Cinnamon and Sugar
It was a day like any other for Rainbow Dash. Distract Twilight from her studies. Practice. Get Applejack caught up in a ground race and a game of horseshoes. Finish the weather patrol. Practice some more. Then get a wicked power nap.
It was around the beginning of her second nap that Soarin' showed up out of the blue and pomf'd down next to her while she was half-awake.
"Hey, Dash! Applejack said I'd find you here."
She finished half a grumble before she realized that she was in the presence of a Wonderbolt. Then she snapped to attention and sat up almost rigid. "Soarin'! Hey, what are you doing here?"
"It's our squad's time off," he said, waving a hoof dismissively. "I was gonna visit my family in Cloudsdale, but it turns out they were going to Manehattan for a week and...." he stuck his tongue out. "Well let's just say that I'll have plenty of chances to see them again."
"I know the feeling," said Dash, kicking a bit of cloud out from under her.
"So I thought since I was going to be close by, I'd check on the up-and-coming Rainbow Dash." Soarin' smiled stuck his hoof out. "I still haven't thanked you properly for saving my life."
Dash suppressed a manic beaming grin and instead chuckled and bumped her hoof against his. "Hey, it's cool. What any good pegasus would have done in that situation, you know?" She yawned a bit and forced herself into awareness. "I'll always have your back. Or any good pony's. So, what are you going to do around here?"
Soarin' licked his chops. "Spend every bit I've earned on pies and cupcakes?" He looked far too proud of himself and puffed up a bit. "That, and I was going to ask if you wanted to fly with me."
Rainbow Dash felt herself blushing. "What?"
The Wonderbolt blinked. "You're an awesome flier, everyone knows that," he said. "A couple slip-ups at the shows but that happens when you try for the hard tricks."
Dash nodded sheepishly, and he continued.
"The thing is that the Wonderbolts specialize in team flying. You don't have anyone to practice with, do you?"
Dash looked down. "No," she muttered. "The only pegasus in Ponyville I really trust is Fluttershy. And I can't imagine her trying to do half the things I do."
"Well, you've got me." Soarin' puffed up a bit more. "What do you say? Just a few lessons here and there. The newer members fly on the outer wings, anyway, so it'll be a lot of the same ideas."
"I'd love to!" Rainbow Dash squeed and jumped up once. "After the fliers competition, when I got to fly with you guys, was one of the best things ever."
"This'll be a little more strict," Soarin' warned, "but I think you can handle it. Alright, let's find a good place to start."
Soarin' hopped off of the cloud and into the air. Dash took off a second after and in her excitement passed the Wonderbolt in a rainbow blurr. A few moments later she returned to his side, flustered, and tried to match speed with him. He didn't seem to mind her sudden burst of energy.
"It's not about speed yet. We already know you're good at that," he teased. "Let's go over the ground rules. First, we're going to do our flying above the cloud layer. That way, if something goes wrong, we won't get terribly hurt."
Rainbow Dash nodded. "Yeah, that's where I like to practice my harder stunts." Clouds don't hurt as bad to fall on, and no one watches you screw up, up there. Thank goodness.
Soarin' led them higher and continued to explain. "The squad leader is the heart of the formation. All of our maneuvers are planned and they're responsible for signaling all of the movements. No matter how many times we've practiced them, communication is important! If something out of the ordinary happens, they will tell us how to react so that no one gets hurt. It's their responsibility to take care of their team. It's also yours. And so is listening to everything your leader tells you."
Dash nodded at every word, following along intently. She hardly noticed as Ponyville grew smaller and smaller beneath them. All of the talk about following and listening irked her a little even though she knew that it was all for the safety of the team. Keep it together, Dash. These aren't nosy ponies bossing you around, this is the best team of fliers that Equestria has to offer. You can listen to them.
"When we fly together, we fly as one. Move as one. Breathe as one." Soarin' drew in a breath and exhaled; Dash quickly matched it. "Be as one."
"It sounds very close," Dash said.
Soarin' nodded to her. "It is," he said. "Honestly, some of the others think you're too self-absorbed... too much of a showboat."
"I..." Dash sighed. I guess I could give that bad of an impression. Is it my fault that no one else can keep up with me? That I try to do the things that other ponies don't dare to do? But I'm the Element of Loyalty! Of course I work good with others!
"But I've seen you with your friends," he continued. "I know you're so much better than that. You know what it means to make your fellow pony as close as family. You just need practice flying with them."
And... he knows that. "Thanks," she said, feeling the tension leave her wings.
The two of them peaked off high above the clouds and suddenly stilled to a hover. Soarin' looked around and then nodded. "Alright. This is a good altitude." He laughed and gave her a little nudge. "I know you like doing things as breakneck as possible, but we're going to do our first routine at a 'breeze' speed, okay?"
"Sounds good to me," said Dash, smiling. Soarin' wasn't that much of a goof at all when he was dealing with Wonderbolt stuff. And she loved spending time with any of her heroes. Anything to get her closer to that dream.
"You're probably familiar with this one. We do it in a lot of our shows." Soarin' drifted about Dash and gestured with his hooves at the same time. "Assemble, make a west flight path. Invert and right ourselves. Loop the cloud."
"Part and meet at the middle," Dash nodded, following his practiced motions. "Cross paths and then reform!"
Soarin' nodded. "Yep! Now what you probably don't know are the signals for all of those turns. So we'll go over those now."
Rainbow Dash paid rapt attention as he showed her little gestures of the hooves and wings. She'd never been close enough to see them before, but some of the slight movements meant so much. Accelerate, breaking, turns. Close formation, scatter... there was one for every maneuver and even for this single routine there must have been dozens to learn. She did her best to remember them and when he was done she made her recite them back. She had to go through them a second time just to get them into memory, but soon she was ready to fly.
Soarin' moved in front of her and to her right, tipping a little salute. "Nothing more to do than try it out. Just take it easy and follow my lead."
"Aye, Captain," Rainbow Dash said, laughing. That made Soarin' blush a little. He gave the signal, and then they propelled forward at a 'breezy' pace.
Rainbow Dash thought it would feel miserable with someone holding her back, but after she started flying with him she realized it was a different sensation altogether. It wasn't freedom, though. It was something else. Comradery. Trust. When he breathed in, she breathed in. With each flex of the wing and movement through the air she felt a little connected to him.
When they turned together she could almost feel an invisible tether between them. Perhaps it was the pegasus magic, or perhaps it was something like friendship. The idea of a team got her heart pounding. That she was awesome by herself was one thing, and by flying with someone else they were just combining their abilities. She was both herself and a part of something more.
They soared and it filled her with glee even as she strained to go vertical, pump her wings with deliberate slowness, and then invert without falling. In a way it was more dangerous than doing it at high speeds, but they floated in the air for more than a moment before righting themselves. She read the signals without thinking about it. They separated, crossed, clapped hooves briefly and then joined again.
And then it was over. Rainbow Dash found that she was sweating and a little worn even though it was such a slow, almost leisurely flight. But you did it. You thought you'd known them before but that was a real Wonderbolt routine. Sure, short and tame. But it's still part of the show! The warm-up act before the REAL flying begins.
"And that's all there is to it." Soarin' chuckled and landed with a trot on a nearby cloud. "I knew you'd be good at it."
Dash felt herself swell with pride and strutted a little in an aerial circle. "Of course! Keep an open mind and you can learn anything." She grinned over. "Doesn't hurt that I have an awesome teacher."
The colt rubbed at his mane a bit and chuckled. "See, I was worried about that. I've been needing to pick up on my squad skills too..."
"Hey, we can help each other." Rainbow Dash tossed her mane. "What else you got?"
"Ready already?" Soarin' said, hopping up. "If you say so, but this next one is a doozy..."
She was ready for it. Every minute she was learning something new about the Wonderbolts, about flying together. And she was glad to have one of the more easygoing Wonderbolts as a mentor. At first she thought he was too goofy, too much of a slob, too uncool compared to the rest of the Wonderbolts. But there was something about his more... amenable qualities that put her at ease. It was more like hanging out with Pinkie Pie and less like a celebrity. At least their appetites seem to match, Dash mused.
They spent a few hours a day practicing, off an on for the better part of the week. After one of their sessions, though, Soarin' led her home and left a little apology.
"I'm going to be busy tomorrow," he said. "Got some things to take care of in town. We'll pick up after that, alright?"
"Sure," she said. "It'll give me a chance to catch up around here. Get in some well-needed me time."
"Cool. See you later, Dash!"
* * *
Without Soarin' around to preoccupy her, Dash suddenly felt the weight of time on her hooves. Time she usually spent practicing by herself. A few loops and cloud ricochets into it though she felt profoundly bored and distracted. So she finished up her weather patrol duties, vanquishing a few clouds in a matter of seconds.
What now? She thought. A nap? Her wings twitched a little at the thought. No, too wound up. Time to find someone... Her ears flitted back and her gaze snapped towards Sweet Apple Acres. AJ. Yep. Wonder what she's up to?
The pegasus made a rainbow spiral through the sky as she zipped across Ponyville. It surprised her just how much more solid she felt, as if she could go wherever her mind could take her. Dash casually flipped upside down, and spotted Soarin' below.
What's he doing here? she thought. Then quickly zipped on top of the barn, peeking out so only her eyes and a bit of her rainbow mane were visible. The Wonderbolt looked around and rapped on the barn door. A few moments later it creaked open and AJ peeked out, half-covered in mud and hay.
"Oh! Soarin'." Applejack laughed, brushing some dirt off of her back. "Didn't expect anyone to be coming around right now. What can I do ya for?"
Soarin' almost reared back, fluffing his wings out. "You know those amazing apple pies I love, right? I've got to get one of those. While I'm here. Actually, make it two!"
Dash smiled to herself and rolled her eyes. The doof of a Wonderbolt could put down a ludicrous amount of food. I wonder if he could out-do Pinkie... maybe they should compete. No, that'd be awful. There wouldn't be a crumb left in Ponyville by the time they were done!
"Well I wasn't gonna be doing any baking today," said Applejack. Soarin's ears immediately drooped, and she quickly added, "but I wouldn't mind seein' that a couple get put in the oven for you, sugarcube. It'll just take a couple of hours, that's all."
Soarin's mood immediately improved. "Oh, thanks, Applejack!"
"Ain't no problem at all. Maybe I can convince you to take some apples home with you, too?"
"Sure! Just tell me how much it'll be."
"Well, sure thing. I'll cut you the usual deal." Applejack flashed a smile. "Lemme get on that for you. Come back in a couple of hours and I should have everything rarin' to go."
Applejack stepped out of the barn, shut the door with a casual buck, and began to trot towards the house. Soarin' nodded, but then shook his wings out and bolted around in front of Applejack.
"Wait!" he said. "One more thing."
Applejack tilted her head. "What's that, now?"
The overenthusiastic colt froze, stammered a little. He scuffed his hoof in an uncharacteristic fashion. "Well, I just love your baking."
"Why thank ya'."
"And your apples..."
"And you were totally cool at the Gala. I mean, friendly. I mean... you've been putting up with all the special orders and everything else and I really like it when I see you. Makes me all fluttery." He gave a quick flick of his wings and grinned. "I like you, Applejack."
The orange pony looked away and touched her cheek. "Well, I'm flattered, Soarin'. Well and truly."
Dash stared dumbly as the Wonderbolt lifted a hoof up in a hopeful gesture. "I was hoping we could go out sometime, when I'm around," he said. "Try to make it a thing."
Rainbow Dash wasn't sure how to take that. Soarin' likes Applejack? Are you that much of a walking stomach? Or are you totally into the bossy types who think they know best for everypony?
Applejack chuckled nervously. "Aw, hon. I think you're a great pony. I really do." She leaned forward and nuzzled her snout against his cheek. The weight of the next word seemed to hang forever. "But you're gone all the time. Even if I thought I wanted to give a run with somepony, I just can't do it if I'm never gonna see them. I'm tied to this farm. 'n that's where I need to stay." She sighed and looked away. "Anyways, it's... oh, you understand, don'cha?"
Soarin' tried his best to hold his head high but found himself looking away, too. "Yeah, I get it. It's cool. Sorry to..."
"Nah," murmured Applejack. "It's... 'cool.'" she imitated him and cracked a little smile. "Okay?"
"Okay." Soarin' nodded, then added with a smile, "make it three pies, would you?"
"I'll even throw in a streusel crust." Applejack nodded and kicked a hoof back. "You'll always be welcome around here, you know."
"Thanks," replied Soarin'. And there wasn't much more to say after that. They smiled at each other for a few minutes and then turned away from each other. Dash couldn't catch Soarin's face as he flew up into the sky as quickly as he could. He didn't even notice her there. And Applejack was on her way again.
This time Dash swooped down in front of her, folding her arms. "Now what did you go and do that for?"
Applejack stared at her. "'xcuse me?"
"Reject Soarin'!" she said, gesturing towards the way the Wonderbolt went. "He's a great colt!"
The earth pony glared sideways at her friend and ground the dirt with her hooves. "Dash. Were you spying on me again?"
"So what if I was? You still acted like a total mule."
"I can't believe you would..." Applejack spat. "You of all fillies wouldn't understand why it had to be that way."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Dash lunged a few inches forward, face to face with her friend. They glared straight at each other for a few moments before Applejack shook her head.
"Horseapples, Dash. If you think he's so great then why don't you ask him out yourself?"
Dash opened her mouth to retaliate with a patented "well maybe I will!" but the thought struck her silent. Her? Soarin'? It hadn't even entered into her head before. Fleeting thoughts, sure, just like a lot of ponies she liked. Little what ifs before they faded away into her imagination. Her mouth hung open. And she twisted, made some rather irritated gestures at Applejack.
"Forget about it, Rainbow Dash," Applejack said rather tersely, and turned on the spot. "I've got apples to buck and plows to clean an'... you know the rest."
Dash threw her arms out in frustration. "I'm not done with you!" She called. "Get back here, Applejack!"
But her friend just kept on walking. Rainbow Dash's anger quickly crashed down into dull depression and uncertainty. What are you on about...? she wondered. The pegasus didn't chase Applejack, though. A nap sounded like it would suit her rather well. She went straight home to do it before the feeling was gone.
* * *
The next morning, Dash and Applejack made up, like they always did. Apologized for what they said, hugged, bumped hooves. T'weren't no hard feelings, Rainbow Dash remembered her saying, we were just both muddled up worse than a hen in a haystack. And she was right. But it kept bothering her. Why Soarin' wanted to date Applejack, and why she turned him down, and what was she going to do...?
She couldn't find Soarin' anywhere. He didn't show up for practice that morning. Dash went to look for him, but no one in Ponyville had seen him. Still, it didn't make sense that he would just leave town without a word. Did he take it that hard? The thought of being rejected by another pony never really occured to her. But she still had nightmares about being rejected by the Wonderbolts... what if it was something like that? The thought made her shudder. There were times that she was so miserable that she didn't want to see anyone, and pegasi were especially good at hiding themselves. Maybe he just needed some time to sort himself out.
When he didn't show up the second day, Rainbow Dash felt a panic starting to boil in her gut. Did she get abandoned? Maybe the Wonderbolts had decided to give up on her. No, that couldn't be true. Not at this point.
She tried to bury her thoughts in practicing, but the usual glee she felt from shooting through the air was replaced with an ache of feeling. So she went faster. The feelings started to subside, or so she thought. The idea of being involved with another pony, a Wonderbolt, with him was stuck with her and she couldn't get it out of her imagination.
And he wasn't there. The flutter in her chest was tainted by the anxiousness of not knowing if she'd ever see him again, and if she did... what would she say?
High above Ponyville, the pegasus tried to find solace in flight. She looked down towards the ground so far away, and decided to try it. Another Sonic Rainboom. But the further she pushed her thoughts down the more unfocused she became, and once she felt her body pushing up against the natural barriers, she couldn't hold it anymore.
The force flung her and she ricocheted into the sky. She was only grateful that she crashed far from sight and sound of any other pony. Rainbow Dash dragged herself back home and went to sleep, hoping that she could escape the feeling long enough for things to get back to normal.
The next morning, Soarin' showed up again like nothing had happened. At first Dash thought she'd comfort him, or berate him, or something, but then he'd get suspicious or weird and then maybe he would leave and...
"Hey, Dash," he said, lifting a wing. "Ready for another go around Ponyville?"
Where did you go? she wondered. Why did you leave and not tell me? We were supposed to be hanging out together. You were here to help me, Soarin'! But she smiled and said only, "heck yeah! I'm always ready for a good fly."
The colt nodded and waited for her to take position. She took his left this time, slightly behind, and the two took to the air. Flying together with another pegasus was starting to feel more natural, even though she didn't get the same adrenaline-pumping rush that she did when she flew by herself. It gave her a little time to enjoy the scenery. Even though she'd grown up in Cloudsdale, Ponyville had become undeniably her home. It looked beautiful under the gradually setting sun. Tiny tired ponies stretched out their days a bit longer, and she would, too. The clouds looked beautiful, too, catching the light and looking just amusingly like cotton candy, or maybe Pinkie's hair. To Dash, there wasn't too much of a difference...
Soarin's voice snapped her out of her thoughts. "Okay. You seem like you've got the hang of it, so we're going to try going a lot faster," he instructed. "You think you're ready for that?"
Dash smiled at the little implied challenge. "Of course I'm ready! Fast is my middle name," she boasted. Soarin' laughed.
"Roger that. Same set of maneuvers we've been working on, then!"
Dash nodded. Soarin' gave the signal and they both flared their wings simultaneously before going into a full dive. The sensation was exhilarating. She felt herself pushing closer and closer to her maximum velocity, and even though Soarin' wasn't quite as fast as she was, she could still feel the wind whipping over them as they weaved between cloud after cloud, always the same distance apart.
Next was the vertical. The turn was so sharp that she felt a dull stab into her shoulders as they suddenly faced upward, full break. Now Soarin's thunderclouds were trailing along with her rainbow. If she'd had any doubt in his capability as a flier, it went a way a little more the longer she practiced with him.
Next was the big trick, the first difficult team-maneuver that they were working on. She'd seen the Wonderbolts do it a thousand times-- turning close together and using each other's tailwind to gain a sudden burst of speed and leave a spectacular trail. It involved getting dangerously close...
What was he thinking? Her thoughts came drifting back as they came on the final approach. Being with somepony that can't fly with you. That just seems... wrong, somehow. They'd miss so much of your life! Why would she... what would he... why am I--
Dash realized a little too late that she wasn't paying attention to her maneuvers at all. If Soarin' had been paying attention himself, he would have noticed her awkward positioning and diverted away. But instead the two of them met in the middle and hit each other full speed. The similar momentums canceled out and they hung together in the air for a brief moment, fully aware of one another.
They yelled and fell at the same time. All the way down they yelled, and would perhaps have regained their lift if they didn't hit the clouds first. The impact alone sent the cloud careening down several meters, but the soft material made the impact not hurt quite as much as it could have. When she felt something besides soreness and shame in her body, she pulled herself up. Soarin' sat up and offered a hoof over before he realized that she'd recovered faster.
"Oh Celestia, I'm sorry," Dash said, feeling her heart sink, then start pounding. What if that was it? She'd crashed into a Wonderbolt and now they would know that she could never really fly in a team and never give her another chance and her life would be ruined in one stupid moment of inattention. "I really didn't mean to... it was an accident, I mean... please don't..."
"I'm sorry," Soarin' said, again. Dash realized he'd said it earlier about the same time she did. He offered an apologetic look, one she thought was almost puppy-like. "I told you, I'm team leader. Accidents are my responsibility. I think I was just... distracted."
Rainbow Dash was relieved but found she still couldn't calm down. "Distracted? By what? It's just clear blue skies all around."
Soarin' squirmed. "Nothing. Things from back home. I don't know. My head just isn't all there. That's why I was gone for days. I was worried I'd get you hurt and... well, look at you now."
"I'm fine," said Dash, dusting herself off and casually omitting the I've done far, far worse to myself. "It's Applejack, isn't it?"
Soarin' stared at her. "W-what, how did you..."
"We're friends," Rainbow Dash rattled off quickly. "We talk a lot, you know? I'm sure you and the rest of the team share a lot of stuff like that."
"I guess, but..."
"I don't think she should have turned you down," Dash continued. Somehow speaking her mind seemed to make herself feel... better. Why wouldn't it? It always did. So she'd run with the risks and see what happened. "I mean I get her reasons but it still doesn't add up to me. If something is worth it you should do it and just make it work. Don't sweat anything else."
Soarin' swallowed and looked like he wanted to hide behind the cloud at all of the weird, backwards compliments. "Uh, thanks? I'm glad... that you think so."
"I do think so," said Dash with a definitive nod. It all stopped coming together, but she was so close that it was driving her nuts. What did she want to do, right then? Why was it so hard to understand?
"Soarin'," she said to get his attention. He was almost close enough. Not quite close. When he looked up and into her eyes, so scrambled, that was it.
Dash closed the distance with a movement that was practically a pounce. No hesitation. No thinking about it. That wasn't the way she did things. She felt herself thump against him again, but this time it was intentional. She grabbed him between both hooves and closed her eyes and kissed him before anything could stop it.
It all came to her in a rush, leaving her face tinted with cherry red. His lips were soft, his body so warm, even under the flight suit. He tasted a little bit like cinnamon and sugar and she decided that she liked that. A lot. It may have only been a fraction of a second before she opened her eyes to look at him, looking at her.
His eyes were snapped wide open, mirrored blush hidden somewhere on him. She could feel it. His look of utter surprise and shock lasted until their eyes met and then it turned to surrender. He shut his eyes, and she shut hers again, and she couldn't help but let a little shudder when he held her by the waist. She could happily linger in how good it felt to kiss him, and feel him kissing her.
No matter when it ended it would have been too soon. Eventually they came up for air and spent a few moments breathing. They detached themselves from one another but didn't stray any further than that. She smiled at him in a way she'd never smiled at anyone before.
"What was that for?" Soarin' asked, a squeak louder than Fluttershy would have.
Rainbow Dash shrugged. "Did you like it?"
"Do you like me?"
"Of course I do. I don't know, I always thought you were... you're just so into everything you do, you know?"
She shrugged again and stretched out. Even the soreness from the fall and the flying made her feel happy, somehow. "I am," she said, "and so what? I can do anything I want. No take-backs." She tilted her nose against his and felt his breath wash out over her face. "I'm not Applejack. I'm not gonna try to be Applejack or anypony else. I'm pretty good at being Rainbow Dash, though. The best! So good that I think I can handle a little 'thing' on top of everything else." She grinned. "How about it. You? Me? Best couple ever?"
Soarin' was blushing even harder now, and he couldn't get his wings to settle, splayed and feathers extended towards the sky. "I think I'd like that," he admitted.
"That's that, then--"
"But Applejack is right," said Soarin', hanging his head. "I'm gone all the time, and I couldn't even tell you liked me. How dumb is that?"
Dash sighed and shook her head, bumping his head up with a hoof. "I don't care," she said. "About any of that. You're a Wonderbolt. You go places. Do amazing things. I love that! And it won't be long until I'm there with you anyway."
"And besides, you know I'm the fastest flier in Equestria. You want me there? Send a scroll." Dash nodded and whisked one arm over the other. "Bam! I'm there."
Soarin' laughed a bit. "You really could..."
"You have to come back to fly with me anyway," she said, lifting an eyebrow to suppress any kind of objection. She found none. "How else am I going to match your awesomeness to mine?"
The blue Wonderbolt laughed again and smiled. The storm cloud of rejection over his head had left entirely. Now he looked quite excited. At least, Dash would have thought so. That's how she felt, after all.
"So you're my boyfriend, now?" he murmured.
Dash snickered. "Other way around, 'sugarcube.' But I'll think about it if that's what you really want."
She gave his shoulder a playful punch, and they tussled in the clouds a bit before coming to a sudden stop. Rainbow Dash took the opportunity to look into those perfect emerald eyes again and smiled. A familiar warm, fuzzy feeling bubbled up inside and she could suppress it no longer.
"Aah!" she squealed, clopping her hooves together. "I'm dating a Wonderbolt!"
"Yep," Soarin' chuckled, bumping his forehead against hers. "And I'm dating the Rainbow Dash."
She giggled a little more. "Okay, okay, we're pouring it on a bit too thick here," she admitted sheepishly. "Let's do that trick again. I think we can pull it off this time."
Soarin' rolled to his feet and shook himself out, head to tail, straightening his feathers. "Of course we can! You know the drill. Stay in formation. Breathe and move as one."
Rainbow Dash took position again. Maybe she did enjoy flying by herself better, with nothing to hold her back. But she could do that anytime she wanted. She could fly with Soarin', and the rest of the Wonderbolts, and still be the greatest flier in Equestria. If nothing else it would go further to prove the point. It didn't do her much good to linger on it. Too much thinking always put a damper on things.
"Alright, let's go!" Called Soarin'.
They leapt off of the cloud and spread there wings in flight again, two pegasi flying in tandem against the sunset, streaking the skyline with their colors.