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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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