Applejack pushed open the barn doors; the stacks of hay bales had toppled over some and were blocking the door and others spread about throughout the barn. She grumbled to herself and began to pick them up one by one. She piled them carelessly in the corner. Usually she was organized and cautious when it came to farm work but she was too cold to be concerned by it at the time. Once she had cleared the doorway of the barn she kicked the doors open the rest of the way.
The orange pony moved quickly. The cold was starting to burn the tips of her ears. She headed behind the barn and hitched herself up to the wagon. Last year she had forgotten to store it away for the winter before going to Manehatten to visit Aunt and Uncle Orange. Although she was only gone for a few weeks, the wheels had rusted to the point where they were no longer usable and had to be replaced.
Pulling on the wagon it slowly rocked back and forth as she did, until finally it freed itself from the grasp of the snow. Once the wagon had been secured inside the barn, Applejack closed its doors once more and pushed down a small latch at the base of the door, locking it for the winter. She ran through a mental checklist to make sure she was complete with her work, once satisfied she trotted back down the trail.
As she walked she thought she heard hoof steps behind her. Continuing on for a bit, she stopped abruptly and listened, but heard nothing. She shrugged it off and proceeded towards the farmhouse. As she approached the house she heard noises from inside. She softened her steps and walked closer to the door, placing her ear against the wood she listened silently.
What she could hear was the sound of sniffling and sharp shallow breaths, along with an occasional pounding of a hoof onto the ground. Rainbow Dash had taken the opportunity of her solitude to let out her bottled up emotions. Applejack frowned and opened the door quietly, making no sounds as she entered the warmth of her home. She watched as the frustrated Pegasus let everything out, not holding anything back. She walked closer and still said nothing.
Rainbow Dash continued on unaware of the slowly approaching pony. Without any warning Applejack grabbed her and squeezed her tightly. The Pegasus struggled at first, startled by the intruder but eventually she calmed down. "H-how long h-have you been th-there?" Rainbow Dash asked, embarrassed that she had been discovered like this.
"Long enough Sugarcube." Applejack replied in a soothing voice, petting the teary eyed mare.
"I miss it so much Applejack…” Rainbow Dash sniffled, “The strong breezes that rush past. The fierce competitions at the Cloudiseum in Cloudsdale, the amazing tricks the Wonderbolts perform, I can't stand it. I'm a Pegasus! I shouldn't be trapped here. I belong up in the sky, not stuck on the ground."
"Ah know yah do, sweetie." Applejack wished she could say more, do more, anything to never see her lover in this state ever again but she couldn't. All she could do was try to be there for her, hoping she could provide the needed comfort to keep the Pegasus going. She pressed her lips against the damp cheeks, and then continued on to Rainbow Dash's lips, kissing her deeply, unaware of a pony shaped silhouette watching them from outside the window.
The shape vanished and a few moments later there was a crashing sound that echoed through their home. The two jumped at the unexpected noise that broke the silence. Applejack stood back up and squinted through the glass. A pyramid of barrels had been knocked over; a small sparkling object in the snow caught her eye. She went out to investigate the glittering object. It was a silver tiara with small gemstones encrusted into it. She had seen it before but couldn't quite place her hoof on it. She placed it inside her saddlebag before once more returning inside her home.
"What was it?" Rainbow Dash asked as she dried the tears from her eyes.
Applejack shrugged and sat down on the sofa."Ah dunno, probably just some pony stumbled into the apple barrels and knocked em over."
The sun's light was now long gone and the moon's glow was all that illuminated the orchard now. Applejack let out a quiet yawn, "Ah think it's time ah hit the hay."
"I'm pretty beat, I think I'll join you" Rainbow Dash called out as she limped behind the orange pony who headed up the stairs towards her bedroom.
The blonde mane of the pony flowed freely as she removed the dusty cowboy hat, and the small red ties that bound it in place. Rainbow Dash adored the look; she would have liked it if Applejack would use the appearance more often than just at night as she crawled into her bed. The Pegasus nipped at the farm pony's cheek, "I love you" she said as she crawled into the warm bed with her.
"Ah love yah too, Rainbow."
Rainbow Dash mumbled in her sleep, rolling back and forth, as her mind recalled the events of the night of the storm. The thick dirty smoke that burned her lungs, the stabbing pain in her wing, the heat of the flames, and the agonizing stabs that surged through her leg, they all returned to her as she continued to sleep.
The sensations became unbearable as her dream reached its peak; the flames warmed her body, causing her to let out a cold sweat in attempt to cool itself. The pain she had experienced in her leg grew and grew till it felt as if it were to burst. The clearing so close, she pushed through. She awoke finding herself coughing, and gasping for air.
Rainbow Dash clung tightly to the orange mare next to her, afraid to close her eyes again. Applejack whispered lovingly into her ear, trying to bring comfort to the frightened Pegasus. Her muscles began to relax as her mind cleared, until finally, the Pegasus was asleep once more.
The sound of glass shattering interrupted the pony's sleep. Applejack leaped out of bed, as did Rainbow Dash, accidentally putting pressure on her injured leg, and she let out a quiet gasp of pain. The room was far too dark; they couldn't see their own hooves if they were in front of their faces. Feeling around the walls she found the light switch and flicked it up.
As the light illuminated the room, the two said nothing to each other they used strange hoof movements in an attempt to silently communicate which just ended up confusing them. Applejack gave up the feat and slowly opened the door, poked her head through the doorway, but saw nothing. She stepped out cautiously, keeping a lookout for anything strange or out of place. The moonlight refracted on shards of the broken window that lay on the floor downstairs. What appeared to be shaped like a rock lay amidst the glass.
Rainbow Dash ventured out of the bedroom, and followed Applejack down the stairs, turning on the living room light at the base of the staircase. The bulbs flickered for a few moments, before their streams of light became constant. A note was tied around the object that had broken the window. Applejack picked it up, untied the twine and read the short message out loud.