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Horse Feathers! (Attn: Steel)

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Rainbow knew what Twilight was gonna ask even before the brainy Alicorn muttered the words, and she still didn't know what to say at first. The first microsecond, at least. No matter what she was a good friend and wasn't gonna leave Twi hanging, especially since she lacked any good reasoning behind some discomfort at the feelings bubbling up between them. Which, yeah, was likely a very good reason to say no to any host of things but not something she felt comfortable allowing to dictate how and what she did. That microsecond passed and Rainbow smiled a nervous smile, looking around and rubbing her neck as she tried to hide the massive gulp she took before replying.

“Tonight? Dinner? Ha, yeah. I'm down. Dinner. Tonight at the castle. It's a...dinner,” she said, catching herself before being entirely too honest about what Twilight was asking for. She moved a hoof through her mane and looked away. “I guess I'll have to get ready. You too, by the way. I know you might feel a little beat right now but once all that adrenaline is gone...well, yeah. Don't plan on doing much when you're so beaten up and tired after such hard work, Sparkle,” Rainbow Dash offered with an impish laugh as she hovered back into the sky, and started to fly away. “See ya tonight!”

-----------------------------
Rainbow had done very little at first other than fill her wash basin with cold water and dunk her head in it over and over again, in a vain and futile effort to shock herself into coming to terms with whatever was happening.
Was she really doing this?
Was Twilight really thinking what she was thinking? Rainbow wouldn't have imagined in a thousand years that Twilight Sparkle, well-known egghead, nervous wreck, Princess and Savior of Equestria, would have such feelings for Rainbow. And for her part, Rainbow wasn't sure how to describe the feelings she was having.
Pride? Excitement? Nervousness? Fear?
Attraction, perhaps? She'd never really given herself the time or place to process something like it.

Still, she had a dinner to prepare for. After dunking her head in the wash basin she decided to take a bath and wash up well. She didn't have any special soaps or scents or anything of the kind to offer and she didn't even know if it would be appropriate to do so. She cleaned up well though and made sure the weather would remain clear- yep, nothing to cause an emergency for Twilight to deal with- and then waited. She was a fast mare by trade and type and it didn't take her very long to be ready. So she just sat there and waited, and thought, and worried, and fretted, and concerned herself with the unresolved emotions inside and the stark fact before her.

After what felt like forever but was honestly not nearly long enough for her to think through it all, it was time. Time for her to go. She took a big breath and put on a normal face, a brave one in this instance, and shot out of her house with a rainbow streak. She zoomed across the skies of Ponyville in a crack of speed and energy, pushing herself to maintain everything that made Rainbow, Rainbow. It took almost no time at all for her to come upon the castle as she slowed her speed and came to a trotting finish at the front door, momentum carrying her one-two-three knock on the giant castle door. Alone for a moment once more she took another deep breath and prepared for a dinner that would prove in any case illuminating and, she hoped, not as awkward as she was fearing.

 

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Twilight charged into the kitchen, following a trail of ominous black smoke. Once through the doors she groaned and put a hoof to her forehead. 

 

"Spiiiiike!" She sighed in frustration. "I know you tried your best but..." She trotted back and forth, using her magic to quickly get stacks of dirty dishes into the sink and clean spilled unknown substances off the counters floor and even the ceiling!

 

She took a breath and tried to relax. "I don't know how you would have gotten carrot puree all the way onto the ceiling!" She glanced up at the vaulted height. It wasn't as high as the ceilings in other rooms of the castle but even the kitchen had style for a princess. Magic glowed an a rag went from the counter to wipe grime from the top of the wall.

 

The Princess glanced around, noticing for the first time that Spike hadn't actually followed her all the way into the kitchen. "Where is he?" She muttered and went to a mixing bowl with a spoon leaning in it. "Looks like I''ll have to finishing this my-" Her words were cut short as she slipped on a puddle of something on the floor and careened into the bowl. She now stood with a bowl of orange substance dripping down from where it had landed smack between her ears!

 

---

 

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

 

Spike had been followingTwilight when the knock at the door diverted his attention. "Twilight!" He watched as the Princess continued on into the kitchen. "But Twilight the door!"

 

The dragon turned and headed towards the main doors. "I guess I'll have to handle whatever official Princess business is at the door!" He puffed himself up and put on a serious face as he prepared the formal greeting.

 

The door opened and Spike intoned the common greeting. "Welcome to the Castle of Friend-" He stammered. "R-Rainbow!" For some reason he'd gotten so caught up in the formality that he'd forgotten about the one dinner guest they were expecting!

 

"Hey Rainbow!" He regained his composure, which was saying more than he could for the rest of the castle and it's occupants. "Come on in!" He allowed the pegasus entrance because what else could he do?

 

"Twiiiilight!" The dragon went running down the hall towards the kitchen. "Rainbow's here!"

 

----

 

Twilight looked up, he ears turning towards the outer hallway. Her stomach dropped. "Rainbow's...?" She listened again.

 

"Rainbow's here!" 

 

The Princess stood with dinner dripping down her face with no idea what to do!

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Rainbow had to wait a few seconds longer than she would normally have to wait, allowing the pregnant pause in her thoughts to grow anxious with wildness and misappropriation of emotions. She went back through the long backlog of events and meetings, words and actions, friendly dates and heart-pounding adventures and tried to mine it all for little nuggets of information that could help her understand what was in front of her. All she could come back to was a feeling of confusion, both at what she was feeling and what Twilight was offering, fitted nicely inside a small but unstable box that she was trying to keep under control. She had to be calm, cool, collected, and just be a nice dinner guest. If Twilight wanted to broach the subject then Rainbow would get into it but she was content just passing the time in a friendly, pleasant manner with a long-time friend.

Spike was the one to answer and he seemed nervous. Stammered, out of sorts, the whole nine yards of anxious just like Rainbow was. He did like the blush that kept on from time to time making a home on her cheek- he didn't know or was being a great little helper and wasn't letting on that he knew. Rainbow wasn't going to dissuade him from that. Heck, she wished she didn't know. It would make the dinner far less awkward. “Hey there, Spike. Lookin'....good!” She said with nothing else to really back it up. She shuffled in place a second before Spike regained himself. He invited her in- “Thanks!”- and she followed right by him, allowing him to outpace her as she slowly trotted through the castle. The clip-clop of her hooves echoed stronger than she could have ever imagined it could. After a little bit the noise got to her nerves so she started hovering, thanking herself for the silence, the echoes ending their torment of her.

When Rainbow got to the door leading to the kitchen where the noise and sound of a pony came from, she had to stop cold. Then had to stifle a giggle. What the hay had happened in here? The smell of half-finished or over-prepared food was one thing, and the mess was another. The cherry on top, however, was Twilight, the Princess of Friendship and soon to be the ruler of all Equestria, looking like a mess. Not even a Princess could save what was looking like a disaster of a dinner, right? After a brief moment trying to hold back laughter, Rainbow took flight and laughed as she got to her friend's side. “I guess that's one way of preparing dinner. What book did they cover this in? Bahahahahaha!” She guffawed as she looked around, landing and putting her front hooves on a table. “It isn't that bad, honestly. I'm sure I've done worse. Where do you need me to start?"

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This was not at all how she had planned it! Nothing irked her more than to have her plans go awry. This wasn't even awry this was downright 'why had she ever even bothered to plan anything?' disaster level! She could her Rainbow's hooves clopping their way towards her. Twilight shuffled back and forth a bit, indecision ruling the moment.

 

"Oh no oh no oh no oh no oh-!"

 

Her words were cut off as Rainbow entered the kitchen aka catastrophe of the century. The Princess of Friendship was frozen in place as the pegasus entered. Twilights cheeks were crimson with embarrassment.

 

"Rainbow I-i uhhhh,"

 

And then her friend burst out laughing and offered to help! For some reason her laughter was contagious. Twilight's muzzle turned up into a grin and before she knew it, she was laughing too. This was why they were friends! It helped to relieve her tension and calm her nerves. It was Rainbow after all. Her long time friend. The one she had been through thick and thin with! Sure she was also the one Twilight pined after but she was also one of the ponies that was already closest to her heart!

 

"Not that bad?" She spoke quizzically as the bowl of carrot levitated off her head and onto the counter. "I think Spike set off some kind of food bomb in here!"

 

"Heeeey!" The dragon entered, glancing around. "It's not that bad Twi! Rainbow said she's done worse!" 

 

"Oh, I'm sure she has!" She eyed both her friends. "We should probably start over on dinner," A cloth and spray bottle levitated to Spike and Rainbow. "Spike you start on the counters. Rainbow? If you could get the ceiling?" She was in her element giving orders. It made the nervousness she had been feeling earlier dissipate. "I'll start on the dishes!" As she spoke dishes began to levitate and the sink faucet turned on.

 

"So!" Spike tried to break the silence a moment later. He glanced up at Rainbow who was making quick work of the food that was stuck to the heights. "What do you guys think we should try to make next? A special dinner date deserves special food." 

 

Twilight blanched! Had Spike just casually called their dinner out as a date? "Spike!" She shushed the dragon and then continued on quickly, trying to cover what was quickly becoming awkward again. "Why don't you uhhhh, look through the recipe book over there and pick something easier than souffle?"

 

"You got it!" He trotted enthusiastically to the book and started leafing through pages.

 

"So Rainbow..." She fished for something to say. "Thanks for the training session earlier. Not just anypony gets lessons from a real Wonderbolt!" She rubbed her fetlocks and grinned. "I'm gonna be sore for a week from that!"

 

There not awkward... heh heh (Twilight awkward laugh)... not awkward at all!

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The idea of a food bomb made Rainbow's stomach growl something vicious because she didn't even think about how hungry she was until she saw the mess that had been made all around the kitchen. She didn't know what type of dinner had been prepped because it had become a slurry and paint across the ceiling and walls. She couldn't say too much- she'd been on the active end of a terribly concocted and executed dinner plan or two in her life. Usually trying to celebrate her parent's anniversary as a kid or when it was her time in rotation to cook for the Wonderbolts. Far be it from her to make Twilight feel too bad about this! Besides, it was charming how awfully the Princess was handling this. You'd think Twilight, deserving enough to have the honor of being the sister-in-law to the Princess of Love and the title of the Princess of Friendship, would have a handle on this, but nope. No, she did not.

Maybe it fell into a grey area.

Rainbow nodded and hovered to the ceiling, going about cleaning as the awkwardness started to fall away in the normalcy of their operations. She didn't have to think too hard about it but it seemed like any other time she may have been called in to help clean up another one of Equestria's messes, Twilight specifically much of the time. She didn't mind. You always helped your friends and it just so happened her friend was a Princess and what they were doing was more important than whatever else she'd be doing. Rainbow cleaned and smiled as well as she could considering she had been highly nervous not that long ago. It was all clearing up now- clear skies ahead, clean ceiling above, and two mares unwilling to discuss anything.

Then Spike spoke and ruined that brief peace. Rainbow bobbled the bottle and dropped the cloth onto Twilight's back, tapping the bottle up in the air once or twice more before managing to grab it before it got out of her grasp. She gulped and have an awkward laugh as she hovered down, putting it down. She gave a look up- it was mostly cleaned. It would have to do. Spike was sent off to go find something to do, hopefully away from them, while both mares attempted to dance around the subject. Twilight led and Rainbow was happy to follow.

“Oh, yeah. Yeah, it'll get worse, too. You might not be able to get out of bed tomorrow. The soreness will be really bad and your muscles will feel like they're locked up. They aren't so you need to just work through it, but it'll be real bad. The prices we pay to keep Equestria safe, right?” She laughed, looking around at the mess, or what was left of it. Talking about real subjects took her mind off of matters, at least for a little bit. “So, what was this food supposed to be, other than paint and spackle?

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Twilight blanched at the mention of the soreness yet to come from today's lesson. That sounded really painful! She mentally took a note to look up a muscle relaxing spell just in case she needed it tomorrow morning. She rubbed her front hoof behind her fetlock and raised her brows.

 

"Wow, yeah that's quite a price! Too bad nopony told me that before we started the workout from Hades," She tried a friendly nudge with her shoulder towards the pegasus but ended up leaning into her for just a tad too long. She let out a breath and righted herself. She might as well admit it, there was going to be no more normal between herself and Rainbow until she was able to talk it over with her long time friend. Just the thought of it set her stomach into a series of knots that made her want to squeak.

 

Rainbow lead the conversation towards that of the food and Twilight ran through what would have been the menu. "Wellllll, it was supposed to be a starter of fresh greens dressed with a vinaigrette, followed by hot carrot souffle, and for afters some ice cream sundaes." The thought of all that nice food made her stomach grumble, reminding her that her recent bouts with gitters due to her newfound feels had caused her to reduce her intake quite drastically.    

 

"I made the mistake of leaving a certain dragon in change of the preparations..." She eyed the empty ice cream carton on the counter nearby. "But he ate the ice cream and," She glanced at the orange mess still spotting the kitchen here and there. "And apparently managed to explode the carrot filling for the souffles everywhere!" She sighed in exasperation. "I wanted this to be a special dinner for you... as a you know... thank you for your help today?" She offered.

 

Twilight suddenly had a great idea! Maybe if she cooked with Rainbow it would calm her down enough to talk normally? It was possible...maybe.

 

"So you want to help me try to salvage this into something edible?" She glanced around while levitating the wash cloth from her back over to the counter to continue wiping down. "We've still got the greens, some pastry dough, tomatoes, eggs, carrots, I think some cheese, and ice cream toppings." She glanced at Rainbow. "What do you think we could make?"

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Twilight's physicality was as awkward as Rainbow's romantic words, and neither truly fit the situation. By now there was no denying what Twilight was trying to do and it was a complete failure, though in a way that helped her more than anything. They likely weren't very good at the other side of the coin either, of course. Rainbow had never heard Twi utter anything remotely romantic and Rainbow knew she had two pairs of left hooves when it came to romance. They looked like a mess, she felt like a mess, this was all a mess and that was before they got to the actual mess. They had done a good enough job cleaning it up to the extent that it wasn't an out and out embarrassment to be seen in the kitchen, so that was a nice boon.

The dinner sounded rather good. She wasn't a foodie by any stretch of the imagination. She could go ahead and eat flowers from the ground as far as she cared! Her palette wasn't the most developed. Her parents had fed her well growing up but that was mostly in bulk to make up for their outrageously hyperactive filly. When it came to greens and bits of carrot was a hardened agnostic in the kitchen, believing in little that she couldn't see. Which was a way of saying she wasn't sure what to cook when Twilight asked her, and looked around in confusion for a fair few seconds.

Then it struck her. They had a pony from Maregypt visit the Wonderbolt Training Grounds a while back to set up tour dates there. He had made a food called shakshouka or somesuch- it had eggs poached in tomato sauce, and a stew like content underneath it. It was pretty good all things considered, and she felt like some oddly specific divine mandate had given her the answer to the question. “Uhh... shakshouka, I think it's called? Poached eggs...tomato sauce...sure we can use the greens and carrots too. Then we can make something with the dough. Do we have stuff to make a cake?”

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Twilight felt herself calm once more as Rainbow came up with what sounded like an awesome idea for a salvaged dinner. It helped tremendously to just talk about normal stuff and working through the small problem of dinner was the perfect activity. She wished she'd thought of the two of them cooking before now. That was a much better idea than what she'd planned. It just showed how little Twi knew of romance. She'd pretty much studied everything in the world except for matters of her own heart.

 

"Sha-Shakshouka sounds really good!" The Princess began to levitate ingredients that Rainbow had mentioned towards the center of the counter. There was still some residue from the messed up meal there but it was mostly cleaned and good enough for preparing a second and what would probably prove to be a better dinner. 

 

When Rainbow mentioned cake supplies Twi's first response was to call over to Spike to see if he knew but she stopped herself. It would be easier to navigate pretty much everything in this semi awkward situation with just her and Rainbow. She didn't need the further embarrassment she'd suffer of having Spike hear more of her awkward attempts at wooing Rainbow. 

 

She trotted to a big set of built in cupboards on the far wall. After glancing through the dry good inside she nodded and turned to RD. "Flour, sugar, baking soda, salt. Yep, I think we've got enough stuff for a cake. There should be some butter next to the eggs in the ice box." She trotted over and opened the ice box. "Yay! Yes we've got cake supplies too!"

 

She glanced at Rainbow with a half smile on her muzzle. "So, start with the tomato sauce?" It was a pleasant inquiry. With this new task at hoof it was just like always. Friends, working together to figure out a predicament. Twi was used to such encounters with Rainbow. They'd get this figured out and she'd do her best to leave the matters of her heart for after dinner. 

 

As she got a large pot on the stove and started placing the tomatoes for crushing inside of it the Princess remembered something. "Oh, I almost forgot!" She used her magic to levitate out a small keg out. "Applejack dropped this off a couple days ago. Sweet Apple Acres cider!"

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Rainbow did as requested, though to be honest she wasn't a cook by trade. Her mom loved to cook and she'd try and help and growing up she thought she was pretty good. Like everything else though this was simply further evidence that his parents had made every little event a success regardless of the qualifiers needed- she couldn't cook worth squat compared to ponies who knew what they were doing. She had this dish a few times her youth, though it never struck her until now that she knew it. That stallion from Maregypt had some good taste to him, it seemed. Poached eggs always drew some eyebrows but it wasn't what some ponies thought. Equestrian chickens and other poultry often times laid non-reproductive eggs- eggs with nothing in them in terms of a new chick. A trick of evolution, some say. Tasted great and was vegetarian to boot!

She started working on the sauce. She didn't have to press and squeeze the tomatoes as the castle had them prepared. That was good because she wasn't known for keeping the kitchen clean in the rare event that she cooked. She got all the sauce preparation done and unceremoniously poured it all into a pot and stirred. The repetitive motion, allied so easily with her additions of some light vegetables here and there and sprinkled with some spices, allowed her to settle after the earlier strangeness. Better to just work together on food than confront the oddity that swallowed the space between them. Time passed in this manner pleasantly, smiles and work until the job was done. Maybe then they could confront it, but she wasn't so sure.

What she was sure about was cider.
“Sweet Apple Acres Cider? Awwwwesome!” She said as she hovered over, pulling the barrel up and out of where it was and placing it on the table, getting two glasses and setting them down next to the cider barrel. She looked around- looked like the job was going well for the both of them, or as well as it could be. Confident that the two weren't destroying the kitchen, she poured two tall glasses and sent one over Twi's direction, pushing it quickly on the table. “Think fast and drink fast, Twi!” She said with a laugh. Leaning against a barrel, one back leg draped off, she inhaled her glass. “Oooh, smooth as always. And this is the hard stuff, too! Not just the stuff she sells to everypony. You ever drink her hard cider?” Rainbow asked as she poured herself another drink. “How's your half of the cooking coming along? The sauce is looking nice.”

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Twi reached out and stopped the glass just short of the table edge. She couldn't help but smile at Rainbow's comment about thinking and drinking. The Princess took a small gulp and set down the glass. She smiled, noting the taste difference in this cider from the last barrel AJ had delivered. It had certainly been a bigger barrel and the flavor wasn't nearly as warm as this one. It was laced with cinnamon and certainly had an alcoholic bite to it. 

 

"Hard cider?" She gave the mare a quizzical look after she'd downed the glass. "She didn't mention that," Twi looked over to where Spike had disappeared into a different room. She wondered if perhaps he hadn't told the honest farm mare what was going on. Had AJ dropped off the hard stuff to try to assist her to calm down? No, that couldn't be. That had been before she'd invited Rainbow over... but not before she'd let slip how she was feeling to Spike. Either way, it was a nice gesture though perhaps a bit intrusive?

 

She took another, longer drink. Whether it was intended or not Twi didn't know but it was helpful. If this couldn't get her to loosen up nothing could! "Can't say I've had Sweet Apples Acres hard before," She spoke as she took another gulp, finishing off the glass. "It's good!" She slid the now empty glass back to the pegasus. One more couldn't hurt right?

 

"Oh!" She glanced at where she'd been preparing the vegetables. "It's going. Veggies chopped and water ready to poach eggs. Want to help me with mixing up a quick cake?" She eyed Rainbow for a moment, the drink going straight to her head. She was beginning to feel more confident all of a sudden. It felt good to not be so nervous. She could do this! She'd get her feelings out there! But first the cake... the cake and another drink perhaps. 

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Rainbow snickered. Twilight seemed surprised that the cider was the hard stuff. Why would that be? She knew that Twi had to have help around the castle but whoever was in charge of the kitchens must have made a foul-up. An easier thing to swallow than Applejack lying or being sneaky for reasons nopony could fathom. No matter. Twi would like it. Everypony loved Applejack's hard cider. The Watering Hole had several barrels on tap and most other Ponyville bars had at least one barrel ready to go. It didn't go much farther than that because Applejack didn't make nearly as much of the hard stuff as her more family-friendly cider, but it was still a shock that Twilight didn't have the hard stuff before. Did she not drink? Rainbow cackled for no explanation. “Make sure to drink responsibly there, Sparkle. You don't want a hangover and a sore body from a workout,” she said as she poured herself another cup.


Unlike Twilight, Rainbow was well-acquainted with the hard cider that Applejack made, among other drinks. She wasn't going to fall apart after a few mugs. Maybe a few more after that. Twilight brought up the prospect of them both working on the cake and it was an idea she could get behind. “Sure. Lead the way, Twilight. Can't say I have the baking experience of an Applejack or a Pinkie Pie but I'm not...actually I think I'm the worst when it comes to baking in our group of friends,” she said with a chuckle, flying over to the materials and preparing herself. “Okay, whatcha want me to do?” Rainbow asked. She assumed Twilight had a plan. When did she not have a plan, even for something as simple as a cake? Did make her wish that....no, actually no. She didn't want anypony else here. She was happy right where she was, and with who she was.

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"Oh Rainbow!" She chortled in reply. "I'm always responsible!" A quick gulp saw to another cup of cider gone down the hatch. 

 

"I've just always gone straight to my favorite Cherry Sour," She smiled and poured herself one more before heading over to the cake counter. "By the time I've had a few of those I never really seem to get to the cider." Twi didn't frequent the Ponyville bars and she kept the castle well stocked with what she liked. "Come to think of it, I know who does like hard cider. A certain dragon..." That had to be why she hadn't known it was the hard stuff. Spike was well known for adding oddities to the grocery lists.

 

"Ok, first the flour, sugar, and baking soda need to be sifted into this bowl," She pushed a large metal bowl over to the side where Rainbow could stand next to her and help with mixing. She fell into giving assignments as was her second nature. They'd follow the recipe step for step, just like mixing a potion or casting a spell. What could go wrong? Sure she was starting to feel the alcohol run in her veins. It made her feel warm and not nearly as high strung as she'd been earlier. 

 

"Measure out flour a cup at a time and place it into the sifter. Sift the flour into the bowl. Three cups total." She read from a rather large recipe tome. "You think you can handle that miss Wonderbolt?" She nudged the pegasus playfully. When she turned to smile at her, Twi noticed how close their muzzles were to each other. She stood like that for a bit, taking only a small step back. The cider was fast making her the more bold version of the Bookhorse.

 

"Three eggs beaten into this bowl." She turned away from Rainbow and busied herself with cracking eggs and whisking them up. Once she was busy mixing she was able to contemplate how very much she liked being in close range with her athletic winged friend. 

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The response was kind of a shock but not unexpected. It was hard to imagine Twilight as anything more than Celestia's favorite student, as studious and form-filling as the stereotype would imply. It was hard to iagine her drinking. She seemed the type who was fine with some water and a bagel or something like that. Milquetoast. Nothing wrong with that. She actually liked it. She was always so stable and so focused that it was difficult to imagine her not being so unless it was an object of her obsession with getting things done right. "Cherry Sour? Never had it. Only ever had the Sweet Apple Acres stuff because I'm fairly certain that if I tried something else Applejack would kill me. After forcing cider down my throat," she laughed grimly and downed another glass. She was the second-heaviest drinker in the crew aside from Applejack, but maybe she'd have to add Twilight to the competition.
 

Rainbow found her position on the baking line and did as she felt was needed. She was happy being a leader when it came to things she understood but baking was not one of them, so she was content allowing Twilight to lead. Besides, she probably read several books on the subject. You could always trust her to be well-read on any subject that even vaguely interested her. She was still shocked that Twilight wasn't the Princess of Study or Reading or of being a Bookworm Nerd. Not that any of that was a problem. It was rather fetchi....cool. It was very cool. Kinda. Not that she'd say it or admit it or study why she wouldn't say or admit it. "Alright, I got this under control. Eggs, swishing and swirling, I'm your mare," She said as Twilight got increasingly bold. They had just started to drink. It shouldn't have been hitting her this fast...


Speaking of fast, a question. Kinda random, but it touched on her friend being a nerd.
"Hey Twi, have you ever written anything? I mean, not as in a study or a report, but a book-book?"
 

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The sifting of flour and mixing of eggs seemed to be going well enough. Thanks to the cider Twilight found herself feeling more and more loose around her friend. Which was good! No need to be all caught up on stuff that wasn't even happening right? Like, she didn't really like being super close to RD. So close that when they turned to talk their muzzles were inches apart. So close that when she moved towards Rainbow it was super easy to bump into her with shoulder of her flank. There was nothing wrong with that...right?

 

"Heh heh..." *awkward Bookhorse laugh* She finished stirring the eggs and then a thought hit her. She'd not drank any water for waaay too long. That would explain her sudden burst of courage. "So you've got the eggs done and the flour has been sifted. Next up add baking soda to the flour and whip two cups of sugar into the eggs. Can you handle the eggs, I'll take care of the dry ingredients."

 

Once they were working again she quickly trotted over to the sink, levitated glass, filled it with water and gulped it down. There! That would take care of things right? And she'd done it quick so RD might not have even noticed. Well, she could hope at least. She trotted back over to the counter and got to work on adding things to her large mixing bowl. Baking soda, oats, some brown sugar, a a touch of salt. "Ok, this is looking good!" She glanced over to see how RD was doing with her job.

 

Then the pegasus asked her about writing books. Twilight's blush immediately returned and flushed to the point where she had to look away! "I-i've written some things yeah." She wasn't going to lie of course. She had written some things. Recently they might have been short stories. They might have been about her and her friends. Some may have been about a certain athletic pegasus and herself. They may have been romantic in nature. Not that she was going to say any of that. Nope. Not a thing about that! "Short stories!" She blurted out the words and tried to relax. "I've been working on some creative writing. Short stories specifically." There. That would cover it!

 

"H-how about you?" She nudged Rainbow. "I know you like reading Daring Do of course but have you ever tried writing any adventures?"

 

She trotted over to the cabinets, looking for some raisins or chocolate chips. She found both and came back over with them. "How sweet do you like your cookies?" Twi found herself sipping down another half a cup of cider without thinking about it. Maybe tipsy was better than what she was doing right now? Only one way to find out...

 

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Rainbow followed the orders as before. Now that they were making progress on the food it didn't feel so bad, this whole baking thing. Maybe she could be a part time chef for the Wonderbolts, baking them such tasty treats to congratulate them on a job well done. With a little apron tied around her waist and a humble giggle on her lips when she was complimented. Wouldn't that be a hoot to have on a calendar? She chalked that idea down, though she'd suggest somepony else for that specific role. She didn't want to be known as the team mom, especially since she was so young. And single. She hipped up the eggs and handled her half of the business, so when Twilight came over she would be happy to see one heck of a completed job. Well, so far. They had a ways to go but doing it together it would go by quick. "Its coming along pretty good, I think. I dunno. We'll know when we're eating," she said confidently, stepping back and taking a drink.


It seemed the drink was giving Twilight all sorts of courage...unless it came to discussing her authorship. There was something there that the would be ruler of Equesrria was ashamed to discuss, and Rainbow would have to patry. Later, anywing. She wasn't going to push too hard because Twi seemed especially out of sorts, though she did adeptly switch the topic from what Twilight had written to whether Rainbow had any chances to put her words to the page. Rainbow laughed at that one taking flight around her friend with an excusatory and accusatory snort. "Me? Write? Sparkles, I'm happy enough that I know how to sign my name let alone try to write a story that ponies would care about. Besides, how could I ever top the sort of stuff we do everyday? I'd likely just get bored and want to kick some flank in real life instead of just writing about it," she said with a chuckle, "besides, as I said, it isn't like I'm all that good at writing. I could probably write a foal's book but it'd be a foal's book with a lot of cool fights. Maybe not age appropriate. Oh, and I like my cookies sweet. Really sweet. I think Pinkie ruined me for normal cookies."

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Twi kept her awkward grin firmly in place as she waited to see if Rainbow would press her further on her writing. She certainly hoped she wouldn't! 

 

The Princess let out a breath she had been holding as Rainbow had a hearty laugh about the prospect of her writing. Whew! Good. That was not a subject she was willing to breach...at least not now! The Princess continued around the kitchen, working on various parts of their meal. Delicious smells were soon wafting everywhere as the main dishes finished up and the cookies began to bake in the kitchen. 

 

"I think I made those cookies with more chocolate chips than flour!" She giggled thanks to the cider and glanced about. "What do you think about having dinner in here?" It was kind of a random idea but the thought of the large gaping dining hall wasn't really going to get her as close to Rainbow as she'd like to be...

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"Sure, I can have dinner here. I wasn't doing much of anything else otherwise," Rainbow replied with a nervous laugh, having done so quicker than she had really wanted too. Eagerly, even. She had to rein herself in! This was all too confusing, too weird. Uggh. She had to do it though. She couldn't let Twi done and she couldn't let herself down and she couldn't let her nagging sense of doubt about her own heart grow too far and too fast astray from her honest intentions. She couldn't shake clear of the thoughts that drove her and contended herself with the knowledge that everything and anything she was feeling she knew that Twi was feeling much worse. It would be bad form for the Element of Loyalty to leave a friend hanging like this, wouldn't it?

 

She zoomed around, collecting plates, spoons, forks, knives, glasses, sporks, mugs, soup spoons, spittoons, bowls, salad bowls, and anything else she could gather up  before she realized she was overdoing it. With an embarrassed half-chuckle she started dropping it, this and this and here and that and there, back where she thought it all belonged. She then swooped towards the table and set it, dropping everything into correct place. Kind of. Sort of? She didn't have any etiquette courses and was used to eating alone, so perhaps it was all just a giant mess. As she sat down though it all looked right. Glasses up, forks and sporks and spoons- okay maybe she didn't drop everything that she should of- were on the plates, napkins were about somewhere. Uggh...why did she even care about table placement!?
 

What are you doing to me Twilight!

She smacked her lips. "So, I set the table. You have the food?"

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Twilight couldn't help but giggle at the table Rainbow had set. Her horn began to glow to levitate the spoons and such to the right places but then she stopped. That was how Rainbow had done it and she didn't really need to move it around did she? "Well, maybe just..." Her horn glowed a few bowls and forks went into new locations. "...a quick fix," She winked at the pegasus. "You know I can't help myself."

 

After this she turned her back for a moment and got the various items they'd been able to concoct. Wow! It was actually quite a bit of food. Salad, the tomato and egg dish, she'd found some bread, and then there would be cookies later! "I think we made plenty of food!" She set down the saucepan, salad bowl, and the loaf of bread before taking a seat. 

 

"Well, it all looks good, hope it tastes good too!" She glanced over at the counter where she'd left her drink. "Don't want to forget that!" She giggled and levitated the glass over. After another good sip she started to serve the food with her magic. Doing something helped calm her nerves. This was normal, this was good. Just dinner... with a friend... right?

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Rainbow was happy to sit down and eat. She was happier still to be able to get herself a glass of wine, a jug of wine, the entire wine room if it meant calming down her nerves which played havoc with her. The normally clean and precise wingwork that she was known for was slowly vanishing under her rising stress. When she was younger, just a few years ago even, she crashed all the time. Into open windows, doors, trees, the ground, if a pegasus could crash onto or through something you could count on the daredevil in blue to do so. She had hurt herself many times while becoming the best precision flyer and acrobatic in all of Equestria and she hadn't really crashed a lot since then. But right now? Right now she felt like that energetic, overeager filly she used to be. She was happy that she was sitting down because she was certain that if she flew around she'd make a fool of herself. And she was already sure that they were both making fools of themselves and the foolishness needed to stop somewhere at some point.

 

At least that was the idea.

 

A bowl of shakshouka in front of her, Rainbow allowed herself the sweet relief of some good food. A spoonful later and she realized that...it wasn't half bad. Not the best either but good enough for panic work like they were doing. "This is good. Reminds me of what I ate as a filly," she said as she ate greedily. "My mom would go crazy trying to perfect this and then dad would tease her and say something tasted off. Then she'd bend down all worried and ask what and then he'd kiss her and say now it was perfect," she laughed, "Ahhh, my dad is a dork. How are your wings feeling? Any stiffening yet?" She asked, still keeping the focus on her friend's previous activity. She didn't think that Twi would but pegasi who didn't get proper exercise could experience a lot of wing pain after an extended flight session. She had been busy enough to ignore it but as they sat down to eat and drink, Rainbow wasn't confident that this would remain true.

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