She awoke in a daze.
Groggy, and confused, she clenched her eyes shut, pressing against her forehead to relieve the pain of the unrelenting, blinding light. "Ugh… what time is it?"
Her back hurt. She opened her eyes, still fighting against the sight-hindering sun in order to study her surroundings.
She was laying on the ground, her wings trapped underneath her torso. She rolled over, and stood up, all the while cynically laughing at her own stupidity.
"Haha, must've fallen off," she said to herself.
Rainbow Dash haphazardly dusted herself off, and began making her way to Rarity's Boutique.
It's was morning. Well, a few hours past morning. Rarity had stayed up all night, scrambling to finish Rainbow Dash's dress. She couldn't help but wonder what Rainbow would use such a frilly, pink dress for, or why she needed it so soon. It wasn't often she'd receive rush orders, but then again it wasn't often Rainbow Dash of all ponies ordered anything from her shop.
It needed to be finished, and it needed to be perfect. Rainbow Dash had spared no expense in employing Rarity to tailor her dress. Express orders from such a talented pony didn't come cheap, and for good reason.
"It's a good thing she's late," Rarity sighed as she wiped a bit of sweat from her brow. "I do hope she is satisfied with my work."
Rarity took one last once-over of the dress, making sure every stitch and hem was in proper placement.
She smiled. "Exactly what she asked for."
But, her smile quickly faded as she thought more and more about why Rainbow would have her go through so much trouble to make a dress. However, she didn't have much time to dwell on the thought.
The sound of a light knock at her door signaled her to put on her best face, and prepare for the presentation.
The bell attached to the door's frame chimed as she welcomed her customer into her place of work.
"Rainbow! It's so lovely to see you! You'll be happy to know I've been hard at work putting on the final touches of your dress. It was a lot of work, but for a friend, especially a friend willing to place an express order, which as you know, doesn't come cheap, I'm happy to oblige."
Rainbow registered very little of what Rarity had been gleaming at her. She didn't bother to reply, or smile in return, or anything. A simple nod was enough for Rarity to acknowledge Dash at least halfway knew what was going on.
Rarity took the moment of awkward silence to once again suppress her doubts. "Now, right this way please."
Rainbow Dash really wasn't in the mood for Rarity's boisterous way of saying things. It was going to be hard enough wearing it in public, let alone acting as if she enjoyed doing so. She just wanted to get the dress and go.
"Excuse me, Sir, but have you seen Rainbow Dash?"
"Hello. Good morning. Have you seen Rainbow Dash by any chance?
"I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm looking for Rainbow Dash. Have you seen her?
Twilight Sparkle stopped everypony she crossed in attempt to find her friend. Her reply from The Princess did not carry a sense of urgency, but as a pony in desperate need to help a friend, it did for Twilight. She was finally able to do something. She could finally make up for not being of any help before. If only she could actually find Rainbow anywhere.
She stopped in her tracks, looking in the direction of Rarity's Boutique.
"I wonder if Rarity knows where she could be." She thought to herself as she continued on her new path.
Rainbow Dash winced and grunted as Rarity did her best to fit her into the dress.
"Ugh! It's… really tight." Rainbow found it difficult to speak properly with the layers of fabric pressing against her chest.
Rarity did nothing but laugh away Rainbow's concerns. "Oh, Darling, it's supposed to be that way! It will do more to show off your girlish figure if it's a little too tight, you know." She gripped another strand of lace with her teeth, pulling against the force of Rainbow's cemented hooves.
She let out a sigh of relief and exhaustion. "There! That ought to do it!"
Rarity quickly left the room, leaving Rainbow alone, wondering what in Equestria she looked like.
The question did not linger in Rainbow's thoughts for long. Rarity returned as hastily as she had left; only now she was guiding a large mirror on wheels in place in front of Rainbow Dash with a magic aura.
Rarity took a moment to study Rainbow Dash, who was busy inspecting herself in the mirror. "So, what do you think?"
Rainbow found herself unable to say anything. She continued to gaze through the reflection in the mirror. It couldn't be her. She would never dress that way. As thoughts of her being seen in public looking like the reflection raced past her, tears began to trickle down the sides of her face.
Rarity immediately noticed the unspoken criticism, and took action. "What's wrong, Deary? Do you not like the color? The shape? Is it too frilly? Is it too… girly?"
Rainbow Dash closed her eyes, letting her head hang down. "It's… perfect."
She turned around, looking down to Rarity from her pedestal, and repeated the lie.
The farce rattled through Rainbow Dash, who was now feeling the gravity of what she had gotten herself into. This pony in the mirror was her. There was no doubt anymore; she was a mare, and she always would be.
Twilight quietly stepped into the shop. The door was already open, so she assumed it would be okay to go ahead in. She looked about, hoping to find Rarity.
She entered one of the many of the back rooms, the door of which had also been left open, to find Rarity busy with a customer.
"Oh, hello Rarity," she stammered. "I didn't realize you were with someone. I can come back a little later if you need me to. It's just I've been looking for---"
Her jaw physically dropped when she realized exactly who Rarity's customer was, leaving her unable to finish her thought.
"… R-Rainbow Dash?"
A pony with rainbow hair, and a blue coat clad in a beautifully designed dress, emblazoned with perfectly and eloquently placed frills, bows, and gemstones turned to greet her with a glare.