“So,” said Spike. “How’s our good little not-doing-crazy-stuff unicorns today?”

Twilight cackled. Spike’s face fell.

“Are you at least going to stay out of some kinds of trouble?” he suggested, hopefully.

“Sure, Spike,” said Twilight. “Oooh! This one, I’ll wear this one!”

She held the garment up for Trixie’s approval. This approval came in the form of a moan, because the garment was one of Rarity’s finest. That wasn’t quite the same as ‘nicest’, for it was a deep blue garter with seafoam-green lace. Held up against Twilight’s rump, it had the effect of suggesting the hint of a rosy blush through color contrasts.

Spike gawked at Trixie’s expression, and hid his face in one small draconic claw. “You guys don’t really get the ‘live simple pony lives with less excitement’ thing, do you?”

“What good is that?” scoffed Trixie.

Spike was undeterred. “Good is exactly the point! Look, I get it. You’re grown mares, you have these interests. I’m not exactly a grown dragon, but I’ve known Twilight a really long time, and I’m just wondering about a few things.”

“Such as?” asked Twilight, smiling.

“Such as, what was that laugh about? It didn’t sound like a good little pony laugh. More like, Rainbow Dash playing a prank.”

Twilight’s smile dropped. “Oh, That. Um… it might be a little hard to explain?”

Spike crossed his arms. “Then you’d better.” After a moment, he added, “Please? I still worry about you, Twilight.”

Twilight and Trixie exchanged a concerned glance. “I don’t want that, Spike,” said Twilight. “What do I need to…”

“Tell me why that underwear is so funny,” said Spike. “I know it doesn’t tickle, because you don’t laugh like Rainbow Dash from being tickled.”

“Yes she does!” protested Trixie. “Trixie can show you! She can even do the squeaks if you exhaust her enough!”

Twilight eeked and scampered away from her marefriend, her ears back. “Nooo! Down, Trixie! It was a real question!”

“Very well,” sniffed Trixie Lulamoon. “Does that mean you have a real answer?”

Twilight’s ears drooped. “I suppose I’d better.”

Spike folded his arms again, expectantly.

“We’re going on a sleep-over, in Canterlot. With the Princess,” admitted Twilight, beginning to blush.

Spike studied her. “Gosh. Maybe it really is true. I thought I was imagining it for a while there.”


“You really did start doing that icky sexy stuff with Princess Celestia, when you were an alicorn,” said Spike. “Well… I guess I’m glad that’s working out for ya, but it seems risky.”

Twilight paled to lilac. “We’re not! I’m not. Seriously. I… what gave you that idea, Spike?”

He regarded the two unicorns levelly. “Did so.”

They exchanged another glance. Twilight gulped and admitted, “A little. We’re not going to do any more, not yet. It was me deciding that part, though you might not believe me.”

Spike looked at the lacy garter, still dangling off the magic of Twilight’s horn. Hastily, she dropped it.

“All right,” said Spike. “I even believe you. But, and I understand that this might hurt my head a whole bunch… what exactly are you doing with that?”

Twilight went back to blushing, but didn’t let it stop her. “We’re, um… teasing Princess Celestia. She agreed me and Trixie could have a sleep-over and she wouldn’t expect to do anything with either of us. She just would like to have me under her own roof again, as a guest, She’s really not gonna do anything, Spike. I trust her self-control as much as any pony I’ve ever known. It’s perfectly safe. So… well, we were going to think up stuff to bring and wear, and say it’s night attire.”

“Do you think that’s wise?” said Spike.

“I told you, I trust her! We both do. Trixie’s even willing to sleep in the same palace as Princess Luna because Celestia is there.”

“But that’s not what I asked,” said Spike. “Of course Princess Celestia will be good. Though the idea of her getting crazy with the rest of you ponies scares the flint outta me… no, what I meant was, is that the kind of thinking we used to expect out of Princess Twilight? Is that what I’d think of as… Princess wisdom?”

Twilight hesitated, and Spike looked dismayed. “It’s not, huh? And you know it?”

“This is the part that might be hard to explain to you,” said Twilight.

“I got all day,” said Spike. “Try.”

“Well… It’s not that I don’t know it’s naughty. I get that,” said Twilight. “I even understand that it might not be exactly Princess-responsible. I really am glad that you’re such a good dragon who knows right from wrong. It means a lot to me. I don’t want to suggest there’s anything wrong with you being unfailingly responsible. You’re my number one assistant and totally dependable in every way and that’s great! But, Spike? Here’s the thing. I don’t have to be. Not anymore.”

Spike searched her eyes, and she let him. Nothing was found there but unicorn earnestness, and so Spike waited for her to explain further, and she did.

“I was an alicorn, Spike. I had all this responsibility, my power was so great it was dangerous, Trixie was in a lot of danger and I can’t say I was all that good about staying responsible. But now? I’m back the way I was. I’m a very powerful unicorn, still, but… it’s so different, just so different.”

“Trixie loves you in every possible form,” insisted Trixie.

“Immaterial,” retorted Twilight, and winced. “Sorry, Trixie. You know I love you… and you, Spike, though not at all in the same way…”

“Phew!” offered Spike.

Twilight smirked. “Your opinon is noted! But do you understand what I’m saying? I had to be incredibly responsible. I had such power. And now… it just doesn’t matter, Spike. I’m not scary. I don’t have to be so responsible because I don’t matter nearly as much as I did…”

“Ha!” scoffed Trixie.

“Oh, you!” giggled Twilight. She turned to Spike. “Would you believe, it means I can play?”

Spike considered this. “Hmmm.”

“Maybe it was surviving Magic Kindergarten a second time. Maybe it was having Trixie to go through it with me. I don’t know what it is,” said Twilight, “but I always worried so much and was such a good little pony, and now it’s like I’m…”

“A troublemaker?” suggested Spike, helpfully.


Trixie’s eyes shone with happiness. Twilight gazed at Spike earnestly. Spike gave her a weary look.

“If they put you in pony jail,” he said, “I’m not sure I should bail you out.”

“There’s no pony jail!” protested Twilight.

Spike considered this. “Hmmm. Wait, I know, this used to make you hide under the covers. …Magic Kindergarten! For a third time!”

Twilight stuck her tongue out at him. Trixie giggled.

Spike rolled his eyes. “Are you at least going to be nice? My little troublemaker?”

At that, Twilight trotted right over and hugged him, nuzzling his cheek. “Of course I will, buddy! How nice do you want me to be? Can I be as nice as Trixie?”

Spike made a face. “Let’s be a little more ambitious than that!” he suggested, and Trixie pouted.

“How about as nice as Rarity?” offered Twilight. “You love Rarity, and she and I have things in common. Being unicorns, certain hobbies…”

“I do love Rarity,” admitted Spike, “and no, not Rarity.” He gulped. “Though she is very wonderful… but yeah, not so much. I was hoping for more of a… how about Fluttershy? Can you be as nice as Fluttershy?”

“Trixie suspects even Fluttershy is not as nice as Fluttershy,” said Trixie. “Have you forgotten the whole vampire thing? And apparently she had sex with ALL the farm ponies at once…”

“Not Fluttershy!” said Spike hastily. “How about, uh, Applejack? Wait, did you say… ew! How is that even possible?”

Twilight wore a sour expression. “Definitely not Fluttershy,” she said. “I wish I could come up with a little payback for dear sweet wonderful Fluttershy, if I can do it nicely.” She twitched. “Sorry, it’s a bit of a sore spot. Every time I see her I remember her flinging herself in front of my horn, getting in the way.”

Trixie gasped. “You don’t mean you would rather have gone through with your attack? Mistress, Fluttershy not only saved Chaos and Princess Celestia, she most certainly saved your life!”

“And shortened it quite a lot,” grumbled Twilight. “All right, all right, I’m grateful because she saved absolutely everything and everypony. And how she knows it!”

At that, Trixie looked thoughtful. “Trixie is not sure she does, Mistress. She doesn’t seem happy, even though she has that zebra husband and a family and everypony loves her. There is something dark and troubling there.”

“The stench of vampiric evil from beyond the grave?” hinted Twilight.

“Mistress! Fluttershy is very nice! Maybe she feels guilty about being a vampire? It doesn’t seem to worry her husband.”

“Maybe that means she has him in her sick, perverted thrall, sucking his willpower along with his…” and Twilight glanced at Spike and hastily amended, “blood?”

Trixie stamped a hoof. “Fluttershy wouldn’t do that! She is very strict with herself. She doesn’t even seem like a monster, she’s charming, very submissive. It really means so much to her to be treated as just another pony. When she wears those mane and tail extensions it’s easy to forget.”

“Maybe that just makes her thrall easier?” suggested Twilight. “It’s, like, pony thrall? Would that be a more adorable kind of thrall to be in? You know, cuter and more seductive?”

“Whoever heard of pony thrall?” retorted Trixie. “You’re right, though, it sounds adorable…”

“Girls!” cried Spike. “I never even heard of pony thrall! Stick to the subject. Twilight, can you try to be as nice as Applejack? For me. C’mon.”

Twilight blinked at him. “Firstly, you’d be surprised at what that mare gets up to… no, you wouldn’t, would you? You’ve been privy to some things about Applejack’s private life all along.”

“Well, Applejack’s a really good pony,” said Spike. “You know that.”

Twilight’s ears were laid back as she contemplated the prospect. “I don’t know, Spike. I don’t think I can be as simple as Applejack, and that’s part of her niceness. I’m no farm pony. I’d get bored. Are you gonna suggest Rainbow Dash next? I think I might be able to manage that one.”

“How about no!” cringed Spike. “Okay, last offer. It seems like you really want to have more fun. Can you be as nice as Pinkie Pie?”

Twilight blinked at him, taken aback.

“Be careful what you wish for, Spike…”

Applejack peered fretfully in the doorway. “Uh… Pinkie?”


“Gyahh!” wailed the trusty farm pony. “How’d you git behind me, Pinkie?” She whirled to face her dear, cheerful, sometimes disturbing friend. “Ah was just checkin’ on you, makin’ sure you was all right!”

“So did Cloud Chaser!” replied Pinkie, bouncing into the room. “Because she had to pull a double shift and she didn’t want to leave me all alone! And she flew down down down ever so fast and gave me a big hug and then she flew up up up and was all gone!”

“What were ya doin’ in the stairway,” asked Applejack, “and why din’t I see ya, Pinkie Pie?”

“I wasn’t doing anything in the stairway!” said Pinkie, bouncing in place. “I can be anywhere I want and I don’t have to be in my house and I could be in anypony’s house if only I asked! Stairways are fun! They’re the way for one place to go to a totally other place, did you ever think of that?”

“Uhhh, right enough,” said Applejack. “We, that is me and Dashie, thought maybe it might be nice to see how you were doin’ and all…”

“As if she hadn’t been through enough, the poor pointy-ended wretch!”

“Whut, Dashie?” gawked Applejack in confusion.

Pinkie blinked innocently. “What?”

Applejack shook her head, as if to clear it. “Anyway, because of some things that’s been happenin’… hang on, honey, where’s Rock?”

Pinkie bounced again. “Rock Candy is visiting Little Dursaa and his Mom! Or maybe it’s big Dursaa because we can’t tell because it’s the same name! How funny is that?”

“Yeah,” said Applejack uncertainly. “Them folks seemin’, you know, happy? Content?”

“But too pointy! She’s too pointyyyy!”

Applejack laid her ears back. “Aw, honey, I kinda agree with you but ol’ Fluttershy, she can’t help that, it’s how she’s made! She’s real good about it and we all got to do our best, please don’t turn against Fluttershy ‘cos I fear that would hurt her awful bad…”

Pinkie blinked, startled. “What? I don’t understand what you mean, Applejack, and I would never hurt Fluttershy in any way. I love her and always will! Don’t ever think I would abandon her, that would never ever happen. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye, Pinkie Promise I will always care for Fluttershy, you silly! What are you even talking about?”

Applejack bridled, eyes wide, the whites showing. “Don’t be mad, please, sugarcube? I din’t mean to insult you. It’s jes’ that you said… Well, you said, ‘too pointy, she’s too pointy’ and natural I figured you was talkin’ about Fluttershy and that’s why I said…”

“I didn’t say anything like that,” asserted Pinkie Pie, brightly. “And I was standing right here so I ought to know!”

Applejack faced down the big, bold smile. “Uhhh… Pinkie honey, could it be that you’re gettin’ your Pinkie Sense again? You know, them times when you say stuff and don’t know what you’re saying, and all like that?”

“Probably!” said Pinkie. “But it’s all perfectly okay!”

“It is?” ventured Applejack. She flinched. The smile had brightened. “Ah mean… it is! Sure enough it is!”

“It is,” insisted Pinkie Pie, “because everything is going to be one hundred percent totally and completely fine, even when I don’t understand all of it! I just know that things are going to lead to happiness and joy for all the good ponies and you must know it too and it’s even okay if you are doing the same thing as silly Chasie and checking up on me because it just shows how nice you really are!”

Applejack shied away from the incandescent glory of that Pinkie Pie smile. It totally lacked fangs, which was easy to tell because she could see nearly all of Pinkie’s teeth. Why, then, did it make her more frightened than fangs would have?

“Wull… okay,” she said. “Hey, I got th’ afternoon, do you want to trot down to the Whitetail Woods? There’s a nice field me an’ Dashie had some fun in. Uh, I ain’t hittin’ on you or nothin’, not unless you want me to, I jes’ thought we might spend some time…”

“That’s very sweet and nice and kind and totally awesomeriffic,” said Pinkie Pie, “but nope! Right now I have very important things to do, so go ahead and play your games with Rainbow Dash in the field and don’t mind me.”

Applejack’s ears were laid back again. “Now see here, Pinkie Pie…”

“Nope nope nope! You should see her in the field like you said. I bet that’s not all you do in the field! Go and do that, I have very important things that can’t wait!”

“Ah’ll help you do them,” vowed Applejack. “Ah will! Don’t care what they are.”

“Do you mean it?” squeaked Pinkie, bouncing. “Do you, do you?”

“Hell yes I do!”

“Go fetch the left hand leaf of the sixteenth three leaf clover third from the left just behind the rock under the waterfall near the brook by Whitetail Woods, where me and Spike were announcing from the balloon!” cried Pinkie. “Hurry, hurry, right away!”

Applejack charged straight out the door, down the stairs, out of Sugarcube Corner, and screeched to a halt with all four hooves braced, right in the middle of the street.

“Whut th’ HELL was that?”

And she went back, but the door was locked—and after much fruitless banging and entreating, eventually she proceeded on her way.

Inside, a straight tail stuck out from under Pinkie’s trembling bedcovers. It had been very important to hide under there until she could force herself to keep up appearances again.

Rock would be home before very long. She needed to be the Mom he knew, and it had to be good. Sometimes, he seemed to read her a little too deeply.

It worried him, and that terrified her. What did he see in there that he wasn’t talking about? He wasn’t saying. He just clowned harder and tried to amuse her. It was to laugh, clearly. And so, Pinkie Pie made sure to happily laugh at her child’s endearing goofiness…


A tiny powder-blue tail lashed.

“Slowly, the Green Streak crept through the scary dark forest…”

“It’s not really dark,” suggested Rainbow Dash.

“What?!” squeaked Northern Spy, much affronted.

“It’s not, it only seems like it because the canopy of leaves is so dense,” said Rainbow. “We can still be back in time for dinner.”

“YOU’RE so dense!” accused Spy.

“Yeah yeah. Sorry for harshing your mellow, okay? Carry on,” said Dash, trying to fight back her smile. It wasn’t even a smirk, for Spy was just that cute, but all the same the fond smile would annoy the tyke.

Spy flounced her mane and resumed her ominous crouch. “Slowly, the Green Streak crept…”

“Since when does a green streak go slowly?”

“MOMMM!” wailed Spy.

“It’s a real question! Kid, you’ve got an amazing turn of speed, and I should know,” argued Rainbow Dash. “You tellin’ me we’re going to go deep into the Everfree Forest and not use it?” Privately, she thought: and if you do go anything like ‘deep into the Everfree’, not just ‘barely across the road from Fluttershy’s place’, you’ll see my speed too…

Spy flared her tiny nostrils in contempt, adorably. “That’s for when I pounce! This is the sneaking up on the monsters part! Now be quiet! Slowly, the Green Streak crept through the scary dark forest…”

Dash carefully avoided goading her filly on further. Her ears were perked to catch any dangers, and barely twenty feet away from the road so near to Fluttershy’s on a lovely afternoon there was truly no chance of danger, which was why she’d suggested the location.

“Can I sneak too?” she whispered. A tiny apple-green ear swiveled to listen.

“Yeah, if…”

Spy froze. Dash stiffened. It hadn’t been a loud noise, but it was worrying. It was very distant, and it was a sort of croaking scream, impossible to interpret except for one thing. There was no way it was a pony, much less a carousing mare up to sexual mischief. And it was deep in the Everfree Forest.

“Oh, crap,” breathed Rainbow Dash.

Before she could draw another breath, the Green Streak was gone.

“SPY!” shrieked Rainbow, instinctively taking to the air with a roar of powerful pegasus wings. She nearly burst through the tree canopy, and then she saw foliage rustling in the distance and realized she didn’t dare lose sight of Spy’s path. Kid could be almost anywhere in seconds. She dove for the area she’d seen moving, crying out, “Spy! Meet up!”

She landed in what passed for a clearing, looking around frantically, drawing a deep breath, but before she could call out again the leaves parted before her. A tiny green head appeared, glowering like Applejack crossed with Granny Smith crossed with a terrible stomachache.

“Be quiet!” demanded the Green Streak. “This is the fast sneaking part!”

Rainbow Dash tried to gulp her heart back down her throat where it belonged. Her voice shook. “Kid you know we weren’t actually meant to CATCH…”

Northern Spy’s teeth were gritted with determination. “Sneak quiet or go home! No yelling! I should have got Rock for this, I knew it.”

Dash’s eyes were wide and terrified. It wasn’t over her own safety. It was for Northern Spy’s proven ability to evade Blue Mom. She was about to go hunt the monster, with or without help.

Chip off the old block, then.

“Applejack’s sooo gonna kill meee…” moaned Dash, very very quietly.

“That’s better,” hissed Spy. “This way!”

She vanished. Dash choked back a whimper, and followed. The powder-blue tail receded through the underbrush with surprising stealth.

“I have a better idea,” managed Dash when she’d caught up, voice still at whisper level. “You wait by the road, I’ll do an air strike.”

Spy ignored the suggestion. “No, I need you for the final pounce.”

“Uh, right, I’m great at those,” whispered Dash, “so how about we turn around and you can direct me from a strategic position, huh?”

The tiny filly gave her an exasperated look. “That’s dumb! No, when I pounce on the monster it might try to run away. Or maybe I would smash it so hard it’ll fly into the air. You have to be there to catch it out of the sky in case I can’t get a good enough jump, so be ready.”

Dash paled. “Oh no no. Uh-huh. I’m bigger, I get to do the pounce. Maybe you can, I dunno, herd it toward me? Go behind the danger and drive it in this direction.” She boggled privately at the suggestion, imagined herself trying to explain it to Applejack, hastily stopped thinking about that.

“The Green Streak doesn’t let mommies do her pouncing!”

Rainbow Dash was hyperventilating. “Hoo boy. Uhhh…”

“This way,” hissed Northern Spy, and vanished into the underbrush again.

Dash followed suit, every shadow seeming to hide filly-eating monsters. She weighed the chances of simply tackling Spy and carrying her off, no matter what the enraged foal might do to her ear or other edible Rainbow parts that presented themselves. The trouble was, ponies got mobile in a big hurry. Spy’d picked up not merely a ponylike ability to run, but a formidable strength and agility combined with a determination that was like an alloy of both Dash and Applejack, plus the power-to-weight ratio of Big Macintosh. Northern Spy would never be a pegasus, would never fly, and her bones and sinews were sturdy like a plow-horse—but the reflexes that powered them came from her Blue Mom.

Rainbow Dash was not at all sure she could wrestle Spy away from the danger, but she was sure of one thing: if she tried and failed, that would be the last she saw of her kid for a while. Spy’s escapes had become legendary, and Dash had been curiously proud of that. Now, she saw the other side of it.

She eeped. A little green face with its pale blue mane had popped up right in her path. Spy wasn’t trying to flee her this time. The Green Streak was trying to whip Blue Mom into shape.

“You gotta be quieter! We can get there in less than a minute if we sneak real quick but you gotta be quieter!”

“I’m sorry,” whispered Rainbow Dash desperately. “I will. Can, can we both pounce?” Out here, there was no Apple family to be annoyed by her kid’s pushiness, no other adult ponies trying to pull rank and pissing the tyke off. Out here, Rainbow Dash recognized a kind of equal, far less experienced (tragically less experienced? no, don’t think it!) but a personality she recognized as akin to her own. Out here, in the thrill of the hunt, it didn’t matter that she was asking Spy’s permission. Spy was on the trail and would not be dissuaded, but she could be bargained with.

The small filly face scrunched up in thought, then cleared. “Sure. But you need to be ready in case I knock it in the air!”

“I will!” whispered Rainbow Dash, with absolute conviction. That got her a radiant Northern Spy smile, and Rainbow melted inside to see it, and privately vowed: if it’s dangerous, kiddo, it will have to go straight through me to hurt you. I bet I can outrace you when I’m this keyed up. You think you are too—you think you’re cranked to the limit, I can see it in your eyes—but you don’t have a foal, and you can’t begin to understand.

The world seemed to crackle with energy as Dash silently crept along after her foal, who’d grown so amazing but was still so terribly naive. She hoped the sound of her heart pounding wouldn’t alert anything.

Spy froze.

“What?” hissed Dash furtively, and then she heard it.

It was just a tiny rustle of something shifting its weight, but it was a big something, much larger than a bunny or a bird or any small animal. It wasn’t where they’d been heading. It was to the side…

Spy was gone, just like that. The rustle turned into a scrambling noise among the underbrush, just an instant of something pony-sized or larger detecting its danger and reacting… and then an awful squalling noise ripped the air.

“SPY!!” shrieked Dash.

She dove through the foliage, not caring what was on the other side, and smacked straight into a treetrunk and spiraled out of control into a bush. Shaking her head to clear it, she struggled to her hooves, twirling in place to look in every direction and nearly falling over…

“Stop, help, quit it! Gaaaah!”

That wasn’t Spy’s voice. But all the same, it was unmistakable. Dash dove straight through the bush and burst out the other side.

“GILDA?” she squealed.

Gilda the Griffin stood at bay in a small clearing, unable to flee. She was trying to, and her formidable beak and front leg talons were free to do battle, but she was captured all the same. Technically, her hind paws were free as well, and the claws were bared in alarm and agony… but one feline hind leg was not only clasped in filly forelegs, but was also clamped in pony teeth.

Tears came to Gilda’s eyes. Blood was running down her leg. “For fuck’s sake, Dash! Why do I always have to be the pony chew toy?”

Rainbow didn’t know whether to weep with relief or scream with rage. “What the fuck are you DOING here?”

“It’s complicated… owww! Make it stop!” wailed Gilda.

“Kid! KID! Northern Spy!” yelled Dash, running over and whacking Spy with a hoof.

Spy’s eyes met Dash’s. She clung tighter with her forelegs, opened her mouth, licked her lips and cried, “I got it! Help Spy fight monster!”

“Hey! Look again!” demanded Dash. “Look, look! It’s fuckin’ Gilda, you know Gilda!”

Spy looked.

Spy squeed.

“Gilda is awesome!” she cried, and instead of savaging her paws, Spy wrapped forelegs around her neck in an eager pony hug.

Dash panted, her body shaking with reaction. “There you go. Sorry about the griffin-eating monster. How did you not attack her, Gilda? Holy crap! You’re in the Everfree and something does that to you and you just stand there? Not that I’m complaining!”

“I told you it was complicated,” moaned Gilda. “Ow, ow… Of course I didn’t attack, Dash, I’m fucking in love and it’s gonna be really awkward and there is just no way it can work unless… dammit, I try so hard, I’m half starving and I don’t know if I can do this but…”

“Slow down,” ordered Rainbow Dash. “You left the griffins again? I know you always had a weakness for ponies but I thought we kinda scared you the last time. I’m still with Applejack, babe, but you knew that. Is that what’s so impossible? Talk to me, I’m not gonna let you fall. We care about you, so explain what’s going on.”

“I know you do!” protested Gilda, trying to lick her injured paw. Spy was still clinging affectionately to her neck, but she’d never been afraid of Gilda even as a tiny foal. “Maybe you can help? Owwww… maybe you can help me walk, even? I could fly but I don’t know if that would go over well, but now I’m not sure I can walk…”

“I am so sorry,” said Rainbow helplessly. “Dammit, Spy! This is Gilda, you hurt Gilda!”

“Yay, Gilda!” squeaked Northern Spy, nuzzling her face against the feathers of Gilda’s neck.

“Oh, settle down, Dash, don’t look so tragic,” muttered Gilda. “You know how griffons are. I’d joke how that was great foreplay, but I know this is your kid, plus my heart apparently belongs to a pony already. Sorry, Spy, that didn’t win my love after all. Griffins play a lot rougher than that. We’re such fuckin’ sluts for a good ass-kicking, aren’t we? I’m just sick about it, Dash, you gotta help.”

Dash kicked the ground with a forehoof uncertainly. “Wait a minute. I thought I knew what was going on. You’ve got this weak spot for ponies and we had a thing together, me and you and then you and Applejack, and that went in bad directions and you went back to your people, but now you’re back in Ponyville…”

“Yeah,” admitted Gilda, her face-feathers ruffling.

“And you’re being super peaceful even with my kid eating your foot, and you say you’re half starving and I KNOW what you eat…”

“Got to stop it. Got to. Somehow,” muttered Gilda.

“And that always bothered me though I don’t remember Applejack being upset by it, but you didn’t try to change for me, did you—you told me you can’t eat grass!” said Dash. “Which I thought was true. It is true, Gilda, look at you, you’re not anything like a pony! And you’re asking my help but you’re not hitting on me.”

“Sorry,” muttered Gilda. “You’re still awesome. I just… Dash, I can’t get over her, I seriously can’t. I’m so pissed off with myself I can’t stand it. You gotta help me. Can griffins eat acorns or something? Do fish count? I’m not sure she counts fish as animals.”

Rainbow Dash wobbled. “You’re in love with…”

Gilda’s facefeathers were so ruffled with blushing that she looked like a baby chick. A tear dripped from her eye.

“Fluttershy,” she admitted.