Oct 14th, 2013
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  1. Rain
  2. By IceMan
  4. >Ponyville was in need of a good storm.
  5. >The summer had been dry and hot, far more than usual.
  6. >You had always hated that cursed orb of fire that rose over the horizon every day.
  7. >It didn’t help that this world had no air conditioning.
  8. >So, when the weather pegasi decided to finally gather up some great grey storm clouds, you almost leapt for joy.
  9. >It started as a gentle, almost comical, drizzle in the morning, barely moistening the parched earth.
  10. >But, now, in the evening, the rain was now falling in torrents, hitting the roof of your abode like nuts and bolts tumbling from an open box in the sky.
  11. >A cascade of water was rushing from the rain spout out your window, which was coated with thick rivulets of water.
  12. >A crack of lightning splits the opaque sky in two, followed by the rattling artillery fire of thunder.
  13. >Mug of tea in hand, you sit down on your couch wrapped up in a bathrobe to read a book.
  14. >An Earth book to be precise.
  15. >One of few possessions you had with you when you appeared in the world of Equestria, and your only form of entertainment that hadn’t long since died from no longer capable of being charged.
  16. >It is Plato’s The Republic, a prized possession of yours.
  17. >Another flash of lightning, followed by a roar of thunder.
  18. >You thought you heard a knock at the door, though perhaps it was just part of the din.
  19. >But, the banging continues, and you are forced to pause your reading.
  20. >As you reach the door, you notice a pool of water surrounding it and droplets falling from the seam in between the ceiling and the doorframe.
  21. >You’ll need to patch that up after the storm.
  22. >You unbolt and unlock the door (you were afraid that the winds would be blowing like a sail) to find a sopping wet, shivering cyan pegasus sitting on the doorstep.
  23. >Her wings are plastered to her sides.
  24. >One is drooping slightly.
  25. “What happened to you?”
  26. >“Nothing!” Rainbow Dash snaps. “I was just on weather patrol, and I thought I’d stop by.”
  27. “Did you fall out of the sky? Did you get struck by lightning or something?”
  28. >“No! I just wanted to say hello.”
  29. >The rain’s intensity crescendos.
  30. “Well, I guess you’d better get back to work then. Goodbye, Rainbow Dash.”
  31. >You begin to shut the door.
  32. >“Wait! I can... uh... I can take a break for a little bit.”
  33. >You cock your head to one side, raise your eyebrows, and give her a small smile.
  34. “Alright, come inside. I’ll heat up another pot of tea. You must be freezing.”
  35. >“Th... thanks,” you hear Dash murmur as you head into the kitchen.
  36. >Putting the kettle on the stove, you hear a wet slapping coming from the living room.
  37. >You return to find a slightly drier-looking Rainbow Dash standing in the entry way, though the walls look like someone through a bucket of water at them.
  38. >She walks over to sit by the fire.
  39. >She winces a little bit as she brushes a little too close to the couch.
  40. “I could’ve gotten you a towel,” you state.
  41. >“Yeah, but shaking myself dry is so much easier.”
  42. “Even with a hurt wing?”
  43. >“My wing’s not hurt!”
  44. >You give her the same expression as before.
  45. “What happened? C’mon. For real this time. I won’t tell a soul.”
  46. >Rainbow Dash sighs.
  47. >“I decided to go flying out in the storm – ”
  48. “Oh boy...”
  49. >“I need to keep my strength up! The Wonderbolt Try Outs are in only a month’s time. I can’t go flabby now!”
  50. “So, what happened?”
  51. >“Then the thunder started, and I thought I saw a bolt of lightning zip right by me. I lost control in the air currents and . . . and I crashed.”
  52. >You sigh, but then hear the whistle of the kettle boiling.
  53. “I’ll be right back.”
  54. >You pour a mug of hot water and place a tea bag inside it for Rainbow Dash, along with a rag, soaked in the warm water.
  55. >Your own mug needs refilling as well.
  56. >Once you return, you find Dash sitting on the floor preening herself, and, once again, wincing as she touches her left wing.
  57. “Put this on it,” you say, handing her the wet rag. “It should ease the pain, somewhat.”
  58. >“It doesn’t hurt that much. It’s just bruised.”
  59. “I insist. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
  60. >“Fine.”
  61. >She snatches the rag out of your hands.
  62. >You set her mug of tea on the coffee table, and return to your book.
  63. >“Watcha reading?” Rainbow Dash asks.
  64. >She’s wrapped the rag around her hurt wing.
  65. “Plato’s Republic. It was one of the books I had with me from Earth. I figured now would be as good a time as any to open it up.”
  66. >“What’s it about?”
  67. “The short answer? It’s a treatise about the ideal form of government.”
  68. >“Ugh. Sounds boring. No adventures or escapades or anything?”
  69. “Only the escapades of some very intelligent people arguing.”
  70. >“Booooooring.”
  71. >You shrug and turn the other way, only to find Rainbow peeking over your shoulder.
  72. “You’re not very good at the whole ‘lying’ thing, are you?”
  73. >“What else do I have to do, stare at the fireplace? You’re doing at least something more interesting than that.”
  74. “Alright, alright . . . . Just, one question though. You had to know that going out in the storm was a bad idea – ”
  75. >“But I need to train! And the Wonderbolts go out in storms no problem.”
  76. “No, they don’t. They can do little storms, but not something like what’s going outside right now. Even on Earth I never experienced a storm like this. What was so driving you to do something so dangerous? This isn’t just a matter of you getting hurt. You’re fortunate you weren’t injured any more than you are now. You could have died.”
  77. >“Who are you, my mom?”
  78. “No. No, I’m not. But I am concerned, as a friend. That’s all.”
  79. >“You don’t understand, Anon. I’ve got to be the best I can be. I’ve got to. Or else I’ll never be a Wonderbolt.”
  80. >You place a hand on her shoulder.
  81. “Yes, but you’ll never be best if you’re injured so badly you’ll never fly again.”
  82. >The house lights up like a fluorescent bulb as bolt of lightning is hurled from the sky.
  83. >Three seconds follow before the rumble of thunder.
  84. >“I’ve got to be the best.”
  85. “Why? You’re risking your life doing it.”
  86. >“Because that’s what I’ve got to do.”
  87. “That’s circular logic,” you say, rapping on Plato’s book. “And this guy would call you right out on it.”
  88. >You point to the portrait of him on the cover.
  89. “I’ve known your for – what – a year? And all this time practically every moment I’ve seen you you’ve been obsessed with the Wonderbolts. And, up until now, I never thought to ask, why? Why are you risking your life over this?”
  90. >You look deep into Rainbow Dash’s magenta eyes, as if that might reveal the secret.
  91. >She breaks eye contact, and then takes a sip of tea.
  92. >“You know what? Fine. I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you what it’s like to – to . . . to always be told, every day of your life, that you have to be the best....”
  94. “Dad... I... I didn’t do well on my last flight exam.”
  95. >You are Rainbow Dash, and you’ve just had what the worst day of school in your life.
  96. >Your father looks up from his evening paper.
  97. >“What do you mean? What happened?”
  98. “I went too fast. I lost control. The instructor said I could’ve died. And then he failed me. I thought he’d be more impressed that I was going at least ten miles per hour faster than everyone else but – ”
  99. >Dad gets up out of his chair, but keeps the paper in his hoof.
  100. >“Rainbow Dash, I’ve told you many times about our family legacy. This is the first time in generations that a member of our family has not been part of the Wonderbolts. And I expect you to continue our tradition.”
  101. >As he gets closer, you can smell the whiskey on his breath.
  102. >He must have had a bad day too.
  103. >He didn’t drink unless he had a bad day.
  104. >Normally, your father was much more agreeable.
  105. >He’d taken you dozens of times to see the Wonderbolts do their performances in Canterlot.
  106. >He was generally much happier than this.
  107. >But, when he got in these moods... he just became obsessed with your family’s heritage.
  108. >And with you being the best.
  109. >If Mom wasn’t around, there was no way to stop his rage.
  110. >And, most unfortunately, she was out with friends tonight.
  111. >“I was supposed to take your grandfather’s place,” your father continues, beginning the rant you can practically recite by heart. “I was supposed to continue the legacy. But now I’m just a simple weather pony, struggling to make ends meet. And it’s up to you, my little Dashie, to become the next step in the lineage.”
  112. >Your father turns away from you.
  113. >“But, I guess that doesn’t matter to you. You’re not willing to sacrifice everything to be the best – ”
  114. “But I am!”
  115. >“Clearly, you’re not. You’re not! You should have aced that test, even at the speed you were going. You just needed to put a little more heart into it. A few more practices in the evenings. To even have the chance of being a Wonderbolt, you’ve got to be better than everyone else. Better than their commander, even! Otherwise, they’ll just pick some snobbish prince or duke from Canterlot, just because he’s got the money to bribe their judges! You never quit for one second, Rainbow Dash, or you’ll be tossed out in the gutter, just like me. It’ll all starts now, Dash. If you don’t pick up the pieces from this little mistake... then your chances of completing your destiny are slim.”
  116. >By this time, a few thin streams of tears are flowing down your face.
  117. >You really had messed up.
  118. >You really were a failure.
  119. >And you’d never be a Wonderbolt unless you put in 110%.
  120. >No.
  121. >150%.
  122. >Every single day.
  123. “I’ll do better next time, Dad. I’ll show you that I can be a Wonderbolt. I promise.”
  124. >Your dad turns around, a manic grin on his face.
  125. >“Remember when I first took you flying? Remember how fast we went? Remember how good it felt?”
  126. “Yeah.”
  127. >“Imagine having that feeling every day of your life. That’s what being a Wonderbolt is like.”
  128. >You nod.
  129. “I’ll show you that I can be a Wonderbolt. I promise.”
  131. >You are Anonymous.
  132. >“It’s not a matter of just me being crazy. I need to be a Wonderbolt. Not just for myself. But for my Dad, too.”
  133. “What happened to your father?”
  134. >“He... he died a while ago. He was old.”
  135. “I’m sorry.”
  136. >The two of you listen to the patter of rain on the roof.
  137. >It seems to be slowing down a bit.
  138. “Do you want more tea?” you ask, seeing that Rainbow Dash’s mug is empty.
  139. >“No, but thanks.”
  140. >You sigh.
  141. “I had similar parents...” you begin.
  143. >A few years ago.
  144. >You are sitting in your room with your father.
  145. >You knew he would take the news of where you’d applied to better than your mother.
  146. >He wasn’t as obsessed with your future as she was.
  147. >She’d done everything to make sure you got into the best schools in the country: test prep, a personal counselor, the whole nine yards.
  148. >But you couldn’t care less.
  149. >It was all pointless in the end.
  150. “Dad, I need to tell you something.”
  151. >“You’re not pregnant, are you? No, wait, you’re gay! Or, wait, you slept with someone, and now you have AIDS!” your dad says.
  152. >He was always a jokester, even in serious situations.
  153. >You remember when grampa died, he was the one who made sure his older brother was cheered up.
  154. >He showed up to the funeral in full clown regalia, and suddenly every black-suited or dressed person in the room had a grin on their face and was remembering the good past, rather than the somber present.
  155. “No, it’s not that. I didn’t apply to any of the schools mom wanted me to.”
  156. >“Oh. Well, that’s far less serious.”
  157. >Your father pauses for moment, and the grin on his face fades away.
  158. >“Why?” he finally asks. “I mean, let’s be honest here. You and I both know you weren’t going to get in there.”
  159. “Exactly. That’s why I didn’t apply.”
  160. >You furrow your brow.
  161. “You’re not mad?”
  162. >“Hell no! Son, I couldn’t care less where you go to school, or what you want to do in life. Your mom on the other hand.... Well, let’s just say this’ll be our little secret for a bit.”
  163. >He winks.
  164. >“But, still, just... let it all out. You’ve been stressed for ten months now with this crazy process. I want to hear it all.”
  165. >You take a deep breath.
  166. “They showed us this video at school. It’s called ‘The Race to Nowhere,’ about all the insane things people have to do just to get into college these days. And, I realized, just getting into the best university in the country wasn’t going to make me happy. I didn’t want to be there. It wouldn’t give satisfaction. I would just get a degree from there and waste ten years of my life to get a job I don’t want. As a doctor. Just like mom wants me to. But I don’t want to do that. I want to know why things are. I want to study morals and ethics and politics, Dad. I want to be a philosopher, like the ones I learn about in history.”
  167. >Your dad smiles.
  168. >“Well, if you want to be a philosopher so bad, I have a gift for you,” he says.
  169. >He walks out, and comes back with a small book with a painting of some men in togas on it.
  170. >“The Republic, by Plato,” he declares proudly. “Printed 1946. My father gave it to me when I went off to school. And now I want you to have it. Forget what your mom thinks. No matter where you go, you’ll always be perfect to me.”
  172. “And that’s my story. I guess... well, I guess it’s a little happier than yours. It has a happier ending.”
  173. >Rainbow Dash shrugs.
  174. >“We both have similar pasts. Maybe I’m still living in mine.”
  175. >You nod.
  176. >“But, even so, I want to be a Wonderbolt.”
  177. “I know. You’ve said that a dozen times at least in the time I’ve known. But that doesn’t mean you should risk your life and health for that dream.”
  178. >Dash simply stares at the floor, before returning to eye contact.
  179. >“What happened when your mom found out?”
  180. “She threw a fit. She wanted to kick me out of the house. Then she yelled at my dad for not telling her. He told her she was out of line. So she drove off. I left for school shortly afterward. I think they might have gotten a divorce. I was teleported here before I found out. My dad was e-mailing me about it.”
  181. >Silence, minus the rain.
  182. “I never got to read his book before I left. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
  183. >You blink once, then get up.
  184. “I’m going to get something else to drink. Do you want anything?”
  185. >Rainbow Dash shakes her head.
  186. >You come back with a sealed bottle of bourbon and two square crystal glasses with a few ice cubes.
  187. “Your friend Applejack gave this to me last Heart’s Warming Eve. I guess now is as good a time as any to crack it open.”
  188. >You twist off the cap and pour yourself a glass.
  189. “Here’s to sad sods, wet souls, and sappy stories,” you say with a chuckle, raising your glass a bit.
  190. >You take a draught of the fiery liquid.
  191. >“Alright, pour me a glass. I’ll have some too,” Rainbow finally secedes.
  192. “I knew you’d come around.”
  193. >You pour her a glass and hand it to her.
  194. >She takes a sip, and then says, “Hey, Anon? I’ve got an itch behind my ears that won’t seem to – ”
  195. >Before she can even finish her sentence you reach your hand out and give her mane a scratch.
  196. >“Thanks.”
  197. “You don’t have to sit on the floor, you know. The couch is much more comfortable.”
  198. >Rainbow climbs up onto the sofa.
  199. >“My head still itches a little bit, Anon. Would you mind scratching it again?”
  200. “Nope.”
  201. >Once again, you carefully rub your fingers against Dash’s scalp.
  202. >However, this time you linger a little bit, letting her colorful mane slide through your fingertips.
  203. >Rainbow Dash sighs.
  204. >“We really are a sappy lot, aren’t we?”
  205. “Yeah.”
  206. >You pull your hand out of her mane, and reach around her shoulders and squeeze.
  207. “Misery loves company, I guess.”
  208. >Your companion sighs once more.
  209. >You gently rub Dash’s soft blue coat, carefully avoiding her injured wing.
  210. >It’s velvet in texture, almost Kashmir-like.
  211. >Dash leans her head into your shoulder, slowly blinking.
  212. >She yawns, but then her ears perk up.
  213. >“I think the rain’s stopped.”
  214. >You listen for a moment.
  215. “Yeah, I guess it has.”
  216. >Dash slowly swings her head towards the door.
  217. “You don’t have to leave. You could stay the night.”
  218. >“I guess I could.”
  219. >You wink at her.
  220. “I know you want to.”
  221. >She leans her head back onto your shoulder.
  222. >“Fine. It’d hurt too much to get home on this wing anyways.”
  223. >You pull Rainbow Dash a little closer in your embrace.
  224. >And, eventually, two sad, wet souls fall into the warmth of slumber.
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