to. Even if I wanted to ask, she'd just say 'hell no.'”
  503. >“You don't know that for sure. She has a weird way of making friends.”
  504. “Do tell...” You say with a hint of sarcasm.
  505. >The girl can sense it, but continues anyway.
  506. >“She'll poke fun at a person to start, then gradually build up to where she's a bully, saying they're not good at anything.
  507. >“If they try to prove them wrong, she'll continue to ramp up her expectations until a peak is reached.”
  508. “Basically, it's next to impossible to gain any kind of respect from her...”
  509. >“It's not impossible. You just need to do or show her something that she's not expecting from you.”
  510. >You lower your eyes as you consider these words.
  511. “It wouldn't be easy with someone like her...but I guess there's time to come up with something.”
  512. >“Based on what Twi has said about you, you shouldn't have trouble with that.”
  513. “Thanks. And I totally blanked on introductions – your name is?”
  514. >“Sunset Shimmer,” the girl replies. “A pleasure...”
  515.  
  516. >By this time, more and more students are arriving for the school day.
  517. >Unfortunately this little chat you've been having has spoiled your plan
  518. >Rainbow Dash arrives, one of her pink-haired friends in tow.
  519. >“Hey, what are you doing with that ass?” Dash asks.
  520. >“Rainbow...” her other friend says meekly.
  521. >“Come on,” Sunset replies, “I want to get to the bottom of this, just like everyone else. Thought a little one-on-one with Anon would help with that.”
  522. >“Great,” Dash says gruffly, “another person who's turned to the Dark Side...”
  523. “Do you even listen to what comes out of your mouth?” You ask her. “That's cold, especially given who you're saying it to!”
  524. >“It's okay,” Sunset says to you. “It's not the first time that term's been used with me, and it won't be the last.”
  525. >“Besides, she's probably just upset that someone else isn't totally sold on her story.”
  526. >Dash growls as she walks away. Her other friend whispers a 'sorry' as she follows behind.
  527. “What was that you said about me not having trouble with her?” You ask Sunset.
  528. >“I also said she's a handful,” she replies. “Don't give up, or she'll come out on top once and for all.”
  529. “I'll try not to,” you say, stretching out a hand. “Thanks for clearing a few things up.”
  530. >Sunset takes your hand a shakes it. “Anytime. Twilight and I will be around if you need help.”
  531. “Something tells me I'm going to need it...”
  532. >The first bell of the day rings, and you and Sunset head in to get to your respective homerooms.
  533. >The day goes as you'd normally expect – nothing too out of the ordinary.
  534. >When detention comes around, you and Dash completely ignore each other.
  535. >Given the exchange with her that morning, it's probably for the best to have a cool-off period.
  536. >At the end of the time, Dash quickly leaves without acknowledging you or the teacher.
  537. >Said teacher lets you know that Mrs. Bellum wishes to see both you and Dash during last period the next day.
  538. >You thank them for the message and head for home.
  539. >Almost time for a moment of truth...depending on whose view on events is believed more...
  540.  
  541. ------
  542.  
  543. >Wednesday afternoon comes around.
  544. >Once again, you are excused from your last class, and you head straight to Mrs. Bellum's office.
  545. >When you arrive, Dash is already there...
  546. >...and so is Principal Celestia.
  547. >“Good to see you again,” Mrs. Bellum says, directing you to the empty chair.
  548. >You sit down, and all the while Dash has a particular look in her eyes as she stares at you.
  549. >“I'm sure you're both wondering why I'm here,” Ms. Celestia says.
  550. “To lay down the law and drop even more punishment, I assume,” you reply.
  551. >Celestia raises an eyebrow.
  552. >“Not exactly the best way to present yourself right now. But no, that's not it.”
  553. >“Then, what?” Dash asks. “These past few days have been bad enough as is. Now I have to be in another room at the same time as him?”
  554. “Being around you isn't a picnic, either,” you quip.
  555. >“Calm down, both of you,” Mrs. Bellum says, “We're here for solutions, not further problems.”
  556. >“She's right,” Celestia adds. “Starting another heated argument is the last thing we want right now.”
  557. >You and Dash shut your mouths and slump in your seats.
  558. >Celestia continues. “Now then, after Mrs. Bellum has spoken with the two of you and a few other students, we've been able to get a better picture of what happened last week, and it's time to put the pieces together.
  559. >“If either of you has something to add or object to, don't hesitate to say something. Understood?”
  560. >You and Dash nod.
  561. >“Good. First, it's our understanding that the two of you haven't had the best of interactions since you both started here.
  562. >“Second...Dash, you have not been the best role model for Anon, especially when it comes to classroom projects.”
  563. >Dash lowers her head slightly.
  564. >“Third...Anon, you have done little to help your position. Why have you never spoken to either myself or Mrs. Bellum about your problems?”
  565. >You consider your response.
  566. “Isn't part of this school's motto to 'tolerate?' That's what I've been trying to do all this time.”
  567. >“We 'tolerate' to a point,” Celestia replies, “but keeping something like this bottled up can only lead to bad things down the line, as last week clearly showcased.”
  568. >You lower your own head as the principal moves on.
  569.  
  570. >“Fourth, a number of different factors led to your little squabble.
  571. >“You both claim that the other made a number of bets over your soccer practice. Our other sources haven't been able to give a clear answer, so we want one from you. Who was it?”
  572. >Much like last week, you and Dash remain quiet.
  573. >“You're both in enough trouble as things currently stand. I'm not going to punish either of you more than I already have. I just want the honest truth.”
  574. >You turn to Dash, and you can sense she's breaking down a little on the inside.
  575. >Finally, she lifts one of her hands. “It was me.”
  576. >Celestia raises her head ever so slightly. “Why did you make them?”
  577. >“I guess...I was letting my ego do the talking. I know Anon's not that great at sports, so I thought it'd be a boost of confidence for us both.”
  578. “You said, and I quote, ' whoever gives away the most goals has to buy me lunch for a week.' How is THAT a confidence booster for me?”
  579. >“I thought it'd give you a chance to prove me wrong!” Dash replies.
  580. >“Alright,” Mrs. Bellum interrupts, “that's one question answered. Anon, you said you didn't take her up on that bet.”
  581. “Right, no agreement was made. There was no point in feeding her pride, or stomach for that matter.”
  582. >Dash chuckles. “Look at you, sounding all high and mighty.”
  583. >“Rainbow, please,” Celestia says.
  584. >Dash crosses her arms and looks the other way. “Sorry...”
  585. >“So that was the first bet,” Celestia continues. “You both made mention of a second bet, which was also not agreed on. What was that bet about?”
  586. >You and Dash look back at each other with widened eyes.
  587. >“Anon, you said it was something personal,” Mrs. Bellum says, “but did not elaborate.”
  588. “Is this really something we have to answer?” You ask.
  589. >Mrs. Bellum and Celestia turn to look at each other. Celestia shakes her head.
  590. >“Not necessarily,” Mrs. Bellum replies, “but it would give us better insight on why this all happened.”
  591. “Then, out of respect for both Dash's privacy and my own, I'm staying quiet on that.”
  592. >Dash gives you an astounded expression.
  593. >“Rainbow?” Celestia inquires.
  594. >“I'm...following Anon's example. I'd rather not talk about that.”
  595. >The principal gives a sigh. “Disappointing, but we'll respect your wishes.”
  596.  
  597. >“And now for the crucial moment,” Mrs. Bellum says, moving on.
  598. “The kick heard around the world,” you mutter.
  599. >“Yes, precisely. Rainbow, what really set you off – getting hit, or the ball getting past you?”
  600. >Dash fidgets in her chair. “It's...the fact that Anon caused both. I guess...I couldn't face the fact he got the better of me at something, and I just...blew up.”
  601. 'That's putting it lightly,' you think to yourself.
  602. >“And we pretty much know the details of the fight itself,” Celestia says, “so there's no need to go back to that...
  603. >“Although I want to commend you, Anon. You could have easily hurt Rainbow after you turned the tables on her, but you chose not to.”
  604. >It's your turn to fidget.
  605. “It's...not that I chose not to. Our teacher broke things up before I could really think it through.”
  606. >Celestia eyes you. “Given the current circumstances...I can see that. Still, that hesitation was enough to ensure this incident was detention-worthy, not expulsion-worthy.”
  607. >You gulp, and you hear Dash doing the same.
  608. >“So, with all of that said, where do we go from here? We can't just say 'nothing happened' and go on our merry ways.”
  609. >“If I may make a recommendation,” Mrs. Bellum says, “perhaps these two need to spend a little more time together.”
  610. >“You mean more detentions on top of what we have?” Dash asks, worry in her voice
  611. >“No,” Mrs. Bellum replies. “I mean taking time outside of school to get to know each other better.”
  612. “Hanging out, basically,” you say.
  613. >“Yes, that's one way to put it. Perhaps doing other activities together will help you to find some common ground, and not be 'at each others throats' all the time.”
  614. >You take time to think about it.
  615. >Spending more time with Dash isn't exactly on your 'to-do' list, but it could help in the long run.
  616. >And this could help you find a way to prove yourself to her, falling in line with what Sunset was saying the other day.
  617. >You notice Dash is deep in thought, as well, although her cheeks are a little puffed up as she does so.
  618. “Well...if you think this will make a difference...I'm willing to try it...if Dash is up for it...”
  619. >Dash looks at you again. There's a slight roll of the eyes.
  620. >“Fine, I'll do it. Anything to help us move on.”
  621. >“That's all we ask for,” Mrs. Bellum says. “We'll let the two of you work out the specifics.”
  622. >Celestia gives a smile. “With that, you can continue on with your days. Thank you again...”
  623. >You and Dash nod as you leave the office, heading in different directions for your classes.
  624.  
  625. >At detention, there are no words at first.
  626. >It's the gym teacher's turn again supervising, and once again he needs to leave the room halfway though the session to 'take care of something.'
  627. >When he does, Dash is first to break the ice.
  628. >“Anon...” She says, but she holds up on continuing.
  629. “Yeah?”
  630. >“I'm...sorry...”
  631. “For what?”
  632. >“Sorry for what happened, you idiot! I never should have gone after you like that.”
  633. “And I shouldn't have provoked you,” you reply.
  634. >“But...that was way out of line, even for me. You got me all riled up, and I lost it.”
  635. “I'm not exactly innocent, either. We're both at fault here.”
  636. >“Still...I'm surprised you stuck to your guns about what you said before...about that...other bet...”
  637. “Hey, like you said, that was your ego talking. I didn't want to embarrass us both by telling Ms. Celestia anything about it.”
  638. >“Just one question, though...would you have taken me up on that bet?”
  639. “Where is this coming from?”
  640. >“Be honest with me. Would you go through with it?”
  641. >You don't hesitate with your response.
  642. “No.”
  643. >“Why not?”
  644. “For one, I'm not the kind of guy who'd have my way with someone I'm not emotionally attached to.
  645. “Two, even if you wanted to do it so you could hold up your end of the deal, I'm not going to force you to demean yourself like that.”
  646. >Dash gives a strange look. It's like a mix of relief...and impression.
  647. >“Huh...wow...thanks, Anon. It may not sound like much right now, but that means a lot...”
  648. “Just trying to keep things honest,” you reply, “like you asked.”
  649. >Dash lowers her head as she turns away, keeping quiet for a moment.
  650. >“Saturday...” She finally says.
  651. “Hm?”
  652. >“Meet me Saturday morning, at the soccer field. They want us to spend time together, right?”
  653. “Yeah, they do.”
  654. >Then that'll be a place to start,” Dash replies. “Be dressed to play.”
  655. “You're on,” you say with grin and a nod...
  656.  
  657. ------
  658.  
  659. >The rest of the week goes on as normal, with the exception of detentions, of course.
  660. >The teachers overseeing them stick around the whole time, so there's no opportunity to talk to Dash during this time.
  661. >On Friday, there's a little discussion as you two leave, but nothing major.
  662. >She's been keeping tabs with her soccer teammates on how their games this week went without her.
  663. >The first, back on Monday, was against a team with a losing record, and your school won handily.
  664. >Yesterday's game was against the number one team in the opposing conference.
  665. >It was a close match, but that team ended up winning on a penalty kick near the end of regulation.
  666. >Dash is sad she wasn't able to be there for either game, or either of the two games next week.
  667. >You reiterate that a good team can survive even if one of its members is away.
  668. >This time, Dash is willing to listen; guess this whole experience is softening her up a little.
  669. >She reminds you to meet her on Saturday, and you assure her you'll be here.
  670.  
  671. >When that day arrives, you wake up early.
  672. >You find a pair of sweatpants and one of your sweatshirts – it's a bit chilly this morning.
  673. >Grabbing an apple from the pantry and a bottle of water from the fridge, you make the drive to school.
  674. >When you arrive, you head to the soccer field, which is surrounded by the school's track.
  675. >You find Dash is already here, donning a blue hoodie and black pants that hug her lower frame.
  676. >Two of her other friends are here, as well – the pink-haired girl you saw with Dash the other day, and the blonde who's always wearing a cowboy hat.
  677. >The former gives a little wave as you approach, while the latter crosses her arms.
  678. >“Glad to see you made it,” Dash says. “I was getting a little worried.”
  679. “I said I'd show up,” you reply. “But I didn't know we'd be having company.”
  680. >“We wanted ta be here...ta keep an eye on ya,” the cowgirl says.
  681. “Translation – you want to make sure Dash and I don't get into another fight.”
  682. >“On it like white on rice,” she replies, extending an arm. “Applejack, by the way Nice ta meet ya.”
  683. “Likewise,” you say, taking the arm in a shake.
  684. >“An' that over there is Fluttershy,” Applejack says, directing your attention to the other girl.
  685. >“Hello...” Fluttershy says, waving again.
  686. >“She's my best friend,” Dash explains. “We go back a long way, even before going to school.”
  687. “Not exactly the most outgoing, from the look of things.”
  688. >“Ah, she's like that with everybody she don't know,” Applejack replies. “Takes time ta open up, as ah'm sure ya know all about.”
  689. “All too well,” you mutter.
  690.  
  691. >“Anyway,” Dash interrupts, “I thought we'd get our own little practice in, since I'm still not allowed to be with the rest of the team.”
  692. “Gotta stay in form, I guess,” you reply. “How do you usually go about it?”
  693. >“We start with stretches, of course. Follow my lead.”
  694. >She goes through the motions, starting with her head and neck, then her arms and hands.
  695. >There's plenty of twisting with her torso and waist, and then she gets working on her legs and feet.
  696. >You follow along, matching her movements as best you can.
  697. >All the while, you can't help but notice Dash's choice of pants doesn't leave much to the imagination...
  698. >...especially when she bends down to touch her toes, or during her squats.
  699. >She seems to have noticed your curiosity during this session, but doesn't say anything.
  700. >Either she doesn't care, or she has ulterior motives, so to speak.
  701. >The stretching complete, Dash begins to run in place.
  702. >“Next, we do a couple laps around the track. Ready?”
  703. “Ready as I'll ever be,” you reply.
  704. >With that, she gets onto the clay surface and starts to jog, with you close behind.
  705. >At first you keep up with her, but by the end of the lap you are running low on steam.
  706. >Clearly you're not in the best of shape, as your breathing becomes labored.
  707. >Come on, Anon, you can do it,” Dash says, as encouragingly as she can. “One more to go.”
  708. >You're tired already, but you can't let yourself falter this early.
  709. >Dash slows down to match your pace, and you continue on side by side.
  710. >“That's it,” she implores. “Keep it up. We're almost at the end.”
  711. >Soon you reach the track's finish line for a second time, and your body groans its celebration as you come to a stop, your hands on your knees.
  712. >“How you doing there?” Dash asks.
  713. “I...could be better...” you reply in-between breaths.
  714. >“Guess we're gonna have to do this more often, if you want to get a little more fit.”
  715. “One step...at a time...” you say.
  716. >“Right. Come on, we still have plenty to do this morning...”
  717.  
  718. >After a few minutes to recover and drink some water, you move on to the next phase.
  719. >“It's time to practice our fancy footwork,” Dash says.
  720. >Applejack tosses a soccer ball in your direction, which Dash stops with her feet.
  721. >Much like the week before, Dash picks it up and starts bouncing it between her knees.
  722. >“It's one thing to get the ball to the net, but getting it in is another story.”
  723. >She lets the ball drop to the ground, then puts a foot on top of it.
  724. >You notice some old traffic cones set up inside the net, about two feet apart from each other.
  725. >“We're going to try a little something here,” Dash explains. “Precision kicks.
  726. >“I like this because it lets me imagine a spot where the goalie can't reach in time.
  727. >“Try aiming for the area in-between those cones, like this.”
  728. >She backs away from the ball and charges it.
  729. >Her kick connects, and it goes through the cones with ease before hitting the net.
  730. >She gets a clap from Fluttershy as she heads to retrieve the ball.
  731. >“It's all about staying in control and planning your shot before you make it Got it?”
  732. >You nod as Dash picks up the ball and tosses it your way. You stop it with little difficulty.
  733. >“Good. Your turn.”
  734. >You're a little further away, so you dribble up to get a better position.
  735. >When you're about the same distance Dash was, you line up your shot and kick...
  736. >...and it knocks over one of the cones in the process.
  737. >“Oof, almost had it,” Dash says, kicking the ball back your way and resetting the cone.
  738. >“Try again. See if you can get a better scoop with your foot as you kick. That'll help with the aim.”
  739. “Once more, with feeling,” you say to yourself.
  740. >You back up and make your charge, taking Dash's advice into account as you go.
  741. >The kick is away, and this time it's through the cones dead-center.
  742. >You swear you can hear a 'yay' coming from Fluttershy's direction.
  743. >Dash gives a 'WOOP!' in satisfaction.
  744. >“There we go!” She shouts. “Let's keep going!”
  745.  
  746. >This goes on for at least another hour or so.
  747. >You and Dash take turns with the kicking and retrieval duties.
  748. >Every once in a while you move the cones to different parts of the net to further test you.
  749. >Your accuracy isn't the greatest, but you continue to get encouragement from the girls with each try.
  750. >Before the end, the amount of successful hits is slightly higher than the misses.
  751. >Not too shabby for someone who doesn't play that much, you guess.
  752. >You're tuckered out at this point, while Dash looks like she's just getting started.
  753. >She at least notices your exhaustion.
  754. >“Hey, AJ!” She calls. “What time you got?”
  755. >Applejack checks her phone. “Comin' up on 11.”
  756. >Dash stretches out her arms. “Alright, I think that's enough for today. How 'bout you?”
  757. “Good idea,” you reply. “I think I'm getting the hang of it a little more.”
  758. >“Just takes time,” Dash says. “Maybe we can make this a regular thing for a while.”
  759. “You mean having practices like this?”
  760. >“If you want to. Ms. Celestia wanted us to spend some extra time, so why not do something with it?”
  761. >She has a point.
  762. “Depends on if there's anything else going on, but sure.”
  763. >“It's a deal, then,” Dash nods, turning to her friends. “How's about we grab a bite?”
  764. >“The usual?” Applejack asks.
  765. >“You betcha!” Dash turns back to you. “Wanna come along?”
  766. “Where you going?”
  767. >“It's a pizza place not too far away from here. We go there all the time.”
  768. >You realize which one she means; it's one you often frequent for takeout.
  769. “Well...if you don't mind the company...”
  770. >“Hold on there, you sure 'bout this, Rainbow?” Applejack asks. “Why the sudden change of heart after what he did?”
  771. >Oh, right...this 'AJ' was cracking her knuckles the other day...
  772. >Dash hesitates with her reply, but finally gives one.
  773. >“It's...not what he did...I'll explain more when we get there...”
  774. >You help pack things into Dash's car, and you follow the little convoy to the pizza joint.
  775. >It'll soon be time for food...and possible comeuppance...
  776.  
  777. >A little while later, you're at the pizza place in the middle of an awkward silence.
  778. >You're on one end of the booth with Applejack sharing your side; Dash and Fluttershy share the other.
  779. >AJ's staring Dash down, the words she heard earlier probably still floating around in her head.
  780. >“Okay, Rainbow,” she says, breaking the silence, “I think ya got some explainin' ta do.”
  781. >You look over at Dash, who's squirming in her seat opposite of you.
  782. >“Come on, let's hear it,” Applejack says. “Ah've been dyin' ta know what's really going on here...”
  783. >You're tempted to say something, but you feel it's best not to use words to encourage anyone in this tense moment.
  784. >Instead, you turn to Dash with a knowing look in your eyes, which she clearly sees.
  785. >“Alright, alright...I...haven't been honest with you guys lately...”
  786. >“What do you mean?” Fluttershy asks.
  787. >Dash sighs in defeat.
  788. >“Anon didn't start that fight......I did...”
  789. >Applejack shakes her head in disbelief. “Come on now, why would ya lie to us before?”
  790. >“I was just so mad at him for what happened,” Dash replies, “and at the time I didn't care what I said.”
  791. >“You didn't want to admit he beat you?” Fluttershy asks.
  792. >“He didn't beat me,” Dash snaps, “he just got one by me...in more ways than one...”
  793. >“Pride comes before the fall,” Applejack states. “And you're falling like a ton of bricks.”
  794. >“Look, I'm sorry, alright? I'm trying to set things right here by telling the truth now.”
  795. >“Gonna take more than that,” AJ replies before turning to you. “Did she apologize to ya yet?”
  796. “She did,” you say. “Don't be too hard on her. We've both suffered enough.
  797. “Besides, I'm equally to blame. I let my own anger for her get the better of me.”
  798. >“So that kick was on purpose?” Fluttershy asks.
  799. “You mean hitting her in the face? That was an accident...or a bonus, depending on how you see it.”
  800. >Dash is seething. “This is the thanks I get for trying to be nice?”
  801. “Sorry, sorry,” you say, holding your hands up. “Slip of the tongue.”
  802. >“Gotta say, Rainbow, ya had that comin' to ya,” Applejack states. “Ah probably would've done the same thing if ah was in Anon's shoes.”
  803. >Dash tilts her head down with another sigh.
  804.  
  805. >While you're still waiting for the food, you tell the other girls your side about what happened, and Dash corroborates your story this time.
  806. >Applejack, of course, is disappointed with Dash.
  807. >Fluttershy is a bit more forgiving, wanting everyone to move past it.
  808. >“So...what did we learn from this?” She asks, putting a hand on Dash's shoulder.
  809. >“That lying about someone you don't like only leads to more trouble,” Dash replies.
  810. “And never to kick someone while they're down, even if you hate them,” you add.
  811. >“Is that something for me to learn, or for you?” Dash asks.
  812. “More for me. I think we should get this hatchet buried, how about you?”
  813. >Dash crosses her arms. “What, you wanna forget this ever happened and start over?”
  814. “That'd be impossible for us. I'd rather find something better out of this.”
  815. >“Like what?”
  816. “A better understanding? Better experiences?”
  817. >You train of thought stops for a moment.
  818. >“A better friendship?” Fluttershy interjects.
  819. “I don't know......maybe......”
  820. >Dash chuckles. “Why would you ever want to be friends with me after all this?”
  821. >“Hey now,” Applejack scolds, “that's not a good way to think!”
  822. “It's okay,” you reply. “Normally I'd feel the same way, but after what Mrs. Bellum and Ms. Celestia told us, we both need to change our tunes.”
  823. >“Is that why Rainbow invited you out with us today?” Fluttershy asks.
  824. >“Those two want us to 'get to know each other' better,” Dash says. “I thought something like this was a good starting point.”
  825. “How do you think it's going so far?” You ask her.
  826. >“I mean...it's cool that you stuck through everything today...and that you may want to keep going...”
  827. “Whatever it takes to make things work,” you reply.
  828. >“Aww, how nice,” Fluttershy says, putting her hands together, “you're patching things up.”
  829. “I thought we already did that,” you state.
  830. >“Yeah, no kidding,” Dash says. “No need to get all sappy right now.”
  831. >“But it's cute when you make up with people,” Fluttershy replies, “especially someone like Anon.”
  832. >Dash slumps down in embarrassment as the other girls laugh.
  833. >You don't join in on this, as you're feeling similar to Dash at the moment.
  834. >Thankfully the pizza arrives just in time to forget about that.
  835. >Everybody digs in, and for a while the cheesy goodness takes the focus off of the awkwardness.
  836.  
  837. >It's here, however, that Applejack decides to press the subject.
  838. >“You know, the other girls are gonna need to hear about this.”
  839. “I feel like Twilight and Sunset already know the truth,” you say. “Not sure about the others.”
  840. >“I'll talk to them,” Dash replies. “Better for them to hear it from the horse's mouth.”
  841. >“You're doing the right thing,” Fluttershy tells her, “but better to do it sooner rather than later.”
  842. >“I know, I know. Before the day's done, okay?”
  843. >Fluttershy gives her as stern a look as she can. “I should hope so...”
  844. >“So, Anon,”Applejack says, “how do ya plan on movin' forward?”
  845. “Forward from what?” You ask.
  846. >“From this little episode. Ya still got a week of detention to go, right?”
  847. “Unfortunately. I thought having all of this air cleared would change things, but I guess the principal wants to make sure we've learned our lessons.”
  848. >“Shouldn't be too bad, right?” Dash asks. “No one will be breathing down our necks after this.”
  849. “Yeah, I guess...”
  850. >“What happens after that?” Applejack asks you.
  851. >You take another bite of your slice as you think about it.
  852. “Live and learn. Gotta roll with the punches and keep going as best we can.”
  853. >“What about with Rainbow?” Applejack asks.
  854. >Dash stops in the middle of drinking her soda, being careful not to let it go down the wrong tube.
  855. >She eyes you with a 'watch it' look.
  856. “I...want to put this all behind us and make things better. The ball's in her control right now, though.”
  857. >Dash looks the other way, but gives a nod.
  858. >“Well,” Applejack replies, “whatever happens, we'll be there for ya both.”
  859. >“Right,” Fluttershy adds, raising her glass.
  860. >“Thanks, guys,” Dash says. “This was all a big mess...but at least it's getting cleaned up.”
  861. “One shovel-full at a time,” you reply, “and plenty of it to go around.”
  862. >You all move on to other topics, and you and Dash start to get comfortable again.
  863. >After the pizza is gone, Applejack recommends exchanging numbers, so that way you can all keep tabs on how things are going.
  864. >You accept, taking hers and Fluttershy's down.
  865. >Dash is really reluctant, but a look from Applejack makes her relent finally.
  866. >As Applejack and Fluttershy head off for home, Dash asks you to stick around a little longer.
  867.  
  868. >“Now that they're gone,” she says, “I wanna make something clear with you.”
  869. “I'm listening.”
  870. >“I don't want things getting weird, alright?
  871. “Weird?”
  872. >“You know, with us spending more time together. That on its own is weird to me.”
  873. “Because of everything that's happened?”
  874. >“Yeah. We may be going through with this right now, but I don't even know if I wanna be friends.”
  875. “Hey, you heard what I said earlier. It's your call what we do next.”
  876. >“I know. It just feels like everyone's...pressuring me into doing all this.”
  877. “Don't let anyone control your actions. You don't have to if you don't want to.”
  878. >“That's just it...part of me...does want to.”
  879. “There's something wrong with that?”
  880. >Dash lowers her head.
  881. >“It's what's wrong with you, really. I've said and done so many awful things to you. You should hate me so much, you shouldn't want anything to do with me.
  882. >“But here you are, letting me talk your ears off, like none of that matters to you.”
  883. “Dash, look at me,” you ask.
  884. >She complies, a look of guilt on her face.
  885. “The fact you're saying this shows how strong you really are. You're a good person, even if you have trouble sometimes.
  886. “What matters right now is us finding that common ground and building off of it. If you're willing to work with me on that, I'm willing to forgive.”
  887. >Dash's eyes are getting a little watery, but she holds off on letting it show much.
  888. “Tell you what – we'll just take it one step at a time for now. It'll only get weird if we let it, right?”
  889. >Dash chuckles as she rubs her eyes. “Yeah, got that right.”
  890. “That being said, what do you want to do next time?”
  891. >She thinks about it for a second.
  892. >“Well...have you ever been to the gym here?”
  893. “Can't say I have. Why?”
  894. >“There were a few things there I wanna try with your help, if you wanna, that is...”
  895. “Then that's what we'll do,” you say, holding up an arm. “Game on?”
  896. >Dash grins as she grasps your hand. “Game on.”
  897.  
  898. ------
  899.  
  900. >The rest of the weekend comes and goes, and soon you're back to school for another grueling week.
  901. >Then again, with things more or less 'patched up' with Dash, it's slightly more bearable.
  902. >At the detentions, you chat with her for a bit if the teacher has to leave for something.
  903. >You also see Mrs. Bellum mid-week so she can check on your progress.
  904. >You tell her about the events of Saturday, and how you and Dash are starting to 'get along' better than you have been.
  905. >Mrs. Bellum is pleased to hear this, and encourages you to keep it up.
  906. >Dash, meanwhile, seems to have mellowed out a little, but she maintains some of her competitive nature in gym class.
  907. >On the bright side, she isn't being antagonistic with you like before
  908. >It's possible this is her normal state, but you can't be sure as of yet.
  909. >By gym class on Friday, you're back out on the soccer field.
  910. >Plenty of bad memories, but you prep yourself to be more cautious.
  911. >Ironically enough, you're performing the same drills you worked with Dash on last weekend.
  912. >This time, however, you take what you've learned and apply it to your kicks.
  913. >To your amazement, you're able to land almost every shot, missing only a handful by small margins.
  914. >Everyone is impressed, including Dash.
  915. >“You've gotten, like...twenty-percent better than before!” She tells you.
  916. >Where she got a number like that is a mystery to you.
  917. >Whatever – a compliment's a compliment.
  918. >You'll take what you can get at this point, especially from someone like her,.
  919. >She narrowly edges you out in successful shot count, but this time she doesn't gloat about it.
  920. >The gym teacher's been watching carefully, so she probably doesn't want a repeat of weeks ago.
  921. >Either that, or she's taking the lesson she herself learned to heart.
  922. >Regardless, it's a stark improvement, and with any luck it'll keep going like this.
  923. >That afternoon, once the last detention is over, Dash reminds you where to meet her tomorrow.
  924. >Once again, you assure her that a promise is a promise...
  925.  
  926. >On Saturday morning, you head to the gym Dash had mentioned to you the week before.
  927. >'The Perfect Fit,' it's called.
  928. >Not exactly the most clever name, but you ignore that as you head inside.
  929. >You head to the front desk and ask if Dash is around, and the guy there says she's paid for the both of you for facility use today.
  930. >Strange of her to do that, you think.
  931. >You look around the place, and you finally find Dash using one of the leg curl machines.
  932. >“Hey, there you are,” she calls out.
  933. >As you approach, she continues with her exercise.
  934. >She's wearing a getup very similar to last weekend, including those black pants.
  935. >It's hard not to notice, especially with how her movement on the machine accentuates her lower body.
  936. >“Like what you see?” She asks in a joking tone, clearly noticing your stares.
  937. >God, she's doing this on purpose...
  938. “I have no idea what you're talking about,” you lie.
  939. >“Sure...”
  940. >After a few move curls, she gets off the machine.
  941. >“I thought today we can put some of these hunks of junk to good use. How about it?”
  942. “I don't see why not,” you reply.
  943. >Dash goes through how so use this machine, and how it's great for the quads and hamstrings.
  944. >You adjust the weight load to what you think you can safely move, and then you get into position.
  945. >“Be careful not to go too fast with your movements,” Dash urges. “You want to work the muscles, but not to death.”
  946. “Thanks for the warning,” you say, starting your session slowly.
  947. >Not even a few minutes in, you can feel your leg muscles burning.
  948. >All the while, Dash spots you, making sure you don't overexert yourself.
  949. >Once you get to fifty or so repetitions, you feel you've done enough, letting your legs drop.
  950. >“Not bad for a first try on this,” Dash comments as you get off the machine. “Let's try the ones over this way, next.”
  951. “Lead the way,” you say, following her.
  952.  
  953. >Over the next few hours, Dash has you try out a number of different machines and stations.
  954. >She says she comes here a couple days a week to keep her body in good condition.
  955. >Most of the time she focuses on her leg muscles, but every once in a while she'll have a balanced workout that hits just about everything important.
  956. >You do your best to be nice about this, and go through what machines you can handle.
  957. >The 'lat pull down' and 'pec deck' machines seem to be the easiest for you, as long as you don't make the weight load too heavy.
  958. >If there are two of the same machine next to each other, Dash works out alongside you.
  959. >Otherwise, you take turns spotting each other.
  960. >You get tired after a while, but you continue on as a means of showing Dash what you can do.
  961. >Any time you struggle with a workout, she takes the time to encourage you, rather than drop any nasty comments.
  962. >It's as if she's a completely different person in environments like this.
  963. >There is no competition, judging, or animosity here, which is a nice change of pace.
  964. >You just wished Dash was like this more often.
  965. >Along the way, you recognize a couple students at one of the bench press stations.
  966. >One is Bulk Biceps, if you remember his name correctly.
  967. >You and Dash watch as he lifts well over 150 pounds with relative ease, at least at first.
  968. >He must be near the end of his set, as he's yelling out with the next few lifts of the barbell.
  969. >His girlfriend, Derpy, is here today as his spotter, and she encourages him to keep going.
  970. >With one last cry, Bulk completes a final lift and replaces the barbell.
  971. >Derpy's clearly pleased, giving him a kiss on the forehead in celebration.
  972. >You and Dash give quick hellos to them before moving on.
  973. “Quite the odd couple, aren't they,” you muse.
  974. >“They make each other happy,” Dash replies. “Sometimes that's all that matters.”
  975. “True that,” you say.
  976. >You finish off your time here on the treadmill, you doing a walk on yours, while Dash jogs on hers.
  977. >You're all but exhausted when you leave, your muscles aching all over.
  978. >“Thanks for coming out here with me,” Dash says. “This means a lot, you know.”
  979. “No problem,” you reply, “although my body's going to be mad at me for the rest of the day...”
  980. >Dash chuckles. “That's what happens when you work almost every muscle at once. A day or so of rest will help with that.”
  981. “I'll keep that in mind. Wanna grab a bite? I'll buy, given you paid for this already.”
  982. >Dash gives a smile. “I'd like that...”
  983.  
  984. >You hit the pizza joint once again, but this time you go with your own individual meals.
  985. >Part of you expected Dash to go all out and take advantage of your promise to buy.
  986. >Instead, she's reasonable about it and only gets a turkey sub.
  987. >You stick with a chicken parm sub for yourself, as it's another favorite of yours here.
  988. >You're feeling a little better as you eat, but you'll still need to take it easy for now.
  989. >Dash spends some time talking about other sports-related topics.
  990. >She tells you her team managed to eke out wins in both games this week, and everyone is looking forward to having her back
  991. “Kind of a shame,” you tell her. “I was starting to enjoy the company in the afternoon.”
  992. >Dash eyes you. “Even if it was forced on you?”
  993. “Fate works in strange ways. Maybe this was meant to be.”
  994. >“What makes you say that?”
  995. “Well...maybe it saw how awful things were going between us before, and it wanted to change that.
  996. “Who knows – maybe it's what guided that kick to land the way it did.”
  997. >Dash looks down. “I don't know about that. Don't you think it'd have found a better way to do it?”
  998. “For people like you and me? Hell no.”
  999. >Dash laughs. “Well, when you put it that way...”
  1000. “And look where we are right now. Did you ever think in a million lifetimes that we'd be spending our Saturdays doing things together?”
  1001. >“I mean...I guess not...”
  1002. >Dash trails off, as she tries to form her next words.
  1003. >“But don't think this means I'm falling for you or anything. This is just to keep Ms. Celestia happy.”
  1004. “Whatever you say,” you reply.
  1005. >Once the lunch is over, you're ready to go your separate ways again.
  1006. “So, what's on our agenda for next time?”
  1007. >“I don't know yet, but I'll figure something out. Gotta keep you on your toes, you know?”
  1008. “You know how to reach me when you do,” you say.
  1009. >“Yeah, yeah,” Dash replies as she heads to her car and drives off.
  1010. >You follow suit, with a strange sense of clarity.
  1011. >Dash may be saying otherwise, but part of you thinks there's something deeper happening between the two of you.
  1012. >It's just a matter of when – and if - that something will come to fruition...
  1013.  
  1014. ------
  1015.  
  1016. >On Monday, things are just about back to normal...
  1017. >...at least, as normal as it can get, given everything that's been going on.
  1018. >On the bright side, your punishment is over with.
  1019. >Dash is ecstatic, obviously, and she can hardly wait to get back with the soccer team for practice and actual games.
  1020. >She swears she's going to score as many goals as she can to make up for the time lost.
  1021. >In celebration of her freedom, she invites you that afternoon to a place called the Sugarcube Corner.
  1022. >You find it with little difficulty, as it isn't too far off from school.
  1023. >It's a quaint place, reminding you of a 50s-era diner, although focused on baked goods.
  1024. >Thanks to her hair, Dash is easy to spot amongst all the tables.
  1025. >When she spots you, she whistles and waves you over.
  1026. >It looks like she has extra company this time, in the form of the other purple-haired girl in their little group of friends.
  1027. “Hello there,” you say as you approach.
  1028. >“'bout time you popped in,” Dash replies. “I thought you'd have gotten lost.”
  1029. >This is said in a joking tone, and you give a sarcastic laugh in return.
  1030. >“Come now, darling,” the other girl says, “it's not proper to be so condescending.”
  1031. >'Well, isn't she Little Miss High and Mighty,' you think to yourself.
  1032. “Rarity, right?”
  1033. >“Yes indeed. A pleasure to finally meet you.”
  1034. >As you nod, Dash grabs your wrist.
  1035. >“Sit down, ya knucklehead,” she says, dragging you down into the booth next to her.
  1036. >“My word, Rainbow, “ Rarity says with a gasp. “Is this any way to treat a new friend of yours?”
  1037. >“He's not-” Dash begins, but stops herself with a grunt. “Sorry, I'm trying my best here...”
  1038. “I take it 'Rainbow' fessed up to you already,” you say to Rarity as you look over the menu.
  1039. >“Oh yes, she has. You'll have to forgive me, darling. I did believe her at first, so hearing the truth from her shook me a little.”
  1040. >“A little?” Dash asks. “You nearly fainted over the phone!”
  1041. >“Can you blame for for having a flare for the dramatic?” Rarity asks.
  1042. >Both you and Dash roll your eyes at the same time.
  1043.  
  1044. >Just then, the last member of the little group skates over to your table.
  1045. >She clearly works here, as she's wearing a blue waitress dress.
  1046. >Her hair is as pink and poofy as one can possibly imagine, and she has a huge smile on her face.
  1047. >“HELLO!” She calls out. “You must be this Anon guy Rainbow says she loves to hate to love.”
  1048. “Wait, what?” You ask, confused.
  1049. >You look to Dash, and she's clearly embarrassed.
  1050. >“Pinkie, what the heck!” She says, her voice cracking.
  1051. >Pinkie laughs. “I'm kidding, I'm kidding!”
  1052. >In an instant, she zips over to whisper into your ear.
  1053. >“But seriously, she's been talking about you almost non-stop for the past week or so.”
  1054. >You're taken aback as Dash grits her teeth.
  1055. >“What did she just tell you?” She asks.
  1056. >You look to Pinkie, whose head is turned away as she whistles a strange tune.
  1057. “Let's just say she made something clearer to me,” you reply.
  1058. >“Anyways,” Pinkie interrupts, pulling out a pad and pen. “What's your pleasure?”
  1059. >“Some eclairs for me,” Rarity says.
  1060. >“Some double-chocolate cookies here,” Dash states.
  1061. >“And for you, Nonnie?” Pinkie asks.
  1062. “Nonnie?”
  1063. >“Don't mind her,” Rarity says to you, “she likes giving nicknames to people.”
  1064. >“Especially after finding out they're not as bad as Rainbow makes them out to be,” Pinkie adds, looking to Dash with as annoyed a look as she can muster.
  1065. >Dash slumps down in her seat, but you bump her shoulder to get her sitting upright again.
  1066. “I...honestly don't know what I want. Any suggestions?”
  1067. >“Can't go wrong with our cupcakes,” Pinkie replies. “They're on special today!”
  1068. “Eh, why not? A couple chocolate ones, please.”
  1069. >“Okie dokie lokie! Those will be out in a jiffy!” Pinkie writes this all down and zips away.
  1070. “Where does she get that energy?” You ask.
  1071. >“This is what happens when you're literally surrounded with sugar,” Dash says with a chuckle.
  1072.  
  1073. >A few minutes later, Pinkie returns with a tray of goodies for all of you.
  1074. >The cupcakes put in front of you are covered in pink frosting, with little balloons done in icing.
  1075. >Cute...
  1076. >But quite good, as there's extra frosting in the middle as you bite into one.
  1077. >Everyone else is enjoying their treats just as much, although Rarity is being dainty about it.
  1078. >“Before I forget,” she says, “are you going to go to the costume ball at the end of the month?”
  1079. >“Definitely,” Dash replies. “Just not sure what I want to go as right now.”
  1080. “Costume ball?” You ask. “This the one the school holds around Halloween?”
  1081. >“Yes, the Saturday before,” Rarity explains. “I always make outfits for my friends when they ask. Call it a specialty of mine.”
  1082. “Never been to something like this,” you tell Dash. “You know, this could be something we end up doing that day.”
  1083. >“You? Dressing up?” She laughs.
  1084. “I'd ask you the same thing.”
  1085. >“What do you mean, 'something you end up doing'?” Rarity asks, confused.
  1086. “Ms. Celestia and the guidance counselor wants us to spend 'quality time,'” you say. “They think this will prevent further fights.”
  1087. >Rarity looks back and forth between you and Dash before clearing her throat.
  1088. >“Well, Anon, if you do decide to go, I'd be more than happy to whip something up for you. I'd just have to get your measurements in advance. Yours as well, Rainbow.”
  1089. >“I haven't really grown much,” Dash says.
  1090. >“Nonsense. You're still a developing young woman, so anything could be different from last time.”
  1091. >Dash crosses her arms. “Ugh...fine...”
  1092. >“In fact,” Rarity continues, “I'll be available all this weekend. Why don't the two of you make this one of your 'things' you do together then?”
  1093. >Dash gets flustered again. “Seriously, Rares?”
  1094. “Oh come on, it could be fun,” you reply. “Plus, she could make matching outfits for us.”
  1095. >You're joking with Dash at this point, and it's more than enough to get her growling at you and blushing like crazy.
  1096. >Rarity laughs at this display. “My, oh my, you were not joking about your little dynamic with him.”
  1097. >“YOU'RE NOT HELPING!” Dash yells, her voice cracking again.
  1098. >You and Rarity do your best to calm her down, and you get back to indulging on your desserts.
  1099. >Rarity parts ways with you shortly after, saying she has other projects to take care of.
  1100.  
  1101. >Meanwhile, Dash is still a bit flustered from the various exchanges.
  1102. “You alright?” You ask, elbowing her.
  1103. >“No I'm not,” she replies in a down tone.
  1104. “You realize I was messing with you, right?”
  1105. >“Were you?” Dash gives you a look you've never seen from her before...helplessness.
  1106. >“Remember back when I said everyone was pressuring me to do all this? It feels like that's been ramped up by a thousand percent!”
  1107. “And remember how I told you not to let them do that to you?”
  1108. >“Easier said than done, especially when it's my own friends pushing me into it.”
  1109. “Can't say we didn't bring this upon ourselves.”
  1110. >Dash groans. “They could at least make it less obvious what they're trying to do.”
  1111. “And what is that?”
  1112. >She sighs. “Trying to make us be more than nice to each other...”
  1113. >You raise an eyebrow as two and two are put together.
  1114. >“I know...silly, right? I'm still on the fence about this whole 'friends' thing with you right now, let along going further than that...”
  1115. “Maybe they think if we try hard enough, we can be better influences on each other.”
  1116. >“But to try and hook us up? That's ridiculous.”
  1117. “I don't know if they're going that far. It'd be a big climb to reach that point, if we ever make it.”
  1118. >“At least we're on the same page as far as that goes...”
  1119. “How's about we change the subject? I'm thinking about taking Rarity up on her offer.”
  1120. >“What, you got a costume idea already?”
  1121. “Maybe. It depends on if she's able to put together that I had in mind.”
  1122. >“She does all kinds of tuxes and other suits for some of our guy friends,” Dash says. “If it's something along those lines, it'll be a snap.”
  1123. “Perfect. I'll just have to find a few references, and we can go from there. How about you?”
  1124. >“Like I said, I don't know what I want to be yet. Tell you what, let's just plan on seeing her this weekend, and I'll see if I can think of something before then.”
  1125. “Sounds like a plan,” you say, putting some money on the table. “Look, I gotta get going, but I'll see ya tomorrow, I guess.”
  1126. >“Yeah...see ya...”
  1127. >As you're leaving, you look back to Dash, who is staring down dejectedly.
  1128. >Part of you wants to turn around and stay with her a little longer.
  1129. >But you also have a project to work on for one of your classes, and little time to get it completed.
  1130. >'Next time,' you think to yourself as you leave the Corner. 'There's always next time...'
  1131.  
  1132. ------
  1133.  
  1134. >As the week progresses, you learn a bit more about the upcoming costume ball.
  1135. >There's going to be a number of different events, from 'best dressed' voting to a karaoke sing-off.
  1136. >What's interesting is that the it will have live music provided by a couple of the school's bands.
  1137. >This peaks your interest, and it cements what you want to go as.
  1138. >The weekend comes around at last.
  1139. >You had gotten Rarity's contact info earlier in the week, and finally messaged her the other night.
  1140. >She said she was happy to have both you and Dash over Saturday morning.
  1141. >You arrive at her lavish home early, but you wait outside for Dash to make her way over.
  1142. >She shows up a few minutes later, dressed in her gym gear, and you head to the door together.
  1143. >She knocks, and a younger girl answers.
  1144. >Rarity's sister, you guess.
  1145. >“SIS!” She yells into the house. “Rainbow and her weird boyfriend are here!”
  1146. >Dash comes close to exploding on her, and once again you have to calm her down.
  1147. >“Sweetie!” Rarity scolds, opening the door the rest of the way. “What did I tell you about how you introduce people who come over?”
  1148. >“To not do it like that...” Sweetie mumbles.
  1149. >Rarity nods with a huff. “Come in, you two. Pay no mind to our little gatekeeper.”
  1150. >You follow her inside and up the stairs to her bedroom/studio.
  1151. >Multiple movable racks of costumes line the walls, with several tables of material strewn around.
  1152. “Quite the operation you have here,” you state.
  1153. >“This is nothing compared to her busy seasons,” Dash replies.
  1154. >“She's right about that,” Rarity says. “There are times when I'm working on a half-dozen outfits at the same time...on a deadline.”
  1155. “Yikes. And you're not busy right now?”
  1156. >“Surprisingly not. Right now, Twilight is the only other person requesting a costume for the ball. That leaves plenty of spots open for the two of you.”
  1157. >“Awesome,” Dash says, pulling out her phone. “For mine, I was thinking something like this...”
  1158. >She brings up what you assume is a photo and shows it to Rarity.
  1159. >She nearly jumps; whatever it is, it's something that she's afraid of.
  1160. >“Are you serious, Rainbow? You want to dress up as one of those?”
  1161. > “Not AS one of those. I was just thinking a short dress with that motif. It'd go with my hair, don't you think?”
  1162. >Rarity eyes the picture again. “Well, I guess I can see that. Share it with me, and I'll get some sketches done later on today.”
  1163. >“Cool,” Dash replies, sending the picture to Rarity's phone. “Your turn,” she says to you.
  1164.  
  1165. >All the while, you were bringing up a video to serve as your reference.
  1166. >“Please tell me you're not going to scare me with what you have,” Rarity pleads.
  1167. “I doubt it's going to be like that,” you reply.
  1168. >You show her the video on your screen, on mute, and she eyes the main performer.
  1169. >“Interesting,” she muses. “How close do you want the suit made to look like this?”
  1170. “I'm not looking for an exact match,” you say. “I'm sure your interpretation will be just as good.”
  1171. >“And do you plan on doing your own makeup to go with it?”
  1172. >Dash eyes the two of you, confused as to what you're talking about.
  1173. “Yeah, that's the plan. I want to try doing this song for karaoke like this guy is doing it.”
  1174. >“Oh, now I get it,” Rarity says. “Not a problem, darling. I can have this done in no time at all.”
  1175. “Thanks. Looking forward to what you come up with...for me, and for Dash.”
  1176. >“Don't spoil mine,” Dash adds. “I want it to be a surprise, just like Anon is trying to do with his.”
  1177. >Rarity laughs. “My lips are sealed. In the meantime, let's get measurements for the both of you...”
  1178. >She starts with Dash, having her extend her arms and legs so she can draw out her measuring tape as far as needed.
  1179. >You turn your head as Rarity goes to measure Dash's bust.
  1180. >“It's okay,” Dash says. “You don't have to look away for this.”
  1181. >“He's just trying to be a gentleman about it,” Rarity replies. “And I was right, these are slightly bigger than before.”
  1182. >This is said with a giggle. Dash groans as you give a cough.
  1183. >Once she's done with Dash, Rarity moves to you, getting as many numbers as she can.
  1184. >You can't remember the last time something like this was done for you, but you welcome it.
  1185. >“That should do the trick,” Rarity says. “If I have any questions, I know how to reach you.”
  1186. >“Thanks again,” Dash say, and you head back outside after goodbyes.
  1187. “I take it you want to hit the gym again?” You ask.
  1188. >“If you don't mind. There was something else there I wanted you to try, also.”
  1189. “Not sure what you mean, but let's go for it.”
  1190. >You get into your respective cars and return to 'The Perfect Fit.'
  1191.  
  1192. >When you arrive, you and Dash go and use some of the same machines from last time.
  1193. >This time, however, you find each one a little easier. You'll have to remember to keep up with them.
  1194. >Later on, she leads you to another part of the gym, and you're surprised at what you see.
  1195. “THIS is what you wanted me to try?”
  1196. >You're staring up a fifty-foot wall...
  1197. >...a rock-climbing wall, to be exact.
  1198. >It's fairly wide, too, so there are multiple stations for many people to climb all at once.
  1199. >“Come on,” Dash says. “Where's your sense of adventure?”
  1200. “I must have left it in my other pants,” you mutter.
  1201. >“You're not afraid of heights, are you?”
  1202. “It's not the fall that kills you, as they say,” you reply.
  1203. >That's why this place has plenty of ropes and harnesses,” Dash says.
  1204. “And insurance, I hope...”
  1205. >“If you'd rather not, I can understand.”
  1206. “It'd make coming over here almost a waste. I'll try anything once, as long as it's within reason.”
  1207. >“'atta boy. Let's get these on before you change your mind.”
  1208. >You each put on a safety harness, and Dash shows you how to attach the ropes and use them properly.
  1209. “Ladies first,” you say.
  1210. >“Uh-uh,” Dash replies. “I want to see you go through with it before I make the climb. I'll keep the rope good and tight for you.”
  1211. “...fine,” you groan.
  1212. >You take your position and grab one of the hand-holds up on the wall.
  1213. >With a deep breath, you begin your ascent. It's slow going, but you do as best you can.
  1214. >You don't want to admit it, but you ARE afraid of heights.
  1215. >“Just keep moving,” Dash instructs as she pulls the rope tight, “and don't look down!”
  1216. >You take her advice, although you take your time.
  1217. >You're about three-quarters the way up, and you're sweating at this point.
  1218. >“You're almost there, Anon! You can do it!”
  1219. >You gulp, but you continue to listen to Dash's advice and focus on the task above you.
  1220. >The bell up top is soon within reach, and you finally manage to ring it.
  1221. >Dash whoops for you as you slowly repel back down to the ground.
  1222.  
  1223. >“See, I knew you could do it!” Dash exclaims. “That wasn't so bad now, was it?”
  1224. “Ask me after my nerves have calmed down,” you reply.
  1225. >“Alright, now it's my turn...”
  1226. >Dash cracks her knuckles as she looks up to the bell.
  1227. “If I can do it,” you say, “this should be a cake walk for you...or should I say, climb.”
  1228. >“Only one way to find out,” Dash replies as she starts her own 'rise to greatness.'
  1229. >You pull and hang onto the rope as she climbs, and she's much quicker than you.
  1230. >She must have done this in the past, as she seems to know what she's doing.
  1231. >In no time at all she's close to the top.
  1232. “Keep it up, Dash!” You call. “You've got this!”
  1233. >“Of course I do!” She replies as she looks down at you. “Like you said, this is a cake walk!”
  1234. >That comment and distraction costs her.
  1235. >Dash loses her grip on the next hand-hold, which was covered in your sweat from earlier.
  1236. >She gasps out loud as her balance is compromised, and she slips and falls.
  1237. >Instinctively you grab the rope tighter, and you feel it burning through the gloves you're wearing.
  1238. >Dash drops down to about fifteen feet above the ground before the rope goes taut.
  1239. “Hang on!” You yell.
  1240. >Dash breathes a sigh of relief, staying suspended in the air for a moment.
  1241. >She swings her body around to try and grab another of the hand-holds.
  1242. >...and then it happens...
  1243. >*SNAP*
  1244. >The rope breaks above her.
  1245. >“AAAAAAAAAH!”
  1246. >Dash screams as she plummets.
  1247. >Without hesitation, you let go of the rope and get right underneath her.
  1248. >You're able to catch her just in the nick of time.
  1249.  
  1250. >People around you had turned in reaction to the scream, and now come over to make sure the both of you are okay.
  1251. >Dash is clearly shaken up from what just happened.
  1252. >She is breathing heavily, a panicked look in her eyes.
  1253. >It's as if she was face-to-face with Death himself for a moment.
  1254. “You alright?” You ask. “That was close...”
  1255. >She looks to you with an unchanged expression.
  1256. >“Put...me...down...” She manages to say.
  1257. >You comply, carefully setting her down on her feet.
  1258. >Before anything else is said, she rushes in and puts her arms around you, her head on your shoulder.
  1259. >You're shocked at this, as you did not expect this coming from her.
  1260. >'Ah, what the hell,' you think to yourself as you finally return the hug.
  1261. >You stay like this for a minute or so, and you wave off the onlookers to let them know she's fine.
  1262. >As they disperse, Dash breaks her embrace with you.
  1263. >“That was...scary...” She says.
  1264. >You give a chuckle.
  1265. “What did you say before about not falling for me?”
  1266. >Dash blushes profusely before shaking herself out of her funk.
  1267. >“That's not what I meant, ya jackass!”
  1268. “Not what you had in mind, maybe.”
  1269. >“SH...SHUT UP!”
  1270. “Sheesh, you're welcome,” you mutter, turning to walk away.
  1271. >“Wait...”
  1272. >Dash stops you, grabbing your arm.
  1273. >You look back and see that her head is down. She's sniffling.
  1274. >“Th...thank...you...”
  1275. >You turn around again and you instinctively put your arms out.
  1276. >Dash responds by hugging you again, but this time her face is buried in your chest.
  1277. >“You're still an ass,” she mumbles.
  1278. “I know. Come on, let's get out of here. I hear a pizza with our names on it calling out to us.”
  1279. >Dash sighs. “Better go and answer it...”
  1280.  
  1281. >You hit the pizza joint, as promised, and you both enjoy a small deep dish pie.
  1282. >There isn't a lot of chatter between you right now.
  1283. >She's probably still shaken up from the whole ordeal.
  1284. >Add 'wall climbing' to both of your 'not to do' lists from now on...
  1285. >At least the fall didn't have an effect on Dash's appetite, as the pizza's completely eaten between the two of you.
  1286. >You head to the park close by afterward, and you take a break on one of the benches.
  1287. >You sit in silence for a while, watching other park goers partaking in their activities.
  1288. >“What happens now?” Dash asks out loud.
  1289. >You look over to her, and she has an uncertain look on her face.
  1290. “What do you...want to happen?”
  1291. >“I...don't know...”
  1292. “Let's stay the course, then. See where it leads.”
  1293. >“For how much longer?”
  1294. “Hard to say. Like I said before, fate works in strange ways.”
  1295. >“Did it cause that stupid rope to break?”
  1296. “That was shoddy safety checking by the gym staff...mostly...”
  1297. >“Great. It's not just my friends pushing us closer...it's fate itself.”
  1298. “Is that a bad thing?”
  1299. >Dash doesn't answer right away.
  1300. >“I...don't think so...”
  1301. “Hey, you didn't get hurt, at least. What would your friends and teammates say if I let you break your legs...or back...or worse?”
  1302. >“Trust me, you'd never hear the end of it. I bet you'd be run out of town by everybody.”
  1303. “I can see the headline now – 'local guy chased across county after letting pseudo-girlfriend fall.'”
  1304. >“Pseudo-” Dash stops herself. “Damn it, there we go again! Are you in on this, too?!”
  1305. >You pull her in by her shoulder.
  1306. “Oh, lighten up. If I was 'in' on this, wouldn't I be playing dumb about it?”
  1307. >“Well...you're already kinda dumb, so I might not tell either way...”
  1308. “That's your opinion, Dashie...”
  1309.  
  1310. >“What have I said about you calling me that?”
  1311. “If I knew why you hate it so much, I might be more careful about it.”
  1312. >Dash sighs.
  1313. >“You know how I haven't really fit in, right?”
  1314. “With who? Your friends?”
  1315. >“With anybody. I'm not like other girls here...with how I look, how I act...”
  1316. “Do other people make fun of you for that? Is that a nickname they give you?”
  1317. >“Some people used it, yeah. They made it sound like I was a stupid little kid with no good things going for me. I hated them for it, and it still stings whenever anyone calls me that.”
  1318. “I'm...sorry, then,” you say. “If it's that bad a memory for you, I won't use it again.”
  1319. >“Thanks, I appreciate that...”
  1320. “So with that being said, did you not have a lot of friends before?”
  1321. >“I didn't have many besides Fluttershy and a few others...at least until Twilight came into the picture.
  1322. >“I guess back then I was bitter...and I still am to a degree.”
  1323. “Is that why you hassled me to start with? Was I an outlet for that bitterness?”
  1324. >“I...guess so...you were the new guy on the block in a worse friend situation than I was, so who else would've complained?”
  1325. “How about now? Do you still hate me?”
  1326. >“It's...complicated...”
  1327. “I've got all afternoon...”
  1328. >Dash puts her head down, trying to form her answer.
  1329. >“Well, part of me does...but another part of me is just the opposite. Kinda what Pinkie said the other day.”
  1330. “So those are fighting over that in your head right now, and you don't know what's going to win out.”
  1331. >“A weird way to put it...but I guess that works.”
  1332. “Tell you what, you let me know either way once that's settled. We can still have our fun until then.”
  1333. >Dash stretches out before leaning on you, her head on your shoulder.
  1334. >“If that's what you want...”
  1335. >You sit together like this for a while, but soon you both have to head for home.
  1336. >An interesting day, to say the least.
  1337. >You've been able to get a little more clarity from Dash...
  1338. >...and it starting to look like she's close to doing the other kind of falling for you...
  1339. >And honestly, you might be on the verge of falling for her, as well...
  1340. >Only time will tell where this eventually leads...
  1341.  
  1342. ------
  1343.  
  1344. >Another Monday, another start of another mediocre week.
  1345. >That's how you thought some time ago.
  1346. >Now? Life has been anything but mediocre.
  1347. >At lunchtime, you get your usual tray of semi-edibles and head off to find an empty spot.
  1348. >Near the end of the period, you hear whistles coming from Dash's table.
  1349. >You turn and see you're being waved over by some of the girls.
  1350. >At first you're not that keen about this, especially when Dash shakes her head at you.
  1351. >But when the others continue to plead, you give in and head over to their table.
  1352. “Alright, what's going on?” You ask.
  1353. >“Oh, Rainbow here was telling us about her weekend,” Twilight replies.
  1354. >“And how you ended up being a hero of sorts,” Sunset adds.
  1355. “Oh yeah...that little incident...”
  1356. >“Incident?” Rarity says with a scoff. “Darling, if it wasn't for you, Rainbow might not be here with us right now.”
  1357. >“Weren't you afraid?” Fluttershy asks you.
  1358. “Of course I was! I was the one trying to keep her from falling. Her life was literally in my hands!”
  1359. >Dash turns her head away.
  1360. >“Thank heavens you saved her,” Applejack replies. “You were in the right place at the right time.”
  1361. >“I'd have been too scared to take either role,” Fluttershy says. “Me, climb that high? No thanks...”
  1362. “Well, neither of us plan on doing that again. I think that drop took a couple years off of our lives...”
  1363. >“Too many possible years together lost to the ages,” Pinkie says in a joking tone.
  1364. >All of the girls besides Dash augh at this.
  1365. >“Here's to Anon,” Twilight declares, raising her drink bottle. “Defender of the Dash!”
  1366. >You can't help but smile as the other girls follow suit, with the exception of Dash.
  1367. >She instead looks down and away from everyone.
  1368. >Perhaps there's another 'feelings' clash going on at the moment.
  1369. >Soon, the bell signifying the end of the lunch period rings, and everybody disperses.
  1370. >Dash is the first to leave, and she doesn't really say a word to anyone.
  1371.  
  1372. >Her friends, who were jovial just moments ago, now look on with concern.
  1373. >There's no time to speculate what's going on, as everyone needs to get to class again.
  1374. >You want to go after her, but Sunset keeps you back.
  1375. >“Let her go for now,” she says. “I think you might have done it.”
  1376. “Done what?” You ask as you head out of the cafeteria.
  1377. >“You did something she wasn't expecting from you,” Sunset explains as she follows you; she shares the next class with you, after all.
  1378. “Oh yeah, like you were talking about weeks ago,” you recall. “You don't think she's embarrassed or ashamed from all this, do you?”
  1379. >“She didn't sound like that way when she was telling us about it. If anything, she's conflicted.”
  1380. “What do you mean?”
  1381. >“I bet a part of her thought...you were going to do nothing and let her fall.”
  1382. “What? No way...why would she think that?”
  1383. >“Given your history, it wouldn't be a surprise.”
  1384. >By now Dash is long-gone, and you give a sigh.
  1385. “I thought we were moving past that...”
  1386. >“I'm sure you yourself have,” Sunset replies, “but I did say she holds grudges, and sometimes those can last even after forgiveness is verbally given.”
  1387. “She's kinda hating on the rest of you, also.”
  1388. >“How so?”
  1389. “She thinks all of you are trying to play matchmaker. She even lumped me in with you the other day.”
  1390. >Sunset chuckles. “Her mind's playing tricks on her again. She has a knack for conspiracies.”
  1391. “But given how things have been going, she feels you're putting a lot of weight on her shoulders to make all of this work.”
  1392. >“We've got nothing to do with it, as much as she thinks we do. We want you and her to be happy. Anything after that is up to the two of you.”
  1393. “I know. It's just happening so fast. It's funny, though - not even a month ago I hated her so much, I wanted to punch her lights out...”
  1394. >“And now?”
  1395. >You stop walking, as does Sunset.
  1396. “Would you...call me crazy if I said I wanted to spend more than just Saturdays with her...and do more than simply hang out with her?”
  1397. >Sunset smiles as she puts a hand on your shoulder. “I wouldn't call you crazy...I'd call you in love.”
  1398. >Perhaps your gut was right...
  1399. “Maybe,” you say with a laugh. “What about Dash, then? You think she feels the same?”
  1400. >“That's not for me to answer,” Sunset replies. “You should ask her when you feel the time is right.”
  1401. “That may take a while,” you say as you resume your walk to class. “Guess it depends on how things go from here.”
  1402. >“We'll all be there for you both if you need us. We won't let it all go to Hell in a hand-basket.”
  1403. “Thanks. I'm sure you won't...”
  1404.  
  1405. >You don't have any classes with Dash the rest of the day, and you don't see her after school.
  1406. >Either she's getting ready for soccer practice, or she 'dashed' home as quickly as she could.
  1407. >She hasn't gone into detail what her school week schedule is like, so you have no idea.
  1408. >You message Fluttershy to see if maybe Dash said anything to her.
  1409. >Unfortunately, that isn't the case.
  1410. >You don't want to drop this, but you also don't want to escalate things by pressing the issue with her.
  1411. >You'll be seeing her tomorrow, anyhow.
  1412. >That night, after completing your homework assignments, you hear a notification on your phone.
  1413. >When you check it, you see Dash is calling you.
  1414. “Hello?” You say as you pick up.
  1415. >“Hey Anon.”
  1416. “What's up? Didn't see you at all after lunch today. You doing okay?”
  1417. >“Yes and no. I just have a lot on my mind right now.”
  1418. “You want to talk about it?”
  1419. >“Wouldn't be calling you if I didn't.”
  1420. “Fair enough. So what's wrong?”
  1421. >“It's getting weird...and we're letting it get weird...”
  1422. “I guess we are. And you're still not sure how far you want to take it, if at all.”
  1423. >“Yeah, especially with how the others acted today. It was so jarring, I couldn't stand it That's why I left as fast as I did.”
  1424. “Then why did you tell them about what happened?”
  1425. >“They're my friends, Anon. I can't keep something like that from them for long.”
  1426. >As long as you're being honest with each other...
  1427. “Sunset pulled me aside earlier. She thinks a part of you expected me to...not catch you...”
  1428. >A long pause...
  1429. >“She's...not completely wrong.”
  1430. >Oh god...
  1431.  
  1432. “Dash, no one in their right mind would have stood by and let you get hurt.”
  1433. >“This is you we're talking about, though. Doesn't part of you still hate me?”
  1434. “Not enough to let something bad happen to you. We're getting to know each other better, and I'm slowly but surely coming around to you.”
  1435. >“Coming around to me?”
  1436. “I starting to like you more than I hate you, how about that?”
  1437. >You hear a chuckle on the other side.
  1438. >“Did Sunset say to tell me that?”
  1439. “No, why would she?”
  1440. >“Just sounds like something she'd say, that's all.”
  1441. “Sunset told me me that she and everyone else isn't trying to hook us up. What I said is all me.”
  1442. >Another long pause.
  1443. >“I...don't know what to say...”
  1444. “Just let it sink in, then. We can talk about it more another time.”
  1445. >“Yeah, I guess we could...”
  1446. “With that out of the way, what does the weekend look like for you?”
  1447. >“We've got a game on Saturday, so I wouldn't be around until later in the day. That fine with you?”
  1448. “Not a problem. Either that afternoon or Sunday would be fine. Got anything in mind?”
  1449. >“I've had plenty of turns picking so far. Why don't you make the choice this time?”
  1450. “Well...nothing pops into my head right now, but I'll come up with something and let you know.”
  1451. >“No climbing up high places, got it?”
  1452. “Clear as crystal. Anything else you want to talk about?”
  1453. >“Not really. Just wanted to get a few things off my chest. Thanks for listening.”
  1454. “Any time. See you tomorrow, okay?”
  1455. >“Yeah...okay...bye...”
  1456. >Dash hangs up after you say 'bye,' yourself.
  1457. >You honestly weren't expecting a call like this, let alone coming from someone like her.
  1458. >It's a welcome change, though. She's opening up to you more and more.
  1459. >Maybe this is Dash showing you her vulnerable side, the one she keeps away from most people.
  1460. >You wonder how many others she's shown before, outside of her friends.
  1461. >Honestly, you hope that she'll continue to show you more of herself...
  1462.  
  1463. ------
  1464.  
  1465. >By the next day, Dash seems mostly back to normal.
  1466. >In one of the classes you share with her, everyone is asked to pair up to tackle a written project.
  1467. >Unlike previous 'engagements,' there's little to no hesitation from either of you.
  1468. >There's also no animosity in working together this time.
  1469. >At lunch, you peek over at her table, and she's the center of attention again.
  1470. >Unlike the other day, she's being a little more open.
  1471. >Her friends, of course, do some apologizing in their hopes of mending this little broken bridge.
  1472. >Dash seems to take it in stride, and by period's end it appears it's been resolved.
  1473. >The rest of the week goes on as normal, without a lot of fanfare or excitement.
  1474. >On Friday, however, Rarity pulls you aside to let you know your costume is ready.
  1475. >She wants you to come over and try it on, and to make sure it meets your 'expectations.'
  1476. >You return to her home the next morning, knocking on the door as before.
  1477. >Sweetie once again answers.
  1478. >“SIS! Rainbow's...friend is here!”
  1479. >Guess the little 'gatekeeper' learned her lesson...
  1480. >“Come on up, darling!” You hear Rarity call from upstairs.
  1481. >After thanking Sweetie, you head up to meet her sister.
  1482. >“Good of you to come over early,” Rarity says, heading to one of her costume racks and pulling out a set of clothes. “Here it is...”
  1483. >It's a set of black shirt and pants with red trim; to top it off is a red suit jacket with black satin lining.
  1484. “Wow,” you say as you check the material used. “This looks and feels really nice.”
  1485. >“Glad you like it,” Rarity replies. “Go ahead and try everything on. I want to make sure it fits you.”
  1486. >With a nod, you take everything to another room and put it all on.
  1487. >When you show it to Rarity, she gives a knowing smile. “My, oh my...”
  1488. “You've outdone yourself,” you say. “This feels pretty much perfect.”
  1489. >“I'm happy to hear, darling. Just so you know, I don't handle shoes, and I wasn't sure if you wanted gloves or not.”
  1490. “Don't worry, I've got pairs of both at home that should work well with all of this.”
  1491. >“Wonderful. You're going to be a thrill when your perform on stage, that much is certain.”
  1492. “I hope so. I really can't thank you enough...”
  1493. >“Any time, darling. Any time...”
  1494. >Later on, you get a call from Dash.
  1495. >The soccer game ended a short time ago, and everyone was heading out; her team won, of course.
  1496. >“So, what did you come up with?” She asks.
  1497. “Meet me at the gym when you're ready,” you reply. “And no, we're not going anywhere near that stupid wall.”
  1498. >Dash laughs. “Thank god for that. I need to head home and freshen up first, but I'll be there in about an hour, okay?”
  1499. “See you then.”
  1500.  
  1501. >In the time promised, Dash meets you at 'The Perfect Fit' once again.
  1502. >You have a bag of something with you, which you requested from the gym staff for later.
  1503. >You first go through the normal machine routines you're getting accustomed to.
  1504. >All the while you're keeping mum about your intended activity.
  1505. >After the treadmill workout, you lead Dash to the other end of the building.
  1506. >There are a number of fighting rings here, used for boxing, wrestling, and other related sports.
  1507. >“Okay,” Dash says, “I think I know what want to do, but...are you sure about this?”
  1508. “I'm sure,” you reply, opening your bag and dumping out the contents.
  1509. >It includes boxing gloves, safety pads, and head protection.
  1510. “I figured this week had to have put you through a lot of stress, so I thought maybe doing something like this will help relieve it.”
  1511. >“Not exactly the first thing I'd come up with for that...”
  1512. “Plus, we can both get our punches in without getting in trouble from Ms. Celestia for it.”
  1513. >Dash chuckles nervously. “Yeah, I guess...but again, do you really want to do this?”
  1514. “My choice, even if I regret it later. Come on, before I change my mind.”
  1515. >Dash shrugs as you put on the gloves and safety gear.
  1516. >You pass a mouth guard to her, as well, and you each stick them in.
  1517. >You climb into one of the empty rings, and you pretend you're a certain boxer from the movies.
  1518. “You wanna ring the bell?” You ask.
  1519. >“Ding, ding,” Dash replies, pretending to ring it with a gloved hand.
  1520. >You circle each other, staying on your toes.
  1521. >“Now let's take it easy here,” she says. “Nothing below the belt, and nothing that would knock either of us out. Got it?”
  1522. “It'll be fine,” you reply. “Let's knock that stress out of ya, eh?”
  1523. >“You asked for it,” Dash says, closing the gap.
  1524. >She gets in the first few hits, but thanks to the padding it's nothing compared to last time.
  1525. >You swing in yourself, and while Dash ducks under most of them, a few manage to connect.
  1526. >It goes back and forth like this for several minutes as you each try to assess the others weaknesses.
  1527. >Dash is being cautious, though. Perhaps she doesn't want to hurt you like she did before.
  1528. “Come on,” you say, motioning with your hands. “Don't hold back! I can take it!”
  1529. >Dash hesitates, and it's enough for you to get a hit to the side of her ribs.
  1530. “What's the matter? Let's do this! Show me you don't hit like a girl!”
  1531. >THAT did the trick...
  1532.  
  1533. >Dash's temper gets the better of her, and she goes on the attack.
  1534. >Unlike your first fight, you have ample time to prepare for it.
  1535. >You block some of the hits, while the padding protects your head from serious injury.
  1536. >You try to get in shots of your own, but Dash is clearly faster on her feet.
  1537. >She dodges and weaves through your swings and connects with most of her own.
  1538. >“Come on, Anon!” She yells. “Stop TRYING to hit me and HIT me!”
  1539. >You do your best to oblige, your own anger levels rising.
  1540. >This is not what you had in mind, but it's far too late to stop what you're doing now.
  1541. >The next minute or so is a flurry of punches, jabs, and socks from the both of you.
  1542. >Unfortunately, you're running low on steam.
  1543. >Now you're missing every swing, and Dash is connecting with all of hers.
  1544. >You back off to try and collect yourself, but she's not having it.
  1545. >“Damn it, Anon, don't be a wimp and PUT UP A FIGHT!”
  1546. >She charges, deflecting one of your defensive moves and hitting you right in the gut.
  1547. >You bend over with a wheeze, and she follows up with a shot to the head, knocking you down.
  1548. >As you hit the canvas with a 'thud,' Dash gasps with wide eyes.
  1549. >“Oh god, what am I doing?” She cries out, dropping to her knees to help you.
  1550. >You're still conscious and functioning, thankfully, and you roll onto your back.
  1551. >Dash removes both of your gloves so she can take your hand. “Talk to me Anon, you okay?”
  1552. >You look up to her, and she's clearly shaken up from what she just did.
  1553. >Are those...tears?
  1554. “Ow...” You groan as you sit up. “At least you didn't hit like a girl there...”
  1555. >Dash shuts her eyes, the tears flowing freely from them. “You're such an idiot, you know that?”
  1556. “Sometimes,” you reply. “I told you I'd regret this, didn't I?”
  1557. >She helps you back on your feet before wrapping you in a hug. “I'm so sorry. I lost control again...”
  1558. “And once again, I provoked you. I was asking for it, and you delivered big time.”
  1559. >“I don't know about you, but I think we've both had enough 'fun' here. Should we add boxing to our 'not to do' list?”
  1560. “Might not be a bad idea...”
  1561.  
  1562. >You return the gloves and safety gear and make a bee-line to the pizza place for a light lunch.
  1563. >Given your shot to the gut, you're surprised you're able to keep anything down.
  1564. >Dash continues to apologize for what happened, but you tell her just as much to not worry about it.
  1565. >You make another trip to the park afterward, finding the same bench empty.
  1566. >You both sit down on it with heavy sighs, clearly drained from all of the day's activities.
  1567. >It's a long period of quiet as you do your best to recover and collect your thoughts.
  1568. >“Not exactly how I thought today would turn out,” Dash says finally.
  1569. “Same,” you reply. “Did it work, though?”
  1570. >“Did what work?”
  1571. “Did that little boxing match get rid of some of your stress?”
  1572. >Dash laughs. “If anything, it gave me even more. I thought I hurt you again...badly.”
  1573. “Trust me, this was small potatoes compared to what you did WITHOUT safety gear.”
  1574. >“If you say so...”
  1575. “By the way, Rarity finished the costume I'll be wearing next week.”
  1576. >“Oh cool. I got a message from her earlier saying she has mine ready, too. I'm gonna go see her either tonight or tomorrow to try it out.”
  1577. “Can't wait to see what she put together for you. Now, I just need to figure out that karaoke thing...”
  1578. >“I'd talk to Flash about it,” Dash replies. “He should be providing music that night for anyone who asks him.”
  1579. “Who's Flash?”
  1580. >“Twilight's boyfriend at school. He has his own band there he performs with, just like we do.”
  1581. “Wait...you girls have a band, too?”
  1582. >“Technically. We'll do a show from time to time. I've got a song in mind for us to do, so we'll see who ends up with the crown.”
  1583. “Only one way to find out,” you say, standing up despite your body's pleas.
  1584. >Dash follows suit, but brings you in for another hug.
  1585. >“Take it easy these next couple days,” she says. “Rest will do you good after what we did.”
  1586. “I'll keep that in mind,” you reply, returning the embrace. “See ya Monday.”
  1587. >She breaks it off and heads out, and you see her off with a grin.
  1588. >While it wasn't what you had planned, you feel it went better than you expected.
  1589. >Dash may not have said it, but you think she got more off her chest than even she let on.
  1590. >Though it's been unorthodox, these various activities have brought you closer and closer together.
  1591. >It's just a matter of whether or not any of this will lead to something even greater...
  1592.  
  1593. ------
  1594.  
  1595. >The following school week, you're feeling a little better after your little boxing match.
  1596. >After getting info from Twilight, you reach out to this 'Flash' guy.
  1597. >He seems to be a chill dude, and goes on about his music preferences and how his band performs.
  1598. >He tells you he's taking requests for the karaoke contest from other students here who don't have any talent with instruments.
  1599. >From the sounds of it, there's already a long list.
  1600. >There's apparently no limit to genre they'll play, as long as it's kept clean.
  1601. >Given the students would provide the singing, it'd be up to them to make that happen.
  1602. >You show him the video you've been referencing all this time, and he looks just as intrigued as Rarity was before.
  1603. >“This must be new or something,” he says. “Didn't expect it to be sung like that at all.”
  1604. “When you've heard the original so often,” you reply, “any cover of it can sound alien.”
  1605. >“Tell me about it. But yeah, with a little research we can do this for you no problem.”
  1606. “Great. Thanks.”
  1607. >You share a link to the video with Flash, and you go about your usual school business.
  1608. >You're invited to Dash's table again later in the week, and the other girls are getting excited for the costume ball.
  1609. >Everyone either has something in mind for outfits, or already have ones lined up.
  1610. >They're all being quiet about it, though, wanting to surprise each other with their concepts.
  1611. >Rarity is the least in the dark, as she finished the costumes for you, Dash and Twilight.
  1612. >She's still respecting everyone's wishes on keeping things secret.
  1613. >Thankfully the week whizzes by, and it's Saturday once again.
  1614. >You spend the morning with Dash back on the soccer field.
  1615. >Thanks to the workouts you've been getting in, you're almost able to finish the two laps around the track without getting winded.
  1616. >It's only about halfway through the second lap that you have to flow down to catch your breath.
  1617. >Definitely an improvement, and Dash clearly sees it.
  1618. >You go through a number of drills that she does all the time with her team at practice.
  1619. >It's intensive, just the way she likes it, and you do as best you can to keep up.
  1620. >After that and a light lunch, you head off to get ready for later on.
  1621. >Along the way, you go to a local store to purchase the face paint you'll be using.
  1622. >Honestly, you're both excited and bewildered by the prospects of tonight.
  1623. >It's the first time in a long time you're legitimately looking forward to something like this...
  1624.  
  1625. >After dinner, you grab your costume and head to the bathroom with the face paint and applicators.
  1626. >You bring up a large screenshot of the performer's head and face on your phone for reference.
  1627. >First, you put on the black shirt and pants, as doing so after the makeup would ruin things.
  1628. >Then you gel and comb your hair back, leaving enough of a 'canvas' to work with.
  1629. >Next, you apply paint that is bone-white to your entire face, also making sure to include your ears.
  1630. >You follow up with black paint around your eyes, temples, the front of your nose, your lips, and the sides of your mouth.
  1631. >You're taking on a skeletal look, which is exactly what you're going for.
  1632. >You don the red suit jacket, a pair of black dress shoes, and a set of black gloves.
  1633. >The finishing touches are a pair of contacts that make your irises look chilling white.
  1634. >You check yourself over in the mirror until you're satisfied with the result.
  1635. >It's not an exact match, but you feel it's close enough
  1636. >Your parents are intrigued with your choice in makeup and attire, and remind you to be back at a reasonable hour.
  1637. >You drive back to the school, and it sounds like the place is already thumping with music.
  1638. >Because of your look, no one really recognizes you...or what you're supposed to be for that matter.
  1639. >You stroll around for a while until you reach the gymnasium, where most people are gathered.
  1640. >Multiple tables with food and drink are spread around the edges of the room, while the center serves as the dance floor.
  1641. >One by one, you're able to pick out the girls and their choices in costume.
  1642. >Twilight looks like a sorceress you'd see in a fantasy RPG, complete with a staff and big hat.
  1643. >Fluttershy is perhaps the shyest vampire you've ever seen, but at least she's being brave and showing off her 'fangs' with her smiles.
  1644. >Applejack is a cowgirl, because what else would she be? You see her showing off plenty of rope tricks to a gathered crowd.
  1645. >Pinkie, the clown she is, appropriately dresses up as one, complete with a pink afro and a nose that makes honking noises when squeezed.
  1646. >Sunset came as a geisha, with a colorful kimono, a black wig, and a pair of fans to complete the look.
  1647. >Rarity went the princess route, with a purple dress adorned with blue diamonds and a gold crown.
  1648. >You meet with each of them for small talk, and they're all surprised when they realize it's you.
  1649. >Except for Rarity, of course. She's impressed with how well both of your work has turned out.
  1650. >You ask her if she's seen Dash yet, and she tells you she hasn't.
  1651. >You figured she'd be easy to spot, given her hair colors.
  1652. >Then you feel a tap on your shoulder from behind.
  1653.  
  1654. >You turn your head, and there she is in all her beautiful glory.
  1655. >Dash has on a short black dress that comes up to her lower thighs, and there are eight streamers reaching down from a belt around her waist.
  1656. >She's also wearing a black and red mask that has multiple 'eyes' on it.
  1657. >And perhaps for the first time, she has makeup of her own on, which drastically changes her appearance compared to what you're used to.
  1658. >“Well, how do I look?” She asks as she turns all the way around, and more detail is revealed.
  1659. >The dress is virtually backless, to start.
  1660. >She's also wearing a bustle of sorts, which is colored with a unique red, green and blue pattern.
  1661. “Wow...you look gorgeous,” you say in your awe.
  1662. >Dash blushes. “Thanks...”
  1663. “Rarity,” you say to her friend, “you've done it again.”
  1664. >Rarity giggles at your reaction. “Thank you, darling. That bustle took the most work, so I'm glad it came out okay.”
  1665. >“Better than okay,” Dash replies as she slaps it. “It completes the look!”
  1666. “So you're a spider of some kind, right?”
  1667. >“A peacock spider, actually. They come in all different colors and will do these little jigs to try and impress potential mates.”
  1668. “Oh, I've seen videos of that. But I thought only the males did the dancing.”
  1669. >“They do, but the females don't look nearly as cool or colorful, and that's what I wanted to be.”
  1670. “Well, you look great either way.”
  1671. >Rarity smiles. “Another successful costume and happy customer, if I do say so myself.
  1672. >Dash looks you over. “So what are you dressed as? Some kind of neatly-dressed skeleton?”
  1673. “Not going to spoil it. You'll have to see me sing later on to find out.”
  1674. >“You're no fun,” Dash pouts. “Whatever...”
  1675. >“Speaking of singing,” Rarity says, “we should be getting ready for the karaoke. It's supposed to start in a little while.”
  1676. >“Still plenty of time to mingle,” Dash replies. “Right, Skeletor?”
  1677. >You laugh at the nickname.
  1678. “Not even in the ballpark of correct, but yeah, there's still time.”
  1679. >The three of you go around, chatting with some of the other ball goers.
  1680. >They all have different reactions to your costumes, but they seem to recognize Rarity's craftsmanship.
  1681. >Eventually, it's about fifteen minutes before the contest is to begin.
  1682. >Dash and Rarity head off to find the others so they can gather their instruments.
  1683. >You head for the auditorium, where you hope that greatness awaits.
  1684.  
  1685. >When you get there, you're brought backstage to wait for your turn.
  1686. >Unfortunately, you're second-to-last on the list, most likely because of how late you applied.
  1687. >However, you also notice that Dash's group is listed right after you.
  1688. >Maybe they didn't get any requests to provide music for anyone else.
  1689. >Then again, Flash's band has most of this covered.
  1690. >Speaking of whom, he's already on stage with his band getting their equipment ready.
  1691. >You decide to just sit back and enjoy what everyone else has to offer for talent...or lack thereof.
  1692. >Thankfully it's plenty of the former, as most of the entries sound decent enough.
  1693. >Flash was not kidding about doing a mix of genres, as it's all over the map in terms of selection.
  1694. >Some of the students do pop songs, others do rock, still others do metal.
  1695. >As you wait, Dash and the others arrive backstage with their own equipment.
  1696. >“We didn't miss anything, did we?” She asks.
  1697. “Nope. So far none of these acts hold a candle to what any of us can do...I think...”
  1698. >Dash laughs. “So what are you singing? I gotta know!”
  1699. >You waggle a finger in front of her.
  1700. “Patience. You'll find out at the same time as everyone else. I think you'll like it, though.”
  1701. >“If you say so...”
  1702. >You stay back as a few more people perform their songs.
  1703. >The one before you attempts 'Man in the Box,” with varying degrees of success.
  1704. >At the end, they shuffle off stage, and your name is called.
  1705. “Well, this is it, I guess...”
  1706. >“Knock'em dead, tiger,” Dash says.
  1707. “Deader than dead,” you reply as you head on out into the open.
  1708. >The auditorium is at about half capacity, and there are a couple of the teachers at a podium up front.
  1709. >It reminds you of one of those singing competition shows with celebrity judges.
  1710. >You pay it no mind, as this is about what you have to offer tonight.
  1711.  
  1712. >The spotlight shines down on you, and you nod to Flash and his band for them to start.
  1713. >When the first notes are played on the keyboard, you begin your performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zasMBtPiMqE
  1714. >You start off slow and melancholic, and it seems to bring everyone's attention your way.
  1715. >It sounds much different than the version they may be familiar with, so there's a bit of intrigue from them, as well.
  1716. >It builds up gradually as the other instruments add their music to the melody.
  1717. >Before long the intensity level is off the charts, especially for someone like you.
  1718. >You seem to be in your element right now, and you're playing into your character.
  1719. >By the last half of the song, you are singing your heart out.
  1720. >During the final verse and chorus, you're at your peak, and the crowd is just eating it up.
  1721. >The performer in your sample dropped an f-bomb near the end, and while you're tempted to include it, you resist the urge and leave it out.
  1722. >As you finish the lyrics, and the band plays the abridged outro, there is applause and whistles.
  1723. >You give a bow before you head off stage.
  1724. >You hear things like 'awesome!' and 'that was amazing!' and 'way to go!' from the stagehands.
  1725. >Flash and his band mates give you fist-bumps as they bring their equipment with them to the back to make room for the next act.
  1726. >You see Dash and her friends ready for their turn, and they're just in awe by what they heard and saw from you.
  1727. >“Doggone, where'd ya learn ta sing like that?” Applejack asks.
  1728. >“Gotta say, Anon,” Twilight says, “I was feeling a chill down my spine there...”
  1729. >“It gave me goosebumps,” Pinkie says. “I'm surprised you didn't sing the original.”
  1730. >“I didn't mind,” Rarity replies. “Kept it short and sweet without all the annoying background vocals.”
  1731. >“I don't know whether to be afraid or mesmerized,” Fluttershy muses.
  1732. >“I know I was the latter,” Sunset says. “I did not expect that.”
  1733. >“Me neither,” Dash adds. “So who are you supposed to be? Just the singer, or the Devil himself?”
  1734. >You give a grin.
  1735. “I'll leave that up to you to decide,” you reply. “It could go either way, depending on what you think.”
  1736. >“Either way, you didn't disappoint,” Dash states. “I think it's our time to shine, next.”
  1737. >You wish them all luck, and they take their places on stage as applause welcomes them.
  1738. >You stick around backstage, waiting to see what they perform.
  1739.  
  1740. >You recall Dash saying that it's usually Twilight who does the singing for their band.
  1741. >This time, however, Dash is center-stage, although she still has her guitar at the ready.
  1742. >As the applause dies down, a certain piano intro begins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58nEqHMB7nI
  1743. >You guess there are some elements being played on the speakers, as there's no keyboard out there.
  1744. >Regardless, you recognize the song right away.
  1745. >As your surmised, Dash is doing the main vocals, while also covering main guitar.
  1746. >During the chorus, the males vocals are just done in the background.
  1747. >However, you find yourself mouthing the words as if you're out there with them.
  1748. >Her pick of song seems unusual at first.
  1749. >But then you recall reading the backstory for this one, and it starts to come together.
  1750. >This must be how Dash is feeling right now with your current 'arrangement'....
  1751. >...and how you have had a profound effect on her...
  1752. >...just like how she's had an effect on you.
  1753. >They soon finish the song, and they get just as much applause as you did.
  1754. >The 'judges' announce that the winners would be named near the end of the night.
  1755. >Dash and company take their leave from the stage, greeted by similar reactions as you were given.
  1756. >She looks to you with an unusual expression for her.
  1757. >“What did you think?” She asks.
  1758. “I think it'll be interesting to see who the winners will be,” you reply. “That was amazing.”
  1759. >Dash blushes. “It's not often I do lead, vocals, so I'm glad you think I was okay...”
  1760. “You were great, and I'm sure everyone else out there agrees.”
  1761. >You hear words of encouragement from the rest of her friends.
  1762. >“Thanks, guys. How about we go and enjoy the rest of the party, now?”
  1763. “Let's.”
  1764. >You join the girls as you head back to the gymnasium...
  1765. >...with Dash walking alongside you...
  1766.  
  1767. >Once you're back in, you notice that it's a bit more crowded than before.
  1768. >Probably from everyone leaving the karaoke event.
  1769. >Right now you're hearing 'The Monster Mash' over the speakers, which only makes sense.
  1770. >You and Dash spend time mingling with people and helping yourselves to a treat here and there.
  1771. >Much like the karaoke show, it's a mix of songs playing; some Halloween-based, while others are either high-energy or slow dance music.
  1772. >You notice a DJ booth, and a blue-haired girl with big colorful shades is manning it, taking requests.
  1773. >You think 'why not?' and give them a song suggestion.
  1774. >Out on the floor, you see Flash and Twilight are having a good time.
  1775. >Lucky them.
  1776. >Some of the other girls are out there, too, just fooling around and enjoying themselves.
  1777. >Soon, another upbeat song begins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbcCG7PkI18
  1778. >Almost immediately, Dash starts tugging on your arm.
  1779. >“Come on, Anon! Don't just stand there like a zombie!”
  1780. >She pretty much drags you out onto the dance floor.
  1781. >You're apprehensive, as you're not exactly the best dancer in the world.
  1782. >Dash doesn't seem to care, and does a lot of twirling around with her little routine.
  1783. >The lyrics are practically prophetic, as if you're the singer and Dash is the girl in question.
  1784. >'A backless dress and some beat up sneaks'?
  1785. >Yup, that's describing her to a 'T' on right now.
  1786. >If you didn't know any better, you'd say she requested this one to be played.
  1787. >You loosen up a little and join in, and Dash is loving it.
  1788. >She bumps you with her hips a couple of times, and you let her have her little fun.
  1789. >The bustle on her outfit is bouncing quite a bit, as if she's mimicking the spider she's supposed to be.
  1790. >At least you know this one is only dangerous if you make her mad...
  1791. >By song's end, she's having the time of her life, giving a 'whoop!' while holding up an arm.
  1792. >Maybe she borrowed some of Pinkie's energy tonight...
  1793.  
  1794. >Then, the song you requested starts up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttY0vfyd-dI
  1795. >The performer you're portraying tonight is the lead singer of this music group, so it's only right you have the DJ play one of their bigger hits.
  1796. >If one knew what the song was really about, they would find it a little morbid.
  1797. >But given it's supposed to be a Halloween ball, you feel it fits the bill.
  1798. >It's definitely getting everyone on the floor pumping, some stomping their feet to the beat.
  1799. >You're feeling a little daring, and you take one of Dash's arms this time.
  1800. >She's surprised as you give her a grin and a raised eyebrow, but it quickly turns to a grin of her own.
  1801. >You dance together for the first few verses, and she's into this even more than the last song.
  1802. >During the guitar solo, you break off and pretend you're playing it yourself, which Dash laughs at.
  1803. >You can't help it if you love this song, especially the chord progression.
  1804. >For the last part, you take Dash's hand and bring her in close, putting your free hand on her hip.
  1805. >You do a slow spin as you stare deeply into each others eyes.
  1806. >The tension is building, perhaps even more-so than when all of this craziness started.
  1807. >The song ends before any of this can go further, but the stares continue.
  1808. >Dash giggles. “You're being quite the charmer tonight, aren't you?”
  1809. “You think so? I'm just trying to keep up with you, like I always do.”
  1810. >“So far so good...”
  1811. >A slower song begins, and you silently decide to stay like this for a little longer.
  1812. >She comes in a little closer, putting her head on your shoulder and wrapping her arms around you.
  1813. >You do the same with yours, and you do a slow shuffle.
  1814. >“I never thought things would end up like this,” Dash says.
  1815. “Like what?”
  1816. >“Not long ago, I was thinking of the many ways I'd kick your ass for what you did to me.
  1817. >“And now, look at us, slow-dancing like we're a couple.”
  1818. “Like one? Still haven't decided how you want to continue with this, I guess.”
  1819. >“It's tough, Anon. It's like you said before, I'm starting to like you more than I hate you.”
  1820. “What made you start to change your mind?”
  1821. >“That stupid wall. You may not think it, but you saved me, something I never thought you'd do.
  1822. >“After everything I've done to you, you still saw fit to catch me and tried to lighten things up.
  1823. >“You were right about me when our detentions started – I've been a bitch to you.
  1824. >“I don't deserve any of this kindness from you, and I especially don't deserve forgiveness...”
  1825.  
  1826. >You can hear droplets falling onto your shoulder.
  1827. >Dash is speaking and crying her heart out right now.
  1828. >You stop the slow dance and pull her in tighter.
  1829. “Listen to me. We've both changed so much in such a short amount of time.”
  1830. “And we've both become better people as a result...
  1831. “I've said and done a lot of things I'm not proud of, the same with you, but we need to move past it.
  1832. “Never did I think you'd want to do any of this – to get to know me better, or showing sides of you that only your friends know about.
  1833. “And I never thought I'd say it, but...I want to be closer to you...
  1834. “I'd love to have you as a friend...or maybe even more than that...”
  1835. >There's a pause, and you hear a sniffle coming from Dash.
  1836. >“You mean that?”
  1837. “I'd be a big-ass liar if I didn't.”
  1838. >She chuckles. “Damn right you'd be.”
  1839. >She brings you out to half an arm's length and looks back to you.
  1840. >“I know you're trying your best here...but...”
  1841. “You're not ready yet,” you finish.
  1842. >“I'd love to say I was, but right now it's just feels a little too fast...and too weird...”
  1843. “But with how you're saying that, there's a chance you might be ready down the road.”
  1844. >“There's always a chance, Anon. I just need more time, that's all.”
  1845. “Is there anything else I can do for you in the meantime?”
  1846. >“Let's just...stay the course, as you said. We'll keep doing what we're doing, maybe a little more often, and we'll see where it goes from here.”
  1847. “Yeah...I can handle that...if you don't mind, of course.”
  1848. >“Not at all. Thanks, Anon. I really mean it...”
  1849. >She comes in and gives you a kiss on the cheek before wrapping her arms around you again.
  1850. >“Right now, let's just enjoy the moment...”
  1851. “Sure...”
  1852. >You go back to the slow dance, as well as enjoying each others company.
  1853. >Not quite how you thought this conversation would play out, but at least it's a work in progress.
  1854.  
  1855. >A while later, Principal Celestia calls for your attention, as it's time to name some winners.
  1856. >She starts with the karaoke event, and it's been broken up into several different categories.
  1857. >You end up with 'Best Male Solo,' while Dash and the girls got 'Best Group Performance.'
  1858. >For costumes, Rarity received 'Best Dressed' for the girls, while some dude in a full-on anime giant robot outfit got the award for the guys.
  1859. >Both you and Dash are disappointed, as a lot of effort went into both of your outfits.
  1860. >The ones you did win, though, are nice consolations.
  1861. >The ball begins to wind down at this point, with many party goers taking their leave.
  1862. >You once again thank Rarity and Flash for their contributions to your act tonight.
  1863. >They both say they'd do it for you again in a heartbeat.
  1864. >You walk Dash out to the parking lot and to her car.
  1865. >She gives you one more hug before leaving, and you soon follow suit.
  1866. >When you get home, you hop into the shower to clean off the makeup and hair gel.
  1867. >All of your hard work goes down the drain, in a literal sense.
  1868. >But the important thing is you had a good time.
  1869. >As did Dash, of course.
  1870. >You do some web surfing in bed on your phone to close things out.
  1871. >Eventually your eyes are too exhausted to continue, and you decide to turn in for the night.
  1872. >As you shut off the bedside light, you reflect on how the day went as a whole.
  1873. >You feel it was a success overall, although there were a few expected hiccups along the way.
  1874. >Part of you figured Dash didn't want to go to the next level yet, so to speak.
  1875. >You did know this wasn't going to turn out like a sappy one-act play where everything is resolved quickly and the main characters get together.
  1876. >On the bright side, Dash does sound open to it in the future.
  1877. >You decide not to keep pressing her on it; she'll let you know when she's ready.
  1878. >For now, you'll take what small victories you can.
  1879. >Progress is progress, no matter how small the steps are.
  1880. >And those small steps can become giant leaps as time goes on...
  1881.  
  1882. ------
  1883.  
  1884. >You're woken up the next morning by your phone ringing.
  1885. “Hello?” You answer, still groggy.
  1886. >“Hey Anon, what's up?”
  1887. >It's Dash.
  1888. “Not me,” you reply. “I haven't even gotten out of bed yet.”
  1889. >“Not yet? It's almost 10 in the morning, dude!”
  1890. “Wait...what?”
  1891. >You look over to your clock, and sure enough, she's right.
  1892. “Geez, guess last night took a lot out of me...”
  1893. >“Hope it wasn't my 'not yet' response that did it...”
  1894. “Nah, it was the party as a whole. Could happen to anyone.”
  1895. >“I guess. I was thinking about some of the other things we said, though.”
  1896. “What in particular?”
  1897. >“About hanging out more often, for one. You wanna try doing something today?”
  1898. “I'm open for that. What this time?”
  1899. >“Your pick, dude. I've had plenty of turns already. Don't make it something that I'd pick myself.”
  1900. “And not something we'd immediately put on the 'not to do' list afterward.”
  1901. >Dash laughs. “That's twice so far we've had to do that.”
  1902. >Your mind, still a little foggy, races through a couple different ideas.
  1903. >Ones that can both be fun, and not involve any kind of physical pain...
  1904. “Do you...bowl at all?”
  1905. >“Ooh, I haven't done that in long time.”
  1906. “Same here. I might be rusty, but we can still get some fun out of it.”
  1907. >“So you wanna go with that?”
  1908. “If you're up for it, sure. How about we grab some lunch and do it after?”
  1909. >“Pizza joint?”
  1910. “Read my mind. Meet you there around noontime?”
  1911. >“Actually...you wanna...I don't know...pick me up?”
  1912. “Hey, where is this coming from all of a sudden?”
  1913. >“You know that example you made about the feelings fighting it out in my head?”
  1914. “I remember.”
  1915. >“I guess the 'liking' side is currently winning that fight...”
  1916. >You laugh.
  1917. “Send me your address, then. I'll be over in a while, okay?”
  1918. >“See ya then.”
  1919. >Dash hangs up, and you finally get out of bed to do your normal morning routine.
  1920.  
  1921. >Not long after, you get a text from Dash with the requested info.
  1922. >When you're ready, you take a nice drive to her place, which is a quaint little house.
  1923. >You knock on the door, and Dash answers a moment later.
  1924. >“Hey, you found the place!” She says.
  1925. “That was the phone's GPS more than me,” you joke.
  1926. >“Honey, who's that?” You hear another female voice inside ask.
  1927. >“Just a friend of mine,” Dash replies before turning her attention back to you. “Quickly...”
  1928. >“Just a friend?” The voice asks. “Sure doesn't sound like any of your friends I know of.”
  1929. >“Uh oh,” Dash says in a panic. “Come on Anon, hurry up before-”
  1930. >Too late...
  1931. >An older woman peeks out from one of the open rooms. She has scarlet and orange hair, with light purple eyes.
  1932. >“My, oh my, who is this fine young man?”
  1933. >“MOM!” Dash groans.
  1934. “What?” You ask. “Nothing wrong with meeting your parents, is there?”
  1935. >“There is if they like to embarrass the heck out of ya!” Dash replies.
  1936. >“Come on, honey,” her mother says. “That's no way to behave in front of a guest. So, who is he?”
  1937. >Dash grumbles a little before gesturing to you.
  1938. >“This is Anon, Mom. He's the...guy I've told you about before...”
  1939. >“Oh, the one who caught you off the wall? So glad to finally meet you! You can call me Windy.”
  1940. “Hello,” you say with a wave. “Dash and I have been hanging out on Saturdays these past few months, and she decided to add an extra day to that.”
  1941. >“Oh, I see,” Windy muses. “Rainbow said she was spending more time with someone, but didn't really say with who. It's always good to know when she makes new friends.”
  1942. “Heh, that's nice of you to say...”
  1943. >Dash grabs your arm as she heads outside the door.
  1944. >“Anyways...Anon and I are gonna go hang out again, okay? I'll be back this afternoon.”
  1945. >“Have fun, you two!” Windy says. “Call us if it'll be later than normal.”
  1946. >“Yeah, yeah,” Dash replies, practically dragging you back to your car.
  1947. >“Punch it,” she says as you both get in.
  1948. >You don't follow the order to the letter, not wanting to sour the initial impression you made.
  1949.  
  1950. >As you drive, there's time to talk.
  1951. “So...about your mom...”
  1952. >“What about her?”
  1953. “How much of the truth does she know?”
  1954. >“Oh...you mean about the fight?”
  1955. “That, among other things.”
  1956. >“They heard from Ms. Celestia about that. I must've gotten chewed out by them as much as you did by your own parents.”
  1957. “Did you tell them the truth right away, or did they have to figure it out?”
  1958. >“They know me better than my friends do, and how I let my temper get the better of me...so yeah, I had to be more truthful with them, or face an even more serious grounding.”
  1959. “Do they know I'm the one you fought with?”
  1960. >“Yeah. They also know about this whole 'hanging out' thing we're doing.”
  1961. “At least that's out in the open. She seems nice enough.”
  1962. >“She also likes getting in my business,” Dash says. “Always wanting to be involved somehow in whatever I do.”
  1963. “Isn't that what parents do, anyway? Wanting to know more about what their kids are up to?”
  1964. >“Maybe, but she can be annoying sometimes. She and my dad go to as many of my soccer games as they can, and they'll cheer really loudly whenever I score a goal.”
  1965. “Is that a bad thing?”
  1966. >“When they bring banners of me and wave them around? When they come down and try to argue with the refs on a bad call that's made?”
  1967. “Okay, that does sound a little bad...”
  1968. >“I know they're doing it all in support of me, but it gets to be a bit much. They've tried toning it down when I ask them, but sometimes they can't help themselves.”
  1969. “At least they're listening to you, and they have your back for the most part.”
  1970. >“Yeah, I guess...”
  1971. “So, what else have you told them about me?”
  1972. >“As you heard, they know about the wall incident. I've mentioned how you act sometimes, and how for some reason you've been giving me a chance after what we've been through.”
  1973. “They don't mind us doing all this?”
  1974. >“If it means I'm not getting involved in other bad things, it's fine with them.”
  1975. “Glad to know I'm not one of those 'bad things,' then.”
  1976. >“Not right now, at least,” Dash replies. “You just stay on your best behavior, mister, or my dad will hear about it.”
  1977. “Yes, ma'am,” you say.
  1978. >You continue on with your drive, more ground work established.
  1979.  
  1980. >You split a small pizza with Dash at the normal joint, then head to the bowling alley after.
  1981. >It generally isn't busy on a day like this, so there are plenty of spots available.
  1982. >After you each get shoes and find a ball that fits your liking, you head to your assigned lane.
  1983. “Now remember, this is not a contest,” you say. “We're not here to one-up each other.”
  1984. >“What, afraid I'll do better than you at yet another thing?” Dash asks.
  1985. >You give her one of your glares.
  1986. >“Sorry, sorry, bad habit,” She says, putting up her hands. “I can't help it, sometimes.”
  1987. “Something we'll have to work on,” you reply. “Let's just have a fun time of it.”
  1988. >“Sure,” she says as she gets ready to start things off.
  1989. >“Rainbow? Anon? Fancy meeting you here.”
  1990. >You turn to see Twilight and Flash taking the lane next to yours.
  1991. >“Hey guys,” Dash calls. “I could say the same about you.”
  1992. >“We wanted to try something a little different,” Flash replies. “I do this all the time, but Twilight doesn't as much.”
  1993. >“It's not easy,” Twilight explains. “It's tough to roll a ball when you're not used to things that heavy.”
  1994. >“Not all these balls weigh the same,” Dash says. “You gotta use one you're comfy with, not the biggest one you can find.”
  1995. “Think of the science involved,” you add. “How much force you add when you throw the ball, the friction there is as it rolls down the lane, and how a 7-10 split breaks the laws of physics!”
  1996. >Twilight giggles. “Well, when you put it that way...”
  1997. >“Wanna see who can do better?” Flash asks.
  1998. >“We're just here for fun,” Dash replies. “It's what Anon wants, and I'm trying to live up to it.”
  1999. >Flash chuckles. “That's not like you at all. Come on, it'll be fun to see who gets the higher score.”
  2000. >You see Dash wavering. Does she respect your wishes, or does her instinct take over?
  2001. >When in Rome, as they say...
  2002. “Let's make it a team effort,” you interject. “We'll do combined scores.”
  2003. >“Wait, why am I being dragged into this?” Twilight asks, concerned.
  2004. >“If you'd rather not, don't worry.” Flash tells Twilight, “Doesn't have to be a competition.”
  2005. >“I just wouldn't want to be the reason we lose, that's all,” she replies.
  2006. “Winners buy the losers dessert on Monday,” you suggest. “How about that as a consolation?”
  2007. >“Isn't that counter-intuitive?” Twilight asks. “That would give us a reason to lose on purpose.”
  2008. >“Alright, then the losers buy the winners lunch that day to balance things out,” Dash says.
  2009. >Memories of that fateful day creep in, but you try to let them slide out of your mind.
  2010. >“Well...I guess that would be fine,” Twilight replies. “What do you think, Flash?”
  2011. >“Everybody gets something out of it in the end,” he says. “I say let's do it.”
  2012. >“GAME ON!” Dash shouts.
  2013.  
  2014. >As you thought, you're rusty at this.
  2015. >Over the course of the games you play, you only manage a handful of strikes and spares.
  2016. >Twilight is in the same boat, but at least you helped her find a ball that's more her comfort zone.
  2017. >Dash and Flash carry most of the weight, and they're really going at it, seemingly matching each other mark for mark.
  2018. >Dash is in her element, although the same could be true for any sport she's involved with.
  2019. >On the last frame of the last string, Twilight manages a spare and a fill of 6.
  2020. >Dash lands a strike and a spare.
  2021. >A spare and a strike for Flash, putting his 'team' up by 17 pins.
  2022. >Great, the pressure is now on you.
  2023. >You go through the motions and roll your ball.
  2024. >It collides with the pins, but the 6 and 10 pins are left standing.
  2025. >“You've got this,” Dash says in encouragement.
  2026. “I hope so,” you reply as you set up again.
  2027. >Another throw, and it easily takes the remaining pins down for a spare.
  2028. >“Almost there, Tiger!” Dash says excitedly.
  2029. >“Not out of the woods yet,” Flash replies. “He still needs a good fill to win this.”
  2030. >You take a breath as you try to focus.
  2031. >Everyone else watches with anticipation, trying not to interrupt you.
  2032. >You roll the ball one more time, it curves in towards the headpin...
  2033. >...and it knocks down the lot.
  2034. >“STRIKE!” Dash shouts as you pump your arm in triumph.
  2035. >“Wow,” Flash says with a clap. “You pulled it off.”
  2036. >“Good job, Anon,” Twilight says. “Nice game.”
  2037. >Dash rushes in for a high-five. “That was AWESOME!”
  2038. “Thanks,” you say. “Just a bit of luck from the bowling gods, that's all...”
  2039. >“Come on,” Dash replies, “luck had nothing to do with it.”
  2040. >“Whatever it was, it was enough,” Flash says. “I expect an extra helping of jello from you Monday.”
  2041. “You got it,” you say with a laugh.
  2042.  
  2043. >“I'll be right back,” Dash says. “Gotta...take care of something.”
  2044. >“Wait for me,” Twilight replies, and the girls head in the direction of the restrooms.
  2045. >“They always gotta go in groups, don't they?” Flash asks.
  2046. “Doesn't matter as long it makes them comfortable, right?”
  2047. >“I guess. So, how have things been going between the two of you?”
  2048. “How do you mean?”
  2049. >“Twilight's been saying how you and Rainbow have been spending a lot of time together. I also saw how much fun you were having last night at the party, especially with the dancing.”
  2050. “It was an interesting time, I'll say that...” You reply with a chuckle.
  2051. >“Has anything good come out of all this hanging out?”
  2052. >You sigh.
  2053. “I wanna say yes, but...Dash is a bit uptight and still on the fence about it. It's nothing like what you and Twilight have right now.”
  2054. >“Yeah, we were practically head-over-heels for each other near the start. I can't imagine what it was like when Dash treated you like garbage.”
  2055. “Imagine how Sunset must have been when she first got here.”
  2056. >Flash recalls that period of time. “Yeah, good point.”
  2057. “But seriously, she's going back and forth on whether she likes me, or hates me still, and I don't know what else I can do to really win her over.”
  2058. >“Is that what you want? To be more than a friend with her?”
  2059. “That's the other problem – I don't know the answer right now...”
  2060. >Flash puts his hands on your shoulders.
  2061. >“Look, Anon, you need to really think this through before committing either way. The last thing you want is to try and start a relationship without the both of you being on the same page.”
  2062. “Are you speaking from experience?”
  2063. >“You could say that. I had one other girlfriend before meeting Twilight, and it didn't last very long.”
  2064. “Was it you that was the problem, or her?”
  2065. >“We were both to blame, honestly. I wanted to take things slow, while she was just the opposite. Wasn't a perfect blending, you know?”
  2066. “So you're saying Dash and I need to be at the same speed in addition to being on the same page.”
  2067. >“Exactly. Let her set the stage, but don't forget to throw your own thoughts and feelings out there.”
  2068. “You really think it would work between me and her?”
  2069. >“You may not realize it right now, but the chemistry is there. You both just gotta find the right mix for the perfect potion.”
  2070. >You think about it for a moment.
  2071. “I'll see what I can do on that. I appreciate your help and thoughts on all this.”
  2072. >Flash pats you on the shoulder. “Any time.”
  2073.  
  2074. >It's about now that the girls return, and it's about time you got Dash home.
  2075. >You say your goodbyes to Twilight and Flash and head back to the car.
  2076. >“That was fun,” Dash says as you start up and drive. “You nailed it back there.”
  2077. “You did most of the work,” you reply. “I just happened to land the final blow.”
  2078. >“Like you said, a team effort.”
  2079. “Yeah, guess you're right.”
  2080. >“So...Twilight and I talked a little while we were away...”
  2081. “And? What did she say?”
  2082. >“Oh, she wanted to get the details on how we're 'getting along.' She also asked if you and I are stepping up at all.”
  2083. “But we're not...at least not right now.”
  2084. >“That's what I told her. She then started giving me all sorts of advice on how to make things better.”
  2085. “I'm guessing it didn't sit with you well.”
  2086. >“Not really. Didn't Sunset say she and the others weren't trying to play matchmaker?”
  2087. “That's what she told me. Doesn't mean they aren't looking out for you, though.”
  2088. >“Maybe. But it's really my business...and yours. It's gotta be our choice, not theirs.”
  2089. “I hear ya. We're taking it slow and steady, just like the dancing last night.”
  2090. >Dash laughs. “Hopefully with not as much tension. I would've been shaking in my boots if you weren't holding me so close and warmly.”
  2091. “I try my best. Anyway, you said you wanted to try spending a little more time with me. Was there anything you wanted to do next weekend?”
  2092. >“Well, before that, you want to try sitting with us at lunch more? That way we can get a clearer idea as what we can do before the time comes.”
  2093. “Yeah, if you want me to.”
  2094. >“I figured we can hit the gym first on Saturday and do the usual, and then...”
  2095. “Hm?” You ask as Dash trails off.
  2096. >“I had something in mind after. Not going to say what, as I want to keep that a secret.”
  2097. “You mean as a surprise?”
  2098. >“It might be a surprise to you, but it's a secret to me, and I wanna make sure as few people as possible know about it. Got it?”
  2099. “Hey, whatever makes you feel good. I'll roll with it.”
  2100. >“Good. I'll try not to disappoint you.”
  2101. “When have you disappointed, since we started with our fun?”
  2102. >“When I said I wasn't ready...”
  2103. “Listen, I'll go at whatever speed you're willing to go. I'll be here waiting for ya once you've figured things out.”
  2104. >Dash blushes a little, although you're too focused on the road to see it.
  2105. >“Thanks, Anon...for being so patient with me...”
  2106. “Don't mention it...”
  2107.  
  2108. ------
  2109.  
  2110. >The next day, it's business as usual.
  2111. >Except the part where Flash pays for your lunch, and you get him that extra helping of jello you agreed to.
  2112. >There's also the little agreement of sitting with Dash and company.
  2113. >It feels unusual at first, but you decide to roll with it for now, as long as it makes Dash happy.
  2114. >You join in discussions when you can, and the other girls will ask you a question here and there.
  2115. >They're all interested in how things are going between you and Dash.
  2116. >You both try to play it cool, and assure them it's just hanging out without any strings attached.
  2117. >None of them buy it, surprise surprise, but they don't press too hard, keeping with Sunset's promise.
  2118. >You decide to spend a little time with the group near the end of each lunch period, not wanting to get over-saturated with girl talk.
  2119. >Dash seems fine with it, at least.
  2120. >It feels like school weeks have been slowing to a crawl as of late.
  2121. >Normally it'd be a case of waiting for the weekend to come back around.
  2122. >But ever since you started spending time with Dash, that anticipation has become even stronger.
  2123. >Is it necessarily the activities you've been doing, or the person you're doing them with?
  2124. >You replay the conversation you had with Flash through your mind many times.
  2125. >He just might be right about all this.
  2126. >If you can find that right 'mix,' perhaps it'll be enough to turn the tide, so to speak.
  2127. >On Saturday, Dash is the one to meet you at your place.
  2128. >It's at her insistence, of course, as she wants to be the one driving to this other activity she's talked about later on.
  2129. >You go to the The Perfect Fit first, going through the normal machine route you've been taking.
  2130. >You're becoming much better at all of them, to the point where you even increase the weight load a little bit.
  2131. >Dash is impressed, from the looks of it.
  2132. >You each finish off with a treadmill run, and you're near exhausted once you complete the time.
  2133. >“You ready for the other place?” Dash asks.
  2134. “If I knew what it was, I'd be able to give you a better answer.”
  2135. >Dash waggles a finger. “Uh uh, I already told you, it's gotta be a surprise. And you need to make a promise with me.”
  2136. “Hm?”
  2137. >“What we see and do HAS to be kept between us. NO ONE ELSE can know. Swear it!”
  2138. “Alright, alright, I swear it. How bad can it be?”
  2139. >You get your answer after you and Dash arrive at the establishment.
  2140.  
  2141. “A day spa?”
  2142. >Dash wasn't kidding, this IS a surprise.
  2143. >“Remember what you promised,” Dash says. “If you break it, I'll swear I'll break you...”
  2144. >Yikes.
  2145. “I always keep promises like this,” you reply. “Let's just go in.”
  2146. >Dash nods and leads the way.
  2147. >When you enter, you are greeted by two older women at the counter.
  2148. >Both have striking blue eyes. One has blue hair, the other pink.
  2149. >“Welcome,” they say in unison.
  2150. >The way they stand and talk reminds you of a pair of characters from a certain Stephen King movie.
  2151. >“Oh, hi Rainbow,” the pink-haired girl says. “Good to have you back again. It's been a while.”
  2152. >“What are you talking about?” She replies. “I was here LAST Saturday.”
  2153. “So this is where you went after our hanging out that day before the party?”
  2154. >“Yeah, to relax and freshen up before going.”
  2155. >“And who is this gentleman?” The blue-haired girl asks.
  2156. >“This is my friend, Anon,” Dash says. “I decided to let him in on this little secret of mine, so treat him well.”
  2157. >“We certainly shall. I am Aloe.”
  2158. >“And I'm Lotus,” the pink-haired girl adds. “We've been running this spa for a long time, and what happens here, stays here.”
  2159. “Kinda like Vegas?” You ask jokingly.
  2160. >“Nothing like that,” Aloe replies, “unless of course it's what certain customers want...”
  2161. >The two girls giggle, while Dash looks away sheepishly.
  2162. >“So,” Lotus interrupts, “what shall you be having done today?
  2163. >“You want in on a massage, Anon?” Dash asks you.
  2164. “Sure, I guess...”
  2165. >“So two of those, a pedi for me, and some time in the steam room for us both.”
  2166. >“Excellent choices,” Aloe says. “We'll be happy to serve you today.”
  2167. >“Alright,” Dash says, “there are separate changing rooms and plenty of towels available. I'll see you at the massage tables, okay?”
  2168. “Whatever you say...”
  2169.  
  2170. >If feels really awkward as you change out of your clothes in the men's locker room, and you wrap one of the towels tightly around your waist.
  2171. >You proceed to the room where the massages are done.
  2172. >As you enter, you see that Dash is already on one of the tables.
  2173. >You've seen her bare back before, but not quite like this, while a towel covers her lower body.
  2174. >Lotus is currently working on her, while Aloe is at the table next to them.
  2175. >“Come in, Anon,” Aloe requests. “Let's smooth all of your aches and pains away.”.
  2176. >“Relax,” Dash says, seemingly in a zen state, “they won't bite.”
  2177. >You chuckle nervously as you lay down on your stomach on the table, and Aloe begins.
  2178. >Almost immediately, she notices something. “Oh dear, you're very tense.”
  2179. “How can you tell?”
  2180. >“By how your skin and muscles are reacting. It's no good to be under so much stress.”
  2181. “Can't exactly help it. The past few months have been crazy.”
  2182. >“Aw, so sorry to hear. Let's see what I can do about that...”
  2183. >Aloe appears to be proficient in pressure points, as she hits a lot of specific areas on your shoulders and back.
  2184. >You swear you hear a 'pop' every now and then as she works; it stings at first, but it quickly shifts to a comfortable feeling.
  2185. >“So tell me, what's been so crazy for you?” Aloe asks.
  2186. >You shift your head over to Dash, who appears to have fallen asleep on the table.
  2187. “That one, over there,” you whisper, not wanting to take a chance of waking her up.
  2188. >Aloe giggles. “Oh my, have you been-”
  2189. “Spending time,” you say, still in a whisper, “but not in the way you're probably thinking. She's been a pain in my side for ages until recently.”
  2190. >Aloe gets the message and whispers herself. “You know, the past couple times she's been here, she's talked about someone in a similar way. Guess it was you all along.”
  2191. “What else did she tell you?”
  2192. >“Oh, the usual things a girl will say when she can't figure out if she likes a guy or not.”
  2193. “Geez, I just can't seem to make any headway with her,” you groan. “I keep getting advice from people, but it's basically the same thing...”
  2194. >“With someone like Rainbow, there isn't much you can do, sadly.”
  2195. “Then what CAN I do?”
  2196. >“You'll have to let her figure it out on her own. Just keep doing what you're doing, and be there for her when she needs you. I'm sure she'll come around sooner or later.”
  2197. “Different advice than last time, at least. Thanks...”
  2198. >“A pleasure to be of service,” Aloe replies.
  2199. >With that, she continues her work, and you practically fall asleep yourself.
  2200.  
  2201. >You're woken up some time later by Aloe, who says the massage session is over.
  2202. >As you get up, Dash is sitting up on her table, her towel wrapped around her body.
  2203. >“How was it, dude?” She asks.
  2204. “Just what I needed,” you reply.
  2205. >“Always glad to hear when a customer is satisfied,” Lotus says. “Your steam room should be ready by now.”
  2206. >She escorts you and Dash to the room, closing the door behind you.
  2207. >Dash bolts it before sitting down, and you do the same on the other side.
  2208. >She leans back with a content sigh and puts her feet up. “So, how do they look?”
  2209. >She clearly had her pedicure done while you were out, as her toenails have been trimmed and painted – with a different color for each one.
  2210. “They look nice,” you say. “'and definitely you.”
  2211. >“Damn right,” she replies with a laugh.
  2212. >You both relax for a while, letting the hot steam do its work.
  2213. >After a while, a lingering thought in your mind bubbles over.
  2214. “So why all the secrecy? Is this something you're embarrassed by?”
  2215. >Dash huffs as she crosses her arms behind her head.
  2216. >“Remember how I said I'm not like the other girls, and how I have reputations to keep up?”
  2217. “So...doing things like this cuts into that.”
  2218. >“Exactly.”
  2219. “This is nothing to be ashamed of. I bet your friends like to do this, too. They'd be understanding.”
  2220. >“I'm sure they would, but they wouldn't see me the same way they do now.”
  2221. “I think they'd see you as more normal. Who knows, they might want to join you some time.”
  2222. >“You don't get it, Anon,” Dash says, standing up. “If word got out to anyone else at school, even by accident, that rough, tough and tumble reputation of mine goes out the window!”
  2223. “Then why let me in on this?” You ask, getting on your feet, yourself.
  2224. >“Because you're not the kind of guy who'd run his mouth about stuff like this! Because I feel like I can trust you more!”
  2225. >You're surprised at this answer. Is this what Aloe was talking about before?
  2226. “You CAN trust me. This will stay between us, alright? Isn't that what you want?”
  2227. >“You wanna know what I want?” Dash asks, her temper getting the better of her again.
  2228. >She steps backward on the slippery floor and loses her footing.
  2229. >She cries out as she slides forward.
  2230. >You're there to catch her, but the momentum causes you both to fall.
  2231.  
  2232. >You shut your eyes as you groan in pain.
  2233. >Once you open them, you're greeted by a frightened Dash.
  2234. >She's lying right on top of you, her face mere inches from yours...
  2235. >The look in her eyes reminds you of your second trip to Celestia's office, where you had Dash's 'fate' in your hands with your answer about the 'wager.'
  2236. >She is scared to the core...and vulnerable.
  2237. “You alright?” You ask, shattering the silence.
  2238. >“I...think so...” She manages to answer, her anger having dissipated.
  2239. >You can feel her diaphragm expand and contract with each labored breath.
  2240. >But that's not the only thing you feel against your chest.
  2241. >There's also hers...and it's bare...
  2242. >...as her towel came off in the chaos...
  2243. >Realizing this, you shut your eyes again and turn your head away.
  2244. >Dash must have just noticed, as well, as she gives a small gasp.
  2245. >You expect her to be flustered and get off of you in a frenzied panic...
  2246. >...but she stays where she is.
  2247. >“Anon...please...open your eyes...”
  2248. >You're reluctant, wanting to keep things modest.
  2249. >You can feel her getting up a little while staying above you, spreading her legs out and using her arms as support.
  2250. >“It's okay...I said I trusted you more, right? You can look if you want...I don't mind...”
  2251. >With this, you give in, granting her request and opening your eyes again.
  2252. >When you do, you're greeted by a smiling, blushing beauty, in her own little way.
  2253. >You're graced by her nude form, perky breasts and all.
  2254. >You notice a little tuft of hair down below, just as multicolored as what's on her head.
  2255. >Still doesn't answer the question on whether she dyes or if it's natural...
  2256. >“Well?” Dash asks with a little laugh. “What do you think?”
  2257. >You don't answer right away, as you're still mesmerized.
  2258. >A certain part of you is slowly but surely going up with your heart rate.
  2259. >Meanwhile, something in the back of your mind is practically begging you to reach your hands up and touch her.
  2260. >You do what you can to suppress both urges, not wanting to ruin the moment.
  2261. “Beautiful...” You eventually say. “Just...beautiful...”
  2262. >“Thanks for that...and for breaking my fall...”
  2263. “Any time...anything...for you...”
  2264. >“You're such a dork,” she replies, lowering herself again to give you a kiss.
  2265.  
  2266. >You were not expecting any of what Dash has done, and this adds yet another layer of bewilderment.
  2267. >You sigh as you let things continue to develop, letting her set the tone.
  2268. >She pulls away a moment later, and the two of you chuckle at what just happened.
  2269. >“That was...”
  2270. “Amazing?” You finish.
  2271. >“I guess...” She says, and you both laugh again.
  2272. “You never gave an answer before – what DO you want?”
  2273. >“I...I want...”
  2274. >Before she can complete her thought, there's a knock on the door.
  2275. >“We heard a scream a minute ago,” you hear Lotus say. “Is everything okay in there?”
  2276. >At that, Dash gets off of you, retrieving her towel and covering herself up again.
  2277. >“It's fine,” she says in reply. “Just had a little slip-up, but we're okay.”
  2278. >“Just making sure,” you hear Aloe say. “Your time will be up in about ten minutes, by the way.”
  2279. “Thanks,” you answer, as you both retake your places sitting down.
  2280. >Talk about a buzz kill...
  2281. >“Sorry,” Dash says. “That could have gone a lot smoother...”
  2282. “We still have time,” you reply. “A lot could be done in ten minutes, right?”
  2283. >“I don't know, the mood kinda got killed by that knock.”
  2284. >You sigh as you cross your arms and look down.
  2285. “Don't worry about it. It was nice while it lasted...”
  2286. >“How about some other time, when there's no chance of getting interrupted?”
  2287. >Your ears perk up at this.
  2288. “Well, you just let me know when. As I said, I'll be there waiting.”
  2289. >“Yeah...alright...”
  2290. >Once time is up, you split up to change back into your clothes.
  2291. >You thank Lotus and Aloe before leaving, and Dash brings you back to your place.
  2292. “What happens in the spa stays in the spa, right?” You ask. “I'll keep quiet about it.”
  2293. >“Thanks,” Dash replies. “It means a lot to share intimate things like this with you.”
  2294. “Your secret love for the place, or that steamy little moment we had?”
  2295. >“Both,” she replies with a grin.
  2296. >You have a grin of your own on your face as you enjoy the rest of the ride.
  2297. “So...what shall we do tomorrow?”
  2298.  
  2299. ------
  2300.  
  2301. >A day later, you return to Dash's home to take part in her latest chosen activity.
  2302. >A movie double-feature.
  2303. >Kind of an unusual choice for her, but you decide to roll with it.
  2304. >You brought some snacks and a pizza from the local joint, which you're sure she'll love.
  2305. >You knock on her door, and she answers. She's in her workout pants again, along with a white shirt.
  2306. >“Hey dude,” she says, inviting you in.
  2307. >You've been in her doorway before, but this is the first time you have a good view of the inside.
  2308. >Along one of the hallway's walls is a large display case.
  2309. >Within it are a multitude of trophies, ribbons, and other sorts of awards.
  2310. “Are all of these yours?” You ask astounded at what you're seeing.
  2311. >“Pretty much,” she replies. “I did say I win a lot, didn't I?”
  2312. >“But they're all symbols of your hard work and effort,” another voice says.
  2313. >You turn to see an older gentleman entering the hallway.
  2314. >He has amber eyes and short hair colored just like Dash's, although it has faded a little with age.
  2315. >“I'm Rainbow's father, by the way,” he adds. “Bow, for short.”
  2316. >You set your bag of goodies down so you can shake his hand.
  2317. >All the while, your head goes back and forth between father and daughter.
  2318. >Bow laughs. “You're wondering about the hair, aren't you?”
  2319. “Uh...well, if I may ask...”
  2320. >“It's all natural,” he replies. “Seems to get passed down to at least one son or daughter per generation, and my little Rainbow here got lucky with it.”
  2321. >“Dad, you're embarrassing me,” Dash says.
  2322. “It's okay,” you reply before turning back to her father. “I'm Anon, in case you don't know who I am.”
  2323. >“I've heard quite a bit about you,” Bow says, “both from my wife and from Rainbow. If you've been able to put up with her for this long, you're alright in my book.”
  2324. “Thanks, I'm glad to hear that. Dash can be a handful, as I'm sure you know.”
  2325. >“Ever since she was born,” Bow replies. “But my wife and I wouldn't have it any other way.”
  2326. >Dash rolls her eyes. “Alright, you two - stop being so corny...”
  2327. >“Can't help it when you're the topic,” her father says. “So Anon, what brings you here today?”
  2328. “Just here to hang out. Dash says she has a bunch of movies she wants to watch with me.”
  2329. >Bow grins. “I'll leave you to it. I've got a golf course calling out to me, so I'll be gone until around supper time. You two be on your best behavior until then.”
  2330. >“Yes, sir,” Dash says, giving a little salute. You follow suit.
  2331. >“See you later, Anon,” Bow says as he heads out the door.
  2332.  
  2333. >You grab your bag and follow Dash to the living room, where a big-screen TV awaits.
  2334. >“You can just set everything on that table there,” she says, pointing to the one by the couch.
  2335. “Haven't seen your mom around,” you say as you place the bags down. “Is she away, too?”
  2336. >“She went out shopping with one of her friends a little while ago,” Dash replies. “We should have the house to ourselves for now.”
  2337. “Okay...so, what did you have lined up?”
  2338. >Dash grins as she pulls out a couple of movies from the shelf.
  2339. >'Galaxy Quest,' and 'Spaceballs.'
  2340. “Oh wow, I can't remember the last time I've watched either of these.”
  2341. >“Good to know,” Dash says. “I'll get one of these going. Kitchen's over that way, so help yourself to whatever drinks you like in the fridge.”
  2342. >You find said fridge and look over your options, grabbing a couple cans of soda.
  2343. >By the time you're back in the living room, Dash has 'Galaxy Quest' set to go.
  2344. >“Ready for your sci-fi nostalgia trip?” She asks.
  2345. >You lightly toss one of the sodas to her, which she catches with ease.
  2346. “Born ready,” you reply, cracking yours open.
  2347. >She pats a spot on the couch next to her, beckoning you to sit.
  2348. >You happily oblige, taking the spot and getting comfy.
  2349. >“Then let's...BEGIN!” She calls out, hitting the 'play button.'
  2350. >The next few hours are certainly a trip, and you're having a blast.
  2351. >You and Dash are laughing it up, pointing out various scenes and talking about facts the other may not have known about the films themselves.
  2352. >The pizza's gone near the end of 'Galaxy Quest,' and you both almost immediately dive into the other snacks you brought.
  2353. >This is much different than what you've done together previously.
  2354. >No competition, no real interruption, and no one passing any kind of judgment.
  2355. >It's just you, her, and your seemingly equal love for sci-fi spoof movies.
  2356. >At last, you reach 'Spaceballs', your favorite of the pair.
  2357. >Looks like it's Dash's favorite, too, and you again point out various aspects of the film.
  2358. >“You know they used actual pizza for Pizza the Hut?” she asks. “The poor guy playing him must have been cooking alive underneath all of that.”
  2359. “Did you know the director was told he wasn't allowed to make or sell any merchandise? That's why there's so much emphasis on all the weird product placements throughout the film.”
  2360. >“Yikes, that must have sucked for him. Guess that's why this is a cult classic while that other movie series is blockbuster gold.”
  2361. “Something tells me that's how it was meant to be.”
  2362. >“Maybe...”
  2363.  
  2364. >Throughout the afternoon, it feels like Dash has been scooting nearer to you on the couch.
  2365. >By the last half-hour or so, she's practically elbow-to-elbow with you.
  2366. >You both laugh at the scene that spoofs both 'Alien' and one of the older Warner Bros cartoons.
  2367. >It's after this that she rests her head on your shoulder.
  2368. >Feeling bold, yourself, you reach over and put a hand on her own shoulder to bring her in closer.
  2369. >At this time she doesn't seem to mind, giving a content sigh.
  2370. >You reach the end of the film, where big secrets about the hero's origins are revealed, and he is able to get married to the princess afterward.
  2371. >“So cheesy, but I love it all the same,” Dash says as the credits start to roll.
  2372. “Same here,” you reply. “It's weird, but their story kinda reminds me of ours.”
  2373. >“Seriously?”
  2374. “Well, think about it - they hated each other at first, throwing all kinds of insults back and forth, but as time went on they found some kind of mutual understanding. The bond just grew from there.”
  2375. >“We're nowhere near the halfway point of that,” Dash replies, “let alone thinking about going further.”
  2376. “Then how do you explain what happened yesterday? Was that a moment of weakness?”
  2377. >Dash doesn't answer at first.
  2378. >“I don't know...I mean, it was all a big slip-up, in more ways than one.”
  2379. “Are you still unsure of how you think of me right now, or is there a fear of where this may go?”
  2380. >“It's...a bit of both, I guess,” Dash replies with a sigh. “What if things don't work out? What would that mean for everything we've done up to now?”
  2381. >You put your hands on her shoulders so you can turn her to face you.
  2382. “None of that has any bearing on how either of us feel. If it doesn't pan out, so what? That doesn't mean we couldn't hang out anymore. We could just keep doing it as regular friends.”
  2383. >“You'd put up with me even if things went south?”
  2384. “Believe me, we were as south as you could get after I first met you. We've just been clawing our way back in a better direction since our little fight.”
  2385. >Dash lowers her head. “You're really something, Anon, you know that?”
  2386. “Besides being an ass and a dork?”
  2387. >“A real piece of work,” she replies, “just like me.”
  2388. “Especially like you.”
  2389. >Dash giggles. “You know, something's been bugging me since yesterday. Think you can you help with that?”
  2390. “Sure, what's up?”
  2391. >“Can you do me a favor, while you're still here?”
  2392. “....and that would be...”
  2393. >“...Kiss me...”
  2394.  
  2395. >You raise an eyebrow at this request.
  2396. “Why ask for something like that?”
  2397. >“Hey, I started it last time. I wanna know what it's like when the other person takes the lead.”
  2398. “Are you sure your feelings in your head are still duking it out?"
  2399. >“Damn it Anon, just do it before I change my mind!”
  2400. >There's that look in her eyes again.
  2401. >She's dead serious about this.
  2402. “Alright...”
  2403. >Dash shuts her eyes, waiting for the inevitable.
  2404. >She even puckers her lips a little, which just looks adorable on her.
  2405. >You take a deep breath before slowly moving in.
  2406. >You hesitate for a moment, but then it feels like you've been injected with extra confidence.
  2407. >With that, you close the narrow gap, bringing your lips to hers.
  2408. >It's a different feeling than last time, mostly because no one is being taken by surprise.
  2409. >Somehow it feels warmer than when you were in the steam room...
  2410. >Dash gives a content sigh as the kiss deepens
  2411. >She then tries to shift forward, as if wanting to take the lead again.
  2412. >You're not about to let her, though, as she herself said she wanted you in that position.
  2413. >As you still have your hands on her shoulders, you use your weight to carefully force her back.
  2414. >Her grip on your own shoulders tightens, but there's no other resistance.
  2415. >She lets herself be brought backwards, and you follow.
  2416. >You're both quickly laying down on the couch, with you on top for once.
  2417. >You break away so you both can come up for air, and you stare back into her eyes.
  2418. >Her expression has changed to one of almost longing.
  2419. >“Where'd you learn to kiss like that?” Dash asks.
  2420. “Has it been good or bad?”
  2421. >“It's...nice...so far...”
  2422. “Then I guess I have a good teacher, and I'm looking right at her.”
  2423. >Dash sighs, wrapping her hands behind your neck.
  2424. >“Told you you're a dork...”
  2425. “The biggest dork this side of Canterlot.”
  2426. >“And I have you all to myself for now...”
  2427.  
  2428. >She pulls you in for round two.
  2429. >During this kiss, she's able to turn the tables, rolling you around until she's on top.
  2430. >Yet another activity she's turned into a competition.
  2431. >Not that you mind, this time.
  2432. >She breaks away and moves off of you, grabbing the collar of her shirt.
  2433. >In moments, she pulls it off of herself, revealing a dark blue sports bra underneath.
  2434. >You're about to say something, but she puts a finger to your lips.
  2435. >“Hush,” she says. “I'm getting sick and tired of beating around the bush. You've been asking me what I want, right?”
  2436. >You nod.
  2437. >Dash takes one of your hands and places it just above her chest.
  2438. >“I want this...I want you...”
  2439. >You give a look of near astonishment as she reaches behind her back, unhooking her bra.
  2440. >She lets it fall to the floor, revealing her perky breasts to you once again.
  2441. >“Go on,” she says, “I know you wanna.”
  2442. >You chuckle as you shake your head in amazement.
  2443. “If that's what you want...”
  2444. >You put your hands back on her shoulders and bring her in for round three.
  2445. >This kiss is far deeper than the last, and it feels like the hormones are raging between the two of you.
  2446. >This time, however, Dash allows herself to fall back, giving control over to you.
  2447. >You break it off as you move to kiss her neck and collarbone, and she sighs in pleasure at each touch.
  2448. >You also take the opportunity to massage her breasts, which she has no objection to.
  2449. “If it's too much, let me know...”
  2450. >“Nah,” she muses. “You're doing good, Tiger. Keep going...just like that...”
  2451. >With that encouragement, you continue your 'work.'
  2452. >You proceed to plant kisses back and forth between her breasts, and she's practically moaning at this.
  2453. >Emboldened, you reach a hand down below and take hold of on one of her thighs.
  2454. >She gasps when you do this, but instead of stopping you, she opens her legs a bit.
  2455. >Curious, you use the same hand to feel the area in-between.
  2456. >Yup, it's damp.
  2457. >She gives you a knowing grin, and brings her hands down as if to pull her pants off.
  2458. >Alarms are blaring through your brain Are you really going to go further than you already have?
  2459. >...and then, of course...it happens...
  2460. >“Sweetie, I'm home!”
  2461. >Aw, hell no...
  2462.  
  2463. >Dash panics, pushing you off of her so she can grab her shirt from off the floor.
  2464. >There's not enough time to get her bra back on, so you hide it under the couch.
  2465. >She has the shirt on again, and you're on either side of the couch as her mother comes into the room.
  2466. >“Oh, hello there, Anon. Nice to see you again.”
  2467. 'Nice for you, maybe,' you think angrily.
  2468. “Likewise,” you instead say out loud.
  2469. >“We were...just watching a couple movies,” Dash replies. “Got done before you got home.”
  2470. >She laughs nervously, and you join in on it.
  2471. >Her mother's eyes shift between the two of you.
  2472. >“Guess I got home just in time, then. Your father should be back soon, also. I thought we could order some Chinese tonight, that sound good?”
  2473. >“Uh...yeah, sure,” Dash says.
  2474. >“Anon, would you care to join us?” Windy asks.
  2475. “I...actually was about ready to head home,” you reply. “Thanks for the offer, though.”
  2476. >“You're welcome here any time,” Windy says. “If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go put the call in.”
  2477. >As she leaves the room, you and Dash breathe sighs of relief...and disappointment.
  2478. “Interrupted again...” You mutter quietly to yourself.
  2479. >You reach under the couch to grab Dash's bra so you can pass it off to her.
  2480. >“Thanks,” she says, quickly putting it back on. “Sorry...didn't think that through, did we?”
  2481. “It's not your fault, or mine. We both should've known your parents would be back at some point.”
  2482. >“Yeah, I know, but a part of me thought they'd be gone longer...”
  2483. “If they had been later, you think we'd have gone too far...gone all the way?”
  2484. >“I'd have stopped us before getting there. It's WAY too soon to be thinking about that.”
  2485. “Yeah, you're right. Sorry, didn't mean to say it that way...”
  2486. >“No, it's okay...I know what you meant.”
  2487. >There's a moment of silence.
  2488. “So...where do we move from here?”
  2489. >“Forward. If you really want to try and make this work, as you've said, I'd be willing to try, also.”
  2490. >There it is...
  2491. >That giant leap you've been hoping for...
  2492. “Thank you...for giving me the chance...”
  2493. >“You've been doing that for me all this time...it's about time I finally return the favor...”
  2494.  
  2495. >Before you leave, Dash gives you one final kiss, and a promise to 'try again some other time.'
  2496. >As you head off, a multitude of thoughts run through your mind.
  2497. >The unwelcome distraction might have sucked, but it was probably a blessing in disguise.
  2498. >While Dash said she'd have stopped before going 'too far,' something tells you she was lying.
  2499. >If her behavior was any indication, she probably would have thrown caution overboard, just like you.
  2500. >Ah well, the both of you will have to live and learn...
  2501. >... to find a quiet, secluded spot next time, where no one can get in the way of your possible fun...
  2502. >At dinner that night, your parents ask how your day went.
  2503. >You talk about the movies you and Dash watched, and how many laughs were had.
  2504. >They also ask if you two did anything else besides that.
  2505. >You flat out tell them 'no,' but you sense they don't believe you in the slightest.
  2506. >Regardless, you're going to keep things on the down-low for the time being.
  2507. >You and Dash aren't technically 'going out' instead of 'hanging out,' and you don't want to give anyone the wrong impression.
  2508. >Dash feels the same way as she texts you later that night.
  2509. >'I don't want the girls knowing just yet. Can you keep it quiet until I say otherwise?'
  2510. 'My lips are sealed. I'm surprised we've done as much as we have, to be honest.'
  2511. >'No need to remind me. By the way, the next few weekends are going be rough, as my soccer team is in the playoffs right now.'
  2512. 'Want me to come cheer you guys on?'
  2513. >'Every little bit helps. Maybe you can keep my parents in line at the same time.'
  2514. 'Fat chance they'll listen to me, but I'll try.'
  2515. >'Whatever you can do is fine. If there's time later on, maybe we can try squeezing something in.'
  2516. 'Sure. We'll just play it by ear for now.'
  2517. >'Sounds good, dude. It's getting late, though. See ya tomorrow?'
  2518. 'Yeah. Night Rainbow.'
  2519. >It's only after you send that text do you realize what you called her.
  2520. >She replies with a raspberry and a heart emoji before she apparently turns off her phone.
  2521. >Another topic you'll never hear the end of from this girl.
  2522. >It's been an interesting day, with both progress and promises made.
  2523. >Despite what you've done, there has yet to be any confessions or proclamations.
  2524. >Another bridge to cross, and you're sure it's coming up soon...
  2525.  
  2526. ------
  2527.  
  2528. >The following school week is an interesting one.
  2529. >After what you did with Dash over the weekend, there's an added level of tension and secrecy.
  2530. >You find it funny when you think about it.
  2531. >Who would've thought you'd fall for perhaps your biggest enemy, and vice-versa?
  2532. >You keep your word and not say anything to the other girls, although they continue to ask questions.
  2533. >Midweek, Fluttershy pulls you aside before lunch.
  2534. >“How are you doing?” She asks. “You seem a little cheerier than normal, as does Rainbow.”
  2535. “We just had a lot of fun over the weekend,” you reply. “Not much to report otherwise.”
  2536. >Fluttershy gives you a look that is odd, coming from her.
  2537. >“Listen...I've known Rainbow ever since we were little kids. She doesn't act this way unless something really important happened.”
  2538. “Is it possible you're just over-thinking this?”
  2539. >“Not when I can't get answers out of Rainbow, either.”
  2540. “You're not...jealous I'm spending all this time with her, are you?”
  2541. >Fluttershy's eyes widen as she blushes at the question.
  2542. >“N...no, why would I be?”
  2543. “You're her best friend, right? When a best friend is kept out of the loop on something, it can be tough for them.”
  2544. >She lowers her head as she sighs. “I...guess that's true...”
  2545. >You put a hand on her shoulder.
  2546. “Listen, what Dash is doing with me has no effect on her friendship with you. She's just going through something and wants to keep it to herself right now.”
  2547. >“It's...nothing bad, is it?”
  2548. “No, not at all. I doubt she'd keep a bad thing secret for too long.”
  2549. >Fluttershy fidgets with her hair. “Maybe you're right...I'm sorry, Anon...I really shouldn't be acting like this...”
  2550. “You're looking out for a friend, which is what a good friend should be doing. I'd probably do the same if I was in your boat.”
  2551. >“If feels like that boat has a lot of holes on the bottom...”
  2552. “Easy to patch it up. Trust me, when she's ready to open up, I bet you'll be the first one she talks to.”
  2553. >She smiles. “Thanks. Guess I needed to hear that from someone else who knows Rainbow.”
  2554. “I don't know her as well as you do, but I've learned quite a bit about her so far.”
  2555. >Fluttershy leans in to whisper in your ear.
  2556. >“So, how has her kissing been?”
  2557. >Your brain comes close to panicking, but you try to keep it under control.
  2558. >She giggles in response to your reaction. “Just kidding. Come on, I'm sure everyone else has gotten lunch already.”
  2559. “Let's get going, then.”
  2560. >While you question how much she truly knows, you let it slide for now.
  2561.  
  2562. >You do, however, mention this to Dash later on when it's more private.
  2563. “So you think she's on to us?” You ask.
  2564. >“I honestly wouldn't put it past her,” she says.
  2565. “Are you worried?”
  2566. >“Not really. Besides, even if she did figure it out, she's not the kind of person who'd let the rest of the world know about it.”
  2567. >“Plus, a good friend knows when to keep a secret, and when to finally let others in on it.”
  2568. “Does that make me a good friend, then?” You ask.
  2569. >“You're...passable,” she replies.
  2570. >You roll your eyes at this, letting out a sigh.
  2571. >Dash chuckles as she elbows your arm.
  2572. >“Come on, you know I'm joking. Of course you're a good friend...maybe even more than that...”
  2573. “At least I pass that test.”
  2574. >“There'll be more on the way,” Dash replies, “but I bet you'll pass every one of them.”
  2575. “I can hardly wait...”
  2576.  
  2577. >Near the end of the day, you're called to Mrs. Bellum's office for a check-in.
  2578. >“How have things been?” She asks.
  2579. “Much better compared to a few months ago,” you reply. “Gotta say, your suggestion is having a big impact on how Dash and I see each other.”
  2580. >Mrs. Bellum smiles. “I'm so glad to hear that, and I'm sure Mrs. Celestia will feel the same way.”
  2581. “I hope so, given the law she laid down on us...”
  2582. >“You two have grown so much since that day. The way you and her are talking, it's like the weather vane has been flipped in the opposite direction.”
  2583. “The winds of change, as they say?”
  2584. >“Precisely. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you've become the best of friends.”
  2585. “I wouldn't say the 'best' of friends, but I think we've been able to find some of that common ground you mentioned before.”
  2586. >“That's all we've been asking for, Anon. I'll let the Principal know of your progress.”
  2587. “Alright. Do you still want us to meet with you?”
  2588. >“At this point, I don't see any need for further check-ins, unless you wish to continue having them.”
  2589. “Well, if I do have any problems down the line, I'll be sure to let you know.”
  2590. >“Sounds good. You can head back to class, now. Good luck to the both of you.”
  2591. >You give a nod before leaving the office, another weight on your shoulders removed.
  2592. >Now you feel you can move on with two fewer pairs of eyes staring down at you...
  2593.  
  2594. >Saturday comes around again, as does the first playoff game for Dash's soccer team.
  2595. >As expected, they have home field advantage throughout this tournament, so no having to travel far.
  2596. >You arrive shortly before the game begins so you can get a good look at things on the field.
  2597. >Dash and her teammates are warming up, as is the opposing team.
  2598. >When she sees you on the sideline, she gives you a wave, which you return with one of your own.
  2599. >The crowd is close to capacity, which is good, although you realize it'll be tough to find a good seat.
  2600. >Most of Dash's friends are sitting together in a row. You notice that Pinkie and Sunset are missing. >They probably couldn't make it because of work, which is understandable.
  2601. >You also see her parents in the bleachers near the front, if only because of her father's hair.
  2602. >When they see you climb up, they beckon you to sit with them, which you oblige to.
  2603. >“Glad to see you made it,” Windy says. “Rainbow mentioned you'd try and make it today.”
  2604. “With games as important as this, I figured she could use an extra member on her 'support staff.'”
  2605. >“She's glad to have as much of that as she can,” Bow replies. “Let's see how they do today...”
  2606. >The game soon begins.
  2607. >At first there isn't a lot of excitement, as if each team is gauging the others' strength and weaknesses.
  2608. >There are plenty of shots on goal from both teams, but the goalies do a good job at blocking or otherwise stopping the attempts.
  2609. >You notice Dash's parents call out whenever she gets her feet on the ball.
  2610. >And they yell whenever the referee pulls out a card on one of the home players.
  2611. >Dash was certainly right about how they act during games...
  2612. >About three-quarters of the way through, there's still no score.
  2613. >Both teams seem about evenly matched up to now.
  2614. >That is, until Dash comes up with a nice steal.
  2615. >She and one of her teammates charge down the field, passing the ball back and forth.
  2616. >Dash gets the ball again, and prepares for a shot on goal.
  2617. >She fakes the goalie out, instead kicking the ball back to her teammate.
  2618. >As the goalie slips, it gives Dash's teammate plenty of time to drill the ball into the net.
  2619. >“GOOOOOOAAAAALLLL!” Dash's parents shout, as do her friends and most of the crowd.
  2620. >Dash gives a high-five and a bear hug to her teammate, and you see they're both laughing.
  2621. >It turns out this is the only goal of the game.
  2622. >Even with the brief time extension, the other team isn't able to retaliate.
  2623. >The game ends with Dash's group moving on.
  2624. >Her parents couldn't be happier, and neither could you.
  2625.  
  2626. >Late that afternoon, Dash invites people to Sugarcube Corner to celebrate the win.
  2627. >She makes sure it's after Sunset's work shift, so that way everyone can be together.
  2628. >The owners of the place, the Cakes, were kind enough to make special cupcakes after Pinkie told them about the victory.
  2629. >The icing looks like fireworks exploding in the sky, which is a nice touch.
  2630. >They also said they'd make a special party-size cake if the team went all the way.
  2631. >Dash's parents remind you all that it's far from over, as the team would have to win its next two games in order to take the regional title.
  2632. >But given their opponent today was a tough one, that's enough reason to have a little fun now.
  2633. >You share a booth with Dash and Fluttershy, with you across from the girls.
  2634. >The rest of the group is at tables adjacent to the booth; that way you can all see and talk to each other.
  2635. >“That was some fancy footwork near the end,” Twilight comments.
  2636. >“It sounds like that poor goalie didn't know what they were getting into,” Pinkie adds.
  2637. >“That was the idea, of course,” Dash replies.
  2638. >“I'm surprised you passed the ball at the last minute,” Sunset says.
  2639. >“Me too,” Rarity adds. “I thought you'd have tried to take the goal for yourself.”
  2640. >Dash shrugs. “Well, I guess someone's words had more of an influence on me than I thought.”
  2641. >Under the table, you feel a foot reaching over and touching yours.
  2642. >It's clearly Dash's, as she's giving you one of her looks.
  2643. >“That's some good sportsmanship right there,” Applejack replies. “Yer learnin', Rainbow.”
  2644. >“I'm trying my best,” she says. “We'll see what happens next week. It's be semi-finals time then.”
  2645. >“We'll be there,” Fluttershy replies. “We always will be.”
  2646. >“You're the best, guys,” Dash says. “Next round of drinks is on me!”
  2647. >The group cheers as they raise their glasses.
  2648. >Everybody moves to other topics at that point, and there really isn't anything for you to add.
  2649. >You had an early start on the day, and now it's taking its toll.
  2650. >“You alright, dude?” Dash asks you. “You're starting to zone out.”
  2651. “I'm fine. Just a little tired, that's all.”
  2652. >“You don't have to stay here the entire time. You were there for the entire game and then some.”
  2653. “If you're sure you don't mind...”
  2654. >“Hey, don't worry about it. Go on and get some rest. We'll figure something out to do tomorrow, how about that?”
  2655. “Yeah...alright...”
  2656. >The girls and Dash's parents wish you well as you head on back home.
  2657.  
  2658. >That night as you're getting ready to turn in, you receive a call from Dash.
  2659. >“How you feeling?” She asks.
  2660. “Exhausted. I wanted to get some homework done before the game, and I pretty much crammed through all of it.'”
  2661. >“Geez, you didn't have to do it all at once.”
  2662. “I know, but I wanted to. With today being shot, I figured tomorrow would be our day., so I didn't wanna have anything on the side to worry about.”
  2663. >“What if something important came up for either of us tomorrow? Where would you be then?”
  2664. “Bored and lonely.”
  2665. >“Aw, now you're making me sad.”
  2666. “Don't beat yourself up too badly. I'm a tough guy, so I can handle a day or so without ya.”
  2667. >“You sure? Our little makeout session last week has me thinking differently.”
  2668. “You're one to talk. You were ready to have some extra fun with me.”
  2669. >You hear Dash chuckle. “Alright, I admit it – what you were doing to me kinda got me going.”
  2670. “I could have done a lot more if you let me...and if it all didn't come to a screeching halt.”
  2671. >“What, you wanna make this into a dirty phone call?”
  2672. “Nah, it wouldn't be the same as having you here.”
  2673. >“Damn straight. It's going to be hard to find some alone time right now, but I bet you'll be raring to go when it does come up.”
  2674. “As I'm sure you will be. So, did you have any ideas for tomorrow?”
  2675. >“I thought maybe we could go out to a movie or something. Someplace nice and dark where we can have some unrated fun if we want to...”
  2676. >You can imagine Dash moving her eyebrows up and down rapidly right now.
  2677. “Any flick in mind?”
  2678. >“Doesn't really matter, so whatever you want. I do wanna get a gym session in at some point, so it can't be a really long one. You wanna join in on that?”
  2679. “Sure. Why don't we do that first thing, and then catch the movie after.”
  2680. >“That works. I'll call in the morning once I'm ready to go, okay?”
  2681. “Methinks we have it all ironed out. Anything else on your mind before I turn in?”
  2682. >“That should pretty much cover it. Have a good night, Anon.”
  2683. “Night, Dash.”
  2684. >“Hey, what happened to calling me Rainbow?”
  2685. >You hear her laughing on the other line, so you decide to get one-up her.
  2686. “Want me to call you that from now on?”
  2687. >“Uh...”
  2688. >That did the trick.
  2689. “Why don't we get back to that some other time...”
  2690. >“Yeah, whatever, dude. Night...”
  2691. >When she hangs up, you turn your phone off and shut off the light.
  2692. >Tomorrow should be interesting, depending on what...Rainbow has in mind...
  2693.  
  2694. ------
  2695.  
  2696. >Thankfully, you have little trouble sleeping through the night.
  2697. >A good thing, too, as you're woken up around 9am by a Rainbow text.
  2698. >She's up and running, unlike you.
  2699. >You reply you'll be there in an hour - enough time for breakfast and the rest of your morning routine.
  2700. >Around 10, you pick Dash up and head straight to The Perfect Fit.
  2701. >It's the normal set for you today, and again you find yourself adding extra weight to the machines.
  2702. >“Wow dude, these sessions must be doing wonders for ya,” Dash comments.
  2703. “I guess I have you to thank for that. Ever since that first day when I couldn't jog a lap without losing my breath, I wanted to get in shape a little more.”
  2704. >You receive a nod from Dash as you go on with the exercise.
  2705. >As usual she sticks close, using most of the similar machines and keeping an eye on you.
  2706. >Before hitting the treadmill, you feel a little adventurous.
  2707. >“Uh oh, what are you thinking of doing?” Dash asks, recognizing the look in your eyes.
  2708. “For the hell of it, I'm gonna give the bench press a shot.”
  2709. >“Hey, don't kill yourself for my sake. You don't have to do anything crazy to impress me.”
  2710. “I know. I'm just remembering how Bulk Biceps was that time, with Derpy there to support him...”
  2711. >“That WAS kinda adorable. But for you, I'd keep things at a weight you can manage.”
  2712. >You nod in agreement as you reach the bench press stations.
  2713. >You load up weights on either side of the barbell, keeping it to sixty total pounds.
  2714. >With Dash as your spotter, you go through the motions.
  2715. >Bulk made it look easy, as you're having a tough time of it.
  2716. >Granted, you're a little fatigued from the other machines you've been on this morning.
  2717. >“Keep it slow and steady,” Dash says encouragement. “It's the number of reps, not how fast you go.”
  2718. “Got it.”
  2719. >After ten reps, your arms are screaming out to you, but you keep going.
  2720. >You manage ten more before they finally say 'NOPE,' and you start to give out.
  2721. >Luckily Dash helps you get the barbell back onto the supports.
  2722. >Also remembering the Bulk and Derpy moment, she kisses you on the forehead in 'celebration.'
  2723. >Given your exhaustion, you understandably keep your treadmill session at a walk.
  2724. >Dash doesn't mind at all, as she's proud of how far you've come since the beginning.
  2725. >And frankly, you're just as proud of yourself right now...
  2726.  
  2727. >You head to the pizza place afterward for something light, and then it's straight to the cinemas.
  2728. >You take a while looking at what's playing, as well as which ones will be starting soon.
  2729. >Nothing is really popping out as 'you gotta see this.'
  2730. >After a little deliberation, you decide on the latest superhero franchise film.
  2731. >You pay for the tickets, as Dash paid for the gym session again.
  2732. >Only fair, right?
  2733. >You skip the snack bar, as you smuggled in a little bag of goodies to share in your coat.
  2734. >Ten bucks for a tiny box of candy that will be gone in a matter of minutes? No thanks...
  2735. >There aren't a lot of people in the theater at the moment as you walk in.
  2736. >You lead Dash to the very back, to ensure you have a full view of the movie screen.
  2737. >It will also provide enough privacy, you feel.
  2738. >The previews soon start, and they drag on and on.
  2739. >You both roll your eyes as each new one starts, and you wonder how much longer they will be.
  2740. >It's about twenty minutes worth before the tell-tale signs of the feature beginning comes on.
  2741. >You and Dash cozy up in your seats as you pull out your snacks and start chomping away.
  2742. >You're surprised that not many more people came in during the previews.
  2743. >It doesn't bother you, as it means less chance of phones going off...
  2744. >...or any other noisy interruptions, for that matter.
  2745. >At long last, the movie starts.
  2746. >It's typical superhero fare, with short periods of action bridging long periods of dialogue and other plot-driven exhibition.
  2747. >The junk food you share is gone before what you assume is the halfway point of the film.
  2748. >You're honestly having trouble keeping track of some of the characters coming and going.
  2749. >It's not helped by the fact there are a number of other movies apparently being referenced that you have yet to see.
  2750. >Dash does her best to explain it to you, but you're still a little confused.
  2751. >Frankly, you're losing interest with it.
  2752. >She clearly notices the boredom in your eyes, and she decides to lighten up the mood.
  2753.  
  2754. >She taps your shoulder, and when you turn your head she comes in for a kiss.
  2755. >It's a deep one, as is per usual with her, and it goes back and forth as you wrestle for control.
  2756. >The arm rest in-between your seats makes it difficult to find a comfortable position.
  2757. >You do your best to keep it as discrete as possible, so as not to garner attention from anyone else.
  2758. >In the meantime, you trace a finger up and down her closest thigh, and she giggles at the touch.
  2759. >Is is here where she decides to put her little 'plan' into motion.
  2760. >She reaches over and down, feeling up a certain part of you.
  2761. “Hey, what are you doing?” You whisper.
  2762. >“Remember what I said last night about having some 'unrated' fun?” She softly replies.
  2763. >It's beginning to click in your mind.
  2764. >“Well, I think now's a good time as any...”
  2765. >You watch as she undoes the zipper of your pants.
  2766. >At this point, you're convinced she's lost it.
  2767. “Wait...what if we get caught?”
  2768. >“We won't...as long as we're both quiet about it...”
  2769. >Who in their right mind thinks it's perfectly fine to do this in a movie theater?
  2770. >That question goes right out the window after she reaches through your boxers and frees that 'certain part of you.'
  2771. 'Oh lord...'
  2772. “Are you really sure you want to do this?”
  2773. >“If I wasn't, I wouldn't even think about doing it.”
  2774. >She gives you one of her 'loving' looks, complete with sparkling eyes and a grin.
  2775. >You sigh as you bring your head back.
  2776. “Just...be careful about it, alright?”
  2777. >Dash nods as she starts to stroke you.
  2778. >She uses her free hand to draw little circles on your neck, and she even nibbles on your ear a little.
  2779. >All of this combined is getting you going, and soon Dash has a little more length to work with.
  2780. >“There we go...much better...”
  2781. “For you, maybe. I'm still nervous we'll get kicked out for this...”
  2782. >“Just relax and enjoy yourself. You ready?”
  2783. >You quietly inhale, then give a little nod.
  2784.  
  2785. >She takes gentle hold and begins a pumping motion.
  2786. >It's getting weirder by the moment for you.
  2787. >You never thought you'd be in the 'hand' of someone you once considered Hell incarnate.
  2788. >She maintains a slow and steady pace, wanting to see and hear your reaction to each movement.
  2789. >It's mostly a quickened breath out of you, so she continues with her work.
  2790. >“How am I doing?” She asks in a whisper.
  2791. “So far...so good...” You reply.
  2792. >She sees this as a sign to keep going as she is, looking down the rows to make sure no one sees.
  2793. >Thankfully another action sequence has begun, so everyone is caught up in that.
  2794. >Meanwhile, you're caught up in Dash's little 'task.'
  2795. >It goes on like this for another minute or so before you get a certain feeling inside.
  2796. >Dash can see it in your expression. “You're close?”
  2797. >You nod.
  2798. >She reaches into her coat pocket and pulls out some napkins from the pizza place.
  2799. >Oh god, she even came prepared for this...
  2800. >She has them at the ready as she speeds up her pumping, waiting for the right moment.
  2801. >There's a large explosion on scene as the action sequence reaches its climax...
  2802. >...as do you...
  2803. >You put a hand over your mouth to muffle your grunt as you let loose.
  2804. >Dash uses the napkins to contain it, ensuring it doesn't get all over the place.
  2805. “Geez, Dash...” You whisper through your hand.
  2806. >“You're welcome,” she chuckles.
  2807. >She helps you clean up down there before tossing the napkins into the empty snack bag.
  2808. >Thankfully, the task went undiscovered, and there is no lingering signs that anything 'unrated' ever happened here.
  2809. >You zip yourself back up as Dash heads out to wash up and dispose of the evidence.
  2810. >When she returns, she sighs and leans her head against your shoulder.
  2811. >“So how was it?”
  2812. “Let's just say I'll have to get even with you at some point.”
  2813. >“That'll be tougher to do than this. You'll have to wait for the right time before making your move.”
  2814. “As you know, I'm a patient guy, like a hunter waiting for his unsuspecting prey...”
  2815. >Dash giggles. “There you go again, being all corny.”
  2816. “Can't help it when you're the topic,” you reply, repeating what you heard her father say the other day.
  2817. >Dash just shakes her head before she kisses you again.
  2818. >You cozy up once more as you try to enjoy what's left of the movie.
  2819.  
  2820. >Once the film is done with, you take Dash back home.
  2821. >Along the way, there's time to talk.
  2822. “So what made you decide to go through with that?”
  2823. >“I guess I wanted to liven things up...and continue where we left off.”
  2824. “Left off?”
  2825. >“Yeah. If there was nothing stopping us last time, that might have been the next thing I did with you.”
  2826. “Oh really?” You ask, not fully believing her.
  2827. >“Yes, really, you jerk. Don't tell me you didn't enjoy that.”
  2828. “I'm not saying I didn't. I just...didn't expect you to take it in that direction, that's all.”
  2829. >“This girl's full of surprises, as you already know.”
  2830. “Well, if what you say is true, it just begs the question.”
  2831. >“Hm?”
  2832. “Would you have done it with your hand...or something else?” You ask with a naughty grin.
  2833. >“Wow, an ass and a pig at the same time,” Dash laughs.
  2834. “This coming from someone who less than an hour ago 'churned my butter' with no warning.”
  2835. >“Alright alright, you got me there. I livened things up, though, from the sounds of it.”
  2836. “That's one way to put it. Just...next time let's save it for when it's more private, okay?”
  2837. >“Yeah, I promise. And maybe I'll go that other route, if you know what I mean...”
  2838. “NOW who's doing the dirty talk?”
  2839. >“Apparently we both are. Got a problem with that?”
  2840. “As Applejack's brother would say, 'nnnope.'”
  2841. >You both laugh again as you move to other topics.
  2842. >Next week's semi-final match is against the team they barely lost against months ago, so it'll be a rematch for redemption.
  2843. >You promise to be at this game too, and for the final one if her team manages to pull off a miracle.
  2844. >You tell her it's her turn to pick an activity for the next day, and she says she'll think about it.
  2845. >After dropping her off at home, you return to yours with a mixed bag of thoughts and feelings.
  2846. >You did not expect Little Miss RD to give you an HJ in public like that.
  2847. >You weren't about to admit it to her, but you got a bit of an adrenaline rush from the experience.
  2848. >She's in the driver's seat for now as far as where this relationship of yours goes.
  2849. >It's typical Dash being typical Dash, doing what she wants when she wants.
  2850. >Right now, that 'what' is you.
  2851. >And you're enjoying every minute of it...
  2852.  
  2853. ------
  2854.  
  2855. >You aren't sure why, but the school week whizzes by.
  2856. >Is it because of the release of tension from over the weekend?
  2857. >Or perhaps it's because Dash found a unique way of getting a little closer to you?
  2858. >Either way, you're not complaining.
  2859. >The semi-finals match arrives, and you find yourself in the stands with Dash's friends this time.
  2860. >They welcome you in, with Fluttershy on one side of you, and Twilight on the other.
  2861. >Both have had a certain level of impact on how things have gone so far.
  2862. >However, you're staying true to your word and not dropping any bombshells about the things you've done with Dash.
  2863. >Instead, you focus on the game in front of you.
  2864. >With their star player with them on the field this time, the Canterlot team has that extra bit of strength and confidence to try and win it.
  2865. >And they make good use of both.
  2866. >It's an utter shellacking against the unfortunate opposing team, with four goals scored over the course of the game.
  2867. >To the shock of everyone, Dash didn't score any of them.
  2868. >Rather, she had assists on all of them in one form or another.
  2869. >You bet the coach is befuddled, as normally she'd take the glory whenever possible.
  2870. >Another celebration is held at Sugarcube Corner afterward.
  2871. >This time the Cakes come out with a special batch of their popular double-chocolate cookies.
  2872. >They each have little soccer balls done in frosting on top, which is adorable.
  2873. >Dash lets you know she won't be able to really hang out anywhere tomorrow, as she has a big project to work on for one of her other classes.
  2874. >She describes it to you, and says it's a bit complicated for her.
  2875. >You recall taking this class the year before, and went through the same project, so you offer to help as best you can.
  2876. >That way you can still hang out, though it'd focus on the homework at hand.
  2877. >Dash accepts, and Sunday morning you zip to her place to get started.
  2878. >With your assistance, she's able to get everything written out and prepared by the early afternoon.
  2879. >It leaves plenty of time for a PG-rated make-out session, which you both indulge in.
  2880. >Dash makes sure the door to her bedroom is shut and locked beforehand.
  2881. >A part of you wants to take the opportunity to 'get even' with her for what she did to you last week.
  2882. >However, the gods of interruption probably wouldn't have any of that, so you decide to wait.
  2883. >As expected, there's a knock on the door from Dash's mother as you're in the middle of a deep kiss.
  2884. >When you call it, you call it...
  2885.  
  2886. >Another school week, and it goes by as quickly as the previous one.
  2887. >Dash tells you the project you helped her with got an 'A' grade, so she's really happy about that.
  2888. >You don't see her much this week, besides lunches and the classes you share with her.
  2889. >With the final match on the horizon, the whole soccer team is practicing like no tomorrow.
  2890. >After classes Friday, you're gathering things from your locker when Applejack approaches you.
  2891. >“Hey there, Anon,” she says.
  2892. “Hey, how are things?” You ask.
  2893. >“They're goin'. Been meanin' ta talk ta ya, but ah wanted ta get mah thoughts together first.”
  2894. “Oh? What about?”
  2895. >“'bout Rainbow, that's what.”
  2896. >She stares you straight in the eye.
  2897. >“Ah've seen how cutesy and cozy y'all've been recently. Be honest with me – what have y'all been doin' together without tellin' us?”
  2898. “Sorry, but I'm not at liberty to answer that.”
  2899. >“On whose orders, may ah ask?”
  2900. “You know the answer to that question.”
  2901. >“Ah do, but ah was hopin' y'all would be a bit more forthcomin'.”
  2902. >You try your best to keep things cool.
  2903. “Look, I'm sure you're interested in the possible juicy details, but Rainbow would break me in half if I told anyone behind her back.
  2904. >“Ah could do the same if ah wanted ta, but only if ya really got on mah nerves.”
  2905. “I'm sure you could. Let me turn it around on you – what do YOU think we're doing?”
  2906. >Applejack crosses her arms. “If ah didn't know any better, ah'd say y'all are little more than friends right now...that y'all could be learnin' 'bout the birds and the bees.”
  2907. >Yikes, people still use that term nowadays?
  2908. “How much does it matter whether or not I give a straight answer?”
  2909. >“Given ah'm one of her best friends, it matters a lot ta me. Part'a me still doesn't trust ya all the way. What if ya do somethin' ta hurt her?”
  2910. “You mean like how she verbally abused me when I first knew her?”
  2911. >Applejack is taken aback, and she hesitates in giving an answer.
  2912. “AJ, hear me out. Not since that big fight of ours have I thought of trying to hurt her, and she knows it.
  2913. “Yes, I'll admit she and I have grown a bit closer than anyone would expect.
  2914. “Are we boyfriend and girlfriend? No...at least not in her eyes.
  2915. “Would I like it if that were true? Honestly...it would be nice...
  2916. “But that's for Rainbow to decide and confirm with everyone, and she will once she's good and ready.”
  2917.  
  2918. >Applejack takes all of this in while still maintaining direct eye contact.
  2919. >“Ya standin' by that, Anon?”
  2920. “With the heavens above as my witness,” you reply.
  2921. >She then sighs and gives a chuckle.
  2922. “What's so funny?”
  2923. >“Ah'm sorry ta have bugged ya like that. Ah just wanted ta see what kind of a backbone ya got.”
  2924. “It's not like cooked spaghetti, that much I can say.”
  2925. >“More like a birch tree, ah'd say. A little bend, but no breakin'.”
  2926. “Is that a good thing?”
  2927. >“For right now it is. If things do go the way ya hope they do, just take care of her, for all our sakes.”
  2928. “On the off-chance she chooses to take it there, I'll do everything I can.”
  2929. >Applejack holds up a hand, which you grab with your own.
  2930. >She then pulls you in for a brief hug.
  2931. >“Ah'll hold ya to it.”
  2932. >You've separated just as Dash and Fluttershy round the hallway corner.
  2933. >“Hey, what's going on here?” Dash asks.
  2934. >“Oh, just me and Anon comin' to an understandin',” Applejack replies.
  2935. >“And he's still on his feet without a black eye?” Dash exclaims jokingly. “It's a miracle!”
  2936. >Fluttershy and Applejack giggle while you look between all of them nervously.
  2937. “Is there something I need to know here?”
  2938. >“Don't worry 'bout it,” Applejack says, patting your shoulder. “That only happened one time, and that was with a real jerk who made me madder'n a bull seein' red.”
  2939. “From what I've heard, it's not the color that makes them mad, rather the movement of the cape...”
  2940. >“Y'all know what I mean, ya doofus!” Applejack yells, and this gets a laugh from Dash.
  2941. >“Careful, Anon, or both of your eyes will be black at this rate.”
  2942. >You put your hands up and back away slowly.
  2943. “Sorry, sorry, I'll shut up...”
  2944. >Fluttershy deescalates the situation, as per her usual. “How about we grab a snack at the Corner to get the endorphins going again?”
  2945. >“I'd like to,” Dash says, “but I've got another practice before tomorrow's big game. We all need to be at our best to win it.”
  2946. >Fluttershy looks disappointed. “Oh...guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow, then.”
  2947. “It'll be worth the wait,” you say. “We all know it's going to be a great game, and with any luck you'll win it all.”
  2948. > “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Dash replies. “Only one way to find out...”
  2949.  
  2950. >At long last, Saturday arrives.
  2951. >As does the moment of truth, the quote-unquote 'soccer game of the century' for the school.
  2952. >The stands are at maximum capacity, with onlookers from both schools representing the crowd.
  2953. >You, Dash's parents, and all her friends arrive early so you could get the best seats possible.
  2954. >Even Pinkie and Sunset were able to get the day off from work, so everybody is here for once.
  2955. >From the sounds of it, the opposing school is one of Canterlot High's bigger rivals, so it should be an intense match-up.
  2956. >The game gets underway, and you sense a slugfest incoming.
  2957. >Not even ten minutes in, Canterlot scores a goal.
  2958. >Ten minutes later, the opposing team retaliates with one of its own.
  2959. >It goes on like this the whole time, with each team landing hits on the other every so often.
  2960. >A lot of penalties are given out, and some players are even ejected for questionable tactics.
  2961. >Dash has remained unscathed thus far; perhaps her experience with you has steeled her resolve.
  2962. >Regulation is long past, with the time extension nearly over, and the score is tied four goals apiece.
  2963. >Canterlot's goalie tosses the ball back in after an out-of-bounds kick, throwing it as far as she can.
  2964. >An opposing player wrestles control of it and charges down the field.
  2965. >She kick the ball towards a teammate for a possible game-winning score...
  2966. >...until Dash zips in and steals it away.
  2967. >Everyone supporting Canterlot High calls out as Dash and two of her teammates head towards the opposing goal.
  2968. >They're quick passing allows them to avoid multiple members of the defensive line.
  2969. >One is just about on top of the girl who has the ball, but they arrive too late.
  2970. >She kicks it to the other teammate, who in turn kicks it Dash's way.
  2971. >...who promptly headbutts it hard towards the net.
  2972. >The goalie manages to get their fingertips on the ball, but it's not enough to prevent it going in.
  2973. >The crowd roars as the time extension expires.
  2974. >The excitement boils over, and people swarm the field to congratulate the winners.
  2975. >Dash and her teammates in charge of the final goal are hoisted onto the shoulders of multiple students.
  2976. >As she's lowered, her friends and many others surround her cheering.
  2977. >She looks a little woozy after the headbutt, but not enough to prevent her from basking in the glory.
  2978. >She's being typical Dash again, but at least this time it's well-deserved, and part of a combined effort.
  2979.  
  2980. >When she sees you, she's surprisingly excited and runs your way.
  2981. >She leaps when she's a short distance from you, and you react smartly.
  2982. >You grab her by her waist and lift her up, swinging her around a little.
  2983. >She's laughing all the while, and is still in a jovial mood as you set her down.
  2984. >“I'm so happy I could kiss you right now!” She shouts
  2985. >She widens her eyes and shuts her mouth when she realizes what she said in front of all her friends.
  2986. >They either put their hands over their mouths or to their chests in both surprise and anticipation.
  2987. “Well, what's stopping you?” You ask with a grin.
  2988. >Dash looks all around nervously, then shrugs her shoulders.
  2989. >“Ah, screw it,” she says, planting a big one on your lips.
  2990. >Twilight and Pinkie both 'squee' with delight.
  2991. >“Oh my...” Fluttershy says as she covers her face, which is now a deep shade of red.
  2992. >Rarity nearly faints away, if not for Applejack grabbing her shoulders from behind.
  2993. >“Ah knew it! Damn it, ah knew it!” She shouts.
  2994. >Sunset gives you both a smile and a thumbs-up as Dash breaks away.
  2995. >“So...does this mean you two are-” Twilight begins to ask.
  2996. >“Testing the waters,” Dash replies. “Checking to see if we're both good material for each other.”
  2997. >“That's a weird way of saying you're going out, darling,” Rarity says.
  2998. >“We're hanging out, not going out!”
  2999. >“So...friends with benefits?” Pinkie asks.
  3000. >“Pinkie, what the hell?!” Dash exclaims, her face now as red as Fluttershy's.
  3001. >“Oh, so you haven't bumped uglies yet?” Pinkie replies. “Could've fooled me.”
  3002. >“Come on, Rainbow,” Applejack says, still a bit peeved. “Just be honest with us already.”
  3003. >Dash is getting more and more flustered. “Gah, I knew this was a mistake...”
  3004. “Hey, calm down,” you say, putting your hands on her shoulders. “Take deep breaths.”
  3005. >“Listen to Anon, here,” Sunset says. “We're just glad to see how far you both have come.”
  3006. >As Dash follows your advice, Fluttershy finds a little bravery and speaks up.
  3007. >“Rainbow...I'm so happy for you. All this time I never thought you'd find a special someone...”
  3008. >“..and the fact that it's Anon shows me how much you've grown as a person.”
  3009. >Dash rubs her nose as she looks away. “I...thanks, Fluttershy...this is all still a lot to take in...”
  3010. “We'll all take it easy, then. One step at a time, remember?”
  3011. >Dash regains her smile as you pull her in. “Yeah, you're right. Sorry for acting up like that...”
  3012. >Applejack tips her hat. “Well, at least y'all are being more open about it. We all need ta apologize, also, right girls?”
  3013. >There's an immediate group hug, which you and Dash roll your eyes at.
  3014. “Alright, alright, let's break it up before you suffocate us.”
  3015. >“Yeah,” Dash says. “Besides, it's time to celebrate!”
  3016.  
  3017. >Later, it's back to the Sugarcube Corner for the victory party.
  3018. >The whole place has been decorated with streamers and banners in the school colors.
  3019. >Desserts galore cover the counter tops in addition to other food items.
  3020. >As promised, the owners have made several cakes that come together to make a large display resembling a soccer field.
  3021. >Pinkie claims she helped with getting most of this together.
  3022. >“Wow, this is a lot of work in such short notice,” Dash exclaims.
  3023. >“What are you talking about?” Pinkie asks. “I've been planning this one for weeks!”
  3024. “Wait...what would have happened if we didn't win the past couple times?”
  3025. >“Then it'd be a runner-up party, of course!”
  3026. >A lot of people groan at this, but you all let it slide, as it's for the sake of having some fun.
  3027. >You break off from the crowd for a while and see Flash and Twilight sharing a booth.
  3028. >“Hey man,” Flash says as you go to join them. “Twilight told me the good news.”
  3029. “What, that Dash and I are pseudo going out?”
  3030. >“We all gotta start somewhere,” Twilight replies, “and it seems like a good start for the two of you.”
  3031. “We'll see where it goes,” you say with a chuckle.
  3032. >“I've been meaning to talk to you, though,” Flash says. “Me and the rest of the band were impressed by your performance at the costume ball.”
  3033. “Oh?”
  3034. >“And we were wondering...how would you like to do some shows with us?”
  3035. “You mean, performing and singing on stage with you guys?”
  3036. >“Yeah, if you want to. It'd give you a chance to branch out a little.”
  3037. “Wait...I don't understand...”
  3038. >“I've heard about how things went for you when you first arrived,” Flash explains, “how you never really made any friends.”
  3039. >You look down and sigh.
  3040. “I pretty much left everything I knew behind when I moved here, including what few friends I had. It was tough to make new ones, especially after how Dash treated me at first.”
  3041. >“That's no reason to isolate yourself, though,” Twilight says. “I was the same way, but I once I opened myself up I was able to make all sorts of friends. Look where I am now, and you as well.”
  3042. “You wouldn't be putting Flash up to this, would you?”
  3043. >“No man,” Flash replies, “it's my decision, and the band's as a whole. We'd love to have you, even if it isn't a full-time thing.”
  3044. >You eye him carefully.
  3045. “Well...I appreciate the offer. How about I think about it and get back to you?”
  3046. >“Take all the time you need,” Flash says.
  3047. >You exchange numbers with him so you can stay in better touch, and you continue on your way.
  3048.  
  3049. >The party goes on for a while, and you mostly chat it up with people you know...which isn't a lot.
  3050. >As it winds down, you find Dash sitting by herself at one of the booths, looking out the window.
  3051. “Mind if I join you?” You ask.
  3052. >Dash gives a weak smile as she taps the spot next to her, which you take.
  3053. “What's wrong? I thought you'd be happy that your team won.”
  3054. >“Oh, I'm happy about that. It's everything that happened after that has me down.”
  3055. “Still upset about how everyone reacted to what we did?”
  3056. >“A little. Once again I did something in the spur of the moment, and I feel like I opened Pandora's Box or something.”
  3057. “Hey, there's no shame in them knowing about us. At least we know they're being supportive of it.”
  3058. >“I guess. It's still gonna be awkward, though. They'll always be asking how far we've gone.”
  3059. “Might want to keep tight-lipped on that. I bet Rarity would need oxygen if she found out what we did at the movies...”
  3060. >Dash laughs. “Yeah, Fluttershy too.”
  3061. “And let's not forget Pinkie or Applejack. Both of them think we've already hit third or fourth base.”
  3062. >“If we had, Pinkie would go ballistic in excitement, and Applejack would threaten to make you black and blue all over if you harmed a hair on me.”
  3063. “Which I wouldn't, thank you very much. Besides, we're only at second right now.”
  3064. >Dash sighs. “Geez, you're embarrassing me again...”
  3065. “Sorry. Just trying to brighten you up a little.”
  3066. >“Thanks,” she replies. “You've got a knack for that, you know?”
  3067. “One of the things I try to do best.”
  3068. >“Hey...my parents are going to be away tomorrow until much later. I was thinking...”
  3069. “Hm?”
  3070. >Dash blushes and looks away. “You wanna...try getting even with me then?”
  3071. >You hesitate to answer at first.
  3072. >“We've both been waiting for the right time when there'd be no distractions, right? Tomorrow would be perfect, wouldn't it?”
  3073. “I...guess so. Are you sure that's what you want to do?”
  3074. >Dash nods. “Only fair, after what I did with you last time.”
  3075. >You think about it, but not for very long.
  3076. “We'll see how it goes tomorrow. If we're both up for it and still willing, we can run with it.”
  3077. >“Alright. I'll let you know when you can come over, okay?”
  3078. “Sure. For now, how about we get back to the party?”
  3079. >You reach out a hand, which Dash takes, and you rejoin everyone in what's left of the festivities.
  3080. >As you hoped, you're both having a good time once again...
  3081.  
  3082. ------
  3083.  
  3084. >You get up relatively early the next morning.
  3085. >Hitting your computer desk, you go to finish what homework you have left over from the other day.
  3086. >This should free up your time today for whenever you receive the go-ahead message.
  3087. >If things do indeed go how Dash wants them to, you don't want anything else important lingering in your mind.
  3088. >It's about 10am or so when you get a text.
  3089. >'Whenever you're ready.'
  3090. >With a grin, you make your way to Dash's place.
  3091. >She greets you with a big hug when you arrive.
  3092. “So what has your parents away?” You ask as you take off your coat.
  3093. >“A casino trip. My dad say they haven't been in ages, and they have a little money to play with.”
  3094. “Interesting. Sounds like they don't gamble that often.”
  3095. >“Nah. My mom loves the penny slots though, even when they usually eat up whatever she puts in.”
  3096. “And where is this place?”
  3097. >“It's about an hour away from here, so they're still in the process of getting there. With any luck they'll be doing well enough to be gone most of the day.”
  3098. “Is there any chance they might have forgotten something and need to come back? That'd be a way the distraction gods would operate...”
  3099. >“I doubt it. They're not staying overnight, so the only things they're really bringing are themselves.”
  3100. “What about sudden calls or visits from people? Or a random package delivery?”
  3101. >“Geez, Anon, you're thinking about this way too much.”
  3102. >You chuckle as you scratch the back of your head.
  3103. “Sorry, just trying to think of what else could possibly get in the way.”
  3104. >Dash shakes her head as she smiles.
  3105. >“Hey, lighten up. It's the perfect chance right now, and I don't see anything going wrong with it.”
  3106. “Other than it being a bad experience...”
  3107. >“That's for me to judge. Come on, I've been looking forward to this...”
  3108. “Right into it, huh? Someone's in a hurry.”
  3109. >“Before I change my mind?” Dash says sarcastically, taking your arm and bringing you upstairs.
  3110.  
  3111. >You're back in Dash's bedroom, and she shuts and locks the door behind her.
  3112. >“Alrighty,” she says, rubbing her hands together as she comes to you, “I hope you're raring to go.”
  3113. “You're not the only one who's been waiting for this,” you reply.
  3114. >“I should hope not,” Dash says, wrapping her arms around you.
  3115. >“Let's get one thing straight, first – I don't want us going all the way...not right now.”
  3116. “That's fine...”
  3117. >“Other than that, you're free to do with me as you wish.”
  3118. >This gets your attention.
  3119. “Wait...what are you-”
  3120. >“Keeping up my end of that wager, that's what,” Dash replies.
  3121. “But we never agreed to it, remember?”
  3122. >“Maybe you didn't, but I wanna be true to my word.”
  3123. “Dash, that isn't necessary.”
  3124. >She holds you tighter and puts her head on your chest.
  3125. >“Yes it is. I've put you through hell for so long, I wanna do whatever I can to make it up to you.”
  3126. “Dash, look at me.”
  3127. >She listens, and you see tears forming in her eyes.
  3128. “What you've done before is in the past. What matters now is how we move forward.
  3129. “You've become too important to me to want to take advantage of you in any way.
  3130. “If you don't really want to do this now, or if you can't take it, you tell me right away, okay?”
  3131. >She shuts her eyes, letting the tears flow freely.
  3132. >“Patience of The Buddha, mind of an angel...”
  3133. “I wouldn't go that far. Just the way I was raised, that's all.”
  3134. >“You were raised well...”
  3135. “If you say so...”
  3136. >“I do,” she says as she reaches up for a kiss, which you return in earnest.
  3137.  
  3138. >Pulling away, she leads you over to her bed.
  3139. >She has you sit down on it as she moves back a little.
  3140. >You watch as she first pulls off her hoodie, then the tank top underneath.
  3141. >She goes a step further, turning around and bending down to remove her sweatpants.
  3142. >She's putting on a show, to be sure, and soon she's left in her undergarments.
  3143. >It looks like she's wearing the same sports bra from before, while her panties are of a matching color.
  3144. >You notice a lightning pattern of sorts on the back of them, as multicolored as her hair.
  3145. >“So?” Dash asks, giving her rear a little slap.
  3146. “Impressive,” you say, “although I've seen you in much less already.”
  3147. >“Still an ass, I see,” she replies with a smirk.
  3148. >You both laugh as you beckon her over, and she sits down beside you.
  3149. >“My back's a little sore from carrying the game yesterday,” she says jokingly. “Think you can help with that?”
  3150. “Well, I'm no Lotus or Aloe, but I'll see what I can do.”
  3151. >Dash giggles as she lays down on the bed, and you notice something in the way.
  3152. “Whoops, that'll have to come off for this to be effective.”
  3153. >“Well then, what are you waiting for?”
  3154. >You chuckle as you carefully unhook her bra. She pulls it off and lets it drop to the floor.
  3155. “There, much better...”
  3156. >You take off your own shirt and massage her back for the next few minutes, and she sighs contently.
  3157. >“My own personal spa boy,” she finally says. “Who would've thunk?”
  3158. “Careful, or I'll change up my style on you.”
  3159. >“Ooh, is that a threat?”
  3160. “It's a guarantee. Your back's not the only thing that needs a rubbing...”
  3161. >You quickly flip her over, and while she's surprised at first, she seems to welcome it.
  3162. “Go ahead, Tiger,” she says as seductively as she can.
  3163. >You grin as you proceed to massage her breasts like last time, as she had enjoyed it then.
  3164. >It seems she enjoys it now just as much, as she moans a little.
  3165. >You deliver multiple kisses to her stomach, slowly working your way lower and lower.
  3166. >You stop once you reach her midsection.
  3167. >“Oh, I'm sorry, something else in the way?” Dash asks.
  3168. “Depends on how you look at it,” you reply, “and I'm definitely having a look...”
  3169. >“By all means...”
  3170.  
  3171. >With that, you slowly pull her panties down, and she lifts her legs so you can fully remove them.
  3172. >Dash is blushing and in the nude once again, and just as beautiful as before.
  3173. >“Oh dear, what ever are you going to do to me now?” She asks, still in her joking tone.
  3174. “I believe you said whatever I wished...”
  3175. >You lower your head and rub your nose back and forth in her little tuft of hair.
  3176. >Dash giggles. “Anon, what are you-”
  3177. >Her train of thought is quickly derailed as you stick out your tongue and lick her clit.
  3178. >“Holy shit!” She gasps loudly as she squirms at the sensation.
  3179. “Weren't expecting that, were you?” You say.
  3180. >“Damn it, warn me next time!”
  3181. “Only fair, didn't you say? Don't worry, that's not what I really had in mind...”
  3182. >You bring yourself back up to her level, kissing her forehead.
  3183. >“If not that, then what?”
  3184. “I think I'll let my fingers do the talking...”
  3185. >You pause for a moment so Dash can process what you mean.
  3186. >When you see her smile and nod, you continue with your own little plan.
  3187. >You take one of your middle fingers and slowly slide it in.
  3188. >Dash takes in a breath, but otherwise lets you keep going.
  3189. >You pump in and out, using your opposing thumb to massage her clit.
  3190. >She appreciates this, sighing with each motion.
  3191. >As you increase the pace, you add your index finger to the mix, and she's now moaning.
  3192. >She pulls you in for a deep kiss as you continue your work.
  3193. >She suddenly breaks it off, her breath quickening.
  3194. >“Ooh...faster...faster!” She orders, and you comply.
  3195. >By now it's as fast as you can make it without hurting her, and she's loving every second of it.
  3196. >“Come on...almost there...oh god...oh god...OH GOD!”
  3197. >She reaches her breaking point, and she promptly orgasms.
  3198. >You hope the bed sheets haven't been washed yet today, as they would need to be again...
  3199. >You remove your fingers and wipe them on the sheets as Dash's breathing slowly returns to normal.
  3200. >“Are we...even?” She asks, a smile on her face.
  3201. “More than that,” you reply. “And wouldn't you know it, nothing interrupted us this time.”
  3202. >“Thank the distraction gods for that,” Dash giggles as you kiss her again.
  3203.  
  3204. >You both clean up and get dressed, while Dash puts her sheets in the wash just to ensure nothing about your fun is discovered.
  3205. >It's close to noontime, so you order takeout to be delivered.
  3206. >You enjoy both lunch and another movie double-feature – 'War of the Worlds' and 'Mars Attacks!'
  3207. >You're both laughing during the second movie, as it's as hokey and crazy as the source material.
  3208. >“God, I don't know which Martian invaders are worse,” Dash exclaims as it nears the finale.
  3209. “It's not which of them is worse, but the way they're finally dealt with. Do you prefer bacteria, or crappy country songs?”
  3210. >“Oof, that's a tough one to call. Do I want a slow and painful death, or have my head explode?”
  3211. “I'd take the quicker route, even if the music is awful.”
  3212. >Dash sighs as she leans her head on your shoulder again. “I hope today was what you wanted.”
  3213. “It's not what I wanted, but what you want that's important. Did I meet your expectations?”
  3214. >“Yeah, you did good. We'll have to remember to do this more some time.”
  3215. “There'll be plenty of chances down the line, I'd say. Just a matter of finding them.”
  3216. >“I'm sure we will...”
  3217. >When she sheets are dry, you help Dash remake the bed. Her parents will be none the wiser.
  3218. >She tells you she has homework of her own to finish up, so you take your leave after that.
  3219. >Later that evening you get some texts from her about her parents' casino trip.
  3220. >It turns out her mother hit a Major jackpot on one of the slot machines she played, and it was just low enough to avoid having to pay taxes on it.
  3221. >Sounds like it's going to be a good Christmas for them this year.
  3222. >You give your congrats as you discuss other things.
  3223. >Speaking of Christmas, Pinkie is arranging for a party at Applejack's this year, and you're invited.
  3224. >There's also mention of 'Secret Santa' gifts, and to check with Pinkie if you want to join in on it.
  3225. >You tell her you will, and your also begin to think about what to get her.
  3226. >Plenty of time to think about it, though.
  3227. >Besides, you're more focused on how your day went as a whole.
  3228. >You shared a lovely new experience with Dash, and it's certain you'll be doing it again in the future.
  3229. >Another relationship milestone reached, with plenty more ahead.
  3230. >You go to sleep satisfied, knowing for sure you'll both be reaching the rest in stride...
  3231.  
  3232. ------
  3233.  
  3234. >The next few weeks are eventful, to put it lightly.
  3235. >Your 'experiences' with Dash as of late seem to have solidified your stance with each other.
  3236. >These have also made the two of you closer and more comfortable, knowing full well that if one of you has that certain 'itch,' the other will be willing to 'scratch it.'
  3237. >At least, that's how it can be when you're able to have alone time.
  3238. >Otherwise, it's life as usual.
  3239. >With the holidays fast approaching, the girls are talking about all the plans they have.
  3240. >Pinkie is hard at work getting the big bash prepared.
  3241. >You tossed your name in to this 'Secret Santa' hat she has going, and later on pulled Applejack's name.
  3242. >You may need help generating ideas here, as you don't want to get anything seen as cliché.
  3243. >In the meantime, you had been going back and forth over Flash's offer to sing with his band.
  3244. >You eventually bring this up with Dash and company at lunch one day to see what they think of it.
  3245. >“Well, you already know my thoughts on it,” Twilight says.
  3246. >“Ah reckon you'd have a blast,” Applejack adds. “Flash does good work.”
  3247. >“Would you be the front man, or just a guest singer?” Pinkie asks.
  3248. “Most likely the latter. I honestly don't know how much they'd need me...”
  3249. >“Don't sell yourself so short,” Pinkie replies. “You've got a nice voice.”
  3250. >“Indeed,” Rarity says. “You were spine-tingling at the ball, and I'm sure people would want to hear more from you.”
  3251. >“I...know I would,” Fluttershy says.
  3252. >“Me too,” Sunset adds. “Given the range in music Flash plays, you can sing pretty much what you want with them.”
  3253. >“No matter what we all think,” Dash finally says, “it's really up to you.”
  3254. “Well, what do YOU think of it?”
  3255. >“Hey, if it means you're opening up more, I say go for it. Besides, there'll be times when I'm too busy with something to hang out with you. Gotta have a backup plan that doesn't involve being all alone.”
  3256. “You'd still miss me terrible, I bet.”
  3257. >The other girls laugh, but Dash waves it off.
  3258. >“Not as much as you'd miss me, but you just gotta roll with it, right?”
  3259. >You nod, and you get other words of encouragement from the group.
  3260. >Soon after, you send a text to Flash accepting his offer.
  3261. >He messages back, saying his band is meeting after school in the music room for practice.
  3262. >'I'll be there,' you reply.
  3263.  
  3264. >With classes over for the day, you head to said music room.
  3265. >As you enter, you see Flash and the rest of his band setting up their equipment.
  3266. >“Hey dude, glad you could make it,” he says as he's strapping on his guitar.
  3267. >“Same,” you reply. “First time I get to meet you all officially, I guess.”
  3268. >Flash chuckles. “Yeah, not a lot of time for that during the ball, so let's do that now.”
  3269. >The guy on keyboard has green braided hair. “Sandalwood's the name,” he states.
  3270. >The bassist has short brown hair and a mustache that's coming in. “People call me Ringo,” he says with a fake British accent.
  3271. >Okay, now that's why he looks familiar.
  3272. >“Wait, shouldn't Ringo be on drums?” You ask with a grin.<