Not Unless You Mean It

by Donny's Boy

Chapter 1

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"Not Unless You Mean It"

by Donny's Boy

Synopsis: Pinkie Pie's crush on Rainbow Dash is possibly the worst-kept secret in all Equestria. Rainbow doesn't really pay it much attention, though, until Fluttershy asks her to make an important promise. It sounds easy enough to keep … but a promise, like love, is often harder and more complicated than it first appears.

Warnings for: Adult pony alcohol consumption, romance, and possibly implied consensual adult sexual situations. Involving ponies. As one does.

Chapter 1

Rainbow Dash is obliterated.

Her progression has been gradual but steady. After a few cups of Applejack's hard apple cider, she'd settled into tipsy. Then, after tipsy started getting boring, she gulped down a few more glasses and reached drunk. But drunk wasn't enough. It helped, sure-for a few minutes at a time, she'd lean back and snort at Pinkie Pie's exuberant dancing around Sugar Cube Corner or nod with deep profundity at whatever nonsense Twilight was happily babbling into her ear, but then she'd remember. And she'd reach for more cider.

The "Congratulations, Dash!" banner that hung over the table where Pinkie had laid out unearthly amounts of cakes and cookies and pies and punch and cider-well, it certainly didn't help

But now Rainbow has motored right past drunk into the realm of stone cold stupid, as Applejack sidles up next to her at the food and drink table, gently placing her hoof over Dash's just as she's reaching for more cider. "Sugar cube, I think you done had enough for one night."

Scowling a bit, Rainbow nudges the other pony out of the way. "L-lemme alone, AJ," she slurs. "I'm … I'm just fine. What're you, my mom?"

Applejack frowns and looks like she's going to argue, but then Rarity steps into the fray. Shaking her head, she whispers, "Just let her win this one, darling. She's had … well, it was quite a blow, wasn't it?"

Dash nods enthusiastically. At least Rarity understands. Of course Rarity does. She has that hunger in the belly, same as Dash does, though the goal she pursues is rather different-success in the high fashion world, rather than flying with the Wonderbolts. But that fire, that passion, that sharp-edged aching need is just the same.

"But you!" Rainbow blurts out, gesturing wildly at Applejack and earning a surprised look in response. "What would you know about any of this? You … you've got your farm, and your family, and-and-and your apples. And you don't want anything else! You've got everything you want! You're happy with apples!"

Applejack tilts her head, looking as though she can't decide whether to laugh at Rainbow or kick her square in the jaw.

Dash staggers backwards a bit, then grabs onto the food table to steady herself. A few cupcakes tumble to the floor, and from somewhere out of Rainbow's line of sight, Pinkie gasps in exaggerated horror.

"Apples are dumb," Dash growls, to nopony in particular.

Throwing up her hooves in exasperation, Applejack blows out all of her breath in a single, gusty sigh. "I give up with that pony! I'm gonna go home and get some shut-eye." She glances around the room with an affectionate smile. "'Night, y'all. Try 'n keep her from gettin' into too much trouble, will ya?"

A round of warm, hearty farewells are traded among the five ponies who are not named Rainbow Dash.

For her own part, Dash ignores Applejack's leaving and, after pushing away the cups on the table, dunks her entire head into the large punchbowl of cider. It's nice-cool, refreshing, kind of fizzy. She seriously considers moving into the punchbowl permanently and putting her Cloudsdale house up for sale.

But then she feels two pairs of hooves on her shoulders, and a moment later, she is upright again. She splutters a bit and coughs as cider gets sucked into her lungs.

To her left, she hears Fluttershy murmur, "You probably shouldn't leave your head in there too long, you know."

Meanwhile, to her right, Twilight sounds a bit perturbed as she asks, "Are you having a dissociative episode? I read about those once back in school, when I was taking a general, non-magic course … "

"Apples … " Dash shakes her head a bit, trying to toss her now-soaking mane out of her face. " ... are dumb."

Once she can see again, at least a little bit, she notices Pinkie and Rarity standing right in front of her. While Rarity rolls her eyes, Pinkie giggles at her. "Silly! You said that already."

"Rainbow, you are being just a touch melodramatic, don't you think?" Rarity shoots her a pointed look. "And if I am the one saying that, it means there is a very big hint lurking about that desperately desires to be taken."

Slowly Rainbow nods, considering this suggestion very seriously. Rarity might have a point. Rarity is cool. Sometimes. Rarity told off Applejack, anyways. That was worth something. Yeah! Rarity's cool.

Rainbow Dash lurches forward and throws a foreleg around the unicorn's shoulders. Rarity's eyes go wide, and she titters uncomfortably.

"Yer right," says Dash, still nodding. "You are so right, Rarity. This is a party, and I am going to party."

Releasing her hold on the nervous unicorn, she turns her head to the other pony nearby. Pinkie Pie's grin never falters. Rainbow likes that about her. Always up for anything, this one. The premiere party pony of Equestria.

She grabs Pinkie's forelegs between her hooves and yanks hard. With a shriek of surprise and delight, Pinkie involuntarily stumbles forward, and Dash begins twirling her around the room while hovering just a few inches above the floor, more or less in time with the music that still plays. Pinkie laughs and laughs and laughs, and Rainbow concentrates very hard on not falling down and not vomiting.

"At least she's in a better mood now?" she hears Twilight say, in an uncertain tone.

It doesn't matter. None of it matters. She will dance until her legs fall off or her wings fall off or her head falls off, and it won't matter. Who needs the Wonderbolts anyway, right? She has delicious cider bubbling in her brain and loud music pumping through her blood. What else could she possibly need?

Pinkie's eyes meet hers through the dim lights of the bakery, and they are so very blue. They are always such a strange, deep blue. Like a dark lake hiding dangerous depths.

Pinkie is still grinning, but it's a different grin now. A softer grin. It's the grin that Rainbow pretends she doesn't notice or understand, except for when she wants to. Dash puffs out her chest a bit and basks in the attention.

She hates herself a bit for doing it, but she does. It's just so nice to able to feel good about herself for a change ...

"You're a great dancer, Dashie. Even if you're a little wobbly on your hoofsies." Pinkie's voice is quieter than usual, just like her grin is softer.

As Dash finds herself grinning back, she makes a sudden decision. "Y'know something, Pinkie?" She lets the words, the anticipation, just hang in the air for a moment or two. "You got really pretty eyes. Prettiest eyes in all Ponyville."

Pinkie's grin freezes. Dash almost laughs at how completely she's caught Pinkie off guard-not an easy thing for a pony to do. It feels really happy and good, for some reason, surprising Pinkie like this. It feels a lot like pulling off the best prank ever.

"I … uh …" Pinkie Pie suddenly stops dancing and pulls away, and Rainbow Dash stumbles a bit before finally crashing into a nearby chair. "I gotta go check on Gummy." Pinkie takes a breath before speaking again, her voice just a touch shaky. "Be right back, everypony! Save me some pie!"

Rainbow doesn't bother glancing up to watch her leave. Instead, she lays on the hard and unforgiving linoleum, the treacherous chair resting on top of her chest, while she stares up at the ceiling where countless streamers criss-cross in a tangled mess of color and conviviality.

As soon as Pinkie is upstairs, Rarity hisses, "I realize you've had a terrible day and are understandably upset, Rainbow Dash, but I swear! You can be such an absolute ogre sometimes!"

The sound of Rarity's hooves as she angrily clip-clops her way up the stairs echoes throughout the otherwise silent room.

"And then there were three," Dash mutters to herself. The last of her meager happy feelings from the dancing and the cider ebb away like air from a leaky balloon.

A purple glow appears in front of her, and a moment later the chair is no longer atop her. A second later, the same purple glow has set her back up on her feet. She wobbles a bit before locking her knees and gaining some traction. She shuts her eyes tight, so tight that it starts to hurt, before finally allowing them to open back up.

The two remaining ponies sit on their haunches in front of her, looking serious and perhaps a little sad. No, Dash decides. Not sad. After all, this is a party. Nopony should be sad at a party. So they can't be sad. Her eyes must be playing tricks on her, what with all the dim lighting.

"You really shouldn't do that," Flutteryshy begins, very quietly, but in a tone not dissimilar to the one she'd once used to scold a fire-breathing dragon.

"Do what?" snorts Dash in reply, a little defiantly and much too loudly.

Twilight sighs. The sigh is filled with irritation and exhaustion, but the unicorn's eyes remain kind. "You know what she means, Rainbow."

Dash feels a tiny, tight ball of nausea start to form in the pit of her stomach. She swallows thickly. "Didn't do anything," she protests in a voice much quieter than before. But it sounds pathetic even to her own ears.

She doesn't even really know why she said what she'd said. She says things, sometimes. Stupid things. Silly things. They don't mean anything. They just come out.

I am so stupid.

Everypony knows not to take her too seriously. She just says things, sometimes. No big deal. That whole devil-may-care thing is all part of the patented Rainbow Dash charm, after all.

So unforgivably stupid.

She jumps a bit as she feels Fluttershy's forelegs wrap around her. The other pegasus rests her head on top of Dash's, her pink mane falling down in front of Dash's eyes and tickling Dash's nose. Gently she whispers, "It's okay, Rainbow. We know you don't mean to."

Rainbow Dash never does mean to. That much, at least, is true.

Sighing deeply, she leans into Fluttershy's embrace. Fluttershy may not be her closest friend, but she is Dash's oldest friend. She's witnessed Rainbow Dash fight her way through more valleys than any other pony alive-and she has stayed Rainbow's friend through thick and thin, despite having seen Rainbow at her worst and at her lowest. It means a lot.

Rainbow should probably tell that to Fluttershy one of these days. She probably won't.

After a moment, Twilight steps forward too, biting her lip thoughtfully and looking a bit less annoyed. She gives Dash's cheek a quick nuzzle. "It's not like how it was with AJ," she explains, in that patient and teacher-like way of hers. "She won't stand up to you when you've crossed the line or tell you off when you've said something inappropriate. She'll just keep putting up with it and smiling away like nothing's wrong, until … until … "

Rainbow nods miserably. She knows.

She knows better than any of them.

A ghost of a memory tickles at the back of her mind- the memory of a party even sadder than this one is turning out to be, a party where the invited guests were rocks and flour and turnips. A party haunted by plastic smiles and bitter laughs filled to the brim with pain so thick that Rainbow can feel it choking her … even now, even here ...

She shoves the memory away, angrily, guiltily. Gives her head a rough shake to clear out the cobwebs. She feels Fluttershy protectively tighten her grip.

Hoofsteps on the stairs cause the three of them to look up. Rarity gives them a small nod. "She'll be quite all right," she offers reassuringly, answering the unspoken question in their eyes. "She said she should be back down in just a moment or so."

"Good!" Rainbow hadn't meant to speak that loudly. She clears her throat and tries again. "That's … that's good."

Twilight ambles over to Rarity, and they exchange hushed words together. Occasionally they glance over towards the two pegasi. Dash closes her eyes again.

"Rainbow." Fluttershy's lips are right against her ear, and her voice is soft and urgent. "Rainbow, I need you to promise me something. Something important. Will you … do you think you could do that?"

Dash's voice is nearly as soft as Fluttershy's when she replies, "Yeah. Sure."

A short pause, tentative, meaninful. "Don't kiss her. Okay? Not … not unless you mean it. Really, really mean it. O-okay?"

Rainbow Dash hesitates. That whole Element of Loyalty thing means she takes promises pretty seriously. She ponders over just what this promise might mean, exactly. Then, slowly, she nods.

Author's Notes: So, I guess I am writing a MLP: FIM story? Egads. Celestia help me ...

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