Where You Can't Follow

by AbsoluteAnonymous

Chapter 1: Where You Can't Follow

Where does the sky begin?

The earth stops at your hooves. The hard dirt and soft swaying grass are beneath you, tread upon and used.

Somewhere far above you is the sky, big and blue and stretching on forever.

But what about the space in between?

An earth pony, born without wings or magic, is forever shackled. Restricted to a life spent wallowing in dirt.

A pegasus, though, is like bird; soaring freely through the azure sky. Everything is within reach, and they're free to dance on the wind.

Should they so choose, a pegasus would never need to descend. They could live out their entire lives amongst the clouds and stars. Gravity has no hold on them.

They were in the kitchen of Sugarcube Corner; Pinkie Pie wearing an apron and humming to herself as she kneaded a ball of dough, Rainbow Dash seated at the counter.

Dash had been restless the entire time, glancing about nervously, rose-colored eyes flickering over the room as she fidgeted. Her wings were unfurled, flared as far as they could go. The silence the two ponies shared was occasionally punctuated by the flap of a blue wing.

"Pinkie, I need to leave. Like, right now."

"You don't need to leave, silly."

But the moment Pinkie turned her head to smile at her friend, she saw it; and then she knew ithat what she'd said wasn't true, because Rainbow Dash's eyes had a manic gleam to them. Her feathers rustled as the pegasus beat her wings anxiously. Stretching them. Unable to relax.

"Do you have somewhere you need to be or something?" Pinkie Pie asked lightly. Still trying to laugh it off. Still trying to treat it all as some kind of big joke.

"I don't know," Dash answered irritably. Her tail swished with impatience. "I just need to fly. I can't stay here anymore."

I can't stay here anymore.

Pinkie almost started to cry right then and there.

But she knew that that wasn't how Rainbow Dash had meant it; Dash had just meant that she couldn't stay inside any longer - not with these four walls and a roof closing in, caging her. She just needed to spread her wings. That was all. It didn't need to mean anything deeper than that.

"Okie dokie lokie!" Pinkie answered cheerfully, whipping off her apron and tossing it aside. She didn't see where it landed, and didn't care. "Let's go outside!"

Gravity itself was claustrophobic. Invisible chains that bound you forever to the cold, cold ground. Only a pegasus could defy gravity, taking wing into the majestic blue.

From the air, you could see and hear everything. You could touch the living pulse of the world. The sun would shine on you in glory.

"Take me with you!" Pinkie demanded.

The look on Rainbow Dash's face was one of disbelief.

They were in a clearing by the edge of a stream, Pinkie Pie seated on her haunches in anticipation of watching Rainbow Dash fly.

"Are you kidding? You're too big for me. I can't go as fast as I want to if I have to take passengers, you know."

"We can at least try," the pink pony insisted.

Normally, Rainbow Dash would've just grinned and rolled her eyes, writing it off as another one of Pinkie Pie's random jokes; but there was something desperate in her eyes that kept Dash from doing so. Something urgent.

So with a sigh, Rainbow Dash knelt on the grass, beckoning Pinkie to come and climb onto her back.

A world of dirt and stone and invisible binding chains is no place for creatures of wind and air, and eventually, they all go back.

There always comes a time when a pegasus realizes that the ground can no longer hold them, and that a society constrained by something as claustrophobic as gravity will never truly satisfy them.

That is when they go back.

Someday, all pegasi return to the allure of the clouds.

"See, Pinkie? Told you that you were too heavy," Rainbow Dash muttered darkly, wincing as she rubbed her aching shoulders. "Like I said; I can't fly right if I have to take you with me."

Take me with you anyway. Please don't leave me.

"Sorry, Dashie!" Pinkie Pie giggled. "I guess I've been eating too much cake lately, huh?"

"Eh. Whatever."

Rainbow Dash was already preening her feathers, smoothing her wings in preparation for another flight. This time, she would go alone.

"Do you have to watch?" Rainbow asked after a moment, almost apologetically. "I mean, I like it when you watch me try out new tricks and stuff, but I'm not in the mood for showing off right now. I kinda just wanna go."

"Go?" Pinkie repeated, voice faltering.

"Yeah. You know. Just fly, as fast as I can. But I can't really do that if I have to stay here for you."

Her words were barbs, and she was oblivious that she was throwing them; but Pinkie felt the sting all the same.

Gilda had wanted to take Dashie away. To take her places that Pinkie Pie couldn't follow.

The weather team wanted Dashie, too. They wanted her to work full time, maybe return to Cloudsdale and get a job in the weather factory. After all, she'd been a weather mare for years, now, and her seniority warranted a promotion to something cushier, so that some newcomer could take her old place in Ponyville. Scootaloo wanted her to do it, too, so that she could still see her idol when she went to flight school.

Rainbow Dash herself still aspired to be discovered by the Wonderbolts and offered a membership, and dreamily recounted her hopes of someday joining on practically a daily basis. Being a Wonderbolt would take her away more than ever, dragging her all over the world for shows and special appearances.

They all wanted to take Dashie away.

What none of them seemed to understand was that Pinkie Pie needed her, too. She needed her best friend. She needed a rainbow in her life so that she could smile. They wanted to take Dashie away, to a place she couldn't follow.

All pegasi returned to the sky someday. Only those who were different somehow ever stayed on the ground. Even Fluttershy, the pegasus afraid of heights, occasionally grew nostalgic for the clouds.

The ground could never be enough for them.

Pinkie could never be enough.

Nothing would ever be quite enough, and that was why Rainbow Dash so lusted for the limitless sky. For speed. For a place where there would be no boundaries to hold her back, and where she could truly be free.

Someday Pinkie Pie would turn around, only to see that Rainbow Dash had finally taken off. Had finally left without looking back.

And when that happened, Pinkie wouldn't be able to chase her. Not the way she could now.

An earth pony is shackled by gravity and the earth they tread upon itself, wearing it down with every step. Pegasi were free. They were meant to fly in a world of their own, a world that the earth didn't even touch.

For now, Rainbow Dash seemed happy enough with the space in-between, willing to stay where she was for the sake of her friends. But there would come a time when she would have to choose. When she would need to decide where her true loyalties lay. A time when she would no longer be able to hold herself back.

"Okay," Pinkie said softly. "I understand."

"Cool! Catch up with you later, Pinks!"

Rainbow Dash didn't look back, not even once, before taking off, shooting straight upwards into the blue. A blur of color, streaking through the air, cutting through the clouds as she went to touch the sky.

And Pinkie Pie could only watch.

Where does the sky begin? Where does it end?

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